Safest way to decock a revolver?


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10mm Mike
January 20, 2010, 11:02 PM
First, let me say that I have ZERO experience with revolvers, but I want to get one eventually, so please bare with me if this is a dumb question.

Assuming you have a modern double action revolver that allows you to cock the hammer for a single action shot and you have a round in every chamber (correct terminology?), what is the safest way to drop the hammer, you know, without actually shooting downrange?

Also, do most revolvers have a "half-cock" like 1911's?

FYI: the revolver that caught my eye, that eventually led to this question, was the Charter Arms Rimless Revolver... luckily for me I only found out about it a few months ago, so I havent been waiting as long as most.

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Guy de Loimbard
January 20, 2010, 11:30 PM
Most revolvers do not have a half-cock, Colt single actions and replicas thereof are chiefly the only ones that do. As far as lowering the hammer goes, I like to put a finger in between the hammer and frame then pull the trigger, then release the trigger, then move the finger out of the way to let the hammer down the rest of the way.

Doogle
January 20, 2010, 11:36 PM
...let the hammer down gently. Ensure the weapon is pointed in a safe direction throughout.

joe_security
January 20, 2010, 11:38 PM
DO NOT COCK THE HAMMER unless you are at a range and intend to fire. I am not going to describe the decocking procedure for liability reasons. Have a clerk at a gunshop show you how to do this, WITH AN UNLOADED GUN. Buy a DA only gun and you wont be in that position in the first place. This can result in serious injury up to and including death. Do not do this if any doubt exists. Cocking a revolver to single action when you are not at a range is foolish, unsafe conduct. Dont do it. The Brinks armored car company issues S&W model 64 revolvers converted to DA only, with the cocking spur removed, and internal single action notch removed from the hammer, so employees cannot cock them.

The Bushmaster
January 20, 2010, 11:42 PM
I would think that placing your finger between the hammer and the frame is a good way to get a cut finger.

S&W double action revolvers are easy to let the hammer down on a live round.

1. Place thumb on hammer spur
2. Maintaining pressure on the hammer, pull the trigger.
3. With the trigger pulled let the hammer down part way and release the trigger thus activating the hammer block.
4. Lower the hammer the rest of the way to fired position.

The hammer block will prevent the hammer from firing the round in the chamber if you slip the hammer prematurely.

M2 Carbine
January 20, 2010, 11:59 PM
What Bushmaster said.


A new shooter can learn to do this safely in about five minutes tops.

10mm Mike
January 21, 2010, 12:04 AM
DO NOT COCK THE HAMMER unless you are at a range and intend to fire.

While I generally agree with this, there are other situations when it is perfectly reasonable to cock the hammer and then need to decock it. For instance, if you hear something in the middle of the night and you think someone might be trying to break in, only to find that the dog is freezing his tail off and wants inside, etc...

- The Bushmaster:
Is the hammer block something specific to S&W's, or do other revolvers have that feature as well?

22-rimfire
January 21, 2010, 12:28 AM
I think you need to shoot a few double action revolvers. Usually at the "cocked" position, it takes a very light trigger pull to set a round off. You would probably not want to wander around the house with the revolver cocked. That is very unsafe. That is what double action is for. Try a good revolver out, you'll see what I mean.

Also when de-cocking a revolver (aka letting the hammer down), you want to have the firearm pointed toward the ground or in a very safe direction just in case.

10mm Mike
January 21, 2010, 12:36 AM
Usually at the "cocked" position, it takes a very light trigger pull to set a round off. You would probably not want to wander around the house with the revolver cocked. That is very unsafe.

Not if you keep your finger off of the trigger like you are supposed to :neener:

And how light are we talking here? 4lbs? 2lbs?

Anyhow, it was just an example (maybe not a good one, but an example nonetheless).

joe_security
January 21, 2010, 01:18 AM
Look for Massad Ayoobs take on the cocked hammer issue. In a self defense shooting, you could be hit with an accidental discharge/negligence law suit, even when you fully intended to fire in self defense. Its a neat way for opposing counsel to take a large sum of money out of your bank account , get a lien on your, house, cars etc. I am not trying to stray from the intent of this thread, but the cocked hammer is more trouble than its worth unless you are hunting, at the range etc. You can defend yourself well with double action shooting, without the danger and liabilty of cocking a hammer.

Clifford
January 21, 2010, 01:55 AM
I for one wouldn't be wandering around my house at night with any revolver cocked. Anyway..... I like to put my thumb between the hammer and frame, pull the trigger, you will feel the hammer release from the sa sear. Now take your finger off the trigger and put it on the spur of the hammer, take your other thumb off the frame and let the hammer down.

