Elgin Patent Cutlass Pistol


Physical Description:

This .54 caliber U.S. Navy Elgin patent percussion cutlass pistol was made by C.B. Allen of Springfield, Massachusetts. It still has its original scabbard. It is a boxlock type frame with a five inch octagonal barrel. There is an 11” Bowie type blade underneath.

On the left side of the pistol, “C B ALLEN/SPRINGFIELD/MASS” is stamped. The barrel is stamped “ELGINS/PATENT”.


C. B Allen was the other manufacturer besides Morrill, Mossman and Blair that created cutlass pistols because of the spreading popularity of the Bowie Knife.

James Bowie became a folk hero because of his reckless nature, contribution to the Texas Revolution and his death at the Alamo, but it was the Sandbar Fight in 1827 that made Bowie famous. After being shot and stabbed, Bowie killed Norris Wright, the Sheriff of Rapides Parish with a large knife that came to be known as the Bowie Knife.

The knife became legend and George Elgin patented the Bowie Knife on July 5, 1837. With this patent, Allen produced this type of pistol. It was the first percussion handgun officially used by the U.S. military and the only knife pistol used by an U.S. military service. There were only 150 produced on Navy Contract – some being used by the Wilkes-South Sea Expedition.


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. 2.

Texas State Historical Society. “Bowie, James,” The Texas State Historical Association. < www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbo45>.

Date Made: ca 1838

Associated: Wilkes, CharlesMaker: Allen, C. B.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Massachusetts, Springfield

See more items in: Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military, Military, The Bitter Collection of Firearms


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: The Adriana and Edwin W. Bitter Family Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1985.0783.17Accession Number: 1985.0783Catalog Number: 1985.0783.17

Object Name: cutlass-pistolpistol-cutlass, percussionOther Terms: pistol-cutlass; cutlass-pistol; Firearms; Navy; Center Fire; .54 In; Smooth Bore; Muzzle Load; Sa

Physical Description: metal (part material)wood (part material)Measurements: overall: 17 1/4 in; 43.815 cmoverall, pistol: 1 1/4 in x 17 1/4 in x 5 in; 3.175 cm x 43.815 cm x 12.7 cmoverall, scabbard: 1 3/8 in x 11 1/2 in x 3 3/8 in; 3.4925 cm x 29.21 cm x 8.5725 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ab-a09f-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_438557

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