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Old January 19, 2015, 09:13 PM   #1
saands
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Is my "Iver Johnson" a 3rd Gen???

Hi guys,

I ran across an old 5 shot break top revolver at a show this past weekend and for $40, I couldn't resist. The cylinder locks up like it was new and the barrel has very strong rifling ... a little frosting, but it's in great shape. The external finish has lost it's blue and taken on a pretty nice brown patina and the grips are in great shape. You can see why I couldn't pass for $40.

As far as I can tell, this revolver with "National Arms, NY" roll marks on the top of the barrel, is actually an Iver Johnson Safety Hammerless revolver in 32 S&W. I am trying to figure out if it is one of the models that was beefed up for smokeless charges or not. It definitely has the dual top post configuration and it definitely does NOT have the additional (Glock-like) safety on the trigger. So it seems to me that the dual top post means it isn't a 1st gen and the lack of the fancy trigger means it isn't a 2nd gen. So it would be a 3rd gen ... however, I thought that the 3rd gens all had the coil mainspring, and this one definitely has a leaf spring for its mainspring. Anyone know a little more about these cool little shooters?

TIA,

Saands
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Old January 19, 2015, 10:43 PM   #2
hartcreek
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Look on the butt frame there may be a date stamp. There is another member here that has the complete listing of years and can give you a date by the serial number. Since it has a flat hammer spring it predates my 1908.
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Old January 19, 2015, 11:36 PM   #3
James K
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I don't claim to be an IJ expert, but I don't recall them using a "National Arms Co." marking. Could you post pictures of the marking and also of the gun overall, both sides?

Jim
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Old January 20, 2015, 08:24 AM   #4
saands
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Will do ... I have it torn down for cleaning, so I will snap some pics of the internals first and then (hopefully) a pic of both sides as assembled.

I know that there was a National Arms in NY ... but it was way pre-'98 and AFAIK they only made teet-fired revolvers and this is certainly a center-fire. The mechanism, if not an I-J, is pretty much a total clone of one and although the caliber is not marked anywhere on the piece, the chamber and bore measure perfectly to match the 32S&W that was so popular in this style of gun in the early 1900's. Pics coming soon!

Thanks,

Saands
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Old January 20, 2015, 10:23 AM   #5
Jim Watson
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I once found a report that a top break National Arms was made by Folsum. Another post said Meriden.
Could have been either or both, made on order from some distributor.
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Old January 20, 2015, 11:41 AM   #6
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National Arms is not made by Iver Johnson.
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Old January 20, 2015, 12:16 PM   #7
saands
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Here are some pics ... maybe this can lead me to a conclusion on whether or not it is shootable with mild smokeless loads. Thanks so much for your help ...

Saands

Complete:




And some with internal details:







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Old January 20, 2015, 03:20 PM   #8
James K
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The reason that revolver doesn't quite fit into the Iver Johnson grouping is that it isn't an Iver Johnson. I am pretty sure it is a Hopkins & Allen.

Jim

Edited to add: My "pretty sure" was wrong. Google "Meriden revolver".

Jim
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Old January 20, 2015, 04:22 PM   #9
saands
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Why couldn't those guys just put their name on things that they made???

H&A ... hmmmm ... it doesn't look anything like the H&A's I already have in my collection (I have a couple of solid top-strap models), but I do know that Hopkins and Allen made a bunch of different models, so I suppose that I should do a little Googling of their Top Break revolvers.

After taking it all apart, I did see that there are quite a few I-J design features that just never appeared in one single IJ offering. It also has a totally different "safety" to keep the hammer from firing a round if the pistol was dropped than the IJ had. This one is a hammer block behind the trigger where I understand that the IJ had something like the transfer bar on the Ruger GP-100.

Well ... I am liking the little guy and I think that I will invest in the 32S&W dies to make some light loads so that it can be shot. It looks like you can get 5000 to 7000 reloads from a pound of powder with this one and at the speed they leave the barrel, I'm not entirely certain that the same bullets won't be able to be reused after they hit the target

Thanks again for the input ...

saands
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Old January 20, 2015, 04:40 PM   #10
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I found this on another site

"I believe I can assist with the identification of this "National Arms Co., NY USA" revolver. The descriptions and photos suggest this revolver was manufactured by the Meriden Arms Co., of Meriden, CT, some time between 1905 and 1918. The original National Arms Company apparently ceased operations in the late 1800's, after being purchased by Colt, and did not manufacture a top break revolver.

From what I've read online, here's some of what I know about Meriden. They were owned, either in part or whole, by Sears and Roebuck, and manufactured shotguns and small revolvers. Their products were considered well-made at the time, however, the revolvers may have been made of malleable iron with soft metal internal parts, which may not hold up particularly well over time.

