Iver .38 question

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by garyw148, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. garyw148

    garyw148 New Member

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    Feb 21, 2012
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    Location:
    Lakeport, ca.
    I have an Iver Johnsons .38 short, revolver, SN H43926. Top break with hammer. I know it is a "suicide special" because I have shot it several times and is does spray out both sides of the cylinder. It has a 3 7/8 barrel length and the cylinder is 1 3/16 in length. Does anyone know the date of manufacture and any other info on this revolver?
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  2. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Iver Johnson firearms were not considered suicide specials, ( cheap and only good for one shot ). They were solid well made ( they were not Colts or S&W ) and inexpensive, they were made for the average working man . They were used by police, bank guards, night watchman, train yard watchman, anyone who felt they needed a little something but didn't have a months wages to pay for it. There were probably more Iver Johnson's and H&R's carried and used than all the Colts and S&W's put together ( excluding WWII and some Iver's were used by a few Federal agencies then). They were considered a plain Jane working gun and most homes had one in the bed room for times when things go bump in the night. With out knowing all the markings and their location , there's no way to be 100 Per-cent certain but your gun should be a Third Model Safety Hammer Revolver Made in 1922, caliber is 38 S&W since there is no 38 S&W Short or Long it is just 38 S&W. Hope that helps BTW sounds like your gun is due for retirement, it is 90 years old and who knows how many rounds have been fired through it:D It has earned a place on the wall.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  3. Lanrezac

    Lanrezac Active Member

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    garyw148, you are right in that there was a class of revolver called Suicide Specials, but Iver Johnson was never in that class. (Also, the whole term may have gone out of fashion; I don't think collectors use it any more.) Your gun is old and worn, but that does not make it a lemon, any more than a 1980 Toyota was a bad car just because it is worn out now.

    A better nickname for your gun is an "Owlshead", because the owl's head on the grips was Iver Johnson's trademark for many years, and it became almost a generic name for them. IJ's heyday was from about 1880 to about 1940; for some reason they did not prosper during World War 2, and were unable to produce a really fresh, appealing line of guns after it. They limped along until about 1973, when whatever factory they had left was closed, although their name was put on various things thereafter.

    Before WWII, they also made an extensive line of single-shot shotguns, and their bicycles (their full name was "Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works") were considered quite first-rate.

    William Goforth, who was a very frequent poster here until his untimely death, wrote a book about Iver Johnson guns. I did not start posting here until after his death, but he is still greatly missed.
  4. garyw148

    garyw148 New Member

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    Location:
    Lakeport, ca.
    Ron, thanks for the information. That is 100% more than I knew about the revolver. The markings that are on top of the barrel are "Iver Johnson's Arms & Cycle works, Fitchburg Mass. U.S.A. ". On the botton of the trigger guard is the SN 43926. I removed the wood hand grip and found the SN H43926 on the metal porton of the hand grip on the left side, if the gun barrel if facing down range. There is no "Owlshead" or "USA" on the wooden grip.

    Gary
  5. garyw148

    garyw148 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Lakeport, ca.
    Lanrezac, thanks for the reply. I think it is time for this gun to be hung up on the wall. I have not fired it for 15 years and do not plan on firing it again.

    Gary
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