F. Beerstrecher Prototype Derringer, Two Shot Single Barrel, Superimposed Charges
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1855
Patent Statement and Diagram of Lock Patented 1855, Page 59, Deringer in America1
The lock plate is marked F: BEERSTECHER
Hinged Hammer Nose, .54-caliber, overall length: 9.5” barrel length: 5.5”
All metal surfaces display a smooth dark patina and the lockplate marking is very crisp.
Trigger guard with long tang features a shaped and engraved forend; the bow is engraved;
silver lock screw escutcheon and tiny front blade sight; original rapper is a gorgeous plumb
brown color. Full walnut stock remains in fantastic original surface displaying a robust patina.
Overall condition is very fine. The gun is loaded with two full charges, one on top of the other.
The double strikers are selected to fire the front charge first, and then it is hinged and folded
under and the second charge is fired.
There aren't 10 of the production pieces extant…if you collect Derringers [copyist], this is a must
for your collection…here it is - the original prototype of one of the rarest American derringers
ever made, never used or meant to be used, the prototype demonstrator, as a result in terrific
Well known for his Kentucky rifles, noted maker Frederick Beerstecher lived in Philadelphia and
Lewisburg PA, then Michigan and San Francisco; he produced distinctive derringer pistols;
patented this 1855 design - a “superposed" load system allowing two charges to be loaded and
fired from one barrel. He made rifles and pistols but not many of each. It is estimated that his
production of pistols did not exceed 20-30; perhaps 8 or 9 are known to survive. They were
likely considered rather dangerous to fire, with a strong possibility of both charges going off at
once, risking the rupturing of the barrel and injury to the shooter.
In form, Beerstretcher’s pistols closely resembled the pattern standardized by Henry Deringer,
the inventor of these type of widely copied small pistols. The only obvious difference in
Beerstecher’ s pistols was the presence of two nipples and a long hammer with folding
tip. Allowing the hammer to fire the front nipple and charge, then folding the nose back to allow
the hammer to fire the rear nipple and charge; other than that mechanism, his pistols are the
exact form of all makers of the Deringer style pistols of the period. The huge difference in form
and design of this, his patent model/prototype pistol, is its obvious difference from the “Deringer”
style. It is clearly made on the pattern of a standard “greatcoat “size single shot percussion
pistol of the era, with a sidelock, a separate iron rammer, a “comet” sideplate, and a bag style
grip. Significantly, it is completely undecorated except for the trigger guard which was clearly
purchased from a supplier…not even grip checkering. In this prototype “demonstrator'
design, Beerstecher placed the nipples rather close together, necessitating a longer channel for
the fire from the front nipple to enter the barrel far enough ahead of the rear load to fire the front
load first; he modified his production guns by extending the distance between nipples
facilitating the fire to reach the forward charge.
It is very interesting that this platform demonstrating his design is on such different pistol [plain]
than he eventually produced. AND YET…looking at his patent drawing…THERE IT IS!! The
exact gun. There can be no question that this is his exact prototype/patent model. The patent
drawing is an exact line-drawing of this very gun. It might as well be a photograph.
1.The Deringer In America, R.L. Wilson & L.D. Eberhart, Volume I * The Percussion Period
Also, Firearms Curiosa by Lewis Wynant, pp., 180-181.