I’ve been a fan of Iver Johnson guns for as long as I can remember. My father carried an Iver Johnson when he worked odd hours at the Bank of Atlanta back in the 1960s. His little five shot .38 is still going strong. Iver Johnson made guns under their own house brand, but they also made guns for a lot of other resellers. Their revolvers, especially, sold well and consumed a fair slice of the market share. For a while, the old Iver Johnson company made bicycles and motorcycles, revolvers and sniper rifles.
But the way that guns were sold through department stores changed. Re-branding fell out of fashion. Then department stores stopped selling guns. And Iver Johnson Arms changed hands, moving from Massachusetts, to New Jersey, and later to Arkansas. The brand seemed somewhat antiquated, if only becasue Iver Johnson didn’t do much that was seen as innovative in the later half of the twentieth century. By 1993, the company was closed.
The New Iver Johnson
But some brands refuse to die. And so it is with the owl. The silent raptor is Iver Johnson Arms’ logo, and it adorns some new weapons that are attracting a lot of attention.
The new Iver Johnson is now in Rockledge, Florida. They’ve been back in business since 2006. Some of their parts and manufacturing is done stateside, and there’s more to come. They’re expanding now, acquiring more warehouse and production space.
But these aren’t the old Iver Johnson guns. The logo and name are the only vestiges of the old company that have made the transition. For those who will ask, the new company has no parts for the old guns. No drawings. No information. And if you ask, they’ll point you back to the web.
They’re focused on the new Iver Johnson Arms, new guns that blend historical tradition with some subtle, and not so subtle, innovations.
Like many American manufacturers, Iver Johnson Arms is making 1911s in .45 ACP and 9mm. Their guns are available in the typical 1911 A1 variations. Most of these differences will be subtle and noticeable on the outside: accessory rails, serrations, barrel length. Some will be much less subtle.
Maybe this is a bit garish for your taste. I understand. I think it looks far too much like a toy, but what do I know? Pink appeals to more shooters than I’d have ever imagined. And others really like Cerakote. The durable finish isn’t as classic as a traditional blued finish (which is also offered by Iver Johnson), but it is much easier to maintain. And the Cerakote is available in green and tan, both of which are a bit easier on the eye.
If pink isn’t your thing, you can get a 1911 from the Iver Johnson Snake Series. These have been selling well. The base coat on these guns is epoxy, and then the gun undergoes hydro graphic coating. The result is a highly textured look that might best go with a pair of snake skin boots.
I haven’t shot an Iver Johnson 1911 yet. But I will. Soon, I hope. Until then, I can only dream wistful snakeskin dreams. They should be solid 1911s. The MSRPs on these guns vary by options and available finishes, but they begin in the high $500s, and stay below $1,000.
Maybe you’d rather shoot snakes than strap snakeskin guns to your belt. Iver Johnson is also making shotguns. The base for the PAS12 is a 12 gauge pump action that will take 2.5 inch and 3 inch shells. The barrels are 18 inches in length. The other options vary. Rails and sights. Blued, nickel, or Cerakote finishes. There are no pink or snakeskin shotguns on their website, though, so matching one to your 1911 might be a bit more challenging.
The most distinct options have to do with stocks. Some have traditional sporting stocks, or stocks that combine pistol grips and shoulder stocks. One, the PAS12 PG R-C, has a removable shoulder stock.
But that’s not all for the owl. Their working on a number of other sideline projects. They offer some interesting FN Baby Brownings made from new old-stock slides and newly manufactured frames. The result is a rare find, these days. And supplies are limited. Actually, limited is an understatement. There are only five left.
They also offer .22LR conversion kits for 1911s, and parts for M1/M2 carbines.
This is one of the strangest firearms resurrections I’ve yet to witness. Iver Johnson is clearly back, but the new company bears little resemblance to the old Iver Johnson. The price point seems right for the Iver Johnson brand, but this new company isn’t going to dwell on nostalgic reissues. Instead they are looking forward. Rumor has it that there will be, among other new projects, a zombie themed 1911 debuted at the upcoming SHOT show in January. And their website features a teaser photo of a four barreled derringer and a complete M1 carbine.
We’re working on getting some guns in for review. In the meantime, any of you have experience with the new incarnation of the owl?