James Reid No.2 Revolver


James Reid was a New York gunsmith best known for his ”My Friend” knuckleduster revolvers, but before he devised the idea for those he was working in New York City making traditional style revolvers. This particular one is a Number 2 pattern example, a .32 caliber, 7-shot rimfire revolver.

These were manufactured in violation of the Rollin White patent, but not made in sufficient quantity to attract the attention of Rollin White’s lawyers. Just to be safe, though, Reid only marked the guns with the name of his wholesale distributors. The Reid revolvers have a clever and effective loading gate system, but suffer from a disassembly system which requires unscrewing the barrel in order to remove the cylinder.

Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m Ian I’m here today at the Rock Island Auction company taking a look at some of The guns they’re selling in their April 2016 premier auction and I have one here That ties into a set of guns that we Took a look at not long ago James Reed My friend knuckle Buster’s these were a Really kind of unique interesting little Knuckle duster pepperbox derringer sort Of pistol made by a New York gunsmith by The name of James Reed in the Catskill Mountains well before he made those the Same James Reed was living in New York City and he was making traditional style Revolvers he’s much better known for the Little knuckle duster derringers because He managed to produce a whole ton of Them they turned out to be quite popular But I thought it’d be really cool to Take a look at one of his earlier Civil War Revolvers now this is kind of Interesting in that it uses modern style Rimfire cartridges despite being Manufactured during the Civil War 1862 To 1865 In the case of the specific revolver if You’ve watched a bunch of my videos on Some of these other early revolvers you Will know that during that time roland White had patented the concept of a Board through cylinder and technically

He had a monopoly on the use of Cylinders like this that would use what We think of today as typical rimfire Style cartridges he had given sole Exclusive license to that patent to Smith and Wesson and so everyone else Who is making these revolvers got sued For copyright infringement or patent Infringement did that happen to read no Interestingly it did not read is one of A handful of gun makers who just Blatantly violated the raw and white Patent because he recognized that there Were existing patents in Europe already For this sort of thing basically didn’t Recognize read Ron White’s patent as Being valid and he didn’t end up Producing enough guns to really draw the Attention of Smith & Wesson or Rowland White’s lawyers now it’s interesting That this gun and in fact many of his Others don’t actually have his name on Them he was that was kind of a way to be Careful about potential Lawsuits make it a little harder to Track down where the guns were coming From by not labeling them instead these Guns are labeled with the names of his Sales agents and as time went on his Agents got a little bit paranoid a Little bit spooked by the many legal Actions filed by roland white against Patent infringement they were really Cutting down the number of the type of

Guns that they were willing to buy with Even their names inscribed on them in Total James Reid had four different Models of revolvers that he was making During the Civil War the model one two Three and four The model one was like this but in Twenty-two caliber the model two is this Guy in 32 caliber the model 3 is Actually a percussion revolver made Potentially to avoid legal issues Because that was still not caught that Was a technology that anyone could Manufacture and then a model for based On his own patent so why don’t we go Ahead and take a closer look at this guy Let me show you some of the interesting Elements to it because it it’s got some Features that are not so great in fact They’re really not great and it’s got Some features that are rather ahead of Their time so as I mentioned this is a Cartridge revolver you can see that we Have a very traditional style cylinder Here we have an ejector rod and one of The cool things is that we have a Loading gate it is a hidden loading gate And in order to open it put the gun at Half [ __ ] and there’s this little teeny Tab right there and I pull that back and It unlatches this loading gate so I now Have a little depression in the frame That allows me to rotate the cylinder Position and load cartridges I mentioned

