The variety of firearms, calibers, lengths and styles available at the end of the 19th century is boggling! A few American, British and European makers dominate the market, but there are smaller manufacturers in the USA, all over Europe and throughout the Mediterranean, the Ottoman Empire, South America and Russian Empire. Many small family own manufacturers exist and quality can vary from very poor to extraordinary. Over time many of the small companies will fold or be absorbed by the larger ones, but for now there are too many to even begin listing.
Although many companies manufactured some variant of one of the larger maker’s guns, either licensed or not, others competed with their own design ideas and many unique weapons appeared and disappeared during this time. In some instances it was the large companies that copied smaller ones designs! For the most part the lists will deal with ‘mainstream’ designs. Generic guns, those without a manufacturer listed, represent products of but one of the many small companies.
Reputable manufacturers were able to command top dollar for their products, aside from competitor copies, which usually sold for less, there is a strong used gun market where quality and price can vary a great deal. Overall gun quality has improved in the last decades such that even older designs can still be (usually) safely fired. And conversions, which are rebuilt cap and ball pistols now able to load and fire cartridges, are very common.
Although magazine fed, semi auto pistols and rifles are being designed and conceived in shops and drafting rooms at this time, revolvers are the state of the art hand gun and the best on offer in the market. For rifles and shotguns, bolt action, lever action and pump action are the cutting edge small arms for the battlefield and hunting. Early machine guns do exist. The Gatling Gun, the Gardner Machine gun and the Maxim gun are well known examples. Access to these are generally limited to government militaries.
Just as important as the quality of the gun is the quality of the ammunition. Like guns there were numerous manufacturers of ammunition and the quality varied widely. Reliability, power and cleanliness are the main qualities that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Reliability reflects the number of misfires to be found in a box. For simplicity sake this will be shown as an average shots out of a hundred. Power is reflective both of the grains of powder and powder quality and will affect damage by adding or subtracting 1. While it may be tempting to load your weapon with the most powerful cartridges available, using these cartridges, especially on older or generic guns, may cause a failure. Cleanliness reflects how fouled a gun becomes shooting the cartridges and dirty cartridges can contribute to jamming and other failures. When shooting Black Powder cartridges, every 24 shots WITHOUT CLEANING THE GUN will result in a -1 on the Malfunction Table
Traditional black powder cartridges are still manufactured and can be widely found world wide, the development of ‘smokeless’ powder in its various formulations is rendering black powder obsolete. However, for cost and damage purposes, all cartridges are assumed to be Black Powder unless specified otherwise.
Poudre B is the first marketed and most widely distributed (in Europe) smokeless powder, other available versions are Ballistite, developed by Alfred Nobel, and Cordite. Though there were differences in these formulations, from a game perspective all smokeless powders are the same and all black powders are the same. Smokeless powder has been marketed to the public for a little less then two years. Smokeless Powder ammunition is more expensive (+50%) then traditional black powder and has more ‘punch’ +1 damage for any bullet fired with Smokeless. It also leaves minimal smoke, is less likely to give away a location, does not obscure vision with multiple shots and reduces the wear on a gun by causing less corrosion and fouling. Black Powder ammunition is the ‘standard’ ammunition reflected in the game stats for price, damage etc. In general, smokeless powder ammunition is ONLY available in a handful of high end gun shops and outfitters and these are only found in major cities. Most smokeless powder production is contracted for military use.
For simplification purposes fire arms will fall into one of two general categories, ‘New/Modern’ which can shoot modern smokeless powder, and ‘Used/Old’ which represents the older generation of Black Powder using cartridges.
Note: A lot of civilians make do with cartridge conversions of cap and ball revolvers that were done all the way through the 1870s and are perfectly serviceable twenty years later. Not everyone instantly adopts every new thing that come out, (or can afford them) or that new guns and ammo are instantly available everywhere. Also, tons of cheap military surplus guns are on the market.
Further, to make the selections more manageable some statistics will be grouped together for some calibers and cartridges. Historical descriptions often have odd calibers, these will be treated (for damage) as a caliber listed below. Additionally the Continental measurements of 5mm, 6mm, 7mm, 9mm etc will be lumped with their ‘Standard’ equivalent.
Issues of rimfire vs centerfire vs boxer and so on, will generally be ignored as will the various odd lengths of .38 and .44 that were on the market. Many of these calibers, cartridges and loads were intended to capture market share and lock in customers rather then present a significant ballistic difference.
Damage and ranges are largely a function of the bullet and its load, NOT the gun firing the bullet. It will be assumed that all loads are standard for the caliber in question. Guns determine the Accuracy of the shot, the rate of fire, number of shots, malfunction, and so on. While in reality there are some small modifications in damage due to barrel length it is minimal and will be ignored for the game, however barrel length will impact accuracy and concealability.
NOTE 1: Guns and ammunition of the late Nineteenth Century are not as powerful as their Twenty First Century equivalent. Damage and penetration are both less. A modern pistol round will easily pass through a normal wooden door or piece of furniture. A 19th century pistol shot is not likely to do so. Keep that in mind when seeking cover in a gunfight!
Individual descriptions of a gun will contain all the information about the weapon. For brevity sake the charts will only show the more critical information.
NOTE 2: As common as modern firearms are, they are still not commonly brandished in civilized company. Except by hunters, soldiers, law enforcement officers or criminals, firearms are not utilized on a daily basis. Even in law enforcement, guns are used mostly as a last resort. And although it is not unusual, and is even acceptable, for a gentleman to be armed, it is always discreet! Openly wearing or carrying weapons as a matter of routine will at the least get you barred from polite company and is very likely to result in a police inquiry.