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ONE A. WATERS & TWO A.H. WATERS PERCUSSION SINGLE SHOT PISTOLS

 

TWO NATURALS AND ONE CONVERSION!

 

ONE A. WATERS & TWO A.H. WATERS PERCUSSION SINGLE SHOT PISTOLS

 

Top: 1844 Dated A. H. Waters "Flat Lock" Percussion Pistol. 
Center: Undated Early Production, A. H. Waters "Flat Lock" Percussion Pistol. 
Bottom: 1842 Dated U.S. Model 1836 A. Waters Pistol Converted from Flint Lock to Percussion.

 

Note: All pistols are .54 caliber, smoothbore.

 


 

U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL CONVERTED FROM FLINTLOCK TO PERCUSSION

 

     The U. S. Model 1836 Asa Waters Flintlock Pistol was the last of the U.S. martial flintlock pistols. It is considered by some to be the finest military flintlock ever produced. It was trim, well balanced and exhibited fine workmanship. Of the 41,000 made, the majority were converted to percussion in the 1850's. The conversion seen here is known as the "French Style" or first U.S. type. All external flintlock parts were removed, the pan cut nearly flush with the lockplate and a drum, into which a cone is seated, was threaded into the enlarged touch-hole or vent. The old pan was milled away into a semi-circular shape and used to bolster the drum unit. The "Belgium" alteration or the second U. S. type altered the lockplate also, but in lieu of using a side drum, a new orifice was drilled into the upper right of the barrel for a cone or nipple seat which was then threaded into place.

 

     These conversions were stocked in both U.S. and State arsenals at the outbreak of the Civil War and many were liberated by the Confederacy from the southern U.S. arsenals. In the opening months of the war, these pistols were issued as conditions dictated by both sides. It is suspected that some of them spent the war in the stocks of both Union and Confederate navy ships. After all, they made excellent 'boarding" pistols as you could load them with anything including nails!

 


 

U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL Right Side

 

U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL Left Side

 

U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL Bottom View

 

U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL Top View

 

This pistol is .54 caliber, smoothbore. The overall length is 14½". The barrel length measures 8-7/16" from muzzle to breech. The tang measures 1-9/16" and the lockplate is 4½" long.

 


 

     This pistol, unlike the following "Flat Lock" percussion pistols also made by Waters, has a full complement of U.S. and inspector markings. They are as follows:

 

 
U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL Lock Plate Marking
A.WATERS
MILBURY, MS.
1842
U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL Barrel Marking
U.S.
JA
P
U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL Stock Marking
FCA 
(In Cartouche area)
LockPlate Marking
(No Eagle Head) 

 

Barrel Marking
(John Avis, Armory Sub Inspector) 

 

Stock Marking
(Unknown Stamping) 

 

U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL H Proof
H
U.S. MODEL 1836 ASA WATERS PISTOL U Proof
U
H Proof on forward end of trigger guard strap

 

U Proof at bottom rear of trigger guard strap

 


 

A.H. WATERS SINGLE SHOT PERCUSSION PISTOLS
a.k.a. Waters "Flat Lock" Pistols

 

     An unknown quantity of these guns were made by A. H. Waters and Company from the mid 1840's to 1849. The one dated 1844 has the side lug holding the nipple and the rear oval shaped sight on the tang. It also has a brass trigger guard bow. All other furniture is iron. There are no U.S. markings either on the barrel or lockplate. It has a brass blade front sight. The one with the nipple set into the barrel is not dated. There are no U.S. markings on this pistol either. The barrel is also unmarked and there is no rear sight. The front sight is a brass blade. All furniture is iron. Both pistols have the flat lockplate. Both pistols have an eagle head stamped on the lockplate. The converted Model 1836, above, did not.

 

     It is unknown why these models were made. Some suggest that they were "transitional" models between the last flintlock pistol (The Model 1836) and the first adopted percussion handgun (The Model 1842). Others think that it was the maker's attempt to obtain additional government contracts. They were definitely made as percussion weapons and their most easily telling feature is the flat, flush fitted lockplate. There are several known variations. Existing specimens indicate a definite transitional and development period which included variations in the lockplates and some experimentation by the Waters armory. According to Riley, the Belgium, or cone-in-barrel percussion ignition system was the earliest of these pistols and only a few specimens exist.

 

      Although they resemble the Model 1836 flintlock pistol and appear to be percussion alterations of this arm, it should be noted that these pistols were originally produced in percussion form. It is my opinion that these pistols did include some surplus parts from the Model 1836. Since there are no stock markings on these pistols and that no government contracts, purchases or records pertaining to these pistols are known, it is unlikely that any were purchased by the federal government. Asa Holman Waters may well have sold some of these pistols to state militia units and those arms may have see martial usage but as far as can be determined, no definite proof of this exists. They are originals by birth that have been made mysteries by history.

 


 

     The photographic evidence follows:

 

A.H. WATERS SINGLE SHOT PERCUSSION PISTOLS Right Side

 

Top - Both Pics: 1844 dated A. H. Waters "Flat Lock" Percussion Pistol. 
Bottom - Both Pics: Undated Early Production, A.H. Waters "Flat Lock" Percussion Pistol.

 

A.H. WATERS SINGLE SHOT PERCUSSION PISTOLS Bottom View

 

A.H. WATERS SINGLE SHOT PERCUSSION PISTOLS Top View

 

Top - Both Pics: Undated Pistol 
Bottom - Both Pics: 1844 Dated Pistol

 

     Both pistols are .54 caliber, smoothbore, have overall lengths of 14½" with barrels of 8-7/16" from muzzle to breech. The tang on the 1844 is 1-9/16" and the lockplate is 4-9/16" long. The tang on the undated pistol is 1½" and the lockplate is 4½" long.

 


 

     The "flat lock" Waters pistol dated 1844 is marked as follows:

 

The "flat lock" Waters pistol dated 1844 mark
(Eagle Head Stamp)
A.H. WATERS & Co
MILBURY MASS
1844
Lockplate Marking

 

 
The "flat lock" Waters pistol dated 1844 barrel mark
NWP
(?)
The "flat lock" Waters pistol dated 1844 trigger guard mark

V

The "flat lock" Waters pistol dated 1844 trigger guard mark
V
Barrel Marking
(Nahum W. Patch Armory Sub Inspector)
V Proof at bottom rear of trigger guard strap V Proof at forward end of trigger guard strap


 

     The markings on the Waters "Flat Lock" undated, early production pistol follow:

 

Lockplate markings on the Waters "Flat Lock" undated
(Eagle Head Stamp)
A. H. WATERS & Co 
MILBURY MASS
HH proof markings on the Waters "Flat Lock" undated
HH
Lockplate Marking
HH proof on inside top of hammer 


 

     The references used in this posting, sometimes verbatim, were United States Military Small Arms, 1816-1865 by Robert M. Reilly and Flayderman's Guide To Antique American Firearms...and their values by Norm Flayderman.

 

     My son and webmaster, Reed Radcliffe, a retired U.S.N. CPO, deserves all the credit for posting this information to my web page. We both sincerely hope you enjoyed this one and the others before it, and will enjoy those to come.

 

Dave Radcliffe