Henry Derringer Pocket Pistol

Henry Deringer, Jr., of Philadelphia, Pa., began manufacture of his famed single-shot muzzle-loading percussion pocket pistols in 1825 and limited production continued even after his death in 1868, when the firm was operated for a time by a son-in-law, Dr. Jonathan Clark.

However, the demand for all types of percussion pistols fell off sharply following the Civil War when the self-contained metallic cartridge came into common use. The Deringer was but one of many erstwhile popular percussion arms doomed by this development. In its heyday, the Deringer pistol was favored by individuals from all walks of life who desired a powerful yet easily concealed handgun. It was made in several calibers from .33 to .51, and with barrels ranging in length from less than 1" to more than 4".

Commonly sold in matched pairs, the genuine Deringer pistols had rifled barrels of wrought iron. Some were fitted with single-set triggers. The 2-line trademark DERINGER PHILADELA was invariably stamped on the lockplate and breech. These pistols were not serially numbered, but the various parts were stamped with matching assembly numbers or letters. Like most well-made products, the Deringer pistols were subject to counterfeiting and some of this


was done by former employees of the Deringer firm. This resulted in litigation successful to Deringer, but the fact remains that the word Deringer (or Derringer) is today a proper noun commonly applied to any easily concealable short barrel pocket pistol of non-automatic type.

Deringer pistols figured in many notable homicides, the most famous being the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth.

The full story of the Deringer pistol is given in the book entitled Henry Deringer s Pocket Pistol, by John E. Parsons, published in 1952 by William Morrow & Co.

Deringer Pistols

Parts Legend

1. Barrel

2. Front sight

3. Cone

4. Breech plug & tang

5. Breech plug tang screw

6. Stock

8. Stock tip

9. Escutcheon

10. Wedge

11. Trigger guard plate

12. Trigger guard

13. Trigger guard screw

14. Trigger

15. Trigger pivot pin

16. Buttplatc (with trapdoor)

17. Rear buttplate screw

18. Front buttplate screw

19. Back-action lock

20. Hammer

21. Hammer screw

22. Lockplate screw

23. Side-plate

24. Side-plate screw

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  • Lisa
    Is derringer a proper noun?
    4 years ago

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