Putting to rest the myth of the "Cowboy Carry": Colt + S&W recommended carry w/all 6 chambers loaded

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by sleepysquirrel2, Sep 19, 2022.

  1. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Well you didn't say which way you swing.
    But every time the subject comes up, somebody says he depends on the quarter cock. I wonder what he would do if it failed and winged him. Enough sued to get the guns changed, not just Ruger. More and more what with the Uberti retractable firing pin.
     
  2. .45Coltguy

    .45Coltguy Member

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    Jim, post #33. I do appreciate we are keeping this civil. Thanks.
     
  3. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    If you try to remove the spark plugs from a Ford Triton motor the way Ford tells you to do it in their TSB, you will break some.

    If you decarbonize the intake first and yank them out with a 3/8" drive impact gun (NOT ratchet) while the motor is still hot, you very well may not.

    So, is the factory documentation correct?
     
  4. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    Exactly what does a Ford engine have to do with a SAA in the 1800’s?
     
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  5. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Not a denier. As noted, the OP may actually be correct, but his position is not supported by ancillary documentation. I am not sure why that is hard to understand. You can't justify that people didn't do something just because it was contrary to user manuals and east coast dandy gun writers/publishers, LOL. He made a big did about using original sources, but the sources were not about the actual people using the guns. That is a logic oversight.

    Then there is the issue of proving a negative. Maybe you can better explain how it is that user manuals dictate control over people's behaviors.

    However, you did bring up literacy (as have others). The Office or Department of Education came about in 1867 during this time and their very first study was on literacy. Quite interesting, in 1870, 20% of the overall US population was deemed to be illiterate (in any language). So while we may have had countless French, German, Italian, Chinese, etc. people from non-English speaking foreign countries who were literate in their own languages, how many were actually literate in English, the language of the user manuals? We don't know, but it would be more than the numbers identified.

    Blacks, that comprised 20-25% of western cowboys had an 80% illiteracy rate and they alone would account for 16-20% of the cowboy population.

    Now, when they undertook this study, do you think they went to all the Native American reservations, Chinese work camps, etc.? Do you think the Department of Education had the funds to actually survey all of the remote areas of the US at the time? No? Of course not. So their study would be biased to primary larger towns and locations back east.

    However, literacy is only part of the issue. Did everybody who owned a gun get it with a manual? No, of course not. So you think maybe the gun manufacturers were out in the remote Old West giving regular gun safety courses? Nope.

    My apologies, Paul, I had no idea that you were over 150 years old. If not, what you do really has absolutely no bearing what was going on in the Old West, now does it?
     
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  6. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    It has to do with information from the manufacturer is not always correct. Engineers (and marketing departments) often have a habit of living in perfect worlds....
     
  7. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy Again

    I thought I would post a few more photos of some 19th Century revolvers.

    This is a Smith & Wesson Russian Model. Specifically, the 2nd Model Russian. The great majority of these were shipped to Russia, and a couple of other European countries, but some did make their way out west. This revolver fired the 44 Russian cartridge, which was not as powerful as a 44-40 or a 45 Colt, but it was still an effective man stopper.

    poZxQVGxj.jpg




    Unlike the New Model Number Three, the Russian Model did not have a rebounding hammer. The hammer had three positions, all the way down, half cock, and full cock. This photo shows the hammer all the way down as it would be after firing the revolver. The tip of the sear can be seen near the half cock notch.

    pmGUCf5pj.jpg




    This is the half cock position. The hammer must be in this position to open the revolver for loading and unloading. The hammer has rocked back far enough to clear the step in the latch so the frame can be opened. We can see the sear nestling in the half cock notch. Notice how thin the sear is. I would never load this revolver with six rounds, because a strong blow could shear off the sear or the lip of the half cock notch, allowing the revolver to discharge.

    pocfkXTLj.jpg




    This photo shows the hammer all the way back in the full cock position.

    pmxluOhXj.jpg




    This is a Smith and Wesson Schofield Model.

    pnISQ5F1j.jpg




    Three photos of the action, showing the hammer all the way down, half cock loading position, and full cock. Again, with that thin sear, I would never fully load this revolver with a live round under the hammer.

    pl1s8yr5j.jpg

    pnjzACGVj.jpg

    poVXpMU7j.jpg




    This is a Merwin Hulbert Pocket Army. Don't be confused by the word 'pocket' this is a full size revolver chambered for 44-40.

