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172 Years Young! (M1842 Horse Pistol)

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Remy1858, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. Remy1858

    Remy1858 Member

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    Got my M1842 Aston horseman’s pistol to the range today, made in 1847:

    1-F62-FBAC-4748-4-EBD-839-F-0-E8674047-B79.jpg

    60584887-881-F-4287-B7-ED-573046486-AA0.jpg

    Shoots great! Works as good as the day it was made. I had the bore relined as it was rather pitted and replaced the nipple with a new one. Pretty accurate too, smoothbore:

    FBE2-D091-23-CE-417-F-A603-C649650708-C0.jpg

    Not too often you see a gun that was considered obsolete during the Civil War, much less shooting it! These are U.S. military pistols and cavalrymen carried two of them in saddle holsters. This one dates to the Mexican American War, and may well have rode on down there to do battle:

    64684357-3380-4209-8458-6476869-E4-A26.jpg

    This guns got a lot of service left in it! Tough old guns, you can find these Model 1842s for pretty good prices and they’re built like a tank. Very reliable and even though it’s just one shot, it’s a BIG shot (.54 caliber!) and I wouldn’t feel unarmed with one. Notice the brass buttcap? After you fire your one shot, the gun can be used as a club to whop an enemy over the head!

    Neat old guns that saw lots of action in the Mexican American War, early Indian battles, and even into the Civil War to supplement the lack of revolvers early in the conflict, especially in the South. Thanks for looking guys! :)

    -Rem
     
  2. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    In my opinion, one of finest looking weapons ever fielded by the US Army. I am selling one now to put the funds toward a better shooting grade example.
     
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  3. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    Outstanding. I've only shot a few original percussion guns and they were all long guns. Great report, thank you.
     
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  4. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    It shoots consistently,
     
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  5. indy1919a4

    indy1919a4 Member

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    So what does it entail to reline the bore on a beastie like that??? Magnificent weapon by the way.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  6. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Remy1858

    Very nicely preserved Model 1842 pistol! Pretty decent grouping too!
     
  7. Remy1858

    Remy1858 Member

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    Here’s some better pictures of the gun:

    C7615-EEE-BD34-4-AB0-9-A01-88072-F097-A59.jpg

    1-E68-B70-A-DCB8-488-F-A235-D7-E878091-F0-F.jpg

    Guys on this Veteran’s Day, don’t forget about the ones who fought back when these guns were state of the art. It’s because of these early soldiers and their sacrifice that we enjoy the country and freedoms we have today! They (and all veterans) shall not be forgotten!!

    806-DA1-AE-C70-D-4932-AB7-F-E945-A976-E2-F3.jpg
     
  8. Remy1858

    Remy1858 Member

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    Just got back from a Veteran’s Day shoot:

    068-FA5-AE-F588-49-A3-A21-A-DD3-ED5397-E88.jpg

    Starting to get the load and sight picture dialed in. I stepped up the powder charge to 35 grains of 2Fg Graf’s black powder and switched to thicker .015” patching. It’s grouping a bit better but still lots of load development needed, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering how fun it is to shoot!

    Then it got dark...

    8819-D56-C-ACA7-4-D62-98-C6-FA366-BC33-A73.png

    The muzzle flash is incredible! Shoots a massive fireball and sparks everywhere. Awesome!! I also took a “first person” photo and captured the flash from the shooter’s perspective:

    681054-D2-29-C1-47-B9-ACB7-8750550-DD295.jpg

    I don’t think I own a gun that I’m enjoying more than this horse pistol!!
     
  9. cowboydave

    cowboydave Member

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    Nice shooting and nice pictures. Thanks for posting them.
     
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  10. TikkaShooter

    TikkaShooter Member

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    As it isn't everyday they are seen; thanks for sharing the pictures..
     
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  11. forward observer

    forward observer Member

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    Very nice shooting. I snagged one last month--also produced in 1847, but haven't had a chance to shoot it yet. Mine has a good enough bore that it does not require relining. I just ordered a couple of new nipples from Track of the Wolf which should arrive Monday. Here's a link to my post with some pictures.

