#HistoricalResearch: Flintlock Pistols
First, a trigger warning (no pun intended) for anyone who is phobic about the subject of black powder flintlock pistols.
Heroes and Heroines with Firearms
Guns play roles in some of my stories, so this is a subject I’ve researched before. But I’ve always wondered about the size and portability of pistols in the era. Dueling pistols were quite large. The pistols carried by highwaymen and pirates would also have been on the large size.
What about the weapons gentlemen (or ladies) might carry on their person?
The Pocket Pistol
When I visited my sister in Virginia in January, I came back with this souvenir:
Isn’t it awesome?!
This is a replica of a gentleman’s pocket pistol. Specifically it’s a “flintlock pistol by Bunney of London, circa 1770/80.” A company called Denix makes these and many other replicas. They have an awesome catalog of products at Denix.es.
(And, btw, TSA allows transport of replica firearms in packed luggage, so I had no trouble getting this home.)
This pocket pistol is lightweight enough for a reticule, but must have created a bulge in a gentleman’s pocket. And what about the ball and powder? It must have been horribly awkward to load and fire. The grip is small but comfortable. The short trigger is not.
It would be much easier to whip out a sword or dagger!
Firing a revolver or automatic pistol requires maturity and attention to safety, and accidents can happen. But these flintlock pistols were truly scary, emitting a huge flame that left powder burns as well as gaping holes in targets.
Here’s a video demonstrating an authentic pistol made a century earlier than the Bunney:
In an earlier post discussing hunting during the Regency, I mentioned that Charles James Fox was injured when his shotgun exploded. Since I’m working on a similar scenario for my work-in-progress, shotguns of the period are the next on my research agenda. I don’t plan to buy one though!
If you’re interested Georgian and Regency gunmakers, this post about Original Muzzleloading Arms has links to several resources.
Images: Duel and Pirate Ship are from Wikimedia Commons; picture of pistol is the author’s; video is from YouTube.