Pepper-box - Early Years

Early Years

This type of firearm was popular in North America from 1830 until the American Civil War, but the concept was introduced much earlier. In the 15th century, several single-shot barrels were attached to a stock, being fired individually by means of a match.

Around 1790, pepperboxes were built on the basis of flintlock systems, notably by Nock in England and "Segallas" in Belgium. These weapons, building on the success of the earlier two-barrel turnover pistols, were fitted with three, four or seven barrels. These early pepperboxes were hand-rotated.

The invention of the percussion cap by Joshua Shaw, building on Alexander Forsyth's innovations, and the industrial revolution allowed pepperbox revolvers to be mass-produced, making them more affordable than the early handmade guns previously only seen in the hands of the rich. Examples of these early weapons are the English Budding (probably the first English percussion pepperbox), the Swedish Engholm and the American threebarrel Manhattan pistol.

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