    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...stol-horse-not-included.857456/#post-11257796

    However, I got lucky this past weekend at the Wannenmacher show in Tulsa by snagging a really nice example of the M1842's older brother--the Model 1836 still in the original flintlock configuration. This one is also in shooting condition, but I will probably have to have the frizzen re-hardened to get a decent spark. My model 1836 was produced in 1841 by Robert Johnson--not to be confused with Ira Johnson who produced the last of the 1842's after buying the business from Aston--his former partner.

    The M1842 has the distinction of being the first "official" percussion pistol issued to the US Military, while the M1836 was the last flintlock issued. The reason I used quotation marks around the word official is that many of the 1836's were converted to percussion by the ordinance armorers, so they actually saw limited service prior to the M1842. Production did not start on the M1842 until 1846, so it's unlikely that any saw service at the start of the Mexican war.

    I have read some discussion as to what was issued during the Mexican war. For the first year, the commanders were concerned with issuing the newer percussion guns--mostly for logistical reasons. Since flints are fairly durable and naturally occurring, the only thing really needed was powder and lead to function. However, if there were no percussion caps available, the percussion guns were nothing more than fancy clubs. Supply to the Texas frontier was never a guaranteed occurrence.

    The other issue was in the paper cartridges issued. The charge for the M1836 had 10 or 20 grains of extra gunpowder, which was needed to prime the pan while the paper cartridge for the M1842 percussions did not need this extra powder. Consequently, if the wrong cartridges were issued, the M1836's could be undercharged after the pan was primed while the M1842's could be overcharged due to the extra powder intended for priming the pan.

    However, I did read one account that stated that around 6k of the M1842's were sent to the troops in 1847.

    Cheers

    P.S. Here's a link to a great guide on shooting these old warhorses along with relining tips and loading tips for accuracy.

    Shooting single shot martial pistols


    Here's a picture of my 1842 made in 1847 along with my new M1836 made in 1841
    mXu02I9.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019 at 12:47 PM
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  12. indy1919a4

    indy1919a4 Member

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    Thanks for the Logistics information & the link.. Finally I understand relining those black powder arms..

    Just a side bar question, in the world of collectable Black Powder arms does the relining devalue the piece..??
     
  13. forward observer

    forward observer Member

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    Relining a bore would not help the collectibility, but generally, one that would need relining is not that collectible to start with. In other words, if the pistol already has a shootable bore (very little to no pitting) it may be in such state that it is too collectible and therefore too expensive to subject to shooting. You just have to judge the condition versus how much you paid for the firearm.

    I snagged my 1842 last month for only $525 in an online auction and as you can see, the metal is in pretty fair condition plus the bore is about as clear as the rest of the metal that can be seen. I've seen other comparable examples for sale online and the price ranges are all over the place. The big difference in mine and more expensive versions is the wood. Such things as evidence of sanding and refinishing come into play. On my 1842, the once sharp edges of the flats around the lock are gone. The inspector's cartouches in the wood opposite the lock are there, but totally unreadable due to previous wood refinishes. This refinish of the wood might also indicate that the metal was cleaned on mine. If you look at the wood on the OP's example, his wood's sharp edges are much better than mine and the cartouches appear to be more readable. However, the metal on his has seen some oxidation, so I'm assuming he determined to have the bore relined to be safe. That makes his most valuable as a historical shooter--maybe the best of both worlds to many.

    I measured the bore on my 1842 and it was exactly .54 cal, indicating that the bore may have not seen much wear. However, I do not intend to shoot it on a regular basis--I may never fire it more than once or twice, so I saw no need to have it relined.
    There are a couple for sale right now on gunbroker.com in the $500 to $600 range that the sellers are advertising as shooters. Whether the bore would need to be relined or not will be a judgment call and it wouldn't hurt to take it to a qualified gunsmith to help with this determination.

