saa revolvers


November 19, 2006, 04:25 AM
I submit this reluctantly; I hope it will prevent injury. I recently rolled over while sleeping and fired one of my Colt SAA .45's accidentally. You may think "I can load six and stick it my pants" and not worry. Well I rolled over in my sleep, and my hand bumped the hammer. The gun hangs on a cup hook screwed into the bottom of a shelf above my bed (luckily pointed away!). I saw a flash (through closed eyes, but believed I was dreaming)then slowly awoke (I wear a nose mask for sleep apnea). Once I pulled the mask off and smelled the smoke, I knew I was not dreaming. I scratched my left cheek for several weeks afterwards, because it was injured by the explosion, which sent debris from the cylinder/barrel joint into my face (I was on my right side at the time, with that side of my head in the pillow).

I like to think of myself as an expert with firearms; I've fired fully automatic weapons, semi-automatics, revovlers, rifles, and shotguns, always with safety foremost in my mind (luckily, never in combat). You don't have to fully cock a SAA to make it go bang - I doubt my restless arm deflected the firing pin more than a quarter inch, but it was enough to initiate the chain reaction begun by the insulted primer. 255 grains of lead suddenly shot forth around 900 + (?) feet per second, into the uncharted universe. Luckily, nobody was harmed.

Here's how to load a 6 shot SAA (with 5) - Load one, skip one. In other words, with six empty cylinders, load one, then click past the next empty cylinder, leaving it empty, and continue loading - after the fifth cartridge is shoved in, close the gate, pull the hammer all the way back, and let it down on the EMPTY cylinder. This works. You'll have five rounds loaded, with the hammer resting on the single remaining empty cylinder. The rule is LOAD ONE, SKIP ONE.

So, what's the lesson here? Right! Don't carry the old SAA fully loaded. If you are going into a fight, sure, load six; hopefully the bad guy will thoughtfully provide an empty casing under the hammer for future saftey.


post scriptum: it should go without saying, but don't leave autos laying about with rounds in the chamber. Leave a clip in the well, then release the slide catch to load a round to fire. Noise, you say? Unless you are have to ****, don't fart.

Thanks for all the feedback. I have always known the danger of loading 6 when carrying, but thought nothing of having it ready for home defence with 6 loaded. I reloaded with 5 after the incident (I live alone and seldom have guests, but unload everything when I do). Knowing the load state and that I have sole control, I have to say I see no problem with the cup hanger with no round under the hammer. I keep an S&W model 19 .357 on a hook in another part of the house, fully loaded and ready for use. One person suggested storing the Colt in a holster near the bed; I think that is generally frowned upon because of moisture problems, especially since my place is cooled with an evaporative cooler.

My Browning 9 and Colt 1911-A1 are now stored with the slide locked back with a magazine handy, but not in the well, as someone suggested (neither hung from the trigger guard).

Speaking of load status, can anyone recall a movie where a DA revolver is opened to spin the cylinder to check for rounds when the "fish hits the lure" sound effect is not dubbed in? Or can anyone name the movie in which Clint Eastwood's character dies?

Still learning in Sunnyvale,


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Cocked & Locked
November 19, 2006, 07:10 AM
Uhh, OK. I agree on your "thoughts" with the SAA's...been a proven fact for 100+ years. I reckon' you confirmed and learned from that...glad you weren't hurt, but how is your hearing?

post scriptum: it should go without saying, but don't leave autos laying about with rounds in the chamber. Leave a clip in the well, then release the slide catch to load a round to fire.

What! You gotta be kiddin' on this one, right? That sounds as bad as the "alive after five" situation on your SAA. That's another bump in the night potential BANG situation.

Perhaps a refresher course in Basic Firearms Handling Safety 101 is in order. Hanging a loaded weapon by the trigger guard on a hook is a NO-NO for certain. Remember the thing about finger off the trigger unless one is ready to shoot? Same principal applies to a cup-hook I would think.

I'm not trying to come across as a smart-aleck-know-it-all-jerk, just got some concerns for your safety Sir. :what:

November 19, 2006, 08:16 AM
I tend to agree with Cocked & Locked. Just like keeping your finger out of the trigger gaurd unless you intend to fire, you also need NOT hang a loaded gun by the trigger gaurd. That's simply asking for trouble, which you almost recieved. That's one of the basics that even an ametuer should know and understand, even more so for an "expert".
I'd take a close look at the way any and all firearms are stoed at your residence and as mentioned by C&L, go over the Basic Firearms Handling Safety Rules again.

highlander 5
November 19, 2006, 08:47 AM
Retire the Colt,they are worth serious money now. Buy a Ruger
SA or a good double action revolver or get a Glock or HK or Springfield XD in 45acp

November 19, 2006, 09:38 AM
I like to think of myself as an expert with firearms;
Yet you didn't know what has been known about these revolvers for 133 years? Then you hang a loaded revolver from a cup hook directly above your bed and in arms reach. Maybe you should rethink what you actually know about firearms.

