Confederate Navy Baby LeMat Grapeshot Revolver

One of the rarest models of LeMat grapeshot revolver is this, the “Baby” LeMat. This is a substantially smaller gun than the normal LeMat, although it retains a 9-shot cylinder and a central barrel. In the Baby, however, the cylinder is in .32 caliber (rather than the standard .42) and the central barrel is .41 caliber instead of .63 (and in this specific pistol, the central barrel is rifled, where they are normally smoothbore).

These Baby LeMat revolvers were made under contract for the Confederate Navy, although production was very slow, and the contract was cancelled when even the first shipment of guns have not been receiver many months after it was scheduled. In total, only 100 of the guns were manufactured, and these were inspected and delivered to a Confederate representative in London shortly after the contract was revoked (the CSA agreed to take those guns which had been finished at that point).

Interestingly, I found that the Baby LeMat handles quite well. The standard LeMat is a very heavy and poorly balanced handgun (in my opinion), but the reduced size and weigh of the Baby has an effect on its handling out of proportion to the measurable difference. Perhaps if this had been the standard model for the gun, they would have been substantially more popular on the open market…

Development of the LeMat:
LeMat Centerfire Revolver and Carbine:

Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on I’m Ian, I’m here at the James D. Julia auction
house up in Maine taking a look at some Of the guns that they’re going to be
selling in their upcoming October of 2016 firearms auction, and what we’re
taking a look at today is one of the Versions of the LeMat revolver that I
didn’t have a chance to take a look at In a previous video I did covering the
whole development of this series of Interesting grapeshot revolvers. Now I
know what you’re thinking–it’s not ”did he fire eight shots or nine?”, it’s
”that looks awfully small for Lamont or LeMat revolver”, and you would be correct. The
one most people are familiar with is This guy which is substantially larger,
leading to today’s video subject being Called the ”Baby LeMat”. Now these were
originally developed actually for the The Confederate Navy, believe it or not.
The Navy didn’t really need quite the Gigantic horse pistol of a gun that the
Confederate Army did, and they actually Contracted to buy 2,000 of these pistols
from LeMat in Paris. Now these are Shrunken down, they only have a
four-and-a-half inch barrel and the the Main cylinder–the main revolver bore–is a .32 caliber barrel instead of .42 Caliber like the original LeMats, and the
center shotgun barrel has been Brought down to .41 caliber and what’s
interesting is on this particular one it’s Also rifled. Now originally on the
full-size pistols that was a .63 caliber Or roughly 18 gauge smoothbore shotgun
barrel. These, they brought that down to .41, however you still had nine rounds in
the cylinder plus the center barrel so Quite a lot of firepower in a small
package. So it was April of 1864 when These guns were originally ordered by
the Confederate Navy and they were Supposed to get them in batches of 500
guns starting just a couple months later. LeMat had problems, and frankly was
completely unable to meet the schedule In fact he was unable to meet any
deliveries of any kind. He was too busy Building other guns, having payment
trouble with other parts of the Confederate government, and by February
of 1865 the Confederate Navy wrote back to him And canceled the contract. They hadn’t received
any guns at this point, the war is going Really quite badly for them by February
of 1865, they didn’t have a lot of money Lying around, and they just said, ”Forget
it. We’re done. Don’t bother.” And at that point a hundred
of the guns had been manufactured and Were ready for inspection. Of course, due
to the terms of the contract they In theory wouldn’t have sent them until
there were 500, but when they get this

