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The Vault

Fiala Model 1920 Combination Gun at RIA (Video)

The Fiala Model 1920 was a manually-operated repeating pistol in .22LR caliber that was marketed with the backing of famed polar explorer Anthony Fiala. The guns came as a set of one frame, three barrels (3″, 7.5″, and 20″) and a removable shoulder stock. This allowed the owner to set the gun up in [...]

Lady’s (Ladies?) Home Companion at RIA (Video)

The Ladies Home Companion was a pistol (technically) made by the Cobray company on the same frame as their 12ga “Street Sweeper” shotgun. It had no stock or front grip, and was chambered for the .45-70 rifle cartridge, carrying 12 rounds in its fixed drum magazine. It’s kinda like watching a train wreck…you know [...]

Khyber Pass Martini Pistol at RIA (Video)

The Khyber Pass is a well known center of arms production, with gunmaking there going back at least 100 years. The quality of craftsmanship varies greatly, from excellent and safe weapons to thoroughly unsafe guns made with little more than hand files and drills. In the last decade or so, much of the production [...]

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 [...]