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Discussion Starter #1
I've done quite a bit of research on this very topic because, I guess I have OCD and want to get to the bottom of things. Below are my reasons I think load 1 skip 1 is a myth...

1) Coming out of the Civil War people were used to loading 6 and then placing the hammer on a notch between the cylinders. Going to a newer "better" gun to only load 5 seems like a step backwards.

2) I've read some say you load 6 and rest the firing pin between casings. I'm not sure how this would work in a 1st gen Colt with period rounds. If possible I have no doubt it was done at some point.

3) The guns had a safety notch. While we today don't see it as a reliable safety, I'm not sure they came to that conclusion when it was new.

4) They were called "six shooter" and I can only imagine because it shot 6 rounds when carried.

This last one leads me to my best case of this, eye witness statements...

5) During the trial of Curly Bill over shooting Marshal Fred White, a couple things are said that put the nail in the coffin of this myth for me. It is known that Bill had 6 rounds in his SAA and also it's said it was an accidental shooting due to a failure of the "half cock" over a live round. Which I'm assuming might have been Bill having his revolver loaded and ready to go on the safety notch. So maybe this is a glimpse in how most were carried, loaded 6 and on the safety notch?
 

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"I've read some say you load 6 and rest the firing pin between casings".

I have read this, but referring to percussion only.
 

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I have read they loaded 5 and rolled a hundred dollar bill in the sixth for safe keeping................................................................M*
 

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Discussion Starter #4
"I've read some say you load 6 and rest the firing pin between casings".

I have read this, but referring to percussion only.
This is a good reason there might be truth in the "place the firing pin between cartridges" if it was physically possible. It was a familiar practice to some people coming out of a war.
 

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What say we 'what', exactly - our completely uninformed opinions?

None of were alive at the time and have zero idea exactly what our forebears did or did not do.

Since it's been handed down since the initial introduction of the piece, and been woven into the safe handling process of the SAA for continued carry - why is this a question at all?

The men coming out of the Civil War were largely Infantry - Cavalrymen were the ones issued revolvers regularly, and had the most experience with them - they weren't wandering the Old West ready for action a'la a SASS or IPSC scenario.

As to the C-note tale - try rolling up a dollar-sized piece of paper and touching one off with a BP load - your money or Bill of Sale for your horse will be reduced to ashes.
 

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an old family friend who was a Texas Ranger told us kids.....Load 4, skip one,load one...that way your hammer will be on an empty chamber. Carry yer Colt this way so's ya don't blow yer foot off. Load the 6th round when ya go out in the street.....!
I always carry my Colt SAA with 5 loaded. It's my Galldang'd foot!
 

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an old family friend who was a Texas Ranger told us kids.....Load 4, skip one,load one...that way your hammer will be on an empty chamber. Carry yer Colt this way so's ya don't blow yer foot off. Load the 6th round when ya go out in the street.....!
I always carry my Colt SAA with 5 loaded. It's my Galldang'd foot!
Your ranger friend had that back-asswards. If you load 4, skip 1 and load 1, you will be resting on a hot chamber.

Load 1
Skip 1
Load 4
One that 4th one, close the gate, and draw the hammer all the way back and lower the hammer on an empty chamber.
 

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I've done quite a bit of research on this very topic because, I guess I have OCD and want to get to the bottom of things. Below are my reasons I think load 1 skip 1 is a myth...

1) Coming out of the Civil War people were used to loading 6 and then placing the hammer on a notch between the cylinders. Going to a newer "better" gun to only load 5 seems like a step backwards.

2) I've read some say you load 6 and rest the firing pin between casings. I'm not sure how this would work in a 1st gen Colt with period rounds. If possible I have no doubt it was done at some point.

3) The guns had a safety notch. While we today don't see it as a reliable safety, I'm not sure they came to that conclusion when it was new.

4) They were called "six shooter" and I can only imagine because it shot 6 rounds when carried.

This last one leads me to my best case of this, eye witness statements...

