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Ignorance will = A negligent discharge! Capstick Method

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by H&Hhunter, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    Peter Capstick was a brilliant writer, love him or hate him, he is a good read. I used to love reading his stuff until after several hunts on the Dark Continent changed my impression of the veracity of his "non fictional" stories somewhat. In any case he is very entertaining and extremely descriptive to read.

    HOWEVER he has done the world a great disservice in his description of how to "safely" handle a rifle. In one or more of his books he describes the method of chambering a round and holding the trigger back while gently closing the bolt on a live round claiming that since the firing pin spring is relaxed that it makes the rifle safe to carry as a possibly faulty safety latch is now out of the picture. And P.H.C.'s description and "safety" advice in this regard was dead

    "Dead" bolting a bolt action rifle in this manner is out right dangerous in the least and just plain STUPID at it's best and here is why.

    Think about what you are doing. You are relaxing the firing pin so that it is in it's most extended position. The firing pin is now resting on the face of the primer and in fact is being held against the primer face with some tension by the firing pin spring. Drop or jar that rifle just right and with just enough force and the firing pin will (not can, not may, but WILL) have enough striking force to set the primer off, and obviously, causing the rifle to fire.

    Magnum magazine of South Africa tested multiple rifle that had been set up in this condition and nearly all were made to fire some with a drop on the butt from as little as 6" (THAT'S INCHES) folks.

    Why bring it up now? Well, this a rifle handling urban legend that just won't die. I had a guy proudly show me the "Capstick" carry method just the other day and loudly proclaimed to all that it was the safest way there is to carry a rifle.

    I took a black felt tipped pen and painted his case head with it then pointed the rifle down range and "dead" bolted his rifle. He just about pooped a brick when he saw the firing pin drag marks across the case head and the small indentation the firing pin left on his primer.

    Folks when you fully understand the mechanics of this procedure there shouldn't be one single solitary sane or logical shooter out there who would ever consider handling a rifle when it is in this configuration. Please think about it and please if you are doing this stop it before you have an ND and possibly something much much worse than just an embarrassing situation.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  2. splithoof

    splithoof Well-Known Member

    I watched that very incident play out when a total
    "Range Bozo" put a round through his truck floor, and had his front tire shot out. Best part was telling him that he would have to wait nine or ten hours in the hot sun before I could give him a ride back to the nearest town!
  3. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Well-Known Member

    Wow. It’s hard to believe someone would advocate anything like this. I thought this was a settled issue when cowboys started carrying their 6 shot revolvers with the hammer resting on an empty chamber.
  4. Gunnerboy

    Gunnerboy Well-Known Member

    Is this for real..... are people that stupid???
  5. 68wj

    68wj Well-Known Member

    Did Capstick ever have a Mosin? :D:evil:
  6. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob Well-Known Member

    This doesnt sound like a bright move at all.

    But what about hammer down on a lever gun? Same situation or different mechanics? I know a couple guys that chamber a round, then hammer down their lever guns. Some with and some without the modern safety.
  7. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Well-Known Member

    No half-cock on those models?
  8. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob Well-Known Member

    i am assuming so, mostly seen done on Marlins 1894s and 336s plus Winchester model 94's.
  9. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Well-Known Member

    Some guns with exposed hammers have a piece that comes up (between firing pin & hammer) when the trigger is pulled. Lowering w/o trigger pulled, the hammer will not reach the firing pin. Just sitting here thinking about it, I know I have several old shotguns like this; can't think of any rifles off hand.
  10. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    Yes same situation drop the rifle and you'll get an ND. I've never seen a lever gun that has an interceptor bar like a modern single action pistol. I'm sure they exist but of Marlins or Winchesters have them.
  11. 627PCFan

    627PCFan Well-Known Member

    I have a 1952 336 and tried to fire a primer in an empty case with the hammer resting and couldnt get it to fire. Not saying it cant be done but I couldnt engineer it to happen
  12. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    Drop the rifle so the hammer hit's something solid. That'll do it. In any case I hope that you are not advocating that it is safe to carry a lever gun with the hammer down on a live round?
  13. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    So what was the publication in which this was printed? Page?
  14. Snag

    Snag Well-Known Member

    Ok, I've never heard of this. Just so I'm clear, and I think I am, this guy says to pull the trigger and keep it held then chamber a round?
  15. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    Open the bolt hold back the trigger, chamber the round and gently close the bolt while the trigger is being held back. AKA by some as Capstick carry, deadbolting, African Safe...

    But in any case it's STUPID and DANGEROUS!
  16. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator


    Capstick wrote about it in several of his books. I don't recall which ones or on what pages. You seem to have plenty of free time please feel free to look it up or read all of his books yourself and get back to us on the specific page paragraph and sentence.

    In any case he picked it up I'm sure during his time in Africa as many South Africans I've hunted with use this technique. It seems to be a cultural thing over there left over I'm sure from using rifles with weak or faulty safety mechanisms in the old days.

    Are you challenging the premise that this is an unsafe method of rifle carry or are you nit picking whether or not Capstick wrote about it? If it is the latter I really don't have the time or the patience for it!

    Thanks for your understanding.
  17. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    H&H, i agree with you that what he describes doesn't make a rifle safe for the reasons you explained.

    Bigger picture, i think "safe" is a relative term and what is "safe enough" depends on a lot of environmental factors.

    So... if you follow "the four rules" then in some situations carrying loaded, cocked and without a safety is "safe enough". In other situations, I wouldn't be comfortable with a round in the chamber regardless of other safety steps.

    What seems indisputable, is that it's ridiculous to set people's expectation that a loaded gun that has the hammer down is "safe" and nothing bad could possibly happen.
  18. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    Wow, why so defensive? I just wanted to be able to look up the actual description you stated as being so bad. From your specificity, it sounded like you had the material in front of you. You had the time to write a glaring review of ancient history and so I figured you had the time to actually provide a citation.
  19. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    I was under the impression that lever guns had floating firing pins. Not sure and could well be wrong.

    Back to bolt guns......Guess I'm missing something. How do you fire the gun if the trigger is already back and the firing pin is resting against the primer??
  20. T Bran

    T Bran Well-Known Member

    You took the words right out of my fingers as I too would like to know how to recock the firing pin without ejecting the live round.
    Guess we arent very bolt savy.

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