Newly acquired Iver Johnson Top-Break Revolver

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by DRB, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. DRB

    DRB New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Hello to all, I am a brand new member to the forum and new to firearms ownership. It is something I have wanted to do for quite some time, but didn't want to start a firearms hobby until I was ready to dedicate the necessary time for proper training and regular practice.

    With that said, as soon as I put the word out that I was ready to start my new hobby; I was given two pistols from a family member. They didn't come with much history though so when I stumbled on this forum and started reading I knew this was the place to start!

    Since I am new to the hobby, please forgive me if I mis-speak, I'm still learning the proper terms.

    I have an Iver Johnson top-break revolver which I believe is a 38 caliber. It has a 4 inch barrel and the only reason I know it is an Iver Johnson is because of the marking on top of the barrel. The only other markings are under the trigger guard and under the left grip which both have the serial numbers as stated in the sticky. The number is 827XX and the only difference is that the one under the grip is preceded by a capital 'H'. I can't find any other markings on the gun at all. I also do not know how to determine the %bluing or condition as requested in the sticky. I will attach pictures for help with that though. It also has a very nice looking one-piece wood grip (unsure about the type of wood)

    I want to know a few things about this gun:

    1. Confirm the caliber.
    2. What ammo to use and how to determine if it is safe to fire.
    3. Best place to purchase the ammo if it is safe to fire.
    4. The date of manufacture.
    5. Approximate value (I'm not necessarily looking to sell but it is nice to know).
    6. Anything else that you 'the experts' think I should know.

    Thanks in advance!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  2. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3,060
    Welcome to the forum.

    You have a third model large frame "Safety Automatic" revolver made in 1928, with factory "Western Walnut" one piece grip, chambered for the smokeless powder .38 S&W cartridge. (Note that this is not the same as .38 Special). Since you are new to guns, you should have it checked by a qualified gunsmith before firing it.

    The .38 S&W round is semi-obsolete and may be more difficult to find than other ammo, but standard factory loads should be OK for your gun.

    Value in condition shown maybe $150-$200, possibly higher.
  3. DRB

    DRB New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Thanks for the info hrf. I will definitely get it checked out prior to firing it.

    What is 'standard factory load'
  4. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Messages:
    17,575
    Location:
    Australia
    Welcome to the Forum DRB! nice piece !

    some folks like to use subsonic or target loads as they are a lighter load than regular loads for the older guns

    maybe someone has a better recommendation for your weapon than my very general statement

    but welcome to the firearms community , but be warned firearms ownership is addictive ;)

    cheers
  5. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3,060
    I think standard factory loads are all you will find in .38 S&W caliber, and will have plain lead bullets with no copper jacket. In some other calibers such as .38 Special, there are "+ P" loads for greater performance in newer and stronger guns, which are unsafe in older guns.

    Also avoid any unknown handloads that someone might offer.
  6. DRB

    DRB New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Thanks for all the info guys. I am looking forward to having this gun checked out and getting a chance to fire it.
  7. DRB

    DRB New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    I've still been looking for ammo for this gun without any luck. Does anybody know if this would be the proper ammo?

    .38 S&W Winchester Super-X Lead Round Nose 145 Grain 685 fps
    http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/65255-5.html
  8. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3,060
    Yes, that's the correct ammo.
  9. DRB

    DRB New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Thank you hrf
  10. DRB

    DRB New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Thanks again for all the info. I am re-visiting this issue because I have another question about this revolver. hrf, above you stated 'Safety Automatic', am I to understand that this is the model of this firearm or the type? Does this revolver have a model number?

    Thanks again
  11. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2012
    Messages:
    5,461
    Location:
    Moore, Idaho
    Safety automatic was the type given to these pistols by the manufacturers. Numerous companies made them though the ones that are generally still found were made by Iver Johnson (and their daughter co. U.S. Revolver Co.), H&R and S&W.

    The 'automatic' part of this comes from the extraction of the cartridges because when you open the revolver the ejector extends pushing out the cartridges.

    These were double action only revolvers and that was the 'safety' feature. Since they have fairly heavy trigger pull, it was not very likely that it could discharge by accident.

    There were two types of these 'safety automatics' - external hammer versions such as the one you have and hammerless versions like mine.

    That one you have is in nice condition by the way.
  12. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3,060
    DRB, Iver Johnson didn't assign model numbers to their revolvers until after WW-2, and 'Safety Hammer Automatic' was the name they used in advertisements for your model.
  13. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3,060
    WHS, that's only half correct: As you state the 'Automatic' part referred to the automatic ejection, but the external hammer models like DRB's were both single and double action, and the 'Safety Hammer' part referred to their patented 'Hammer the Hammer' design which used a transfer bar between hammer and firing pin, as shown in the advertisement below. The hammerless model also had this system, but was double action only.

    Attached Files:

    • IJSH.jpg
      IJSH.jpg
      File size:
      234.2 KB
      Views:
      171
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Newly acquired Iver Johnson? Sep 16, 2012
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Newly Acquired Colt Official Police Sep 2, 2012
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Newly Acquired Glenfield Model 60 May 11, 2012
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Newly Acquired Model 94 (32 sp) Oct 30, 2011
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Newly acquired H&R Model 733 Revolver Sep 7, 2011

Share This Page