    pmdvB3hZj.jpg




    Merwin Hulbert pretty much copied the action of the large, top break Smith and Wesson revolvers. The hammer is all the way down in this photo, the sear can be seen in front of the half cock notch on the hammer.

    pokPQpOVj.jpg




    The hammer is in the half cock position in this photo. Like the Smith and Wesson top breaks, the hammer had to be in this position in order to load and unload.

    pmvenZqhj.jpg




    Full cock. I have fired this revolver many times. I would never load it with a live round under the hammer because of how thin the sear is.

    poeUTudQj.jpg




    This photo shows a Remington Model 1875 at the top and a Model 1890 at the bottom.

    poCirdOhj.jpg




    The lockwork of the Remington revolvers was very similar to a Colt. With that thin sear I would never load this Model 1875 with a live round under the hamer.

    pnuFgASij.jpg




    As I have said before, I have no documentation on how these revolvers were loaded in the past, but I hope these photos make it clear why I consider it unsafe to load any of them with a live round under the hammer.
     
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  8. tmd16556

    tmd16556 Member

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    I think we also have to remember that a lot of this comes back to some quotes of Wyatt Earp. We always think of the OK Corral, but he died in Hollywood, CA in the late 1920s. There was a lot of storytelling going on there, and he lived off that in his later years. The “Wild West” was a really short period of time for action with a lot of time to re-tell the stories. Think of how many stories about the 1970s and 80s you tell today, same span of time. Maybe he did that, maybe it was a better story than what actually happened? (I can trash talk since we’re family, I’m a direct descendant of his uncle (or great uncle, I can get off by a generation that far back), the South Carolina Earps, who can’t trust those yankee Earps from Illinois).

    The cowboy photos don’t really tell much either. Those were usually studio photos to impress the ladies back home. The guns would be unloaded and borrowed or studio props.

    I suspect in reality, most cowboys couldn’t afford any revolver, so it was a moot point. Most revolvers were pocket guns carried in the big cities. Of those who did some carried 6, but some people knew someone or learned from someone who knew someone who had a friend of a friend who was hurt or killed by an AD. They probably had this same debate over the campfire or cold beer and oysters (rail cars moved a lot of ice and history has some little quirks) if they were in a railroad town at the end of a drive.
     
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  9. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    About the only even remotely reliable source you have from "The Old West" is Wyatt Earp, and his relevant quote has already been posted. You'll also find that Elmer Keith had his Colt SAA machined to have "safety notches" in-between the charge holes, similar to the Remington pattern single actions.
     
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  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I don't recall that from E. Keith. Which book?

    I do recall him writing about grinding off the quarter and half cock notches.
    I don't remember his rationale.
     
  11. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    I just finished watching Mike Beliveau's video. While I respect Mike a great deal, and have chatted with him on some internet forums, I would like to correct a couple of things he said.

    Early in his video, MIke talked about the Smith and Wesson Tip Ups. There were three sizes of Tip Ups, Mike only mentioned the #1 and the #1 1/2. He did not mention the #2. In this photo, top down, we have a #2, #1 1/2, and #1.

    The #1 came first, a tiny 7 shot revolver firing what we would call today the 22 Short. The #1 was introduced in 1857, and various versions of it were produced up until 1881.

    The next Tip Up that S&W produced was the #2, a much larger, six shot revolver chambered for the 32 Rimfire cartridge. This model was made from 1861 until 1874. It was popular with Union officers during the Civil War. Although not as powerful as the big 44 caliber Cap & Ball revolvers of the day, it could be reloaded much quicker. I have read that James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock had one of these in his pocket when he was gunned down in Deadwood in 1876.

    As towns in the Old West began implementing laws against open carry, S&W produced the # 1 1/2, a five shot Tip Up small enough to be easily concealed in a pocket. Introduced in 1865, this revolver also fired the 32 Rimfire cartridge. That is why this model is called the #1 1/2, The names #1 and # 2 were already taken and this model was intermediate in size between the other two.

    pmaUcEc5j.jpg




    This photo shows how the Tip Ups, a #2 in this case, were loaded and unloaded. A latch at the bottom of the frame was depressed, allowing the barrel to swing up. The cylinder was then removed from the frame and empty cases were shoved out with the rod under the barrel. New cartridges were loaded into the cylinder, then the cylinder was popped back into the frame and the barrel was lowered, ready to fire.

