Author Topic: D Uriell Pistol  (Read 1468 times)

Offline Mark Elliott

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D Uriell Pistol
« on: June 20, 2019, 09:59:44 PM »
I was sent these photos and description of a very unusual pistol by the owner who wishes to remain anonymous.   He asked me to post them here and to the Library.

As to the pistol: barrel is 12 inches in length; overall under 18 inches. Lock plate is marked C. Robbins, a lock maker who worked between 1830 and 1834. Plate was made for a flintlock, but has been changed for percussion. Trigger and trigger plate are made of brass and guard is thin brass. Stock is maple wood and inlays are German Silver. Initials 'D U' are engraved on the plate which are probably the maker's. Sellers lists a D. Uriell in his list book, but has no location for that individual. Barrel is rifled and is about .36 caliber.











« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 04:06:51 AM by Mark Elliott »

Offline D. Taylor Sapergia

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Re: D Uriell "Bear Pistol"
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2019, 11:28:02 PM »
Maybe 19th C bears weren't very tenacious of life, but I wouldn't shoot a 21st C bruin with .36 cal.!
Neat pistol, in good shape.
D. Taylor Sapergia
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Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: D Uriell "Bear Pistol"
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2019, 11:43:52 PM »
Agreed. What constitutes a bear pistol?  I’ve heard the term before and assumed a large bore. Nice pistol
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline JamesT

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Re: D Uriell "Bear Pistol"
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2019, 12:01:27 AM »
Nice pistol. I wonder if some of these smaller calibers were maybe used for smaller critters. Hunting coons and such. I know my family spent alot of time hunti g coons and opossums at night with hounds. Bear pistol may be a generic term. Just a suggestion.

Offline Elnathan

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Re: D Uriell "Bear Pistol"
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2019, 02:06:45 AM »
Bears were hunted with traps or dogs back in the day, and I imagine that a .36 ball fired at point-blank range just behind the ear would be adequate for the job of finishing off a trapped black bear. The bear pistol that was on display at Cade's Cove last year is .34 caliber, and Montreville Plott used a .40, IIRC. I've also run across a reference to a 20th century bear hunter with an impressive kill count that favored a .22 Hornet - the source suggested that he shot quite a number of those while they were in traps. I don't think that the small caliber rules out use to kill bears.

Having said that, is there a history of this one being used as a bear gun? .36 wasn't uncommon as a self-defense round and I'm not seeing anything that would mark this as a "bear pistol" as opposed to a nice, folksy pistol for self defense.

The three other bear pistols of which I am aware are all products of the Appalachians (two, the Matthew Gillespie pistol and the Plott pistol, come from the area around Asheville in western NC). Not sure about this one, even accounting for the fact that brass was occasionally used up here.
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 Mark Elliott

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Re: D Uriell "Bear Pistol"
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2019, 04:06:28 AM »
Yea,  perhaps "Bear Pistol" is not the best description.   I just copied it from the owner's description.   I will drop the "Bear" part.   I agree that I wouldn't want to shoot a bear with a 36 caliber.

Offline Bob McBride

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2019, 04:12:55 AM »
Maybe he was saying a ‘bare’ pistol. Or a ‘Behr’ pistol. Heck, I barely know which one of those is nekkit, paint, or critter.
-Bob

My Highland ancestors were sentenced to ‘Transportation’ in lieu of death by King George after the Battle of Culloden. Serving time in Dixie since 1746.

Offline Avlrc

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2019, 02:37:53 PM »
Unique Pistol , thanks for sharing.

Offline WElliott

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2019, 05:55:58 AM »
The owner’s tag says its from South Carolina. I’m not sure who D.  Uriell was. But, I would not be surprised that it is Southern. 
Wayne Elliott

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2019, 11:33:32 PM »
I like how he ended the nosecap at the barrel transition.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Collector

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2019, 11:59:37 PM »
I often wonder if some of these small caliber and somewhat 'odd' pistols, lacking what we would recognize as fully developed skill sets, are the products and/or projects of apprentices.  Small tests of their progress, using unused shop parts and what we see here are the ones that managed to survive. 

