The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The North Corral > Black Powder and Cowboy Action Shooting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old May 24, 2011, 01:33 AM   #1
cloud8a
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 27, 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 341
John Wesley Hardin's Bad Cap-n-Ball Revolver

In John Wesley Hardin's biography he claims to have have shot and killed/wounded a man with a percussion revolver that had a loose cylinder. He said it was so loose he had to aim with one hand on the grip and hold the cylinder in place with the other hand. Is this possible? Has anyone else read this account? I would like to hear insight on this.
cloud8a is offline  
Old May 24, 2011, 01:59 AM   #2
Ideal Tool
Junior member
 
Join Date: October 6, 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 1,080
Hello, cload8a. Yes, I too have read this account. Probably the gun was worn in the cyl. pin/wedge area. Or, cyl. pin could have been loose at back of frame. This article gives a new insight to the Hollywood version of the old west, that everyone automatically switched to the newfangled "catridge" Colt when it came out in 73'. There were earlier percussion cartridge conversions from the late 1860's (Thuer) up thru the Richards/Richards-Mason conversions, and purpose-built ctg. revolvers ( 1872 open-top) long before the famous Peacemaker was available to civillian's. The point is, there were a whole lot of folks who didn't have ready cash to go out & purchase a new gun..they used what they had..Remember, Hardin was cowpunchin..one of the lowest paid jobs at the time.
Ideal Tool is offline  
Old May 24, 2011, 09:17 AM   #3
Hardcase
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 14, 2009
Location: Sunny Southern Idaho
Posts: 1,909
Great point, Ideal! My great great grandfather used the 1862 Springfield that he carried in the Civil War for deer hunting until at least 1884 - that's when his Colt Lightning rifle was made. I suspect that he probably used that old front stuffer longer than that because I doubt that he bought the Colt brand new.

Michigan wasn't the wild west, but it did have some wilderness!
__________________
Well we don't rent pigs and I figure it's better to say it right out front because a man that does like to rent pigs is... he's hard to stop - Gus McCrae
Hardcase is offline  
Old May 24, 2011, 09:36 AM   #4
Bishop Creek
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 20, 2011
Posts: 221
Quote:
In John Wesley Hardin's biography he claims to have have shot and killed/wounded a man with a percussion revolver that had a loose cylinder. He said it was so loose he had to aim with one hand on the grip and hold the cylinder in place with the other hand. Is this possible? Has anyone else read this account? I would like to hear insight on this.
Yes, it is possible. Years ago in the early 1970s, the cylinder on my brass framed 1851 Navy shot loose like that and I had to hold the cylinder tight against the back plate with my left hand so that the hammer would strike the caps with force while firing the pistol.

Several years later I read Hardin's account of the incident on the cattle trail in his autobiography and I knew exactly what he experienced when trying to fire his worn out pistol. That event took place in the Spring of 1871, so even though a few cartridge revolvers were on the market, most cowboys were still carrying cap and ball pistols.
Bishop Creek is offline  
Old May 24, 2011, 12:28 PM   #5
BlueTrain
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 5,825
I would imagine that a modern revolver could wear enough, meaning generate enough fore and aft play in the cylinder, that a light hammer strike might result. But it would certainly have to be well worn for that to happen and that would mean it would probably be fairly old.

When that fairly old revolver was made, there were a lot of very inexpensive revolvers on the market, same as today when someone might buy a Davis instead of an S&W. They were nearly all chambered in nothing larger than a .38 S&W (not special). The cylinders on some of them did not lock up except (or so I understand) except at the moment of firing. They would spin freely the rest of the time.
__________________
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.
BlueTrain is offline  
Old May 24, 2011, 09:10 PM   #6
Bishop Creek
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 20, 2011
Posts: 221
The revolvers chambered for .38 S&W were not around in 1871, Hardin had a .36 1851 Colt Navy, worn out he said from shooting it so much that Spring. The modern Italian Colt replicas made today are of much stronger metal than those old Colt's "Big Iron" cap and balls.

