(Bull)- Dog and muff pistols

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Oct 8 15:14:59 UTC 2012

"(Bull-) dog pistol" and "muff pistol" are not in the OED.

One correspondent wrote:
>I saw yesterday something I had never seen or even heard of
>before:  a dog pistol.  It was neat and tiny, of ivory and metal,
>and could easily be held in the palm of the hand or a pocket.

Another that:
>I hadn't heard of  a dog pistol  but there were referring to the
>18th or 19th centuries} pocket and muff pistols  which were small
>enough to hold  in a pocket or muff.

However, it is written that President Garfield was shot by a
"bull-dog pistol" in 1881, and given various reports of court
decisions it was apparently a weapon of choice in that decade.  See
e.g. "The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada, During 1880" (1881).

[Presumably a bull-dog pistol is fiercer than a dog pistol.]

1876:  "Falkland, an Historical Play", p. 79:  "Else here's a dog
(pistol) will bark."  [Apparently the pun needs to be explained; my
assumption is that "pistol" is not intended to be spoken.]

"Muff pistol" I don't find before 1938.  (The hits from Sir Walter
Scott are false positives.)


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