Springfield Armory Model 1817 Pistol

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Because of the “1818” stamps on the lockplate and barrel, this pistol has been inaccurately called the Model 1818 Springfield Pistol. It actually originated in 1807 at Secretary of War Henry Dearborn's request for the mass production of pistols at the Springfield Armory. Three months later, Springfield Armory produced 300 locks, 400 barrels and one sample pistol for Dearborn. While Dearborn thought “the pistol [was] a good piece of work, the [.69] caliber [was] too large” (Smith, 278) and production ceased on the project.
The locks and barrels were primarily untouched until 1817 when the Superintendent of the Springfield Armory at the time, Lieutenant Colonel Roswell Lee, wrote to the Ordnance Office in Washington because he believed “it would be a saving to make [these locks and barrels] work into pistols” (Smith, 278). After receiving approval, Lee ordered the production for this particular pistol and many other U.S. Model 1807 pistols.
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760 – 1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 279.
Flayderman, Norm. Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms…and their Values, Gun Digest Books, Iola, 2007. 9th edition.
Currently not on view
date made
Springfield Armory
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Springfield
Physical Description
iron (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 17 1/2 in; 44.45 cm
overall: 2 3/8 in x 18 in x 6 1/2 in; 6.0325 cm x 45.72 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
The Adriana and Edwin W. Bitter Family Collection
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
The Bitter Collection of Firearms
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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