ALLEN & WHEELOCK'S  "STRAIGHTLINE" SINGLE-SHOT PERCUSSION PISTOL

Here is an example of an extremely rare American single-shot pistol, of which only 500 were produced between 1858 and 1865.

This pistol was namede "Center Hammer Straightline" but is also known as "Straight Away" or "Inline", because of its straight design and the fact that the percussion nipple is placed in a straight line with the barrel.

The pistol is very simple; the iron frame is made in one piece and the lock mechanism contents only a hammer, a spur trigger and 2 springs. A few specimens with brass frame are known, but there are probably less than ten.

Barrels were available in 4 lengths going from 3" to 6 ", and calibers vary from .31 to .38.  Although it was originally meant for use with the Miniť-bullet, the pistol can of course fire round or elongated bullets as well.

There are quite a lot of variations in the shape of the hammer head, full octagonal or round barrels, or, like on this example, partly round and partly octagonal barrels. Barrels are always of excellent quality.

Not all are marked; usually, only the full or partly octagonal barrels are marked Allen & Wheelock on the left flat of the barrel. The pistols are not serial numbered but most bear a batch number.

This specimen is an early model, in .38 caliber, with a "quick drop" grip. Later models have a slow drop grip, often called "Smith&Wesson drop".

After having lost a lawsuit started in 1859 by S&W for infringment on the Rollin White patent, Ethan Allen was forced to abandon production of metallic cartridge revolvers in 1863.

A number of barrels of the rejected revolvers were re-used on this pistol; however, this never happened with early pistols, on which the joint between barrel and frame was so nicely adjusted that it was almost impossible to find. This specimen is one of those, although the joint is clearly visible (worn or age).

Although it was rare, one can assume that the pistol was appreciated by its users as a "last chance gun" because of its simplicity, the ease tyo carry it in a pocket or a boot, and its relative firepower.

Marcel

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