While world renowned for the manufacture of more popular single-action and double-action revolvers, Colt also produced many other handgun models. In the 1870s and 1880s, Colt offered a series of small single-shot derringers that were sold domestically and through Colt's London Agency. Both of these cased Colt derringer sets bear London proofmarks, and one set was marketed through the Wilkinson retail store in Pall Mall.
Even though less than 17,000 examples were crafted at the Hartford, Conn., factory, these diminutive derringers were potent short-range arms. When fired at close range, the .41 rimfire cartridge propelled a 130-grain projectile at nearly 500 feet per second. Across the green felt confines of a gambling table, the fortunate owner of a pair of Colt derringers was ready for any eventuality.
Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, January 2005.