In 1805, the French military adopted a new cavalry pistol for general issue, which would continue to serve the country for half a century! The new Model AN 13 (Year 13) pistol was designated based upon the French Republican Calendar, with the first year being 1792, when the French Republic was officially established as a result of the French Revolution. The pistol was a refinement and improvement of the earlier AN IX (Year 9) pistol, with a redesigned forend, a single strap barrel band replacing the double strapped band of its predecessor and the elimination of the band spring, replacing it with a set screw. Like its predecessor the AN 13 was a single shot, flintlock muzzleloading pistol with a 17.1mm bore, a 201mm barrel and a 370mm overall length. The pistol was brass mounted with the iron barrel, lock and extended backstrap left in the bright. A lanyard ring was typically attached to the bottom of the brass buttcap. The forward action lock was marked by the French national armory that produced the pistol and the barrel tang was marked with the model of the pistol. Some 300,000 of the AN 13 Pistols were produced by the French arsenals at Charleville, Maubeuge, St. Etienne, Tulle, Versailles, Mutzig and Torino between 1806 and 1814. The pistol was superseded by the Model 1816 pistol but continued to serve the French military well into the mid-19thcentury. The AN 13 was the primary French military pistol during the bulk of the Napoleonic Wars period, and no doubt thousands were present on the battlefield at Waterloo where Napoleon was handed his final defeat.
In 1840, the French adopted the percussion ignition system and the following year large numbers of AN 13 pistols were altered to percussion. These guns were marked on their tangs with the addition of a letter “T” after the model designation, indicating the gun had been “transformed”. In the 1850s the French adopted rifled arms for general issue, based upon the expanding base ammunition concepts of Claude Minié. Between 1854 and 1857 the French arsenals again altered all of the AN 13 pistols still in service to rifled arms. The bores were rifled with four lands and grooves of approximately equal width, with the process expanding the bores to a nominal .70 caliber (officially 17.5mm). A rudimentary fixed rear sight was added to the breech tang and front sight was added as well. The ramrod was also changed. The original button head rammer for round ball was replaced with a heavy cupped head ramrod similar to that used by French rifles of the period. These rifled arms were again marked on the tang noting the modifications with the designation “bis”, literally meaning “encore”, or more simply “again”. Thus, the new designation was “Model AN 13 Transformed Again”. Amazingly, at a time when many militaries around the world were transitioning to the use of percussion revolvers and eventually cartridge revolvers, the French continued to keep the single-shot, AN 13 pistols in the field in at least limited service through the period of the Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871. It would not be until the general adoption of the M1873 Ordnance Revolver that the AN 13 would end its military service with the French.
Offered here is a FINE condition French Model AN 13pistol that remains in its original flintlock configuration. The breech tang is stamped with the model of the gun: M AN 13. The gun was originally produced at the French Imperial Arsenal at St. Etienne in the south-eastern part of France, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The lock is clearly marked in two lines of script: Manuf. Imp. / de St. Etienne, along with various French controller and inspector marks. The left breech flat is dated B 1813 and along with additional proof and inspection marks. The top of the breech is unit marked A. I 30. The stock flat opposite the lock is marked with what appears to be the number 376 as well was with a large cartouche that contains a cock within a circle and the letters P.D./L., the meaning of which I have not been able to determine. Some theorize that the mark refers to the Prussian arms maker and retailer P.D. Luneschloss (PDL) and suggest that the mark implies that the gun was captured by Prussian forces. Considering that the gun managed to escape being altered to percussion, it seems reasonable that the gun was no longer in French service by the 1840s. Various French controller and sub-inspector marks are found throughout the pistol with a (CROWN)/G mark being found on nearly every part. A secondary unit or rack mark is present in the belly of the stock, forward of the triggerguard, which reads T / I 4.
As noted, the pistol remains in about FINE condition with all markings in the metal remaining crisp and clear. The gun remains complete and original throughout with the exception of two replaced screws. The tang screw is a replacement that may be from the period of use, as its patina matches the balance of the gun perfectly. The other screw that is replaced is the forward lock mounting screw, which appears to be a more recent replacement. Otherwise the gun is all original and correct. The iron barrel, tang and lock all have a medium pewter gray patina with scattered light surface oxidation and minor discoloration. The metal is mostly smooth, free of any real pitting, and shows only some lightly scattered pinpricking. The lock is in mechanically EXCELLENT condition and functions correctly on all positions. The steel (frizzen) remains fully functional as well, and both the mainspring and the frizzen spring remain strong and tight. The bore of the pistol is in GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition. It remains mostly bright, with some scattered discoloration and oxidation. The smooth bore shows some scattered areas of moderate pitting, with the balance relatively smooth. The brass furniture has a medium, mellow golden patina over all of the surfaces. There is no lanyard ring in the butt, suggesting that this pistol may have seen use with a branch of service other than the cavalry. The original button head ramrod is present in the channel under the barrel. The rod is full-length and still retains fine threads on the end. The stock of the pistol is in about FINE condition. The stock is solid and full-length and free of any breaks, cracks or repairs. The stock shows some minor chipped wood loss at the front of the lock mortise, as well as some minor loss around the trigger pin hole on the counterpane. Otherwise, the stock shows only the usual scattered bumps and dings from handling and use, but no abuse. The stock shows no signs of having been and the stock markings remain clear and legible throughout.
Overall this is a solid and attractive example of an original French Model AN 13 Pistol in original flintlock configuration. The gun remains in very nice condition with crisp markings, a good action and nice bore. This gun would be a very nice addition to any collection of 19thcentury European military arms, particularly a collection of Napoleonic period weapons.