As others have mentioned most modern revolvers have built in safetys preventing the firing pin from strikeing the primer if the trigger is not pulled. Give yourself a few minutes with the gun (empty please) and you will figure it out. BTW learn to shoot double action and you will learn better trigger control with all guns not just revolvers.

David E
January 21, 2010, 02:14 AM
Using the thumb of the gun hand to capture the hammer as the trigger is pulled is an advanced technique.

Take the WEAK hand, grasp hammer spur firmly between thumb and forefinger and, while pointing in a safe direction, pull the trigger with the gun hand. At this point, take your trigger finger OFF the trigger and OUT of the trigger guard. Most modern designs have passive safeties that come into play as soon as there is no pressure on the trigger. Gently lower the hammer.

friscolatchi
January 21, 2010, 02:41 AM
There is a safe way to "decock" while in SA mode and it should be learned as part of your revolver training. If you refer to the S&W generic revolver manual, you will find that technique best described. First I would refer to the owners manual for the subject revolver. With the S&W, they tell you to place the thumb ( typically the proximal phalange of the 1st finger, that is the first bone from the knuckle) the off hand between the hammer and the frame (it fits nicely) and with the finger on the trigger deploy to release the hammer. With the thumb of the strong hand on the spur, ease the hammer towards the frame slowly and gently. Of course, place the loaded gun in a safe direction, etc, etc. This technique needs to be practiced with the revolver unloaded until it becomes rote. There may be times when this is necessary such as when hunting or at the range. I would never place the revolver in SA for personal defense, as a Joe Security's response rightly suggested. I hope this helps.

9mmepiphany
January 21, 2010, 02:55 AM
While I generally agree with this, there are other situations when it is perfectly reasonable to cock the hammer and then need to decock it. For instance, if you hear something in the middle of the night and you think someone might be trying to break in, only to find that the dog is freezing his tail off and wants inside, etc...

i realize you've already acknowledged that it might have been a bad example, but i would also suggest that it is both a dangerous and tactically unsound situation to cock a DA hammer

the only advantage to cocking the hammer on a DA revolver offers over using the DA trigger stroke is accuracy a long ranges...i'm talking in excess of 50 yards

CajunBass
January 21, 2010, 05:26 AM
Hold hammer with thumb.

Pull trigger.

Lower hammer.

(practice with an unloaded gun. If you can't learn to do it in ten seconds, don't get the gun.)

easyg
January 21, 2010, 09:10 AM
I like to put a finger in between the hammer and frame then pull the trigger, then release the trigger, then move the finger out of the way to let the hammer down the rest of the way.
With the S&W, they tell you to place the thumb ( typically the proximal phalange of the 1st finger, that is the first bone from the knuckle) the off hand between the hammer and the frame (it fits nicely) and with the finger on the trigger deploy to release the hammer. With the thumb of the strong hand on the spur, ease the hammer towards the frame slowly and gently. Of course, place the loaded gun in a safe direction, etc, etc.

Either one of these methods will work just fine.

I would think that placing your finger between the hammer and the frame is a good way to get a cut finger.
I've never seen nor ever even heard of anyone cutting their finger while doing this.
I don't even think you could if you tried.

springfield30-06
January 21, 2010, 09:51 AM
Make sure that you take your finger off of the trigger & out of the trigger guard after you initially pull the trigger while slowly lowering the hammer manually!!! If you continue to hold the trigger and manually lower the hammer all of the way down, it will allow the firing pin to rest on the primer of the round.

MikeJackmin
January 21, 2010, 10:55 AM
A small but useful addition to the above advice: if you intend to retain the full cocked hammer with your thumb, pull the hammer the rest of the way back under thumb pressure before releasing the trigger. This assures that you have the full pressure of the hammer spring fully under control before the actual decocking process begins.

MikeJackmin
January 21, 2010, 11:03 AM
On a slightly related note... I saw a movie years ago, where one of the characters decocked a 1911 using an unusual technique. As the rest of this actor's gun handling looked pretty good, I thought maybe it was a legit move that I had never seen before, so I tried it out a few times but was never able to make it work.

Here's what I remember: holding the cocked pistol in a firing grip in his right hand, muzzle up, he placed the bottom edge of his open left hand into the gap between the hammer and the frame, like a karate chop, with his left palm facing his chest. The gun's hammer face is now against the edge of his palm about halfway between the base of his pinky and his wrist. He then rotated his left hand palm down, so now his thumb is facing his chest, while pulling the trigger. This somehow seemed to ease the hammer down in a nice controlled fashion.

