Russian Pistols before the Revolver - Flintlocks and Conversions - Part Two

A Russian trooper with a pistol
A Napoleonic Period Hussar NCO with a Pistol and Saber

Contents

Background
The Pattern 1808 Family of Weapons in 7 Line Caliber
The Pattern 1809 Soldier’s Pistol.
The Pattern 1809 Soldier’s Cavalry Pistol.
The Pattern 1809 Officer's Pistol.
The Pattern 1839 Cossack Trooper’s Pistol.
Original Pattern 1839 Cossack Officer’s Pistol.

The Pattern 1839 Cossack Trooper’s Pistol
Пистолет казачий нижних чинов образц 1839 г.

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 Cossack Enlisted man’s Pistol
Пистолет казачий нижних чинов образца 1839 г.

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.

Right side of the 1836 Sestroretsk pistol Left side ofthe 1836 Sestroretsk pistol

Side views of the 1836 manufactured Izhesk 1839 pattern pistol

Left side ofthe 1836 Sestroretsk pistol Lock detail of a Sestroretsk 1836 dated pistol. Note the date on the face of the lock plate, earlier production at Sestroretsk had the date under the edge of the lock plate.

Connector holding the nose band of the 1836 Sestroretsk pistol
Detail of the side plate extension holding the band at the front of the shortened stock and the tall front sight. Note that the extension piece on this pistol is not dated.

Left side side plate and connector of the 1836 Sestroretsk pistol
Note that left side plate is dated 1836.

Top view of the barrel and rear sight on the 1836 Sestroretsk pistol Top view of the barrel and rear sight on the 1836 Sestroretsk pistol
Top view of the barrel and rear sight on the 1836 Sestroretsk pistol

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.

Escutcheon from the reign of Nicholas the first on the 1836 Sestroretsk pistol
Since this pistol was made in 1836 it has the cipher of the then current tsar, Nicholas I (reign 1825-1855).
Trigger guard with factory mark on the 1836 Sestroretsk pistol
This pistol has the arrow factory marking on the trigger guard and the top of the barrel, this is the earliest example observed with this mark. The detail pictures of the earlier 1819 and 1824 pistols do not show these marks.

A Late Example of a 1839 - Tula manufactured 1844

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.

Right side of the 1844 Tula pistol Left side ofthe 1844 Tula pistol

Side views of the 1844 manufactured Tula 1839 pattern pistol

Conversions to the 1839 standard

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.

1839 conversion of a 1818 manufactured Izhevsk

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.

Side view of the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol Left side view of the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Right and left views of the pistol
Side plate of the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol Side plate date of the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Left: The side plate on this pistol is marked in script lettering unlike the letters seen on later guns. Right:Like the Sestroretsk weapons of the period, the lock manufacture date is on the lower edge of the lockplate.
Top of the barrel of the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol Top of the barrel of the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol
The barrel shows the 1842 conversion date. Note the rear sight on the barrel extension. The barrel extension threads into the barrel so it would have been possible to shorten and reuse the old barrels.
Trigger guard on the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol Detail of trigger guard on the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Bottom view showing the marks on the point of the trigger guard and a detail of the marks
Detail of sideplate on the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol Detail ofconnector bar on the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Views of the left side plate and connector bar showing the inspector/arsenal marks
Detail left side of the buttcap on the 1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol Detail of the front of the butt on the1818 Izhevsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Details of the marks on the butt. Left: Left side view of the Butt cap showing inspector's marks. There are no marks on the right side. Right: Detail of the rear portion of the trigger guard showing moremarks.

1839 conversion of a 1819 manufactured Sestroretsk

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."

Detail left side on the 1819 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol Detail of the right side of the 1819 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Detail of the lock on the 1819 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol Detail of the date on the lock of the 1819 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Detail of the sight on the 1819 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol Top view of the sight and barrel of the 1819 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Detail of the connector on the left side 1819 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol Detail of the left sideplate1819 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Detail of the connector on the left side 1819 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol

1839 conversion of a 1824 manufactured Sestroretsk

The next pistol detailed is an M1809 manufactured at Sestroretsk in 1824 and converted to the 1839 standard in 1842.

Detail right side of the 1824 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol Detail left side of the 1824 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol
Views of an 1824 dated Sestroretsk pistol converted to half-stock configuration in 1842.
Detail lock side of the 1824 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol Detail lock of the 1824 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol
The Sestroretsk marking on the lock is clearly visible and the date of manufacture can be seen on the lower edge of the lock plate. 1824 dated gun converted 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.

Detail lock side of the 1824 Sestroretsk 1839 Conversion pistol
A Tula 1833 manufactured pistol with a stock extension and a formed front band and a ram rod. The stock extension is an added piece and not original so this one was converted to its current configuration after 1833. This would probably be considered a pattern 1839 Cossack Officer’s model. (Courtesy Bob Brooker)

Original Pattern 1839 Cossack Officer’s Pistol
Пистолет казачий офицерский образца 1839 г

1840 Cossack Officer's pistol
An 1840 dated example with a formed front band and rod, a very French style pistol. This is version called a Cossack officer’s model 1839 by the Tula Arms Museum (Courtesy Bob Brooker)

Observations:

Original configuration 1809s

Long Barrel captured rod model

Original Half Stocked Infantry model 1828/39(?)

Converted Half Stocked Infantry Models

Fliers

Continue to Part Three

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