North American Auction Company
Live Auction

Legends of the West: Western & Native American Sale

Sat, Sep 23, 2023 11:00AM EDT
Lot 164

Plains Indian .72 Cal Percussion Blanket Musket

Estimate: $1,800 - $2,500

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$50 $10
$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$2,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$30,000 $2,500
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000
Superb example of a Plains Indian “Blanket Gun” or “Buffalo Runner’s” cut-down percussion musket. Originally, these shortened, large caliber lightly rifled muskets were utilized by mounted horseman who galloped into herds of bison shooting guns and arrows at point blank range. Short barrreled muzzle loaders were about the only pre-cartridge firearms that could be quickly loaded while on horseback. Powder was poured, a naked ball was dropped, a percussion cap placed on the nipple below the cocked hammer and the firearm held muzzle high to keep the load settled. When ready to fire, the rider simply lowered the arm and fired before the ball had a chance to move off the powder charge. This proved fast and effective for both hunting and warfare. Decades later, during the reservation period, when firearms were often limited or prohibited altogether, these early cut down muskets formerly used for hunting became concealed “blanket guns.” Hidden under a robe or blanket, they could remain out of sight and away from confiscation. It is known that a number of blanket guns suddenly appeared before and during the tragic Wounded Knee Massacre in December 1890. Loaded with ball, bullet or shot, these proved formidable weapons for a number of uses. This is a classic example with a barrel length of 14 inches and an overall length of only approximately 24 inches. It is cut from a typical .72 caliber musket that is typical of the type sold or traded to the Plains Indians of the Pre-Civil War and Post-Civil War era. The lock functions and the lock plate has some vestige of markings that may be French or Belgian in origin, which would be typical of trade muskets. There is also considerable aged black powder pitting around the hammer/nipple area from decades of use. As expected, Overall metal has aged to a deep brown, uncleaned patina. The rear portion of the stock has been cut just behind the comb and shows some undeciphered light carved marks or symbols on the right rear portion. Forward of the lock is wound rawhide strips used to secure the barrel to the forend. Ahead of this the wood appears slightly charred as if it had been near a fire at some point. Overall, a wonderful example of a seldom seen Native American artifact that no doubt holds a wealth of history. NSN. This firearm qualifies as an Antique, and does not require FFL Transfer or NICS Background Check.

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