Original British 18th Century Breech Loading Pistols by Hirst of London in Original Wood Case
Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. As seen on the History Channel! These exquisite incredibly rare pistols were manufactured in the later portion of the 18th century by the gun maker Jonathan Hirst. Hirst was located at Tower Hill, London and worked from 1760 until 1805. These are incredibly rare due to the fact that each barrel has an elaborately eared back sight. These back sights are also plugs that unscrew allowing access to the barrel which allow these pistols to be loaded from the breech! The advantages of a breech loading weapon include speed of loading and the ability to load an oversize ball inside a rifled barrel. The shooter could load a ball that would otherwise not fit through the muzzle, at least not easily. A tighter ball inside a rifled barrel meant far improved accuracy as the soft lead ball would "grip" the internal rifling grooves causing the ball to spin faster and fly straighter. Breech loading weapons of the late 18th century were intended for marksmen.
This matched pair measure 16 inches in overall length with 10 inch barrels. They feature elaborate gorgeous silver mounts that are Hallmarked to Birmingham in the late 18th century. The butt caps feature The stunning hardwood stocks are meticulously inlaid with silver wire with intricate designs behind and around the barrel tang. The mechanics of the barrel plugs are near perfect with one pistol allowing the plug to overturn slightly. The barrels are crisply proof marked, the locks are both marked J. Hirst and the the barrels are both marked London. Hirst was known for constructing breach loading flintlock weapons including pistols and the Ferguson rifle, however, very few examples of Hirst breech loading pistols exist.
The only detractor from this set is that somewhere along the way the pistols were smooth bored. Why? It was almost certainly done to avoid the awful fowling that occurred with 19th century gun powder in rifled barrels, over time the rifling became extremely hard to clean and many guns were smooth bored to increase life span. Furthermore, rifled barrels in a 10 inch length were not significantly more accurate than a smooth bore, especially when the grooves were impacted with discharged gun powder and could not be properly cleaned.
Also included is the original custom wood case which bears John Hirst paper maker label. The box also contains a 19th century powder flask and a period bullet mold.
Overall an extremely rare beautifully constructed pair of breech loading pistols dating from the later 18th century having been featured on the History Channel in 2018.
Year of Manufacture: Circa 1770-1790
Ammunition Type: Lead Ball & Powder
Overall Length: 16 inches
Feed System: Breech-Loaded
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