Philadelphia Derringer

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Johnm1, Jun 26, 2022.

  1. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    I've been wanting to build one of these from a kit but they have been unavailable since before the pandemic started. This was an add on for a trade I made for the Mossberg 146B that is the subject of a couple of posts. Basically my trade was worth more than the asking price for the Mossberg. So we through that in to even things up.

    I was a little disappointed in that this isn't a replica of the gun that shot Lincoln. It is much too large and somewhat of a different shape. The barrel is much to `Massive`. But it is as close as I can get without making one from scratch. I don't care for the beech stock and finish. I suspect the clear finish is a polyurethane. It feels 'plasticky'. It came with the metal unfinished. (Terrible picture but the barrel is silver and shiny.

    20220625_164522.jpg

    20220625_164508.jpg

    I've never 'Browned' anything but the process is pretty simple.

    20220626_165016.jpg
    Yes, I forgot to brown the screw. But the hockey game is about to start. I'll get it later.
    20220626_165106.jpg

    20220626_165112.jpg

    The grip shape is odd but feels nice in the hand while holding it. I haven't fired it yet so I'll reserve judgment on the grip until after firing it.

    As far as firing goes I bought some 0.440" balls. The barrel measures 0.4415 bore, and 0.455" groove. These are rough measurements with a caliper. So subject to verification upon firing.
     
    hrt4me, Viers and South Prairie Jim like this.
  2. Bighorserider

    Bighorserider Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2022
    Messages:
    5
    Looks like the escutcheons could use some inletting. I used to have one just like that. It was my first muzzle loader kit build 40 years ago.
     
    Patocazador likes this.
  3. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    I noticed that as well. Not sure I want to cut into the clear finish though. I strongly suspect it is polyurethane and wont touch up easily. To get it off I assume some wood would come off with it and I don't think I want to re-shape this one. I think this one will fall into the category of "It is what it is". Now if the clear coat could be stripped with chemicals I'd be on board. Or if I could find a suitable stock I might be up for it.
     
  4. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    By the way, welcome to the forum @Bighorserider
     
  5. Jimster

    Jimster Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Messages:
    971
    Location:
    IL
    That was my first muzzleloader/kit as well. Back in the roaring ‘70s.
     
    Patocazador likes this.
  6. paul harm

    paul harm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2018
    Messages:
    675
    I also had one back in the 70s. As I remember the lock didn't have a bridle and now that I know more it's something I'd demand in a lock. I still after all these years think it's a cool looking gun. If I saw another at a good price I'd buy it.
    If it were me I'd draw file the numbers off the barrel and brown it. The stock I'd strip and find a stain or dye that would give me the color I'd be happy with then some Watco Danish Oil for finish.
     
    Johnm1 likes this.
  7. film495

    film495 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,917
    the first few pictures look very yellow. it it were me, eventually I'd strip that poly off, any remover will work - and then just clean up the wood a touch and add some darker stain of choice to it, and poly it back up. I like the lower gloss poly, the super shiny looks like plastic to me, and people put too much of it on IMHO. a low gloss, and just enough to seal the wood up good.

    the latter pictures look much better to me. you could also just take the stock off and leave it in the sun for a while, to see how much it darkens up. I'd dull that a bit with 0000 steel wood, just to make it a little less plastic look and feel.
     
    Johnm1 likes this.
  8. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    In reality the color is in between the two sets of pictures. The first set is in direct sunlight and appears more yellow than it really is. The second set of pictures is done in reflected light and it appears darker than it really is. I have a difficult time getting pictures to portray what something actually looks like.

    I may well pull the poly off and try to dye it to a darker color. If for no other reason but to practice for another project a friend just inherited. A Parker Hale that has poly slathered on it.
     
  9. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    The darn tang screw was a bugger to brown. I wonder if it didn't start out cad plated. I had to file it down to get the brown to stay.

    20220630_203117.jpg

    Not a match but I suspect the steel in the screw is much different than the barrel. Now that I look at the above close up, the hammer needs some work on the seam line.

    The brass trigger guard has been antiqued. I assume it started shiny. Does anyone know how that is done? I'd assume acid is used in some diluted form.

    20220629_165149.jpg

    20220626_165016.jpg
     
  10. film495

    film495 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,917
    RGB, red green blue, cyan magenta yellow, yellow and blue I believe are complimentary colors, so - if you want it a bit more brown and darker, there are probably some coatings you can just buff up the exiting poly and add a touch of poly with some tint in it - and it will probably do what you are looking for with the least effort. something with a bit more blue in it will tamp down the yellow hue some.
     
