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Old March 31, 2010, 09:32 PM   #1
Malamute
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datable reference to carrying 5 rds in an SAA?

Does anyone have some dated references to the habit of carrying 5 rounds in Colts single actions? Was curious what's in print for early references to the practice. It's one of those things "we all know", but what do do we have for solid references in print as to when it became common in the cartridge guns?
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Old April 1, 2010, 04:09 PM   #2
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I never saw it in print or heard reference to it until the 1960's. Before that everybody recommended letting the hammer down between cartridges.
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Old April 2, 2010, 11:41 AM   #3
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My 1886 Colt catalog says that the half cock safety is all that you need on the 1873 - the gun simply can't be fired from that position.

I'm just the messenger...
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Old April 2, 2010, 07:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
half cock safety is all that you need on the 1873
Which means that safety depends on the sear, a thin, hardened (and thus brittle) piece of metal that is subject to: 1) breaking if the hammer is struck by a sharp blow such as dropping the gun from waist high on a rock or concrete, and 2) weakening by corrosion in a poorly cleaned gun.

Or the half cock sear notch, which can become corroded or filled with debris such that the sear does not fully engage the notch.

Never, ever depend on the half cock notch on any gun for safety.
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Old April 2, 2010, 08:11 PM   #5
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true?

I'm not a metallurgist and so....this question -
Quote:
hardened (and thus brittle
Is that always true? Any metal that has been hardened is brittle?
Pete
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Old April 2, 2010, 08:17 PM   #6
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Any metal that is hardened will break before it bends and a sear is very thin, so yes brittle fits.
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Old April 2, 2010, 08:58 PM   #7
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It was started by the first guy to blow off his toes, but he didn't document his embarrasing mistake.

Seriously, I doubt we'll ever find this documented since it was probably more of a personal safety practice, much like people today deciding for themselves about wearing seatbelts. Some did it, some didn't.

However, we might be able to find when it first became a recommendation in owners manuals -- because gun company lawyers made them put it there after some idiot shot his toes off and sued the gun company.
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Old April 2, 2010, 09:08 PM   #8
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Elmer Keith wrote about it in Gunnotes with specific mention of two different packers who got shot down through the legs while saddling or unsaddling horses. The standard practice was to hang the near stirrup on the pommel when saddling/unsaddling; in each case a heavy stirrup had dropped on the hammer of a holstered sixgun, firing it. IIRC Keith also recounted hearing the 'hammer down on an empty chamber' admonition from old gunmen when he was a kid, which would be the early 1900's.

I recall an incident from my own childhood. One of my Dad's acquaintances had a Colt SA, which he kept loaded full-up as a house gun. One day he had it out of the dresser drawer, for some reason, and promptly dropped it. Murphy was in charge of gravity that day and arranged for the Colt to land on its hammer. This sent a big roundnose slug ambling off from floor level at a slightly upward angle, through two interior (plaster) walls and out the kitchen window. Mrs. Deadeye was cooking her little heart out in there, had just walked across the bullet's path on her way to the table, and turned around just in time to see it knock plaster all over her floor and bust out her window. This would have been about 1963 and I'm certain it was not a high point on the Domestic Bliss Timeline for that particular family.

Incidentally, Elmer Keith saw the New Model Ruger, with its transfer bar mechanism, as a huge improvement in single action revolvers. Like many of us, he noted that the new mechanism didn't help the trigger pull any; and he trusted that dedicated gun cranks would find a way around that problem.
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Old April 2, 2010, 10:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
I never saw it in print or heard reference to it until the 1960's. Before that everybody recommended letting the hammer down between cartridges.
makes sense especially in the days of popular TV westerns and people blowing there toes off

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Old May 30, 2010, 08:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawg Haggen
I never saw it in print or heard reference to it until the 1960's. Before that everybody recommended letting the hammer down between cartridges.
OMG! Ban him! Ban him! Somebody get a rope!
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Old May 30, 2010, 08:22 PM   #11
Hawg
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OMG! Ban him! Ban him! Somebody get a rope!
Don't giv'em any ideas jbar. Sides I seem to remember a recent post of yours agreeing with me.
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Old May 30, 2010, 08:27 PM   #12
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Old May 30, 2010, 10:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
My 1886 Colt catalog says that the half cock safety is all that you need on the 1873 - the gun simply can't be fired from that position.
I'm sure they didn't say that. Perhaps quarter cock?

Quote:
Before that everybody recommended letting the hammer down between cartridges.
Of course that does wonders for your cylinder.
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Old May 31, 2010, 07:02 AM   #14
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Of course that does wonders for your cylinder
Doesn't do it any harm.
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Old May 31, 2010, 08:47 AM   #15
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Expound, Model-P. What on Earth could it do to your cylinder?
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Old May 31, 2010, 09:19 AM   #16
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One thing it doesn't do is give you a drag line.

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Old May 31, 2010, 11:15 AM   #17
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Hawg, What is your botton gun. Mine is a Cattleman

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Old May 31, 2010, 11:57 AM   #18
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Cattleman with bp frame. Top is Cimarron with bp frame. Both are 44-40. Don't have the bottom one anymore.
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Old May 31, 2010, 12:27 PM   #19
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That's easy: Whenever the manufacturing companies figured out that they had to start milling slots between the cylinder for the hammer. There are also variation in having 12 stops on the cylinders, but that proved to be problematic; especially when making the stop put a hole in the cylinder.
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Old May 31, 2010, 04:09 PM   #20
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Pete (darkgael) asked:
I'm not a metallurgist and so....this question -
Quote:
hardened (and thus brittle)
Is that always true? Any metal that has been hardened is brittle?

Hawg Haggen responded:
Any metal that is hardened will break before it bends and a sear is very thin, so yes brittle fits.

This puts a new meaning to the old phrase: A trigger that breaks like glass.
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Old May 31, 2010, 09:42 PM   #21
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Expound, Model-P. What on Earth could it do to your cylinder?
When the hammer is down, the bolt will be against the cylinder.

Quote:
One thing it doesn't do is give you a drag line.
Ah, tryin' to head me off at the pass. Maybe not a whole turn line, but a nice wear spot between stops. The only way to minimize this would be to have a very underpowered bolt spring, a perfectly polished or rounded bolt head, and you are able to perfectly lower the hammer straight down where you want it every time, and when once down the cylinder does not turn even a fraction of an inch- which it can and most likely will.

To each his own.

Bolt against the cylinder when the hammer is down between cartridge rims:


Furthermore, with .45 Colt this is NOT a safe way to carry to boot---

.025-.030" between rims in a standard .45 Colt cylinder:


But, a typical firing pin runs around .075-.080" and cannot seat between .45 Colt rims, and is easily able to override the rim to the primer without your noticing it:


YMMV
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Old May 31, 2010, 11:16 PM   #22
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Sorry, Malamute.

Back on track, I hope-
Quote:
Does anyone have some dated references to the habit of carrying 5 rounds in Colts single actions? Was curious what's in print for early references to the practice. It's one of those things "we all know", but what do do we have for solid references in print as to when it became common in the cartridge guns?
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Old June 1, 2010, 09:30 AM   #23
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I'm sure they didn't say that. Perhaps quarter cock?
I wouldn't be surprised - I was going from memory, which, in my case, is a one-way ticket to disaster!
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Old June 1, 2010, 09:40 AM   #24
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Now, Let's not go off half-cocked here...

(ever wonder where these expressions come from?)
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Old June 1, 2010, 11:18 AM   #25
Model-P
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Quote:
Now, Let's not go off half-cocked here...

(ever wonder where these expressions come from?)
Not from the Single Action Army-

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/half-cocked.html
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