Moore’s Patent Revolver

UPDATE: Welcome to all of the readers at SayUncle!  For informaton on Civil War and other arms and armament, check out some other posts in our Arms and Armament category.

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.


13 responses to “Moore’s Patent Revolver”

  1. […] Moore’s Patent Revolver […]

  2. William Dairy Avatar
    William Dairy

    Hi – I am a collector of pistols of the civil war. I have mostly Colt And Remington Army and Navy’s. However, there were many different configuration’s of revolvers used, the Moore one of the best. I have traced many Moore revolvers to individual soldiers. Most information presently known is that were mostly used by officers nothing could be further from the truth. I have had more than 60 units that I have traced and each one was purchased by a non-com soldier as a belt model. I have one that I traced to a close friend of George A. Custer and one that was found in the grave of a Confederate soldier, buried in a shallow grave at Gettysburg and later disinterred for re-burial in the south. This one still contains three full cartridges un- fired.

    1. Lon Miller Avatar
      Lon Miller

      Hello! I read your blog from almost 2 years ago. My name is Lon Miller and I have a D.Moore 32 rimfire pistol from 1861 serial 1498. How would I go about tracing this? Any help would be great. it has a name that was scratched off on the handle so I am very interested in finding out More information on it. 🙂

    2. Quinnen Avatar

      William, I have a d moore with the 5” barrel, the gun has dimples on the butt that I presume came from hanging wanted posters or the like. On the right side upper grip are 7-9? Small dimples which I assume are kills. I have an intact original leather flap belt holster and a full box of UMC 32 short rimfire cartridges that I would love to sell to a serious reinactor or collector. I am not sure what they are worth, guns international has a unsigned one with the 6” barrel , pistol only for $2080. I would like to get something like that for my complete set. I stink at internet comm. and I hope I get through to you . I am with my lady staying safe and sure could use some interest in this gun . Thanks for reading, Quinnen

  3. Tom Riddle Avatar
    Tom Riddle

    I have a moore 32 revolver would like a value gun retains 70 % truly functional

  4. William Dairy Avatar
    William Dairy

    Tom it’s a shame but collectors have not caught up to the true value of the Moore 7 shooter. Asking prices are around just under $1000. I bought one yesterday for $700. Maybe in a few years they will be realized as a true Collectable

    William Dairy

  5. james r Avatar
    james r

    dear sir I have a moore,s teat .32 cal 014 revolver I have the original box gun came in with the awl and original 36 cartridges w/box it has been in my family since it was bought new needs cleaning but I don’t know what to clean it with whats it worth and what to use to clean it with thanks jim r

    1. tim smith Avatar
      tim smith

      do you still have the moore revolver nd box e mail thanks

  6. Fred Ray Avatar
    Fred Ray

    Gents, I have no idea what the present value of these guns are. My advice is to look around the ‘net or join a collector’s forum. However, if you’re thinking about “cleaning” it — DON’T!. More valuable antique firearms have been ruined by amateur attempts at cleaning and restoration than you can imagine. It’s a great way to destroy its value. And please, please, don’t use a wire brush — ever!!!

    First get it looked at by someone who knows what they are going, then proceed from there. Don’t try it yourself. There are ways to clean old guns but even so it may not be the thing to do, especially if you want to sell it. Many collectors prefer the original patina. So if in doubt — don’t!.

    Sounds like you have a nice old gun — don’t ruin it.

  7. Tom Avatar

    Doe’s anyone by chance know where to find components like the ramrod
    Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated

    1. Lon Miller Avatar
      Lon Miller

      Really not sure Tom. If your ramrod is missing it would be really hard to find. It may be worth looking into having someone remanufacture one just for display purposes or to complete the gun if missing. A blacksmith could help.

      1. Tom Avatar

        Thanks much Lon .
        I figured it would be a hard find for the piece itself.
        I’m a retired machinist so if I could find a blueprint of the components that would be awesome I’d make some myself .
        Several years back when researching them we found 3 museums that had one but sadly all were missing the ramrod.
        Once again thanks much

  8. […] revolvers came all right. I have sold one of them & may sell the other & get me some of Moore’s Pat[ent Revolver]. Everyone who sees them likes them better than these. I will write to Father in a day or two. I […]

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