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Traditional single action six guns of the Colt pattern are common and fun firearms and are becoming more popular with the popularity of Cowboy action shooting. There are also the Taurus Gaucho and the Ruger Blackhawk and Vaquero, but these guns use a non-traditional transfer bar action which makes them safe to carry 6 rounds topped off. However, the Colt 1873 Peacemakers and its many clones use a hammer integral firing pin and these guns are NOT safe to carry fully loaded. The guns must be carried hammer down on an empty chamber. They are NOT safe carried with six and the hammer on the half cock position! The gun would not be fall safe if it fell on the hammer. With the hammer forward, the firing pin rests on a primer in a loaded chamber and any rap on the hammer would set it off. This is why carrying on an empty chamber is so important for safety reasons. It is also wise, if you don't know that it's safe, to carry many of the older DA designs, especially from Colt, with the hammer down on an empty chamber as they may not incorporate a Smith and Wesson style hammer block in their design.

The common way to load a traditional single action is to load one, skip one, load four, cock and carefully lower the hammer. Visually check the side of the gun to make sure there is no round under the hammer before holstering.. Again, if you have the Taurus Gaucho or a Ruger Vaquero or New Model Blackhawk, you need not take these precautions, but it cannot be stressed too much to never load more than five in a traditional single action and always lower the hammer on an empty chamber.

In 1973, Ruger came out with the New Model Blackhawk which used the new transfer bar system that they'd developed for their first DA revolver, the Security Six. This gun replaced the old models which used the Colt design hammer mounted firing pin. Ruger offered to modify any old model to the new transfer bar system free of charge. This reduced possible liability from improperly carrying six chambered rounds in the older models. However, a modified old "flat top" model would not be worth as much today to Ruger collectors as the un-modified action. To this day, though, Ruger will modify any older Blackhawk to the new transfer bar system.
 

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One addition to the very well worded post. Ruger will not only add the new transfer bar system, but will return the removed parts from your pistol, and says there is no modification to the frame, it can easily be reversed for collectors. I have never had one converted, so don't know how it will affect the trigger control or other function, but some swear by it.
 
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Thanks for that clarification. If I had an old blackhawk I might just get the conversion if I still wanted to shoot it. The new model modification is very convenient for actual use if non-traditional.
 

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My dad has an Old Model Blackhawk that was converted several years ago. The old parts were returned as oldhand stated. One interesting note on the latest New Models is they don't even have the "half-cock" safety anymore. I just got a .45 convertible and was comparing it to the Old Model. It looks the same but there are many functional differences.
 

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NativeTexan, this is a very good well written way to load a traditional SA. I would like to add one other bit of information.
If you cock a traditional SA & decide not to fire a good way to get back to the hammer down on an empty chamber is to CAREFULLY lower the hammer(you now have the hammer down on a live round), then bring the hammer to half cock. ( the loading notch) then rotate the cylinder counting the clicks. When you hear the 4th click cock the hammer & carefully let it down,you will again be on a empty chamber. I think it was John Taffin who wrote this. I have used it & it works. Always be carefull with loaded guns. You can practice both methods using fired cases till you become comfortable whith the procedures. Thanks Frank.
 

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Does my model 66 have a transfer bar type safety or should I carry it with six and one empty?
 

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I'm thinking that is a DA/SA revolver and should have a transfer bar.
 

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Smokewagon said:
I'm thinking that is a DA/SA revolver and should have a transfer bar.
You are correct. Thank You!
 

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i have old style as well as newer SA revolvers in the house, so i carry them all loaded the same way to avoid confusion. as my daddy taught me from a child, "five peas in the pod"
 

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The cylinder is unlocked for loading by opening the loading gate on the New Model Ruger SA Revolvers. The Old Ruger Style (3 screw) had to be in the half cock notch to unlock the cylinder to be loaded. The good thing about the New Models is that to uncock them you can put you thumb between the hammer, squeeze the trigger to release the sear, take your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard then release the hammer to it's lowest position. This is alot safer that decocking an old style because as long as the trigger is not pulled and held the transfer bar is lowered and the firing pin cannot be struck by the hammer should the hammer slip. As with all guns, keep the muzzel pointed in a safe direction any time you are not going to fire the gun. This is the preferred procedure for most of the new revolvers both SA & DA.
 

