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I have been reading about a weapon I've inherited from my dad. Info as follows: Iver Johnson's Arms & Cycle Works, Fitchburg, Mass.,U.S.A.( on barrel), 5 shot .32 caliber, break frame, safety hammerless model, blued finish, serial # on grip frame O64982, on trigger guard 64982, #'s on grip base : Pat. June16.96 Aug25.96 Pats Pending; 3" barrel, safety trigger.

Question: it appears in great shape but I don't know if this is a black powder cartridge OR .32 S&W cartridge revolver. Also don't know the year it was made . Also can't find a front sight (it's missing) anywhere.

Can you tell me what I have and if it's safe to shoot .32 S&W ammo?
 

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I'm fairly certain that the revolver you have described was made during 1906. I think they were still designed for BP at that point, but I am not certain. If the gun is in good repair then modern (smokeless) powder should be safe. We are talking about S&W 32 ammo not S&W 32 Long. But, as always you should have it checked out by someone who really knows old guns. My feeling has always been, why take a chance on an old gun. They're fun to look at etc, but shooting could be dangerous.
 

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Front sights were/are rarely sold separately; they were considered part of the barrel. I have made decent replacements by flattening a nickel coin, grinding and filing to fit, then pressing into the slot. It might not hold up to much shooting, but it will look OK, and won't cost much.

Jim
 

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If it was made before 1918 (if I recall correctly) then you should NOT shoot modern .32 S&W in it. You should only fire black power ammo in it. I have one made in 1930 that does fire current smokeless ammo.
 

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That is much later than the 1909 date normally given for Iver Johnson's switch to guns suitable for smokeless powder. In any case, modern .32 S&W is held to very low pressures just so it won't blow up the old guns, but firing it should be limited as the guns won't hold up even with black powder.

In fact, few guns of that type were ever made or intended for any extensive firing. No one thought of a pocket revolver being fired 500 rounds a week as is often done today with modern handguns.

Jim
 

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Based upon your description your gun appears to be a second model small frame hammerless, sixth variation, made in 1906. Iver Johnson revolvers were redesigned in 1909 to shoot the more powerful smokeless powder cartridges. You can confirm which gun you have by looking for two attributes on the gun. Black powder guns have the owl on the grips looking forward toward the barrel and there will be two thrupins under the cylinder. Guns designed for smokeless powder ammo will have the owl looking out (not forward) and will have 4 thrupins under the cylinder. Assuming yours is a second model manufactured before the redesign, shooting modern smokless ammo is problematic as the gun was not designed to handle the increased pressures generated.

I recommend buying the only authoritative book on Iver Johnson Arms, written by W. E. Goforth, available (when I last checked) on Amazon. All information above comes directly from that book.
 

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Front sights were/are rarely sold separately; they were considered part of the barrel. I have made decent replacements by flattening a nickel coin, grinding and filing to fit, then pressing into the slot. It might not hold up to much shooting, but it will look OK, and won't cost much.

Jim
I have a spare nickle I'll give ya for free. Shipping = $10 :)
Barrels and other parts can be found on ebay quite a bit.
 
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