Offline Daryl

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Re: D Uriell "Bear Pistol"
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2019, 01:54:52 AM »
Bears were hunted with traps or dogs back in the day, and I imagine that a .36 ball fired at point-blank range just behind the ear would be adequate for the job of finishing off a trapped black bear. The bear pistol that was on display at Cade's Cove last year is .34 caliber, and Montreville Plott used a .40, IIRC. I've also run across a reference to a 20th century bear hunter with an impressive kill count that favored a .22 Hornet - the source suggested that he shot quite a number of those while they were in traps. I don't think that the small caliber rules out use to kill bears.

Having said that, is there a history of this one being used as a bear gun? .36 wasn't uncommon as a self-defense round and I'm not seeing anything that would mark this as a "bear pistol" as opposed to a nice, folksy pistol for self defense.

The three other bear pistols of which I am aware are all products of the Appalachians (two, the Matthew Gillespie pistol and the Plott pistol, come from the area around Asheville in western NC). Not sure about this one, even accounting for the fact that brass was occasionally used up here.

Now, that particular pistol, or long barrel and if decent sights, would make a great bunny gun.

Interesting 'take' on it. Yes, a bear could easily - well, maybe not easily killed by a .36 ball behind the ear, or through it, however a trapped bear would not be still in trying to get out of the trap and at the 'trapper' - or - not still due to attempting to escape. In either scenario, I fail to see an opportunity to shoot him/it fairly behind the ear. Not a worth while goal, I would think. In order to have an ear shot, there would need to be 2 people, or 1 person and a dog, etc., with one catching the attention of the bruin, they other to administer the coup'de'gras.
I would prefer something like a 12 bore pistol, thanks very much.
Daryl

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Offline Elnathan

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Re: D Uriell "Bear Pistol"
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2019, 12:49:34 AM »
Bears were hunted with traps or dogs back in the day, and I imagine that a .36 ball fired at point-blank range just behind the ear would be adequate for the job of finishing off a trapped black bear. The bear pistol that was on display at Cade's Cove last year is .34 caliber, and Montreville Plott used a .40, IIRC. I've also run across a reference to a 20th century bear hunter with an impressive kill count that favored a .22 Hornet - the source suggested that he shot quite a number of those while they were in traps. I don't think that the small caliber rules out use to kill bears.

Having said that, is there a history of this one being used as a bear gun? .36 wasn't uncommon as a self-defense round and I'm not seeing anything that would mark this as a "bear pistol" as opposed to a nice, folksy pistol for self defense.

The three other bear pistols of which I am aware are all products of the Appalachians (two, the Matthew Gillespie pistol and the Plott pistol, come from the area around Asheville in western NC). Not sure about this one, even accounting for the fact that brass was occasionally used up here.

Now, that particular pistol, or long barrel and if decent sights, would make a great bunny gun.

Interesting 'take' on it. Yes, a bear could easily - well, maybe not easily killed by a .36 ball behind the ear, or through it, however a trapped bear would not be still in trying to get out of the trap and at the 'trapper' - or - not still due to attempting to escape. In either scenario, I fail to see an opportunity to shoot him/it fairly behind the ear. Not a worth while goal, I would think. In order to have an ear shot, there would need to be 2 people, or 1 person and a dog, etc., with one catching the attention of the bruin, they other to administer the coup'de'gras.
I would prefer something like a 12 bore pistol, thanks very much.

For trapped read "trapped or treed."

You might be right about specifically behind the ear, although a pack of hounds would be plenty of distraction, and there are other kinds of traps besides steel ones - Pen traps made from wooden logs were used up here in the Appalachians, and are described in Foxfire 5. Either of those scenarios might allow for a bullet behind the ear, as opposed to between the eyes or under the muzzle (both mentioned in Foxfire 5).

In any case, all I meant was that, in contrast to modern hunting tactics, period bear hunting methods did allow for very precisely placed shots at very close range, if not behind the ear then in other similarly critical spots. The historical use of small calibers shouldn't be in dispute - Montraville Plott killed 211 bears with a .40 pistol and Foxfire 5 has interviews describing the use of .22s on treed bears. They obviously work just fine, and I was trying to remind folks why.

