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Ranking the Old Off Brands

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Jim Watson, Nov 29, 2012.

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  1. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    I was looking through a reprint 1900 Sears & Roebuck catalog and came up with one of those Internet Hypothetical Questions.

    Let's say you wanted a .32 revolver for the usual reasons. But the $10 for a Smith & Wesson was out of reach and $11 for a Colt completely impossible. You could afford $3.75 for something nicer than the store brand solid frame pull pin jobs, the literal Two Dollar Pistols.

    That $3.75 would get you your choice in top-break revolvers, Iver Johnson, Harrington & Richardson, Forehand & Wadsworth, and Hopkins & Allen.

    The question is, which brand would be the best choice? Is there any reason to prefer one make of topbreak revolver over the others at the same price.
    They didn't have the Internet to generate Instant Reputation, so what is known about the quality of those second line guns?
  2. minutemen1776

    minutemen1776 Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Interesting post. So you had to pony up two to three times the price to step into a Smith or Colt in those days?
  3. RevolvingGarbage

    RevolvingGarbage Member

    May 15, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Iver Johnson and H&R were the Kel Tec or Ruger of their day. They made guns that just plain worked, and they sold them at a price most average people could afford. If you could afford a S&W then (or a Rohrbaugh/Colt/Seecamp/Sig Saur today) you got more attention to detail, smoother action, better finish etc. If you were dirt poor and couldn't afford either, you could buy the bottom of the barrel guns like the $2 suicide specials, or buy an obsolete pinfire or percussion revolver, or a Belgian knock off.

    Today the same person can't afford a Kel Tec, so they buy a Bryco or Hi Point, or they buy a obsolete S&W breaktop (that same one the guy 120 years ago bought for a months salary, ironically).

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  4. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Richmond, Virginia
    I'll take an H&R. I don't like them much, but of all the old worn cheaper guns that have passed through my hands, the H&Rs seem to have held up the best.

    "Give it to John, he'll take anything."
  5. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    Hayward, WI
    Iver Johnson's were definitely the Ruger of the day. Less expensive but with new features that the others didn't have - "hammer the hammer" transfer bar hammer safety's for example. Unlike Ruger they stopped plowing profit back into R&D and fell by the wayside after awhile which is when H&R took over their buisness.

    The real cheapies were the US Revolver brand by IJ. Made the main IJ's look expensive.

    Turn of the century? If I couldn't afford a newfangled S&W hand ejector, I'd probably buy a IJ hammerless. Bear in mind that $10 in 1900 is roughly equal to $266 today and that $3.75 is $99. http://www.westegg.com/inflation/
  6. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    I would take the Hopkins and Allen*; the quality was as good as IJ, better than H&R and the design was better. IJ would be second choice.

    *Not the Merwin & Hulbert; they were expensive and not as good as the S&W.

  7. Checkman

    Checkman member

    Sep 23, 2003
    Nothing changes when it comes to money - not really.

    This is from the 1970 Gun Digest, 24th Edition. I am comparing just plain Jane .38 Special, blue steel, "duty" revolvers - not target models, nickel finish or special presentation models.

    A 4" Colt Official Police with either the 4", 5" 6" barrel, blue steel, was $110.00 (MSRP)

    A Smith & Wesson Model 10 with either the 2",4",5" 6" barrel, blue steel, heavy or tapered barrel was $76.50 (MSRP)

    A Charter Arms "Undercover" with either the 2" or 3" barrel, blue steel, was $75.23 (MSRP)

    The Llama Martial 38 revolver with either the 4" or 6" barrel, blue steel, was $65.00

    The Taurus Model 82 revolver with 4" barrel, blue steel, was $60.50 (MSRP)

    The average yearly income in the U.S. was between $2,300 - $6,700 (which adjusts in 2012 between $10,000 - $27,000). In 2012 dollars $110.00 is approximately $650.00, $76.50 ($450.00), $75.23 ($448.50), $65.00 (387.52) $60.50 ($360.69).

    Of course these are MSRP prices, prices are still effected by where a person lives, taxes, inflation adjustments which vary depending on which inflation calculator you use so on and so on. But it does show that money is very relative and if you don't have as much money and don't have an inventory of guns that you can play with (i.e. trades ect.) you would go cheaper. If I had been a lower level income person in 1970 I would have gone with the Llama revolver if possible. A hundred dollar difference is pretty major. Or in the case of 1970 a ten to fifteen dollar difference. IT also goes to show that Colt was always expensive.

    There are times that I hate money. Oh well. Might as well hate my nose.
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