How to Correctly Load a Single Action Revolver




Introduction: How to Correctly Load a Single Action Revolver

About: 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 with me in bed on ice for a few days
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

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

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

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

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!



    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest

    29 Discussions

    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 .

    11 replies

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

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

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    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

    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 

    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.

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

    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

    2 replies

    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

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

    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.

    1 reply

    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