Civil War Pinfire "Chimney Adapter"


During the US Civil War many different types of cartridges were used. A lot of weapons systems are documented for the Northern army, but less is known about the Confederate.

One thing that is known is that they had a lot less access to proprietary cartridges for specific guns due to blockades and some American companies not making cartridges for their army.

The Union army has documents showing receipt of over 12,500 Lefaucheux (pinfire) revolvers (This is about 4% of their purchased guns.) There are no such documents for the C.S.A, though there are documents and pictures showing that they too used the pinfire system.

Since the Confederate had a lack of proprietary cartridges, but had plenty of caps and balls an adapter was made to use the pinfire revolvers with a cap and ball, without modifying the revolver. This was unique because the adapter was re-useable as many times as needed and could be switched out with regular pinfire cartridges once they were again available.

The adapter would fit in the cylinder of a 12mm Lefaucheux (pinfire) revolver (I even tried it in mine, it fits!) just like a normal pinfire cartridge. The “pin” of the adapter is tapered at the bottom so that it will fit in the slot opening, and gradually becomes larger at top on the part that sticks out of the top of the cylinder so that a percussion cap could be placed on it.

The “pin” is hollow so that when the hammer comes down and strikes it it sends the spark down into the case where the powder and ball has been loaded into the case. The powder and ball would be loaded down the barrel or on other side of cylinder opening just like a normal percussion revolver.

My sample has a cap on it, and some odd projectile shoved in it. It is almost rubbery. Maybe someone was shooting little rubber balls out of it in their basement in times past, who knows?

I would like information on a maker, and also how it was made. Notice the odd tool marks from the metal being stretched. Any other information could be nice too.


The tool marks I can see appear to have been produced by turning on a lathe. I would suggest thats how it was made. Material iron/steel although why they didn’t use brass I can’t imagine. Very nice though, I love this transitional stuff.

Probably Civil War era as you say but I would be interested to know what other people think about whether it was issued or private purchase. A lot of pinfire revolvers were around long after their era was officially passed. I could easily see something like this being made well into the 1920s when normal supplies of pinfire ammo had dried up.

It would still be a good idea today if you wanted to shoot your pinfire.


The trouble with doing this in the UK would be that if you were to make one of these, it turns an obsolete (and legal) firearm into an illegal one. That’s how ridiculous our laws are.


Falcon you are right but Henry Kranks sell new pinfire cases in Britain and somebody must be buying them. To have a pinfire pistol in your posession with out any ammuntion is perfectly legal but to have one with ammunition makes it section 5 (same catagory as a machine gun).
Crazy laws. Even having one of these adaptors unloaded and no gun to fire it in could be illegal if it were classified as a “chamber” and not a cartridge.