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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone;

I was rummaging through the Internet this morning and came across this Wikipedia item about the illustrious Wyatt Earp. I had to laugh when I saw this as we all know how dangerous it can be if we carry six in our Colt Single Action Army's. Here's an excerpt from the text on that page.

"Earp was embarrassed in early 1876 when his loaded single action revolver fell out of his holster while he was leaning back on a chair and discharged when the hammer hit the floor. The bullet went through his coat and out through the ceiling.[SUP]"

The actual Wikipedia article is highlighted above.

Thanks for looking.

Bud[/SUP]
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You're absolutely right about that Tony, and if that had of been me, it would have most certainly have instantly brought on the "green apple quickstep."

Bud


Any other man may have soiled his britches instead of just being embarrassed! ;)
 

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Aw, give poor Wyatt a break.

The gun had only been out a few years and the half cock was probably thought to be safe at the time.
 

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Lest we forget, of the numerous times he'd been shot AT, Wyatt Earp was never struck by a bullet and lived to the age of 80 and died peacefully in his sleep. That's a pretty healthy accomplishment. :)
 

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Mabey you should ask Frank McLaury & Billy Clanton how "safe" Wyatt was with his firearms :cool:!


BTW, if anyone cares, the incident described by Bud happened in Wichita when Wyatt was on the police force there.
 

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That's because the gun wasn't legal and had not passed the communist test act like in MA and Calli. That is the main reason why they are not sold in those states any longer. People are always dropping them and they are going off all the time.
 

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As a kid in the 1930s, I considered a 6 shooter a 6 shooter. Even that young I saw the danger in loading 6 at a time -- but I loaded 6 and let the hammer down with the cyl mid point between battery positions. Firing pin pressing between cartridge heads held the cyl from free rotation. Not that it's recco it but at least it wouldn't fire if dropped.
 

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I hope none of our California legislators are reading this since single actions are exempt from the "safe gun" law.

Jim
 

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This has always intrigued me. The bit about the empty chamber and all oldtimers done it. Smart and safe, yes! Acepted as gospel a hundred and thirty years ago? I doubt it. I dont know how many times I have read of dug ups and old single action colts being found fully loaded. I wish some guru here would say when colt first advertised or warned to load only 5 with a empty under the hammer. I still remember when ruger did. Anyone here claim to know?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi jcmh1;

Could you explain the "Safe Gun" law to me? I haven't heard of that one, but of course up here in Canada we don't get a lot of gun news coming out of California.

Thank you.

Bud


I hope none of our California legislators are reading this since single actions are exempt from the "safe gun" law.

Jim
 

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"Effective January 1, 2001, no handgun may be manufactured within California, imported into California for sale, lent, given, kept for sale, or offered/exposed for sale unless that handgun model has passed firing, safety, and drop tests and is certified for sale in California by the Department of Justice. Private party transfers, curio/relic handguns, certain single-action revolvers, and pawn/consignment returns are exempt from this requirement" There is a bill pending in California that will limit private transfers of the "unsafe guns" to two per year.
 
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Remember that Earp and most of the other great gunmen started out with Colt muzzle loading pistols that were safe with "six beans in the wheel".
It just may not have occurred to them in the early days that the safety notch...wasn't.
One place this became apparent is that a number of horsemen started out carrying six rounds in the new Colt. When saddling up, you throw the stirrup over the saddle while tightening the girth.
The stirrup would slip off the saddle and would inevitably land right on the hammer, firing the gun.

Famed gunfighter and psycho Clay Allison once shot himself in the foot. A famous photo shows him sitting, holding his crutch.

General George Patton often carried a .380 automatic but preferred revolvers for his "fighting guns".
One reason may be an incident that happened to him in El Paso during the Pershing expedition into Mexico after Pancho Villa.
Patton had a then new Colt 1911. Like a lot of 1911 owners that followed, he wanted a target grade trigger, so he worked the trigger unit over.
Great general, lousy gunsmith.
Patton was standing at a bar in El Paso talking to a rancher, when his foot slipped off the brass bar rail and the jar caused his .45 to fire.
The rancher, displayed perfect Texas manners. He pretended not to notice that Patton had just blown the bottom out of his Model 1912 Cavalry holster and narrowly missed his own foot.

