From the AR Archives: The Return of Iver Johnson

posted on March 19, 2010

Its name and familiar Owl Head symbols have appeared on a bewildering array of guns and other products for over a century, but the 1980s will mark a fresh start for Iver Johnson.

Anyone who sets out to write the definitive history of Iver Johnson and his products will find tough going. He would not only have to document a huge number of pistols, derringers, revolvers, rifles and shotguns, but blank, air, line-throwing and toy guns as well. That would be the beginning. Then he would have to list leg irons, handcuffs, hand tools, bicycles, tricycles, “juniorcycles,” motorcycles and baby walkers.

Even if the Iver Johnson historian stuck to firearms and let the rest go, he would run into trouble because, in the early days, private branding for various jobbers, distributors, agents and other middle-men invites confusion.

Iver Johnson surely made “Secret Service Special” revolvers for the Chicago firm of Fred Biffar—but so did Meriden Firearms Co.; I.J. made many variations of so-marked “Bull Dog” revolvers—but so did Forehand & Wadsworth and others, and they all looked about the same; I.J. used a number of grip-plate logos (in addition to many variations of its famous owl head) that some historians say were exclusively I.J.’s designs; yet other historians and old catalogs show some of these logos on revolvers which are indentified as being made by other manufacturers.....


Winchester Model 60A
Winchester Model 60A

Favorite Firearms: A Winchester Model 60A Named “Li’l Ole Bess”

My favorite firearm has been in my family for four generations. It’s a Winchester Model 60A single-shot, bolt-action, .22-cal. rimfire chambered for the Short, Long and Long Rifle cartridges.

Review: Winchester Model 70 Long Range MB

It is not uncommon for useful technical improvements in one arena to be adopted by and integrated into another. Materials and manufacturing processes originally devised for the aerospace industry are now commonly used to manufacture firearms.

Editor’s Choice: Ruger Wrangler Birdshead

Sturm, Ruger & Co. is expanding its handy and affordable Wrangler single-action .22 Long Rifle revolver line with a more compact version featuring a gracefully curved bird’s head grip and shortened barrel.

New for 2022: Marlin Model 1895 Trapper

Marlin added to its classic lever-action rifle line with the launch of the Model 1895 Trapper, chambered in .45-70 Gov't.

Beretta Offers Discount For Military, Law Enforcement And First Responders

Beretta USA is offering a 15-percent discount on its website to those who serve in the military, law enforcement and as first responders.

The Armed Citizen® May 16, 2022

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.