A Spanish Colonial a flintlock ‘Cavalry pistol’ of the 1803 – 1812 period featuring a very rare type of flintlock with both half and full cock notches on both the tumbler and edge of cock. This is the exact pistol pictured and described in “Spanish Colonial Weapons in Colonial America 1700-1821,” by S. Brinkerhoff & P. A. Chamberlain, Stackpole Books, 1972, page 5-54, pate 83 & 84 (see photos below).This is a large and imposing military pistol, 15” long with 9” barrel. It is .69 caliber.
Most Spanish pistols from the 17th century on were built with substantial belt hooks on the the left sides of the stock opposite the lock. This pistol has a large saddle ring instead indicating it was to be carried in the manner of a carbine – attached to an over the shoulder ‘carbine sling’ which was the standard way for mounted troops to carry their carbines from the early 18th cent. into the early 20th cent.
In the first decade of the 19th century some officers of mounted troops thought the usual pistol caliber for cavalry – .54 to .62 – was not powerful enough and they decided to equip some mounted troops with .69 caliber ‘horse pistols’ which was full musket bore in the US, France, and other countries. The British introduced a .69 caliber Heavy Dragoon Pistol jn 1796 and the US Springfield Arsenal built some .69 caliber model 1817 pistols in 1817-1818. It was thought these big pistols with a full musket/carbine load – either a single ball, or buck & ball load would better serve in mounted battles. In any event troops issued these ‘magnum’ pistols didn’t like them at all – too much recoil and too heavy – and managed to discard them as quickly as possible.
In the case of this horse-pistol it is most likely a Spanish Colonial officer in Mexico or the Southwest had it built as an alternative to carrying a carbine since it would be less cumbersome in close range running fights with the enemies he would most likely encounter – Comanches, Apaches, and Yaqui – and he wanted the most powerful handgun he could get appreciating the ferocity of his enemies.
The pistol is stocked in Birch which trees are native to New Mexico, Arizona, some parts of Texas, and Northern Mexico. The lock has Spanish military markings as does the bottom of the barrel. The brass side plate is of Spanish military form. The stock is very well designed affording the user a sure and comfortable grip. The pistol shows fine quality of workmanship throughout.
The pistol is in excellent original condition. It has untouched fine patina, is in excellent mechanical condition, and the stock retains its original surface with fine patina and color.
When the Brinkerhoff & Chamberlain book was published in 1972 this pistol was credited as being in the collection of Maj. Noel Corry, a very well known collector and antique arms expert who wrote many articles for antique arms publications from the 1950s to the 1970s “Spanish Colonial Arms…”, is still to my knowledge the standard reference work on Spanish Colonial arms for collectors interested in the firearms and edged weapons used in Texas, the Southwest, and Mexico during an important period of American Frontier history.
This is a truly rare and impressive pistol which is also good looking and in excellent original condition. Being pictured in a classic reference book on arms of its type gives this pistol special status as both a collectors piece and an investment.