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Someone trusted their life with this

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by bang_bang, Dec 20, 2010.

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  1. bang_bang

    bang_bang Member

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    Someone trusted their life with this...and that someone was my great-grandfather. He passed away in November of 1997, but lived a long life surrounded by family. He had several firearms when he passed, but this specific pistol was carried by him almost daily. I can notice little wear marks that might hint to him sticking it into his coveralls or pants pocket. He also used it at least once in SD, but no shots hit their mark that we know of.

    I was 9 when he passed, I never got to know him, or in fact, meet him. This is my connection to him. The pistol is currently owned by my father, so I decided to clean it up for a photo-shoot today. Here she is!!

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    A nice little 5-shot 32 S&W if I do say so myself. I know that this gun was made before 1935 by Iver Johnson. So, lets say around 75 years of age, and the finish still looks shiny. The nickel cleaned up nice today, most of it was just crud stuck on it. Grips are in good condition. The hammer, trigger, and trigger guard show some wear from tucking it into pockets. Also, the barrel is shiny and bright, but with a weird patten inside a groove. Looks like a machine mark.

    Pictured below is a .22lr, 32S&W, 9mm, 45ACP, and .357 Magnum.

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    And a few more to leave you with. :)

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    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010
  2. Phil W

    Phil W Member

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    I have one just like that. My grandmother (of all people) bought it for my mother for protection as she walked to and from work. This one says "Harrington and Richardson Arms Company, Worchester,Mass. USA. Pat Oct. 8 1895"on the top of the barrell, It also says "32 S&W CTGE on the side. Never been fired and has no exposed hammer (must be for pocket carry). Quite a conversation piece.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010
  3. bang_bang

    bang_bang Member

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    This has no markings other than serial number and the U.S. Revolver Company on top of the barrel. I have no idea when he acquired this pistol.
     
  4. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    That one is a virtual Cadillac compared to similar products in that caliber.

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  5. Messenger Guard

    Messenger Guard Member

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    Thanks for sharing:). I love historic heirlooms especially when they are kept in the family.
     
  6. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    I got one of those hanging on the wall, only mine is hammerless. You don't shoot it do you?
     
  7. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    Why not? It is obviously in good condition and the cartridge is quite mild. I personally would have no qualms about shooting it.
     
  8. bang_bang

    bang_bang Member

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    I have not shot it yet. I did buy dad a box of ammo at a gun show last year, because he "wanted more than 1 friggin' bullet" for it. My father is not a shooter by any means, so the box is still full.

    From what I read doing a little research about it, these pistols were very accurate at "card-table" distances. :rolleyes:

    I predict that if it is shot, dad and myself will shoot a cylinder through it and call it a day. Might have to break it back out when Spring arrives.
     
  9. bigfatdave

    bigfatdave Member

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    Were you near me, I'd invite you over to my range, that's a nice looking little pistol and a good piece of history as well.
     
  10. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    Great gun!

    I have several Iver Johnson and US Revolver Company products.

    Both of my hammered break-opens are full-blooded IJs and feature the frame mounted firing pin and transfer-bar "hammer-the-hammer" safety system.

    Does your gun have the same system, or a more basic hammer-mounted fining pin and/or half-cock feature?

    I CCW my 1911 production IJ .32 (3rd Model- smokeless rated) on a fairly regular basis. It's a very nice size for pocket carry.

    I wish somebody like NAA would come out with a modern version in .32 acp.

    Enjoy your heirloom!
     
  11. jad0110

    jad0110 Member

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    For having been carried everyday, and given it's age, that Iver is in very nice condition. As you say, it is a wonderful heirloom that will be passed through the family for generations.

    I too would at least consider shooting it, if not a bunch. it's meant to be fired, and you can always do so in your grandfather's honor.

    I have one heirloom in my family that gets taken out and fired every now and then, a Chinese SKS. Actually, I put 100 rounds through it last weekend - blew up some zombified pumpkins leftover from Haloween :p. My grandfather gave it to my father a couple of years ago. My grandfather received it from the South Vietnamese government in the early 70s for assisting them with integrating advanced US technology into their military (he worked for DARPA - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). The South Vietnamese had themselves captured the SKS from an NVA soldier sometime in '68 or '69. The gun is in solid mechanical condition, with a nice clean bore. It has lots of nics, scratches and bare spots - but it sure has a lot of history. It may only be worth $350, but to us it is priceless.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010
  12. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    I seem to remember those old break tops being called widow makers, mine is just for show.
     
  13. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    That was for the guy in FRONT of the muzzle.
     
  14. PabloJ

    PabloJ Member

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    That is cute. If you hit through the eye or bridge of nose the assailant should drop like sack of potatoes.
     
  15. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Iver Johnson manufactured the U.S. Revolver Co. products as a second line sold exclusively by mail order rather then through retail outlets. Many if not all of the principal parts were made between 1890 - 1895 for what was called the "Swift Double Action Automatic Revolver."

