The mid-1800s proved to be a fabulous period of firearm innovation. Westward expansion, the Gold Rush, and of course, the Civil War, created an amazing period of creative firearm development. One such firearm that evolved from this was the LeMat Revolver, also known as the Grape Shot Revolver. The LeMat was developed in 1856 by Dr. Jean Alexandre Le Mat, and backed by Pierre G.T. Beauregard, a future Confederate General. This revolver was capable of firing buckshot from its 16-guage smoothbore barrel, as well as nine rounds of revolver bullets. About 2,900 were produced in Europe, and were used by the Confederate cavalry.
The first LeMats were produced in bore sizes of .35 and .41, but LeMat owners had to cast their own bullets due to the odd size. Because of this, the later models were changed to the more common .36 or .44. However, few of these later models made it past the Union blockade to see much action in the Civil War. Most revolvers had five or six chambers, the LeMat had NINE. Also add in the shotgun load, and you have ten shots at your disposal. Fully loaded, this bad boy weighed almost ten pounds!
Even though the LeMat was not designed for pinpoint accuracy, it was a favorite sidearm of Confederate Generals Jeb Stuart, Beauregard, and Bragg. With this kind of firepower, it wouldn’t be hard to kill a man a few yards away. The LeMat also had lanyard provisions, so in a worst case scenario, it could be swung around and used as a mace. In light of all this, however, the LeMat was really not all that popular or common amongst the troops.
An authentic LeMat Revolver in good condition can bring a price of $20,000, and in excellent condition, they can fetch a price of up to $35,000. A black powder replica can cost upwards of $850. If that is still too costly for you, a quality non-firing replica LeMat can be purchased for $89 at Historic Replica Guns. Not too bad for a cool Civil War replica and a great reminder of American history!