There is some question as to when the pattern 1809 was shortened to form the next commonly observed pattern. The Tula arms museum calls it the pattern 1839 Cossack trooper’s or enlisted man’s pistol. However, there exists an original 1836 dated Sestroretsk manufactured pistol with all of the later pattern modifications. Fedorov in his Evolution of Firearms mentions a pattern 1828 pistol as well as 1839 patterns for a Cossack Officer’s model and a Cossack Trooper’s model. Unfortunately, he doesn’t describe these models.
1828 was when the barrel lengths of the other 7 line pattern 1808/9 weapons family were shortened, so that may be when the new pattern was introduced. I also remember hearing somewhere about the “changes of 1836” for pistols many years ago. What has been observed is a basic model with a shortened barrel and a half stock, most of which seem to be conversions of the earlier pattern pistols. Interestingly, almost all of the observed pistols altered from earlier models seem to have been converted with conversion parts dated 1842.
Since the examples observed in original 1809 configuration all seem to be dated before 1828, and one of the characteristics of the 1828 pattern family of weapons was reduced barrel length from the previous 1808/9 patterns, it is likely that the model change was actually made before 1839. Later guns were manufactured in shorter configuration and pistols originally manufactured in the early pattern were altered to the later specification. Confused?
Note: Early lock plate dates are on the on the face of the of lock plate for Tula manufactured weapons and on bottom edge of lock plate for Sestroretsk and Izhevsk manufactured weapons.
The pattern 1839 is a modification of the basic pattern 1809 pistol: The barrel is approximately 1 inch shorter at 9 ½ inches and the previous full stock of the 1809 is shortened to approximately half length. A rear sight has been added to the barrel extension and a taller brass front sight is located further back on the barrel. The shortened stock is capped with a brass band held in place with an extension screwed onto the side plate on the left side of the pistol. Shown below is an original, not converted, 1836 dated example of the 1839. Apparently they were introduced before actually being accepted into service.
Details showing the rear sight on the barrel extension and original date on the barrel. Since the barrel dates to the lock and all of the parts on the pistol, it would seem to have been made in this configuration. Note the date on the barrel extension, a feature not seen on later conversions.
Here is another original manufactured pattern 1839 pistol, this one from Tula. At this point in time the pattern 1844 conversion musket was being made. Conversions and model changes usually occurred in the basic infantry weapon and then the changes to the other family wepaons followed over the next several years. 1845 would bring the first purpose manufactured percussion muskets, but the pistols wouldn't get a true upgrade until the pattern 1848 enlisted pistol.
A large number of the observed pistols dated to the first half of the XIX century are original pattern 1809 pistols that have been upgraded to the later 1839 pattern. The upgrade was accomplished by shortening the barrel to 9½ inches and installing a new barrel extension with an integral rear sight. A tall brass front sight was placed on the reworked barrel and the stock length was reduced to about half of what it was on the M1809. Original stocks appear to have been retained as most examples still have the original “AI” ciphers on the stock escutcheons. A side bar extension was added to hold the band at the front of the shortened stock. Almost all of the observed 1839 conversion are dated 1842.
The first example is an M1809 manufactured at Izhevsk in 1818 altered to 1839 standard in 1842. This pistol was originally manufactured only 8 years after the start of weapons production at Izhevsk.
The next pistol detailed is an M1809 manufactured at Sestroretsk in 1819 and converted to the 1839 standard in 1842. This pistol shows the black paint of Crimean theater usage and is "well used."
The next pistol detailed is an M1809 manufactured at Sestroretsk in 1824 and converted to the 1839 standard in 1842.
Detail of the left side plate on the1825 dated Sestroretsk gun converted in 1842. Most of the observed conversions are dated 1842.
Other than the commonly found half stock infantry configuration there also seem to be a number of other less commonly encountered configurations. Shown below is another configuration.