I.J Safety Automatic Hammerless


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RevolvingGarbage
March 26, 2011, 11:36 AM
I just got this little revolver in a trade. I know already that it is an Iver Johnson Safety Automatic Hammerless in .38S&W. From what I've read online, I'm thinking its a late 2nd model, from between 1896 and 1908, not suitable for smokeless loads.

http://i54.tinypic.com/mcq5tw.jpg
http://i56.tinypic.com/1q1p44.jpg

This is the barrel top rib with the patent date info.
http://i56.tinypic.com/rlmgw8.jpg

The patent dates are April 6, 1886, February 15, 1887, May 10, 1887 and August 25, 1896.

Serial number under the left side of the grip frame is D-41703, and the only other place its repeated is the underside of the top-strap. There are no other markings on the gun.

Does anyone have an idea of a more precise date of manufacture? What is a good value to put on the gun if it has about 75-80% of the original bluing?

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Old Fuff
March 26, 2011, 12:50 PM
First of all, you did a great job by providing a complete description and clear, detailed photographs. This made identification much easier.

You have an I.J. Large Frame/Safety Hammerless, Model 1897, Second Variation.

The serial number dates it to 1898.

I would estimate the value to be around $75 to $125, depending on where and how you sell it (if you do). Values are slowing going up.

You are correct in thinking that this is a black powder revolver, which should not be used with modern smokeless powder cartridges.

Notice the safety lever in the trigger - a feature first patented by Iver Johnson, and now used by several pistol manufacturers including Glock and Smith & Wesson. There is apparently, nothing new under the sun. ;)

RevolvingGarbage
March 26, 2011, 01:19 PM
Thank you Old Fuff for the info on the date! I was thinking it was slightly later, but I'm very glad it is in fact a pre-1900's gun, as I bought it mostly for the cool history and incredible craftsmanship that went into these guns.

I don't plan on selling it, I was just curious to the value. I traded a well used Pardner Pump 12 gauge for it, and that was only worth maybe $100-125 in resale. If I want another one they are cheap and plentiful and will be for a long time, whereas these old break-top revolvers wont, especially not in good shape like this one.

I reload and I do plan on making up some BP loads for this gun to be shot occasionally. Do you think it would be better to use .360 round balls, or .360 148gr bullets?

Old Fuff
March 26, 2011, 04:09 PM
Do you think it would be better to use .360 round balls, or .360 148gr bullets?

First of all, be aware if the open-harth bar stock the cylinder was made from has a seam in it, it may not be safe to shoot even if using black powder. Also be sure that when the trigger is all of the way back, each chamber is concentric with the bore.

Back when... :D the .38 S&W cartridge was popular various manufacturers made gallery loads with a powder charge, waxed felt wad, and a round ball. if you duplicate this be sure the ball is deep enough to slightly compress the powder. A wad cutter and felt should be available from Dixie Gun Works.

I believe you can get 145 grain (give or take) .360 bullets from the Missouri Bullet Co. because as I understand it they recently got a major order from a cartridge manufacturer.

They are slipping by the way - it took them all of 4 minutes to have my order ready to ship after I placed it. :what: :) )

Again, be sure the bullet is slightly compressing the black powder charge

RevolvingGarbage
March 26, 2011, 04:43 PM
First of all, be aware if the open-harth bar stock the cylinder was made from has a seam in it, it may not be safe to shoot even if using black powder. Also be sure that when the trigger is all of the way back, each chamber is concentric with the bore.

I appreciate the word of caution on the cylinder. I certainly can't tell it has a seam, but as a machinist I know that doesn't mean its not there ;)

The lockup and alignment of the cylinder/bore is good, and overall I'm going to call it sound and shootable with appropriate loads.

I did see that MBC has the proper bullets for the caliber, and I know of their excellent reputation for customer relations. When I need bullets, I will be ordering from them for sure.

Thanks again, Old Fuff, for all the help!

yhtomit
March 26, 2011, 07:24 PM
Neat old gun, and cool to see how precisely it can be identified. I am curious about the trigger lever; I *think* I'm making it out in the photo, but I hopeful that you'd at some point be willing to take some extreme close-ups of the trigger.

Congratulations on a good swap!

timothy

RevolvingGarbage
March 27, 2011, 02:27 PM
...but I hopeful that you'd at some point be willing to take some extreme close-ups of the trigger...

No problem at all sir!

http://i54.tinypic.com/24bkruq.jpg
http://i54.tinypic.com/2pr8p4n.jpg

I think its a very interesting feature for such an old gun to have. Its a bit rough and sharp if you try to pull the trigger with just the first pad of your finger on the trigger, but with the trigger being fairly heavy, it feels more natural to use more of your finger to pull the trigger any way, and when doing that you can't feel the safety at all.

yhtomit
March 31, 2011, 03:46 PM
Wow! Nice macro work, too. Thanks. One of those "can't believe how long ago certain things were already so well developed" moments.

timothy

Old Fuff
March 31, 2011, 04:53 PM
One of those "can't believe how long ago certain things were already so well developed" moments.

Actually Iver Johnson was issued a patent (#339,301) for their "safety trigger" in 1886, and (#566,393) during the same year for the transfer bar safety design widely used by Taurus, Ruger, Dan Wesson, and many others in revolvers today.

Yet present day collectors largely regard I.J. revolvers to be unworthy of interest... :scrutiny:

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