Iver Johnson was by far the most prolific producer of handguns in the pre WWI era. They made in excess of 5 million revolvers between 1871 and 1917, more than Colt, Smith and Wesson and Remington combined. Most were chambered for 22's, or 32's, but they made a pile of 38 S&W's too. Their top-of-the line guns, which is what you seem to have there, were pretty good. Many variations exist: hammerless, solid frame, adjustible sight target models, but all were inexpensive, and generally serviceable.
Top break guns such as yours in 38 S&W usually go for 150-300 dollars, depending on condition, with 32 caliber guns running slightly lower, and 22's usually below that.
If the lock up was tight, and the cylinder gap and head space were ok, I'd have no qualms shooting FACTORY 38 S&W rounds through it. (No hot loads--there are a handfull of folks who love the 38 S&W and boldly load to the redline for it. This is not the gun with which to do so).
_________________________________________________It's not that I can't spell: it is that I can't type.
thanks for the info, now i can actually shoot it rather than letting is rust in the closet while i wait for my reloading equipment
Yep, lots of 38 S&W ammo being made right now. I even handload some for my H&R's. I use cut down 38 spl cases, 3F black powder and a 130 grain round nose boolit. It shoots a little low on the sights, but not bad enough to matter to me.
I came into this world kicking, screaming, and covered in someone elses blood. I plan to go out the same way.
With the coil mainspring you have a third model safety hammer revolver. If you look under the left grip you should find the complete serial number which will often have a letter prefix. If you post it the actual year of production can be determined. The third model was the first one to be approved for smokeless powder by IJ and remained in production till WWII.
They sure made some well finished revolvers for the money they sold them at. Not everyone could afford a COLT or S&W. Some Cowboys carried a pistol like these in a chaps pocket.
Them top breaks are so cool. Try and get some info from your grandfather so you can pass it along to the next generation. Give it a good cleaning and oiling...these old ones seem to accumulate a little grime in the nooks and crannies.
I have my grandmother's Iver Johnson 32 pistol it is a true 32 using outside lubricated bullets instead of the smaller bullet that loads into the case. The little gun does have a claim to fame it made Teddy Roosevelt president!
When I think back on all the **** I learned in high school it's a wonder I can think at all ! And then my lack of education hasn't hurt me none I can read the writing on the wall.
It was made in 1911 towards the first half of the year C35901-C62500, 26,600 of those revolvers made that year, and it is the first variation of the Third Model Safety Automatic Hammer Revolver in 38 S&W. Safe to shoot smokeless in.
Would anyone happen to have information on a similar Ivers and Johnson pistol....has hammer....serial number on underside of trigger guard is 16585.
I've always heard that the main spring was the thing to look for on these - if its got the coil mainspring, its safe with smokeless. REASONABLE smokeless loads of course... as has been mentioned
Which, by the way, is a really really handy thing - to be able to tell so easily. Seems like with most firearms in the "transitional period" of 1890 - 1910, its usually not so easy to tell whether they are designed for smokeless or not. Sometimes it comes down to serial numbers, design differences, etc. Unfortunately, for some models stuck right in the middle, its never certain at all whether the gun WAS designed for smokeless or not. I've heard about a fair amount of uncertainty for colt SAA's that fall in the middle of the range (that, and its hard to know whether the gun was built for smokeless, but has had parts swapped out since it was built... and may now wear parts originally made for black powder guns....)
Just remember that the .38S&W cartridge is a low pressure cartridge, even with smokeless powder. In a modern solid frame revolver, it can be loaded almost to the equal of the .38 Special, but for that gun, follow the loading manual. I have several in of them in both .38S&W, and .32S&WL. They are shootable, but mine are not collectable. I have always found them fascinating. Could never hit the side of barn with them using the sights! Always shot high and to the right. Neat guns, though.
|BP||Bronze Point||IMR||Improved Military Rifle||PTD||Pointed|
|BR||Bench Rest||M||Magnum||RN||Round Nose|
|BT||Boat Tail||PL||Power-Lokt||SP||Soft Point|
|C||Compressed Charge||PR||Primer||SPCL||Soft Point "Core-Lokt"|
|HP||Hollow Point||PSPCL||Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt"||C.O.L.||Cartridge Overall Length|
|PSP||Pointed Soft Point||Spz||Spitzer Point||SBT||Spitzer Boat Tail|
|LRN||Lead Round Nose||LWC||Lead Wad Cutter||LSWC||Lead Semi Wad Cutter|