Sunday Gun Day: ID This Revolver

There’s no better, more insightful and informed resource when it comes to all things ballistic than TTAG’s knowledgeable readers. GW picked this revolver up at an estate sale recently. Unsure of its provenance, he sent us these snaps and writes, “This looks like a Webley .38 but it has a round barrel and does not have the Webley logo. Instead it has a US logo. Also what could this be worth?” Can you help a brother out?

comments

  1. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

    Where’s Ian from Forgotten Weapons when you need him..

  2. avatar Vhyrus says:

    I have one exactly like it except it has an internal hammer. It was part of my grandfather’s collection. I’ll try to get you a picture later since it’s at my parent’s house. I believe I looked it up once and it was make by Iver Johnson

    Edit: Just found this link to the NRA museum.
    http://www.nramuseum.com/guns/the-galleries/innovation,-oddities-and-competition/case-26-the-booming-arms-industry/us-revolver-co-revolver.aspx

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Well, that pretty much takes care of that, huh?

  3. avatar jwm says:

    Iver Johnson. They made the US revolvers under contract for another company. It was a common practice back when mail order ruled.

    Check out a vintage Sears catalog. “Bulldog” .44 revolvers and 100 rounds of ammo for 3 dollars plus shipping.

    Hollywood would have you believe that those that settled the west wore tied down Colt revolvers and carried Winchester rifles.

    Shotguns and inexpensive off brand mail order handguns had more to do with it than Winchester, Colt or Remington.

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Looks similar to a Harington & Richardson top break.
    Though theirs usually had their name on the top of the barrel.

    1. avatar NorincoJay says:

      I agree H&R

  5. avatar Bud Harton says:

    From the Firearms Forum:

    http://www.thefirearmsforum.com/threads/us-revolver-co-top-break-38-year.85224/

    U.S. REVOLVER CO. AUTOMATIC HAMMER——————–1910-1935
    LARGE FRAME AND SMALL FRAME DOES NOT HAVE HAMMER THE HAMMER ACTION; This is a Brand name revolver manufactured by Iver Johnson’s Arms & Cycle Works to be sold through the wholesale trade. It was never listed in any Iver Johnson’s Arms & Cycle Works catalog, although it was listed in some European catalogs as original Iver Johnson products. Does not have Hammer the Hammer action and relies on a safety notch on the hammer. Hard rubber grip panels with U S at the top, large oversize two piece hard rubber grips were optional. Two frame sizes and three calibers were offered. Standard barrel length: small frame 3 inches, large frame 3 ¼ inches; Calibers: large frame 38 centerfire with 5 rounds cylinder capacity, small frame .32 centerfire with 5 rounds cylinder capacity, .22 rimfire with 7 rounds cylinder capacity Weight: small frame .22 rimfire 12 ounces, small frame .32 centerfire 12 ½ ounces, large frame .38 centerfire 17 ¾ ounces; Height: small frame 3 ¾ inches, large frame 3 7/8 inches; Frame length: small frame 4 3/16 inches, large frame 5 inches; Overall length: small frame with 3 inch barrel 6 3/8 inches, large frame with 3 ¼ inches 7 3/8 inches. Main serial number location on left side of grip frame grips must be removed to see.
    VALUE: 100%=$225 60%=$105

  6. avatar GS650G says:

    Ivers Johnson indeed. I have a .22 which is very similar.

  7. avatar Don Curton says:

    US Revolver Co. , a division of Iver Johnson, produced pistols from shortly after the Civil War in the beginnings of the 1900’s. This appears to be a knock-off of the S&W Model 3, or perhaps the earlier Shofield.

    One gun auction website showed a recent transaction at $150.

    Bear in mind that the .38 caliber is most definitely not the modern 38 special, and should probably not be shot until a true determination of caliber is made. There were several other .38 calibers in that day and age, including a rimfire version (this is still probably a centerfire, though).

    Dang, took a few minutes to look up and now I’m just repeating what others have said.

  8. avatar Jake in AK says:

    I also have one just like this- although mine has a “safety folding” hammer. Will post a pic later tonight when I get off work.
    Mine was made by Hopkins and Allen, and is chambered in .38S&W- the black powder cartridge that predated the .38 Special.
    When I picked mine up, the blue book value was between 250$/375$ depending on condition
    I believe that the ones marked “US” were Iver Johnsons, and H&A either made some under contract, or just copied the design. Sweet little pistol

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I believe the folding hammer models by H&A were a contract run for Merwin and Hulbert. They marketed pocket and belt sized revolvers that had an interesting manual of arms. Istead of top break they twisted to the side. They had a good reputation.

