The Flintlock, the Pistol, and the Shotgun of the Regency by Donna Hatch

In my Regency Romance, The Guise of a Gentleman, my Regency lady  faced down a group of bad guys. Since I’d done my research, I knew if she were to defend the man and boy they were trying to kill, she’d only be able to get off one shot because of the time and difficulty loading guns. So, I had decided to either have her ride with two loaded guns or have a groom riding with her but wasn’t crazy about either option.. Then I found just what I needed: a double-barrel flintlock which could fire two shots, without having to reload. Huzzah!!!

Most Flintlock pistols were from 10 to 16 inches long, from butt to barrel muzzle. They would weigh from one to four pounds, depending on the caliber and the number of barrels. There were a number of double-barreled pistols during the Regency, but they were generally big and heavy. There were two types, the over and under, with a revolving lower barrel, but only one hammer, so that the pan had to be primed before firing again. Ladies’ pistols were generally six to eight inches long. A bullet for such a small gun would be no wider than this: / /.

The real problem was that the flint, amount of powder, and mechanisms has to be smaller, which made them firing them successfully more difficult.

Here’s a picture of small woman’s pistol. It’s is six inches long. You can see that too small to hold a ramrod. The ladies’ pistols weighed between 12 oz to one and a half pounds.

Here’s a shotgun, circa 1798 to 1804. Overall length is 44 1/2″, barrel length is 29″, and the gun weighs 7.3 pounds.

It has a side-by-side barrel, like a double-barreled shotgun . And like the shotgun, it has two hammers, though you can’t see the second one behind the first. It also has two triggers, one for each barrel. It’s a .54 cal. and the damascus barrel is nine inches long and weights close to three pounds.

This Double-Barrel Flintlock Pistol of Napoleon is a replica of the original of this side-by-side double-barreled flintlock pistol from Napoleon’s private armory and bears his insignia on both sides of the grip. Made by Gribeauval, Napoleon’s personal gun maker, the pistol originated in the French unmaking center of St. Etienne in 1806. Unusual for its day, the double-barrel configuration provided a decided advantage over its single-barreled counterpart, given the notoriously slow reloading procedure for flintlocks. The barrel is just under eight inches long and it weighs about 2 pounds.
Even though ladies’ pistols and double-barreled pistols look different, they were loaded the same way as all flintlocks. Most all flintlocks were smoothbores. Some were rifles, with spiral rifling in the barrels. They were difficult to load because the bullet had to be seated against the rifling groves to actually spin the ball, so it was hard to ram home. Cloth or leather was wrapped around the ball, and the cloth against the rifling was easier to get down the barrel.

So, if you wondered what Elise used to save the hero and the boy from the cutthroats about to kill them, here you are, proof and everything.


The Guise of a Gentleman, winner of the Golden Quill Award
“Combining Jane Austen with swashbuckling adventure, The Guise of a Gentleman is a fine specimen of pirate romance!” NY Times bestselling author Jennifer Ashley The widowed Elise is a perfect English lady living within the confines of society for the sake of her impressionable young son. Her quiet world is shattered when she meets the impulsive and scandalous Jared Amesbury. His roguish charm awakens her yearning for freedom and adventure. But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret.   A gentleman by day, a pirate by night, Jared accepts one last assignment before he can be truly free. Elise gives him hope that he, too, can find love and belonging. His hopes are crushed when his best laid plans go awry and Elise is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of Jared’s past…or still love him when the truth is revealed.
Learn more about Donna Hatch at

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