Johnston-Tucker Arms

Post WWII Commercially Manufactured M1 Carbines (U.S.A.)

Johnston-Tucker Arms Co.

St. Louis, Missouri



Missouri corporate records indicate Johnston-Tucker Arms Co. was founded by Floyd W. Johnston, Harold Tucker, and Ruby Van Gombos on August 5, 1965 at 3712 Gravois Avenue in St. Louis. Johnston was the majority stock holder with 300 shares, Tucker and Van Gombos having 100 shares each.

Harold D. Tucker had been the majority stock holder of Erma's Firearms Manufacturing Co. of Steelville, MO when it was incorporated in Missouri as a firearms manufacturer on July 10, 1959. The company had been named after Harold's wife Erma. Erma's Firearms had manufactured M1 Carbines from approximately April 1962 through July 1964. On July 23, 1964, several weeks prior to the incorporation of Johnston-Tucker Arms, Erma's Firearms changed their name to Steelville Manufacturing Company. Parts and receivers made by Erma's Firearms were sold by Steelville Manufacturing for several months.

The earliest Johnston-Tucker advertisement found so far appears in Shotgun News April 1, 1965. The bold letters indicate AAA Construction, the small print indicates Johnston-Tucker Arms as a division of AAA Construction. AAA Construction Company had been incorporated in Missouri as Triple A Heating & Air Conditioning in July 1962 at 3712 Gravois St, St Louis. The company name was changed to AAA Construction Company in December 1964. The person who incorporated the company and changed the names was Floyd W. Johnston of St Louis, MO.

.30 caliber carbine conversions to .22 long rifle

The handguard on the .30 caliber carbine shown in the ad above was made for and used by Alpine and National Ordnance. Both were manufacturing M1 Carbines in the Los Angeles area during this time period.

By November 1, 1965 Johnston-Tucker was offering carbines chambered in .30 caliber carbine, 5.7mm Spitfire (5.7mm Johnson), and .256 Winchester Magnum. In addition to .22 caliber conversions. The advertisement erred by referring to the .256 Winchester Magnum as the .256 Johnson. Later advertisements referred to the 5.7mm Johnson cartridge as the 22.30, which has also been commonly referred to as the .22 Carbine cartridge.

Shotgun News November 1, 1965

Shooting Times December 1965

Shotgun News January 1, 1966

The "Thumbhole Sporter", "Artistocrat", and "M-1 Sportsman" were retail names for custom
gun stocks manufactured by Fajen, a custom stock manufacturer in Missouri.

"Why Won't the GI Carbine Die? Nobody likes this little rifle but people..."

The 1967 Gun Digest Annual Edition included a six page article entitled "Why Won't the GI Carbine Die? Nobody likes this little rifle but people...". On page 239 ...

Out in Missouri a man named Harold Tucker with some claim to the title "grand old man" of the industry, since he built carbines on fresh-made receivers as early as 1958, is revving up again. His .22 rimfire is controversial probably because, he admits, his early production wasn't what it should be. The interesting thing about Tucker's .22 RF version is that it finds ready military sales overseas. "It must be for training", Tucker says, "but they're big orders". He also makes 30's, 22/30's, says these last two are neck and neck.

Several paragraphs afterwards while giving a run down on receivers the author states the receivers used by Johnston-Tucker were their own castings.

The receivers used for their carbines (other than their .22 rimfire receivers) are believed to have been surplus receivers from Erma's Firearms. Other than the .22 rimfire carbine, no receivers or carbines have been located with the Johnston-Tucker name. The claim Tucker had been making carbines using "fresh-made" receivers as early as 1958 may be true, but the sale of receivers by Tucker did not appear until the first Ermas Firearms advertisement in June 1962. In April 1962 they placed a small wanted advertisement in Shotgun News for carbine parts. Keep in mind the patent for the M1 Carbine held by Olin-Winchester and David Marshall was active until 1960 and in 1958 the patent holders had refused permission for others to manufacture M1 Carbines.

The Demise of Johnston-Tucker Arms

Missouri corporate records dated June 30, 1966 indicate the Johnston-Tucker Arms name was changed to Magnolia Machine Shop. October 28, 1966 the address for corporate records was changed to 3955 Magnolia, St. Louis. The corporate name was revoked on January 1, 1968 for failure to file tax documents for 1967. It is believed Johnston-Tucker Arms had ceased selling carbines prior to June 30, 1966.

The Johnston-Tucker "M-1 .22 Caliber Carbine"

The receiver the Johnston-Tucker .22 cal. carbine was built on was milled from 2024 aircraft aluminum. The outside dimensions of the receiver and barrel were the outside dimensions of the .30 caliber carbine receiver and barrel. The bolt and slide were cast as one piece. The slide used a shortened recoil spring and recoil spring guide to return the bolt to the closed position during semi-auto fire. The dimensions of the upper half of the hammer were modified for use with the smaller bolt and rimfire firing pin. The trigger, sear, hammer, bolt and slide were cast using 4130 steel. The trigger and sear were interchangeable with the GI trigger and sear.

