Introduction: How to Correctly Load a Single Action Revolver

Picture of How to Correctly Load a Single Action Revolver
I will show how to correctly load a single action revolver ....AKA Six Shooter with five bullets
Now the cautions ,A firearm is deadly !! Handle with extreme care DO NOT point it at anything you are unwilling to destroy .The bullets used in this instructable are dummy rounds hand loaded by me for live fire jam drills, the primers are inert (soaked in oil) and there is no powder in the bullets.

Step 1: Load the First Chamber

Picture of Load the First Chamber

Open the loading gate on the right side of the gun , here I use a replica 1851 Colt Navy cartridge conversion . Center the chamber in the loading gate and insert the first bullet .

Step 2: Rotate Cylinder Past Second Chamber

Picture of Rotate Cylinder Past Second Chamber

Rotate the cylinder past the second chamber and stop at the third , you want to load only FIVE bullets ....I have removed the barrel and will show the cylinder from the front in my pictures .
Here is the first and third chamber loaded.

Step 3: Load the Rest

Picture of Load the Rest

Rotate the cylinder and center the fourth chamber in the loading gate and again load a bullet then do the same for the fifth and sixth chamber.

Step 4: Cock and Let Hammer Down

Picture of Cock and Let Hammer Down

Point the gun in a safe direction and cock hammer to full cock , if you have done this right you will let the hammer down on a unloaded chamber .
Why 5? Why a empty chamber under the hammer ?
First on older guns if a live round is under the hammer a hard blow to the hammer can cause a accidental discharge , not good if in a holster ,Second if you are letting the hammer down and you lose control of the hammer your get, Why, yes, an accidental discharge!


ptmmatssc (author)2008-02-29

I agree on loading to only 5 rounds on OLD single actions . More modern revolvers have safety features like transfer bar safeties and hammer block safeties etc ( such as the Ruger Blackhawk SA ) to prevent such unintended discharges. We've come a long way in safety on revolvers to get away from the "accidental discharges" due to hammer strikes . That being said , I wouldn't have the hammer resting on a live round , in a revolver , unless it was a modern example with one of the safety features mentioned or similar . Good instructable btw .

tool_77 (author)ptmmatssc2010-03-18

saftey or not engeneering  controlls  often fail and it is a good idea for an empty chamber anyway

lloydrmc (author)tool_772014-01-13

Ruger transfer bar safety cannot possibly fire unless the trigger is pulled. Such a failure is not possible.

IanH43 (author)lloydrmc2015-11-25

And the Titantic wasn't supposed to sink.

I teach my Hunter's Ed students this mantra, and have them repeat it throughout the class - "A safety is a mechanical device that can and will fail".

When you say that something is "not possible", that Murphy guy has ways to make you regret your hubris.

lloydrmc (author)IanH432015-11-25

Thoroughly non-analogous analogy, sir. Not even close

Not to mention a misnomer, as you're not even talking about the same thing that I was talking about. A "transfer bar" is not a "safety".

I'm glad you teach your students to be extra careful, especially considering how litigious our society has become. I won't say that you are going too far in telling your students that safeties "will fail" because I don't do what you do, nor am I even qualified to do so.

skunkbait (author)ptmmatssc2008-07-18

Yep, I own antique and modern revolvers, and as a matter of habit,I always keep the hammer on an empty chamber.

sharlston (author)skunkbait2010-04-16

dosent dry firing damage guns?

skunkbait (author)sharlston2010-04-16

It varies from gun to gun.  As a rule, I never dry fire a .22,  or any other rimfire weapon. 

But there are some centerfire weapons which can also be damaged by repeated dry firing.  I once broke the firing pin on a little French made .32 auto by dry firing.

awoodcarver (author)skunkbait2010-04-17

I don't think I dry fired it ,just put let the hammer down on the empty chamber . if I did I shouldn't have .over the years I have dry fired many S&W revolvers most times the model 10... issue gun for corrections ..I use to give cadets lessons and one of the way I taught was with dry fire ON the RANGE WITH IT POINTED DOWNRANGE ...that seemed to help ...I have replaced many a fireing pin on my and others guns from dry firing as skunk says most have been .22

sharlston (author)awoodcarver2010-12-28

Ah sorry i misunderstood,my knowledge on firearms is Very vague indeed but if you accidentally press the trigger without a 5th cartridge isent that dry firing 

canid (author)ptmmatssc2008-06-19

couldn't agree more. my mother has my lage great-uncle's single six from 1954, and ruger will still service it with the transfer bar refit under the original warrantee. no charge.

skunkbait (author)canid2008-07-18

That's cool. Ruger has always stood behind their work.

