McCormick Horse Pistol

McCormick Horse Pistol

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Physical Description:
This.67 caliber unproofed, smoothbore flintlock horse pistol was made by Robert McCormick of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It has a pin fastened, walnut stock with a narrow brass barrel band. It has brass mountings with an engraved brass trigger guard in a pineapple finial.
This pistol does not have any proof marks but does have “UNITED/STATES” stamped at the rear of the lockplate and “Ketland/&Co.” stamped in script under the flash pan.
Robert McCormick is an Irishman who came to America and leased the Globe Mills in 1798 to produce firearms. He was contracted by the U.S. government for Muskets that same year. In 1799, he had another contract, but did not finish it because he was thrown in debtor’s prison in 1801. That contract was finished by an employee named James Haslett – who would move on to run the Virginia Manufactory.
This pistol is very rare. Because there are no proofmarks, two theories emerge for this pistol. The first is that it was sold for civilian use. The trigger guard’s engraving is not that of a military pistol and the side plate is not symmetrical. Also the grip has a sharper slope than a military horseman pistol. The second theory is that because of its martial size, this pistol could have been put together from parts in a military warehouse.
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. 92.
Currently not on view
Object Name
pistol, flintlock
Other Terms
pistol; Firearms; Flintlock;.69 In; Smooth Bore; Muzzle Load; Sa
date made
ca 1799
McCormick, Robert
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 16 1/8 in; 40.9575 cm
overall: 16 1/8 in x 6 1/2 in x 1 3/4 in; 40.9575 cm x 16.51 cm x 4.445 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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