By far the best thing at the SHOT 2020 NRA booth was the small display of historic concealed carry weapons suitably concealed at the rear of the booth, behind the recruitment desks. The interesting historic weapons are drawn from the NRA firearms museums’ collections.
The weapons range from stylish but deadly cane guns to weird and macabre weapons like a cemetery gun. The display charts the evolution of carried firearms from the 1500s through to the 19th century.
Since the medieval period swords had been the dominant personal defence weapon for civilians and combination sword and pistol weapons enjoyed some popularity in various sizes – the display had flintlock examples dating from the 1800s and a pinfire revolver sabre during from the 1860s.
During the 19th century personal weapons changed dramatically and began to be more frequently concealed rather than openly carried. By the end of the 19th century gentleman’s sword canes had been surpassed by single shot sword canes. These included percussion, pin and later centre-fired versions.
Here’s a chart the display had charting the history and development of concealed carry from the wheellock to the glock.
The central display case had a selection of small, concealable pistols dating from the 1800s through to the 1900s. The centrepiece of the display was a Cemetery Gun – not a personal concealed carry weapon but it was a concealed firearm. During a period when grave robbing was rampant in 19th century England some took to desperate measures and hid gun traps to ward off grave robbers setting up guns to protect the graves.
Also on display were some early small calibre palm pistols including the Le Novo with its folding grip.