(French cavalry pistol believed favored by pirates)

The Pistol

Pistols were probably the second most important weapon to the pirate but tended to be the firearm most associated with a pirate. any many instances pirates carried several pistols when boarding a ship. Quite often a minimum of two pistols were required of a privateers signing up for a raid. Some pirates carried as many as six pistols or more when going into battle.

A common practice was for pirates to hang a brace of pistols around the neck, tying them off with a silk ribbon. Often in the movies we see pirate fire the pistols and toss them aside. This was not done. The pistols would be discharged and then slipped back on the belt or allowed to hang from the neck via a ribbon while the fight ensued. If the pirate had the opportunity to safely reload his pistol he would do so and return to shooting his foe rather than fighting with a sword or axe. Often if the pistol were already fired the pirate would use it as club in his parrying hand while sword fighting.

Pirates demanded a rugged durable pistol, capable of handling the rigors of sea life. A good pirate or privateer would not only keep his pistol clean and good repair but also practiced loading and did target practice on a regular basis. Often privateers did more drilling with their weapons than actually military units.