US army Model 1842 .54 percussion pistol

This item is HIRE ONLY for use by a recognised Film, TV, Commercials or Theatre production company.




The US army Model 1842 percussion pistol was made under government contract at the M. Aston Company of Middletown, Connecticut, until production was ended in 1852.

The Model 1842 was the first general issue percussion pistol adopted by the US army, it closely resembles the earlier Model 1836 flintlock and was issued in pairs to be carried in saddle holsters. This pistol saw significant use by US cavalry troops during the Indian Wars, the Mexican War and the US Civil War until superceded by percussion revolvers.

It is a single shot, muzzle loading, smooth bore pistol, firing a lead ball seated upon a charge of black powder that requires loading carefully. A percussion cap is seated on the nipple and it is this, when struck by the hammer, that initiates the charge. It is a much more dependable ignition system than its predecessor, the flintlock.

After several shots, the barrel would have increasing residue and fouling from the fired black powder making subsequent reloading increasingly difficult until the barrel was cleaned by scrubbing out with hot soapy water and bristle brush, drying and then oiling it.

Not always convenient to do of course, there could be more alarming matters to attend to, but historically, a sobering point to note.

Also, a pistol of this period was very likely to be pressed into service as a club once fired in a hand to hand encounter, so it did need to be robust.

Helpful Info

This pistol would be carried by a US cavalryman from 1842 until the 1860’s. Also to be seen in civilian use during that period.

Foxtrot example shown here is a replica US army Model 1842, calibre .54 muzzle-loading black powder percussion pistol. It has an 8 1/2”, smooth-bore barrel, lock and fittings, all in a blued finish, a wooden stock and it is fitted with a swivel ramrod that prevents the loss of the ramrod at a critical moment.

Film Set Notes

Black powder gives a slower burn than smokeless loads, resulting in a bright muzzle flash with sparks, accompanied by an amount of smoke, always a dramatic look to black powder weapons.

Actors will require specific artiste training in their use beforehand to accustom them to the unusual characteristics and specific handling requirements to avoid misfires and delays on camera. They are quirky but look great when fired.