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So True! A 19 year old woman was just shot here in Utah when a Rohm .22 revolver her husband was transporting dropped from his truck, landed on the hammer and fired a shot that hit her in the abdomen. The pistol was loaded with the hammer down on a loaded chamber. Unfortunately, the bullet pierced her aorta and she died enroute to the hospital.
 

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Great information. I have just acquired a new 6.5in 357 magnum and this infornation helps.
 

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My single action revolvers all have transfer bars, but I still put the hammer down on an empty chamber. Load 1, skip 1, load 4.

For double action revolvers I load every chamber because I usually carry them for self defense and want the extra round.
 

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My Heritage Arms has a hammer-block but the manual still reccomends an empty cylinder. I try not to pick-and-choose which rules I follow.
My NAA Mini-revolver has a nea little feature that lets you lower the hammer into an indentation between rounds.
 

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My NAA Mini-revolver has a nea little feature that lets you lower the hammer into an indentation between rounds.
Two of mine have the safety notch and I carry my .22 and my .22 mag Black Widow in the safety notch all rounds loaded, but my Super Companion does not have the safety notches, being cap and ball and having a floating firing pin, so I carry it on an empty chamber if I carry it.

The safety notch thingy is at least as old as the 1958 Remington Army and Ruger copied the idea on the Old Army revolver. I have both and they're fine revolvers. I carry those on the safety notch fully loaded.

Some have claimed the NAA can slip the safety notch, but I've carried one for 25 years as a back up and it's never done that to me. I carry it in a "holster grip", old style, but that doesn't protect the hammer. I suppose it COULD slip the notch if you pumped up against something with it in your pocket and hit the hammer just right, but it's never happened to me, so I don't feel like changing the way I carry it. If it concerns YOU, however, one can always carry the NAA hammer down on an empty.
 

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My NAA Mini-revolver has a nea little feature that lets you lower the hammer into an indentation between rounds.
The genuine traditional revolvers not only didn't have transfer bars, they didn't even have firing pins! The Colt revolvers from 1836 to 1873 were cap and ball percussion firearms. As johnacuda comments, these were usually carried with the hammer down between rounds - usually in a safety notch that held the hammer and cylinder together.

Cap-and-ball percussion revolvers were standard issue in every battle of the Civil War, at the Alamo, in the California Gold Rush, and were Wild-Bill Hickok's go-to weapon of choice.
 

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<snip>
In 1973, Ruger came out with the New Model Blackhawk which used the new transfer bar system that they'd developed for their first DA revolver, the Security Six. This gun replaced the old models which used the Colt design hammer mounted firing pin. Ruger offered to modify any old model to the new transfer bar system free of charge. This reduced possible liability from improperly carrying six chambered rounds in the older models. However, a modified old "flat top" model would not be worth as much today to Ruger collectors as the un-modified action. To this day, though, Ruger will modify any older Blackhawk to the new transfer bar system.
Great advice and I agree completely. Just two points I would add. First is a minor nit: the 1st generation Blackhawks had frame mounted firing pins. That's why Ruger could offer the conversion kits to adapt them to use a transfer bar. Second, as somebody has already mentioned, Ruger will return the original parts after converting an old model Blackhawk, so the collector value won't be diminished.

I know some Cowboy action shooters are reluctant to have the conversions done because they're afraid that the trigger pull will be degraded. I have a .30 Carbine old model with the conversion kit installed, and it's trigger pull is as good as my Vaqueros that had some tuning work done.
 

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The genuine traditional revolvers not only didn't have transfer bars, they didn't even have firing pins! The Colt revolvers from 1836 to 1873 were cap and ball percussion firearms. As johnacuda comments, these were usually carried with the hammer down between rounds - usually in a safety notch that held the hammer and cylinder together.

Cap-and-ball percussion revolvers were standard issue in every battle of the Civil War, at the Alamo, in the California Gold Rush, and were Wild-Bill Hickok's go-to weapon of choice.








 
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