Author Topic: 1/4 "safety" notch  (Read 1056 times)

Offline Davem

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1/4 "safety" notch
« on: October 09, 2021, 02:45:55 PM »
I've heard all the stories, if you load six rounds in a SSA and lower the hammer into the 4th safety notch, it is not safe because if someone hits the hammer with a hard object the notch can break and the gun fire.  I have asked if anyone knows of any such events and what I get is someone was thrown off a horse and the guns hammer hit a rock on the ground and fired the guns, etc. etc.
When I ask where this occurred- lots of angry talk but no answers.
Anyone ever hear of an actual event?

Offline Dave T

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2021, 09:14:26 PM »
It was written up in a Dodge City news paper that one Wyatt Earp was setting at a game of cards when his pistol fell out of his "pocket", perhaps his holster, and upon striking the floor discharged, exciting most of the rooms occupants.

Back about 1971 or '72 there was a write up about the incident of a Ruger Old Model Blackhawk loaded with 6 rounds discharging on being dropped or smacked. That lead the a law suite against Ruger and ultimately the introduction Ruger's New Model single actions.

It does and has happened, many more times than these two instances.

Dave

Online Abilene

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2021, 11:19:08 PM »
Except those two instances at least, the hammer was likely down on a live round.  Davem is asking about a discharge when the hammer is on the safety notch.  Which would take a harder hammer bump to break the notch.  Interesting question. 

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2021, 08:42:05 AM »

 :)  Well . . . .  ;)

As an active Gunplumber, I always considered the Single Action safety notch to be rather fragile.  Not that one "can't" carry 6 up, but really not recommended. I was/am never inclined to carry any SA in that manner.  I did and have carried 6 up with the Firing Pin down between case rims.  However, 5 up, over an empty has been and is my preference.

Play Safe Out There

PS:  Most folks can't provide specific documentation because there simply isn't any.  Most wouldn't want to admit to having done something "dumb."  Have accidents happened??  Sure.  Where and when ??  Nada Clue.

Offline Dave T

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2021, 05:45:05 PM »
Except those two instances at least, the hammer was likely down on a live round.  Davem is asking about a discharge when the hammer is on the safety notch.  Which would take a harder hammer bump to break the notch.  Interesting question.

Abilene,

On what basis do you claim the hammer was "down on a live round"?  No more reason to believe that than that the hammer was resting on the 'safety notch'.

Dave

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #5 on: Today at 10:34:57 PM »

Offline Drydock

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2021, 06:18:06 PM »
JUST MY OPINION!  I don't think the quarter cock notch was ever meant to be a "carry" notch.   I suspect the original carry mode was hammer down with firing pin between the cartridge rims.  Percussion revolvers had been carried this way for decades, it would have been a very short intellectual jump from "Hammer on the safety pin between the caps" to "Hammer pin safe between the cartridges".

Of course, this was found to be lacking in practice.  Its a lot harder to do this with a top strap in the way, and if you don't get it right, the pin can slide across the cartridge base to the primer.  With the ease of loading compared to the percussion guns, easier to just carry 5, and slip the 6th in if needed.

The quarter cock notch, IMHO (!) was meant as a safety should the hammer be jarred off full cock with little or no pressure on the trigger, providing a last ditch catch before primer contact.  This was a common feature in many military arms of the period, and seems reasonable to me. 

I cannot prove this, and is AGAIN only my opinion.
Civilize them with a Krag . . .

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2021, 07:28:52 PM »
Abilene,

On what basis do you claim the hammer was "down on a live round"?  Mo more reason to believe that than that the hammer was resting on the 'safety notch'.

Dave

That's why I said "likely". 

Offline kwilliams1876

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2021, 01:26:10 PM »
I am curious how the army and cavalry carried a loaded revolver......5 or 6 rounds? 3 notches like the trapdoor too.
kw

Offline Drydock

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2021, 02:48:47 PM »
I think, but cannot prove, that the army was carrying 5 almost immediately.  Remember, the SAA was NOT the first cartridge revolver of the Army, both S&W #3s and Colt Conversions had been procured 1869-71, and indications are that the "problem" of safe carry was first experienced with them.
Civilize them with a Krag . . .

