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TOM, Gunsmith
Category: Firearms
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Experience:  17 YRS EXPERIENCE,Certified Armorer
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I have inherited an Iver Johnson Champion 12 gauge single shot

Resolved Question:

I have inherited an Iver Johnson Champion 12 gauge single shot shotgun. It says Iver Johnson cycle works and just has the letters fuc for serial numbers, throughout the gun. Have heard it was an early model, some say it wasn't. One source said it could be the 174th gun of that type made. Would like to know the real answer. I do know my grandfather got it used in the 40's. I even sent for books but these didn't answer my question. Your answer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks K. Cranford
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Firearms
Expert:  TOM replied 5 years ago.


The Iver Johnson "Champion" was first made in 1880. It had twist steel barrels, exposed hammer and a top lever to open it. The stock was walnut. It was called the Top Snap. The next version is the Side Snap which has a side lever to open it. There was also a Side Snap Hammerless. All were made from 1880 to 1900.

The Top Snap improved was made from 1901 to 1904.

The Champion Top Snap was marked "Champion" and manufactured from 1905 to 1908. It opened with a top lever, has a 28", 30", or 32" browned barrel, a rebounding hammer, and ejector. The receiver is case hardened and the stock is walnut.

The Champion Model 36 was made from 1909 to 1922. Its name was changed to Champion Single Barrel in 1923. They were made until approximately 1978. This version had blued steel barrels, ejectors, a case hardened receiver and walnut stock. It is probably the version you have. There were thousands made. There are no records of production dates on individual guns. If your grandfather purchased it used in the 40's, I would guess at a 1930's production date unless it has twist steel barrels. The values for your gun are:

excellent-$250, very good-$200, good-$150, fair-$75, poor-$25.

I hope this helps you,


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The serial number was what I was most interested in. Was there a specific time when cycle works (all records say prior to 1940) was on the side of the gun with just letters. The value is priceless to me, I know it wasn't expensive gun but the sentimental value is important. Thanks
Expert:  TOM replied 5 years ago.


Does it have just "Champion" on the gun or Champion Single Barrel? Does it have "Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works of Fitchburg, Mass or Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works Inc.? Is the barrel standard steel or twist steel? Is it blued or browned?


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
It has on the side of the gun Champion and down right underneath that it has Iver Johnson arms and cycle works and underneath that it has Fitchburg Mass U.S.A . It dont say single barrel any where on it. It also looks like to me like a brown barrel .and standard steel .Hope this helps you.K Cranford
Expert:  TOM replied 5 years ago.


If the gun was made after 1915, it would have Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works Inc.

A browned barrel with standard steel and the marking you have would put it between 1909 and 1914. I was off on the original date I gave you, some are very hard to figure out.

I can not get it any closer than the 5 year period.


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