November 19, 2006, 10:31 AM
Retire the Colt,they are worth serious money now. Buy a Ruger
SA or a good double action revolver or get a Glock or HK or Springfield XD in 45acp

But, if you get a Glock or XD, FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T HANG IT BY THE TRIGGER GUARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hate to sound like an arse, but when I was 16 years old with my first handgun, a single action Hawes .22 on the colt pattern, I had sense enough to realize it was unsafe with a round under the hammer. I wrote the NRA (which I was already a member of) inquiring what the safe way to carry this gun was, and they told me to leave the chamber empty under the hammer and that it was a long time tradition only to carry five in your "six shooter". I mean, even a 16 year old kid figured out having a round under the hammer with the hammer down was NOT cool! I'd thought carrying the gun on half cock was a little iffy, too, didn't make me feel safe. That's why I wrote someone with more experience for advise on the subject. I had sense enough to ask someone about it and in 1969 I didn't have the internet to help figure this one out! I don't know why it didn't occur to me on my own to carry with five, but it didn't. At least I knew I should ask someone with more knowledge on the subject. I've now been shooting for 48 years. I've had NRA instructor certification in pistol and rifle, I've belonged to NRA and my local gun club for many years. I still don't know it all. I still ask questions when I don't know.

Don't blame the gun for user error.....:rolleyes:

November 19, 2006, 10:58 AM
I had a 'related' type experience a few years ago, thankfully without the ND. Keeping fully loaded handguns of any type within easy reach while sleeping can be an iffy thing. Here's what happened to me:

I had been having some sort of nightmare or other and when i fully woke up from it, i found myself in a sitting position on the edge of the bed with my hand on my BHP in the nightstand drawer. This gun always had a full mag in it with one in the pipe as well.

Now i did manage to wake up before i cocked the hammer or had a ND, but needless to say this incident scared the snot out of me, thinking about what could have happened :what: if i had taken any longer to wake up.

I do not keep a round in the pipe any longer, because of that specific incident. Not saying anyone else should or shouldn't, just relating my own new religion about things like this. I own several DA revolvers too, and since that bad-dream incident I've concluded that those would be even less forgiving in a similar situation.


November 19, 2006, 11:06 AM
Hi WB...

Now that your expertise has been enhanced by this exhilarating event perhaps it is a timely opportunity to step back and rethink how you wish to keep your firearms stored. :confused:

November 19, 2006, 11:36 AM
That would be why the new repros tend to have a transfer bar design.

And what's with hanging it by a CUP HOOK on the trigger guard? It's not a teacup! :scrutiny:

November 19, 2006, 08:15 PM
Put that baby in a holster, maybe with hammer thong on it, then hang the holster from the bed. Just leave it on the gun belt, and throw the belt over the corner post, eh?

November 20, 2006, 06:41 PM
I agree, great advice on the hammer mounted firing pin SAA's.

I totally disagree when it comes to semi-autos or DA revolvers. If they are to be used for home defense or CCW, they are loaded and in a quality holster that protects the trigger guard from accidental contact.

If I need my CCW/HD gun, I need it now and not after I release the slide.


November 20, 2006, 06:49 PM
doh.....double tap.


November 20, 2006, 07:34 PM
If you ever wake up some night with one of your guns in your hand when you had no conscious intent of picking it up in the first place, the experience would likely change your way of thinking. If you're still alive to contemplate things afterwards, that is. It sounds as if you're 'sure' that something like that could never happen to you. I never would have thought so myself, either. YMMV

November 20, 2006, 07:45 PM
I guess I'm not a sleep walker. Stuff like that doesn't happen to me. When I'm asleep, I'm completely immobile, trust me, LOL.

November 20, 2006, 08:36 PM

While I respect your decision, I choose to make my own choices.

It's a risk/reward sort of thing with many things in life. I feel like the chance of me doing something in the middle of the night with my own handgun accidentally, is like the chance one of my trees falls on my head walking out the door.

I've still got trees.