This was in 32 caliber it is a seven Shot revolver as where all of Reed’s Model one and model two rimfire pistols However it doesn’t use a standard Cartridge it uses Reed’s own proprietary 32 caliber cartridge these guns were Actually made both with and without Ejector rods if you got an early gun Before about serial number 1100 I I Guess you just have to come up with Something else to get the cases out with Because it didn’t have an ejector rod on Gun you’ll notice these have a sheath Trigger this was not uncommon at this Period the need for a trigger guard Wasn’t really seen when the trigger only Works if the gun is already cocked so Now this particular gun is serial number 1383 and I want to take a minute to Discuss some of the serial number issues With these guns because there are a few For one thing reads numbering system or A marking system kind of fluctuated a Lot and you’ll find the numbers at Different places on different guns Without a whole lot of rhyme or reason Sometimes they’ll be on the buck strap Sometimes under the barrel sometimes on The frame under the grips sometimes the Barrel number will be the complete Serial number sometimes it will only be The last two digits really there’s a lot Of fluctuation there there were also a Couple different versions of the top of

The frame this is the flat style because It’s flat the early guns up before about Serial number 1100 had a hump here Because this screw which is used as the Pivot point for this loading gate this Screw was originally located above the Tip of the hammer instead of below when I put this two half [ __ ] you can see That there’s a cutout directly under the Hammer just so that it can it can just Barely clear that screw and then the Hammer is relieved enough that the Hammer doesn’t actually hit the screw it Hits the frame to stop you will also Sometimes find these guns with a much Shorter screw that only goes into the Right side of the frame here now the Other issue with read serial numbers is That for all of his four different Revolvers he used a single serial number Range so he started it one and he ended Up going to about 3,500 so you’ll find That the different models of revolver Intermixed in that serial range because He was making several different types at Any given time so in total this number Two revolver he made about 1100 of Eleven hundred and sixty of and you’ll Find them scattered between serial Number basically four hundred and twenty Nine hundred so this is a seven shot Cylinder and one of Reid’s marketing Points with this gun was that you could Fire as many as a hundred rounds without

Needing to clean it because it just Wouldn’t foul a pair Which is kind of bogus it definitely Would foul just like any black-powder Revolver would however it seems like the Reason that he mentioned this was There’s a rather unusual and not ideal Design for holding the cylinder in play In place typically you’ll get a cylinder Axis pin that you can take out from the Front and it goes all the way through And it holds the cylinder in place That’s not what Reed did on these Revolvers the cylinder access pin only Goes in just to the very front bit of The cylinder and then there is a ratchet On the back that is actually embedded in The cylinder to help it rotate so that’s What gives you you know support at the Front and back at the cylinder the Problem is you have to pull the cylinder Forward to get it off this ratchet at The back you can’t do that because the Barrels threaded back against the Cylinder so you actually legitimately Have to unthread the barrel in order to Take the cylinder out and that’s a Terrible idea especially for something a Firearm that might be in military Service which of course these probably Were given that these were being sold During the Civil War So Reed’s claim that these didn’t foul Enough that you’d need to clean them is

Probably a way of trying to deflect Complaints about this really unfortunate Cylinder removal system it’s kind of Funny there’s there’s only one good book Out there on these guns and it notes one Particular example of a pistol where the Buyer was apparently so frustrated with This system and having unthread his Barrel to clean it that he actually cut Off the extra threading on the barrel Which seems like a fine idea until you Realize that that means that every time You fire the bullets got to jump this Quarter inch gap between the cylinder And the barrel but apparently at least One person was so annoyed with removing The barrel that they were willing to Deal with that and just did it Ultimately around the end of the Civil War James Reed moved relocated from New York up into the Catskills in upstate New York and opened his factory up there And and that is when he had he started Manufacturing his my friend Knuckledusters which is ultimately what We know him for much better today but These revolvers are actually I think Quite interesting That great mix of good and bad features And one of the few cartridge revolvers That was manufactured well blatantly in Disrespect to the raw and white patent During the Civil War thanks for watching Guys I hope you enjoyed the video if you

Are interested in early cartridge Revolvers this is certainly a neat one To check out and if you’d like to add it To your own collection of early Cartridge revolvers complete with all of Its pros and cons well take a look at The description below the video you’ll Find a link there to Rock Island catalog Page on this gun can check out their Pictures and their description and if You’d like to have it you can place a Bid for it right through their website Thanks for watching


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