The Scottish Pistol
By Glen Rountree–SAMS Post 100

    Thomas Caddell
Sometime around 1646, a Flemish immigrant named Thomas Caddell settled in the small town of Doune in central Scotland.    Doune was only about 8 miles from Stirling, which was the capital of Scotland during the reign of the Stewarts.    Doune was also situated along a route Highlanders used to take their cattle to market in Stirling and other cities further distant.    As a result, it became a major trading center for Highlanders returning from the cattle markets with money to spend.

Caddell was a blacksmith by trade, and shortly after his arrival in Doune he established a blacksmith business.    Apparently recognizing a ready market for firearms in the area, he quickly turned to the production of pistols.    Caddell did not, however, copy the doglock pistol common in England during that period.    Nor did he copy a continental style of pistol.    Instead, he set out to create an entirely different pistol.    The pistol that he, and four other generations of Caddells and their apprentices produced in Doune came to be known by many names (the Scottish pistol, the Highland pistol, the Caddell pistol, the Doune pistol, the Murdoch pistol, and other names), but they all had a common design and several unique features.

The Pistol
From the standpoint of technology, the first decision Caddell made was to not use the doglock or “English lock” as a firing mechanism and instead use the “French lock,” or what would today be recognized as a flintlock.    This was a very high-tech decision in mid-seventeenth century Scotland.

Pushing the envelope a little further, Caddell began producing an all steel pistol.    Why this was done is the subject of much conjecture today.    Obviously an all steel pistol would be more durable, but abandoning the wooden stock also had its downside.    Producing the pistol would be more expensive and the weapon itself would be slightly heavier than an ordinary weapon with a wooden stock.    Some writers have speculated that

his decision was based on the lack of trees normally used for gunstocks in that part of Scotland.    Whatever the reason, Scottish pistols were unique in being made of all steel construction.    And Caddell did not use ordinary steel.    Being a blacksmith, he was familiar with the pattern welding techniques of sword makers, a process producing what is sometimes referred to as Damascus steel.    So Caddell decided to make his pistols of a much higher grade steel than his competitors.

A number of unique cosmetic features were employed on the pistol.    The steel stock and the barrel were usually engraved, sometimes with old Celtic patterns.    Over the years, the pistol evolved into what could only be called a fashion statement for upper-class gentlemen, with not only engraving on the pistol but gold and silver inlays, and sometimes the addition of mounted gem stones.

Caddell’s pistol lacked a trigger guard, which was perhaps done for the sake of speed in firing, but undoubtedly also had the unintended effect of producing a lot of one-footed Scotsmen.    The pistol included a flared butt on the pistol grip, the purpose of which was to make the firearm easier to draw and to hold onto when in action.    The flared butt on the end of the pistol grip seems to have begun as a bullock pattern judging from some older models still in existence (similar to the patterns found on the hilts of medieval bullock daggers), but evolved into the trademark “rams horn” pattern seen on most surviving examples and in period paintings.    Finally, Caddell added a steel belt clip on the left side of the pistol, a feature more commonly seen on naval weapons of the period.

The Scottish Pistol in History
The final product was expensive but was also a big hit with Scotsmen, a group of men who took their weapons seriously.    A major firearms industry sprang up in Doune and the surrounding area.   Five generations of Caddells produced firearms there.    A factory building used by Thomas Caddell himself survived


Silver inlayed Scottish pistol

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