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. Several weeks prior to the incorporation of Johnston-Tucker Arms, on July 23, 1964 Erma's Firearms changed named to Steelville Manufacturing Company after which parts and receivers made by Erma's Firearms were sold by Steelville Manufacturing for several months.

The first advertisement Johnston-Tucker advertisement 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.

.30 caliber carbine conversions to .22 long rifle

The .30 caliber carbine shown in the ad above was manufactured by Alpine or National Ordnance, both of whom were manufacturing M1 Carbines in the Los Angeles area during this time period.

AAA Construction Company 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.

By November 1, 1965 Johnston-Tucker was offering carbines chambered in .30 caliber carbine, 5.7mm Spitfire (5.7mm Johnson), and .256 Winchester Magnum and in addition to their .22 caliber their 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 also been commonly referred to as the .22 Carbine cartridge.

Shotgun NewsNovember 1, 1966

Shooting TimesDecember 1965

By January 1, 1966 Johnston-Tucker introduced three models that were simply based on stocks of the same name manufactured by custom stock manufacturer Fajen in Missouri. The receivers, barrels, and calibers were offered with each stock as opposed to the stocks being offered as options for the carbines.

Shotgun News January 1, 1966

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

The 1967 Gun Digest annual page 237 includes 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. As of 2013, other than the .22 rimfire carbine, no receivers or carbines have been located that bare 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 Erma 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 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"

Johnston-Tucker's .22 caliber carbine used the original GI M1 carbine stock group, sights, barrel band, and trigger housing. The outside diameter of the barrel was the same as the GI carbine. The receiver was milled from 2024 aircraft aluminum with the outside dimensions of the .30 caliber carbine receiver, so it accommodated all of the above GI parts. The trigger, sear, hammer, bolt and slide were made from 4130 steel casting. The trigger and sear were interchangeable with the GI trigger and sear.

The recoil system was a straight blowback, thus there was no need for the gas/recoil system of the original M1 carbine. The bolt and slide were cast as one piece and nickel plated. The slide used a shortened recoil spring and recoil spring guide to return the bolt to the closed position when the action was operated, manually or when fired. The hammer dimensions were the same as a GI hammer, except the left side center opening extended all the way to the top of the hammer. This allowed the hammer to strike the rear of the smaller bolt and the rimfire firing pin, mounted along the bottom center of the bolt.

The rifle used a modified 15 round M1 carbine magazine, containing a modified Ithaca X5/X15 .22LR magazine.

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

Original U.S. M1 carbine stock manufactured by Overton for Inland. GI front sight 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.

Bolt/slide was accessed by removing access panel in top of receiver.
The grooves on either side of the serial number accommodated a standard .22 caliber scope mount.

Silver pin in side of receiver secures barrel to receiver

The hammer has the same dimensions as a GI hammer, except for the cut from center to top on left side.
The magazine depicted in this photograph is NOT the Johnston-Tucker magazine for this rifle.

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

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

Marking variations

No examples of the .30 caliber M1 carbines, the .256 Winchester Magnum, or .22/30 versions manufactured by Johnston-Tucker have been located so far. The only examples found, so far, are the .22 long rifle version.

Serial number 1374 has the serial number stamped in the top of the receiver
forward of the bolt. There is no manufacturer name anywhere on this particular rifle.

By serial number 1623 "Johnston-Tucker Arms Co., St Louis, MO" was placed on the left side of the receiver parallel to the receiver ring.

On later models the serial number was placed on the left side of the receiver,
below the name Johnston-Tucker. The name was above the stock line,
the serial number was slightly below the stock line.

Serial Numbers and Quantities

The lowest serial number observed on a Johnston-Tucker .22 Carbine so far has been 1026. The highest 1633. No carbines other than the .22 version have been observed with the Johnston-Tucker name.

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 to snap at the point of impact. Due to the non-standard one piece bolt/slide, replacing this part is virtually impossible.

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