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I was in a class to get my CC after I retired and moved to this state. The instructor fumbled his gun and it dropped on the floor while giving his sermon. He was about as old and shaky as I am now. Once years ago in my working days when we had to re qualify every year at the sheriffs range the range deputy spotted a guy who`s revolver was cocked in his holster! He told the guy to freeze and not move. Walked over and uncocked the guys gun! Once I was working I think 12 hours or a double shift. We would give our company owned revolver`s to our reliefs. I owned many single action`s plus double action revolvers and COULD have been out shooting the prior day, I dont know. But in a off moment I started to pull my revolver out to give my relief and instantly realized I had cocked it, a DA Colt OP in my holster! The room was full of guards. I stopped myself, said wait a minuet, I got to get rid of my chew. I stepped out of the shack out of sight, spit and uncocked the gun. No one was the wiser but it did shake me up. Never done it before or since and at THAT time I already had about 25 or 30 years on the job!!
 

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I have read they loaded 5 and rolled a hundred dollar bill in the sixth for safe keeping................................................................M*
Who had $100 bills back then?
 

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On a Colt percussion the hammer could be rested on the safety pins. I've actually seen pictures of Civil war soldiers that posed for the camera with their '49 Pocket stuck in their belt, and you can clearly see the hammer on half cock. Did they carry 'em that way maybe? I have noticed though that the half cock notches on percussions are often much stronger than those on the SAA. Just some food for thought.
 

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I can understand the black powder colts resting between rounds and can see the guys during the transition when the cartridge conversions and the 1873 coming out that they would do this out of habit. How effective this would be? well I don't know. I have read that law enforcement used to carry 6 loaded when they went into arrest someone in case they needed the whole wheel to spin on full. I'm sure every one back then had their own ideas on how to carry their smoke wagons the safest way or unsafe as people do today. Not much has changed in 100 years or so. People still do things the way they think is proper. As for putting money or anything else in the cylinder of the gun, well I think that is bull doodoo. The money back then were very large since they called them "Horse Blankets" much larger then today and I don't think they would have quite fit in the length of the cylinder without causing some type of obstruction in function of the gun. Also paper money wasn't as desirable as coins since they wanted to hold the gold and silver in hand to trust what it was worth. No one had $100 bills or any large amounts of money as we do walking around today. Think about what they made working back them. Except for the big ranch owners and bankers or saloon owners no one else would even come close in having large cash on hand. Most cow hands made $20 a month or so. Just some food for tough I may be off a bit but this is what I have gathered from my readings and such.
 
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Discussion Starter #26 (Edited)
What type of safety did the S&W No. 3 have? Or the Merwin Hulbert and Remington 1875 for that matter?

I think the answer to this could shed some light on how overall approach people of the time treated safety.
 

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Years ago I went deer hunting by myself. I pitched a tent the day before opening and met a guy I didn't know that was there and wanted to hunt with me. He seemed likable so we hunted together opening day. He had a Remington pump. I looked over and seen the safety off. (It`s red when off). I mentioned it to him and later seen he had it off again. He said, I always keep it off on purpose so I can shoot fast! I quit him right there! I recall being around at least three different AD`s over the years by people that should have known better. One was by a retired military combat vet friend unloading his rifle. Another by my mother. We were walking back up to our vehicle from deer hunting, I was behind her and she was behind my dad. She was unloading her rifle, it went off and I still am surprised as to how she missed dad as I watched it happen from about 15 yards behind her. It looked like the barrel was pointed towards him. It "upset" him. Another time I was out shooting with a actor you all would know but I wont mention his name that almost shot me but he was new to guns. His relative, a real gunman gave him such hell that I didn't need to.
 

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That hundred dollar bill myth was spiced up as it was said "To bury you" if the five rounds didn't save ya!
[What type of safety did the S&W No. 3 have? Or the Merwin Hulbert and Remington 1875 for that matter?]
Now THATS the best question to date! I have wondered about that. I have a old S&W American but never tested it for that. Also a old New Model Remington.
 

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In the internet era, and the gun shop era before that, people debated this question. I'm sure dropped guns sometimes shot people, the newspapers and gun writers all wrote about it. So some people decided to play it more safe and load 5. Some thought they were immortal, like cigarette smokers and motorcyclists who won't wear a helmet.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
[What type of safety did the S&W No. 3 have? Or the Merwin Hulbert and Remington 1875 for that matter?]
Now THATS the best question to date! I have wondered about that. I have a old S&W American but never tested it for that. Also a old New Model Remington.
One thing they all have in common, half cock.

Curly Bill's gun was said to be on half cock.

