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Here are a couple of orginals. The big one is an Austrian tube lock which is uncommon in original form as most were converted to percussion cap. It is big and measures about 17.25" overall and has a bore of about .70 cal. I had meant to take a picture of the both of them together so you could see how large the Austrian pistol really is. The other is a US 1842 by H. Aston in .54 cal smoothbore and is only about 14.25" overall.
 

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I have never seen one of the primers for the Austrian pistol but it appears to have been a soft tube with fulminate inside it. The spring force to open and close the primer retainer firing pin thing is substantial. I can imagine that if the firing pin was fouled or stuck in the fired position, closing it would discharge the pistol.
The Aston may have seen service in the CW but were certainly obsolete by that time.
 
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