Help date a U.S. Revolver Co break-action revolver...


December 8, 2007, 11:08 PM
... for a friend. He inherited it from his father, and he believes it was his grandfather's. It's in remarkable condition cosmetically.. no rust whatsoever. Grip is also in perfect condition, bore is clean. This is a hammerless model, I suspect .32 cal. If it was chrome finished at one time, I don't see any evidence of it.

I've already read up on U.S. Revolver. I understand these were made in the early 1900's and sold at places like Sears for about $6.

Serial number under the grip is B99XX.



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Jim K
December 8, 2007, 11:54 PM
IIRC, those guns were not serial numbered, so the number may be an assembly or lot number. (Serial numbers were not required by Federal law until 1968.)

Iver Johnson used "U.S. Revolver Co." on their less expensive line of revolvers. According to one report, they did so at first to use up old parts when they changed over to the transfer bar system they called the "hammer the hammer" safety device. In any case, they made the "U.S." line from about 1910 to about 1935 as a second line for sale by mail order and in stores like Sears and Montgomery Ward. Some of their guns were marked "automatic", which meant automatic ejection (top break) as opposed to the manual ejection required with the swing-out cylinders of the then new Colt and S&W revolvers. This may have been the origin of the confusing term "automatic revolver" often seen in mystery stories. (Actual guns that could be called that, like the old Webley-Fosbery or the Mateba are quite uncommon.)

Here is a site with some information. I Googled "u s revolver co" and came up with several hits.


Roswell 1847
December 10, 2007, 11:52 AM
Some later US Revolvers dispensed with the transfer bar and instead used a floating firing pin.

Old Fuff
December 10, 2007, 01:14 PM
I have a reference, (cited below) that lists serial numbers for the U.S. Revolver Co. Turning to the small frame/hammerless model, serial number B99xx was made in 1919 Production ran from 1910 to 1924. Other models were made until 1935. As Jim pointed out, it was Iver Johnson's "second" line, and sold exclusively to mail order houses. The revolver in this thread was chambered in .32 S&W, 5 shot cylinder, standard barrel length was 3 inches. blue or nickel finishes.

Iver Johnson - Arms & Cycle Works; Handguns 1871 - 1978 by W.E. Goforth

Jim K
December 12, 2007, 04:23 PM
Hi, Roswell,

I have never seen a U.S. Revolver Co. gun with a transfer bar, and it is my understanding that the U.S. Revolver Co. guns never had them; Iver Johnson used the bar on their "name" revolvers, with the U.S. brand using the old parts and later being made as a cheap line without the bar.


December 12, 2007, 06:37 PM
Old Fuff... Thanks for the info and the citation! I just sent an email off to my buddy with the info you provided... am sure he appreciates your help as well.


Roswell 1847
December 12, 2007, 06:41 PM
I've got an Iver Johnson I rebuilt from a sack of rusty parts.
The Breech face insert was missing along with the firing pin and transfer bar, or at least the upper part of it.

I managed to tighten the frame up by carefully upsetting the metal of the lugs with a punch and hammering them back into shape and filing everything back to original appearance. This has held up to about twenty rounds of modern smokeless .32 S&W and about fifty handloaded Black powder rounds.

I made a new breech face , no mean feat, and threaded the opening for it, I installed a longer than standard firing pin. I carry it with the hammer down (of course its a safety hammerless) and the firing pin nose resting in the indentation in the primer of a fired case. Its a four shooter now.

The gun took some sanding and polishing but the pitting was very shallow.
I finished it in the white at first, polishing it bright every time I cleaned it. Then gave it a french gray look with cold bluing.
Its a curiosty more than anything else, but if parts were available I might try to restore its transfer bar, and shorten my handmade pin to operate with it.

December 12, 2007, 06:59 PM
I believe one of the main differences (at least early on) between U.S. Revolvers and Iver Johnson marked ones was the U.S. Revolvers were still built for blackpowder whereas the third model Iver Johnsons were made a bit stronger (among other differences) to use smokeless.

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