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The Vault

Elgin Cutlass Pistol at RIA

In an effort to take advantage of Jim Bowie’s popularity, George Elgin patented a huge knife attached to a single shot percussion pistol in 1837. The idea was simply to offer a dual-purpose weapon, and it proves that human nature never does change much. I suspect that in actual use the weapon would have been pretty awkward – bulky to carry, heavy for a pistol, and clumsy for a knife. However, that didn’t stop two different manufacturers from making them on license, and several hundred willing buyers from shelling out money. In fact, the US Navy even purchased 150 of them for use in the South Seas, making the Elgin the first percussion handgun formally used by the US military. This particular one for sale at RIA is a commercial model made by Morrill, Mosman, and Blair.

Elgin’s 1837 patent was one of the briefest I have yet seen, too. Have a look:

US Patent 254 (G. Elgin, “Pistol Sword”, July 5, 1837)

7 comments to Elgin Cutlass Pistol at RIA

  • MG

    How does the weight of the blade affect the handling of the pistol? Does it make it excessively muzzle heavy?

    Overall, it seems to be designed more for looks than for practicality. It’s not alone in the firearms field when it comes to that.

  • Daweo

    I am surprised that this device can be patent. So far I know:
    -the joining of known devices can’t be patented
    -if you can find existing device crafted before the issuing of patent, the patent will not be granted – doesn’t knife/pistol like this exist earlier?
    The pistol/knife combination has very long tradition and still are in use – for example Soviet 6P25U knife: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NRS-2

  • guy

    “…bulky to carry, heavy for a pistol, and clumsy for a knife.”

    And dangerous as hell to ram a ball down the bore past that knife point.

  • Andrew Chern

    If you want anything crazier than this less-than-viable miniature cutlass, try a cavalry saber with a pin-fire revolver serving as the grip in such a manner that simply pointing the saber towards one’s intended victim lines the sight picture…

    “En-garde, monsieur le capitaine!” BANG!
    “No.”

  • Doc

    Well, if there are two thugs jumping you and you only have one shot, it’s probably better than nothing. Or, you could carry a brace of regular pistols and a large Bowie knife. I have to agree that it would be tricky to load with that big old blade sticking out past the muzzle, but it is kind of cool looking, though. The blade does look more useful than the Webley-Pritchard pig sticker, especially for slashing. I’ve got a cheap Bowie in my parts box, and if I get bored enough or drunk enough, I may just fashion a rail adapter on the grip and make a Glock/SIG/HK version for fun.

  • Loess

    I’m having flashbacks to Halo 3, and the Brute Spiker…

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