At the time, both Meriden and Sears (and other manufacturers supplying to Sears) were stamping firearms with several trade names, and National Arms Co. may have been one of those name used.

Two distinguishing characteristics of Meriden revolvers: Mushroom-shaped front sight and blank circle emblem at top of grips."

If the gun is made of malleable iron, I personally would not be shooting smokeless in it. I have 4 little breaktop 32's of various makes , 3 of them are black powder guns and that is all I shoot in them. Looks like you got a nice one for $40.00.
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Old January 20, 2015, 04:50 PM   #11
saands
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I wish I still had access to that portable XRF ... I'd love to know the composition (alloy) of the metal and that is just about the only way that I know of to know for sure. I'm not sure I'd call those sights "mushroom shaped", but the grips certainly have blank circles in them ...

Thanks,

saands
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Old January 20, 2015, 06:53 PM   #12
saands
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So ... can someone share a recipe for a black powder load for the 32 S&W? It looks like I ought not plan on shooting smokeless out of it But ... discretion is the better part of valor, right?

Thanks!

saands
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Old January 20, 2015, 08:03 PM   #13
Jim Watson
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Does the gun function?
The pictures of it assembled show the trigger to the rear, which seems not a good thing in a concealed hammer revolver.

In the 1901 Sears catalogue, the .32 S&W is listed with an 85 grain bullet and 9 grains of black powder. Probably FFFg or maybe even FFg; the old timers often loaded coarser granulations than we do.
It also lists a smokeless load with 3.5 grains of Something, which must have been a very mild bulk powder.
By 1937 Phil Sharpe thought 1.4 grains of Bullseye was enough.

I think I would go with Magnum Wheel Man's plinking load of a very little nitro and a round ball.
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Old January 20, 2015, 08:50 PM   #14
saands
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Very good eye on the trigger ... it hadn't QUITE found its way back together (after I took it apart) when I took the pictures I'm pleased to report that it is all back together now ... and with all of the components in the correct orientation. There was one piece that looked so much like a sear that I kept trying to include it in the hammer release system ... turns out that it was a drop safety and needed to be oriented in a very different way Once I figured that out it went together pretty easily.

I was thinking that 1.2 gr of Unique under a 76gr LRN would be a nice soft shooter ... Quickload predicts 513 fps and 7500 psi ... just a tad more than half of the MAX pressure for the 32 S&W ...

Is there a measurable value that can be associate with MWM's "very little bit of nitro" ??? The 76gr LRN is a little heavier than a ball at 45gr, but 1.2gr of Unique seems to fit the very little bit pretty well.

Saands
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Old January 20, 2015, 10:34 PM   #15
Jim Watson
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I would ask Magnum what his "pinch of Trail Boss" amounted to.
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Old January 20, 2015, 11:03 PM   #16
Gaucho Gringo
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Black powder loads are as much powder, wads and filler it takes to seat the bullet with no air space between the bullet and the powder, wads and filler. It is impossible to overload an original black powder cartridge like the .32S&W Short. I load mine with 3f BP. Just be sure there is no air space between the bullet and the powder, wads and filler and you will be fine.
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Old January 21, 2015, 12:16 AM   #17
hartcreek
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You might try chasing these guys down at another site.

http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/i.../t-223009.html

That sure is no IJ that is for sure.
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Old January 21, 2015, 10:07 PM   #18
James K
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That "thingy" is actually neither a sear not a drop safety (hammer block); neither is needed on a hammerless (concealed hammer) revolver, since the hammer can't be cocked for SA nor can the hammer be struck and cause a round to fire.

It is a rebound lever; its purpose is to rebound the hammer, drawing the firing pin out of the fired primer and making it easier to open the gun. Some companies, even those that made hammerless guns, put them on all guns simply because it was easier, but others left them off hammerless models and the hammer had to be drawn back to half cock before opening the gun.

As to maker's names, it was very common at that time, and since, for one company to make guns for another company and put the latter company's name on the product. One example is the well-known Merwin & Hulbert; they were a marketing company and never made a gun; the guns were made by H&A. In more recent years, companies made guns for Sears, Wards, Western Auto, and the like, marking them with the selling company's tradename. Many Colts, for example have been made in Spain, Remingtons in Serbia, Winchesters in Japan, etc. The practice was/is not limited to guns; it has been done on appliances, electronic products, household goods, and even cars.

Of course, it can be very confusing, but figuring out who REALLY made a gun is part of the fun of collecting guns of that era.

Jim
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