Complete and utter noob question....


July 27, 2006, 05:45 PM
I'm new to handguns.

With double action revolvers, if you cock the hammer and then fire will the cylinder rotate and the hammer re-cock? Or do you have to cock the hammer for every single-action shot?

Same question for single-action you have to manually cock the hammer for every shot?

The last time I fired a revolver I was 11 years old. It was a S&W .22. I seem to remember rapid firing it with the short single-action trigger.

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July 27, 2006, 05:57 PM
For single-action, and shooting single on a double-action revolver, you do have to manually recock the hammer. There are two exceptions - the Webley & Fosbery (, and the Mateba ( semi-auto revolvers. Both are really weird designs.

July 27, 2006, 06:02 PM
On most revolvers, cocking the hammer rotates the cylinder. On double action revolvers, pulling the trigger cocks the hammer and rotates the cylinder before firing.

July 28, 2006, 03:30 AM
Yes you will have to either pull the trigger again for a double action shot or manually cock the hammer for a single action shot.

3fgburner already mentioned the only two self cocking revolvers ever made.

S&W never made a self cocking revolver.
But there are plenty of self-cocking pistols. They're called semi-automatics.

Jim March
July 28, 2006, 05:45 AM
Put it this way: the cylinder rotation of any revolver is keyed to the backwards movement of the hammer. Whether that movement is via thumb or linked to the trigger doesn't matter. It's been that way since the Colt Patterson of 1836.

The exception is the rare critters that link cylinder rotation to recoil.

Phantom Warrior
July 28, 2006, 07:26 AM
To summarize what has been said so far...

For a single-action revolver you will have to manually cock it for each shot.

For a double-action revolver you only have to pull the trigger each time.

HOWEVER, you can usually fire a double-action revolver in single-action. That is, you can cock the hammer before you shoot, rather than just pulling the trigger. This will give you a much lighter, smoother trigger pull than simply shooting it double-action (i.e. without cocking it).

July 28, 2006, 07:33 AM
Here is a fully automatic revolver:


July 28, 2006, 08:30 AM
Actually a mini-gun, just like it's grandfather the Gatling, isn't automatic at all.
It's 100% manual.
It doesn't use ANY of the energy of the fired cartridge for operation, it's completely externally powered.

And it's not a true revolver since the barrel is attached to the chamber.

July 28, 2006, 08:59 AM
I see a few misconceptions here.

In the classic single action revolver the hand is carried on the hammer. Cocking the hammer rotates the cylinder. The gun may be fired by "fanning" or cocking and releasing the hammer with the trigger held back the entire time.

The term "self cocking" does NOT refer to any automatic or semi-automatic firearm. It came into use in the days of the cap & ball revolvers to describe a revolver in which pulling the trigger also cocked the hammer.

The term "double action" referred to a revolver which had TWO modes of operation, manually cocking the hammer or cocking the hammer by pulling the trigger. The term "double action only" as applied to self loaders is an oxymoron since they have only ONE "action". There are revolvers like this as well. The should properly be referred to as "self cocking" or "self cocking only" but by now the term double actuon has been so misused that we are beyond hope of correcting the situation.

In the classic double action revolver, the hand is carried by the trigger rather than the hammer as in the classic single action. Thus 'fanning" is impossible.

There is also the single action on the double action frame. Both S&W and Colt sold such revolvers for target shooting. Pulling the trigger will rotate the cylinder but does not cock the hammer. Removing the self cocking strut from a double action revolver does NOT produce a single action, it only produces a double action that doesn't work in self cocking mode. The single action on a double action frame has different lockwork that results in a shorter hammer fall and shorter lock time.

The Webley Fosberry is essentially a conventional double action with a split frame in which the recoil is used to cock the hammer. I'm a less familiar with the exact workings of the Mataba although it is also recoil operated.

July 28, 2006, 03:28 PM
The term "double action only" as applied to self loaders is an oxymoron since they have only ONE "action".Not really.
Double action means the trigger performs TWO actions.
#1 cocking the hammer
#2 releasing the sear

Where the trigger in a single action firearm only releases the sear.

So double action only does make sense.

July 28, 2006, 04:02 PM
trigger performs TWO actions.
#1 cocking the hammer
#2 releasing the sear

This is a description of a single mode of action, the "self cocking" action, and is in itself double action. The term "double action" means the the action has TWO modes, manually cocked, and self cocked. This was the usage for many many years until recent times. Using the oxymoron "double action only" leads to the sort of confusion we have at present. How do we distinguish between a single action, a self cocking action, and a double action? Now add the triple action and we have a really confusing mess. I realize that in the last few years the term "double action only" has come in to usage and the language does change over time, but "change" does not automatically mean better, especially when it's a change that leads to confusion.

Dig up a few old gun books and see what they were called.

The "triple action" has three modes of operation, a single action has one mode of operation, it's only being consistant to say a double action has two modes of operation. Such was the meaning for many many years and still should be. What people have taken to calling a "double action only" was for many many years known as a self cocking action. It's only within the last twenty years that or so that I can recall hearing the term "double action only". I Before that time I never heard it applied to the self cocking revolver.

It probably doesn't help that the old single action revolvers are so called. While they are "single actions" it adds to the confusion because people don't stop to think that a self cocking revolver is also a single action.

Then there are actions like the glock, in which the striker is half cocked when the slide cycles. This is a single action that is a hybrid between manually cocked and self cocked.

Then there is the triple action. Three modes of operation. Makes it pretty clear that "single", "double", or "triple" must refer to the number of modes of operation. With a triple action in the third mode, the trigger does not cock the action.

July 29, 2006, 04:58 AM
Well, I learned those definitions over 40 years ago so let's just agree to disagree.

Actually the term self-cocking as applied to a revolver is the oxymoron.
The gun cannot cock itself. No matter what the Brady Bunch say.
The gun can't do anything by itself. The person operating has to do it.

Anyway this discussing is going nowhere.
I'm out of it.

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