Incidentally, I grew up and still live very close to the area in which both Matthew Gillespie and Montraville Plott used their bear pistols, and while I don't know the situation in the 19th century, today at least the local bears, while quite numerous, aren't very big at all. A decent sized boar runs to about 350 pounds, I believe, with the sows and young 'uns correspondingly smaller. I've never hunted them (yet!) I but the ones I've seen aren't all that intimidating and I don't think I'd worry unduly about getting close to one if the circumstances were right. If I was used to bears that ran 600-800 pounds or more, like the coastal bears here in NC, I might have a different attitude.
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 mr. no gold

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2019, 12:36:39 AM »
Okay, I'll fess up. I own the DU pistol. When I submitted it I now realize that I should have put quotation marks about the bear pistol description. Not doing so seems to have upset some of the brethren so I will be circumspect in any future descriptions in applying names or descriptions. The supposed name of the maker must be attributed to the original owner. I simply followed what he had found out. In the same vein as the DU 'bear gun', an 1851 Colt 'Navy' is not a navy gun. It gets its name from the scene on the cylinder. Nothing to get fussed up there, is there? So...
Dick

Offline WESTbury

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2019, 12:57:41 AM »
It's kind of like the old "Squirrel gun" appellation for the long rifles we love.

If you hit a real squirrel with a soft lead .36 cal ball, you would have trouble finding enough edible meat to cover a Saltine Cracker. (slight exaggeration of course)
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Offline wildcatter

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2019, 03:10:01 AM »
Dick and Mark,

Thanks for posting the pistol. I'm curious if the original owner provided any supporting materials on D. Uriell as a SC gunsmith? Is it signed on the barrel or just the initials on the lock plate?  Interesting barrel, and trigger guard I do think it maybe southern. 

Matt
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Offline mr. no gold

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2019, 07:30:05 AM »
Matt, the piece came from an 88 year old collector who obtained it from a friend down in Atlanta, GA. Appparently a somewhat wealthy fellow, the seller commented at the time the gun came from the poor side of the family up in South Carolina.
The purchaser noted the initials and came up with Uriel as the maker. The initials on the lock are the only vestige of a signature on the gun. No sure how he arrived at that conclusion. Possibly a lack of reference material available led him to that choice, since it came into his hands around 1970.
I have know Phil for 60 years but hadn't heard from him for 50 of those years. Then he phoned recently and commented that he had this gun and wished to sell it. He came over and after I recovered from the shock of seeing what it was, I bought it. He said that he has other pieces so I am waiting for his next call.
It is unusual to be sure and my guess is that it is southern, too.
Dick

Offline bama

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2019, 02:50:02 PM »
The term "bear pistol" to me is a discription of a style of pistol more than a physical use of pistol. Although I do think a number of this style of pistol could have and would have been used in bear hunting.

I have come to associate "bear pistols" with southern, long barreled, small caliber pistols. Being raised in the rual South and in a hunting family I have no problem accepting that these pistols could have been used for bear hunting.

Where I was raised there were two reasons to hunt. The first was to put food on the table and the second was sport. I have spent a few nights listening to coon dogs run and then tree and then make my way to the tree, with my uncle. It was quite thrilling runnig through the woods in the dark to the tree. My uncle carried a 22 pistol to shoot the Coon out of the tree. A pistol is much easier to carry than a rifle while running through the dark woods. Once we got to the tree I would hold the light for my uncle and he would shoot the Coon out of the tree. Many times the shot would not kill the Coon but wound it enough to get the Coon to drop out of the tree. As soon as the Coon hit the ground and the chase would be on again.

Now I realize that this type of hunting today is not considered PC and would be frowned upon but 50 years ago it was not. While I have never bear hunted I can envision that bear hunting with "bear dogs" would have been done very similar to the Coon hunting I have done.

I feel that in the time period that these pistols were being built and being of southern heritage they could have and would have been used for the sport of bear hunting.

If you have never listened to a pack of hounds run at night while setting around a camp fire and hear talk about past hunts by all the old timers then you might not understand the thrill of it but for me as a young lad it was the thrill of a lifetime.
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Offline cable

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Re: D Uriell Pistol
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2019, 08:51:12 PM »
Bama, grew up in the Smokies and have wonderful memories just like that !   hard to explain if you haven't done it, but most of us can imagine how fun it was to a young kid.