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Iver Johnson

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by XxWINxX94, Oct 3, 2011.

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  1. XxWINxX94

    XxWINxX94 Member

    Jul 3, 2009
    C(r)ook County, Illinois
    Was at ye olde gun show the other day with my gramps and we came across a whole table of old Iver Johnsons. The notorious "safety automatic" revolvers were all in pretty rough condition and most had price tags under $200. My impression of these guns has always been "cheap" and my grandpa also referred to them as "A poor man's gun, even in my day." And this got me thinking, so I just couldn't help picking one up to look.

    I really like the uniqueness of these guns, but I don't reload for .32 or know where to buy it, and for that reason I passed up negotiating with the guy.

    As a collector, I overlooked these cheap revolvers and didn't think much of them, until I did some reading.

    It turns out, these guns have a little significance, historically speaking. The man Iver Johnson emmigrated from Norway to the United States and essentially built himself up as a gunsmith, eventually creating his own company. In addition to guns, The Iver Johnson company also made bicycles and motorcycles.

    Iver Johnsons have also been used for attacks on U.S. political figures a couple times as well. Leon Czolgosz shot and wounded President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York on September 6th, 1901 with an Iver Johnson .32 caliber Safety Automatic revolver serial number 463344.

    Sirhan Sirhan shot and killed Presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles, California on June 5th, 1968 with an eight-shot Iver Johnson .22 caliber Cadet 55-A revolver serial number H-53725.

    I found all this very interesting and you can read more about Iver Johnson here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iver_Johnson

    I would also like to have some input from you guys. What are your general thoughts/opinions on Iver Johnson revolvers, what do you like/dislike about them? Do you have any experiences with one? Maybe share a photo of your revolver(s).

  2. Pyro

    Pyro Member

    Aug 22, 2010
    Never had an Iver Johnson, I do have an old Forehand model though. I believe Ivor Johnson bought them out in 1904. I love the gun, great shooter although it needed extensive repairing. I call it the "Fallout" gun, since it fits right in with the videogame.
  3. Gik-tal

    Gik-tal Member

    Sep 4, 2009
    You have to be a little careful eith the older Iver Johnson's many were built for a 32 short cartridge that used black powder rather than smokeless, Big pressure diffrerence, and putting the wrong round in one could result in a cylinder or barrel failure. I had one many years ago picked it up for $25.00 shot it about 25 times and on about the 25th shot the trigger went back the gun went bang, and the trigger never went forward again. Pulled the grips off and found several pot metal parts broken near the main spring. Sold it a few weeks later at a show, for a parts gun for around $10.00.
  4. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Richmond, Virginia
    Of the pocket guns passed down to me through various branches of the family, the S&Ws have held up the best, the H&Rs next and then the Iver Johnsons.

    The best of the bunch is my great uncle Ed's 1884 S&W .38 break top. He carried it daily until he died in the '70s. The worst is my grandfather's 3" IJ .32. It's worn out and the bore is corroded.


    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  5. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

    Aug 4, 2008
    eastern Massachusetts
    Had one. Easily a 20# trigger. Ugly.

    Presented me with a dilemma: inaccurate; too weak to "stop" an attacker, but still enough to kill someone--they are iconic "Suicide Specials"; no fun to shoot; no family attachment; no collector value (couldn't get offers beyond $50).

    Eventually turned it in at a "gun buy-back" for $50. The only other alternative IMHO was to remove the firing pin and use it as a paperweight.
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