  9. avatar James69 says:

    My father has one like this. It’s marked Iver Johnson cycle and buggy works. Has the railroad company marked holster. .38 S&W. (short)

  10. avatar Bikinis&Guns&Beer says:

    There’s one exactly like it on GB right now, but without the ‘US’ stamp molding. Winning bid as of now is <$100

    http://www.gunbroker.com/item/627125544

  11. avatar scooter says:

    I have one in .32 S&W… and they were made by Iver Johnson. Mine functions fine, but may injure anyone on either side of the pistol as well as on front of it… spits a little out the sides!

  12. avatar lightfoot says:

    I think the links provided by VHYRUS & BUD HARTON are right on.

    Due to significant oxidation shown in photos, I think this revolver probably falls in the 60% Condition category.

    I’ve been watching the gun market pretty closely, mainly as a newbie to the hobby. Since the Trump inauguration, there seems to be a slight easing (lessening) of pricing for all handguns (including ammo) across the board. Nothing significant, but I’d say at least a 10% downturn in pricing for both new, and possibly a 20% downturn for used firearms.

    Online retailers and LGS’s seemed to have stocked up prior to the election, with hopes they could cash in before Hillary (if elected) made any significant changes to current gun control laws. (that’s just my opinion). A couple guns I purchased & thought were great deals back in mid 2016, are now readily available thru GunBroker.com at the same price (or lower) than what I paid back in 2016, Mind you, these were all current model production guns that I’d purchased.

    As for the COLLECTOR guns. I had minimal experience in this area just a few months ago. My deceased dad was a Detroit Police LEO, who retired in 1978 as a supervisor (Lieutenant).

    One of the guns I inherited from dad, was a (PRE) model 10 S&W snubby revolver in 38 Special. That gun dated back to the late 1940’s. My dad probably bought it from a retiring Detroit Police supervisor, as his normal day to day carry gun while on duty. (Lieutenants, Captains & Inspectors rarely left the station unless there was some type of massive crime scene, like an ACTIVE barricaded gunman situation within their precinct). As such, even if dad left the station for an ACTIVE crime scene, he always had a Sergent or patrollman as his driver, in a fully loaded marked Police Cruiser, complete with all necessary firearms within the cabin or trunk of that vehicle.

    I happen to own 5 other guns chambered for 38 Special, including 2 modern S&W J-Frames, 2 S&W model 19, – 4 inch revolvers (357 which easily shoots 38 SP), as well as my dads personal Off Duty Carry COLT Cobra, Aluminum 6 shot Snub.

    That left dad’s PRE-10 38sp nickle snub. I’d shot it regularly at the range. Always kept it clean & well preserved. As a former Police Supervisors duty gun, it didn’t appear to have much use, or wear. The wood grips, however, had been changed, and were NOT original to the gun. It DID However have a stamping on its back-strap: “Detroit Police”. Since Detroit Police had their own armory at the time, I assume this gun was probably part of a “Bulk Purchase” by the DPD, who subsequently issued them to their supervisory personnel. (normal patrol officers always carried 4 inch barrel duty revolvers, so this gun was probably meant for personnel mainly assigned to “Inside the Station Duties”, like my dad)

    Here’s my point. I happened to mention this gun on the S&W blog site, never intending to sell it. Whammo, I suddenly got a 3 inquiries from prospective purchasers for this gun. All 3 prospective buyers, had a particular interest in POLICE MEMORABILIA. So I did a little research & came up with a value for this NON-Pristine revolver.

    One of the buyers, happened to hold a C&R (Curios & Relics) license from the ATF. Since this gun happened to be more than 50 yrs old, it qualified for an easy & legitimate transfer to a C&R license holder.

    That gun had NON correct grips, but was ultimately in about 75% condition with Great Cylinder Lock up & very minimal holster wear on it’s Nickel finish. BUT,,, it had DETROIT POLICE stamped on its backstrap, which made it desirable to a collector of Police Memorabilia.

    In 100% condition, with the correct S&W grips, that gun could probably have brought about $800, or twice the $400 amount I sold it for.

