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A heavy, powerful and unique revolver, the LeMat was developed by Dr. Jean Alexandre Francois LeMat of New Orleans with the assistance of P. G. T. Beauregard, who later became one of the Confederacy's best-known generals. The gun had a .42-caliber upper barrel fed by a nine-round cylinder and a lower .63-caliber (approximately 16-gauge) smoothbore barrel that was loaded with buckshot. The shooter selected which barrel would fire by rotating a pivoting striker on the hammer.
Though not the most accurate revolver of the Civil War, the LeMat served well in the role it was intended for - a close-range side arm for soldiers on horseback. The ability to fire nine round balls and a blast of buckshot made it a devastating weapon inside 25 yds., earning it the nickname "the grapeshot revolver."
LeMats were made from 1856 to 1865 at plants in Paris, France and Birmingham, England. Of the nearly 2,900 made, it's estimated that about 2,500 made it through the Union blockage into service with the Confederacy. In addition to Beauregard, J.E.B. Stuart, Richard Anderson and Braxton Bragg were among the Confederate generals who favored LeMats.
Some variations of the LeMat design appeared late in the Civil War, including a lighter version featuring a .35- or .36-caliber cylinder and barrel over a 28-gauge smoothbore barrel. All versions were slow loading, so officers would sometimes carry two or more in battle. Though fearsome on the battlefield, the LeMat's limited effective range, heavy weight and complicated loading process prevented it from becoming a decisive weapon in the war.
The LeMat's unique appearance and power captured the imaginations of Hollywood moviemakers and television producers. The gunslinger Swede used a LeMat in the film The Quick and the Dead. Actor Josh Brolin carried a pair of LeMats the movie Jonah Hex, and Bruce Willis' character traveled back in time outfitted with a LeMat in the movie 12 Monkeys. In the science-fiction TV show Firefly and film Serenity, Adam Baldwin's character, Jayne Cobb, used a futuristic gun based on the LeMat. The protagonist in the 1959-1960 TV series Johnny Ringo carried a LeMat revolver.
Cabela's is proud to offer our own variation of the legendary LeMat featuring a nine-shot .44-caliber cylinder behind a 6-3/4" barrel, and a 20-gauge, 5-7/8" smoothbore barrel. The blued finish, swivel lanyard, checkered walnut grips and trigger guard's spur duplicate features found on original LeMats. Overall length: 13-1/4". Weight: 3 lbs. 8 oz.
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