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MODEL 1840 HALL CARBINE BREECH BLOCK – DATED 1842 - COMPLETE, FULLY FUNCTIONAL – AS USED BY THE DRAGOONS AS AN “OFF DUTY” HAND GUN:  It is well documented that US soldiers armed with the Hall rifles and carbines were known to remove the breech blocks from their arms and carry those loaded breech blocks with them as a self defense pistol into the cantinas and saloons on the untamed frontier and in the interior of Mexico during the Mexican War.   

While it is difficult for us to imagine firing this breechblock without the benefit of a stock to hold on to, in the absence of an alternative, it certainly could have been a lethal deterrent to all but the most determined adversary at close range.  Louis Garavaglia and  Charles Worman included one such encounter in their excellent two volume work, Firearms of the American West, Volume 1 on pages 132-133, with an excerpt from My Confession, the Mexican War journal written by Dragoon Samuel Chamberlain.  Describing an incident where he found himself confronted by some twenty Mexican guerrillas in a cantina in Monterrey, Mexico in 1847, Chamberlain wrote,

“…but resolved not to be rubb’d out without a struggle.  With a bound I sprang behind a large table used for a bar, drew the chamber of my Hall’s Carbine (that I always carried in my pocket), said a short prayer and stood cool and collected, at baby before those human Tigers, guerillars.  There was one grizzly old fellow who seemed more ferocious than the others; he had but one eye that glared on me with the fierceness of a wild beast.  He rushed for the table as if he would spring over, when the sight of the little iron tube pointing straight for his solitary optic caused him to pause.” 

This incident was dramatically illustrated in one of the original color sketches included in Chamberlain’s journal, as shown in the photographs below.  The enlarged section of the illustration shows the Hall breechblock in Chamberlain’s right hand, a rare incidence of historic and period documentation of the use of these deadly little companions.  Through the years a number of Hall breech blocks have surfaced in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, undoubtedly relics of the Mexican War period. 

This breech block is well preserved and intact - complete with the percussion cone, a functioning hammer that will hold at half and full cock, and a trigger that operates properly to release the hammer.  The breech block release was the so-called “fish tail” lever and to facilitate carrying the block as a handgun, was removed during its period of use – a common modification.  The top of the block is legibly marked  “U.S.”/ ”S.NORTH” / ”MIDLtn” / ”CONN.”/”1842”.  The top surface of the block is pitted, showing evidence of exposure or poor storage through the years, however the balance of the other metal surfaces to include the mainspring and internal parts, are smooth and retain a decent finish considering the wear to which this block must have been exposed.   

Holding this historic, well used Hall carbine breech block, it is easy to imagine a Dragoon strolling the streets of a remote Mexican village, with the loaded breechblock tucked into his waist band as his only defense against a hostile environment.  $550


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