McCormick Type Ship's Pistol

Physical Description:
The maker of this .68 caliber smoothbore flintlock U.S. Model 1797 Navy pistol is unknown but it is similar pistols made by Robert McCormick. It has a civilian patterned lockplate yet is a military contract pistol. It is brass mounted with brass reinforcing bands on the fore stock. It is pin fastened, has a wooden ramrod with a swelled tip, and a gooseneck hammer.
The lockplate is stamped “KETLAND & CO” and the barrel has a faint “US” stamp near the tang.
The maker of this pistol is unknown. It is a McCormick type pistol. Robert McCormick was an Irishman who came to America and leased the Globe Mills in 1798 to produce firearms. McCormick did create a 1797 Navy Pistol with a Ketland and Co. lockplate.
This particular pistol is odd because of the lock. It is a civilian pattern lock but the pistol has a military stamp. There are a few explanations for why a civilian lock is found on a military pistol. The lock may have accidentally been placed in a parts bin. It may have been substituted for a broken lock or maybe the contractor was short a lock and needed this one to complete the contract. Whatever the reason, the appearance of a civilian lock on a military arm is unusual.
Flayderman, Norm. Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms…and their Values, Gun Digest Books, Iola, 2007. 9th edition.
Gardner, Robert E. Col. Small Arms Makers: A Directory of Fabricators of Firearms, Edged Weapons, Crossbows and Polearms, Crown Publishers Inc, New York: 1963, p. 122.
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 98.
Currently not on view
Object Name
pistol, flintlock
date made
ca 1797
pistol maker
lock maker
Ketland & Co.
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 16 1/2 in; 41.91 cm
overall: 16 1/2 in x 6 1/2 in x 2 5/16 in; 41.91 cm x 16.51 cm x 5.9055 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
The Bitter Collection of Firearms
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
The Bitter Collection of Firearms
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
The Adriana and Edwin W. Bitter Family Collection
Additional Media

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