Approximately 300,000 were manufactured at the
Royal Armories of St. Etienne, Maubeuge, and Charleville between
1806 and 1814. It was kept in service well into the 1840s when
many were converted to percussion.
This rusty relic was made in Liege ca1810 and
was in service with a unit I have yet to identify. My initial
guess is Company E, 2d Battalion of the 2d Cavalry or
Cuirassiers, but I have queries out with era historians to
Wood loses lignin with sunlight and age and
becomes brittle. It also expands and contracts seasonally around
the metal furniture, and when combined with rust literally welds
wood and metal together.
The drill with valuable artifacts is to
dismantle them with minimal or no damage so the active rust can
be removed, and to conserve the parts in a manner that prevents
further deterioration without altering the original finish.
Putting them back into service is another matter, requiring
removal of the breach plug to insure remaining barrel wall
thickness is adequate, and to protect the existing finish from
further ravages of corrosive black powder.
As this model of pistol remains relatively
plentiful and it passed the breach plug and barrel-wall
inspections, I took the extra steps necessary so this pistol can
To dismantle the piece, it was soaked for a week
in Kroil before attempting disassembly, and evident are the
large selection of parallel-blade screwdriver tips to obtain
perfect fits before applying torque.
Screwdriver bits are fitted to include grinding
special bits if necessary, and are tapped into the screw slots
using a brass hammer to break the rust bond before applying
Only then is the assembly secured in a padded
vise and torque applied carefully while watching and feeling for
evidence that the screw head is breaking.
Those that break have
to be drilled out, the threads re-cut and a new screw
fabricated. But this one came apart without damage.