I could never make this work, and I have the blood blisters on my palm to prove it. Anybody else see anything like this?

P97
January 21, 2010, 11:27 AM
I don't have any problem with the newer firearms that have the safety bar. If you are a hunter, you will definitely need to know how to decock a single action revolver. As has already been mentioned, I put the thumb of my off hand under the hammer, and hold the hammer with my gun hand thumb, and pull the trigger, and just as soon as I feel the trigger break, I take my finger off the trigger, then take my off hand thumb out, and let the trigger down. It works good for me.

NMGonzo
January 21, 2010, 12:52 PM
At home: there is no need. Trust me. Don't AD your revolver or the missus will never let you have another gun home.

At the range: point downrange, hold the hammer with your thumb, squeeze till the hammer wants to go forward, then REMOVE FINGER FROM TRIGGER, and gently bring the hammer home.

Kinda like decocking a 1911 ... if there was ever need for that anyhow.

10mm Mike
January 21, 2010, 08:27 PM
Thanks for the input guys!

What you guys are describing is roughly how I imagined it would be done, but was wondering if there were any other ways, and if that was indeed the "correct" way to do it.

When I decock my 1911's, I:
- *safety on* drop the mag *safety off*
- rack the slide
- put the ejected round back in the mag
- point in a safe direction and drop the hammer
- then reinsert the mag

Maybe completely unnecessary, but thats how I do it. I'm always extra careful like that. Also, pretty much the only time I decock is when hunting with my pistols, which is to say, not very often... especially since I don't carry 1 in the tube with my pistols like I do with my rifles.

Roadkill
January 21, 2010, 08:40 PM
Interesting topic , considering I let a .44 go off unintended downrange Sunday. Thumb slipped while cocking it as I was bringing it up. This was a 1960s Western Marshall .44 mag. I've been looking down gun barrels for 45 years (I'm 58) and it still can happen. Same thing happened to me about thirty years ago with a Winchester Model 97. Those old designs were replaced for a good reason.

GRIZ22
January 21, 2010, 08:57 PM
I would think that placing your finger between the hammer and the frame is a good way to get a cut finger.


Not really. I've taught hundreds of people to stop the forward fall of the hammer with the little finger. Some pinched never cut. Thumbing the hammer down or trying to grasp it between the thumb and forefinger can be screwed up and turn into a ND. The hammer is never going to make it through your little finger.

earlthegoat2
January 21, 2010, 09:38 PM
Read my signature line.

Then read the Snubby Revolver by Ed Lovette.

John Wayne
January 21, 2010, 10:01 PM
HERE IS WHAT S&W RECOMMENDS:

While pointing the gun in a safe direction:

1. Place web of off hand between cocked hammer and frame (NOTE: you are now physically blocking the hammer before going anywhere near the trigger)

2. Place thumb of shooting hand on spur of hammer

3. Pull trigger to release hammer, controlling it with your thumb

4. As soon as the hammer starts to move, release the trigger. This will engage the hammer block safety. If you continue to pull the trigger as you lower the hammer, and it slips, the gun goes bang.

5. With the trigger released, move the web of your off hand out of the way and lower the hammer all the way

This is about as safe as it gets. Obviously, not cocking unless you intend to fire and keeping the gun in a safe direction at all times are paramount.

The Bushmaster
January 21, 2010, 11:51 PM
Wow!! I have never put my thumb, finger or web between the hammer and frame of a revolver to let the hammer down on a live chamber (Not how I was taught). Sooo...I went to the bedroom and emptied my S&W Mod 10, pulled the hammer back, place my thumb, then my finger and then the web of my hand between the hammer and frame. Man, that hurts. I don't care WHAT S&W says...The procedure that I listed in my first post works. Like all procedures that must be preformed with all firearms it takes practice. If you don't want to or feel you don't have the time OR are one of those guys that already "knows it". I would highly recommend that you NEVER pick up or own a firearm.

earlthegoat2
January 22, 2010, 12:30 AM
Putting the thumb between the hammer and frame is monumentally easy for me. I think it is the safest method.

If you are right handed:

1. Hold the revovler in your right hand.
2. Place the left thumb between the frame and cocked hammer with pressure on the hammer.
3. Pull the trigger and hold.
4. Move left thumb, which is now holding the hammer, forward a little bit to get the hammer past the single action notch.
5. Let go of the trigger.
6. Place right thumb on hammer.
7. Remove left thumb from between the hammer and frame.
8. Slowly lower the hammer with your right thumb.

Of course I never thumb cock either.

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