The Arms and Armour Research Institute, directed by the Rev Paul Wilcock, has carried out 3-D micro CT scanning on a pistol from the 1860s. The round-framed pocket pistol has come under the detailed scrutiny of the Institute, now based in a special laboratory equipped with advanced technology at the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre.
The Institute has a CT scanner and X-ray fluorescence scanners -- one of which is handheld and can be used in the field -- enabling experts to carry out minute analysis of all kinds of weaponry, including firearms, blades and ammunition.
The Institute is composed of scientists, forensics experts and archaeologists, and has developed a flourishing commercial dimension called on by clients that include leading auction houses and private collectors.
For example, if an antique gun's interior mechanism has been tampered with in any way, then its value may be greatly reduced. However, physical disassembly of delicate parts may cause irreparable damage and X-rays provide only a two-dimensional image. CT scanning, on the other hand, enables 360 degree analysis in "slices" of ten microns, without the need for the weapon to be physically touched.
Made in Huddersfield
This tiny, one-shot pistol was most likely made in Huddersfield and might have been used as a concealed weapon to deal with highwaymen or other ruffians. The analysis conducted on this pistol shows that there is internal wear to some of the component parts of the internal mechanism which would ultimately effect the efficiency of the gun.
The minute weapon -- privately purchased and handed over to the Huddersfield researchers for analysis -- has an inscription on the barrel that reads "Booth, Huddersfield." C. Booth and Son is one of the oldest businesses in Huddersfield, still operating as an ironmonger in premises it has occupied for more than 145 years. Paul Wilcock believes that this is probably the shop named on the pistol barrel, and it would not have been unusual, he says, for such a business to buy weapons and inscribe them in this way before sale.
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