On January 23, 1798, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law authorizing the Governor to establish an armory in the Richmond area. Doing so Virginia would be assured by not having to depend upon European or federal arms. Uniformity and quality of weapons could be obtained under the acute eyes of the local government. Also, the monies spent in the arms-making endeavor could be expected to remain in circulation within the state for the benefit of all residents.The new armory would be named the Virginia Manufactory and was the first state owned armory to successfully manufacture a complete line of weapons for its militia. Beginning in 1802 through the end of operations in 1821, the Virginia Manufactory of Arms produced 4252 pistols. (58,000 flintlock muskets - 2,000 flintlock rifles - 10,000 swords - 300 cannons)
In 1804, the Virginia Manufactory began to dabble in pistol making using burst musket barrels, provided no flaws or other defects existed in the shortened sections.
Pistol making began in earnest in 1805. The pistols were made in two models.
The 1st Model pistol, above, was produced between 1805- 1811.
The 2nd Model pistol, below, was produced between 1812- 1815.
The first few 1st model pistols had hickory ramrods the balance, had steel ramrods with the 2nd Model using the swivel style.
The Virginia Manufactory closed on December 31, 1821. In 1861 the Confederate Government reopened the armory, where it was known as the Richmond Armory. During the Civil War Virginia’s militia inventory of arms were altered to percussion weapons.