Author Topic: Bear pistol  (Read 2564 times)

Offline leviathan

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Bear pistol
« on: September 23, 2018, 03:20:09 PM »
    I have seen Bear pistols that were made during the mid 1800s especially the Matthew Gillespie Bear pistol. However, I am wondering if any such long barrel pistols for Bear hunting were made during the last quarter of the 1700s in the Appalachians. Any info and advice from you guys more knowledgeable than myself would greatly be appreciated.Thes Bear pistols were supposedly used because of thick cover in the Southern Mountains. I'm sure the same foliage existed in the 1700s. Thanks guys for your help! ;)

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2018, 04:21:14 PM »
    I have seen Bear pistols that were made during the mid 1800s especially the Matthew Gillespie Bear pistol. However, I am wondering if any such long barrel pistols for Bear hunting were made during the last quarter of the 1700s in the Appalachians. Any info and advice from you guys more knowledgeable than myself would greatly be appreciated.Thes Bear pistols were supposedly used because of thick cover in the Southern Mountains. I'm sure the same foliage existed in the 1700s. Thanks guys for your help! ;)
I would be more likely to believe they were used as a back up shot or to deliver the coup' de gras. I wouldn't be hunting bear with just a ML pistol, of course it would be very sporting. ;)
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Online Dennis Glazener

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2018, 07:04:37 PM »
I was told by an experienced bear hunter that the 15 inch 54 caliber bear pistol that Mathew Gillespie built for himself (he was a bear hunter) was ideal for bear hunting with dogs.

I mentioned the 40 caliber percussion (to a different bear hunter) that one of the Plott bear hunters (of Plott bear dog fame) used to kill over 400 bears and he felt that most of those bear's were ones that were caught in traps and that the 40 caliber pistol was used to administer the coup de grâce to the trapped bear.
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« Last Edit: September 23, 2018, 08:04:06 PM by Dennis Glazener »
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2018, 07:53:21 PM »
Quote
I was told by an experienced bear hunter that the 15 inch 54 caliber bear pistol that Mathew Gillespie built for himself (he was a bear hunter) was ideal for bear hunting with dogs.

Makes good sense to me. A rifle would be a bit unwieldly sorting out a pack of dogs and killing a bear at the same time.
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Offline Elnathan

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2018, 09:10:42 PM »
Leviathan,
I don't think that there were actually too many whites here in the deep Appalachians prior to about 1790 or so. Settlement pattern largely took them through the Appalachians and on into Kentucky or the flatter areas of Eastern TN, and only afterwards, when the better land was taken, did they start working back into the hills. I have a hard time with geography, admittedly, so that might be a bit of an oversimplification, but that is what I have heard. Also, the whites in the SE-Virginia/Western NC/East Tennessee a settlements were more or less continually at war with elements of the Cherokee from 1775 to 1794, which probably had an influence on their choice of firearms.

So, I think a specialist bear pistol from the southern Appalachians prior to the 1790s is unlikely. The early Trans-Appalachian settlers did occasionally have pistols, but I'm not aware of any that can be demonstrated to have been made here that early.
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Offline leviathan

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2018, 10:29:00 PM »
Elnathan,   thanks for the info, this really helps

Offline leviathan

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2018, 10:38:17 PM »
Mr Gazener,   thanks for your info! I have also read that Montraville Plott killed 211 bears with his pistol.

Offline bama

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2018, 01:03:13 AM »
This is just a guess on my park but I have been on a few coon hunts with my uncle who was an avide coon Hunter. He carried a 22 pistol on each hunt, when the dogs treed the coon he would shoot the coon out of the tree trying not to kill it while holding the dogs back. If successful the coon would hit the ground running, he would then turn the dogs loose and have another chace. I think the small caliber bear pistols may have had the same purpose since dogs were used in bear hunting also, and this was a sport hunt at the time.

I am building a matched pair of 40 caliber bear pistols with 15" barrels base on an original flint bear pistol. I would date this pistol between 1800 to 1830 and it is Iron mounted with a French lock.
Jim Parker

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Offline Cades Cove Fiddler

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2018, 01:35:15 AM »
 ;) ;) ;)...  leviathan,... here is a photo of Mont Plott holding a pair of Plott Hound pups,.. circa 1920 at age 70, and a photo of his bear gun,... I've seen the photos of the pistol, and you can see the flint parts holes in the lock plate, so it uses a converted flintlock,...I will try to find out barrel length, caliber, and maker,... wonder if it was a Gillespie,..?? ... Plotts were from neighboring Haywood Co., NC,...(from "A History of Hunting in the Great Smoky Mountains" .. a book by Bob Plott,...)   