5) During the trial of Curly Bill over shooting Marshal Fred White, a couple things are said that put the nail in the coffin of this myth for me. It is known that Bill had 6 rounds in his SAA and also it's said it was an accidental shooting due to a failure of the "half cock" over a live round. Which I'm assuming might have been Bill having his revolver loaded and ready to go on the safety notch. So maybe this is a glimpse in how most were carried, loaded 6 and on the safety notch?
The concept of "safety" is fairly recent and apparently still evolving to ridiculous proportions. :rolleyes: If I recall right, the Cavalry procedure for the Colts converted to cartridge was, load six, put in half cock and holster. By today standards this is absolutely insane. I believe there was never a "rule" to "load five and rest the hammer on a empty chamber" back then. Remember that in the Winchester 1886 design JMB thought the half cock notch was safety enough. Of course I also believe that there were people "back then" that would feel more comfortable without a ready to fire round pointed at his person.
 

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I have seen Colt SAAs that had double the notches in the cylinder circumference. This allowed the locking bolt to rest in a cylinder notch when the hammer was resting between the cartridge rims.

My Dad always insisted I keep an empty chamber under the hammer, even with my Colt New Service. Dad wasn't a "gunnie" by any means, but through time he had learned to load only five rounds, even though the guns had positive safeties. And he pretty well dated back to "the day."

My grandfather, for whom I'm named, had the first RFD (Rural Free Delivery) route in Tennessee, and RFD riders went armed. With what, I don't know. But it was he who instilled in my Dad the practice.

Bob Wright
 

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I have seen Colt SAAs that had double the notches in the cylinder circumference. This allowed the locking bolt to rest in a cylinder notch when the hammer was resting between the cartridge rims.

Bob Wright
I've photo's of revolvers that have had those extra notches added to the cylinder. I wonder how much work it was to time the revolver to make it work effectively over its original design?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The concept of "safety" is fairly recent and apparently still evolving to ridiculous proportions. :rolleyes: If I recall right, the Cavalry procedure for the Colts converted to cartridge was, load six, put in half cock and holster. By today standards this is absolutely insane. I believe there was never a "rule" to "load five and rest the hammer on a empty chamber" back then. Remember that in the Winchester 1886 design JMB thought the half cock notch was safety enough. Of course I also believe that there were people "back then" that would feel more comfortable without a ready to fire round pointed at his person.
That actually would make sense of the Curly Bill's revolver being on "half cock". Interesting
 

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Stopsign said:
I think load 1 skip 1 is a myth...

1) Coming out of the Civil War people were used to loading 6 and then placing the hammer on a notch between the cylinders. Going to a newer "better" gun to only load 5 seems like a step backwards.

2) I've read some say you load 6 and rest the firing pin between casings. I'm not sure how this would work in a 1st gen Colt with period rounds. If possible I have no doubt it was done at some point.
Totally agree. My Grandfather (born 1890) loaded 5 and kept the hammer on the empty chamber. I have his gun. Never heard load one skip one until SASS showed up.

My Great Grandfather was a no chit gunman born 1860. He taught his son to load 5. But we were also taught if you thought it needed you could load six. I was taught half cock was less trustworthy than a firing pin sitting on the primer. You can, easy enough, let the hammer down on a fully loaded Colt SAA by putting the firing pin down between the cases. Still makes for a fully functioning gun with six rounds loaded.

But loading six on a SAA is not the typical "gun sabe" thing I suspect, then or now. I should use it more myself. Huge here on the forum was the first to point out that technique out to me and how not to scratch the cylinder while doing it.
 

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It wouldn't surprise me if back in the day they loaded 6 and kept the gun on the safety notch. Why else did Colt design the SAA with a safety notch? Our thinking of safety today is different from years ago. Plus were not carrying a colt SAA to defend our lives today.
 

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The concept of "safety" is fairly recent and apparently still evolving to ridiculous proportions. :rolleyes: If I recall right, the Cavalry procedure for the Colts converted to cartridge was, load six, put in half cock and holster. By today standards this is absolutely insane. I believe there was never a "rule" to "load five and rest the hammer on a empty chamber" back then. Remember that in the Winchester 1886 design JMB thought the half cock notch was safety enough. Of course I also believe that there were people "back then" that would feel more comfortable without a ready to fire round pointed at his person.
You make some a very good point here. Since the inception of lever rifles (and others)with external hammers, nimrods have thought nothing of chambering a round in their rifles, pulling the hammer back to the safety notch, then heading off into the woods. But for some reason the same folks think it's dangerous to do this with a revolver. Makes no sense to me, especially when said rifles weigh 3x more than a revolver and if dropped are infinitely more likely to break the safety notch.

