Ivory Johnson 32 revolver


March 30, 2008, 10:57 AM
Just wondering if anyone can tell me about these firearms? I need to know what they are worth(if at all) and just the history of them period!

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March 30, 2008, 11:06 AM
You might do a google search for Iver Johnson 32 Revolver... I'm sure you'll come up w/ some good info

March 30, 2008, 11:07 AM
Is it a top break, or do you load on at a time from the right side? Either way, I'm no expert but they were what people call "Saturday night specials" or "suicide specials". They are pretty much worthless, I think the most valuable best preserved example I'v ever seen sell around here in western canada went for like thirty dollars. I think they were made early in 1900's until like about the sixties.

Sorry if that doesn't help but some more knowledgeable person is bound to set me straight in no time.

March 30, 2008, 11:41 AM
The Iver Johnson line was generally inexpensive revolvers in 22, 32 and 38 S&W (not 38 Special) calibers often using the top-break design. Quality varied from mediocre to poor depending on model and year of manufacture.

They seem to be collectible and folks are paying what I consider to be fairly ridiculous prices for them off the auction sites.

I doubt that anyone would consider one of these as a useful firearm for any sort of serious shooting. In fact, I would not try to shoot one if I owned it.

March 30, 2008, 02:49 PM
I hate to break it to some of you, but I learned how to shoot a handgun with a top break IJ 22, and it was as accurate as any 22 revolver I have ever shot. I killed a many a bunny, groundhog, snake, and squirrel with that puppy. It belonged to the man next door, and he let me use it all the time, and I kept it clean and polished.
To add insult to injury, the second most accurate was a Bison 22 I bought in a Western Auto in Blacksburg, Virginia in 1966, for $27. Fixed sights, but it was an unreal shooter until the trigger broke.
Both were better than the only Smith 17 I ever owned, and a Ruger Single Six managed to match the Bison for just a few more dollars many years later.

March 30, 2008, 03:29 PM
>>Ivory Johnson<<

Wasn't he a famous basketball player?? :D

March 30, 2008, 03:32 PM
>>I doubt that anyone would consider one of these as a useful firearm for any sort of serious shooting<<

You got that right. I have a top break Iver Johnson in .32 short, and I once shot at the lid from a metal trash can.... it made a dent and bounced off!! :p

March 30, 2008, 03:35 PM
Hey, watch it. Ivory was a good friend of mine. :)
Let us not deteriorate into the mess USSR and BULLET have going on the reloading forum. :cuss: I never thought SAMMI was that exciting.

Joe the Redneck
March 30, 2008, 04:06 PM
There were low cost handguns. Kind of like KelTec or Rossi today. Nothing really wrong with them, they go bang when you shoot them. Their actions tend to be sloppy and they are sometimes (but not always) a little in accurate. Also, they would wear out a lot faser than a more costly weapon. But as most guns are carried more than they are shot, that usually wans't an issue.

A COlt revolver gererally cost a months pay. Now if you worked outdoors and shot a lot, it was worth it. But if you were a merchant or a clerk, it didn't really make much sense to drop that much money on a Colt revolver. That's where the IJ and Hopkins and Allen come into play.

Also, during time of war, handguns were still needed for the civillian market. An IJ certainly wouldn't last too long on the battle field, but sitting in a holster on a nightguard hip, no problem.

Often chambered for the 22, 32 and 38 S&W, these were used as self defense arms by the general populus. Now, for some reason, sometime in the 1970s these rounds not longer worked on badguys. It seems the lead was replaced with chocolate and all the people who had been killed by them came back to life. It was discovered that nothing less than a 9mm with a twenty round mag could be used for self defense. so these guns fell out of favor.

With the advent of cowboy action shooting there has been a renewed interest in these little guns. They generally sell for around $150 for one in decent condition.

I have a Hopkins and Allen in 38 S&W that a carry. An Iver Johnson in 32 S&W that I sometimes carry. And a Smith &Wesson 32 topbreak. It is not safe to carry loaded. Yup, the two cheap guns are in way better shape than the Smith. All guns are about the same age.

Enjoy your revolvers.