Letter canceling the contract LeMat comes
back and says, ”Hey, you know, we’ve got A hundred” and the Confederate Navy kind
of grudgingly accepts that they’ll go Inspect those guns, and assuming that
they pass inspection, will pay for them, But that’s it. Don’t bother making any more. So, they’re
really quite scarce, only no more than a Hundred were ever originally made, and
only a handful of those are still known Today. This is serial number 31, and let’s
take a closer look at it. Alright, there’s our size comparison
again. You can see, really, the original LeMat in .42 caliber is a massive handgun.
This is much more the size of a typical Handgun of the period. It’s quite comfortable,
it’s a lot lighter, its honestly a Really nice gun. So these Baby LeMats were made in the
mechanical style of the very first LeMat Guns, so we’ll take a look at the
mechanics in a moment, but first the Markings. There you go, ”System LeMat, Brevet SGDG Paris”. Now where most of the LeMats very Quickly had their production moved to
England, the Baby LeMats were all Manufactured in Paris, so they’ll all
have this script on the top of the Barrel flap. I mentioned this is serial
number 31, you can see the number here on The barrel, here on the front of the
frame–that LM star is for LeMat, That’s kind of his his trademark
inspection mark. We have a 31 here also On the cylinder, and we have a ”B” marked
right there on the front of the cylinder. So of course, if you’re not familiar with
the operation of the LeMat, you’ve got a Cylinder with nine rounds of .32 caliber
muzzleloading ball, and nine percussion Caps there, and what you would do Is cock the hammer–these are all
single action guns–and when you fire, the Hammer hits the percussion cap, and fires the
gun. Now you’ve also got this center Barrel which acts as the the cylinder
axis. You load that separately, and when You want to fire that one you put a
percussion cap here on this nipple and Then you would flip the firing pin down,
or the front of the hammer, and when you Do that, then it hits that center cap and
fires the center barrel. Now this does Get a little bit awkward in some ways in
that when you cock the hammer it’s going To rotate the cylinder of position, and
it doesn’t know or care if you’re Planning to fire the middle barrel or
one of the cylinder chambers. So if you don’t fire this [center barrel] last, you will
skip a chamber. So disassembly here is

Also just like the full-size LeMat’s,
although it’s slightly, slightly simpler To do, actually. We have a plunger pin
right here which locks the barrel Assembly onto the frame, and it’s held in
place just by a little tension spring There. So if i pull that out, then I can
unthread the barrel. The end of the Center axis barrel is threaded, as is
this support on the main barrel. So that Comes off, and then we can pull the
cylinder off the front. You can see here that We’ve got these plunger pin holes in the
cylinder. Those were for–that was What locked the cylinder in position on
the early style of LeMat. There’s a pin Right here, and when I cock the hammer
that pin is going to retract in, then the Hand lifts up, indexes the cylinder by
one position, and then the pin comes out And locks the cylinder in place. That was
a complex and expensive system that LeMat Changed later in production, but not
until after all the Baby LeMats had Been manufactured. So I mentioned that
the center barrel on this particular Baby is rifled, And I’m shining a flashlight through the
fire hole there–through the Percussion cap hole–and you can see a
bit of the rifling right there. It’s a little Tricky to get a camera angle on this but
this is, in fact, a rifled .41 caliber [barrel]. Now, Reloading the LeMat gives us a little
bit of a pause. We have a loading lever Here, on the side of the barrel, this
again an early style of loading lever, And in order to load the cylinder
chambers, what you do is pour in powder, Set a ball on top, and then you have this
loading lever which allows you to ram The ball down into place. However–well, and then–you also have to deal
with the center barrel. So, as is typical Of LeMats, there is a removable ramrod
right here which sits in there under a little Bit of tension, and we use that to ram the
center except–oh ,we have a problem. The Baby is short enough that you can’t
fit a long enough ram rod on the side of The barrel to load that center barrel, so
there’s a separate solution, and that is This decorative stud on the pommel, which
is actually a ramrod extension threaded Into the grip. So we have a tube there
that is only hollow a little ways down As you can see, it goes about that deep. Once that’s in place, then, we can set
that in place and now–so at this point It’s all the way down at the base– that
gives you plenty of length with which to Set your center charge. Thank you for watching guys, hope you
enjoyed the video. It’s cool to be able

To add one more very scarce version of
the LeMat revolver to the archive we Have going, showing the whole sphere of
LeMat grapeshot revolvers from the very Earliest Belgian made guns up to the
very last centerfire cartridge guns. Now If you have a LeMat collection or you
just want–you know, these things are big, They’re bulky, they’re heavy, They’re kinda awkward…this Baby LeMat is a much more comfortable gun in the Hand, And it’s really quite cool. Honestly, if
they had made made them in this pattern To begin with, they might have sold a whole
lot more of them and a lot more Successful. Well, if you’d like to have this one
yourself, make sure to check the Description text below. You’ll find a
link there to the Julia Auction catalog Page on this pistol, or you can take a
look at their pictures and their Description and place a bid over the
phone or come up here to Maine and Participate in the auction live. Thanks for watching.

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