Offline Davem

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2021, 03:02:54 PM »
Well, the big problem as I see it is 1. We will probably never know how the standard practice was and 2. The standard practice might be considered unsafe by today's standards.
When I was a kid I carried a couple of firearms with the hammer carefully lowered on a live round.  I realized that if I took a hammer and wacked the hammer that the gun would fire so I didn't do that.  Later on I changed my ways.  In any event it is likely the hammer was just lowered on a live round.  I tried the pin between cartridges but I have 45 Colt and they are right next to each other, you can lower the pin but you can also move the cylinder around easily. The pin doesn't catch between the cartridges.  I don't think was probably done.  If someone was going to be riding a horse, it is possible that only 5 were loaded but remember that a lot of early boxes of ammunition were numbered in groups of 6.  The implication being that 6 were loaded.  I've read from time to time something along the lines "I unloaded all six rounds into him"  but I have never read an old time account of only 5 being loaded.
On the 1/4 notch, I don't want to wreck the hammer but it would seem a pretty hard knock would be needed to break the notch, not just rubbing against a wall or tree.
All that said, I'll keep  loading just 5, no reason to ask for trouble.

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #10 on: Today at 10:34:57 PM »

Online Abilene

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2021, 03:39:38 PM »
I am going to guess that the metal used for hammers in the 19th century was such that the safety notch could be broken more easily if the gun was dropped than in more modern arms.

Offline kwilliams1876

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2021, 04:32:47 PM »
Being a Horse guy, I am thinking that if I was riding in Montana"Injun" country, safety be damned, 6 would be in the chamber. A load of 6 might have been the reason a lanyard ring was added to some revolvers to prevent dropping.
kw

Offline Drydock

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2021, 08:48:04 PM »
Those old Colts had cone shaped firing pins and VERY heavy springs.  Would work better with the narrower rims of the 45s back then. 
Civilize them with a Krag . . .

Offline Pettifogger

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2021, 09:24:47 PM »
In addition to the strength of the so-called safety notch the tip of the trigger is very small and not terribly strong.  I have seen many single actions with the tip of the trigger broken off.

Offline Davem

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2021, 10:52:54 AM »
I saw an Army manual on Percussion revolvers, I wonder if there is one on the Peacemaker?

Offline kwilliams1876

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2021, 08:37:56 PM »
Nothing like fanning the hammer to bugger up the notches on a once nice revolver. I am sure a bunch of 2nd and 3rd generation colts where abused after watching TV westerns.

Offline 45 Dragoon

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2021, 09:45:17 PM »
No doubt about that!!  The smart ones though sent their S.A.'s out to the "tuner"  so "that" wouldn't happen!!

Mike
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Follow me on Instagram @goonsgunworks

Offline Davem

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2021, 11:32:10 AM »
I read the other day on a load five from a diary, might have been John Wesley Powell. It is maybe the first I've come across from the time era.  If I recall he was going to do some rough riding, etc. so such a thing actually did occur back then. 

Offline Trailrider

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Re: 1/4 "safety" notch
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2021, 02:54:28 PM »
I can't quote page and line, but there is an account in John Finerty's (The Fightin' Irish Pencil Pusher) book, "Warpth and Bivouac" AD resulting from something striking the hammer of his gun that had been let down on a live round. Fortunately, the bullet struck the pommel of his saddle! Another account talks of the burial of a soldier who accidentally shot himself. In both cases, it is likely they were packing six rounds. 
Ride to the sound of the guns, but watch out for bushwhackers! Godspeed to all in harm's way in the defense of Freedom! God Bless America!

Your obedient servant,
Trailrider,
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Southern District
Dept. of the Platte, GAF

 

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