'Horse Pistol' -- Meaning?

Discussion in 'General Handgun' started by Range Rat, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. Range Rat

    Range Rat G&G Newbie

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    I have heard the expression "horse pistol" over the years. Sometimes it is an expression used to describe a very large pistol, such as a Super Blackhawk. For example someone might say, "hey, that thing's a real horse pistol."

    However, I have a feeling it has a specific meaning that may go back to earlier times.

    Does anyone know what the term means, really?
  2. jerry

    jerry G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

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  3. MosinRuger

    MosinRuger G&G Enthusiast

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    A pistol your carry when riding a horse i would guess...Maybe even with the holster attached to the saddle.
  4. SUBMOA

    SUBMOA G&G Enthusiast

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  5. MosinRuger

    MosinRuger G&G Enthusiast

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    SUBMOA-

    Until reading that article I expected it to be more of a cowboy thing.....interesting.
  6. SUBMOA

    SUBMOA G&G Enthusiast

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    Kind of a neat slice of history !
  7. cjleete

    cjleete G&G Enthusiast

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    It's from back in the day before they outlawed horses with guns.
  8. grizcty

    grizcty God, Guns, Glory Forum Contributor

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    Horse pistols were large flint lock pistols.
    Made for carrying in saddle holsters, while riding.
    Been around for 300 + years.

    Some consider the big Walker Colts, horse pistols too.
  9. nathangdad

    nathangdad G&G Newbie

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    Mmmmm,

    although it may not be accurate I have often heard this term in context with very large pistols such as the Walker Colt that had to be holstered from the saddle as they were too much to wear by a person.
  10. Big Cholla

    Big Cholla G&G Newbie

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    Until the advent of the Colt Model 1911 being designed for and issued to the Horse Cavalryman, it was common for the Cavalryman to carry more than one pistol. Sometimes the fighting horseman carried three pistols! One on his belt and two in pouch-like holsters on either side of the saddle's pommel. The reason was that those pistols were large and very hard to reload while in a conflict and while a horseback. Those pistols acquired the old "Horse Pistol" name. Some like the Walker Colt were extremely large and heavy.

    The Colt Model of 1911 was designed specifically for horse mounted fighting men and could properly be called the 'ultimate horse pistol'. The use of a lanyard loop to the pistol and to all the magazines and the grip safety feature made the Model 1911 safe and effective to use while horseback. A Cavalryman could drop the pistol in the heat of battle if need be and not worry too much about losing it or the magazines. The grip safety once released put it back in to the 'safe' category.

    My first father-in-law who was an actual horseman in the US Army Cavalry and I spent hours discussing the equipment he was issued and trained in the use of. My personal favorite was the 'Saber'! I can't imagine charging into a group of enemy soldiers while swinging a saber. ....... Big Cholla
  11. DaTeacha

    DaTeacha Things are not what they seem. Forum Contributor

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    The military folks have typically been slow to give up ideas that showed merit in combat, the saber among them. Without having read the links, my personal idea of a horse pistol is a gun too big to carry comfortably on the person but small enough to quickly bring into play from the saddle. Lanyard loops and saddle rings are further bits found on some guns that allowed the gun owner to have some security in the event the gun slipped from the grasp while riding and/or, in the case of lanyards, fighting on the ground. Look at some full dress uniforms that include a sidearm and you may see a lanyard present. I can't give you a date, but concentrate on Cavalry uniforms.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011
  12. Huey Rider

    Huey Rider G&G Evangelist

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    Do the guns on Gene Autry's horse Champions bridle qualify as a horse gun?


    [​IMG]
  13. Range Rat

    Range Rat G&G Newbie

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    Thanks for the responses. Question answered.

    I have had disputes here on the forum with persons who want to carry very large pistols such as Super Blackhawks or S&W Model 29s all up and down the Western wilderness areas. I try to convey to these people how large and heavy these pistols really are.

    Some go so far, they want their hi-power rifle for hunting, and to carry a 3.5 lb. Super Blackhawk as "backup." I wonder if these dudes have any idea how heavy all this stuff can get as you climb up to 8,000 feet on a hot day. Moreover, if a hi-power rifle can't stop a grizzly, you may as well just give up. No "backup" needed.
  14. 6010

    6010 G&G Newbie

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    I have a Dan Wesson 44 mag vent heavy that I think would qualify as a horse pistol. I have always thought you could do more damage by hitting someone over the head with it than yoiu could if you shot them with it.

    I saw some horse pistols at the picture show last night. I saw the movie True Grit ( the new version). This movie is evey bit as good as the first, maybe better. Anyway old Rooster had a set with a two holsters on a belt that was cut to fit across the horn of the saddle. It was the first time I had ever seen one.
  15. SwedeSteve

    SwedeSteve Freedom Zealot Forum Contributor

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    I think you will find examples of Horse Pistols that go back as far as the 1500's and maybe even earlier. Here is a brace of Spanish Snaphance Horse Pistols from the 1550's for example (pic 1). As far as American pistols go I would say that the Dragoons and Walker probably classified as Horse Pistols to some extent. Prior to adoption of the M1799, almost all rifles and pistols were English or "Dog" locks. Simeon North and Elisha Cheney of Berlin, CT built the M1799 pistols under contract. These .69 caliber smoothbores might also could figure in(pic 2).

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2011
  16. ChaZam

    ChaZam G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

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    Thats what I'm thinking too. Horse pistols probably came about on Saturday morning cartoons when all our favorite animal friends took on human traits. As might be expected, I'm sure any horse with opposable thumbs and the perception of being wronged by another such creature, would take up arms to settle the score. I'm sure the weapon of choice would have been 'horse pistols'. :tounge-in-cheek:
  17. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

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    I carry a HOG LEG Pistol......LOL !
  18. grizcty

    grizcty God, Guns, Glory Forum Contributor

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    I have to DISAGREE 100%!

    I do/will not, go into the Alaskan wilderness.
    With out carrying either a Black hawk, or .44 Red hawk.
    And have been doing it, for almost 30 years.

    Both pistols, HAVE saved my life.
    And WILL, stop a grizzly!

    Back up was needed.
    And used, as intended!
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2011
  19. SwedeSteve

    SwedeSteve Freedom Zealot Forum Contributor

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    ^ Plenty of those around up here, lol !! While I cannot say for sure if my Blackhawk has saved my life, I can definitely state that it has provided a bear with a second option in it's End of Life Choice. As opposed to a horrible death from food poisoning !!
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2011
  20. Ballbearing

    Ballbearing G&G Enthusiast

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    Horse Cavalry sidearms. Usually large single shot muzzleloading pistols or revolvers, handier than a rifle and usually used as a last ditch defense weapon when combat became closer than at rifle range, or when a cavalryman's rifle ammunition was exausted. Some few troops, such as the early Texas Rangers, used them as primary weapons, before the advent of mass manufactured repeating rifles. The Colt Single Action Army, 1875 Remington and Murwen and Hulbert Army revolvers were generally accepted to be the final generation of this type of sidearm, as mechanization begain to replace horses as cavalry transportation at the dawn of the
    20th century.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2011
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