Russian Pistols before the Revolver - Flintlocks, Conversions and the First Percussion Pistols- Part Three

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

Conversion to Percussion

In 1844 a program to convert the earlier patterns of flintlock Russian Infantry muskets to percussion was initiated and in 1845 manufacture of new percussion muskets was commenced. A purpose built percussion pistol was not adopted into service until 1848 when the Pattern 1848 Soldier’s pistol was adopted.

Examples of conversions of earlier pistols have been observed but are not common. There seem to be 2 basic styles of conversions. The first is done like the converted pattern 1844 muskets with a very large hammer and a bolster placed on top of the barrel. The hammer appears large because the lock is significantly smaller than corresponding infantry musket lock.

Percussion conversion of a pattern 1809 pistol
1844 type conversion of an original stocked pattern 1809. Note the oversized hammer from a pattern 1844/1845 percussion musket. (Courtesy Bob Brooker)

The second style of conversion has a bolster screwed into the side of the barrel and a different style of hammer than is usually seen on the Russian military pieces of the period.

Percussion conversion of a pattern 1809 pistol
A side bolster conversion of an original stocked pattern 1809. Note the different style hammer from an unknown percussion gun. This is a Tula 1810 dated pistol. Note also the unusual iron front band
Percussion conversion of a pattern 1809 pistol
A different side bolster conversion of a half stocked pattern 1839. Note the same style hammer as seen on the above conversion. 1831 dated Tula converted to percussion. (Courtesy Bob Brooker)

New Percussion Pistols

In 1845 the arsenals began production of the new 1845 pattern weapons. These were smooth bore and the same size as the pattern 1839 family of weapons. The caliber remained the same at 7 lines. The new lock was a back action percussion lock which was a direct copy of the Model 1840 French percussion musket. The only real difference was the use of brass furniture on the Russian model and iron furniture on the French. Examples have been observed of percussion conversions of the earlier models of flintlock pistols, shown at the end of the previous chapter, but there seems to have been no new pistol until the 1848 Soldier’s pistol was introduced.

The 1848 Percussion Soldier’s pistol The Pattern 1848 soldier’s pistol was the first purpose built percussion pistol accepted by the Russian Army. It is a very large percussion smooth bore pistol with a half stock in 7 line caliber (.71 or 17.78mm). The barrel length was 9.56 inches. The back action lock is different from, but almost as large as, the lock found on the muskets of the period.

2 images [DSCO3438A][DSCO3441A]
1848 Percussion Soldier’s pistol manufactured at the Izhevsk Weapons Factory in 1855. There are traces of black paint on the stock of this pistol, so it is likely that it saw service in the Crimea. [1848 1855 D]
1848 Soldier’ pistol 1855 manufacture at the Izhevsk Weapons Factory in 1855. Detail of the Izhevsk factory mark on the lock.

There are later versions from 1854 onward with rifled barrels and these would probably have been in 6 line caliber (.60) and several smooth bore examples from the late 1850s have been observed.

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