Most shooters back in the West were self-taught. Sometimes their firearms education missed a few key points on safety.
 

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I believe the M1911 incident was the reason Patton purchased his famous 4 ¾ Single Action Army, the gun with which he killed Villa lieutenant Julio Cárdenas. The SAA was displayed in the Patton Museum at FT. Knox, Kentucky for years and the two notches the general cut into its ivory grips are plainly visible. Patton did carry the SAA with the hammer down on an empty chamber.

I’m not sure I understand how a “trigger job”, however poorly executed, could cause the discharge of a M1911 automatic carried in a safe manner. By all accounts the gun was in Patton’s holster and discharged when the future general stamped his leg to emphasize some point he was making. I find it hard to believe Patton would be carrying an M1911 with a cartridge in the chamber, with the pistol cocked, relying solely on the grip safety. He was too knowledgeable a pistol man to run a risk like that, particularly in the era before antibiotics when any gunshot wound could be fatal due to infection. Most likely, he was carrying his pistol with a cartridge in the chamber and the manual safety on, and somehow the manual safety was disengaged. It was too bad that Jeff Cooper wasn’t around to tell him how safe cocked and locked carry was.
 
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1. I've seen a Colt ad circa 1885 advising that after loading six to let hammer down on the "safety notch," the quarter cock position.

2. Primers were much harder back then and setting them off usually took a strong main spring; yes a good blow to the hammer in "safety notch" could
and likely would set off a round but it probably happened so seldom to most people's knowledge that they thought nothing of loading six.

3. Despite our image of the Old West from movies, most holsters were very protective of the six shooter, often with only a bit of gun butt and the tip of the
hammer showing above the leather. Hence any chances of setting the gun off were very small. (Charlie Askins Jr. wrote of an old border lawman who carried
six for decades and decades. Then one day while mounting his horse, somehow he managed to have the hammer hit the cantle and boom went the gun.
And the horse took off as well.)




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My G-father was Deputy Sheriff in So. Texas in the 1890s. Probably never gave a thought to keeping an empty chamber. I was his protégé, being only G-son & learned almost all my early gun-stuff from him, 1930s. He was big on gun cleaning & gun safety, carried his 4 3/4" SAA .45 in his front waistband with the loading gate open to keep from falling lower. G-mother complained washing stains 'from that gun' on his shirts. He said he rubbed the outside of his guns with a Bull Durham (tobacco) sack with pecan (nuts) in, beat up till their grease permeated the cloth. I asked about his .45 & he said after he became Justice of the Peace, loaned it to a bar keeper & someone stole it. All I got of his is 12 ga. double bbl he bought used the year he got married 1886 - Damascus, I shot 100s of times, never heard of 'black powder only' back then.

He told about back-in-the-day stuff but little about his 'adventures' as a Deputy Sheriff. One when he was handcuffed to a perp taking him to be hung & finding a perp dead out in the woods, they had been looking for. I always suspected maybe he put him that way.
 

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Cavalry manual stipulated loading six and lowering the hammer down to the safety (not the half-cock) notch on a Colt SAA. Early Colt manuals said the same thing. Hard to believe Earp's pistol slipped out of his holster with the high ride style then in vogue.

Yes, you can adjust a 1911 trigger incorrectly and it go off. The safety lever and the hammer sear have to be perfectly aligned. If you just adjust the sear angle, the safety won't work correctly. You can pull the trigger with the safety on, release the safety and the hammer will fall. You really need to know what you're doing inside a 1911.
 

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Goulds book on "Modern American pistols and Revolver" says it was normal for calvary officers to load five and put the hammer down on a empty chamber for safety. Mentions calvary officer who died in the battle of Woulded Knee who was found dead with a empty Colt SAA and five dead Indian Warrors around him, each had one bullet in him.
 
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