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cap (pistols) Options
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 8:22:33 AM

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Hello!

This is from "Gone With The Wind":
She opened the top drawer soundlessly and caught up the heavy pistol she had brought from Atlanta, the weapon Charles had worn but never fired. She fumbled in the leather box that hung on the wall below his saber and brought out a cap. She slipped it into place with a hand that did not shake.

The only "caps" I can find with Google have to do with toy guns. But this one was definitely real (she afterwards shot a man with it). What does a "cap" mean in reference to pistols?

Many thanks.
FROSTY X RIME
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 8:34:21 AM

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Hello Kirill,

I found this in the TFD:

cap:

percussion cap.
A thin metal cap containing an explosive substance, such as fulminate of mercury, that explodes on being struck.

The usage of the definition does not seem to be restricted to a toy gun.


What should be shall be-The fellowship of the ring-
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 8:48:12 AM

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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Thanks, Frosty!

Right, but then she'd need a bullet, too... And there's not a word about that.

My theory is that "cap" back then could have meant the whole cartridge (explosive + bullet), but I can't find any confirmation of this theory. So I thought maybe someone on this forum happens to have a better idea of guns.
papo_308
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:12:26 AM
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Could it be a silencer (muffler), i.e. a jig that is used for making the shot less noisy?

Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:14:54 AM

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papo_308 wrote:
Could it be a silencer (muffler), i.e. a jig that is used for making the shot less noisy?



I doubt it. This is the year 1864.
FROSTY X RIME
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:17:44 AM

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Percussion cap



percusison cap

What should be shall be-The fellowship of the ring-
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:24:03 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/4/2016
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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Wow, thanks for the picture!

Yes, I guess it's gotta be it... So she did have to load the bullet separately then, it's just that the author (Margaret Mitchell) never mentioned this detail.

Thank you!
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:46:22 AM
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"Until the 19th century, the only way to load a weapon was to first pour the powder into the barrel, then place a greased cloth patch around a lead bullet and ram the bullet down the barrel to the powder with the ramrod. A flintlock produced a small spark, or a percussion cap produced a small explosive flash to ignite the powder which fired the patched bullet. This was a very slow process and often produced an inaccurate shot. After repeated firing, the barrel became fouled with powder residue to the point that loading became impossible."

Does this help to explain for you, Kirill?

Read more: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Ammunition.html#ixzz5IJSJaU1X
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:58:13 AM

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No the weapon that Charles had worn along with his sabre was probably a Percussion Cap revolver similar to this one.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colt_1851_Navy_Revolver

As Charles has a sword and a heavy pistol he was probably an officer rather than a rank and file private with a rifle.

The American Civil War took place in a period of time when there was a transition in technologies from old cap and ball style weapons like ones Romany and Frosty X Rime have described and given illustrations of to modern cartridge based ones. Such pistols could be loaded with a powder charge and a ball in a paper case, but had a separate percussion cap to set off the charge. The pistol may have been left with paper cartridges in the chambers but without caps to set them off it would not fire.

Edit: This image shows it more clearly you can see the paper cartridges and the nipples on the chamber of the revolver for the percussion caps.


I lack the imagination for a witty signature.
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2018 8:51:12 AM

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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Thank you very much, Sarrriesfan!!

I've never known about revolvers of this kind. So this is very educating.Angel
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