    ALSO, and more importantly, even though I’d cleaned up the already nice gun, the collector buyer told me NOT to try and have any type of “Refinishing, or Re-Nickel” job done to the gun, as that would DEVALUE its current market price.

    The reason for my response to this original post, is to let readers know, that, just because they purchase an old, or antique gun at a garage or estate sale, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth a great value. After reviewing the links provided above, I’d place the value of the gun mentioned, at around $100 to a high of maybe $200 if he were trying to sell it to the absolute BEST buyer.

    1. avatar miforest says:

      nice post . I live in the D too. DPD love them some 38 spcl. one of my friends dad retired in 1982 and had a 38 with a 5 in barrel S&W.

  13. avatar EGB says:

    Where’s Bill Goforth when we need him – RIP

  14. avatar Mark says:

    My grandfather had one just like this. He bought it when he worked as a teller at a bank back in Chicago in the 1920s. It was fired exactly twice–in the air–when the bank was robbed. The ammo was pretty green when he passed. I took it ti a local gun store for a cleaning and test firing. The owner said he’d clean it but would not test fire it. He said these were “barrel guns,” meaning that they’d be shipped by the dozens in wooden barrels and sold cheap. He said he would not test fire it because if the latch mechanism was worn, the guns could open when fired and eject a spent casing in the shooter’s face. For a gun that was cheap when made and was worth less when old, I turned it in for destruction.

  15. avatar G says:

    Everyone and there mom has one of those it seems like. I have one in .32 that looks pretty beat up. Ive been warned that shooting modern ammunition in it will explode the gun because there so cheaply made it wont handle the pressure.

  16. avatar youngbuck says:

    Ivar Johnson breaktop revolver probably in 38 smith and wesson

  17. avatar alexander says:

    If it functions, in the condition shown, $100 is tops. I would not recommend firing it. This is 38 cal (not Special); it uses black powder. Around 1905-1910. Curiosity piece, but of little value.

  18. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    this was the gun used by the detective in “it conquered the world” to shoot the inverted ice cream cone monster as it is advanced forward by 2×4 immediately after the girl falls having twisted her ankle. i believe it makes a sound best described as “pew!”

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Damn. A monster movie I never heard of. I didn’t think it was possible.

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        i trust then that you have viewed “the host” (korean, subtitled).

  19. Grandma had one on top of the kitchen cabinets for years. I don’t know where it went after she died.

  20. avatar nightstryke says:

    That’s a U.S. Revolver Co top break revolver It looks like the .38 S&W one like I have, according to my research they were a subsidiary of the old Iver Johnson Company, they made them specifically for magazine and news paper ads to sell. They made tons of them, mine looks worse for wear. They made the top breaks with hammers, hammerless, but stuck with 3 distinct catridges .22LR, .32 S&W, and .38 S&W.

  21. avatar Mike says:

    Lets bring back the top break revolver. Short barrel big bore like 55 special or 45 long colt please

  22. avatar Hi Power Toter says:

    Others have correctly identified this as a US Revolver Company revolver, a brand used by Iver Johnson to sell their older design revolvers.

    My grandparents had one, a hammerless model in .38 S&W. My grandmother used to carry it in her apron as she worked outside on the family farm. One night when all the local men were out in the fields tending the fires used to cure tobacco in the curing barns — which all the local criminals knew was happening — she and another farmer’s wife were at home when someone broke into the house. Her friend yelled “shoot him!” and she let off a shot. She missed — the trigger pull on that gun was horrible — but she made her point and the intruder dashed away never to be seen again.

    It’s entirely possible that I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for that old .38!

  23. avatar miforest says:

    my dad had a H & R that looked just like it in 38 S & W. the ammo made for them in is low pressure stuff to be safe in the older guns if they are not in reasonable condition. 145 gr at about 650 fps. our was fun to shoot, tin can at 10 paces sort of accurate. The hills of KY back then was full of break tops. Some 32 and some 38.

  24. avatar mark s. says:

    That’s an Iver Johnson , be sure to date it if you are planning on using it , could be black powder and the pressure curves of a smokeless powder cartridge could make for a bad day . CAUTION on these old beauties , and that is a beautiful little revolver , likes it .

  25. avatar thang may says:

    Thanks for finally writing about >Sunday Gun Day:
    ID This Revolver – The Truth About Guns <Liked it!

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