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Old 7th February 2021, 09:18 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Apache knuckleduster pistol 1860s France

In the late 1950s I recall becoming aware of a bizarre French dance in a movie where the 'tough guy' would pretty much toss the girl partner around like a rag doll, sort of a full contact tango/fight. My dad called it 'apajjjjjj'. I did not see the connection until many years later when I was given a book titled "Firearms Curiosa" by Louis Winant. In this were strange combination weapons, one of which was a combination brass knuckles, pistol and bayonet, and called an 'Apache' pistol.

Apparently these 'Apaches' were a kind of street subculture in the big cities in France, most notably Paris and Marseilles. These were sort of the French version of 'gangs of New York', and were basically thugs and pimps around the turn of the century. They spoke a slang of their own called 'jare', and the strange, rough dance was called 'the savate'.

In the earlier beginnings of this 'subculture', in Liege a gunsmith named Louis Dolne, in 1860, designed these bizarre 'knuckleduster' weapons.
The pistol was really just the cylinder of a 7mm Lefaucheaux pinfire revolver, with a dagger/bayonet of 1.5 to 2.5 " (often wavy) and brass knuckles as the handle/grip.

French youths had become enamoured with the American wild west from the Buffalo Bill Cody performances that traveled in Europe, and were attracted to the rugged characters, both cowboys and Indians. These evolving gangs in the cities were described by one journalist Victor Moris , as 'apaches' with allusion to the savagery image portrayed in those times.

While these pistols appear to have had only around 7000 made through the 1860s, there were versions by DELHAXHE being made around 1880s.

These are most unusual oddities, but one wonders just how effective these could have been as a weapon. The cartridge was only of any use at point blank range without barrel, and pity the fool who did not keep it carried n an empty chamber. The 'bayonet' of such short length was of little use, so the only real viable weapon was the brass knuckles.

These seem quite rare, and an unusual topic, but thought maybe out there you guys might have seen these, or even have examples.
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Old 7th February 2021, 10:35 PM   #2
Norman McCormick
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Hi Jim,
I've never heard of savate as a dance but I do know it as a style or type of French kickboxing popular in the late 19th early 20thC.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 12th February 2021, 05:29 PM   #3
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Hi Jim,
Here are some more blade pistol combinations, the blade being a weapon of last resort but maybe better than using the gun as a club.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 12th February 2021, 07:14 PM   #4
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
... I've never heard of savate as a dance but I do know it as a style or type of French kickboxing popular in the late 19th early 20thC...
Yes indeed Norman, a sort of French street fight. The term comes from the Spanish zapato (Portuguese sapato) as it was performed with heavy footwear, especially the boots used by French military and sailors.
There seems to be also a DANCE APACHE (a highly dramatic dance) associated with Parisian street culture)


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Old 12th February 2021, 07:37 PM   #5
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All in all, handling these things would be a grant to hurt their user ... and hardly his foe. The intent was more to let the others kow that you had one in your pocket; call it prestige. They were actually expensive, above the common apache financial possibilities, which having one was a double asset.
Besides the two variants made by Dolne, two further vesions were made by J. Delhaxe; all unbarreled (pepperbox)barrels available in 7 and 5 mm.

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Old 12th February 2021, 07:52 PM   #6
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Thank you so much Norman for these other examples, and Fernando for the insights into the term savate.
I agree these rather formidable looking weapons served as more a visual threat and psychological impact than actual weapon. However I am sure, as with any weapon of opportunity, it could serve in some degree.

I remember 'the old days' (late 50s early 60s) in the times of 'West Side Story'; "Blackboard Jungle"; James Dean etc. we all carried switchblades, some of ridiculous size (like long navajas) . Few of us really how to use them, but they looked pretty scary......and illegal.......how rebellious.
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Old 12th February 2021, 08:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... They spoke a slang of their own called 'jare' ...
Maybe a 'jargon' called 'Cant' ...or 'Argo' ? .
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Old 13th February 2021, 02:13 AM   #8
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Here's a nice demonstration of this gun from Forgotten Weapons.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FIi8Wge9pI
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Old 13th February 2021, 01:02 PM   #9
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Still my cynicism throws me to these things being more agressive looking gadgets than operational weapons ... starting by the 'bayonet'. The author in my book, Dimitry Singer, considers the duster & blade to be more effective than the pepper box revolver, maybe due to their weak pinfire caliber. But i wonder whether in view of an iminent fight or attack, you happen to tangle those within your fingers and have to ask your foe for a time out.
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