March 30, 2008, 04:40 PM
From the Johnson Smith catalog, around 1930...

H&R top break revolver, (roughly the same quality as the Iver Johnson?) .32 or .38 caliber, $12.50

Colt Police Positive, .32 or .38 cal.(not 38 SPL), $35.00

So the Colt was nearly 3 times the cost of the H&R...

March 30, 2008, 04:53 PM

Iver Johnson first started making handguns in 1873, with the Favorite revolver in .22, .32, .38, and .44 calibers. In 1883, they offered the first DA swing-out cylinder revolver in the U.S. with the Model 1879. They did make a few higher end models, such as the Improved Model Target and the Target Sealed Eight. In the early 1970's, they were still making short barreled revolvers like the New Cadet Model 55SA in .22, .32, and .38 S&W.; the Sidewinder Model 50A, a western SA styled .22; the Target Model 57A, a DA .22, and the Viking Model 67, a .22 top-break design. At that time, most of these guns retailed from between $42.95 to $59.50. The vast majority of their revolvers were inexpensive .22s designed primarily for plinking; and .32 and .38 caliber guns for personal protection, with most of them residing in nightstands and bureau dresser drawers across the country.

Old Fuff
March 30, 2008, 06:08 PM
Now, now, Sax...

Didn't your Mommy tell you not to say anything unless it's nice... :rolleyes:

I'll admit that Iver Johnson revolver were not in the same calss as Colt's or Smith & Wesson, but it is a fact that the OSS bought some of the little .32 snubbies during World War Two... :eek:

Those were desperate times... :neener: :D

March 30, 2008, 07:05 PM
Hey, Iver Johnson is still around (http://www.iverjohnsonarms.com/) - and don't bad-mouth the products, past or present. They're the folks responsible for the handy little Henry carbines as well as the old Owl's Head pocket guns.

March 30, 2008, 08:15 PM
The Iver Johnson top breaks were made in 3 different models......1st and 2nd model are for black powder only. The 3rd model was made for smokeless. The 3rd model came out around 1907 or somewhere abouts........ There are a lot of 1st and 2nd models out there that were shot with smokeless until they were loose as a goose and pitted from black powder. For a shooter get a 3rd model. It has a S&W type of lock up and should be tighter........I love them little Iver Johnsons.........................Bob

March 30, 2008, 08:30 PM
Iver Johnson Info at www.armchairgunshow.com/pocketDA-info.html

March 30, 2008, 08:50 PM
I have one in 38S&W I shoot it with low pressure smokeless 38S&W loads. It's surprisingly accurate and is very mild to shoot. I've not had one problem from it.

Old Fuff
March 30, 2008, 08:59 PM
Also, anyone interested in Iver Johnson revolvers should buy the following book, which is available in paperback. It is the most inclusive source of information I know of, and includes serial numbers vs. year of manufacture.

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

IverJohnson revolvers are generally not "hot" collectables, but they are interesting because the company held many patents and originated many features still used today. They include the transfer bar safety in revolvers and the lever safety in the face of the trigger - used by Glock, Springfield Armory and S&W in their auto pistols.

A substantial collection can be assembled for relatively little money - something that can't be said about Colt or S&W.

March 30, 2008, 09:06 PM
I have an IJ TP 22 and like it so much I got one for my father in law. I also had one of the old 38 top-break models that was in what looked like unfired condition with factory original pearl grips. Got it from my grandma. It was stolen.

I'm not knocking the older IJs, I'm just being honest when I say they are not for serious shooting. They aren't.

March 30, 2008, 10:15 PM
ive seen them listed as "pristine mechanics and finish, 230 max"

they were designed to be the gun youd put in your pocket and use on stray dogs and stray pickpockets and the like in the good old days when you had no need for a permit to carry or purchase.
sure the cartridges arent powerful enough to kill an elephant at 200 yards, but at 15 feet they will kill you dead just as well as a .454 casull or a .500 nitro express to the chest or forehead.

