Simple safety question.


November 17, 2004, 08:53 AM
Is it safe to carry a revolver with a hammer mounted firing pin with all chambers loaded? Or should you carry on an empty one.

No transfer bar. Pinned and recessed. Hammer mounted FP.

What to do?



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November 17, 2004, 09:12 AM
If it DOES have a transfer bar, knock yourself out... pretty much any non-SAA revolver made since about 1905 has one.

If it does not have the transfer bar, for safety's sake, make it a five-shooter. Just what gun are you using?

November 17, 2004, 09:20 AM
I'm trying to decide between two. I sold a beautiful Taurus 65 in nickel that was an outstanding shooter to my brother-in-law. Now I am dying to replace it. I'm trying to decide between a S&W 65 with a hammer mounted pin, and a Ruger GP100 w/ transfer bar DAO. Same price.

November 17, 2004, 09:59 AM
With the Smith unloaded, pull the trigger. Then watch what happens when you release the trigger. Does the hammer stay where it is or does it back away from the fully down position?

Jim March
November 17, 2004, 10:48 AM
Mr. Murphy, sorry but you're a wee bit confused here:

If it DOES have a transfer bar, knock yourself out...pretty much any non-SAA revolver made since about 1905 has one.

In that statement, if you swap the term "transfer bar" for "internal safety", you'll get a more accurate statement.


Internal safeties on a revolver are there to make sure the hammer can't slam forward and drive force against the primer unless the trigger is pulled.

The transfer bar ignition method is one of TWO ways of getting that effect. It works because the hammer cannot actually hit the firing pin directly - there's a "scallop" or "step" in the hammer preventing it, or there's a funny frame shape (less common). When the trigger is pulled, a piece of metal goes up and gets between the hammer and the firing pin, allowing "transfer" of energy. That's why it's a "transfer bar".

The alternative is the hammer block. All S&W DA revolvers of shortly before WW1 forward which have a hammer-mounted firing pin have a hammer block safety. In this setup, a piece of metal halts forward movement of the hammer UNLESS the trigger is pulled and this block is retracted down out of the way.


Put it this way: if a transfer bar snaps off and goes flying out of the gun, it's a doorstop. Cannot fire. If the hammer block piece does likewise, the gun CAN fire, it's now just as safe (or unsafe depending on your view) as a pre-safety gun like the Colt SAA and needs to be carried "five up"...but it'll still function if you've got nothing else.

(The transfer bar gun can be put into emergency service by epoxying a piece of metal to the hammer's face where the transfer bar would otherwise be - this again creates a "no safety gun" but if you're deep in the woods and your gun failed in this fashion, you do what you have to...)

Now, the S&W hammer block mechanism was *improved* during WW2, because it's possible for the older pre-WW2 type hammer block to break off if you drop the gun, allowing a discharge. This reputedly happened on a naval ship, killing a sailor, leading to PR problems for S&W and an engineering change. Don't ask me the details past that, I'm not into antiques and never entered that info into my personal wetware :D.

S&Ws made after WW2 that have a hammer-mounted firing pin all have the improved hammer block safety and are JUST AS SAFE as any transfer bar gun. OK? I personally would not choose one gun over the other on the basis of which safety type it had, so long as it was a good, working safety. Part of the "checkout procedures" show you how to confirm that the firing pin "retracts" when you come off the trigger and that the firing pin can't go forward under thumb pressure to the hammer - you check all this with the gun UNLOADED and you're looking sideways through it. Read the checkout thread for details. The same checkout steps work regardless of whether it's a hammer block or transfer bar gun.

S&W has been switching to the transfer bar safety method recently, although not in all models. I don't know why; I suspect manufacturing costs have something to do with it. I do NOT think it's because their late-20th-century hammer block mechanisms have been failing.

I don't recommend street carry of a WW2-or-older S&W revolver, unless you become more familiar with the safety issue and serial numbers/models affected than I am and make an informed decision on that basis.

So Calhoun, the answer to your question depends on the gun's age. 1950s through 1980s model (when pinning and recessing went away), the gun IS safe to carry fully loaded so long as the safety checks out...and bet your hind end I *would* check first; there's idiots out there doing "home brew trigger jobs" who could have done a "hammerblockectomy" :eek: or it could have broke off...unlikely, but you damn well check!!!

Hope this helps :).

November 17, 2004, 11:36 AM
Thanks Jim. I'm going to check it out this PM while I am at the range.

I guess I should say that this isn't really for carry. More of a "House Gun".


Jim March
November 17, 2004, 11:59 AM
Calhoun, you still need to check the safety. Don't trust your life to a gun that's not checked out.

The safety on S&W pre-WW2s may be "iffy". I would trust one well enough for home defense, still being rather careful with it; I don't think I would trust it enough for street carry.

Your gun being a mod. 65, it's post-WW2 no problem...but if the safety is outright broke, I wouldn't even use it for home defense.

November 17, 2004, 01:20 PM
I don't trust anything untill it's been checked out. Just never had a revo. w/the hammer mount FP. Needed some info.

Thanks again,

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