Pepper-box - Revival


The pepperbox experienced a kind of "revival" in the late 19th century as a short, easily concealable pocketweapon that used pinfire cartridges. A special variation of this kind of handgun, in which the shortness of the barrel cluster was fully utilized, is the French "Apache revolver." This weapon, allegedly popular among Paris street gangs, was fitted with a folding blade and knuckle-duster. The pepperboxes from this period disappeared with the demise of the pinfire cartridge.

The Christian Sharps 4-barrel derringer was another pepperbox that survived into the late 19th century. Like contemporary pistols including the Colt Thuer and 2-barrel Remington, it had a sheath trigger that appeared when the hammer was cocked. Cartridges were loaded into this 4-shot gun by sliding the barrels forward. It first appeared in 1859 and was used by many soldiers during the Civil War, remaining in production until 1874. After the war it became popular in the Old West among lawmen, outlaws and gamblers as its small size allowed it to be concealed in a waistcoat pocket.

The Swedish five-barrel made by Feilitzenre is the only pepperbox that was ever taken into consideration for use by an army. In the late 19th century many British officers used the privately-purchased 4-barrel Lancaster pistol in preference to the standard-issue Beaumont-Adams and Webley revolvers as it had greater stopping power, a faster rate of fire and was quicker to reload. This break-action pepperbox, available in calibers as large as .476 (with even a double barrel version in caliber .577 available) worked in a similar way to the Sharps Pocket Pistol: its striker, not the barrels, revolved.

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