Tell me about pepperboxes


February 14, 2013, 04:12 PM
I'm in one of my "acquire interesting and oddball guns" moods these days, as you all know from my recent Howdah purchase.

Pepperbox pistols have always kind of intrigued me, and the recent post of one in the Belly Guns thread reminded me about them. They look fun to shoot.

Dixie Gun Works has a kit for 142$, but the reviews are mixed at best, and lots and lots of complaints about quality, so that makes me lean away from buying it despite the low price. Are there any decent kits or complete guns out there that aren't super expensive? (I'd be willing to spend about 250 on something like that right now)

I recognize that they're essentially multi-shot derringers. I don't have any real purpose for one, it's purely a desire for something neat that I can play with at the range. If it'll hit paper at 7 yards, it's done it's job. I just like to turn heads and make people ask me "what the heck is that?!" :evil:

So...pepperboxes. Discuss!

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February 14, 2013, 04:49 PM
I got to hold an old one the other day. It's kind of a crazy design, definitely worth checking one out if you get a chance. This one wasn't in shootable condition unfortunately or I might have bought it.

I'm not aware of any good reproductions - there have been a few over the years, and you see them on gunbroker sometimes, but they're usually not that great looking.

February 14, 2013, 05:09 PM
Pepperboxes were popular back before they had figured out how to time cylinders. In the past, I've had one original and one kit I made. Both worked fine. I have had one or two "doubles" (another nearby barrel goes off at the same time as the one under the hammer) but that doesn't destroy things like a cylinder revolver.

They are definitely fun to play with. It is advisable to not try maximum powder loads with them.
They are considered "belly guns" ~ not very accurate.

February 14, 2013, 07:28 PM
Not sure what they go for but hoppes made a pepperbox in the 70s I think. They were single action, not double like the ethan allen originals. Actually I think thats what hoppes sold them as. I got mine from an estate sale. I think they are 36 cal. Might try searching the net for one.

February 14, 2013, 08:43 PM
I did a little bit of searching, and didn't see a ton of them out there. I'm tempted to get the kit from DGW in spite of the bad reviews. I'll wait a while and ponder the replies. They definitely interest me though.

DoubleDeuce 1
February 14, 2013, 09:00 PM
I had one of those revolvers you mentioned marketed by Dixie. They were originally made by Classic Arms. In my opinion, they wouldn't even make a good bumper on a Yugo, much less a decent fishing weight. I did not purchase my pepper box from Dixie. I bought it directly from Classic Arms back in the 1970's. It was a thorough disappointment and a complete waste of money not to mention the time waiting for the thing, which was well over a year. Anything from the Classic Arms line is in my opinion over priced and for the most part garbage. I have owned a few of their products, and now they sit in a scrap heap or rusting on the bottom of San Francisco Bay. Originally they were made here in the U.S. Later they were being produced in Korea. I have no idea where they are made now.

I do have a Hoppe's pepper box. I think it is a far better piece of machinery, and it looks better too. I would encourage you to save your money and aviod the disappointment from buying the Classic Arms trash.:cool:

Acorn Mush
February 14, 2013, 10:08 PM
...aviod the disappointment from buying the Classic Arms trash.

+10 to that! Classic Arms = :barf:

Be patient and save your money. Something better will show up.

February 14, 2013, 10:47 PM
I have an original Allen and Wheelock 6-shot .31 caliber pepperbox pistol. I know these were popular with the '49ers because Colt pistols at that time were pricy and in short supply. They are notorious for multiple (or all) shots going off when fired. Cap fit is and was critical since the nipple end of the barrel cluster is enclosed in a shroud. I did shoot mine on several occasions and you can hit the side of a barn with them but it helps if you are inside. I have a lot of experience with cap & ball revolvers, and I had several multiple discharges with my pepperbox even with very careful loading. Read Mark Twain's book "Roughing it." There are several humorous passages referring the the "Allen pistol known as a pepperbox."

February 14, 2013, 11:03 PM
I noticed your reference to Col Bledsoe. I mark his grave every Memorial Day in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. My grandmother remembered him as "Old Man Bledsoe" who would yell at them if they cut across his yard. That would have been in the 1890's. How did you get so far north?

Jim K
February 14, 2013, 11:42 PM
I have an original that I have fired - no multiple discharges. It times and locks up pretty well (remember, there is no need to line up a chamber with the barrel as with a revolver). It is one of the early Allen & Thurbers with the nipples machined as part of the breech, not screwed in.

I once showed it to an "expert" and mentioned that the nipples don't unscrew. He told me I was wrong and was reaching for a pair of Visegrips when I left the scene, quickly.


February 15, 2013, 07:52 AM
Busyhands started a thread on Mouseguns and I posted a couple of pictures of the Classics arms paper weight. Appeaarently THR does not allow reposting of a picture you posted in the past or at least I can not figure out the go around for such so serch for the thread to look for the pictures

BTW I owned a Yugo and the Classic Arms gun would be an insult to the abilities of Serbo Croatian manufacturing and design.

Mine is a plated model which I believe was offered ony assembled, I got it at a pawn shop.

Issues are a trigger pull that takes a month of prepping index finger muscles at the gym and the edges of the trigger are quite sharp. Also the Classic guns are not "self indexing" as in pulling the trigger only raises and releases the bar hammer, the barrels must be rotated by twisting them by hand. There are no sights.....not that they would make much difference with that trigger pull. Honestly the old HK VP70 was feather light by comparison and I seem to recall they ran about 20 pounds.


February 15, 2013, 10:13 AM
Haha. Fair enough, classic arms=no go. Perhaps I'll happen across a steal on one someday. They're a pretty interesting design.

February 15, 2013, 09:48 PM
I've got 1840's vintage original, but I've never been tempted to fire it.

February 15, 2013, 11:38 PM
My dad has an original Allen & Thurber.
I've been very tempted to shoot it on multiple occasions.
Have never done so. Never had BP or balls or caps when I was living at home.
Plus, my dad would have whipped my butt for doing so.

February 16, 2013, 06:35 AM
During my search that ended with my aking a pawn broker happy and gaining me a paper weight I have already meantioned I saw a number of originals at shows. Dispite their value and my beginning every encounter with "There is absolutely no way I could buy that...." in every case the owners politely let me handle the originals which ranged from little bitty to even bigger and bulkier than the Classic Arms thing.

Was an interesting search.

It is funny. the Classic Arms guns on GunBroker sometimes never sell for near nothing and then one goes for enough to buy a very nice BP revolver. SOmetimes two will be up at once and one go for peanuts or even not go for peanuts and another fetch more than a Spiller & Burr.....go figure.

Now if someone had offered me a shootable steel .36 Colt or Remmie or a very nice Brasser of the same I would be out in the shop boxing that paper weight this morning...... but I aint holding my breath.......


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