    Johnm1 likes this.
  11. 1942farmall

    1942farmall Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2021
    Messages:
    18
    Might be Birchwood Casey brass black.
    I found part of a butchered kit gun disassembled in my father in laws stuff after he died that I had fun with. Almost tossed it.
    Lots of plugs and inlays to fix screwed up areas and fluted the barrel to get rid of the half filed off roll stamp.
    I did shorten the barrel pin after these photos.
     

    Attached Files:

    Jimbo80, Johnm1 and Rustmangler like this.
  12. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    I may take it down by stripping and dye the beech wood. I need to practice for another project.

    That is some nice work!
     
  13. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2016
    Messages:
    3,708
    After buying the Lyman GPP in .54 this year I'd definitely like to have another smaller true muzzleloader that's not a revolver. If I could find a snake eyes derringer I'd jump on it, two shots of .36 caliber balls is nothing to sneeze at and those are smaller and more practical than the Philadelphia, but more potent than .31 Colt Pocket revolvers.

    Nice job on the browning, now file in some dovetails for some sights.
     
  14. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    12,628
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    I wish that "Philadephia" derringer was .50 instead of .44 ! I paired one with my .50 "Hawken" over the fireplace. I like to keep things as I would have had them during "back in the day"

    I have a "liege" Pedersoli screw Barrel .44 derringer with my .44 revolvers, same bullet and that little Jewel hits hard for what it is !

    I paired a Lyman Plains Pistol in .50 with my .50 Lyman Deer Stalker carbine I actually go black powder hunting with. The pistol is a great finisher , if needed and legal !
    "back in the day" , before revolvers I would have that Plains pistol (or two) and rifle in .50 and a SxS 10 guage "coach gun" like my Pedersoli if I was traveling around on the Land ! All I would need would be .50 balls and some #6 bird shot patch material caps and Holy Black !

    Later during revolver days an 1860 Army (or two like I have) .44 and the same .50 rifle and 10 gauge SxS would really be nice traveling

    If settled on a farm a .36 revolver , a derringer , and rifle in .36 and the same SxS would be adequate until the Cartridge era.
     
    Johnm1 likes this.
  15. film495

    film495 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,917
    I have a couple of newish Ruger stocks that I think are Beech. I was going to mess with the finish, just cause I thought a bit darker was better, and what do I know about Beech wood, not much, so - I stared at it for a while and decided I liked it. Wonder if you can find out what basic type of stain they use, and then just use that as a baseline. I think all I ended up doing to them was dull them up a bit with some 0000 steel wool, and then just seal all the wood in good with wax, and called it good, they are shooters so - I figure I'll ding them up over the years, so - can't be too picky if you're gonna shoot it.
     
    Johnm1 likes this.
  16. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2012
    Messages:
    5,417
    Location:
    Central Florida
    As others have written, my first kit was also a Philadelphia derringer. I just put it together as it was and it fit pretty good. At the time I didn't have the knowledge nor the tools to do a good job. Mine came with a post front sight that had to be tapped into the barrel but I had no Idea of how to do that at the time.
    I still have it and it fires as it should but it isn't very pretty. As I recall, I got it at a pawn shop for less than $20.
     
    Johnm1, Gordon and Jimster like this.
  17. paul harm

    paul harm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2018
    Messages:
    675
    Use black powder residue to antique the brass. The action plate - if you don't like the way it looks you can lightly sand it to remove any colors and then dab with your finger with some browning and some bluing solutions on it. Maybe handle it a bit first to leave some oils from your skin. Also dilute some of the bluing and have some non diluted for different shades so you get something that looks like case coloring. Have a rag or paper towel handy to stop any coloring. The above I learned from a friend who was a gunsmith and would make older guns still look old after he worked on them.
    I use to make Damascus knives and hand forged high carbon steel knives for cowboys and muzzleloaders. The steel knives I would dab on mustard. Leave em sit all day then rub off the mustard under running water with a rag. If it wasn't what I wanted, just do it again until it did look old the way I wanted. At a gunshow where I was selling my knives, a guy was looking at them for about ten minutes. Normally I don't say anything, but this time I ask him if I could answer any questions. He ask me where I found so many nice old knives. I said I had made all of them in the last year or so. He said no, he could see they were old. I said thank you, they're suppose to look old. That mustard must have put a protective film on the steel. Well, at least they didn't rust quite so easily. And if they did, just take some 4 O steel wool and bingo, it would look good again with a little more color. Just a couple of ideas that may be helpful.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2022
    Johnm1 likes this.
  18. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    Thanks for all of the comments. They are all appreciated. Despite what follows, this one will likely remain unchanged and fired for fun.