    On the other hand, my M1836 is in much better overall condition--especially to be an older model--not to mention the fact that it escaped conversion to percussion. The bore is spotless--as is most of the metal finish. The inspector's cartouches are still fairly crisp and readable and the edges of the flats in the wood are still fairly sharp. This shot was taken with a flash that unfortunately over-amplifies every scratch and imperfection but it still shows the features I am talking about.
    XBBZKTf.jpg
    I probably will not attempt to shoot this model, since I paid substantially more for it and I would have to have the frizzen rehardened to even do so. I caught a dealer on the last day of the show getting ready to pack up. I think he had not done that well for the show and was willing to come down substantially just to get in an extra sale before leaving, but I still paid enough that I probably won't take a chance on shooting it. I would not be afraid to though.

    I hope that helps a bit.

    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019 at 5:00 PM
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  14. Jessesky

    Jessesky Member

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    What a beautiful pistol, I still need to get out to the range and shoot mine. One isn’t throwing sparks so I have to determine the issue. Since were sharing photos of horse pistols I may as well join in.

    1836 Robert Johnson
    3227CE37-703D-4464-A4E3-B99657EC25F3.jpeg
    1816 Simeon North
    529C34E7-2C5D-4CA6-969D-839C11CDB009.jpeg
     
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  15. forward observer

    forward observer Member

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    Jessesky,

    It's your fault that I bought the model 1836 after you posted that attractive picture in my post from last month. Now I also want one of the
    1816 models, but thankfully my fun money for firearms purchases is depleted for a while.

    Cheers

    P.S. If anyone is interested, here is a set of pommel holsters for sale on eBay that the seller claims are original to the Mexican war. I have no reason to doubt it since they look to be correct to me. They even have the compartments hidden under the flaps to carry the required paper cartridge tubes. Sometimes, these rigs also have decorative and/or protective brass end caps on the holsters, but not always. A real bargain at only $1650

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/MEXICAN-WA...:uBcAAOSw5QFaWCca:sc:USPSPriority!72210!US!-1
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019 at 8:09 PM
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  16. Remy1858

    Remy1858 Member

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    Here are the cartouches on my stock:

    ED6-E318-C-FEB1-49-F2-8-F39-4-C2087406-F5-B.jpg

    Nice and legible, I don’t think this stock has ever been sanded. I bought the gun because it was the right mix of original unaltered condition and price. As mentioned, so often these can be had with clearly sanded (sometimes totally rounded out) stocks with little or no markings left and the barrels and metal heavily polished. This is very very bad for collecting purposes. But above all, I bought mine as a shooter. The bore relining is a common procedure done for NSSA and target shooting. A proper reline, from someone such as Robert Hoyt (who did this one), would not decrease value in those desiring a shooter. The NSSA has a new smoothbore service pistol event and the Aston is the prime contender.

    My bore was quite rough and I indeed wanted to have it check out and relined before shooting not only for safety, but also for accuracy and ease of loading and cleaning. A rough, pitted bore is no fun to load or clean at day’s end. I also replaced the nipple that came with the gun with a new stainless steel one for best performance. The gun is in fantastic mechanical condition. Lock is strong and the internals are in superb shape.

    76-BC780-C-D0-D3-4-D71-B9-D2-5579-E09-E0756.jpg

    Gorgeous fire bluing. One of these days I’m going to detail strip and thoroughly clean all the lock pieces.
     
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  17. Jessesky

    Jessesky Member

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    Oh come on, I’m just helping give you encouragement is all. I forgot about that post! Your Robert Johnson is nicer than mine. Your cartouches are really crisp, and I have a repaired crack on the top strap of the grip. Probably from clocking someone in the head
     
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  18. Remy1858

    Remy1858 Member

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    MUST RESIST...WILLPOWER FAULTERING!!!

    If I did buy that beautiful holster set, I’d need another pistol to fill it!! Very cool to see the paper cartridge containers intact. From my research, they were just like a standard musket cartridge but with a .54 caliber ball and less powder.
     
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  19. FlSwampRat

    FlSwampRat Member

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    Very cool and have fun. I'm sure I didn't need to tell you that last part.
     
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