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Old February 17, 2013, 07:19 PM   #1
Join Date: January 16, 2013
Posts: 44
Iver Johnsons arms revolver info

I have an old Iver Johnsons revolver that I would like to find out a little about, caliber etc.
It is an Iver Johnsons Arms hammerless top break. The serial number on
the bottom of the trigger guard and under the release for the barrel
is 66195
On the bottom of the grip frame it has Pat. June 16 96, Aug.
25 96 or 98, and Sept. 6 04 Pend.
I can't find a caliber marking on it anywhere, and I'm curious as to
what caliber it is. 38 specials will fit in the cylinder about half the length of the 38 special and then stop.
I have a 38 S&W that fits in the cylinder pretty good. It is about 1/16th or so shorter than the cylinder, fits in the cylinder bore a little loose but not bad. The shell ejector seems to work fine with it. If I put the 38 S&W in the other end (barrel end) of the cylinder it will let the bullet go in but not the casing at all. So, I'm guessing it's got to be close.
I don't know what the difference is between the 38 short colt, 38 S&W and the 32 as far as size and if they would all fit into the same gun.
I'm pretty sure it's a centerfire.
It's not in very good shape and nothing I would try to shoot, but I want to hang it on the wall of my reloading room.
It's was my deceased brother-in-laws and thought it would make a nice keepsake.
I apprediate the help.
I'm going to try and download some pictures. Never done that before on here so hopefully I can.
Can't figure out pictures. Hopefully info is enough.
Thanks for the help
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Old February 17, 2013, 07:37 PM   #2
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,189
If a .38 Special will go in half way, the revolver is chambered for .38 S&W, which is shorter and fatter than .38 Special.

The serial number may have originally included a prefix letter, but it is shown only on the left grip when the grip piece is revoved. With the full serial number we can date that revolver.

.38 Short Colt and .38 Long Colt are the same diameter as the .38 Special but shorter; neither would be right for that gun. .32 anything would be much too small.

Jim K
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Old February 18, 2013, 12:03 AM   #3
Join Date: January 16, 2013
Posts: 44
Thanks Jim K for the help.
The serial number on the left side under the grip is R66195. It has a safety on the trigger. Plastic grips with an owl head facing the trigger. The release bar for the barrel has round knurled areas about a quarter inch diameter on both sides at the back of the release bar for grabbing and lifting the bar. Thought maybe this info may help.
It's not in real bad shape but the trigger sticks to the rear when fired and you have to push it back forward.
And, turning by hand, the cylinder will keep rotating clockwise, looking from rear of gun as if aiming, without stopping. But when you pull the trigger it seems to line itself up to the barrel bore and locks the cylinder just before firing.
Is that how these older guns worked?
The barrel looks in pretty good shape, clean and I can see the rifleings real well.
If it is, do you think it may be alright to shoot?
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Old February 20, 2013, 08:54 AM   #4
Join Date: January 30, 2013
Location: Bradley County, Tennessee
Posts: 24
I have the same gun. It shoots a .38 S&W. Though it is a .38, it is much shorter than any modern .38. That's why your round will only go in half way.
.38 S&W's are hard to find, but, they are out there. I bought a box at my local gun dealer. It was the only one he had. He said, "thanks, I thought I'd never get rid of those damned things.
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Old February 20, 2013, 10:39 AM   #5
Join Date: January 16, 2013
Posts: 44
Thanks YankeeSpirit76. Is yours a black powder gun also. I have some 38 S&Ws but don't know if they are black powder and not suppose to shoot smokeless powder in it.
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Old February 21, 2013, 01:57 PM   #6
Sher Khan
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 30
Your "R" in the serial number may be an "A". I have an "A31xxx" on a .38 S&W Iver Johnson Hammerless revolver which I thought was an "R". Yours may be a Second Model, manufactured from 1897 to 1908. "A" and "E" serial numbers are classified as antiques. Models with "F" prefix are not.

The .38 S&W Second Model is unsafe to fire with smokeless (modern) cartridges. Use black powder cartridges only, and only after having the revolver inspected by a competent gunsmith and passed as safe for shooting.

There is an excellent book on these revolvers: "Iver-Johnson Arms & Cycle Works Firearms 1871-1993" by W. Goforth. You may find more information on your revolver there.
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Old February 21, 2013, 02:08 PM   #7
Join Date: January 16, 2013
Posts: 44
Thanks everyone for the help. Very much appreciated.
This is information that I have received from another forum.

You have a Second Model Hammerless, Large Frame, .38S&W, and it is the 1907-1908 Ninth Variation.


The "R" letter code places manufacture very late in 1907.
The "R" guns were manufactured as follows:
~ 1906 - R00001-R33000
~ 1907 - R33001-R66500
~ 1908 - R66501-R100000


Nickel was the standard finish, Blue was optional.
2" and 3ΒΌ" barrel was standard, 4", 5", and 6" was optional. 2" was the "Cycle" model.
Hard Rubber grips were standard. Wood, Ivory, and Mother of Pearl were optional, as well as the Bourne Knuckleduster.

In 1905, prices were as follows:
Hammer w/Nickel finish - $6, Hammerless w/Nickel Finish - $7.
Blue Finish - $1 extra.
4" barrel - $0.50 extra, 5" or 6" - $1.50 extra.
Mother Of Pearl - $1.50 extra, Ivory - $3.00 extra.


The only discrepancy that I see between your revolver and the book is in the September Patent date. Your date of Sept. 6, 1904 matches the actual Patent, whereas the book lists Sept. 4, 1904. I'm inclined to think that the Sept. 6, 1904 date is correct and the book shows a typo that occurred repeatedly.

Patents, the one stamped on your revolver are as follows:
~ Granted June 16,1896, #561963 to Homer Caldwell, Applied For May 2,1895. This covers the Hammerless version of the "Hammer the Hammer" action.

~ Granted August 25, 1896 #566393 to Andrew Fyrberg. Applied for October 2, 1891. This patent covers the "Hammer the Hammer" action. (Fun Fact - Note the time frame.)

~ Granted August 25, 1896 # 566399 to Iver Johnson and Andrew Fyrberg. Applied for July 4, 1890. This patent covers the Cylinder Retainer. (Fun Fact - Note the time frame.)

~ Granted September 6, 1904 # 769277 to O.W. Ringqvist. Applied for July 8, 1903. This patent covers the Automatic Cylinder Stop used on the Third Model revolvers.


This gun is not considered safe with smokeless powder. Yours was the last of blackpowder guns.

The OWL looking at the trigger was used on the blackpowder guns. When the change to smokeless was made, the OWL was turned to look at the grip screw.
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