McCormick Type Ship's Pistol

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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
date made
ca 1797
pistol maker
lock maker
Ketland & Co.
place made
United States
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
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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