Offline Craig Wilcox

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2018, 03:00:31 AM »
I built a "bear pistol" for a close friend last year.  Percussion, .45 cal, 16.75" barrel.  He loves it, but I don't think there are many bears in this part of Ohio.  Excepting "Smokey Bears" lurking in speed traps.  Pistol was pretty accurate, but heavy enough that you really need to use both hands on it.
Craig Wilcox
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Offline leviathan

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2018, 03:48:38 AM »
Thanks Cades Cove Fiddler. Enjoyed seeing the pics!

Online Dennis Glazener

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2018, 04:39:50 AM »
Mr Gazener,   thanks for your info! I have also read that Montraville Plott killed 211 bears with his pistol.

That could very well be the right count, could not find my Plott book so number came from memory which it s getting old and foggy! Still a lot of bears!
Dennis
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Offline Elnathan

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2018, 01:19:21 PM »
You know, I'm not sure what defines a "bear pistol" unless you have some sort of provenance for its intended purpose, but in Battle Weapons of the American Revolution Neumann illustrates a couple of holster pistols with 14+ inch barrels cobbled together from mismatched parts. Probably, as he claims, made for mounted militia units rather than killing bears, but if you are looking for 18th century originals with some of the same flavor as these 19th century bear pistols you might find those interesting.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying...cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. -Robert A. Heinlein

Offline bama

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2018, 10:43:47 PM »
Bear pistol that was originally flint and converted later. I think this pistol may be pictured in Randal's new book, not sure about that.











Jim Parker

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Offline Hlbly

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2018, 10:54:42 PM »
I’ve seen that pistol somewhere before, Jim.

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2018, 11:31:51 PM »
Pretty cool with the set trigger.
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Offline bama

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2018, 02:56:15 PM »
Hilbly, that's one I wish I had jumped on when I had the chance to. Rich the really cool thing about the triggers is that the guard and triggers are made as a unit and the main spring screw attaches the rear of the guard to the trigger plate. One of the nicest setups I have seen on a iron mounted gun.
Jim Parker

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Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2018, 09:30:57 PM »
 Jim, What cal is that pistol in the Pic? Are you ready to share some pix of the ones you are working on.

  Thanks, Tim

Offline T.O.

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2018, 04:49:00 AM »
Surely they would have been used by dog hunters.  The Mississippi bear hunters got to using Bowie knifes to dispatch bayed bears.  Read a little about Rosevelts guide Holt Collier. 

Offline Greg Pennell

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2018, 02:41:41 AM »
Mr. Jim, that shore is a handsome pistol. Is it the angle of the picture, or is the barrel swamped?

I’m gonna have to add one similar to my build list...I have some pieces of black walnut crotch that should make fine pistol stocks.

Greg
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Offline Ky-Flinter

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2018, 09:02:19 PM »
Bear pistol that was originally flint and converted later. I think this pistol may be pictured in Randal's new book, not sure about that.












Jim,

You're right, this pistol is included in Randal Pierce's new book Kentucky Rifles of the Great Smokie Mountains.

-Ron
« Last Edit: October 07, 2018, 09:17:38 PM by Ky-Flinter »
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Offline Ky-Flinter

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2018, 09:16:44 PM »
Mr. Jim, that shore is a handsome pistol. Is it the angle of the picture, or is the barrel swamped?

I’m gonna have to add one similar to my build list...I have some pieces of black walnut crotch that should make fine pistol stocks.

Greg

Greg,

According to the info in Randal Pierce's book, the barrel is tapered.  Barrel length 14-7/8", Caliber .34, Breech diameter 3/4".  The muzzle diameter is not given.

This is highly un-scientific, but I measured the picture of the breech and muzzle in Randal's book and the muzzle appears to be about 90% of the breech diameter, so about .675"

-Ron
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Offline bama

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2018, 03:02:23 AM »
Sorry for the slow response to this post. Rich I had Charlie Burtton duplicate the barrel of this pistol, it's the 15" 40 caliber barrels he is now offering in the for sale part of the forum.

I have the stocks ruffed sawn out and a pair of lock castings from of a nice little English lock. I probably will not get to build these until after the first of the year, probably in February. I am going to change the grip profile a little because the grip on the original was made for a very small hand. My paws are much bigger. I will post some pictures when I get started in earnest on the pistols.
Jim Parker

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Offline Cades Cove Fiddler

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2019, 10:06:32 PM »
 ??? ??? ???... was just talking with another member about long barreled Southern "bear" pistols, and was reviewing these pix,.... the small loop under the spur of the hammer is interesting,... wonder what that is for,...???.... comments, please,... CCF,...

Offline WESTbury

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Re: Bear pistol
« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2019, 11:11:09 PM »
The loop appears to be purely decorative.

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