The instant that I saw a photo of Davide Pedersoli’s flintlock Bounty Pistol in about the year 2000, I knew that this was a gun that I wanted to take on a hunt and write about. The gun’s 16 1/2-inch long .50-caliber barrel was sufficiently long that I could reasonably expect to meet Georgia’s then-existing regulation that a deer-hunting handgun develop 500 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy at 50 yards. In the years before Triple7even, getting this amount of energy from a pistol required barrel length, and the Bounty had that. The difficulty was finding a U.S. importer who carried the gun. Ultimately I managed to locate a Bounty flinter through Flintlocks, Etc. (P.O. Box 181, Richmond, MA 01254 (413) 698-3822), but I had to wait another month before the gun arrived from Italy.
Flintlock pistols powerful enough to use on big game animals are scarce. Unless one has a gun custom made, or builds it himself, the choices on the replica gun market are the 1805 flintlock Harpers Ferry .58 caliber (more about this one in a later post) and the Bounty. Of the two, the Bounty’s longer .50-caliber barrel with its rifling twist of 1 turn in 17-inches gave it promise of being able to stabilize conical bullets as well as round balls. When I received the gun, I was surprised to find that the recommended factory load was only 45 grains of FFg and a patched round ball. This was a plinking load in this gun, and was a long way from reaching the energy that I needed. Pedersoli obviously intended this gun for the novelty replica market. As Italians may not hunt with handguns, I suspect that they saw the Bounty as a gun that would be hung on a wall more than shot, or perhaps used as movie prop thrust through some swashbuckling pirate’s sash.
Detailed examination revealed more about gun. Rather than make up an entirely new flintlock pistol, Pedersoli had taken the existing stock design from their Kentucky pistol, fitted it with a longer brass fore-end cap and attached a 16 1/2-inch barrel. The flintlock action used in the pistol along with the turn-out vent-hole screw was identical to that used on a Pedersoli flintlock rifle that I owned. Even more significantly, my pistol was proofed to the same standard and carried the same proof marks as the rifle. In short, I could safely shoot rifle-level loads in this pistol. Again, as a manufacturing expedient, Pedersoli used components that they were already making to produce the new gun. ( I cannot vouch that they still are doing this or say what other makers may be doing with their flintlock and percussion handguns, but this was true of my particular pistol.)
Nonetheless, I took great care in slowly working up loads for the gun. I used a 295 grain Black Belt bullet which are now sold as PowerBelts. This heavier bullet would provide more muzzle energy by aiding in the more complete combustion of the black-powder charge because of its additional weight and higher working pressure. It soon became apparent that I needed to make some modifications to the pistol. To improve the trigger pull I fitted a yoke of deer antler to the trigger plate and custom smoothed the action to provide an excellent trigger pull and increase ignition speed. I also deeply notched the rear sight for faster target acquisition in dim light.
Recoil proved to be more of a problem. I could not hold onto the gun’s slick handle as I increased the gun’s loads beyond 65 grains of FFg. The gun needed more weight. I added a little by making a stainless steel ramrod, but that was not enough. Ultimately, I resorted to making cloth “saddlebags” filled with lead shot and taped these to the end of the barrel. This expedient worked, and I settled on a load of 85 grains of FFg and the Black Belt bullet. I adjusted this load to shoot to the point of aim at 25 yards. The Bounty and load proved itself by taking a Florida deer with a single double-lung shot at about 20 yards. My story of this hunt was published by the late George “Butch” Winter in the 2003 Dixie Gun Works Black Powder Annual and later as Chapter 13 in my book X-Treme Muzzleloading.
My most recent work with the pistol was to use it and a holster that I sewed up from an old hunting shirt in a YouTube video that I published on August 25, 2014. You can see this video at: http://youtu.be/lTDENXYtXYY. The pistol is for sale, and you may make a bid for it by posting a comment on the video or to this blog. The pistol will be available until Sept. 30, 2014. It comes with the homemade holster, steel ramrod, regular ramrod and original factory box along with a letter of authenticity signed by me.