I seem to be on a roll with CW-period revolvers. Came across another one the other day, the Moore’s Patent Revolver. The gun’s owner, who is trying to sell it, was kind enough to let me post the photos and quote from his ad copy.
Moore’s Patent Firearms Company was founded by Daniel Moore, who in his own way was one of America’s most prolific inventors. Just prior to the Civil War Moore began producing a seven-shot .32 cal. revolver in Brooklyn, NY. Moore’s pistol, which he had patented in September, 1860, proved very popular with soldiers going off to war, especially the New York regiments. Over 7,000 were produced.
This gun is the very first revolver with swing-out cylinder ever produced. With the hammer in half cock position, pressing on the catch located to the right of the hammer on the recoil shield allows the barrel and cylinder to be swung out to the right for loading. Sturdy and very well made, this revolver was, in its days, ahead of its competitors.
With the cylinder swung out as shown above, the ejector rod slung under the barrel was detached and used to punch out the spent cartridges. Today almost all revolvers use a swing out cylinder load for loading although they swing out quite a bit further so that all cartridges can be loaded or unloaded at once instead of one at a time as here. Moore’s gun proved sturdy and reliable, and fired the same .32 cal. copper-cased cartridges as the Smith & Wesson. It was a handsome weapon with walnut grips, a silver-plated finish, and scroll engraving standard.
There was just one problem—Moore’s design violated Rollin White’s bored-through cylinder patent used by S&W, and in 1862 he got sued and lost. Moore had to turn over 3376 guns to his competitor and to add insult to injury had to stamp the barrel MANFD FOR SMITH & WESSON BY MOORE’S PAT. FIRE ARMS CO. Whether he got anything out of the deal I don’t know, but the company survived and changed its name to National Firearms Company in 1866 and was bought by Colt in 1870. In the interim the inventive Moore had come up with a “teat fire” design to get around White’s patent.
Not content with just having it in his safe, the owner actually loaded up some cartridges for this pistol (which is still tight) and tested them on a target. As you can see the old girl still shoots pretty well.
As an example of the gun’s actual use in the war I found a descendant of Lt. Marvin Williams, adjutant of the 108th New York, who still has his pistol, customized with his name on the back strap—a very nice family heirloom indeed.
Smith & Wesson was very aggressive in pursuing patent suits, and were said to have had over 18,000 revolvers of various types turned over to them. Today these “infringement” guns with the roll stamp are considered quite collectable. With typical New England business acumen they required Rollin White to do the actual legal work as part of their agreement with him.
UPDATE: Speaking of “infringement” pistols, here’s one by D. D. Cone of Washington, DC. Cone apparently got tagged in the same series of lawsuits that ensnared Moore, although this gun is unmarked.
***Check out the Siege of Petersburg Online for daily posts on battle accounts in newspaper articles, diary entries, letters and more!
What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.
Want to read some interesting Civil War content from amateurs and pros alike? Check out the Top 10 Civil War Blogs and Top 10 Civil War Blogs: 11-20.