November 20, 2006, 09:17 PM
We all have choices to make and our reasoning behind them. I wasn't attempting to make choices for you or anyone else :) all i was saying was that IF what happened to me had happened to you, it'd likely get your complete & undivided attention for a while afterwards, and might change a guys' outlook. Know what i mean?
Btw, that incident of mine was over 16 years ago now, and while it has never happened since then, it has also never faded from my memory.

Harve Curry
November 20, 2006, 09:19 PM
Forget about Colts or copies and make sure all your revolvers have transfer bar safties.

November 20, 2006, 09:40 PM
Grandad taught me " Load 5 to stay alive " with the old colt , advise that has served me well over the years . Heck its so ingrained with me , that is the way i load the ruger new model single six i have too lol .

November 20, 2006, 09:45 PM
Know what i mean?


I get you. Trust me I had a ND 3 years ago, than is one lesson that I will never forget.


Michael Zeleny
November 20, 2006, 09:49 PM
Or can anyone name the movie in which Clint Eastwood's character dies?Yes (, and more or less (

Handgun Midas
November 20, 2006, 11:42 PM
How is keeping a loaded revolver or charged auto on your bedstand any different than walking around with one of either in your pants?

Having kids could certainly change things, but god help me, my P345 will never be empty again. ('cept cleanin')

Jim March
November 21, 2006, 12:09 AM
Any gun that has an "automatically applied safety" (transfer bar or hammer block in the case of revolvers or various functional equivelents among autos) MUST not have anything contact the trigger. A tea-cup holder hook is nuts. You need a holster that covers the triggerguard.

If you need something cheap for bedside use, make one out of sheet plastic (cut up an old gallon milk jug) and duct tape if you have to - fold it around the gun to make a "sleeve", trim the plastic with scissors, duct tape it. People make respectable pocket holsters like this for small guns all the time.


The Beretta Stampede, Colt "Cowboy", all Ruger SAs since 1973, the EAA "Bounty Hunter" series and the Taurus Gaucho are "old west looking" (to varying degrees in some cases) and have modern transfer bar ignitions.

.38 Special
November 21, 2006, 12:12 AM
"The gun hangs on a cup hook screwed into the bottom of a shelf above my bed...I wear a nose mask for sleep apnea...I live alone and seldom have guests..."

Coincidence? :p

November 21, 2006, 12:43 AM
Perhaps my interpretation on this is different, maybe because I am new.
First, thanks for sharing an experience that is at least somewhat embarrassing, so others may learn from your actions. I decline to call them "mistakes".
Second, I give you enough credit to not hang a gun on a hook that will contact the trigger. I thought it was a different idea, one I had not thought about.
Third, I have been handling single actions for 35 years, and do not carry a round under the hammer, but I would not have considered it a bad idea to load it as you did in the manner you had it. Yes, carrying it w/ 5 is safer, but in the home, lying /hanging near the bed, I would not have considered it to be a problem.
Fourth, as to the holster thing, yes, extended time in a leather holster can cause problems. For just hangin' around, get one of the nylon ones, i.e. Uncle Mikes. It will give you secure a place to store your gun and still give you access w/o concern for the potential damage to your gun.
Fifth, I admire a man confident enough to "carry" a Single Action for self defense. It is hard to beat a .45 w/ a 255 gr. bullet.
Last, perhaps it may be time to consider a Ruger w/ the transfer bar.

November 21, 2006, 02:02 AM
Years ago, I used to wake up with a gun in my hand. Having just turned 62, I wish I could still find it.


November 21, 2006, 02:18 AM
" hand bumped the hammer..." If it goes bang by bumping the hammer in your sleep, there's something wrong with it.

December 24, 2006, 07:48 AM
Nothing wrong with my hand. Bump (with a hand connected to an arm like mine) the hammer of a classic SAA resting near a primer and your hand will go boom too. I remember the tingly feeling near the root of my right thumb (which struck the hammer) before pulling my apnea mask off and smelling the burnt powder.

Near as I can estimate (was asleep at the time), I must have deflected the hammer about a quarter inch while rolling over with a flailing right arm. The discharge bent the tea cup hook, and the gun today points in a safer direction with the hammer resting on an empty chamber. I did not want to fool with destiny by bending the hook back, so I just cleaned the barrel and soiled chamber and hung it back on my trusty bent tea cup hook, ready for the next home invader.


Harve Curry
December 24, 2006, 09:23 AM
New comers and people reading this post should know right off to
"Never load more then 5 in any Colt SAA or copy of a SAA".
The SAA is one of the safest firearms to carry and fastest to bring into action IF you know what you are doing. Anyone who has not adopted these standard practices of use should empty it and put it away till they do.
The problem with loading six is, settiing the SAA aside, in a drawer, nightstand, or whatever, is that it gets forgotten. Someday you or someone else picks it up or drops it and then bang AD.

