Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Leech and Rigdon Revolver

Around the outbreak of the Civil War Thomas Leech, a cotton broker, and Charles Rigdon, a scale maker, with prior revolver manufacturing experience, began making revolvers in Columbus, Mississippi. Leech provided the capital and Rigdon the technical knowhow. Their association would produce, for the Confederacy, one of the best revolvers of the time. One that could easily compete with the 1851 Colt Navy, of which it was a copy. 

They secured a contract with the Confederate Government to manufacture 1500, .36 caliber revolvers. 

 Production began in Columbus, but less than two hundred revolvers were made before the threat of capture, in late 1862, forced them to move their manufacturing to Selma, Alabama, and then, in the first months of 1863, on to Greensboro, Georgia. 

In December of 1863, Leech and Rigdon dissolved their partnership.
There seems to be different views as to the fulfillment of their government contract.
I’ve read “about a 1000”, however when Rigdon began producing revolvers under the Rigdon, Ansley & Company serial numbers began with the number 1500.
One of those uncertain things.
One thing that collectors and historians agree on is that this is one of the most-often, if not the most, counterfeited Confederate revolvers and the counterfeiting likely began around 1870.

So if by chance you are offered one a Leech and Rigdon revolver, use caution.
I pass along the following, from knowledgeable collectors, which will help identify a real ones.

“General features of the Leech and Rigdon are the round barrel copy of the Colt Navy, the small round-shaped trigger guard, the small serial numbers stamped individually and in an irregular line, the ball type loading lever catch and the lack of a cap release groove in the recoil shield. The barrel has seven lands and grooves, a clockwise spin with a modest gain twist”. 

“The first revolvers had a ball type catch to the loading lever with no pin; later it was changed to a ball and pin type catch. The cylinders had safety pins between the nipples up until about the 900 numbers, then they were eliminated”.


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