John Waters is listed on page 56 of "English Gunmakers: The Birmingham and Provincial Gun Trade in the 18th and 19th Century" by Bailey and Nie as active 1766-1788 and "Granted British Patent No. 1284 of 9 Mar. 1781 for attaching bayonets to pistols; is generally credited with the invention of the 'spring bayonet.'" On this example, there is a second trigger for releasing the bayonet, but pulling the main trigger also pushes this trigger back and thus the bayonet is automatically deployed when the pistol is fired. The bayonet has a drum shaped attachment mechanism rather than the more simplified spring mechanisms used on later "snap bayonet" guns. The pistol has "Patent/ No. 977" on the left side of the action, "Waters Gill/& Co." on the right side, cross scepter Ordnance private proofs on the bottom of the barrel, "THO GILL" (a large cutlery manufacturer and contractor for edged weapons) marked on the underside of the folding bayonet, sliding half-cock safety, side mounted iron ramrod with brass tip, and a walnut grip. The muzzle flares to 1 inch, but the bore is smaller and measures approximately .50 caliber. This pistol also has a "USN" marking on the bottom of the barrel that was previously noted as "possibly, but unlikely referring to U.S. Naval use, probably just owner's initials." They may have been spuriously added due to the fact that the British Waters gunmakers have been confused in the past with the later Waters family of U.S. martial arms makers from Massachusetts.
Good with attractive aged patinas on the silver and brass, mottled gray and brown patina and mild oxidation/pitting on the iron, general minor scratches and marks, and on the grip, and legible markings (one noted as likely spurious above). The spring for the bayonet is weak but functional, and the action is mechanically good.
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