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John Henry Deringer opened a firearms factory in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1806 and, though it produced rifles, dueling pistols and other firearms, he couldn't have foreseen that his legacy would involve the creation of a tiny gun that changed history A small single-shot pocket pistol became his most famous invention. In fact, the gun and its variations (including a change of spelling to its creator's name) made Derringer a generic term that refers to almost any one- or two-barreled ultracompact pistol that is not a revolver or semiautomatic firearm even today.
About 15,000 Philadelphia Derringers were made between 1850 and 1870. Barrel lengths varied from 1.5" to 6" and the guns were often sold in matching pairs for $15 to $25 depending on the extent of ornamentation. The light weight and compact size made Derringers wildly popular for short-range personal defense. Not only could men conceal a Derringer easily in a pocket or boot, a sufficient number of women carried them in hand muffs to earn the gun the nickname of "muff gunÃÂ in some parts of the country. The guns were made in a range of calibers including .41, .44 and .45. Unfortunately, the firearm's compact size also made it popular with criminals and villains with nefarious intentions.
One of the most famous crimes in world history was carried out on April 14, 1865 when the Civil War was drawing to a close. John Wilkes Booth used a .44-caliber Philadelphia Derringer to shoot Abraham Lincoln in the head while the president was watching a play with his wife at Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C.
Mr. Deringer's original design was widely copied by other gun makers, many of which added an "r" and continued to market their guns under his name. For more than 160 years the Derringer has been the ultimate pocket pistol, but new advances in subcompact revolver and semiautomatic pistol technology have made production of repeating arms as small or smaller than Derringers possible.
Don't miss the opportunity to own a replica of one of these historic firearms while you still can. Cabela's offers a functional reproduction of this historic firearm with brass furniture and a case-hardened lock. The .45-caliber brown rifled barrel has a brass V aiming rear sight and a blade front sight. The lacquered, one-piece walnut grip has cross-checkered details. Barrel length approximately: 3". Overall length: 6-5⁄16". Weight: .54 lbs.