Tell me more! Gun ownership in the mid 1800's.

Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
What was civilian gun ownership like during the mid 19th century in America? How much did firearms cost? did most people own a firearm, or were they just for the wealthy? How many were heirlooms passed down from generation to generation? Were gun smiths common? If you couldn't afford a gun were there cheaper options? A sword or knife from a blacksmith maybe? Did the variation of gun depend on what region of the country you were in? Were Fowlers the most common firearm amongst the general public

Gunsmith.JPG
 

tbuckley

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 13, 2015
Just from what I have seen here in eastern Ohio, the so-called squirrel rifle was the most common firearm in the mid 19th century. Locally, there was no big game and half stock rifles of .32 to .40 were the most common that I have seen from this part of Ohio.
 

Peace Society

Corporal
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Location
Ark Mo line
In Rebels on the Rio Grande Peticolas, while taking part in the invasion of New Mexico, trades in his bowie knife for what sounds like a machete. He calls it a two-foot bowie knife, more dangerous than a sword.
 

nc native

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
From what I can recall off the top of my head from reading the wills of some of my ancestors, most if not all of them left rifles or shotguns to their descendants so gun ownership must have been common in rural areas of the Upper South at least.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
From what I can recall off the top of my head from reading the wills of some of my ancestors, most if not all of them left rifles or shotguns to their descendants so gun ownership must have been common in rural areas of the Upper South at least.
Wow, that's pretty incredible. You raise an interesting point I hadn't though of, was firearm ownership less prevalent in the cities?
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
In Rebels on the Rio Grande Peticolas, while taking part in the invasion of New Mexico, trades in his bowie knife for what sounds like a machete. He calls it a two-foot bowie knife, more dangerous than a sword.
I believe machetes were used by Mexican rebels during the Austro-Franco intervention into Mexico while our Civil war raged.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Just from what I have seen here in eastern Ohio, the so-called squirrel rifle was the most common firearm in the mid 19th century. Locally, there was no big game and half stock rifles of .32 to .40 were the most common that I have seen from this part of Ohio.
Super cool, do you know if they were mainly percussions or flints?
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Would assume then like today, majority of rural people had them, it would come down to what was urban ownership back then.....
Yuh know it's interesting, I always assumed that early American citizens would take their rights pretty seriously, to me that ment owning arms. Now I'm very interested the rates of gun ownership in the cites as opposed to the rural communities.
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
What was civilian gun ownership like during the mid 19th century in America? How much did firearms cost? did most people own a firearm, or were they just for the wealthy? How many were heirlooms passed down from generation to generation? Were gun smiths common? If you couldn't afford a gun were there cheaper options? A sword or knife from a blacksmith maybe? Did the variation of gun depend on what region of the country you were in? Were Fowlers the most common firearm amongst the general public

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Gun registration didn't even start until well after the ACW so we can't really know the answer. There was a company that was around until a few years ago "Charles Daley "that imported guns into the US from lesser known smaller European arms makers.
Arms makers came and went . Ambrose Burnside tried his hand at making the Burnside Carbines but went bankrupt and he and his wife had to stay at George McCelllan' s mansion for a while.
I would imagine that back in the day it was common to pawn guns since credit cards were not around until the 1950s.
Since credit cards weren't available one had to either buy guns for the full price or lawaway.
Leftyhunter
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Gun registration didn't even start until well after the ACW so we can't really know the answer. There was a company that was around until a few years ago "Charles Daley "that imported guns into the US from lesser known smaller European arms makers.
Arms makers came and went . Ambrose Burnside tried his hand at making the Burnside Carbines but went bankrupt and he and his wife had to stay at George McCelllan' s mansion for a while.
I would imagine that back in the day it was common to pawn guns since credit cards were not around until the 1950s.
Since credit cards weren't available one had to either buy guns for the full price or lawaway.
Leftyhunter
Poor guy, Burn definitely had a horrendous string of bad luck in his life.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
I always assumed that early American citizens would take their rights pretty seriously, to me that ment owning arms.
By 1850 it no longer did. Most militias was is very poor shape... and the active ones where social clubs. And there was no State oversight on if men was actually listed on the rolls and if they had the arms they where suppose to have.

In the south it was s bit better since the militias was need in case of a slave revolt, but still in poor shape.
John Browns raid, got the south started to actually focus on their militias and some started spending some money on equipment... giving them a head start when the war broke out.
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
Shotguns were the classic American arm. If the average person had one gun, it was a shotgun. I beleive that the shotgun was actually the gun that won the west after the War. It was so versatile, able to shoot a heavy ball to take down large game (the native americans used smoothbores for hunting Buffaloes) as well as shot for fowl. However loaded, it was a powerful self defense weapon.
 
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