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Elgin Cutlass Pistol

In an effort to take advantage of Jim Bowie’s popularity, George Elgin patented a huge knife attached to a single shot percussion pistol in 1837. The idea was simply to offer a dual-purpose weapon, and it proves that human nature never does change much. I suspect that in actual use the weapon would have been pretty awkward – bulky to carry, heavy for a pistol, and clumsy for a knife. However, that didn’t stop two different manufacturers from making them on license, and several hundred willing buyers from shelling out money. In fact, the US Navy even purchased 150 of them for use in the South Seas, making the Elgin the first percussion handgun formally used by the US military. This particular one for sale at RIA is a commercial model made by Morrill, Mosman, and Blair.

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