The carbine stock group, sights, barrel band, and trigger housing were surplus military parts made for the U.S. .30 cal. carbines.

The recoil system was straight blowback. There was no need for the gas/recoil system of the original M1 carbine.

The rifle used a modified 15 round M1 carbine magazine body containing a modified Ithaca X5/X15 .22LR magazine (see below).

Johnston-Tucker "M-1 .22 Caliber Carbine"
Caliber: .22 long rifle
Barrel: 18 inches
Weight: 4 1/2 lbs
Length: 36 inches overall
Stock: original GI
Sights: adjustable rear, original GI
Features: aluminum receiver, 12 shot mag

The lowest serial number observed on a Johnston-Tucker .22 Carbine so far has been 1026. The highest 1635. The numbers run consecutive.

The Early Version

Only two with this design have been observed. Both with serial numbers in the low 1000 range.

The design of the early receiver, its one piece bolt and slide, and recoil spring allowed the front of the bolt to lift
up out of the receiver during recoil. This was corrected with the next version.

The design of the early version included a hole in the slide handle for use of a slide stop pin to hold
the slide back and bolt open. So far, none of the early design have had the slide stop pin. The slide
and bolt were welded together.

The locations and variations of the markings along with the locations of the serial number will be discussed farther below.

The combination bolt/slide was initially blued. This was changed to chromed.
Probably in an attempt to add strength to the one piece slide and bolt.

Note the binding of the recoil spring.

The Improved Version

The improved version remedied most of the problems enpountered with the earlier design. In addition to adding an integral rail
along the top of the front of the receiver for mounting a scope. The serial numbers of those seen so far have been have been grouped
in either the 1300's or 1600's. Enough so that it is uncertain if they used 1100, 1200, 1400, or 1500.

Original U.S. M1 carbine stock manufactured by Overton for Inland. GI sights and barrel band

Original U.S. M1 carbine trigger housing manufactured by Underwood.
Sear, trigger, mag catch, safety, and rear sight are all original GI.

The Bolt/slide was prevented from dislodging during recoil by the addition of a removable access panel
in the top of the receiver. The panel could be removed for disassembly of the bolt/slide from the receiver.

The barrel was not threaded into the receiver. It was held in place with a pin in left side of receiver
in combination with a set screw in the bottom of the receiver.

Set screw, in front of forward trigger housing lug, engages the barrel.

(The magazine depicted in this photograph was a prop. It is not the Johnston-Tucker magazine.)

The top of the tang on the rear of the receiver is flat. It does not engage the
recoil plate like the tang on the rear of the original GI .30 caliber carbine.

Marking Variations

Initially the markings on the receiver were as depicted above. The serial
number was placed on top of the receiver to the left of the bolt. The
Johnston-Tucker name was not present.

With the addition of the removable panel above the bolt the serial number
was relocated to the top of the receiver forward of the bolt. The model,
caliber, and Johnston-Tucker name were not present. This example has been
consistent with those in the 1300 serial number range.

The markings on the Johnston-Tucker carbines in the 1600 serial number have had
the serial number on top of the front of the receiver. The model number and
caliber have been absent. The name and location of Johnston-Tucker were added
to the front of the left side of the receiver.

The hole in the left side of the receiver for securing the barrel to the receiver was added
after the markings. This is the only Johnston-Tucker seen so far that used a screw in this
location to secure the barrel to the receiver instead of a pin.

The Magazine

An Ithaca Model X5 and X15 10 round magazine was brazed in place inside the body of a modified .30 carbine magazine. The top of the Ithaca magazine was modified to work with the .22 cal. bolt to feed the cartridges into the chamber without jamming. This doesn't require the Ithaca magazine as much as it requires right fit and angle along with sufficient metal with which to make the modifications.

The magazines for the Ithaca Model X5 and X15 were made in 10 and 15 round versions.
The 10 round version was used for the Johnston-Tucker magazine.

Known Issues with the .22 Model

The length of the slide allowed it to impact against the front of the receiver. Repeating impacts over time caused the cast metal slide to snap where it impacted the receiver. The one piece bolt/slide being specific to the .22 carbine by Johnston-Tucker has made it near impossible to find a replacement.

The use of an aluminum receiver with a steel bolt/slide and other steel parts typically caused damage to the receiver at the locations where the aluminum was impacted by steel.

The receiver was painted black. The paint could easily be scratched or damaged showing the aluminum underneath.