Dry firing single action cowboy revolvers


August 30, 2008, 09:27 PM
I just heard this one today and I am curious as to why you shouldnt ever dry fire one of these revolvers. Also is it bad to cock and decock as well?

If you enjoyed reading about "Dry firing single action cowboy revolvers" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
August 30, 2008, 09:41 PM
Dry firing is not recommended because the hammer mounted firing pin is designed to be cushioned by the primer during the fall. Full cocking and gently lowering the hammer won't hurt anything, but cock it to full cock or you will get a cylinder ring. Get a set of A-Zoom snap caps and shoot away (The red and clear plastic ones break too easily).

August 30, 2008, 09:47 PM
some have transfer bars like the new vaquero and are ok to do so iirc

August 30, 2008, 10:05 PM
Virginian is partially correct. Do get some A-zoom snap caps but dry firing does not cause cylinder ring. On a single action, the gun being out of time causes the cylinder ring. If you look on the cylinder you'll see the indentations and that is where the locking gizmo locks the cylinder. If the pistol is out of time, then the gizmo comes down too soon or drags all the time. A good gun smith can time the pistol and cure this problem.

The snap caps do protect the firing pin and hammer when dry firing. Even so, that is not really a good idea.

August 30, 2008, 10:23 PM
On traditional Colt-type SAA's, the firing pin bushing in the frame (which is crimped in from the front) will be struck by the hammer-mounted firing pin, as there is no primer to stop forward progress...this can elongate and burr the hole, and even drive the bushing out of the frame.

Ruger-type single actions have a frame mounted firing pin which rarely fails, Ruger guaranteeing the guns safe for dry-fire.

If you'd like to dry-fire a traditional SAA-type gun, simply insert a small strip of leather in the hammer frame recess.

August 31, 2008, 01:03 PM
calaverasslim, Virginian was completely correct; what he meant was to always fully cock a traditional SA sixgun before lowering/dropping the hammer; always COMPLETE the act of cocking the action. Lowering the hammer from any position except FULL cock will ring the cylinder. Do not lower the hammer from any position except full-cock. Do not lower the hammer from half-cock!

This is why so many gunshops zip-tie the hammers of their SA sixguns. It takes a fraction of a second for an uninformed customer to turn a pristine, new sixgun into damaged goods, worth hundreds of dollars less, by either violent fanning, or ringing the cylinder by not completing the cocking cycle.

I use A-Zoom snap caps myself.

August 31, 2008, 01:20 PM

Traditional SA's like the Colt SAA & clones use a flat spring arm on the locking bolt to control it's movement, and a hammer mounted cam to control its timing.

If you partially cock one, and then let the hammer back down, the bolt arm binds up on the cam and releases the bolt before the cylinder is in the proper position to accept it.

That rings the cylinder.

SAA = Once the hammer starts back, it needs to come all the way back before letting the hammer back down.


The Bushmaster
August 31, 2008, 01:45 PM
Dry firing a Colt SAA? I bought (new) in 1966 a Colt SAA in .357 magnum. I can't count how many times I have practiced dry firing it (and on empty chambers too). Damage to the gun? ??? Where?

Because of it's value it became a "Safe Queen" a few years ago and is brought to the range and fired only on special occassions...

August 31, 2008, 01:54 PM
I fall on the "It's a very bad idea!" side of the fence.

I've replaced a few firing pin bushings on old guns that were peened out from the inside.

That can only happen from dry firing.

I believe your SAA .357 has a smaller firing pin tip then the old tapered BP style guns, and many of todays clones.

Maybe it can't hit the bushing on a .357?


August 31, 2008, 06:14 PM
It won't neccessarily hit the bushing on any caliber....but can....varies from gun to gun....Colts use/used the inside curve of the hammer against a matching curve in the frame hammer recess as the hammer stop...guns like USFA's have the top of the hammer stopping on the frame, and I'd think there'd be less variation with that arrangement....Italian SAA's are generally the worst in this respect, whether bushed or not...the softer high-lead-content steel doesn't help matters, either....

If you enjoyed reading about "Dry firing single action cowboy revolvers" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!