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Antique Percussion Pistols

Introduced in about 1820, the percussion lock changed the course of firearms history by enabling muzzle-loading weapons to function reliably in adverse weather conditions. Before their invention, guns with flintlock ignition systems were prone to misfire in wet weather.

Firing a percussion weapon involved measuring out the proper amount of black powder, pouring it down the barrel, then adding wads and pellets or a greased bullet. A percussion cap made from brass or copper with one closed end filled with shock-sensitive explosive material was then placed over a hollow metal nipple at the rear end of the barrel. Squeezing the trigger released the hammer, which struck the percussion cap and ignited the primer.

Just prior to the U.S. Civil War, Edward Maynard, a dentist by trade, patented a tape primer lock system that was used in the U.S. military's percussion-based Model 1855 pistol carbine, a .54 caliber single-shot muzzle loader. The same technological principle Maynard developed is today employed in modern toy cap pistols. Antique percussion pistols played an important part in history and still fascinate collectors worldwide.


Quick Facts

  • In 2012, a pair of gold and silver engraved Derringer percussion pocket pistols once owned by U.S. General Thomas Jefferson Brady sold at Rock Island Auction for $74,750
  • In 2013 at Skinner, a Dublin Castle light dragoon pistol with a walnut stock and brass fittings dating to the late 18th or early 19th century sold for $1,200
  • In 2009 at Auction Arms, a '60s single-shot black-powder underhammer percussion pistol by Numrich Arms sold for just $93.56

Recommended Items at Auction

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.66 cal. Percussion Blunder Buss BBl. Pistol
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
.66 cal. Percussion Blunder Buss BBl. Pistol
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$2757 Bids
Belgian approx. .62 Cal. Percussion Pistol
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Belgian approx. .62 Cal. Percussion Pistol
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$906 Bids
U.S. Model 1842 .54 Cal. Percussion Pistol
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
U.S. Model 1842 .54 Cal. Percussion Pistol
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$1255 Bids
Model 1837 MLE1837 .60 Cal. Perc Pistol
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Model 1837 MLE1837 .60 Cal. Perc Pistol
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$904 Bids
Percussion Pistol
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Percussion Pistol
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$403 Bids
Two Southern “Make PO” Percussion Pistols
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Two Southern “Make PO” Percussion Pistols
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$402 Bids
BLACK POWDER .45 CALIBER PISTOL
Oct 08, 12:00 PM EDT
BLACK POWDER .45 CALIBER PISTOL
by Blackwell Auctions LLC
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
AN OVER-UNDER .577 HEAVY BELT-PISTOL SIGNED TIPPING & LAWDEN LONDON,
Nov 21, 10:00 AM GMT
AN OVER-UNDER .577 HEAVY BELT-PISTOL SIGNED TIPPING & LAWDEN LONDON,
by Holts Auctioneers
Est: £700- £900
£7001 Bid
IVORY STOCKED FOLDING TRIGGER MUFF PIST
Oct 29, 10:00 AM EDT
IVORY STOCKED FOLDING TRIGGER MUFF PIST
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $800- $1,250
$4001 Bid
A 19th Century Double Barreled Pocket Percussion Pistol. The hammers, lock plate and trigger guard e
Oct 09, 11:00 AM BST
A 19th Century Double Barreled Pocket Percussion Pistol. The hammers, lock plate and trigger guard e
by Wilkinson's Auctioneers
Est: £80- £160
£600 Bids
A 19th century double barrel percussion pistol. 31 cm long.
Oct 08, 10:00 AM BST
A 19th century double barrel percussion pistol. 31 cm long.
by Rowley Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers
Est: £700- £900
£7000 Bids
A 19th Century percussion pistol , Birmingham proof marks 18cm.
Oct 14, 9:30 AM BST
A 19th Century percussion pistol , Birmingham proof marks 18cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £30- £50
£40 Bids
An assembled pair of American M1842 H. Aston percussion pistols, 1850 and 1851
Oct 13, 9:00 AM EDT
An assembled pair of American M1842 H. Aston percussion pistols, 1850 and 1851
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids
Robert Johnson US Model 1836 Pistol.
Oct 15, 10:30 AM PDT
Robert Johnson US Model 1836 Pistol.
by Turner Auctions + Appraisals
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Muzzle loading pistol
Oct 14, 3:00 PM UYT
Muzzle loading pistol
by Zorrilla Subastas
Est: $150- $200
$1200 Bids
Muzzle loading pistol
Oct 14, 3:00 PM UYT
Muzzle loading pistol
by Zorrilla Subastas
Est: $250- $350
$1900 Bids
Muzzle loading pistol
Oct 14, 3:00 PM UYT
Muzzle loading pistol
by Zorrilla Subastas
Est: $70- $100
$600 Bids
A Belgian rolling block pistol, probably by Auguste Francotte & Cie., 19th century
Oct 13, 9:00 AM EDT
A Belgian rolling block pistol, probably by Auguste Francotte & Cie., 19th century
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
A FRENCH PERCUSSION PISTOL, MODEL 1822 DATED 1823
Oct 23, 11:00 AM EDT
A FRENCH PERCUSSION PISTOL, MODEL 1822 DATED 1823
by Helios Auctions
Est: $500- $700
$3000 Bids
US Model 1842 Pistol by H. Aston
Oct 26, 10:00 AM EDT
US Model 1842 Pistol by H. Aston
by Cowan's Auctions
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
Fine US Navy Model 1842 Box Lock Pistol by Deringer
Oct 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Fine US Navy Model 1842 Box Lock Pistol by Deringer
by Cowan's Auctions
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Antique Percussion Pistols


Holts Auctioneers

Holts Auctioneers

Milestone Auctions

Milestone Auctions

Cowan's Auctions

Cowan's Auctions