Our office door is always open for visitors to come in, introduce themselves, and ask us questions. It just so happens that a visitor’s question inspired this week’s blog post. Last Friday, a man came in asking if we had ever heard of a revolver with a shotgun barrel. Initially, one CFM staff member thought the visitor asked about the Ithaca Auto & Burglar, but we soon realized the visitor was talking about the LeMat Revolver. These firearms are worth a closer look.
Auto, Meet Burglars
It comes as no surprise that the Ithaca Auto & Burglar is a type of shotgun. After all, this is the Ithaca Gun Company we are talking about. Still, the A&B causes people to pause not because it is a Flues Model, 20-gauge shotgun, but because its side-by-side barrel is only ten inches long.
This relatively short shotgun possesses an interesting history on top of an interesting look. Capable of holding a load of 16 buckshot, people considered these firearms excellent sources for protection. Indeed, CFM records tell visitors how Technical Sergeant Melvin Moss, a native of Fairbury, Nebraska, armed himself with this gun while he served as an investigator for the U.S. 15th Military Police Unit in England during World War II. These short shotguns sold for $27.62 in 1928, and weighed in at around 4.25 pounds.
Records in our archives reveal that two Auto and Burglar shotguns and their accompanying holsters were shipped from the Ithaca Gun Company on July 11, 1928 to Batavia, Java. At the time, Batavia was the capital of the Dutch East Indies. Now, modern audiences know the location by a different name: Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Another records shows the Ithaca Gun Company sending another pair of Auto & Burglars to Exeter, England in 1933. Ithaca discontinued this model in 1934 when the legal minimum barrel length for shotguns changed to 18 inches.
Eureka, We Found It
While the Ithaca Auto & Burglar came out in the 1920s, the LeMat Revolver finds its origins in 1856. Patented by Dr. Jean Alexandre Francois Le Mat of New Orleans, the production of LeMat revolvers originally took place in Philadelphia. LeMat moved production to Europe in 1859 on the eve of the Civil War. Several hundred of these percussion revolvers were smuggled through the Union blockade, sold within the Confederacy, and used by the Confederate armies. Nicknamed the “Grape Shot,” these firearms possessed a cylinder that held nine .42 caliber rounds with a smoothbore barrel that held a single .63 caliber shell. The nose of the hammer is adjustable to serve either barrel.
For any fans of the sci-fi western seriesFirefly, you might recognize this style of firearm as one Jayne Cobb uses. The hero of Canton would wield a modified LeMat pistol throughout the series, fondly referring to it by the name “Boo.”
So, Autoburglars in Indonesia, and LeMats in space. Clearly these firearms got around, but the CFM is lucky enough to have examples of both in its collection.