LeMat Grapeshot Revolvers: Design Evolution


The LeMat grapeshot revolver is one of the most distinctive and powerful sidearms of the US Civil War, sporting both a 9-round .42 caliber cylinder of pistol bullets and a shotgun barrel as cylinder axis. Alexander LeMat received a contract for 15,000 of these guns for the Confederate military, but only managed to deliver about 2,500 by the end of the war. He presented several of his early guns to Confederate generals, including Beauregard and Lewis, both of which are included in this video.

In this video, we will take a look at the progression of the LeMat design through the Civil War. The first example is a Belgian-made pre-production gun, with distinctive brass hardware. Following this are two early first model guns (Beauregard’s and Lewis’), and then both early and late second model guns (which allow us to see both type of locking system used by LeMat).

Hi guys thanks for tuning in another Video on forgotten weapons comm I mean I Am here today again at the James D Giulia auction house up in Maine and I Am taking a look today at the LeMat Grapeshot revolvers that they have Coming up for sale in their March of 2016 auction now finally one of these is Pretty cool they’re fantastic really Interesting guns they’re neat concept They’re neat mechanically they have this Cool Civil War Confederacy legacy to Them one is cool Two is really cool five is a really Outstanding opportunity to look at some Of the differences between them so I Have done some previous videos on these Guns and I’m gonna let those stand and If you’re interested in the history I Would refer you to those videos what I Want to do today is take a look at the Variety of the guns that we have here Today so what we have here are first off A very early Belgian made basically a Pre-production prototype very cool to Look at very few of these still exist so Definitely will we’ll take a look at the Features of that one and then we have Two that are early first model guns Serial number eight and serial number 88 And even cooler these are both actually Known provenance property of Confederate Generals so that’s a neat added feature And then we have two more that are much

Later guns and these would be they’re Considered second pattern Lamont Revolvers and ones in the middle and One’s very late so we’ll take a look at Those as well and what we can do is Trace the progression of how this design Changed over time which is pretty cool And something we don’t normally get to Do because LeMat revolver czar so rare And expensive these days so let’s get Right to it Alright we’ll start with this the very Early gun so this was made in Belgium by A guy named August Franchot who was a Major manufacturer of firearms at the Time if we look up close you can see a Crown over an AF that’s a Franchot mark And there are a couple of those Elsewhere on the gun as well yeah we can Also see right here on the cylinder A LG in an oval that is a Belgian proof House proof mark so the reason for this Was that Lamont was looking for Manufacturers in Europe to build his Pistols he had a couple of prototypes Made in the United States and it would Appear that those were used as a model For a number of additional guns to be Made by Franchot these probably would Have been used as samples when visiting Other potential contract manufacturers To show them look here’s what we want You to produce this one is actually Serial numbered 16 although its serial

Numbered on internal areas where I can’t Easily show you the numbers underside of The barrel back face of the cylinder That sort of thing And this is one that I don’t really want To take apart a couple of things to Point out so the the lockup between the Barrel and the frame here is this type Of joint which will change very quickly On the production guns You’ll also notice it has a hammer that Is shaped very much like a traditional Revolver hammer so it’s a very high spur A bit narrow chequered you know run it Like that and there is no mechanism to Help you lower the hammer face here so What you do I should point this out for People who aren’t familiar with the LeMat you have a nine round revolver Cylinder these were typically 42 caliber And then you have a central shotgun bore That acts as the cylinder axis and this Would typically be 18 gauge now in order To change to fire between the two you Put percussion caps on all of them and When the hammer is in this position it Will fire the cylinders or the chambers All in succession and then you can pivot The hammer face down like this and then When you fire it that hammer face will Land on this central percussion cap Which fires the shotgun bore so on this Early Belgian made gun you kind of have To grab it and wiggle it down it’s not

Hard but you can see how that might be Troublesome in combat if your hands were Cold or gloved Wet or muddy or anything like that so There are a number of brass features on This pistol the lanyard ring down here Is a fixed large brass piece trigger Guard is brass you’ll notice that we Have a ramrod on the right side of the Gun now to use this has a little snap Hook up here and then you pull it back Like so so to use the ramrod you line up A cylinder a chamber with the rammer put In your powder seat your ball and then Ram it like so now you also have the Shotgun bore and you’ve got to have a Way to deal with that so what they did Was they built a second ramrod in as This lever so if I take the end here and Unthread it slightly I can then pull out An additional ramrod and I would use This to manually pack a charge into the Shotgun barrel and then when I’m done This screws right back in so that you Don’t lose it And when you’re not using it this whole Thing latches up nice and securely right There All right so now let’s take a look at How things changed between these early Samples and the first series the first Production series of revolver all right I have now added serial number 8 of the Production LaMotte this is in fact the