    The hammers of the Tip Ups only had two positions. All the way down or full cock. There was no half cock or safety cock position. When the hammer was down, the firing pin rested directly on the rim of a cartridge under the hammer. I have fired one of these a few times, and I only load five rounds and swing down the barrel with an empty under the chamber. I'll bet Wild Bill loaded all six.

    pnyiKQo5j.jpg




    Mike mentioned the Smith and Wesson 38 caliber Baby Russian model and quoted an astronomical number of them being produced. He was generalizing. The Baby Russian was also known as the 38 Single Action 1st Model. This model was only produced from 1876 to 1877, and there were 25,548 produced. This model was followed by the 38 Single Action 2nd Model, and then the 38 Single Action 3rd Model. Only the 1st model is known as the Baby Russian by collectors.

    pm2PF3Y1j.jpg




    Let's look inside a Baby Russian. Three photos showing the hammer all the way down, the half cock loading position, and full cock. Again with that tiny sear, I would be reluctant let the hammer down to the half cock position with a live round under it. But seeing as this was a five shot, not six shot revolver, I might load all five if I was carrying one on a dark night in a bad section of town.

    poa7Qm0uj.jpg


    pmilq8mvj.jpg

    poDvG0Uxj.jpg




    Mike mentions the S&W Safety Hammerless revolvers, sometimes known as Lemon Squeezers because of the grip safety. I have a few of them, both 38 and 32. This is one model I would feel comfortable loading with all five rounds, because the grip safety makes them safe to carry with a live round under the hammer.

    pnhbgTHkj.jpg




    Somewhere in his video Mike mentioned that the 38 S&W cartridge was responsible for a great many shootings in the cities in the 19th Century. I took this photo a number of years ago in a museum next to one of the lakes in Central Park in New York City. This S&W 38 Double Action was dredged up out of one of the lakes. Clearly it was in the lake a long time, seeing how much of it has rusted away. I suspect somebody must have pitched it into the lake after committing a crime with it. The last time I visited that museum the pistol was no longer on display.

    po6vZQvPj.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2022
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  12. aaaaa

    aaaaa Member

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    The extra long cylinder pin of the Interams Virginian Dragoon makes for a clever safety, but the problem is that it takes to long to take it off safety. By the time you get the pin moved forward the other guy will have shot you.
     
  13. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    Not even a guess...

    Sensible people understood their firearms and carried them safely so they wouldn't accidentally shoot themselves or someone else.

    The sort of people who drive while texting now carried their firearms unsafely and had a lot negligent discharges.

    If you've been around humans much, that experience is your documentation. :)
     
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  14. UncleEd

    UncleEd Member

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    TO END SPECULATION: :evil:

    OK, any posters have some old or new
    SAAs in good. order?

    I suggest a test for us all to learn.

    Put their hammers in the safety notch
    and then with a palm sized rock whack
    said hammers softly, a bit harder and
    then even harder.

    Let us know when the safety notches
    break and what the difference was
    between a 19th Century and 20th
    Century model.

    :):rofl::):rofl::):rofl::)
     
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  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I recall the antique arms dealer who offered a regular service of welding up and recutting SAA hammer notches.
    So they did get used and abused enough to take wear and breakage.
    He gave you a functioning gun with "correct" parts by exchange. Rebuild and return of your original part cost extra.
     
  16. aaaaa

    aaaaa Member

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    Perhaps the gun companies thought if they outright told people not to carry with one under the hammer, they buyer would figure it was not so much of a gun if it is a six-shooter that can only carry 5. That might be a deterrent to sales.
     
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  17. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    Trying to discuss the subject of how 1800’s folks carried or handled firearms is like herding cats riding camels on an icy parking lot.

    The goal is never reached but it sure is funny to watch.
     
  18. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    They had zero trigger discipline as well from my research. Even old photos show everyone with fingers in the guard. That makes some sense in a single action world but it did carry over to the modern era double action revolvers and early single action autos. It explains the reasoning behind the grips safety and even manual safeties on some military revolvers.

