Carry with one under the hammer?


January 8, 2003, 12:05 PM
Forgive my ignorance, but a recent purchase puts me in the position of having my first ever DAO revolver, a smith 340PD. I've never carried a revo for concealed carry, and I have a question.

Ever so many moons ago, it was considered dangerous to carry a pistol with a round under the hammer. How safe are modern revos for this and do you carry with one under the hammer?

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January 8, 2003, 12:25 PM
Modern DA wheelguns (and New Model Ruger SAs) are perfectly safe to carry fully loaded.

Several small parts inside the gun would have to suffer complete and gratuitous existance failures for the firing pin to contact the primer without the trigger being pulled.

January 8, 2003, 12:27 PM
Thanks Tam.

January 8, 2003, 12:40 PM
I concur with Tamara -- modern DA revolvers are safe to carry with a round under the hammer. Definitely NOT safe to do with a Colt SAA. IIRC, it is not safe with some early Ruger Blackhawks, but is safe with later production Blackhawks.

Old Fuff
January 8, 2003, 12:47 PM
One exception, that may never concern you. NEVER carry a Colt or Colt-style single action revolver with the hammer down on a loaded chamber regardless of when it was made. "New Model" Ruger revolvers are O.K., but nothing else.

If I am carrying a double-action revolver in a non-weapons context I may leave the chamber under the firing pin empty. This is an old habit that goes back many years and probably isn't necessary. Those who carry a revolver as a weapon (including me) should pick a late model with a functional safety and load all the chambers.

January 8, 2003, 01:56 PM
Yup, should have no worries with modern DA revolvers.

4v50 Gary
January 8, 2003, 02:09 PM
In the passive mode (trigger at rest), the hammer block safety prevents the hammer mounted firing pin from protruding into the firing pin hole. When pressure is on the trigger and the trigger is suddenly relieved of pressure, the rebound slide not only returns the trigger to its position of rest, but also prevents the hammer from rotating forward enough such that the firing pin will strike the primer. This is a superiority of the S&W design over the Taurus. So, yes it is safe to carry a rounder under the hammer of a modern (and functioning) S&W revolver.

Kahr carrier
January 8, 2003, 08:37 PM
Yep pretty safe.

Fudgie Ghost
January 8, 2003, 08:37 PM
I have an early produciton model (150-series) Ruger Security Six. Is this also ok to carry with hammer down on a loaded round?

January 8, 2003, 08:49 PM
Should not have a problem with any modern double action revolver, as long as it has not been modified.

Old Fuff
January 8, 2003, 10:24 PM
Another point: I recently purchased a World War Two period S&W revolver that should have had the current style safety that was introduced in 1944. However when I looked I discovered some previous owner had removed it. If you buy a used revolver have it inspected (or do it yourself if you know how) to make sure the safety(s) have not been altered or removed.

January 8, 2003, 11:05 PM
Your 340PD should be perfectly safe with a cartridge under the hammer. Only revolvers I ever heard of that weren't safe this way was older single actions.

Ala Dan
January 8, 2003, 11:16 PM
I concur with Tam!

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

Jim K
January 8, 2003, 11:44 PM
For some years, people thought the S&W hammer block made the DA trigger pull rougher (not true), so they removed it. If you buy a used gun of any kind, make sure all the safety devices are working. Today there is a fad of removing magazine safeties, again usually on the excuse that to do so improves trigger pull. Use your own judgement, but replace the safety before you sell the gun.

The very old S&W's depended on the rebound slide only, as the Colts depended on the rebound lever to provide safety against a dropped gun. But if the gun is dropped far enough or on a hard surface, the hammer pivot may break or shear, or the hammer deform, so that the hammer nose can contact the primer. The S&W hammer block and Colt's positive safety function to prevent firing even under that extreme condition.

BTW, the old timers did not carry the SAA and similar guns with an empty chamber; they dropped the firing pin between rounds, just like on the percussion revolvers most were familiar with. (This is NOT as safe as the empty chamber, and I do NOT recommend it for modern carry, nor do I recommend a SAA for that purpose.)


January 8, 2003, 11:57 PM
I dont care what anyone says..I just cant do it...some sort of childhood training...

January 9, 2003, 12:27 AM
It may sound odd but its probably "safer" to carry a Smith DA gun with a round under the hammer and the rest empty then with all loaded except for under the hammer.With that safty bar no way in hell can a blow to the hammer set it off unless its in a press that can flatten sheet steel. Now if the rest of the holes have rounds a hammer could possably get pulled back or a stick or some object could hit the trigger and fire the gun...........:rolleyes:

January 9, 2003, 12:35 AM
Huh? Explain that one again?

January 9, 2003, 12:43 AM
As explained in exquisite mechanical detail above by Jim Keenan and 4v50Gary, there is physically no way the firing pin on a postwar Smith can touch the primer without the trigger being pulled. If the trigger is pulled, it ain't going to be the primer under the hammer that gets popped, but the next one over.

Remember in the days B.G. (Before Glock) when it was DA wheelies that policemen were accidentally shooting themselves with?;) :D

January 9, 2003, 08:31 AM
Tons of great info. Thanks one and all!a My spiffy new 340PD will have one under the hammer.

January 9, 2003, 10:39 AM
Is your Bearcat an old model? Did you get the free upgrade to the transfer bar system?

My old model Bearcat has not had the upgrade. I sent for the box to send it in to be upgraded but backed out of it thinking that it might destroy some of the collectability of it. Not that I'd ever sell it but...Whats your take on it? Should I get it upgraded or keep it original? Think it would enhance or detract from its value?

Old Fuff
January 9, 2003, 07:45 PM

When Ruger retrofits an old model single action with their new lockwork they return the old parts. If you want to return the revolver to its orginal condition you can. So don't worry about effecting the "collector's value" it won't happen. Check with the company first if you're not sure.

January 12, 2003, 11:37 AM
What, no place to put a roll of bills?:p

Jim March
January 12, 2003, 05:02 PM
All DA Rugers are safe. There are early Ruger single actions out there that originally came just like a Colt SAA (or the modern Italian clones) but Ruger has a free retrofit program...many of the old "three screw" Rugers have been updated. If you're not sure if a particular specimen is so fitted, any gunsmith can tell you in 2 seconds just by cocking it and looking in front of the hammer - there's a piece of metal that the hammer hits which in turn hits the firing pin only if the trigger is being pulled. That's the "transfer bar".

Anything with either a transfer bar or hammer block safety is safe, with the exception of some early pre-WW2 S&Ws...if you dabble in those, do more research.

Ehhhh...'cept there's one exception: a few guns let you lower the hammer into a notch *between* any two rounds, so you're not resting the hammer on a primer. NAA's minirevolvers work this way, as do a few cap'n'ball guns.

You can test for the presence (and working condition) of a hammer block or transfer bar by unloading the gun and holding it up sideways to a light source while looking at the area where the firing pin would otherwise hit a primer. On all revolvers, if you cock it and then lower the hammer with the trigger pulled back, you'll see the firing pin tip protrude. IF there is a working hammer block or transfer bar, when you then release the trigger you'll see the firing pin retract.

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