Personal pretty well-documented property Of general Beauregard one of the really Particularly famous southern generals Now a lot of things stayed the same you Can see the the ramrod lever is Basically identical one major change was The trigger guard a spur was added so This is kind of like you’d see later on A Smith & Wesson number three you’ve got An extra finger hold down there so like This not a particularly comfortable way To hold the gun in my opinion but Obviously that was the trend of the time The other major change you’ll see Visually is the shape of the hammer so The early guns had this very high kind Of typical revolver hammer but that’s Not easy to grasp from a firing grip in Fact it’s you can’t really grasp it from A firing grip the first pattern of Production Lamont’s did change that so You’ve got this much wider chequered and Lower paddle that is graspable from a Firing grip definitely a big improvement This may be gun handle quite a bit Better a slightly less significant Changes down here on the butt of the gun We have a swiveling lanyard ring as Opposed to this fixed loop so that’s Indicative of the first pattern of guns Now in total this pattern a total of 8,000 were initially ordered 5,000 for The Confederate Army and another 3,000 For the Confederate Navy that order

Would never fully materialized but That’s what was initially placed all Right now we have two of these I have Added serial number 88 down here this Was the property of Confederate General John Lawson Lewis not quite as notable Of a general as Beauregard I don’t think There are any Confederate generals As notable as regard or not many however These are both first pattern guns now One might look at this and go you know And what are the what are the chances of Having two general confederate general Owned LeMat revolver ’he’s like this Well there’s actually a reason that this Sort of thing happened LeMat was not a Fool he was a pretty savvy businessman And he made a bit of a habit of giving LeMat revolver x’ to influential people In military circles in the hopes that it Would help him get contracts and i think By and large it did Beauregard was an ordnance officer at The time Beauregard was also a partner With LaMotte so find there are a couple Other documented generals pistols in Fact Stonewall Jackson had one which we Should point out the location is unknown It is still out there waiting to be Found or possibly destroyed but so here We have a couple of first pattern guns Now take a closer look at Lawson’s Because there’s another feature that I Want to show you here and that is this

Lever now the way the LeMat is assembled The shotgun barrel is threaded right out Here under this ring and the shotgun Barrel just passes through this center Section here and to disassemble one what You do is you have to unlock the barrel From the frame which on these first Pattern guns you do simply by pressing Down this lever and then the whole Barrel assembly on threads so I press That lever down I can then unscrew All right I can unscrew the barrel assembly the Cylinder comes right off and there’s the Frame so that’s how these disassembled And on these early so on these early Guns that was the the barrels were Locked in place by this spring-loaded Catch and that was kind of an expensive Part to manufacture you know obviously It’s a separate piece you have to make Sure that the catch lines up well with This machine not in the frame so as You’ll see in a minute that’s something That will change also just to point out You will see these grooves these are not Threading this is actually just a series Of grooves for black-powder fouling to Sit in that helps ensure that the Cylinder continues to rotate smoothly Even when it is fouled it gives the Following a place to go until you clean The gun and get rid of it all right now In total by the way we’re back to bow

Regards pistol here and then we have a Second model gun this particular one is Serial number 13 29 now in total there Were about 450 of these first model guns Made the latest serial number known to Exist still is 458 and then there were About 1500 or fourteen about 1,500 of These second pattern guns made so these The serial numbers start about a Thousand and go to about 2,500 you may Have noticed there’s a space missing There from about 450 to about a thousand Were actually English made pistols which Unfortunately I don’t have an example of Here today so let’s take a look at the First model – the second model by the Way these were all made in France in Paris in fact although it’s suspected That a lot of the components were Actually contracted from Belgium you Will find some Belgian proof marks and Some Belgian makers insignias on some of The parts however the gun as a whole was Contracted out of Paris now a lot of Stuff changed between the first and Second model primarily related to Manufacturing tolerances or Manufacturing capacity so let’s see First off some of the simple things the Lanyard ring on the bud of the revolver On the first pattern it swivels on the Light pattern Rid of that just make it a fixed solid Loop on the end of the body cap that’s

Simpler to make the spur on the trigger Guard is gone we’re now down to a smooth Trigger guard which frankly I think is An improvement anyway and one of the Most significant changes is the lever Well let me get to that in a moment the Ramrod has gone from the right side to The left side of the pistol and now Instead of pivoting down it pivots up so You now line up a cylinder a chamber at The top and pivot this ramrod up to use It you still have a shotgun rod in there It’s no longer threaded at the end it’s Now just a press fit you can see if we Look closely here there is a hole and The slot cut in the end of this rod and Then it’s crimped so that it actually Puts tension on this additional shotgun Rod to hold it in place so it won’t come Out there we go and that still snaps Into place so the lever the loading Lever change sides the disassembly lever Also changed significantly so on the First model guns it’s this spring-loaded Lever that you push in on the later Pattern guns they changed from that Lever to this plug it’s a lot simpler You just pull it out and from a Manufacturing point of view all you have To do is line up these two pieces and Then drill a hole through them and You’re done definitely easier than Making a square notch that has to line Up with that lever remember this is a

