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The N.P. Ames and H. Deringer 
MODEL 1842 PERCUSSION NAVY PISTOLS
(A. K. A. Model 1843 or Navy Box Lock Model 1843)

 

A Pair of Old Sea Dogs 
(With one being a bit "doggier" than the other)

 

A Pair of Old Sea Dogs

 

1847 Dated Deringer Navy Pistol  & 1845 Dated Ames Navy Pistol

 

Top - Both Sets of Pictures: 1847 Dated Deringer Navy Pistol 
Bottom - Both Sets of Pictures: 1845 Dated Ames Navy Pistol

 

These pistols are both .54 caliber smoothbore. The overall measurement, in a straight line from the heel of the butt to the bottom of the barrel front, is 12-3/8" for both pieces. The barrel on the Deringer measures exactly 6" as compared to 5-15/16" for the barrel of the Ames. Both guns have tangs that measure 1¾" and lockplate lengths of 4-5/16".

 


 

     The Model 1842 Single Shot Percussion Navy Pistol, caliber .54 smooth bore was manufactured by N.P. Ames, Springfield, Mass. and Henry Deringer, Philadelphia. from 1842 through 1847. The estimated total quantities for the Ames production was 2,000 of which all were delivered to the Navy by 1845. All Ames manufactured pistols are dated 1842, 1843, 1844 or 1845. With the exception of the first 300, all are virtually the same. The first 300, all dated 1842, have a flat lock plate with beveled forward edges that terminates, at the rear, in a point. The 1842 Ames model U.S. Navy pistol represents the first percussion pistol ever made and delivered under contract to the U.S. government.

 

     A second contract for 1,200 Navy pistols was awarded to Deringer on July 1, 1845. It is generally believed that only 300 of Deringer's pistols were accepted by the Navy. Deringer purchased the original manufacturing equipment from Ames to produce his pistols. There are at least 3 different variations in lockplate markings plus some barrels were rifled. Experts think the earliest plate markings were "DERINGER/PHILADEL'A" in two lines using very small letters identical to the die used to stamp the lockplates on the Model 1817 flintlock muskets built under contract by Deringer. The second marking added a relatively large "US" above the small initial stamping. The third and rarest lockplate marking has the same small stamping, without the larger "US", but with "U.S.N/1847" in two lines, stamped vertically to the rear of the lockplate. Barrel markings , if present, may also differ between examples. The most unusual feature is the inclusion of 7 groove barrel rifling. These barrels are found only on the pistols with the large "US" lockplate markings. These pistols are normally sighted with a fixed "V" notched rear sight mounted on the tang and a brass post or blade front sight. As such, it represents the first rifled handgun ever to have been produced for the U.S. government.

 


 

Top View - Ames Pistol

 

Top View - Deringer Pistol

 

Bottom View - Ames Pistol

 

Bottom View - Deringer Pistol

 

Top & Bottom View - Ames Pistol

 

Top & Bottom View - Deringer Pistol

 


 

Ames Lockplate & Barrel Markings

 

Ames Lockplate

 

Ames Lockplate Marking

 

Ames Lockplate Marking

 

Ames Barrel Marking

 

     The lockplate is stamped in the center "N.P. AMES/SPRINGFIELD/MASS" in 3 horizontal lines. At the rear, in 2 vertical lines, is "USN/1845". The barrel markings are "USN/1844/RP/P" in 4 horizontal stampings. "RP" stands for the inspector Richard Paine. "P" stands for proofed.

 


 

Other Ames External Markings

 

Other Ames External Marking

 

Other Ames External Marking

 

Other Ames External Marking

 

     A sub-inspector mark of "R" is stamped on the barrel bolster, the bottom of the brass trigger guard and on the circular brass butt plate next to the butt screw.

 


 

A Look Inside the Ames Lock and Another Marking

 

A Look Inside the Ames Lock

 

Another Marking

 

     The "boxed" lock exposed. There is a very small proof or view stamping. Cannot tell if it is a "P" or a "V". A similar, but hardly legible marking is on the inside of the Deringer lock (See Deringer details following).

 


 

Deringer Lockplate Markings

 

Deringer Lockplate

 

Deringer Lockplate Marking

 

Deringer Lockplate Marking

 

     The lockplate is stamped in the center "DERINGER/PHILADEL'A" in 2 horizontal lines. The rear of the lockplate is stamped "U.S.N/1847" in 2 vertical lines. It is estimated that 50 or less of the Deringer Navy pistols have this plate marking. There are no other external stampings on any part of this pistol.

 


 

Inside The Deringer Lock - Another Marking

 

Inside The Deringer Lock

 

Another Marking

 

     The inside of this "boxlock" pistol is similar if not identical to the Ames. The stamping could be almost anything but it appears to be a "V" for "Viewed".

 


 

Miscellaneous Views

 

Ames Front View

 

Deringer Front View

 

Damage to my Deringer Box Lock Pistol

 

     There are no front or rear sights on the Ames pistol. The Deringer sports a brass front post sight only. As can be seen, the Deringer pistol has endured tough times. It is pitted, bruised, cracked and chipped. However, it is supposedly only one of 50 made and may well be one of the very few or the only one left in existence. In this case, rarity rules over condition.

 


 

NOTES

 

     The Model 1842 Percussion Navy pistol served the country for a long time. They truly seen the world. They were carried by Navy ships and personnel to Japan, China, Korea, Central America and to every country visited by U.S. ships of the line. They were on Navy ships during the War with Mexico. They could be found during the Civil War on Navy and Army ships and boats maintaining the blockade of southern ports. They were on board the ships and boats cruising the Mississippi, Ohio and their tributaries. They very likely were carried ashore by sailors and marines in landing parties during that great conflict. Navy records as detailed in "CIVIL WAR SMALL ARMS OF THE U.S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS" by John D. McAulay indicate that both "Navy" and "Army" pistols as well as "Boarding Pistols" were in evidence, in some numbers, on Naval ships before, during and at the end of the Civil War. As in the case of the Aston and Johnson "Army" pistols some even probably found their way into the Confederate Navy (or Army).

 

     They are referred to, in Navy records, as "Navy Pistols, Ames Pistols or Boarding Pistols". "Army Pistols" mentioned in Navy records are references to the larger size Model 1842, .54 caliber, Single Shot Pistols manufactured by Henry Aston and Ira N. Johnson from 1845 to 1852.

 

     Treat them with historical respect. They also served.

 

     References used for this posting are "UNITED STATES MILITARY SMALL ARMS 1816 - 1865" by Robert M. Reilly, FLAYDERMAN'S GUIDE TO ANTIQUE AMERICAN FIREARMS...AND THEIR VALUES" by Norm Flayderman and CIVIL WAR SMALL ARMS OF THE U.S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS" by John D. McAulay. McAulay's book was published in 1999 and provides a wealth of information for both readers and researchers of the Civil War as well as being a very valuable book for collectors of U.S. firearms. It is a highly valuable addition to anyone's reference library and is worthy of sitting side by side with the great Reilly and Flayderman's books. This praise is unsolicited and is given out of gratitude and thankfulness for a work well done and much needed.

 

     Well, that's it for this week. Next week we will look at one of the companion pieces to these pistols - the Jenks Carbine With Tape Primer made by E. Remington & Son, Herkimer, New York.

 

My thanks, as usual, to my webmaster and son, Reed Radcliffe. 

Dave Radcliffe