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Dry firing single action cowboy revolvers

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by earlthegoat2, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Well-Known Member

    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?
  2. Virginian

    Virginian Well-Known Member

    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).
  3. theken206

    theken206 Well-Known Member

    some have transfer bars like the new vaquero and are ok to do so iirc
  4. calaverasslim

    calaverasslim Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. mtngunr

    mtngunr Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. Rexster

    Rexster Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam


    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.

  8. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    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...
  9. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    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?

  10. mtngunr

    mtngunr Well-Known Member

    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....

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