Quantcast

An Enigmatic Iver Johnson

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Michael Tinker Pearce, Nov 22, 2020.

  1. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,311
    MYBrR8L.jpg
    Picked up this little .32 today. It's an Iver Johnson Model 1 (first Model, 2nd change) made in 1896 according to it's serial number. It has a 2" barrel, and a combination of features that are inconsistent with either a modified or factory gun. It's a bit of a puzzler, so I am hoping someone here can shed some light on it. The crown of the muzzle appears to be the factory crown-

    ZeOP3fA.jpg
    This is well and good; they did offer a 2" barrel as far as I know. The finish on the crown exactly matches the rest of the gun. But the front sight groove is cut into the patent data on the top of the barrel, as you might expect of a gunsmith job, and is notably off-center. On the other hand it is a typical factory sight installed in what is other wise the standard fashion.

    AA7ESsV.jpg
    So, the gun is sending mixed signals. When IJ decided to offer a 2" barrel did they just cut-and-crown the stock barrel? Or did some gunsmith do it and had a tool to replicate the factory crown? I can't even guess which is more likely. Other than the 124-year-old finish it's a rather nice little gun with a good trigger pull. I haven't shot it to see if the sights allow it to shoot to POA.
    So, what do y'all think? Sloppy factory work or gunsmith work?
     
  2. entropy

    entropy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    11,111
    Location:
    G_d's Country, WI
    I'm stumped, too. The crown wouldn't be hard to replicate, so that points me toward a gunsmith mod. At least the owl is facing the right way.

    The letters seem a bit 'faded', as if the top of the barrel was polished post production.
     
    Michael Tinker Pearce likes this.
  3. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,311
    That's an artifact of the picture; IRL they are quite sharp and 'like new.'
     
    entropy likes this.
  4. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2005
    Messages:
    2,741
    Location:
    Colorado Front Range
    I vote gunsmith modification or custom factory rework. The off-center installation might have been to correct the customer's POA/POI issues.

    Gotta love that trigger- 80 years before "Perfection". Glockies always get upset when you ask them about it.
     
  5. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,041
    What's this thing you call "perfection" ? Perfection was achieved for an autoloader in 1911, and again in 1927. Perfection for a wheelgun was achieved in 1899 and tweaked through the years.
     
    Boarhunter likes this.
  6. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    16,283
    Location:
    DFW Area
    Does it shoot to point of aim? Might be a reason the sight was installed off center.

    I'm inclined to guess that someone sent their gun back to the factory to have the barrel shortened.
    I'm impressed. This has got to be pretty near the top of the list of threads I didn't expect to see someone bring up Glocks.
     
  7. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    5,035
    Location:
    MN
    S&W produced the first hand ejector in 1896 in the I frame gun chambered in .32 S&W . The K-frame in .38 Special followed in 1899. I'm thinking 1896 for the perfection achievement, but since there were differences I realy can't argue the point with a lot of zeal.
    For the IJ 2" gun of the OP's I am going with a non factory modification.
     
  8. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Messages:
    6,103
    Location:
    Nostramo (in absentia), Segmentum Ultima
    Either way, pretty cool gun.
     
    Monac and Michael Tinker Pearce like this.
  9. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Messages:
    16,618
    Location:
    Elbert County, CO
    I would think modified. When I shortened one, that's exactly how I did it.

    IIRC, the sideways owl is on BP guns with an upright owl on the smokeless models. Of course they are interchangeable, but at least that was the original configuration. The cylinder notches are the "right" way to ID a BP vs. smokeless pistol. Smokeless models won't freewheel with the hammer down. Of course, there was never a side latch smokeless model.
     
  10. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,311
    It's definitely modified- the question is was it factory-modified? I didn't know they did that, and maybe as a policy they didn't, but I worked at Detonics back in the eighties and when you know someone inside 'policy' can go right out the window... :D

    I get a big chuckle out of the BP vs. Smokeless model thing... by the time IJ and others introduced 'smokeless' models people had been shooting smokeless loads out of the guns for a decade or so. When IJ switched to smokeless models they used up the old 'BP' parts making simplified (cheaper) versions of the BP guns and marketed them as 'US Revolver Co.' guns... and said they were fine for smokeless. Ah marketing, though are ever a deceitful hussy!
     
