US Revolver Co.


August 31, 2003, 10:13 PM
My dad has aquired a .38 from his late uncle. I told him I would buy from him anything that he didn't want. He is offering this to me and is telling me that the firing pin is missing or broken. What is this company and is it possible to buy replacement parts?

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Old Fuff
September 1, 2003, 09:53 AM
U.S. Revolver Co. guns were manufactured by the Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works in Worcester, MA. from 1910 through 1930. Parts will not be easy to find, but try Numrich Parts Corp. at:

It is chambered for the .38 S&W cartridge (not .38 Special) but in any case because of it's age and modest quality I'd advise you not shoot it. It should be kept however, as a family collectable.

September 2, 2003, 10:54 PM
Jan Libourel, gun rag editor, wrote 10 years ago that the most common question they received was about an inherited old Iver Johnson break top revolver.

I remember in the 70's the pawn shops in down town Seattle strung them vertically on a wire threaded through the trigger guard. The wire was attached to the back counter.

At gunshows 4 years ago they traded at $35. That is up now to $65 for one that works, $35 for one that is broken.

I have been buying them and fixing them.

Numerich is a big pain to deal with. They charge more for the shipping than the parts. They are rude on the phone. They have no toll free number. They send the wrong parts. They send parts in worse condition than those to be replaced. But where you gonna go?

I was shooting some 38 Super max loads with 158 gr. .357" XTP bullets in a 100 year old break top 38 S&W, when the break top latch stretched ~.010". I was showing it to big time gun designer and talking about pressure. The old guy pointed out to me that the latch stretch was not a direct result of chamber pressure. He said that bullet friction and recoil yanking on the mass of the barrel were what was stretching the latch. That took me days of thinking to understand, but I think I've got it now.

Now when I load for the 38 S&W break top, I use soft lead balls and wimpy powder charges. 2 gr. of Bullseye or 4 gr. of Unique work well.

There are web sites that say, ~"Don't shoot them, they were meant for black powder and they are too old and in too bad condition."

There are probably web sites that say to never do anything, just lie down and hold still to avoid dangers.

My grandfather had one in the Alaskan gold rush, and to my family it is a very valuable family heirloom, and worth $65 at a gunshow.

Old Fuff
September 3, 2003, 12:28 AM

I too have "played around" with older top-break revolvers. They can be a pain to detail strip and repair and a lot of them suffer from old age and bent pivot pins. The materials they used were never intended for hot loads and I have see three I.J. .38's with cracked chamber walls.

Parts are indeed a problem. I haven't had the bad luck with Numrich that you seemed to have had, but I take great care to identify the exact model and age of whatever I'm looking to find part for. I also don't overlook junked guns sometimes seen at gun shows.

Given the age, materials used, and the fact that most of them were inexpensive when new (excluding Smith & Wesson's) I suggest that they not be fired - at least not much. That's a lot better then having someone's lawyer looking for me after the old timer has blown. Some people never know when to quit. I think your "light loads" are great for those who roll their own.

September 3, 2003, 12:44 AM
So far...
I have had good luck with Numrich.
Phone costs
But FAX is free.... 877-486-7278


September 3, 2003, 12:50 AM
These guns were cheap copies of S&W pistols.
They made them by the millions.
My brother clicked my grandfather's pistol in the 70's until it broke.
When I got it in the 90's, it was a bag of parts.

Just pulling the trigger a thousand times can wear these old guns out. The parts are small delicate things inside. They are not built like a Remington rolling block or Mauser 98.

They are not worth much when they are fixed, so you have to love fixing guns.

If I go to a gunshow and come home with a broken gun I want to fix that night, it is like having a hot date when I was young:)

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