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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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The top Iver Johnson is a "Secret Service Special" in .38 S&M 5 shot with patent 1917 safety and serial number C198. I'm trying to identify the date of manufacture.
The second Iver Johnson is a "Safety Automatic" in .32 S&W (short?) 5 shot with serial number 36483. I am unable to remove the grips to look for a number on the grip frame. Again, date of manufacture.
 

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I am not sure if we can give a definite date on the secret service special. The bottom is a Iver Johnson 2nd Model Safety Hammer Automatic made between 1897 and 1908. You need to get the full serial number to identify the year. It's chambered in .32 S&W not .32 S&W Long.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I am not sure if we can give a definite date on the secret service special. The bottom is a Iver Johnson 2nd Model Safety Hammer Automatic made between 1897 and 1908. You need to get the full serial number to identify the year. It's chambered in .32 S&W not .32 S&W Long.
Thank you Shrek73. So this firearm should be considered black powder only?
 

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Yes, the 2nd Model Safety Automatic would be black powder only. I am not sure about the Secret Service Special (SSS), but they have the same features as the 2nd Model Safety Automatic. I would treat the SSS the same as I would the other.

There are no dates for the SSS, but they were built by Iver Johnson for Fret Biffar Co, in Chicago, IL. He Fred had original had Meridian Firearms build the SSS, but he wanted to improve the quality so he contacted Iver Johnson. There are also some Spanish made SSS, but yours is Iver Johnson.

What is the stamping on the safety? They added the safety in 1916 and stamped it with Pat Pending. The patent was approved on May 22, 1917, it was stamped with May 22, 1917 it was made after that date. That's as close as I can get.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you, that's very helpful. The stamping on the safety is indeed May 22, 1917. I read somewhere that Iver Johnson, by 1917, was making their revolvers to handle modern powder. Is that incorrect?
 

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The 2nd Model was designed when black powder ammunition was common. Both of your revolvers have 2nd Model Automatic features, including the trigger with a cylinder stop on the top, a free spooling cylinder and a leaf mainspring. You can tell the free spooling cylinders with the distinctive V groove cylinder notches rather than a recessed notch.

The 3rd Model Safety Automatic was designed for smokeless ammo and was released in 1909. They added a independent cylinder stop, notches in the cylinder, a coil mainspring and strengthened the frame. The notches on the cylinder kept the cylinder in place at full cock and prevented it from free spooling like the 2nd Model.

The SSS and US Revolvers were a way for Iver Johnson to sell their surplus 2nd Model frames after they put the 3rd Model into production. Their features still makes them a black powder frame. I am sure most of these have fired smokeless ammo thru them at one time or another; however, they were not designed for it and is dangerous to consider doing so today.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you very much for the very informative response. I do not intend to use anything but black powder ammo, but since I no longer reload, I am forced to buy. Do you know of anyplace other than Buffalo Arms where I might purchase black powder cartridges?
 
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