Austrian Model 1862 Kavalleriepistole (Cavalry Pistol)
- Product Code: FHG-2106-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is a solid, complete example of the Austrian KavalleriepistoleM1862 Pistol. The percussion ignition, single shot “horse pistol” was an improvement over the earlier Kavalleriepistole Model 1860, as well as the even earlier Model 1851 and Model 1854 variants. The percussion ignition system had been adopted by the Austrian military in 1835 and was introduced with the Model 1838 series of arms. However, this was the not the percussion cap used by the rest of Continental Europe, Great Britain and the United States, but rather the Austin “tube” or “pill” primer system that used a small, enclosed copper detonator with hollow wires of “tubes” that extended from two sides. One of these was placed into the touchhole of the weapon, with the other used to handle the primer. The detonator was placed in a pan, very much like a flintlock pan, and when the cover was closed, the off-side wire was bent and crimped, preventing the ignition sparks from travelling in that direction. A firing pin in the top of the pan communicated the hammer blow and set off the primer, which sent a flash through the tube in the touchhole to the powder charge. This method of ignition was referred to as the Consol system in Austria as it was developed by Giuseppe Consol. In 1842, the system was improved upon by the Austrian Chief of Ordnance General Baron Vincent Augustin and became known as the Augustin Consol system. Augustin’s primary improvement was the inclusion of a spring in the firing pin that was located in the lid of the pan, which created what would be called a “rebounding firing pin” today and which helped to avoid accidental discharges. In 1854, an entirely new (and more practical) conventional percussion system was adopted by the Austrian military. Known as the “system Lorenz” as it was the work of Viennese gunsmith Josef Lorenz, it was really the true modernization of Austrian small arms and not the ignition system itself that Lorenz was responsible for. Most of the earlier 19thcentury Austrian small arms had been of between 16.9mm (about .66”) to 18.1 (about .71”). Lorenz reduced the standard caliber to 13.9mm (.547”). With the reduction in bore size and the conventional percussion cap ignition system, the new 1854 series of Lorenz small arms placed the Austrian military on an equal footing with the English and their Pattern 1853 Enfield series of arms.
The first of the 13.9mm Austrian pistols were based upon the 16.9mm M1851 pistols that had been altered from percussion. However, in 1855, an experimental 13.9mm pistol that looked very much like the M1854 Lorenz Rifle Musket was tested, and a more refined version of this pistol was officially adopted in 1860 for general issue. While much of the world had already started to issue revolvers to their infantry, Continental Europe clung to the Napoleonic era concepts of heavy and light cavalry and saw pistols, and even carbines, as secondary arms to the lance and the saber. As such, most of the European powers would retain single shot, percussion, muzzleloading “horse pistols” for their cavalry through the 1870s, even though the United States and Great Britain were issuing metallic cartridge revolvers at this time. In 1862, an improved version of the Model 1860 was adopted by the Austrian military. Like the Model 1862 Lorenz Rifle Musket and other M1862 small arms, the new version was even more “Enfield” like than the preceding version, with a much rounder “Enfield” style bolster and a more rounded “Enfield” style lock profile. For the pistol, a swinging cap safety was also added to the lock. While such devices were never particularly popular in England or America, many of the Germanic states, Austria and some of the other Continental European powers all adopted some form of percussion cap safety for their pistols, at least on a limited basis. All of the designs were intended to avoid accidental discharges in one form or another. The Austrian version was a simple pivoting stop that prevented the hammer from reaching the cap when the safety was in the “up” position, but which allowed detonation when the safety was in the “down” position.
