Gun of the Week: Lincoln-Head Hammer Gun

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Yes, that is a President Abraham Lincoln’s portrait bust in place of a traditional hammer. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wy; Gift of Olin Corporation, Winchester Arms Collection, 1988.8.1241.

So what’s the weirdest firearm in our collection? I’m glad you asked. We have many peculiar guns at the Cody Firearms Museum, including an extensive collection of curiosa, but one fan favorite has stood the test of time as the most unusual piece in the collection.

Hiram Berdan (1824-1893) was a renowned sharpshooter during the American Civil War, as well as the inventor of the Berdan Rifle, the Berdan Centerfire Primer and of course, the Lincoln-Head Hammer Gun.

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This breechloading percussion rifle is a one-of-a-kind piece that Berdan made in honor of President Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln had a well-known interest in new firearms technology and was also an ardent supporter of Berdan. He along with General Winfield Scott supported Berdan’s recruitment of 18 sharpshooter companies during the War.

I often jest that Hiram Berdan was the original fanboy for President Lincoln, but in all seriousness his connection ran deeper. Although he manufactured this .44 caliber firearm around 1863, however, was unable to present the final product to President Lincoln before his assassination in 1865.

To see the previous Gun of the Week—the American Trap Gunclick here. Stay tuned for a new gun next Wednesday. For more information, check out the Cody Firearms Museum page here, or follow the Cody Firearms Museum on Facebook and Twitter.