Critical position to make sure that the Chamber is lined up with the barrel when You’re ready to fire so that’s important For more than just disassembly so this First pattern did improve your ability To reposition that hammer face by adding These two little wings to the side so That helps it’s now easier to grab on to Those and push that down however the Second pattern did it they finally came Up with a way that really makes it easy And that’s to add this lever on the back End so all you have to do is flip Up simple easy definitely a sequential Series of improvements alright I want to Show you the progression of markings on The Belgian prototype gun there’s Nothing on the top of the barrel on Beauregard’s gun which is number 6 we Have Colonel lamotte’s patent this nice Fancy engraving right there Then by only number 88 so 80 guns later That style has changed still says Colonel lamotte’s patent but now we have A different different style to it see if We can get them both there we go so We’ve gone from a kind of blocky script To a much fancier script then on the Second pattern guns this will change Further so this is an early second Pattern gun you’ll see this now marked Colonel LeMat BTE is brevet which is Patent SG DG which is kind of a Bureaucratic standard patent

Abbreviation in French and Paris So these guns were patented in the United States Belgium France and the United Kingdom as well as I believe both Prussia and vert and Berg so that went Out of his way to patent these Everywhere to make sure that no one was Going to copy his design so on the Second pattern guns you’ll find this Script this lasted until right about Serial number 2000 at that point it Changed again and our final version is So at that point it changed again and Our final version is this much more Simplistic it still says the same thing But now in a totally different script it Is system lemont BTE again Privett and How it’s kind of funny is on about half Of these guns actually misspelled it It should say SG DG and it actually says S C D G Paris no explanation known for Why they’re misspelling I think just Someone messed up so this particular gun Is serial number 24 73 see there This is considered a late pattern second Model gun alright so there was a problem With LaMotte this was getting complaints Especially as the quality started to dip A little bit in manufacture these Problems became a little more apparent And the problem was with the specific Lock up mechanism of the gun so let’s Take a closer look up through about Serial number 2000 and including all of

The prototypes the way the LeMat worked Was you’d have a hand that pushed on This ratchet to rotate the cylinder and Then the the cylinder stop was a pin That would protrude push straight out Into one of these holes to lock the Cylinder in position so here we have you Can see the pin right there as I pull The hammer back that retracts and then Here’s our hand to move the cylinder That’s fine it works but it requires a High degree of precision to make sure That that pin lines up perfectly with The holes in the cylinder and that Wasn’t working very well so the mat came Up with a way to fix this he replaced The pin system with a spring-loaded Wedge you can see we have a wedge here And then our hand is there so again when I [ __ ] the gun the wedge pulls down out Of out of interaction with the cylinder Allows the hand to rotate the cylinder And then locks back in place this was a Much simpler system it was easier to Machine and it was easier to keep it Very closely in tolerance to keep the The barrel and the cylinder lined up Properly so on these later cylinders you Can see that in between the ratchet Steps you have little square cutouts and That’s where the wedge goes the pin Holes around the circumference here are Gone though that change takes place at About serial number 2000 interestingly

It is approximately the same place where The the marking system changes to this Very simple blocky Text so that’s not a perfect correlation But it’s pretty darn close now Not very many of these got in like I Said it was about mm only about 500 of These guns less than 500 in fact made it In out of a total of about 2,500 that Were manufactured and sent to the Confederacy however it’s a very Interesting change in how the LeMat Worked and clear evidence that LeMat was Continuing to improve his design and try And figure out how to make it better Over the course of production so Externally you can’t really tell the Difference easily between a pin gun like This one and a wedge gun like this one However there is a clue on the pin guns You have this extra little spring here Which is not on the wedge guns this had To do with the tensioning spring for the Pin so that wasn’t necessary that is a Way to visually identify between the two Types in addition to the markings on the Top of the barrel and the serial numbers So there you have them from the earliest Here Pre-production are to first pattern guns General Beauregard and general Lawson’s And then our early second pattern and Our late second pattern the only one Missing here is an example of the

English manufacturer thank you very much For watching guys I hope you enjoyed the Video Certainly not a common thing to be able To put this many of these guns together In one place and it’s always interesting To see the differences between them so All five of these of course are coming Up here for sale in March at the James D Julie auction house and obviously the Most valuable one is general Beauregard Personal sidearm LeMat all the way down To I hate to set put it this way but Kind of a general run of the middle of Matt you know a standard one if you’re Interested in adding any of these to Your own personal collection take a look At the description text below you will Find links to all five of their catalog Pages in the Giulia auction catalog that Will let you take a look at their Descriptions their provenances and their Detailed high res pictures and you can Place bids online or come up here to Maine and participate in the auction Live thanks for watching You


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