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Short guns like this could be very handy in boarding ships and could even be shot like a pistol. When I began cleaning the years of dirt and grime from this weapon, I discovered it was still loaded with powder, a .70 caliber musket ball and some #6 bird shot.

This old salt actually began life as a military musket or carbine. Thousands of these guns were bought and converted for use aboard privateers and merchant ships in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were also a favorite with coachmen, bank guards and watchmen. Considered 'disposable' in their day, few have survived.

It was quite common to shorten a long, clumsy musket and forge a wider muzzle for easy loading. The wider mouth of the muzzle allowed a seaman or coachman to quickly throw a musket ball or a handful of buckshot down the bore on top of the powder charge without using the ramrod. It also served a psychological purpose, making the weapon look particularly lethal to anyone confronted with the business end of the gun.

Short guns like this could be very handy in boarding ships and could even be shot like a pistol. When I began cleaning the years of dirt and grime from this weapon, I discovered it was still loaded with powder, a .70 caliber musket ball and some #6 bird shot.

This gun is in remarkable condition for its age; it is over 200 years old. It was probably made in Germany, initially, for some unknown army or navy. It has an iron barrel that was shortened to 17 inches (44 cm). The bore is around .70 cal. with a one-inch (4 cm) muzzle. The gun is 32 inches long overall, and has handsome brass furniture.

Yes, it throws a fine spark and I have fired it with a small blank charge. But I am selling it as a curiosity. I am not a firearms dealer. I will include some original flints recovered from a shipwreck. You are safe in demonstrating the sparking function of the mechanism. Never live fire an old iron barrel without a thorough examination of the bore. The original wood ramrod was broken off and jammed in the channel under the barrel. I took a similar one and shortened it to replace the original. It will work well.

This is a wonderful early piece of maritime lore. If only it could talk.

 
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