Forgot to mention....

Resting the firing pin between rims works OK on smaller rimmed cartridges such as the .357, marginally on the .44 Special (I tried and with a little effort can rotate the cylinder) and not well at all on the 44-40 and 45 Colt due to the diameter of the rims.

Cholla
 

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Loading 6 was particularly a potential problem for people like myself who are lefties. The issue was when saddling your horse after you throw the saddle on, you put the stirrup over the horn to allow ease of access to the cinch. When done cinching up if you unhook the stirrup and let it fall, it easily hits the hammer of the sixgun on your left hip.

As far as I know there are no really well documented data on the reliability of the safety notch cock safety? Anecdotal stuff, and lots of 2nd to 10th hand stories. Anybody know of any testing, say with a clone and a hammer? When the Sig Sauer P320 came out with the questionable drop safe issue several people demonstrated conclusively that indeed it was not drop safe.

Maybe one of our sponsors like Cimarron has a shop gun they could load with blanks or primed case and drop it a few hundred times on the cement?
 

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I've done quite a bit of research on this very topic because, I guess I have OCD and want to get to the bottom of things. Below are my reasons I think load 1 skip 1 is a myth...

1) Coming out of the Civil War people were used to loading 6 and then placing the hammer on a notch between the cylinders. Going to a newer "better" gun to only load 5 seems like a step backwards.

2) I've read some say you load 6 and rest the firing pin between casings. I'm not sure how this would work in a 1st gen Colt with period rounds. If possible I have no doubt it was done at some point.

3) The guns had a safety notch. While we today don't see it as a reliable safety, I'm not sure they came to that conclusion when it was new.

4) They were called "six shooter" and I can only imagine because it shot 6 rounds when carried.

This last one leads me to my best case of this, eye witness statements...

5) During the trial of Curly Bill over shooting Marshal Fred White, a couple things are said that put the nail in the coffin of this myth for me. It is known that Bill had 6 rounds in his SAA and also it's said it was an accidental shooting due to a failure of the "half cock" over a live round. Which I'm assuming might have been Bill having his revolver loaded and ready to go on the safety notch. So maybe this is a glimpse in how most were carried, loaded 6 and on the safety notch?
I've also thought this and agree with you.
 

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I suppose it was similar to safety belts today. We are preached at and threatened fines if caught without them fastened. Some of us still don't wear them. Same with helmets on motorcycles. Most states have laws making you wear them. Here in Utah they don't have the law. Still I estimate about half do and half don't. I have read accounts of some old single actions being found and being fully loaded with six. Even read Wyatt Earp dropped or fumbled a single action in a saloon and it went off. No way do I believe everyone always loaded five but I DO BELIEVE some safety minded gun knowledgeable men did. Frankly I will admit I started out with a Ruger Single Six as my first good hand gun. I mostly carried six in it even with reading the warnings. Before this years ago on the subject on another site I recall posting a thread asking or challenging someone to publish a reprint of instructions from Colt, say from the 1880`s or 1890`s where they ever printed a warning or advised to carry five in instructions sold with their guns. Certainly I would think somewhere there must still exist original paperwork that has survived but with reading all I could on the subject for at least the last sixty years I have never seen a reprint or copy of it yet! I do recall when Ruger first printed it in their ad`s back in the 1950`s.
Edited: In 1965 I hired in on the Lockheed Guard department. Our chief was I would guess all of 65 years old. He had already retired as a Lt. or Captain on the Los Angles PD. Our issue sidearms then were Colt OP`s made in the early 1950`s. (I checked some of the serial #`s).
Unbelievable to me, he wanted us to carry five rounds with the hammer on the empty! I think he must have been even older than I thought!
 

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As to the relative safety of the half-cock on rifles vs. revolvers, a dropped rifle is not as likely to hit on the hammer spur as is a revolver, especially a Single Action.


Bob Wright
 
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