    I mentioned that I was a little disappointed that this unit wasn't a better replica of the Derringer that shot Lincoln. I've done a little research and it could be made to look a bit closer. Things that are different are as follows:

    - Beech stock instead of walnut - could work around this with some work
    - Barrel pin instead of a wedge - this could be changed
    - trigger guard is brass instead of steel - it could be finished to look like steel
    - trigger guard is the wrong shape
    - Does not have a grip cap - one could be purchased or made.
    - The lock plate is significantly different than the original - a new plate could be made that replicates the original shape and the guts of the lock transferred to the new lock plate

    As this kit was built (by someone else) there really wasn't any attempt to replicate the original and the following would have to be changed from how the kit was originally built:

    - the barrel needs to transition from half octagon to round at the muzzle
    - the tang area and the grip need to be reshaped to mimic the original. The tang area should be rounded instead of flat and the grip needs to be reshaped to rounded
    - checkering needs to be added to the reshaped grip.

    Thats a lot of work.

    Here is a picture of the actual firearm that shot Lincoln

    Booth_deringer.jpg

    Here is a picture of the original grip cap
    35783-1593742480428.png

    As far as originals go, I've seen them for $3,300. A little out of my pay grade.
     
    forward observer and Gordon like this.
  19. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    Well, I can report that the Derringer goes bang. Every time! The stock and brown finish exited this test fire well. No cracks in the wood and only a slight discoloration near the muzxle that disappears when cleaned/oiled. I started with 15 grains of 3F and ended with 20 grains of the same. Recoil was minimal and ultimately manageable.

    What I can't report on is where any of the balls ended up. Bear with me on this one. The range trip today was for several things and firing this Derringer was only one of the planned tasks. Add to that the range has an 11 yard minimum for targets. Just a wee bit beyond this firearms intended rangeo_O Especially considering that this particular specimen has no sights. Pretty much all I wanted to accomplish was to make sure it fired and didn't break itself. That mission was accomplished. The shortest target I set today was at 25 yards. Needless to say I never hit that:eek:. So i started aiming at the ground at the 100 yard berm. And guess what? I missed!:cuss: 200 yards left to right and 100 yards out with no obstructions and you'd figure I'd be able to see some dirt fly? Nope they just disappeared! Maybe they hit on the other side of the 100 yard berm. So I aimed at the ground next to my 25 yard target. Nothin! :(

    Needless to say there are no photographs of targets with groups. .:)

    I suspect that it will be as accurate as my Queen Anne at card table distance. I'll just have to test that when the desert opens up again for shooting. Despite not knowing where the rounds are going, I'm not disappointed. I think I'll look at the original and figure a way to add the sights.
     
  20. RevolvingGarbage

    RevolvingGarbage Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,472
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I have one of the very same I got from a local shop for about $80, maybe 3 or 4 years ago. It was assembled and fit very poorly and I’ve been slowly working on it but it’s definitely not ready to show yet. I shoot mine with a .45ACP case worth of 3F goex, or with some of the old can of Pyrodex RS I have just to use the stuff up.

    Lead .437 balls work well with a patch, but I have also fired a few 262gr LRN bullets I have for loading Webley food and those seemed to work pretty well due to the hollow base. Quite a bit of thump. I did also fire a few .437 steel pachinko balls I bought off amazon just to see how they work, and the gun didn’t seem to mind them. Just need to think of a good use case for them...
     
    Gordon likes this.
  21. paul harm

    paul harm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2018
    Messages:
    675
    You were talking about making it look more original. Look at the hammer/nipple/breech area. On originals then the hammer is down on the nipple the fence on the breech plug is between the shooters face and percussion cap. Or to put it another way, the fence sticks up into the area where the hammer bends around. On modern reproductions the top of the nipple is above the fence. Now , the fence isn't doing it's job of protecting the shooter from pieces of the cap blowing off when shot.
    Actually what I'm talking about is much more pronounced with a Hawkin than the Lincoln gun.
     
