Dueling Pistol


Physical Description:

This .52 caliber smoothbore flintlock dueling pistol was made by Simeon North. It has a browned octagonal barrel with blued breech inlaid, gold bands and a cartouche. It has a silver and blued mounted, half-cock safety behind the hammer. This pistol also has an iron front sight and open back sight. It has a finely engraved trigger guard and barrel tang but the silver oval escutcheon behind the tang is not engraved. There are finely checkered grips and horn tipped stocks with a wooden ramrod and horn tip.

The only stamped engraving on the gun is on the lockplate. Under the flashpan is the stamp “S. North”.


In 1804, duels were common practice in America. It was a way for men from all walks of life to defend their honor. The process begins when one man offends another. He then has an intermediary called a Second challenge the offender to a duel. If he accepts, the offender then chooses the weapon.

Because of the Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Duel, the popular weapon of choice was a large caliber smoothbore pistol like Simeon North’s Model 1817. This gun was chosen for many reasons. Between the years 1750-1850, it was common for a man in America to own a pair of pistols similar to this type. Also the smoothbore makes the gun relatively inaccurate -- duels did not always result with a death.


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, 142.

Pbs.org. “History of Dueling in American,” The American Experience. .

Hussey, Jeannette. The Code Duello. National Portrait Gallery: Washington: 1980

Date Made: ca 1817

Maker: North, Simeon

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Connecticut, Middletown

See more items in: Military and Society: 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: 1983.0777.11Accession Number: 1983.0777Catalog Number: 1983.0777.11Collector/Donor Number: P138L

Object Name: pistolpistol, flintlockOther Terms: pistol; Firearms; Flintlock; .54 In; Smooth Bore; Muzzle Load; Sa; Dueling

Physical Description: metal (part material)wood (part material)Measurements: overall: 15 3/8 in; 39.0525 cmoverall: 15 7/8 in x 6 1/2 in x 1 5/8 in; 40.3225 cm x 16.51 cm x 4.1275 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ab-bc88-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_438571

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