The list of great custom revolver builders was shortened in April with the passing of John Gallagher. Diagnosed with throat cancer late December 2018, he lost the battle on April 14, 2020, six months and a day shy of his 61st birthday. He will be sorely missed.
John was able to go on one last handgun deer hunt last November in Tennessee, where he took this fantastic buck with his custom octagon-barreled .44 Mag., long-cylindered Ruger Bisley.
Hailing originally from Midland, Texas, in typical Texas fashion John Gallagher dreamed big. But being a doer and not merely a dreamer, he turned his desire into reality. He worked in the oil industry of West Texas for a decade before he decided it wasn’t the life he wanted, so he moved on to ranching in Montana, an endeavor he undertook for the next nine years of his life. But then he really figured out what it was he wanted to toil over, and that was single-action revolvers. One day became a turning point: the day he was handling a fine custom Ruger conversion in .475 Linebaugh from John Linebaugh himself—he knew without a doubt he had found his calling.
John wasted no time, diving into three years of gunsmithing school at Trinity College then opening the doors of John Gallagher Firearms in Jasper, Ala., in 1994. Realizing that custom big-bore revolvers comprised a niche market, John also performed a sizable amount of work on rifles. A dedicated big-game hunter, he preferred handgun hunting to all else, when work and time permitted.
John Gallagher was born Oct. 15, 1957. He is survived by his wife, Beverly, his daughter, Amee, his sons Josh and Isaac, and his grandchildren Thomas Luke, Abby and Kate.
John’s dream lives on as his son Isaac has taken over the business. While Isaac has focused on the rifle side of the business, he has committed himself to building the revolvers his father was so known for and will be completing all of the projects John was unable to finish. The legendary Hamilton Bowen has offered to help if necessary, and with friends like that in your corner, Isaac is in good hands. But Isaac is taking his time to make sure he not only gets it right, but that he upholds the legacy well established by his dad.