U.S. Model 1805 Pistol

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Physical Description:
This .56 caliber smoothbore flintlock U.S. Model 1805 pistol was made at Harpers Ferry. It is key fastened with a half stock. It has a brass reinforcing band and brass furniture. The round barrel with rib and ramrod ferrule is all iron.
The barrel is stamped “103” and “US” next to an eagle. The lockplate is stamped “HARPERS/FERRY/1806” and “US” under an eagle.
Harper’s Ferry was named after Robert Harper – a mill owner – who purchased the land from Lord Fairfax in 1798. An Act of Congress on April 2, 1794 established the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry in Virginia. The site was personally inspected and chosen by George Washington. Harpers Ferry produced hundreds of thousands of pistols and firearms for government use between 1796 and 1861. On April 18, 186, Lt. Roger Jones – in charge of Harper’s Ferry at the time – burned the armory for fear of it falling into the hands of the Virginia militia.
Harper’s Ferry pistols always came in pairs and were often used as models by contractors and other armories in the United States. This particular pistol is very rare. It is stamped 1806. Despite over 300 Model 1805 pistols being manufactured at Harper’s Ferry, only 33 have been recorded to bear the 1806 stamp.
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. 84.
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 178.
Currently on loan
date made
associated date
Harpers Ferry
place made
United States: West Virginia, Harpers Ferry
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 16 1/4 in; 41.275 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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