US Revolver Co .

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Vbstrong, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. Vbstrong

    Vbstrong New Member

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    Have a Nickle-plated, pearl handle 5 shot revolver by US Revolver Co. What is it worth? And where can I find new grip? Is this an collector's item?
  2. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    U.S. Revolver was Iver Johnson's economy line. If the grips are real pearl they're worth more than the revolver. If they're not and it's in really nice shape it's worth about 175.00.
  3. w1spurgeon

    w1spurgeon Member

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    What Hawg said is true but incomplete. In 1909 Iver Johnson redesigned all their revolvers because it was felt the previous design was not strong enough to withstand the pressure of smokeless powder. They never bothered to update the U.S. Revolver line. So, what you have is a revolver that was designed for black powder cartridges and is considered unsafe to shoot with modern ammo. You might get by shooting modern .32S&W in the small frame guns, but are taking a real risk to your health if the gun happens to be a .38
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  4. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    The US Revolver started life as a way to use up excess parts. However the project took on on a life of it's own and the revolver became a very popular selling item. Iver Johnson made the US revolvers from 1911 until 1933. Page 73 of Mr. Goforth Iver Johnson book gives the production numbers of all the different frame sizes. Total production of all the different frame sizes of the U S Revolvers number over 586 thousand guns.These were not parts guns nor classified ( as so often posted by the unknowing ) as cheaper guns but simply a different line of Iver Johnson revolvers. The catalogs of the era shows only penneys differences in price. After 1911 the US revolvers were made to the same standards as all of the Iver Johnson revolvers. Since Iver Johnson went to a stronger frame in 1909 and I can find no conflicting information in Bill's book. I will assume that all the US Revolvers are made for smokeless powder. The current .32 and 38 S&W cartridges are loaded to the same pressure and velocity of the old black powder cartridges, the big difference is the pressure curve differs between the two. Smokeless cartridges will not blow up a black powder Iver Johnson frame, but it will very shortly shoot it loose and it will become useless. JMHO and I could be wrong, been so before and will be again ( maybe ):D
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  5. w1spurgeon

    w1spurgeon Member

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    I discussed this extensively with Bill Goforth in 2005 prior to the release of his reference book. Iver Johnson upgraded their revolvers for smokeless powder in 1909, but never did the same for the U.S. Revolver line. He stated emphatically that he had knowledge of two instances where U.S. Revolver guns in .38 caliber suffered catastrophic failure while firing modern .38S&W cartridges.

    You can confirm the redesign question yourself. The 1909 Iver Johnson redesign placed 4 thru pins beneath the cylinder on all IJ break top guns. ALL Iver Johnson guns made to fire smokeless powder, no matter what name they were sold under, have this 4 pin design. Black powder guns are marked by two thru pins beneath the cylinder. Check your gun. You might note that all pictures of U.S. Revolver and Secret Service guns in Mr. Goforth's book are of the two pin type.

    The fact that you "assume" these guns are made for smokeless powder and therefore safe to shoot with modern ammo is going to get someone seriously hurt.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
  6. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Well, I could be wrong, maybe Iver Johnson built a half million fire arms using cast off black powder parts for 22 years.
  7. fuzebox40

    fuzebox40 Active Member

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    I'm not gonna pull my book out and look for a quote but as a collector of I.J and US Revolver I've read Bills words many times as well as chatted with him here and my understanding, if memory serves me, is exactly as RJay has spelled it out.
    Remember safety was huge with Iver Johnson. It would be contradictory to this for them to continue the manufacture of inferior parts once the remaining inventory was depleted.
  8. w1spurgeon

    w1spurgeon Member

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    If safety was a primary concern at IJ, why did they delete the transfer bar in U.S. Revolver guns. U.S. Revolver guns can discharge when dropped, Iver Johnson cannot. Furthermore, U.S. Revolver guns were never advertised as "hammer the hammer", the primary safety feature developed by IJ and ALWAYS touted (and rightly so) in their advertisements. As I explained (and as Bill explained to me) the answer lies in the gun design. If there are 4 thru pins below the cylinder, it's safe to shoot with smokeless powder. Look at your gun for the answer.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  9. fuzebox40

    fuzebox40 Active Member

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    The 4 pin feature refers to the Iver Johnson line and is an obvious "visible marker" to the third model, but the pins themselves are not significant to the quality of steel used in the gun. It's merely trigger guard assembly and not an answer to anything. Otherwise the "hammer the hammer" feature being about the only thing separating the two designs, I would think if the US Revolver had it it would not have been sold as a lesser gun at a lower price.
    The solid frame versions that included the same features as I.J. did not sell as a lesser, cheaper gun. Bills book points out a case where they sold for more than the I.J."s.
    The answer is not in the design as it is structuraly the same where it counts. The answer is in the material. I suppose proof would be achieved only by testing the steel.
    I'm not trying to sound like an authority, not at all, just sharing the impression I've developed over time and thinking logicaly.
  10. w1spurgeon

    w1spurgeon Member

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    Quoting from page 44, paragraph 6.5 of Bill Goforth's book on IJ: "In 1909, one major change took place that resulted in a completely new model... The reason for these changes was the growing popularity of the new smokeless powder...Iver Johnson's Arms and Cycle Works felt that their currect revolvers were not safe with the new powder...All of the parts on hand which could not be converted (to accomodate smokeless powder) were assembled into complete revolvers and sold under the name of U.S. Revolver."

    Let's review: Mr. Goforth is saying the DESIGN was changed to accomodate smokeless powder and all the inferior parts went into U.S. Revolver guns. In no place does Bill make a direct reference to the MATERIAL needing modification or updating and in fact, they continued to use the old second model barrels in the third model guns. If it was the steel that was inferior they would have hardly continued the use of the old barrel, a componet that is subject to great stress.
  11. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Why don 't we agree to disagree:)
  12. w1spurgeon

    w1spurgeon Member

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    C'mon Ray, that would be too easy. Besides, I think my arguments hold up better than yours.

    My objection from the start was you telling others that the U.S. Revolver .38S&W was made for smokeless powder and therefore safe to shoot. Wouldn't you agree that there is absolutely no evidence, in Bill's book or elsewhere, to support that? If I'm wrong, will you point out the reference you are using? The assumptions you are making (22 years of spare parts?) are reasonable - but they are still assumptions.

    Incidently, I have several early black powder guns in which I shoot modern ammo, so far without incident. They include a Forehand 1901, an early Smith New Departure and yes, a U.S. Revolver. They are all .32S&W short; I avoid the .38 caliber guns because Bill Goforth recommended I do so.

    Truce?
  13. fuzebox40

    fuzebox40 Active Member

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    Well I guess short of further study I couldn't debate much more either. I am certain I recall some mention of case hardening that occured. I'll have to satisfy my own curiosity sometime and read it again, whatever it was.
    Truce.
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