    Although we think about the old west as a shootout a minute it was actually less dangerous than modern day Chicago. I cannot help to think that if you carry a gun as a survival tool you would certainly take due care to make sure it didn’t become an danger in and of itself. Flesh wounds were deadly with poor medical science if you even had access to a Doctor. The human condition will never change, safeties were not designed and invented because nobody ever got hurt loading 6.
     
  19. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    The notches on one of my Colts were welded up and recut by a CAS gunsmith.


    For a long time, revolvers imported into the US required a 'safety device' of some sort so they could be imported. I am not sure exactly when this law was made, perhaps GCA1968. Colt got away without installing such a device because they claimed their revolvers were not meant to be shot. Anyway, Uberti replicas of the Colt had a couple of different 'safety devices' in them at different times.

    The dohickey under the firing pin on this hammer was one such device. I had an Uberti with one of these a long time ago, so long ago that I have forgotten how it worked.

    poQDKSc3j.jpg




    Then Uberti began importing single action revolvers with an extra long cylinder pin, as has been mentioned. The pin had two notches where it engaged the cylinder latch. When the pin was shoved all the way back, the rear of the pin protruded from the frame enough to prevent the hammer from falling all the way. When the pin was pulled forward and secured with the other notch, the hammer could fall all the way. This arrangement was inadequate as a safety device, because it needed two hands to operate it. It was only a way to get the revolvers imported into the US. Most shooters, including me, who had an Uberti equipped with this style of pin either ground off the rear of the pin, or replaced it with a regular pin. We could always tell at a CAS match when somebody had forgotten to move the pin, after three or four clicks with no bang the embarrassed shooter would go back to the loading table and move the pin to the 'fire' position. Most recently, all the Uberti replicas imported into the US have a redesigned hammer and trigger. The hammer has a floating firing pin that only gets pushed forward enough to fire a cartridge when the trigger is pulled. This allows these revolvers to be imported, and they can be safely carried with all six chambers loaded because the firing pin is normally retracted into the hammer, and even if dropped the firing pin cannot reach a primer. I had a chance to shoot one of these a few years ago. Not my cup of tea, I prefer the 'standard' Colt style action, but it does allow these revolvers to be imported into the US. And yes, some shooters are replacing the hammers and triggers with standard style hammers so they can have the old 'four click' actions.




    I knew some smart aleck would suggest this. Yes, I have a bunch of such revolvers, no, I am not going to volunteer to try it.

    However, in 1944 after a shipboard accident where a sailor was killed when a S&W Victory Model double action revolver fell to the deck, S&W initiated a crash program to evaluate why the internal hammer block had failed. This was of course a modern double action revolver, and it had a hammer block inside. S&W set up some test stands and dropped unloaded revolvers onto their hammers. A surprising number failed the test, and it was determined that hardened cosmoline, that had not been properly cleaned out, had caused the hammer blocks to fail. In the space of a week S&W had redesigned the internal hammer block and put it into production, so they would not loose their WWII contract to supply revolvers to the Army and Navy. The new style hammer block has been inside all S&W revolvers ever since.
     
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  20. UncleEd

    UncleEd Member

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    This a hundred times.
     
  21. crstrode

    crstrode Member

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    A very small percentage of those "1800's folks" may have died from gun handling misadventures.

    However, a very large percentage of them certainly did die from consumption, pneumonia, typhoid, small pox, cholera, et al, hence, the number of cartridges in their revolvers was undoubtedly of very little concern.

    We are fortunate to be able to debate such arcane and pointless topics today, and fear not the real killers.
     
  22. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    We don't need to clean no stinkin' guns.
     
  23. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    Like I said in my last post…


    Irony…hilarious.
     
  24. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    Opinions, facts, history and habits blur over time. I have known, personally, two folks who have been shot in the leg when their “modern” 3 screw Rugers were hit on the hammer or had the hammer brushed back by a limb while carrying fully loaded and on the safety notch. I believe both but neither can recall just what happened as they found themselves on the ground bleeding and in shock. One was hiking, one on horseback. This was before the transfer bar system had been implemented.
    The transfer bar system and mass Ruger recall/retrofit was to settle a class action lawsuit over the unsafe “safety” notch failure.
    You go your way, I’ll go mine. Transfer bar, six. Old style five.
     
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  25. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Thanks for adding a first person account.
     
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