Also it was claimed his half cock had a defect which caused it to go off. Now I don't know about you but I think if people were carrying around revolvers, all using half cock as a safety and all of the sudden it was proven to not work then now we all have a big problem. Much easier to claim it a defect.

Everyone likes consistency...

Kinda makes you wonder if half cock was the late 19th century safety...
 

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Think you meant the first click so called "safety notch?" Half cock is to spin the cylinder while loading. I have never seen a picture of a holstered SA on half cock. It would allow the cylinder to freely rotate. When you get right down to it, I would naturally think the most prone to carry with the hammer on a empty would be any horse mounted men and not so much the people walking around town armed. Frankly if I am at the range bench test shooting I carry my colts fully loaded. I never could understand why people usually like to show 5 shot instead of six shot groups. Unless you mark the cylinder and always skip the least accurate cylinder, I doubt many people get THAT deep into testing. I am one of those odd balls that don't believe everything I read. I figure the writer might actually be dumber than me! I could write too.
 

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Years ago when I fished in Wyoming and Montana, I carried a 2nd Gen. 44Spl loaded with Kieth SWC's and 5Rds in the cylinder. Also carried the bullet, or 3 or 4 in my pocket (Like Barney Fife). Thought I'd load a 6th if I had time. If I didn't,
I probably wouldn't have time to fire 6 anyway.
 

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I always thought the definitive answer to this is how many chambers are there? If it was meant to hold five, there would have been five. Colt very easy could have designed a cylinder with five chambers and a solid spot for the firing pin to rest.
 

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Jim Martin stated that the 10 dollar bill thing is a myth here some time ago as well.

Black powder touch off would burn up yer payday.

And I don't think many if any Cowpunchers had a 100 bill probley a lot never seen one.

Load 6 VS 5- I think some did, some did not- some learned to. Load 6 if you were expecting trouble.

Wyatt Burp* blew a hole in a saloon floor (Or ceiling?) when his revolver fell out of his pocket hit the hammer and fired- he made the news papers with that episode IIRC

I mean Earp *
 

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The thought crossed my mind that one big difference between "then" and "now" in regard to accidental discharges is that back than no body got sued over it. Now a days, even if you don't injure anyone you're gonna get sued for the repair of anything your bullet happens to hit. Then too, the knuckle head who loads six in an older single action, then has an accident, is gonna hire some ambulance chaser to sue the heck out of the gun manufacturer. It's is a much more litigious world we live in these days.

Dave
 

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It's pretty simple...

Someone purchased a Colt back in the day. Unless someone told him to load only 5 or past experiences, such as an accidental discharge, caused him to reason that safety warranted loading only 5, he would have loaded 6. It's human nature...

Of course, first hand accounts are invaluable, and might give anecdotes of loading 5 vs 6, but this is how it would have worked. It's called human nature.
 

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My gut feeling was most would do whatever the situation required to keep them alive the longest. If the most dangerous thing was the gun going off accidentally, then they loaded five. If other people were the more imminent danger on a consistent basis, then I’m believing it could go either way.
If going into a situation gun in hand and time allowed, the six shooter would be holding six i imagine. I’m imagining a cowboy riding into town loaded 5 on horseback and maybe popping in that extra round unseen in the privy, before he graces the saloon in a tough town. Who knows?!

I’ve often heard that the truth of most old west shootings were more like today. .. planned murders and/or semi-planned shot in the back attacks- more than true gunfights like we see in the movies and shows. So I’d bet guns were loaded then. Probably loaded with six on the nightstand or close by the bed.
We’d need a guy Taking a poll in 1880’s to know for sure, and if he was pestering everybody in the saloon, he might have found out the hard way. :)
 

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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.
Not to mention the fact that U.S. paper currency (no matter what the denomination), was about 1/3 larger than today's money is, which would make the old story about putting a bill into one of the chambers, even more "questionable"!

I had heard that old yarn years ago, and always wondered how much sense it made, considering the fire "flash" of a BP revolver (especially)! Why would anybody in their right mind keep their money in something that might destroy it? I even read once that this was common practice with known gunfighters, so the money could cover their burial expenses!
:) I think MUCH of old west "history", (especially concerning lawmen and outlaws) is about 50% truth, mixed with a generous amount of BS!
 

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Years ago when I fished in Wyoming and Montana, I carried a 2nd Gen. 44Spl loaded with Kieth SWC's and 5Rds in the cylinder. Also carried the bullet, or 3 or 4 in my pocket (Like Barney Fife). Thought I'd load a 6th if I had time. If I didn't,
I probably wouldn't have time to fire 6 anyway.
Yeah, except Barney was only allowed to carry 'ONE' bullet, (right hand front pocket) and he required Andy's permission before he could "load" his gun! Now, THAT is SAFE gun handling! ;)
 
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