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Thread: Loading Five Only, Capping a Spare Cylinder

  1. #1
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    Loading Five Only, Capping a Spare Cylinder

    All for the sake of better understanding, because I may not actually know, or may not have thought of everything;

    I recently watched several videos wherein the shooter would load only five out of six chambers on a cap and ball revolver. At the firing range. I can understand loading only five, and lowering the hammer on the empty chamber, if one intended to then holster and carry the revolver. What I cannot understand is loading five, then having to further manipulate the gun just right so as to get the unloaded chamber in the right position, then lower the hammer, if one intends to shoot right away. Once you've capped the fifth cylinder, isn't the half-cocked hammer already over a live chamber, exactly as if you'd loaded all six? And wouldn't it, arguably, actually be safer to load all six, LEAVE THE HAMMER ON HALFCOCK (in other words, leave out the extra manipulation of rotating the cylinder to just the right spot and then lowering the hammer on the empty chamber) then raise the gun, still on half cock, point downrange, then fully cock and fire? And wouldn't it be more obvious to an observer that you never lowered the hammer at all after loading, than having to determine that you'd lowered the hammer onto the correct chamber, and did it safely? As far as I can see at the moment, it’s not even arguable— the load five rule some ranges have makes no sense if you’re loading right there at the firing line.

    Carrying loaded and capped cylinders. Has anyone tested just what it takes to get a chamber to fire upon dropping the loaded and capped Remington cylinder? Does anyone know of an actual, documented accident or injury involving that system? I've thought of testing this, but I'm a bit hesitant to beat the snot out of a perfectly good cylinder. Load a few grains of powder in each chamber of a Remington cylinder (no ball of course) covered by a shot card, cap all six, and then test drop it on several surfaces, say hard packed dirt, driveway gravel, and concrete, and see how many drops, or what sort of drop, it takes to light off a cap.

    What I can do with no danger to the gun, is fire a Colt with no barrel, to measure the velocity from the chamber alone, using different loads. My guess is that some of the lowest velocities will come from full chambers, as the ball has virtually no acceleration room, then it will get faster as the charges are reduced since the ball has more room to accelerate, then maybe drop off again as the powder charges get super light. You’d have to use a spacer under the ram to seat the ball all the way down with the lightest charges of course, but then too, you’ve gone into the fringes of what’s likely in real world situations at that point.

    Maybe these things have already been done, but I don't recall reading about it.

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    Logic dictates the range is the "safest" place to load 6.
    Quote Originally Posted by Omnivore
    Carrying loaded and capped cylinders. Has anyone tested just what it takes to get a chamber to fire upon dropping the loaded and capped Remington cylinder?
    Doen't the 1858 Remmy have "safety notches" in the cylinder, so the hammer can ride in one of them instead of on a cap?
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    I agree that loading and firing the whole cylinder makes a lot more sense at the range.

    Looking at the Remington cylinder, I don't think it would fire if you dropped it unless it hit a protrusion JUST right as the nipples are recessed. Capped cylinders to swap are great with the Remington's and I think the dangers of doing it are a bit over-blown. Of course, it would only take ONE time to drop and BANG to ruin the party. Best to be careful when doing it.

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    A consideration: the "just right" dropped cylinder has a very high likelyhood of pointing at the user when so discharged.

    Shooting oneself is not exactly a desired outcome.

    Personally, I load and cap five at the range because I load five in competition. (SASS) Loading six at the range is not penalized. Doing so at a match is a significant boo-boo.
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    Doen't the 1858 Remmy have "safety notches" in the cylinder, so the hammer can ride in one of them instead of on a cap?
    Yes. As I say, I carry mine with six loaded and the hammer in the notch when hunting, which can include tree climbing. Not all repros get good engagement between hammer and notch though, so you should check it out closely.

    I've been looking at just what needs to happen to make the gun fire, and I see little if any significant difference between carry six with the hammer on a safety pin or notch, compared to carry five with the hammer on the empty. That is assuming your safety pins or notches and the hammer get a good mechanical lock on one another. Many of the original guns have the pins almost completely worn, and/or corroded, away for example. I'm talking about a gun that's known to be in good and proper condition.

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    Ending up on an empty chamber doesn't require any special or extra handling. If you're familiar with single action revolvers, you'll be familiar with the practice of "Load one, skip one, load four". Upon loading your last chamber, draw the hammer to full cock and lower it, just as you would anyway. It's now sitting on top of the empty.
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    If you're familiar with single action revolvers, you'll be familiar with the practice of "Load one, skip one, load four". Upon loading your last chamber, draw the hammer to full cock and lower it, just as you would anyway.
    Yes; I teach that in my basic pistol classes, with cartridge guns, with the explanation that this only applies to the old-fashioned actions that have neither a transfer bar nor hammer block, but have the firing pin on the hammer. With a percussion revolver it's slightly more complicated.

    With a percussion revolver you ram the bullets in at the bottom of the frame as opposed to the right hand side, so I guess when the five balls are seated, you'd locate the empty at the barrel position and proceed from there with the cap one, skip one, cap four, or come up with a different sequence for charging and seating, such that the empty lands in the barrel position when the fifth ball is seated, and then do the cap one, skip one....but I've never had occasion to try it.

    How about load six, cap six, bring the gun up (still on hafl cock just like it was through all the chaging anad seating and capping), full cock, fire? That's as simple as it gets. Why go through the ritual of lowering the hammer while you're standing right there on the firing line with a target in front of you?

    As I say, it only makes sense if you plan to holster or otherwise store the loaded gun.

    You load five, cock the hammer, lower the hammer, and then immediately cock it again? For Pete's sake, Man, why? Where's the safety element in there? Sorry; I just don't see it. It isn't there.

    And yes; it is extra handling, assuming, as I pointed out in the OP, that you're going to be firing it as soon as it's loaded.

    Then it's more extra handling in the fact that you're reloading more often, assuming that you're firing a given number of rounds.

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