Vautikos (author)2010-08-28

Good tutorial, but remember: there are no "accidental" discharges, only negligent discharges.

halokiller (author)2009-01-22


grenades_and_ham (author)2008-08-11

thats your simple firearm with a point and click interface lol

Sypran (author)2008-04-29

hey my grandpa had the same model as (colt navy) and well he died recently and we found the revolver (actually alot of guns) and it has 3 live rounds (he said back then it was for if a robber ever came it at night) how do you unload them without firing the gun? and I believe you need a license to have a pistol thing so we don't want to go to a gun shop and get a fine for not have the license just to unload a gun for safety reasons

awoodcarver (author)Sypran2008-04-29

First off make sure it is pointed away from anything that can be killed/hurt look at the rear is there a loading gate on the right side or just a little indent if a loading gate(like in the pic with my finger pointing at the gate )and rotate cylinder the bullets may just fall out if not look under the barrel and there is a thing that will push the bullets out ( can't think of the name right now) ejector rod ....if no loading gate there will be a indent and a nipple with a cap on it half cock it and then pull the caps gently that will make it safe for now let me know if caps or cartridge ......if cap and ball you then can take the barrel off and remove the ball and powder .....please be very careful and let me know how it went

Sypran (author)awoodcarver2008-04-30

tyvm my dad unloaded it thanks to you! eveything is great nobody hurt and nothing broken lol

mace85 (author)2008-03-14

One question. How do you tell your dummy rounds from live rounds? Basically I am getting at this. If you load "deactivated" primers in your rounds isn't that kind unsafe. Even though there is no powder, there is the possibility of a primer detonating, causing a squib, or worse, letting the projectile actually exit the barrel. There are .22lr rounds that are only powered by priming compound. And they are still lethal. Granted the bullet in your case is a couple hundreds grains heavier, this may be an undue risk. One can not depend on oil to deactivate a primer. I always load my dummy rounds with no primer, or just leave the spent primer in the case.

awoodcarver (author)mace852008-03-14

Oil has almost always worked , when I let it sit for a week or so ....after it dries I add fire to the primer and then I am almost always sure it wont go bang ( 1 or 5 have gone bang when I ran a torch over them )...I need a un dented primer for a revolver for a semi auto I can use a bullet without a primer or one that is indented since you wouldn't see it ......I use the nickel cases for all my dummy rounds but have just gotten a gift of several thousand rounds that are live and in nickel cases so it is time to paint a red stripe on the live rounds date with over 5000 dummy rounds loaded only 2 have gone off 1 in a 1911 and was a easy fix dumped all my .45 dummies and one .40 again dumped those were rush jobs 1 day in oil and no fire used ....both made the gun jam and we couldn't chamber a round ....for rifle or shotgun rounds I can use used brass or if I use new brass I add a piece of eraser to protect the firing pin....I have seen 158 grain soft ( swaged ?) lead SWC crown a 2 inch revolver with just a primer( someone new to reloading) so I know that it can push a bullet out ...I also depend on the shooter and teacher to make sure that the gun is pointed down range and have been known to kick my son and others off the range and ban him/them for not doing so ....The revolver bullets are only good for one use and I pocket them when the gun is unloaded ...I do agree that this isn't the best method but have to make the drills as fair as I can and this was what my grandpa used as well

creekwalker (author)2008-01-11

Good job of writing; everything was well illustrated as well as being spot on correct. Our society has changed over the year with far fewer people than you realize exposed to firearms or shooting. In fact the only exposure many people have to firearms is TV or the movies. How often do you see appropriate and safe firearms handling skills in either of those?

awoodcarver (author)creekwalker2008-01-11

Thank you , on the day I decided to write this I had been hired to give lessons to Calif. Dept. of Corrections cadets , at the range we used ( public ) there was a young man shooting a old style Ruger Blackhawk he kept loading 6 and putting the hammer down and breaking the 180 plane and pointing the gun at the general area where we were shooting . My 14 y/o son and I asked the person not to point his gun anywhere but down range and offered to show him how to load it this way but he had been shooting since he was 18 .( His words and about 24 y/o) I let the owner of the range know several times and he did ,after I stopped my lesson watch the person better and then went and asked him to leave .I now think if I had gone down first and not sent my son he may have been a little more open to suggestions ....Both of my students did pass the shooting part of the academy

drummonkey92 (author)awoodcarver2008-02-16

if theres anything worse than idiots, its idiots with guns...if theres anything worse than idiots with guns its idiots with guns who don't know how to use them!

reeding (author)2007-12-25

wow who doesn't know how to load a gun?

ke5ldo (author)reeding2008-01-24

LOTS of people! am a certified firearms instructor, and men are worse than women to try and teach!

awoodcarver (author)reeding2007-12-25

Someone at the range I was at the day I made this , he had a old style Ruger and was loading 6 and it went off when he dropped the hammer on a live round ....the gun I am using here will go off if a live round is in the chamber and the hammer is hit hard enough ,I have hit it with the palm of my hand and had it go off,that is why it is loaded with 5

reeding (author)awoodcarver2007-12-26

you'd think they should teach you this stuff when you buy a gun

awoodcarver (author)reeding2007-12-26

When I sold them I would always show someone buying a single action how to load this way , but you get a male that "KNOWS" guns and they wont listen ....when I use to train cadets the ladies were the best students no bad habits to unlearn

reeding (author)awoodcarver2007-12-26

ya i dont like the hot-heads

About This Instructable



Bio: I am disabled and walk on a cane , but try and live life to the fullest ( or foolishness ) since my antics most time end up ... More »
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