    The revolver in the original post was made sometime between 1918 and 1935, out of parts and material that might have dated back to the black powder era of the latter 1800's. It should be noted, that unlike more modern or better quality revolvers, the cylinder is only locked in line with the bore by the pressure of the shooter's trigger finger, and not positively locked.

    I point this out to enlighten those who insist that all guns were "made to be shot, and should be," regardless of age, condition, materials used in its construction, or if modern smokeless powder loads are a good idea. Usually those offering such advise don't have the foggest idea about the background or history of the firearms they are talking about.

    I would strongly suggest, based on knowledge and experience, that it is long past time for great-grandpa's pocket revolver be retired, and the same advise applies to others made during the same time period. For those that simply must shoot any and everything they lay their hands on, there are plenty of more modern and better constructed guns around to meet their needs.
     
  16. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    If that particular gun is in the condition it appears to be in then again I would shoot it with out fear(with loads equal in power to those it was designed for). Note I did not say "regardless of age or condition". I do own one of the "Automatics" and no I wouldn't shoot IT because it is in nowhere near the condition of the one in the OP.
     
  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Cosmetic condition has little or nothing to do with the question issue of shooting. Under the excellent polish and nickel plating in the pictured U.S. Revolver Co. revolver you have a frame, barrel and cylinder made out of what amounted to wrought iron. While smokeless powder loads may be loaded to approximately the same pressure, the powder is much faster burning them black, which puts more pressure in the chamber/cylinder, while black powder distributes it more through the cylinder and barrel. As I previously pointed out, the cylinder is not positively locked in line with the bore. Should you break a part or spring (as internal springs often do) you may find it difficult and expensive to have it repaired.

    Given that we are now living in the 21st Century it would seem wise to retire those firearms that were made using 19th Century technology and materials - especially when the gun in question wasn't the best quality when it was made in the first place.
     
  18. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Personally, I would retire it. 32 S&W may have been a great pocket gun in the late 1800's, but it has been surpassed by modern cartridges. Likewise, metal alloys have come a long way in the last century. You never really know how sturdy one of those old guns really is. They can fire great - right up to the point it splits wide open.

    If you do shoot it, make SURE you are running ammo through it that is appropriate. There were two varieties of 32 S&W, the early version had a folded, thicker rim about twice as thick as what evolved to the current standard.

    If you really want to give that old girl a whirl, you might consider black powder.

    Anyways, be careful; I've seen a few examples of Iver Johnsons's that will fire with the cylinder out of position. That could lead to some not-so-expected results.
     
  19. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    PS - one thing to add, I have *never* seen one in that good of a condition. That's a keeper, there. Very nice conversation piece! :)
     
  20. 45bthompson

    45bthompson Member

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    Whatever. I'd shoot it. Not a lot, just enough to get a feel of what grandpa felt. You only live once.... Take the risks that are worth taking.
     
  21. bigfatdave

    bigfatdave Member

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    Same here.
    I'd probably do the same that i do for ANY gun I've never fired, oversize goggles and a pair of gloves, sleeves rolled down, etc etc.
    But with a powderpuff load and some safety precautions? What's the failure mode here? Frame shatters? Cylinder ruptures? A round lights off in a position not lined up with the bore? The first two seem unlikely to happen so catastrophically that they injure the shooter, and the third can be tested, right?

    I don't think anyone is suggesting ordering a holster and putting the little pistol into the carry rotation, you're right that you can get a better, safer, smaller, more powerful, safer, lighter, warrantied, safer gun now ... but before relegating it to a safe queen or wall hanger it seems like taking it to the range for an afternoon on grandpa's birthday would be reasonable, have the descendants run a few cylinders through and spend the rest of the time with a .22 ... take tho oppurtunity to teach a kid gun safety while you're at it.
     
  22. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    I would give it a VERY good inspection and if no obvious defects were found,I would shoot it(a couple of times). I would then give it a place of honor and remember my heritage.
     
  23. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    "Given that we are now living in the 21st Century it would seem wise to retire those firearms that were made using 19th Century technology and materials"

    I worry about the 19th century metal.
    I used to shoot my great uncle Ed's daily carry, a break-top S&W. It was chambered in .38 S&W and was made in 1884. It worked fine. Then I wised up. :)

    My grandfather's I.J. .32 was non-functional when I got it. Cute little thing with a 3" barrel, not much bigger than a P-32.

    John
     
  24. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    As Old Fuff pointed out, the cylinder alignment and powder evolution make it unwise to shoot.

    That one would sit on the credenza as a daily reminder of grandpa.
     
  25. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I'm not sure how an eyeball examination would detect defects in a gun's material, and on more then one occasion I have been brought a ruined antique that the owner was only going to "shoot a couple of times." It turned out that once was enough! The problem with risk in these cases is that it is unpredictable. I cannot understand why people take the risk, small as it may be, when it is totally unnecessary. It would be nice if great-grandpa's revolver was handed down intact rather then damaged - simply because someone had to shoot it, "because they had too." Why? :banghead:

    Last but not least, are those who encourage others to shoot elderly guns of questionable strength and quality willing to take any responsibility if someone follows they're advise and as a result the gun is damaged or destroyed? I suspect not. :uhoh:
     
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