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Dapper Concealment: Remington Cane Gun

As Deion Sanders said, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” You may be wondering what in the world that has to do with the history of concealable firearms. Wonder no more; the Remington cane gun is an example of concealed carry for the fashionable gentleman or woman. Often, small guns are called many things — pocket pistols, mouse guns, and muff guns, but this was a way to take a fashionable accessory and make it work for self-defense. 

Remington led the way into the cane gun market with a percussion version patented by John F. Thomas in 1858. This kicked off a bit of a cane gun marketing war, as everyone realized cane swords were no longer the king of the cane weapon world. After all, you should never bring a cane knife to a cane gun fight. Remington’s version was updated to metallic cartridges in 1866, the first metallic cartridge long-gun made by Remington (take that Rolling Blocks). Much like the current single-stack 9mm battle, other makers soon got in on the cane gun market. 

remington cane gun

Remington Cane Gun Dog Head. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming.

French and English makers made them, including smoothbore and pepperbox versions, and Remington made theirs until 1888. A rifle version using the cane grip as a buttstock even showed up, designed by Edward Bean and made by Iver Johnson. The original Remington percussion cane gun was .31-caliber percussion; later customers had their choice of .22 or .32 rimfire versions.

If you’d like to carry a cane gun instead of the currently fashionable single-stack 9mm, you should consider at least a few things before you do. First, the ammunition is a bear to find and not suitable for bears (see what we did there?). Second, the guns are quite collectible and might be better off as a conversation piece. Third, while original Remington cane guns fall into antique status under U.S. firearm law, any made after the cutoff date for antiques are considered Any Other Weapons and restricted by the National Firearms Act — unregistered cane guns are considered contraband. Lastly, carrying a cane gun is illegal in Alabama. Be sure to double-check the regulations in your area.

These guns proved to be popular enough to be on the market for decades to protect oneself from street crime; whether it was truly a means of personal protection or a fashion statement (à la BBQ guns) is another debate. While it may look a little weird to carry one in today’s society, you could always tell someone you’re in a production of A Christmas Carol

[Editor's Note: This Article first appeared in Concealment # 18. Photos Courtesy Cody Firearms Museum.]

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4 responses to “Dapper Concealment: Remington Cane Gun”

  1. GWB says:

    Dang, and here I thought it would be about something currently being manufactured.

    (BTW, why on earth would it be NFA? Other than concealment issues, I don’t see where one could even remotely fall under restrictions unless they’re stupidly directly banned.)

  2. GGG says:

    NFA for the ‘dangerousness’ of not recognizing it as a firearm. Hey, it’s a government agency.

    NAA makes a western size belt buckle their mini-revolvers snap into; making it look like a tiny gun (it is!) embedded in the buckle. IIRC ATF ruled that combination as NFA at one point! And apparently some states require a CW permit as –even in plain sight– it’s ‘concealed’ from being recognized.

  3. Rob Ripley says:

    A cane knife, in fact, is a short handled cutting tool used for harvesting sugar cane. Lighter than an axe and heavier than a machete.

    Still used in Fiji but not here in Australia. (I think?)

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