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The Vault

Gaulois Palm Pistol at RIA

The Gaulois (Gallic) was a compact squeeze-type palm pistol made by the Manufrance concern in St. Etienne in the 1890s. It held 5 rounds of 8mm ammunition (similar to the .32 Extra-Short used in other types of palm pistols) and was fired by squeezing the rear grip into the body of the gun.

As [...]

Maryland Council of Safety Revolutionary Flintlock at RIA

In the buildup to the US War of Independence, “Committees of Safety” were organized in the colonial state to form shadow governments for the independence movement. These committees (our councils, as a few were named) had, among other tasks, the responsibility of sourcing arms for the local militia forces. This was done both by purchasing [...]

“My Friend” Knuckle-Duster Revolver at RIA

The “My Friend” knuckle-duster revolver was a defensive weapon sold on the civilian market from the late 1860s until the early 1880s. It functioned both as a revolver (this one is in .22 caliber, with a 7-shot capacity) and a blunt weapon for striking. These were made in upstate New York (in the Catskills, specifically) [...]

Spanish Miquelet Flintlock at RIA

The miquelet lock is generally considered the first true, mature flintlock action in the progression of firearms technology. It combined the pan cover and frizzen (the plate against which the flint strikes) into a single multi-purpose part. This particular pistol is a good example of the characteristics of a miquelet, despite its rather rough condition.

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Chicago Palm Protector Pistols at RIA

“The Protector” was a very discreet palm pistol developed in the late 1800s by a French inventor, produced in bulk by the Ames Sword Company, and sold by the Chicago Firearms Company. They are mechanically double-action turret revolvers with a unique grip design meant to be to be fired by squeezing. The first few were [...]

Lancaster Howdah Pistols at RIA

Charles Lancaster was a master London gunsmith who made 2-barrel and 4-barrel pistols in a variety of British revolver cartridges (commonly known as Howdah pistols). Many of his pistols was purchased privately by British military officers, explorers, and big-game hunters to use as backup weapons throughout the Empire. These three examples are chambered for the [...]

(e)Book Review: Handfuls of History

A dilemma that has always existed for book authors and publishers is that adding information makes a book physically larger, and more expensive to produce. Editors have always had to make decisions balancing the added benefit of additional material (especially photographs) against the extra costs associated with making a bigger book. Not a big deal [...]

German Mauser Obrez Pistol

From the collection of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, a reader named James found an example of an Obrez pistol made on a Mauser K98 rifle action. This apparently was made by Czech partisans during World War II, using the grip from an MG42 machine gun.

Obrez made by Czech partisans with a Mauser rifle [...]

Gyrojet Pistol at RIA

The 13mm Gyrojet pistol was the closest thing to a commercially successful rocket pistol, although not many were sold before the company went out of business. This pistol version (the most common type of Gyrojet) fires a 180 grain rocket projectile. It is for sale – with 15 rounds of live ammunition – at the [...]

Two Pinfire Harmonica Pistols at RIA

Harmonica guns were a short-lived type of firearm that was developed in an effort to have reliable repeating weapons prior to the the modern centerfire cartridge. They were made in both muzzleloading and cartridge varieties, and one notable (and reknowned) American maker of such guns was Jonathan Browning, father of John Moses Browning. These two [...]