A handgunner needs to adopt a way of thinking that is always looking, always checking, even when you know you were the last one to use or touch it. I am always checking mine to be sure the cylinder did not turn, quick glance at the side of the cylinder and be sure that no brass rims are under the hammer.
I do not use the so called saftey notch as this will cause premature wear or breakage of the sear. Put the hammer down on the EMPTY CHAMBER.
This all needs to be 2nd nature.

They make a handgun holder that uses a rod/dowel of plastic, brass, or aluminum that fits down the muzzle into the empty chamber. It holds the handgun and the cylinder so it cannot turn till the user slides it back off.
Much better then a tea cup holder.

Old Fuff
December 24, 2006, 09:38 AM
I have a habit of long standing...

When I load ANY revolver that's not being used as a weapon I load 5 and rest the hammer on the last chamber. Of course when I carry or keep a revolver loaded for personal protection it has a "safe" safety and all of the chambers are filled. Why? Because I often use older single and double action guns that don't always have the kind of mechanical safeties that are found on post-World War Two revolvers. A consistant habit helps prevent something unexpected. Won't I need that last shot? Well in the course of plinking, playing and desert walking I haven't so far.

Needless to say, ANY revolver that depends on the hammer being held by the trigger being engaged in a notch is carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber. Always, and without exception.

December 24, 2006, 10:28 AM

First, thanks for posting this.
I'm sure you knew you would get some flak, but it's important to keep this old information fresh.

I have been shooting and sometimes carrying various SAA revolvers, among otrher handguns, for over 35 years. I still have an old favorite, a .44 mag JP Sauer from the 1960's, that I carry in very bad weather-it's finish has gone long ago, but it's still tight as a drum and a fine shooter. It's a "5 shooter"- it has a frame mounted firing pin, but no transfer bar, so the pin would rest on the primer of a 240 grain .44 mag JHP if I were to load all six. (Makes me nervous just thinking about it.)

FWIW, there is a story about no less a sixgunner than J.B. Hickock dropping a fully loaded Navy Colt on the floor of a bar while gambling, causing a hole in the ceiling and a graze to his leg. I understand he loaded only five chambers after this incident.

Merry Christmas.


Old Fuff
December 24, 2006, 11:12 AM
FWIW, there is a story about no less a sixgunner than J.B. Hickock dropping a fully loaded Navy Colt on the floor of a bar while gambling, causing a hole in the ceiling and a graze to his leg. I understand he loaded only five chambers after this incident.

I doubt it. He carried his C&B Navy Colts with the hammer resting between chambers - something you couldn't safely do with the later model 1873 S.A.A.

However it is a matter of documented historical record that Wyatt Earp was the principal in such an incident:

"Last Sunday night (January 9th) while policeman Erp was sitting with two or three others in the back room of the Custom House saloon, his revolver slipped from its holster and in falling to the floor the hammer which was resting on a cap, is supposed to have struck the chair causing a discharge of one of the barrels. The ball passed through his coat, struck the north wall and then glanced off and passed through the ceiling. It was a narrow escape and the occurance got up a lively stampede from the room. One of the demoralized was under the impression that some one had fired through the window from the outside." (Wichita Bacon - Jan. 12, 1876)

January 3, 2007, 03:09 PM
this was absolutely a learning post..ive been on the kick this week about a SAA style revolver..been going back and forth on the Ubertis/Berettas and the new Vaquero..Ive read that some you need to do the ole half cock to load and some dont like the Ruger. I keep reading about only loading 5 and thought why do this its a single action if its not cocked its not gonna go off..well shows ya how much i new about the SAA. didnt know it could be fired with the hammer only partially cocked like that. I was wanting the tradtional SAA with none of the newer guns safety features, now im going to go back and rethink that.. :banghead:

Sniper X
January 3, 2007, 05:01 PM
Sounds funny to me, not funny ha ha but funny in the sence it seesm more like the trigger lit off a round than the hammer being bumped. I have a couple saa clones, both Ubertis and neither has ever done a AD and I load 6. But being a .45 1911 guy I don;t carry them so don;t have a bunch of experience with saa clones. I also suggest a different gun for home defense anyway. SA is clumsy in a sleep fog situation, and lends itself to an AD better than a lot of other better self defense guns. I suggest a .357 mag modern revolver for some like you.

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