Quick Shot: Iver Johnson .38 Safety Automatic Hammerless 3rd Model

The ‘Smokeless’ 3rd Model .38

Iver Johnson .38 Safety Hammerless 3rd Model chambered in .38 S&W. A pervious owner chopped the barrel and mounted a new front site. Not at all a bad shooter. The broad, smooth trigger is heavy but pretty smooth. The only thing I don’t care for is that it doesn’t quite fully eject spent shells. OTOH they never slip under the ejector star either.

In 1909 Iver Johnson’s 3rd Models were introduced as ‘smokeless models.’ They’re a bit beefier and have an actual cylinder lock so the cylinder won’t free-rotate before the trigger is pulled. The grips were meant to show the difference at a glance with the owl’s head at the top facing up instead of forward. Of course nowadays this isn’t a sure thing; people have sometimes swapped grips around etc. A more reliable method is that the old models have three pins over the trigger-guard, the 3rd Models have four.

The ‘Automatic’ in the name refers to the fact that the ejector automatically dumps the empties. Mostly.

This change left the company with literally tons of parts for the old guns, so they registered the trade-name US Revolver and used the old parts to sell slightly simplified versions of the 2nd Models under that name.

The really funny thing is that these revolvers were advertised as ‘suitable for all modern ammunition.’ Meaning smokeless. Which people proceeded to do with no issues whatsoever. The whole ‘smokeless model’ thing was nothing but a marketing dodge to get people to buy the new models.

I particularly like this old gun; it has a pugnacious kind of badass look to me. It has, I dunno, moxie or something. Whatever it is it’s a keeper.

Stay safe and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 28 December 2021

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5 thoughts on “Quick Shot: Iver Johnson .38 Safety Automatic Hammerless 3rd Model

  1. Jay

    Discovered your blog, it’s been a great resource for learning about these turn of the century working man’s pocket guns…I liken them to the early 20th century KelTecs or Rugers, affordable and well built.

  2. frank

    Could you tell me what exact ammo you need for this gun? Im not sure how much grain of smokeless for it. And do you know anyone selling your third generation?


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