I have an 1897 Iver Johnson .38 S&W double action with a cylinder that spins freely until I pull the trigger. Works like a charm.
Bishop Creek is offline  
Old May 24, 2011, 10:27 PM   #7
cloud8a
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 27, 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 341
If I remember correctly Hardin was riding his horse and firing at the same time. Imagine that. What would keep his hold from just being a little off and the ball exploding into the frame or worse?
cloud8a is offline  
Old May 24, 2011, 10:51 PM   #8
Bishop Creek
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 20, 2011
Posts: 221
Actually he wasn't, Hardin was standing on the ground off of his horse in that particular case. Later that day he rode into the Mexican herders with two fresh pistols in each hand after dropping the reins. This I'm sure was where Charles Portis got the idea of Rooster Cogburn riding into his antagonists with "two Navy pistols in each hand" for his book, True Grit.
Bishop Creek is offline  
Old May 25, 2011, 12:30 AM   #9
MJN77
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 27, 2009
Location: on a hill in West Virginia
Posts: 698
Be careful about believing things Hardin said. He was known to...."imbelish".... a lot of things.
MJN77 is offline  
Old May 25, 2011, 01:29 AM   #10
cloud8a
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 27, 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 341
Quote:
Actually he wasn't, Hardin was standing on the ground off of his horse in that particular case.
We might be talking about two different accounts of Hardin's. Here is what I have on page 25.

"I was riding a fiery gray horse and the pistol I had was an old cap and ball, which I had worn out shooting on the trail. There was so much play between the cylinder and the barrel that it would not burst a cap or fire unless I held the cylinder with one hand and pulled the trigger with the other. I made several unsuccessful attempts to shoot the advancing Mexican from my horse but failed. I then got down and tried to shoot and hold my horse but failed at that too. Jim Clements shouted at me to “Turn that horse loose and hold the cylinder.” I did so and fired at the Mexican, who was now only ten paces from me. I hit him in the thigh and stunned him a little. I tried to fire again, but snapped. The Mexican evidently fired his last load, so we both rushed together in a hand-to-hand fight.”

My book version is The Life of John Wesley Hardin: From the Original Manuscript As Written by Himself.

A 1989 Trinton Press reprint of the Smith & Moore 1896 printing.

I think there might be more than one story Hardin tells of dealing with this same gun. Or there could just be editing in different print versions. This one is supposed to be from the original manuscript.
cloud8a is offline  
Old May 25, 2011, 09:15 AM   #11
Bishop Creek
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 20, 2011
Posts: 221
Of course you're right. I have the same book. I forgot that Hardin fired from his horse before dismounting. I should have looked it up before posting.
Bishop Creek is offline  
Old May 25, 2011, 09:21 AM   #12
Hardcase
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 14, 2009
Location: Sunny Southern Idaho
Posts: 1,909
Quote:
“Turn that horse loose and hold the cylinder.”
The mental image that my mind paints for me of an exasperated Jim Clements is hilarious!
__________________
Well we don't rent pigs and I figure it's better to say it right out front because a man that does like to rent pigs is... he's hard to stop - Gus McCrae
Hardcase is offline  
Old May 26, 2011, 11:43 AM   #13
saltydog452
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 16, 2004
Posts: 508
Yeah well. If I read it right...

Supposedly, Hardin went to prison, re-formed himself, and became a Lawyer. Later, he became a piece of History.

The way I remember reading about Hardin, was that he just didn't give a flip if the sun would rise the next day, or not.

I'd hold suspect just about anything these Sociapath gents had to say about their-own-self. Newspaper accounts, then and now, can be slanted in order to lead the reader to a predetermined conclusion or sell more print.

Rotating the cylinder of a Black Powder revolver, holding it in place, and firing wouldn't be much fun. No doubt John Wesley was capable of that.

salty
saltydog452 is offline  
Old May 27, 2011, 09:57 AM   #14
Southron
Member
 
Join Date: November 28, 2009
Posts: 40
Hardin

Let's face, Hardin was an all round BAD GUY!

He goes to prison on a murder charge and instead of being "reformed"-he comes out much worse! He became a L-A-W-Y-E-R!!!!
Southron is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:03 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.09436 seconds with 7 queries