Cane Guns

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Photo From Worth Point

I can never get enough of antique weaponry, which is why I'm excited to highlight the pistol cane gun.

Imagine yourself in 18th century London, strolling down the West End with your lady on a foggy evening, and you come across a ruffian in a dark alley, eager to take your possessions. In those days, police protection was scant, and it was up to the individual to protect his for herself. You could run, or if you had a pistol cane, fending off the attacker would be no problem. That's what many gentlemen of the day did with the pistol cane. Cane guns were a very popular item among Europe's upper echelon, designed for protection against attackers or stray dogs.

They were a popular piece from the 1840s until the 1920s, until there were more laws restricting concealed weapons. Eventually, these guns became impractical to carry, and even during their heyday, they proved ineffective compared to smaller pistols that could be tucked under capes or hidden in pockets. These were great pieces to have for show and novelty, but they have been used in instances of attack.

And there were instances where cane pistols had the advantage. It was the ultimate element of surprise, since you can simply point and shoot without taking the time to withdraw a small pistol, and it could be used as a club, and all the better if it came with an retractable bayonet.

Remington Cane Gun

There are different variations of this gun, but Remington was among the first to specifically market the cane gun for civilian use. When one of their employees by the name John F. Thomas developed the cane gun, Remington jumped at the chance. Thomas, a former gunsmith, attained a patent, became a master of mechanics at Remington and shared the invention with his employers. And, hence, production began in 1859.

Remington was among the first major gun manufacturers to make the cane pistol. Remington's model used a .31 caliber percussion that shot a single ball, and there were other models with longer barrels that were meant to shoot pellets. In the 1870s, a rim fire .22 came topped with a brass dog-head was one of the rarer pieces to find, even within the period. By the 1860s, Remington recalibrated the cane to accept .22 and .32. The .22 was considered their number one cane, with the .32 coming in second.


Remington Doghead Cane. Photo From Cowan Auctions

The original models came with an internal hammer, but later models used a rod for striking the firing pin.

The standard cane gun that Remington offered was a 9 inch barrel with a lead ball that rattled around in a brass tube to the muzzle. The cane shaft was lined with vulcanized rubber or rubber gutta-percha, which was fragile material that could easily break. The Civil War interrupted the manufacturing of this weapon, but production resumed; however, the final nail in the coffin for the Remington cane gun was in 1886, when the company fell on hard times.

These were not pop guns either; thecanes shot live rounds that could certainly maim or kill. Check out this shooting demonstration of a modern variation.


In today's society, there are more powerful rounds, but the .22 and .32 rounds were enough to get the job done.

Outside of Remington, you could find more creative pieces crafted by independent gunsmiths. The pepperbox variety also came with a bayonet, but you'd be hard pressed to find this piece. Other versions you could find were repeater, airsoft, and even flintlock. And some models were different in design, such as a detachable pistol handle that fired pepper rounds.

Where to Find One

Nowadays, you can find these types of weapons as collector pieces, especially the Remingtons, but the rarer ones made by individual gunsmiths can be harder to find. A Remington collectible, depending on the condition, could go anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, with the rarer ones being on the higher end of that range. Many of these guns were privately commissioned by the wealthy, and the custom canes are going to be more expensive. You'll be able to find them in beautiful wood finishes, ivory, bone, etc., and engraved handles matched the personality of the owner. If you're a collector of rare and antique weaponry, it would certainly be a great piece to add to your collection.





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