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.38 Special Accidental Discharge

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by OldGunMan, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. OldGunMan

    OldGunMan Member

    I'm sure this is a stupid question, but can a .38 special double action pistol accidentally discharge if it falls on the hammer? My wife is a clinical social worker in a local hospital and someone was brought in, shot in the buttock, under these circumstances. With a modern revolver, I didn't think this was possible.
  2. Flint Ridge

    Flint Ridge Well-Known Member

    If true the lawsuit would be worth it:)

    I say BS.
  3. Warp

    Warp Well-Known Member

    They were probably lying.

    A modern revolver is drop safe. They probably either shot themselves being stupid or their buddy/wife/etc shot them being stupid.

    I'm sure there will be one or two out there that are defective, often it seems, as a result of "bubba gunsmithing", but they will be few and far between.
  4. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    I believe that it as in WW2 on a Navy ship that a S&W Victory revolver was dropped from up high and had an AD when it struck the hammer to the deck and fired killing a seaman. S&W then came up with their hammer block to fix the issue.

    So if that is true then either it was a very old S&W or someone took out the hammer block. This is done often enough by folks that think it affects the trigger pull.
  5. Radagast

    Radagast Well-Known Member

    Pre 1944 S&W revolvers that lack a letter prefix to the serial number, or have a V prefix up to around serial number V760000 could potentially fire if dropped.
    S&Ws made after that period are mechanically blocked from firing unless the trigger is pulled.
    I can't speak to any other designs.
  6. Radagast

    Radagast Well-Known Member

    Note to the above. If the hammer block is broken or removed then it could fire, a gunsmith would need to inspect the gun.
  7. Black Knight

    Black Knight Well-Known Member

    Transfer bar type systems and hammer blocks were not always used in revolvers. Older revolvers did not have them and could fire if dropped on the hammer. Fortunately most "modern" revolvers today use them and unless they are defective or removed they should not fire in dropped.
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Even pre-hammer block S&W's were blocked by the rebound slide fitting under the hammer all the time unless the trigger is pulled.
    And even those pre-hammer block S&W's like the above mentioned Victory model did have an additional hammer block safety that pivoted out of the side plate under spring loading.

    In order for one to fire, something would have to break or deform internally, or the spring loaded hammer block would have to stick in the sideplate and fail to deploy.

    I'd say there was more to the story then was told to the ER folks!

    A lot of ND's are explaned away by "I dropped the gun and it just went off", or "I was cleaning it and it went off all by itself"!

  9. savit260

    savit260 Well-Known Member

    Maybe from an older, lower quality brand, but not likely from anything modern.

    Are you sure it was a .38 Special? More likely with an old .38 S&W caliber... or the person may have been fibbing .
  10. Remllez

    Remllez Well-Known Member

    I'm guessing here but anything other than a AD needs to be reported to the authorities.
  11. tpelle

    tpelle Well-Known Member

    I remember years ago when a couple of off-duty Cincinnati cops were looking at a Ruger DA revolver that one of them had in the trunk of his car. Ended up that one of the cops got shot - fatally, as I recall. The surviving cop blamed the gun, testifying that it went off by itself.

    "BS" I thought to myself at the time.

    I was proven to be right.

    The two cops were drunk at the time and were grab-a$$ing around, and one of 'em pointed the gun at the other one and pulled the trigger. That's pretty much the proven technique required to shoot somebody with a modern DA revolver, you know?
  12. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Well-Known Member

    It would not be possible with a post- WWII Smith & Wesson, any Colt made since ~1920, or a Ruger if they are in good working order.
  13. Tony_the_tiger

    Tony_the_tiger Well-Known Member

    We call these 'negligent' discharges rather than 'accidental'.

    Even if the firearm is built without safety mechanisms such as a transfer bar or hammer block, the owner or carrier of the weapon has a responsibility for what that firearm does when it is in their care.

    The number one safety is the operator. Older models can be carried safely by keeping the chamber under the hammer empty. Such a gun would still be good in a self defense situation, since when the trigger of a revolver is pulled the cylinder rotates, and thus it is never the round under the hammer that fires first. Old timers have made it second nature to carry such firearms with one chamber empty to prevent negligent discharges.

    Some modern revolver manufacturers (freedom arms comes to mind) also recommends keeping the chamber below the hammer empty.

    However, if the firearm had a hammer block (s&w) or a transfer bar (ruger) or a mixup of extremely similar mechanisms (other manufacturers) it would seem very unlikely that it was an "accidental discharge", even if it was an "accident", but rather was a negligent discharge.

    Many of us here have had similar scenarios crop up from negligence - some ending in nothing but shame, and others ending in tragedy. Thank God if no one was hurt in this "accident", but I would not want the shame of needlessly discharging a firearm in a hospital of all places!

    The individual responsible needs to seriously review firearms safety and face up to what happened so we all can learn from it and move on.
  14. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    a proper working modern revolver cannot be fired if you banged on the hammer with a mallet
  15. woad_yurt

    woad_yurt Well-Known Member

    If the gun wasn't an ancient one, this sounds like a story made up to cover ones butt or to save face.
  16. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Well-Known Member

  17. billybob44

    billybob44 Well-Known Member

    Butt yurt--the Butt got shot??Bill
  18. Coyote3855

    Coyote3855 Well-Known Member

    Re Post #10. I fairly sure that when someone shows up in the emergency room with a gunshot wound, the police are called. I know someone who shot a hole in his pickup truck. The auto body shop reported THAT to the cops. On topic, Iver Johnson once had as part of their advertising the phrase "Hammer the hammer" touting the reliability of their hammer block safey mechanism.
  19. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    I've seen to AD's that were the result of no modern day transfer bar or hammer block and both happened when they were dropped. One was a 22 revolver that the name doesn't seem to be in my memory bank, and the other was a Ruger SBH 44 mag. from the late 1970's. I came close to being a victim with the 44 mag..
  20. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Nobody said traditional Single-Actions like the old three-screw Blackhawk's were drop-safe.
    They introduced the "New Model" with the transfer bar in 1973 to address that.

    But the OP ask about a modern Double-Action.
    And I can't think of any modern DA that is not totally drop safe.


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