Drawing and firing the SA


Red Cent
September 21, 2011, 09:13 PM
For those who CC a SA. How do you practice? Do you shoot one handed? Or two? How do you cock the SA for rapid fire.

I'm decent. I have competed in cowboy for a while. Just curious.

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September 21, 2011, 09:25 PM
While we don't have CC here in Illinois, I do practice for SD use with a SA, and I practice both one hand (strong and offside) and two hand shooting.

When I practice two handed shooting, I use my "off" hand thumb, similar to what I have seen some CAS shooters do.

September 22, 2011, 08:31 AM
In reality, you should practice both 1 and 2 handed shooting to simulate a real life situation where one hand is injured or holding a light at night, and with the 2 handed grip the non-dominant thumb always cocks the hammer, leaving the dominant hand in control of the grip. The SA is unique in that the finger can be safely put on the trigger while searching/moving until a target is located, then cocking the hammer to fire. No other handgun can claim this.;)


September 22, 2011, 09:17 AM
I do a little bit of everything. Lots of shooting with both hands, using the sights. Cocking with either thumb. Seemingly unlike most folks, I don't have to shift my grip to cock with the strongside thumb. Probably because I've been doing it since age 12. Lots of point-shooting, one and two handed, left and right handed and slip-hammering. Which I try not to do a whole hell of a lot of because it's tough on the bolt and notches. I bought a USFA Rodeo II .38Spl and a conversion kit for my Dillon 650 specifically for practicing from the draw.

September 22, 2011, 11:08 AM
I favor off-hand thumb cocking with a 2-handed grip, using a very firm grip with the strong hand. My offhand comes in from above my strong hand. The line of my offhand index finger almost coming to a 45 degree down angle with my bottom 3 fingers covering the 3 fingers on my strong hand, the index finger resting on the front of the trigger guard, and my thumb positioned off to the side pretty much sticking up at a 45 degree angle, ready to re-cock.

I also practice firing/cocking one-handed with each hand. I figure that in a situation where I am forced to use my off-hand to fire, it will likely be because I do not have use of my strong hand. I don't spend a lot of time practicing a 2-handed grip holding the gun in the offhand.

Seemingly unlike most folks, I don't have to shift my grip to cock with the strongside thumb.

This may be a weird request, but any chance you could provide a video demonstrating how you do that without shifting your grip? I've tried, and I just can't seem to use strongside thumb to cock when using a 2-handed grip without dramatically shifting my grip between shots. Maybe my hands are just too small.

In my limited observation, all the folks I have seen using strong-side thumb cocking with 2-handed grip in cowboy shooting have always performed slower than those using off-hand thumb - yet I have read accounts from many very seasoned and serious SA shooters (including those who carry SA with stout rounds) who advocate strongside thumb cocking.

The only problem I experience with my 2-handed grip is when using slightly-heavier-than-moderate loads in my .44's and .45's and firing quickly, my grip tends to "ride up" a bit by the 3rd or 4th round. Not a huge deal, but worth mentioning. I think this could be prevented if I used a more traditional 2-handed revolver grip using my offhand to better support my strong hand, and using the strong hand thumb to cock.

In the end though, off-hand cocking will still be the fastest way to empty the gun.

Red Cent
September 22, 2011, 12:49 PM
I can't recall anyone cocking the hammer with their stronghand and a two hand hold. Unless it was a new shooter.

A bunch of cowboys, me included, put their little finger under the bottom of the grip. This helps us get the same grip when we draw with the stronghand and it lends a little to recoil control. Yeah, I know but every little bit helps.

I have never tried that grip with my 3 screw SBH in 44mag or my OM Blackhawk in 45 Colt using hot loads.

Another question:

At what point do you cock the gun if needed to in a speedy draw?

September 22, 2011, 12:55 PM
Watch the fast shooters at a SASS match. All the two handed guys cock with the weak hand thumb. Most keep the thumb extended for the next shot. For a two handed hold, cock as soon as the weak hand is in position and the muzzle is at least 45 degrees above the plane of the ground. Cocking with the strong hand, same rule. Don't cock while drawing, 45 degree rule again.

September 22, 2011, 01:18 PM
Cocking with the weak hand is always gonna be quicker but I really think both skills are important.

It would be a little too much trouble to produce and upload a video but here's a pictorial that may help. I've had this discussion online several times and I seem to be a freak in this regard. My hands are not overly large, I normally wear a size 9 or XL glove.

Using the aforementioned USFA Rodeo II, here goes.

Normal shooting position using the pinky-under hold:

Grasping the hammer spur with the thumb, no shift in the grip:

Drawing the hammer back:

At half cock:

At full cock with zero shift in my grip, I'll fold my thumb back down like the first pic and be ready to fire:

September 22, 2011, 01:24 PM
As far as when to cock, if you're not shooting CAS, the hammer should start coming back as soon as the sixgun clears leather. No reason to wait any longer. Brian Pearce did a very good article on this in Handloader magazine a while back.

Here's the same demonstration two-handed.

Shooting position, I have adopted a technique of pressing the weak thumb against the recoil shield when shooting. This was offered by a fellow sixgunner who lives with these guns every day and is a very impressive single action shooter.

The hammer comes back:

Ready to reassume the firing position:

I never shoot with the thumb folded back over the strong hand. I always return it to the firing position shown in the first pic. This is for using these guns in the real world, not banging away at steel with mousefart loads.

September 22, 2011, 01:38 PM
Thanks a lot for the run down and pics, Craig. Gives me a few things to try.

September 22, 2011, 04:21 PM
A guy like me offering a guy like red SA opinions over the internet is pretty much where reality jumps the shark!

That said, I practice with SA just like I do with anything, that is to say strong, support, mirror and typical two-handed. Two handed is just like everyone else, support thumb cocks.

Craig, thanks for the pictorial; I see what the deal is: you actually switch from "pulling" to "camming/levering" from half-cock to full lock. Subtle, but a very different motion. Thanks for that.

A question: with your thumb at the shield like that, have you ever been punctured by any primer rupture or blowback? Just curious. I bled all over hell once from a ruptured primer off of some WWB 110 gr. .357 out of a K-frame using a high unlocked hold that put my support thumb pad in the path of detritus, even though it was "behind the line" of the shield.

Also, my own experience (thus far) is that while the pinky under-which I prefer-allows for better recoil absorption (and comfort) due to rolling (both one hand or supported). I am faster with two-handed follow up shots using a more modern crush hold like the ones most modern autoloader shooters use, even if I'm fighting the gun frame more. I'm not sure "control" is the word I'd use to describe the pinky under's attributes, even though I suspect that's actually the grip that God intended SA jocks to use.

I'm not about to argue with any of you guys who have forgot more about these wheelies than I know, mind, I'm just observin' and askin'... make sense?

September 22, 2011, 04:35 PM
All the two handed guys cock with the weak hand thumbAnd I'm not so sure all the fast guys even "cock" and pull the trigger.

Looks a lot like slip-hammer shooting to me.

Some of the old time gunmen actually took the trigger out of the gun, or tied it back.
Then let the thumb "slip" off the hammer at full cock to fire it.

It appears to me some of the top CASS guys might be doing the same thing, on the close targets at least.


September 22, 2011, 05:37 PM
I think a lot of the CAS guys are indeed slip hammering.

Red Cent
September 22, 2011, 07:03 PM
Indeed, there are a few top shooters who sliphammer every shot. Red River Ray, out of Albemarle, NC, sliphammers always. One of the top shooters in the nation. He started that way and practice is what practice does.

I sliphammer quite often. Some clubs put 'em close and big and then its sliphammer time. Gotta remember, we shoot rather large steel targets that are real close. And we are in a gunfight. Stand behind a table with rifle (10 rounds loaded), shotgun (open and enpty w/shotgun belt usually use four rounds), and two SA revolvers holstered (5 rounds each) and if you don't shoot a simple stage under 20 seconds, you won't get the blue Cadilac. You might win your category.

Red Cent
September 22, 2011, 07:17 PM
Back to the draw. My cowboy draw mimics the old tried and true IPSC draw. Acquire grip, pull straight up and a little before chest level start leveling the gun and start pushing forward. Meet the strong hand with the weak hand at eye level and, before full extension, cock the gun with the weak hand,

My thumb will always return to straight up and hit the hammer again immediately for rapid fire. Full subconscious.

Because of the 1911 and cowboy, I cannot wear bibs when I practice. Having that stronghand thumb sticking out ready to wipe the safety and I invariably hook the bibs with my thumb.

Sam Cade
September 22, 2011, 07:26 PM
I'm decent. :evil:

lol......weren't you a SASS champion a couple years back?

September 23, 2011, 01:37 AM
I almost exclusively shoot one handed. Two-handed shooting just feels "wrong" to me. I'm about as good with either hand (little slower with the left, but just as accurate) so it's not really an issue if either arm gets injured. Pinky under the bottom helps a lot when thumb busting it since the recoil doesn't shift your grip.

I sometimes 2-handed quickdraw but that's not really useful (and it's bad for the gun). Only real application is against a charging person. If you have good reflexes and can quickdraw, then the 21 foot rule doesn't apply to you.

Red Cent
September 23, 2011, 06:12 PM
Sam, I worked my butt off as you know we need to do to get there. I shot every weekend for five years, plus all the live fire practice and dry firing I could. The draw, the reholster, rifle, shotgun.

In 2007, I put the match of a lifetime together at the World Championship in Moriarty, NM. I won my class (Silver Senior) but the idea that out of about 600 hundred shooters, I came in 35th puts a smile on my face. 65 years young, a little gimpy, but it paid off.



When you work hard, it feels really "earned".

Red Cent
September 23, 2011, 06:14 PM
By the way, no ego problem here.:evil:

September 24, 2011, 12:34 AM
congrats on the '07 silver Red Cent.
THR is fortunate to have a legit cowboy/Sass resource.

September 24, 2011, 11:02 AM
By the way, no ego problem here.
None detected. ;)

David Sinko
September 24, 2011, 04:59 PM
This is all very fascinating. Slip shooting is something that the mainstream does not discuss. I never even thought about the CAS shooters. I shoot most of the competitive shooting disciplines, but never CAS (don't have the equipment). I've always been interested in slip shooting ever since I learned about it years ago in Elmer Keith's writing. So I am amazed to find shooters here who are obviously very accomplished at it.

So... Are you guys using stock or modified hammers? Keith mentioned Jack Newman and his slip hammers that had to be cut and welded. Is that sort of modification still done today? What kind of stock hammer is best? Or does the stock hammer not work at all? And how well can a revolver be slip hammer manipulated with a 255 gr. bullet at 950 FPS?

Dave Sinko

September 24, 2011, 05:07 PM
I can get by pretty good with a stock Colt SAA hammer slipping with my left thumb.
But I ain't won no CASS National Championship like some folks here have. :D

I have been shooting SAA's about 50 years though.

I believe Jack Newman had to have his hammers modified like that so he could use his shooting hand thumbs to slip them.

The thing is though if you are going to try it.
You have to ALWAYS remember to keep the trigger all the way back out of the way or you can wreck a gun slipping it just about as fast as fanning it.

how well can a revolver be slip hammer manipulated with a 255 gr. bullet at 950 FPS?Thats all I shoot in mine.
8.5 Unique under a 250 grain Keith SWC.
Is there some other .45 Colt load?


September 26, 2011, 12:14 PM
By the way, no ego problem here.

It ain't bragging when you actually can back it up! :)

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