Iver Johnson Champion

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by harborrat, Jan 31, 2010.

  1. harborrat

    harborrat New Member

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    Hello Gentlemen, and thank you Mr. Goforth for your informative and very helpful replies here to my earlier post.

    I took my Iver Johnson Safety Hammerless to the gun show today and sold it to a man who collects top break revolvers. Got 60 bucks, a fair price as it had a couple of problems and I wouldn't really have a use for it. What I really wanted was a 20 gauge single shot shotgun so I could go rabbit hunting with my boy. I've got a few 12 gauge guns, but no small lightweight single shots. Come to find out another guy had an Iver Johnson Champion 16 gauge for sale for $75. Looked like it might be good for what I wanted. It was late on Sunday and he was willing to deal so I made him an offer of 60 bucks and he said OK!

    Now as far as I can tell it does not have a twist/damascus barrel. The bore is good. Matter of fact, everything on this gun is good. Should be alright to shoot modern low brass shells through it I think?

    It says "Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works Fitchbug Mass USA" and "Champion" on the receiver. On the barrel it reads "16 Gauge Choke Bore Barrel and Lug Forged In One" and has a couple pf patent dates. The barrel is 28 inches long. There is a serial number of 53381 C.

    I have three questions. What is the approximate manufacture date of this gun? Is it safe to shoot modern shells? What does "choke bore barrel" mean? Full or Modified or something else?

    Thanks in advance for any assistance.
  2. harborrat

    harborrat New Member

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    I should mention that there is actually only one patent date marked on the barrel. It is "Pat'd June 15th, 15" and "Pat's Pending".
  3. jondar

    jondar New Member

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    I have a 12 from the same period, serial number indicates it was made in 1921. I have literally shot everything from duck loads to "punkin balls" thru it and it just keeps going. My mother bought it for me when I was twelve and it was well used at that time but well maintained. I shoot it from time to time for sentimental reasons, a few months ago I blasted some bagworm nests from the upper branches of a tree in my yard. I probably would have bought a 12 or 20 due to the availability of the 16 but that may improve as the old 16 seems to be making a comeback. Go ahead and shoot anything you like thru it if it's in good condition. I wouldn't take anything for mine.
  4. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    here is a general guide to use with iver johnson champion single barrel serial numbers.
    1909-1919 no letter sufix
    1920-1929 single letter sufix
    1930-1939 two letter sufix
    1940-1956 all letters in serial number
    1957-1970 no production
    1971-1978 unknown for now but believe to have no letters at all

    if you only gave $60 you made a very good deal.

    bill
  5. harborrat

    harborrat New Member

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    Thank you gentlemen for the information. I'm going out to get some 16 gauge shells for the gun this weekend.

    I was able to glean from some other posts that this gun apparently came in a no-choke or choked version, and that the choked version is a full choke. That should be fine for what I will use it for.

    As this gun is from the 1920's, this is the oldest firearm I own by quite a wide margin. That it is still serviceable is a testament to how well these guns were made. I have given it a good cleaning with Eezox, and wiped it down lightly.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  6. skorper

    skorper New Member

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    Update on the Iver Johnson Champion.

    This gun shoots fairly tight patterns. Or I should say the choke has a tight constriction.

    I have found it to be an accurate gun and it points naturally for me.

    It is lighter than the single shot H&R Topper that I bought for my son. With better wood and no plastic.

    I am fairly well impressed.

    Are there any lead free shells available for these old guns? And why is it that you are not supposed to shoot steel shot in these older guns anyway?
  7. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    i don't know for sure but most likely todays steel shot is as hard or harder than the steel used in the barrel of these older guns. there must be a shotgunner on the forum who can give you a better answer. any of the non-lead 2 3/4 inch shell should be ok in this gun, except steel shot.
    bill
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2010
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