    Steel Hayes likes this.
  11. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Messages:
    16,618
    Location:
    Elbert County, CO
    I was pretty sure all the USRC guns had proper heat treated cylinders, though. I have made 17-4 PH stainless cylinders, heat treated H900 to run modern ammo in the guns.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    I can't say I've ever heard of a BP Iver (or H&R) blowing up, and I know that plenty have been used over the last century with the relatively "hot" .32 ACP. But I've also repaired/rebuilt quite a few of them that no longer locked up tight and had a lot of wear in the frame where the ejector star center pin rides. Little bit of stainless filler with the TIG and re-machining brings them back to life, though
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    27,991
    Location:
    Florence, Alabama
    Yeah, I bet that when Grandpa could afford smokeless, he shot smokeless with none of the "rating" worries of his descendants.
    I bet the ammo companies knew that, too; and loaded them no hotter with nitro.

    Agrees with my thoughts. It is not the power/pressure of the ammo, it's the amount. The minor makes were not really meant for a lot of shooting and did not wear as well as Colt and Smith. There are CAS side matches for Pocket Pistols and a lot of old top breaks are rounded up for the purpose. But it is something you shoot five rounds a month with.
     
  13. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,311

    Very cool work on the cylinder!
    I've tested some early smokeless loads, they run about the same numbers as their modern counterparts in velocity and energy and are actually somewhat less powerful than BP loads in the same caliber. Pretty sure the ammo companies were no more interested in getting sued than modern companies, and early on in the smokeless conversion every gun was a 'BP gun.' Doesn't change the inherent quality or durability of the individual manufacturers, of course.

    I think you are right about the differing qualities of guns; pre-war Iver Johnsons seem to be a bit below S&W in overall quality, and pre-war H&Rs below that. In durability? I've put somewhere between 3000-4000 rounds through my favorite 1909 S&W .38 Safety Hammerless (4th model) and they were all smokeless and hotter than factory ammo; but still loads that MD Smith rated as 'top-break loads.' The gun has handled it just fine. I would definitely not recommend trying this in an IJ or H&R centerfire revolver of the period! Their sporting .22s seem to fare better, but there's a lot less power to deal with.

    I'll shoot these lower-quality revolvers with suitably gentle loads, but none has become the sort of favorite that gets the kind of shooting the S&W has done.
     
    Boarhunter likes this.
  14. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2005
    Messages:
    2,741
    Location:
    Colorado Front Range
    My family relic 2nd Model .32 was shot enough between ~1905 and ~1945 to completely shoot loose and crack the forcing cone. Who knows how many rounds it put downrange.
     
    Michael Tinker Pearce likes this.
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    27,991
    Location:
    Florence, Alabama
    I read a post about smokeless "rated" guns that said the really minor makes had weird dimensions, citing a F&W or H&A with very undersize bore that he said black powder would squeeze a lead bullet through, but smokeless would be dangerous.
     
    Michael Tinker Pearce likes this.
  16. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,311
    It's possible- I haven't had much experience with those brands. I do have a single H&A .32, and it slugged at .311- well within normal tolerances, but that's just one gun. Pressure is pressure; some powders like Red Dot have been measured against black powder and found to mimic it's chamber and down-bore pressure curves almost exactly. Still, a good rule of thumb is 'When in doubt, don't!' Just because I am confident in my ability to load smokeless for BP cartridge guns doesn't mean everyone should, and if someone is not comfortable with it BP works and isn't that big a pain to clean up.
     
    Gordon likes this.
  17. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,311
    OK, this mystery is solved- Someone posted pics of their factory gun's crown and top-strap, and this is definitely not a production gun. The quality of the gunsmithing is much higher than one would expect on an 'economical' revolver, but it's definitely aftermarket. Nonetheless it's a great little gun, and an excellent shooter. I shot this target yesterday at seven yards at a brisk pace. A little high, but a nice tight group. This is absolutely my favorite non-S&W top-break!
    6nnU8OJ.jpg
     
  18. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2005
    Messages:
    2,741
    Location:
    Colorado Front Range
    Nice!

    The "freewheel" guns are fine if carried fully loaded and then shoot all five. What you don't want is a partially loaded cylinder for any period of time.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice