What You Need to Know: West Mercia Q&A on Firearms Licensing
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This was a significant firearm when first introduced as it was the first large bore (41 rim fire calibre) derringer. This example was made by the National Arms Company who succeeded Moore's Patent Firearm Company in 1865 and who was subsequently purchased by Colt in 1870.
The .41 Rimfire Cartridge was first introduced by the National Arms Company in 1863 and was also known as the .41 Short and the .41-100. In most designations like this, the second number refers to the black powder load, though in this case, it is impossible to fit 100 grains (6.5 g) of black powder into the case, by any means. According to “Cartridges of the World,” the .41 Rimfire consisted of a 130 grain (8.4 g) lead bullet propelled by 13 grains (0.8 g) of black powder in its original load. The round produced a muzzle velocity of 425 feet per second (130 m/s) and a muzzle energy of 52 foot-pounds force.
Most examples have a 2.5" barrel but this pistol features the shorter and rarer barrel. Approximately 3000 pistols were manufactured by the National Arms Company and this design was adopted by Colt for their popular derringer that was introduced in the 1870's.
The cylinder is released by a latch and is side opening and the metal grips and receiver are foliate engraved and complimented with a cross hatch on the rear of the pistol to enhance grip. The makers name is stamped into the top flat of the barrel.
Varieties are known that feature more complex or simpler engraving but all 2" barrels are scarce and attract a premium.
Even scarcer are pistols that are not heavily pitted as the cartridges for the pistol used corrosive mercury primers and black powder and consequently the majority have very poor bores. This one was obviously looked after and has a clean bore.
The pistol is mechanically sound and a very attractive example that would be an important addition to any collection of derringers.