March 31, 2008, 03:44 AM
Saxon Pig and Rut:
They work just fine, folks. I have a few break tops that haven't been neglected and abused for 100 years and they're tight and accurate. Even the loaded down new MagTech .32 S&W ammo shoots through a 2X4 (I did it) so I have no idea what you had that bounced off of a garbage can lid. I even carry a hammerless .38 when the mood hits. It's a good gun.

King Alfonso of Italy, William McKinley and Robert J. Kennedy all would disagree with you when you say you can't do serious shooting with an Iver Johnson.

March 31, 2008, 07:39 AM
"Now, for some reason, sometime in the 1970s these rounds not longer worked on badguys."

The PCP epidemic more than likely, followed by the crack epidemic.

I have a cute little IJ .32 that belonged to my grandfather. It's not much bigger than a P-32.


March 31, 2008, 08:14 AM
There was a time when a detective might carry a 32 S&W revolver. The Iver Johnsons were fine revolvers. They were mid-tier shooters as a general rule, assuming Smith and Colt were top-tier.

They are better than Belgian or Spanish knock-offs of the day. They are better than Hood's or the "suicide specials" offered by Hopkins and Allen (though the double-action, ejecting H&A's were pretty good, especially the Safety Police).

And many of them are perfectly safe to shoot today.


Lone Star
March 31, 2008, 09:06 AM
The danged things get around. If you watched the now discontinued syndicated TV show, "The Lost World", that hammerless revolver that Marguerite used was often an Iver Johnson that the prop house sent over when she didn't have a Webley or S&W hammerless.

That show was filmed in Australia.

They also had rubber molds of the guns used for scenes when shots weren't fired. I've seen the one for the Iver Johnson on a fan board where it was sold off after filming ended, and asked an official of the show about it. He asked their armorer, who confirmed that was indeed an Iver Johnson. No idea which model, but it was a copy of the S&W New Departure Safety Hammerless.

Iver Johnson also made shotguns, and sold them under various brand names.

They weren't fancy, but were not junk. Ironically, the character on Lost World wouldn't have been caught dead with a cheap gun: she'd have had an S&W or Webley hammerless. I think she liked hamerless guns because she sometimes hid them in a ladies' muff, and shot one guy in London with her gun produced unexpectedly. No hammer to catch on a pocket or purse. That feature was of no practical value after she got to the Amazon jungle, but I guess she took a gun she already owned. Everyone else had more suitable arms.

Lone Star

March 31, 2008, 09:21 AM
>>Iver Johnson also made shotguns, and sold them under various brand names.<<

Yes, my first shotgun was an Iver Johnson single shot 16 ga. I bought for $15.00 in 1958. I wish I had kept it as a momento. :o

March 31, 2008, 05:17 PM
Thanks Old Fuff, just ordered the book you mentioned about Iver Johnson's. I have a Safety automatic hammerless Second Model (1897-1908), the one with the safety on the trigger that glock swiped. I want to know if the serial number makes this an antique or not.

April 1, 2008, 01:27 AM
My late father had an top break Iver Johnson Safety Hammerless in .32 S & W Long with a 2" barrel. I recall that it was fairly lightweight for it's size with black rubber-like grips. Nickel plated.

It was one of two handguns he had (the other a Colt Banker's Special in .38) and he would slip it into his pocket from time to time as he felt the need to. A superb shot, he could shoot quite well with it at short to mid range.

April 1, 2008, 09:51 AM
Was an Iver Johnson Trailsman 66 purchased new in 1960 for under $40. I wanted a Ruger Single Six, but my dad had owned an IJ when he was a kid and pushed me to the Trailsman. It was a top break 8-shot. I shot it as often as I could afford ammo. It went back to the factory twice because it wouldn't index correctly, left firing pin marks all over the face of the cylinder. When it still didn't work after the second time back, my dad relented and let me trade it for a used Single Six. I still have that one, and it's never failed to go bang.

April 12, 2008, 12:02 AM
I inherited one of those 2nd model Iver Johnson Safety Hammerless 5-shots in .38s&w from my grandmother. She got it from her uncle, who was a cop in 'Frisco about a century ago.

The gun is not pristine. In fact, Dad filed down the firing pin after Grandma shot a panther out of a tree in her front yard and her cat disappeared.

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