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Hard Luck LeMat

Museum Aug

One of the imported sidearms favored by certain Confederate ranking officers was the unusual LeMat revolver—able to fire nine shots from its cylinder through one barrel, and then discharge a blast of buckshot from its lower barrel. While first patented in the United States in 1856, the two-barrel, 10-shot LeMat was manufactured in Belgium, England and France.

This unfortunate example, likely made during the American Civil War period, has lost its loading lever and at some point suffered a cracked cylinder chamber. A previous owner filled the damaged chamber with a hard material to prevent future misloading. Even with these issues, the rarity of this percussion handgun merited its inclusion in the collection of Robert E. Petersen and its subsequent donation to the National Firearms Museum.

The National Firearms Museum presents over 3,000 historic firearms, including guns that helped found America, guns from significant battles and events, and even those that won international recognition in competitive shooting sports. Visitors can view more than 600 years of arms history in the museum’s extensive galleries with free admission daily (donations appreciated). For more information, check out the museum website, e-mail or call (703) 267-1600.