Feb. 22, 2022, marked George Washington’s 290th birthday, and nearly three centuries on, there are still many surviving artifacts that give us some insight into his life and character. From extant accounts and records, it’s not much of a stretch to say that Washington, apart from being our nation’s first president, was also a gun guy.
He accumulated many personal arms, from sporting rifles to hunting fowlers to finely finished flintlock pistols. At the time of his death, Washington had approximately 19 pistols, three rifles, four muskets and nine fowling pieces, according to Milton F. Perry, the former curator of the West Point Museum. Of these guns, few survive into the present day as known, documented arms with a chain of custody stretching back to the great man.
Of those existing examples, one pair of pistols is highlighted in the February 2022 issue of American Rifleman in the story by Mark Sage titled “Washington’s Pistols At West Point” starting on p. 50. Another striking pair of flintlock saddle pistols known to have been in Washington’s possession is the one shown here. The “Washington-Lafayette Pistols” are so-called because they were a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette to Washington during the American Revolution. These guns, which were profiled by Mark Sage in a previous article can be seen at the Fort Ligonier Museum in Ligonier, Pa.