These large, single shot, percussion muzzleloading rifled pistols were roughly 16” in overall length (officially 404mm), with 10 3/8” barrels (264mm) that were 13.9mm (.547) caliber and weighed in at a hefty 3 pounds 3 ounces (1540g). The bores were rifled with four grooves with a right hand twist, as were the Lorenz pattern rifle muskets. The barrels were secured to the stock with a single screw through the breech plug tang and a single screw-retained barrel band that resembled the nose cap of a Lorenz rifle musket. All of the furniture was of iron. A flat, S-shaped side plate with two screws retained the lock. A lanyard ring was installed in the bottom of the buttcap. Like most single shot pistol of the 19thcentury, the backstrap and gripstrap both extended to the buttcap to reinforce the grip, which tended to crack, particularly if the pistol was used as a club during combat, as many were. Sights consisted of a simple front blade with a sighting groove cut into the top of the breech. The gun stocks were not cut for a ramrod channel, with the ramrods for the pistols carried separately. In standard Austrian practice for the period, the locks were marked with the Austrian Eagle at the tail and with the date of production, omitting the first digit, forward of the hammer. The contractor who produced the pistol was often marked on the top of the barrel, and a variety of Austrian proof and inspection marks are often found at the breech, as well as various unit markings in various locations. The guns were finished “bright” and stocked in the usual Austrian beech.
This particular example of an Austrian KavalleriepistoleM1862 Pistol is in about GOOD+ condition and could probably be lightly cleaned to VERY GOOD. The pistol is well marked on the lock with a crisp and clear Austrian Eagle to the rear of the plate and the date 863(1863) clearly stamped forward of the hammer. The top of the barrel is marked TH SEDERL, the mark of Austrian gunmaker Thomas Sederl who worked in Vienna circa 1854-1882 (Der Neue Stockel). The left breech bears the Austrian k.k. Army (EAGLE) / W acceptance mark, as well as depressed cartouche R and J inspection marks, and what appears to be the unit marking 3 /121, suggesting 3rdCavalry Regiment, Weapon #121.
The pistol has a mottled and moderately oxidized brown patina over a dull brownish-gray color. There are areas of scattered surface crust and light surface rust, but most of this would probably be cleanable with a little careful work. The markings remain quite legible, although they are clearer on the lock than on the barrel. The metal is about half smooth and half with the noted surface crust, with some areas of pinpricking and light pitting here and there. The oxidation and patina on the furniture and barrel are even and consistent throughout. The lock remains in fine mechanically condition and the cap safety remains in place and is fully functional. Like most European percussion weapons, the half-cock notch is located just above the cone (nipple) acting as a method of keeping the cap on the cone. This required the gun to be placed on full cock to cap the weapon and then have the hammer lowered to half cock to carry it. For this reason alone, the safety makes sense, as even if the hammer is inadvertently dropped with the safety engaged, it cannot hit the cap. The bore of the pistol is in about GOOD+ condition as well, and a good cleaning would likely improve it. The bore retains strong rifling, with scattered oxidation and some pitting. The bore is partly bright with patches of crust and surface rust that is likely the result of poor storage. Much of this might scrub out. The only really serious area of pitting appears to be a patch about thumb sized just in front of the chamber, near the breech. The stock of the pistol is in about GOOD+ condition as well. It remains solid and full-length and shows moderate wear and use. As is so often the case with any “horse pistol”, but especially small arms stocked in beech, the stock shows numerous grain cracks from age. There are a couple of cracks in the grip; one emanating from the rear of the lock mortise, and one that encircles the grip about ½” above the butt cap. Both of these cracks remain tight and solid and do not appear to be structural issues currently. The one through the grip may have been repaired long ago, as it seems incredibly tight and well-sealed. Otherwise, the stock shows the expected scattered bumps, dings and mars of a mid-19thcentury cavalry pistol that certainly saw service and use. The stock does not appear to have been sanded, it just shows real world wear.
Over all this in an attractive and complete example of a Civil War era Austrian M1862 Cavalry Pistol that remains in 100% original condition and has an untouched appearance. It seems unlikely than any of these pistols were imported for Civil War use, but they are large and impressive and would certainly be a nice addition to any collection that includes Austrian percussion small arms. This is a big, imposing pistol that would be an interesting piece in any antique arms collection and is priced about the same as a decent cavalry saber, which means that this is a lot of gun for the money.