  22. forward observer

    forward observer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2013
    Messages:
    488
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Pedersoli is the only company today making a decent copy of a Philadephia style Deringer but they aren't cheap and are still just a bit larger than the one that Booth used. This listing says .45 cal but the one used by Booth was .44 cal.

    Dixie gun works sells it in both a kit and finished form with the kit being less, but then one would have to hand checker the stock and have the side plates engraved.

    Finished gun
    https://www.dixiegunworks.com/index/page/product/product_id/9004/category/321/category_chain/312,318,321/product_name/PH0913+PHILADELPHIA+DERRINGER

    Kit form
    https://www.dixiegunworks.com/index/page/product/product_id/9006/category/327/category_chain/312,325,327/product_name/PK0863+PHILADELPHIA+DERRINGER+KIT



    There is a bit of confusion about the spelling of Derringer. Henry Deringer spelled his name with only one "r". However, because his pistols were so popular they were copied by many other gunsmiths who simply borrowed his name to help sell their knock-offs.

    Even though he had no patent on his pistols and there were no trademark laws at the time, many of the imitators tried to avoid any litigation by simply spelling his name with two "r"s. Oddly, that copied form became the generic spelling for all small pocket pistols. Most spell-check software will try to correct the spelling to two r's.

    I have a set of two matched commemorative cased Deringers that were sold by the US Historical Society back in the early 1980s. They were made for the USHS by Uberti but one has to remove the barrel to see the proofs and date codes. The only non-historical marks that can be seen are the matching serial numbers with an A & B suffix out of the limited run of sets. They are supposed to be fairly accurate copies of the Lincoln/Booth Deringer and the barrels are only 2.5 inches long not including the tang.

    Here's a link to my old thread where I posted several pictures of the set along with a dueling set I got at the same time.

    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/my-early-christmas-presents-to-my-self-beware-long-story.829766/#post-10704812

    Scroll down past the pictures of the dueling set for shots of the Deringers. I've never attempted to shoot them as they just seem too delicate.




    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
  23. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    Man those got expensive. Although the lock is much closer to the original than what I have it is apparently still to large compared to the original. I'm going to research the size a little bit more. I know mine is substantially larger than an original but it only cost $90. For $400 it would need to be very close to the original.
     
  24. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    That was an excellent post and beautiful firearms. Thanks for directing us there. I suspect that your Lincoln pistols are true to size as well as detail.

    Now in that pist was this little gem:

    "Matched pair of screw barrel flint locks that belonged to Thomas Jefferson"

    Now this interests me greatly. I have a soft spot for Turn Off Flintlocks and a replica of one (or two) of those would be excellent. It wouldn't need to be a commemorative version though I'd bet they were the only replicas made of them.

    Did you ever shoot one of the dueling pistols?
     
  25. forward observer

    forward observer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2013
    Messages:
    488
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Yeah, just about anything Pedersoli makes these days is pricy. They are maybe the last Italian company left making fine flintlock pistols and long guns. They do import American black walnut and curly maple for their American replicas so I guess that's part of the cost.

    I have yet to shoot one of the duelers. I bought the correct size balls from Track of the Wolf and got some new flints but I haven't been to the range since before the pandemic started.

    The cased pairs of the reproduction Jefferson screw barrel flint box lock pistols show up from time to time at auction and on Gunbroker. I've seen them go as low as $1200 and as high as $2k.

    I don't own the set but here are some pictures of one that sold at Rock Island last year. These were never offered singly to the best of my knowledge--just in way overpriced commemoratives set that never retained their original value in that they sell for less now than they did 35 to 45 years ago.
    https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/2042/916/cased-pair-of-us-historical-society-thomas-jefferson-pistols


    Still, most of the initial issues that the US Historical Society initially produced were one-of-a-kind unique historical issues and never mass-produced so their prices today sometimes represent a decent value. Unfortunately, toward the end, the USHS started making generic commemoratives by simply taking standard production items like a Uberti 3rd model percussion Dragoon and pimping it up with gaudy gold plating. The company got bought out by "America Remembers" which sort of specializes in gaudy stuff like a .45 automatic dedicated to the late country singer Conway Twitty. You can already see the gold plate wearing off on the front end of the slide and that's an actual promo picture.:barf:

    Conway-Twitty-Full-Left.jpg


    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2022
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice