iver johnson top break model 1


February 24, 2010, 10:53 AM
i just recieved a Iver Johnson top break 32 s&w revolver. I am not sure if its a model 1 or a model 1 variation 1. the serial # 74125. owl looking at barrell. any one have any idea how to tell the difference?

If you enjoyed reading about "iver johnson top break model 1" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Jim K
February 24, 2010, 08:45 PM
Is it a hammer gun or hammerless (concealed hammer)?

And can you post a picture?


February 25, 2010, 12:22 PM
its a hammer gun. i will try and get some pictures up

March 5, 2010, 02:50 PM
okay i finally took pictures but have no idea how to upload? any help out there

March 5, 2010, 05:26 PM

so what model is this?

Old Fuff
March 5, 2010, 06:44 PM
Look on the left side of the barrel, and along the top of the barrel rib. Do you see any patent dates? If so, what are they.

I don't think it's a first model, because they had a different barrel latch (sometimes called a "catch") then what your picture shows.

March 5, 2010, 07:07 PM
apr 6 86, feb 15 87, may10 87, dec 26 93, i read some were that if the serial number didn't have a letter then it was first model. but i dont know

Old Fuff
March 5, 2010, 10:58 PM
Remove the grips, and do so VERY CAREFULLY because of age they are brittle and easy to crack or chip. The best way is to unscrew the stock screw and then turn it in on the other side. This gives you a handle of sorts that you can use to lift off the right hand side. then reach through the frame and push against the left and side. DO NOT USE EXCESSIVE FORCE.

Examine the left side of the frame where it was covered by the left grip panel, and see if you find the serial number stamped there with a letter prefix, such as, A. E or F.

Also remove the cylinder and look at the bottom of the top strap and see if a matching serial number (without any letter) is stamped there.

March 6, 2010, 07:24 AM
okay i looked under the grips on both sides of the frame and there is no numbers at all. then i checked under the top strap and it has the same 71425 serial number without any letters! so does this narrow it down?

Old Fuff
March 6, 2010, 09:44 AM
Well it does make it interesting… :scrutiny:

There are gaps in our knowledge because not a whole lot of research has been done on turn-of-the-20th century Iver Johnson revolvers.

The main difference between the first and second models was the barrel latch, which they called a “catch.” The first model had a lever on the rear part of the barrel on the left-hand side, and to open the barrel you would pull this lever upwards and backwards. The second (and third) models had a latch similar to what S&W used, and to open the barrel you pivoted the latch upward and forward. On the second model they also added an additional ’96 patent date, and moved the dates to the side of the barrel. Also by then they were using a letter prefix on the serial number stamped on the frame behind the grip.

What you have is what appears to be a first model, with a later second model barrel latch, and I can’t explain why except that the latch might have been introduced earlier then first thought. Since your revolver isn’t a parts gun (because the number on the barrel matches the frame) it isn’t something someone made up using parts from different guns.

If we go by the serial number you have a First Model made in 1894 with an entirely different barrel latch that was supposedly introduced in 1897, and the two latches are not interchangeable.

Gun manufacturers – then and now – often would use up older parts still in stock after a new feature was introduced. That might have happened here, but we have no way of knowing, and since they are long gone you can’t go back to the company and ask.

But like I said, the piece is interesting, and none of this would have been discovered if you hadn’t posted a picture.

March 6, 2010, 01:53 PM
thanks for all the great info. i am tempted to find some black powder loads and shoot it. so what is my gun worth? i paid a 100 dollars at an auction for it.

Old Fuff
March 6, 2010, 05:08 PM
It's worth what ever you can get for it... ;)

Iver Johnson pocket revolvers are not exactly a hot collecting field, but if you located a serious collector (of which they're not many) they'd probably pay more then anyone else. Even fewer shooters would kick in your door to get it. I think it's about worth what you paid for it, unless you find the "right person." Then at best you might double your money.

If you enjoyed reading about "iver johnson top break model 1" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!