Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Arrow Iver Johnson .32 s&w identification help? Anyone know these well?

    Hello,
    wondering if anyone can help me identify a purchase I made today.
    Iver Johnson, 6 shot .32 s&w (poss 32 long, they fit - I didn't try to fire)
    the only serial number on the pistol is 4721 and can be found under the trigger guard and / or under the walnut grips. Has

    Iver Johnsons arms & cycleworks
    Fitchburg, MASS, USA

    engraved on sight radius over barrel. Break open top, has two prongs that latch. Nickel finish in bad shape (70%) 4 inch barrel.
    The cyl unscrews from the frame for cleaning, and it's the HAMMERLESS
    If you can tell me what model I have, circa of production, black powder cart/smokeless cart? Seems to work well. Would really like to avoid blowing up in my hand, though. Is this fit as something I could leave in a drawer for the roomates instead of leaving one of my 1911s for home defense?

    Sorry if these questions seem a bit layman - any info is appreciated.

    Oh, and I paid $80. I figured worst case scenario it's tradable for a $100 food card :-)

    thanks!

    Rob

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Iver Johnson .32 s&w identification help? Anyone know these well?

    A note I found on the hammerless:

    Double top latch, manufactured from 1897 - 1899, serial number with A, E or F letter prefix, marked on the top of the barrel rib
    IVER JOHNSON'S ARMS & CYCLE WORKS FITCHBURG. MASS.U.S.A.
    PAT'D.APR.6.86.FEB.15.87.MAY 10.87.AUG.25.96 PAT'S PENDING

    Don't know if I'ed trust it because it could be black powder. It looks like the very early ones did not have a letter Prefex. You need to do some web searching.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Newportville, Levittown (Bucks County) PA, Pennsylvania
    (Bucks County)
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    Default Re: Iver Johnson .32 s&w identification help? Anyone know these well?

    I forgot to mention it's hammerless and the cyl unscrews and removes.

    --UPDATE

    After continuous reviewing of Mr. Bills' threads here on the forum, I "think" I have devised that I have a third series hammerless designed for smokeless powder cartridges, made somewhere between 1920-1940 (ish).

    From what I gather, since I have the four pin setup above the trigger (in the frame) without the second series trigger guard, and WITH the double latch break open system, i'm fairly (?) sure it's a third? What I don't understand is why i have a four digit serial number and no patent info anywhere on the firearm. I saw a thread where a guy had walnut factory grips on a third series (smokeless cart) and his serial number was based off that modification (8xxx, letterless)

    I'm wondering if this is the same case since my grips look unlike any photos I've seen posted of IJ grips - perhaps they too were a factory option that would explain the inconsistency between the serial and the model I believe this is.

    Still no clue if it's the .32 long or just the regular though


    I could be completely off here. This is my version of deductive reasoning :-)

    there's a mr. bill goforth that seems to be the supreme authority on IJ's - I'll defenately await response from him to determine if it's designed for smokeless modern or black powder - thank you for your help though bob! Much appreciated :-)
    Last edited by RHGregory3; November 3rd, 2010 at 01:01 PM. Reason: Kid yelling in my ear during proofreading

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Iver Johnson .32 s&w identification help? Anyone know these well?

    First, my advice is to have the gun checked by a competent gunsmith.
    Those pistols are notorious for being out of time and are plagued with numerous other problems.

    If it is marked 32SW it is just that 32SW "short".

    Here is a decent article I found by doing a google on 32sw:
    http://thetruthaboutguns.com/2010/03...johnson-32-sw/

    As for the price you paid, if the gun is in operating condition, IMO, you paid top dollar if it is in 70% condition.
    You can typically find these at shows for around $50-$75 depending on condition of both finish and functionality.
    I do see some go on GB towards $200, but I can only guess why when there are so many of them around.
    Maybe in certain areas they are scarce I suppose as well as some being sold as antiques with no transfer required.

    I have a gunsmith friend that literally has a couple of 5 gallon buckets full of such pistols in various states of disarray.

    I hope it checks out ok for you and if it does, find some ammo and give it some use.
    Last edited by 39flathead; November 3rd, 2010 at 09:49 PM.

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