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Safe to shoot?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by BruM, Feb 4, 2010.

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  1. BruM

    BruM Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    I inherited an old S&W fourth model DA 32 S&W short, made in about the 1880s. I plan to sell it but since it came with a box of ammo I would like to shoot it to see how these old guns felt. It’s top latch is tight, cylinder timing is fine and the mechanism works well but the bore and cylinders are dark in color. No cracks or deep rusty areas anywhere. What else do you guys look for when determining if a gun is safe to shoot?
  2. dbb1776

    dbb1776 Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    Take it to a gunsmith. Ask what he will charge to look at the gun before you go there. Take the ammo with you. Also if you do shoot it PLEASE wear eye and ear protection. I had a new revolver spit a piece of lead back at me and cut my earlobe.
    Should be fun to shoot after a good cleaning and a little caution.
  3. RevolvingGarbage

    RevolvingGarbage Member

    May 15, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Not made of cardboard?

    Yeah, that should be just fine to shoot.
  4. shenandoah

    shenandoah Member

    Jan 21, 2010
    Take it to a gunsmith, I shoot mine. The .32 S&W factory loads are fairly light and fun to shoot. I fired my .38 S&W into a wood block at 7 yards and the wood block became a pile of toothpicks. CCW 1915.
  5. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Bru88 asked, "What else do you guys look for when determining if a gun is safe to shoot?"

    Fair question. Many people whose opinions I respect will say to never, ever fire a black powder era gun with smokeless powder. But smokeless powder is not magically more powerful than black powder nor will its use automatically "blow up" an old gun. Nor is black power automatically and magically safe in all old guns, regardless of condition.

    Ammunition factories are not in the business of blowing up guns. They keep modern ammunition down to the same pressure levels reached by black powder in the old days.

    But are some old guns dangerous with modern ammunition? Yes, but most of them would also be dangerous with black powder. Those include some of the old timers with very thin cylinder walls, cylinder walls so rusted they look like red lace, or guns with defects that would cause them to be dangerous with any ammunition, such as guns that have excess barrel-cylinder gaps, guns that are out of time, or guns that have rust or dirt blocking the barrel.

    Old revolvers can and are blown up from time to time, but not so much by firing the correct modern ammunition. Some areas of trouble come when folks load old .38 S&W caliber guns with 9mm Luger ammunition, .32 S&W guns with .32 ACP, or decide that a case full of Bullseye is just right for loading that old breaktop.

    I look for cylinder wall thickness, correct headspace, reasonable barrel-cylinder gap, and correct timing. If those check out good, I generally have no concern about firing a small number of rounds of modern ammunition.

    One thing to consider. With few exceptions, and in spite of writers using the wrong word, few revolvers made prior to the 1900 era were made of steel. Most were made of wrought iron or cast iron. (The reason Colt SAA frames were case hardened was not for decoration, it was to reduce wear because wrought iron, unlike steel, can't be hardened by heat treating.)


    MICHAEL T Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    outback Kentucky
    Mine was made around 1910 and I shoot it now and then. Just because it needs it . I know pistol gets lonely. Rest of guns move in and out being shot. So I talk mine for a outing now and then . If in good shape I say try a few rounds. They are fun to shoot
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