Rifleman Q&A: 'Knuckleduster' Revolver

posted on November 27, 2022
Knuckleduster Pepperbox

Q. I purchased this .22-cal., seven-shot pistol. I was told it was called a “knuckleduster” and used as an under-the-table poker equalizer. It was designed to be turned around in the hand to be used as a brass knuckle, I guess in case there were more than seven players in the poker game or you were a poor shot and/or a poor poker player. The upper frame is stamped: “My Friend Pat.D: Dec 26, 1864.” Also, a serial number, 16026, is stamped on the bottom of the frame. What can you tell me about it?

A. Your seven-shot, .22 Short knuckle­duster pepperbox was manufactured by James Reid of New York City and Catskill, N.Y. It got its knuckleduster name because the frame was shaped so it could be used as brass knuckles. It was patented Dec. 26, 1865 (not 1864) and was produced in a number of variations with both silver-plated brass and blued-iron frames (scarcer and more valuable) in New York City between 1868 and 1882. Approximately 10,690 guns in .22-cal. were manufactured. Serial-numbers range from 3,500 to 17,715. At serial number 16026, yours must be one of the very last. Because the left side of the frame is marked “My Friend,” it is worth a premium to collectors. Larger .41-cal. rimfire variations were also made.

—Angus Laidlaw

This “Questions & Answers” was featured in the January 2007 issue of American Rifleman. At time of publication, "Questions & Answers" was compiled by Staff, Ballistics Editor William C. Davis, Jr., and Contributing Editors: David Andrews, Hugh C. Birnbaum, Bruce N. Canfield, O. Reid Coffield, Charles Q. Cutshaw, Charles M. Fagg, Angus Laidlaw, Evan P. Marshall, Charles E. Petty, Robert B. Pomeranz, O.D., Jon R. Sundra, Jim Supica, A.W.F. Taylerson, John M. Taylor and John W. Treakle.

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