Elgin Patent Cutlass Pistol

Elgin Patent Cutlass Pistol

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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>.
Currently not on view
Object Name
pistol-cutlass, percussion
Other Terms
pistol-cutlass; cutlass-pistol; Firearms; Navy; Center Fire;.54 In; Smooth Bore; Muzzle Load; Sa
date made
ca 1838
Wilkes, Charles
Allen, C. B.
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Springfield
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 17 1/4 in; 43.815 cm
overall, pistol: 1 1/4 in x 17 1/4 in x 5 in; 3.175 cm x 43.815 cm x 12.7 cm
overall, 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
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
The Adriana and Edwin W. Bitter Family Collection
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military
The Bitter Collection of Firearms
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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My parents neighbor in Hemet, CA had one but it was so rusted that it took me weeks to identify it by searching the web. Interesting historic item!

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