I've got two characters in 1855(ish - definitely pre-Civil War) California. One's a hardened frontiersman, the other's a bit of a tenderfoot from back east. I want them armed.
As far as I can tell, 1855 was kind of a time of transition for weapons...either that or I'm even more confused than I thought! But it seems like they were moving away from the kind of guns where you had to pour in the powder and add your bullet separately, and towards the all-in-one cartridge idea. Please tell me if I'm wrong on that. But as far as I can tell, it wasn't a clean switch...like, they didn't stop manufacturing the old kind, so there was a while when both kinds were being made, sold, and used? And maybe there was another whole issue - whether a gun loaded a single bullet or whether it would load several (5 or 6, I guess?) at a time. It seems like it was possible for there to be a six-shooter that required the pouring in of gunpowder and the addition of the bullet. And of course shotguns... Yikes.
I guess what I need to know is, what types of guns would my characters likely be carrying? Brand names are great (and google-able, if I need more details!), but even just the type of gun that would be likely would be very useful. My frontiersman has done some professional killing, so I'd assume that he'd want something that would be good against men, and against animals (hunting and defense), and that would stand up well to rough conditions - multiple guns, maybe? My tenderfoot probably just wants something fairly simple. Neither one is rolling in money.
Thanks for any suggestions.