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Extremely Rare Kerr Revolver Combination Tool

Extremely Rare Kerr Revolver Combination Tool

  • Product Code: FPTA-1877-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1,495.00

Offered here is a very scarce Kerr Revolver Combination Tool in NEAR FINE condition. This is certainly the rarest and least often found Kerr revolver related accessories to be found on the collector market. Two versions of the tool were produced. The most basic version of the tool combined a screwdriver, a cone (nipple) wrench and a detail oiler with oil reservoir in a single handy tool to maintain and care for a Kerr revolver. This tool measured nominally 2 5/8” by 2 7/16”. The less often encountered version also included a mainspring clamp as part of the tool’s body, similar to that found on the Pattern 1853 Enfield Sergeant’s too.


This is the less common version of the tool that includes the clamp. The tool measures 3 3/8” along its shorter axis, measured from the end of the mainspring clamp to the end of the screwdriver. The longer axis, which is the body of the tool, measures 3 5/8” from the end of the detail oiler’s top to the bottom of the cone wrench. The body has a nominal diameter of 13/32”. In addition to the clamp that could be placed over the revolver’s mainspring when it was compressed, allowing it to be removed from the lock, the tool also includes a screwdriver, a cone (nipple) wrench and a detail oiler with oil reservoir. The tool’s body is round with a single flat side where the mainspring clamp is located and is coarsely checkered along that side to allow a better grip on the spring. The lid for the detail oiler has a ½” long top that can be used as a handle and a 29/32” detail oiler. The square shouldered cone wrench at the end of the tool has an internal measurement of 13/64”x13/64” to remove and install the cones at the rear of the Kerr revolver’s cylinder. The screwdriver blade measures 2 5/8” in length and tapers from 7/16” wide at the junction with the body to 13/16” at the tip, which is 1/16” thick. Due to the strange shape of these tools, when delivered with cased sets they were secured to the inside of the lid with a cloth strap, rather than being contained in the compartmentalized part of the case with the other accessories.


As noted, the tool remains in NEAR FINE condition. It retains some minute streaky traces of the original layer of brightly blued finish, with the majority of the tool having flaked and faded to a dull blue appearance, mixed with a plum brown patina. The screwdriver tip and cone wrench show the most finish loss with some of the metal completely exposed and having a dull pewter patina. The metal is mostly smooth throughout, with patches of scattered surface oxidation and some areas of minor surface roughness. The tool shows some minor damage from use, notably a tiny chip missing from the end of the screwdriver tip and some wear to the sharp edges and shoulders inside the socket of the cone wrench at the bottom of the tool’s body.


I know of only a handful of these tools to ever hit the general collector’s market in the last couple of decades. And I have only had three other examples to offer for sale in more than two decades in this business. Two were the slightly more common, less complicated version of the tool without the mainspring clamp. The one like this one was part of an exceptionally high condition complete set of implements included with an excellent cased Kerr revolver. The other two were loose examples, one of which had been modified to use on another firearm with a larger cone than a Kerr revolver. Due to their overall scarcity, I doubt that more than a few of these very scarce tools are in private collections today.


While very scarce today, a number of Kerr revolvers were imported with a complete set of accouterments and accessories that would have been included in a cased set. According to The Payne Ledger, some 900 Kerr revolvers arrived at the port of Wilmington, NC on October 31, 1864. These guns also had the following accessories: 


Spare Nipples & Cloth Bags

900 Powder Flasks

900 Cleaning Rods

450 Steel Nipple Keys

180 Bullet Moulds

180 Mainsprings

180 Trigger Springs

90,000 Skin Cartridges

108,000 Percussion Caps


The guns were delivered by the blockade-runner Hope and were part of the consignment purchased through John Fraser & Company. Five hundred of the guns and their associated accouterments were subsequently delivered the Selma Arsenal, and the other four hundred and their accessories were delivered to the Richmond Arsenal. The presence of accessories like cleaning rods, powder flasks, cloth bags and the combination gun tools which were listed as “steel nipple keys”, suggest that the guns were purchased as cased sets, and were subsequently repacked into the standard 20 guns per box lead lined cases that most Kerr revolvers were delivered to the Confederacy in. The powder flasks and cloth bags were certainly of limited utility for guns that were designed to be used with the “skin cartridges” that are also listed on the ship’s manifest. Bullet molds were typically delivered to the Confederacy at a ratio of 1 for every 20 long arms, but in this instance, they were delivered at the ratio of 1 for every 5 pistols. The cleaning rods would certainly have been useful in the field, but this is the only report I can find of cleaning rods being purchased by the Confederacy for use with revolvers. All of this suggests that these accessories originated in cased Kerr revolver sets. It seems quite likely that additional cased sets were acquired on a speculative basis for delivery to the south as well. Today all of these accessories are extremely rare, most especially the special Kerr revolver combination gun tool & cone (nipple) wrench.


While I can in no way determine if this is one of the “450 Steel Nipple Keys” delivered in Wilmington, NC, it certainly could have been. This would be a fantastic addition to your cased Kerr revolver, as this tool is nearly always missing from the cased sets, or just to display with your Kerr revolver. These tools practically never appear for sale, so I have no idea when you might have another chance to obtain one.


Please note that the photos are larger than the actual tool to allow details and condition to be more easily determined from the photos.


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Tags: Extremely, Rare, Kerr, Revolver, Combination, Tool