A Texas-Made Civil War Revolver: Tucker Navy Number 1

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Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian McCollum, and I am here today at RIA with A really interesting revolver. This is a Texas Confederate Copy of a Colt 1851 Navy. Sort of, it’s really more like a Navy pattern Dragoon revolver. However, this is a revolver that was manufactured By a guy named Laban E. Tucker. Tucker was part of … one of the two famous Texas Confederate gun manufacturing companies, Which was originally Tucker & Sherrard, which then became Taylor and Sherrard because Tucker left. At any rate the short version of this, and by the way, I have a longer video on The full history of this company, and its complete failure to provide any guns to the Texas government. Which I’ll link at the end if you’re interested in where this story went, aside from these Navy pattern guns. So Tucker was a gunsmith, gun dealer, who lived in Texas in the 1850s working in this profession, And he and his two sons, Argyle and Elihu, were both partners in this initial Tucker & Sherrard Company. They got together with … a couple of blacksmiths, businessmen, And they got a contract from the State of Texas to manufacture revolvers in 1862. And very shortly after that contract was signed Tucker left the company, and that’s when the name changed. Now what’s interesting about this is there are three known Tucker Navy revolvers. … When I say ”Navy” I mean .36 calibre. This is one of them, and this is serial number 1. The other two that are known to exist, and very well documented, are serial numbers 59 and 79. … And those are both marked … L.E. Tucker and Sons, which makes sense. What we’re not really sure of is exactly when and where Tucker made these revolvers. … Synthesising from all of the theories out there, The best interpretation I can come up with personally is that Tucker left the Tucker & Sherrard company, Set back [up] on his own, probably because the people he was working with were not particularly competent At what they were trying to do, which explains why they were not able to actually produce anything. Or just that maybe they were competent, but the situation didn’t allow the company, In Tucker’s eyes, to have any chance of success. Which would also fit the facts of the matter. At any rate, it appears that Tucker and his two sons went back to making guns themselves, And probably, based on these surviving serial numbers, made about a hundred of them. There is actually an article in an Austin, Texas, newspaper from February of 1863 That mentions someone having a look at Tucker’s revolvers, like, ”This guy Tucker says he’s making revolvers. And they appear to be excellent, Every bit as good as a Colt, which they’re a direct copy of,

Except they have an extra sight on the barrel, which we think is a good idea.” This has an extra sight on the barrel. Let me show you. On your typical standard Colt percussion revolver the rear sight is a notch in the top of the hammer. And this pistol has one, more or less. This is a pretty crudely made pistol. You would expect that for like serial number 1, the very first pre-production sort of gun of a series. You would also expect some of this level of crudeness for any revolver manufactured in the Confederacy during the Civil War. All of the companies, and they were pretty much limited to Georgia and Texas, But all of the Confederate gun manufacturing companies were at all times Working under very limiting circumstances. They had trouble with manpower, they had trouble with material shortages, They had trouble with getting skilled workers, they had trouble with everything. But I digress. What we do have here is a second much larger and much more visible rear sight Mounted on the very back of the barrel. The front sight is a pretty normal, typical, Colt-style blade. And if we look down the sighting line here, you’ll see that that’s really small, But that one’s a lot easier to actually see through, so. That said, this was just a prototype feature, because the other two known Tucker Navy revolvers Do not have that rear sight. They are in fact just copies of the Colt. Now, there are a couple of other elements that … are distinctive to Tucker and Sons revolvers, And some of this stuff is really, really subtle. So the punch marks in these two screws in the loading lever assembly, That is a distinctive Tucker thing, and so it’s reassuring to see it on a pistol like this That is believed and claimed to be a Tucker-made pistol. Normally, we would expect to see some serial numbers down here. On this particular one there is only one serial number, And it is located right here on the top surface of the loading lever. However, we do have some other elements. In addition, this is rifled with six lands and grooves, which is unique to Tucker revolvers. And … in fact the only other two known are the other two Tucker Navys. The other Tucker & Sherrard guns and Sherrard and Clark guns are rifled with seven lands and grooves. So that’s a strong point in support of this being an authentic Tucker revolver. This revolver was made without a retaining screw for the barrel wedge. And in fact, it appears that this barrel wedge is a contemporary replacement. It’s not a normal one, but it has the same appearance of age as all the rest of the pistol.

So that’s an interesting feature. In addition, one of the other common features of the Texas-made guns, the Tucker and Sherrard and Clark Guns is that they didn’t generally have the loading notch in the bottom here. The idea is with a regular Colt there’s a little cutout there, So that you can put a bullet or a round ball on the cylinder here, rotate it when you’re loading, You can put the bullet on there, rotate it into the bottom position, and then you can use your loading lever To give you some extra leverage to ram that thing into the cylinder. … Well, without that cutout that’s a lot harder to do. And that’s raised a lot of speculation about these guns. Like did they make a lot of them and leave that feature out? Did they make a very small number of them? Were they assembled from parts and someone just never got around to cutting those, And … no one really cared if they were able to work properly. They just wanted to get stuff out and get some money in. It has been suggested perhaps that Tucker himself didn’t see this as all that necessary, That you could load in fact right here without needing the loading lever. So maybe that’s it. Maybe he had his own technique, well practiced. I can see this being sort of an old codger, like, ”You know, them kids don’t need that fancy stuff,” Kind of thing, where like you put the ball on, you kind of get it part way in with your thumb, And then it’s far enough in that you can rotate it under And use the ramming lever without needing a notch there. Something like that probably is the case. However, the notch on this one is not of the standard pattern, and this was almost certainly added At some point when the gun was relatively new by an owner who was like, ”This is really annoying, I wish I had a loading … notch in there.” So that’s also very distinctive of these Texas-made revolvers. There are a few other very subtle details that lend credence to this as a Tucker revolver, Which we don’t need to go into an excruciating detail here, because to me the interesting part of this is The story of who was making these and where and when, and how they were or weren’t able to succeed. And it appears that Tucker and his sons were able to put together about 100 guns. Kind of like everything Texas, these revolvers have a bit of a mythical status in the area of Civil War firearms collecting. There are very few of them, but they are perhaps lauded a bit beyond their real quality, Because, frankly, none of these companies were able to do a very good job of producing much of anything for the Confederacy. But of course in collecting circles often the rarer something is the more desirable it is, And of course the harder it is to find. So, serial number 1 of what may very well be the one gun that is specifically referred to in that

1863 newspaper clipping is a pretty darn cool thing to get a chance to take a look at. I wish we knew more about the details of exactly what was happening With the company and its several name changes, And the work of Tucker either with or independently from his compatriots. But unfortunately, none of that is documented and known, and at this point it probably never will be. So what we’re left with is a couple of really interesting pieces of historical evidence here, historical artifacts. So hopefully you guys enjoyed the video. Thanks for watching. [ sub by sk cn2 ]

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