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  • Childhood firearm incident--could this have really happened?

    When I was growing up, the only gun in the house was a single-shot .22 rifle like this:


    My older brother and I learned to shoot with it when were probably around nine or ten years old, maybe younger. As I recall, I was a better shot.

    One day we were hurrying to shoot at something, and I was loading the rifle. We were still in the yard when the gun went off, and that was a BIG no-no.

    My recollection is that I had my left hand under the stock, and I put a .22 short in the barrel with my right hand. For some reason, I pushed the bolt home by putting the heel of my right hand on the piece that you pulled back to cock the rifle. I did this forcefully enough that the gun went off. Fortunately, the barrel was pointed at the ground. Regardless, we both lost our privileges with the gun for a long time.

    As I said, that was my recollection of what happened when I was very young, well over fifty years ago. Is it really possible that the gun would have gone off that way, or did I just wipe out the memory of pulling the trigger inadvertently?

    Roger
    Last edited by winchman; 12-07-2009, 07:58 AM.
    Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.

  • #2
    Not likely but then it could have been worn out and a malfunction.

    Still, these things can happen so the old rule of keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction is still the #1 safety rule. If that rule is followed, nobody ever gets hurt regardless of the cause.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes, easily. That "knob" on the back is a striker- basically the head of a big firing pin.

      It'll have a spring or stop to keep the striker from resting on the rim/primer, but no mechanical interlock to keep the striker from moving forward.

      It would have been very easy to slap the bolt shut and fire the gun by pushing on the striker, if you do it all in one rapid motion. Technically the trigger should have caught the striker, but a gun like that is not terribly sophisticated, and the action of slamming the bolt shut may have caused the sear to skip over.

      That's why some guns- the classic example is the single action revolver- have some sort of locking or blocking mechanism to keep the hammer (and firing pin) from resting on the primer. And prior to the advent of those mechanisms, that's why the smart cowboy kept just five shots in his Colt SAA, with the hammer down over an empty chamber.

      The fault for your negligent discharge- there's no such thing as an "accidental" discharge- was both yours and your fathers. You were mishandling the gun- there's a reason the bolt has a handle- and your father either didn't know or didn't teach you about the striker. (The former is more likely.)

      Doc.
      Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Doc Nickel

        That's why some guns- the classic example is the single action revolver- have some sort of locking or blocking mechanism to keep the hammer (and firing pin) from resting on the primer. And prior to the advent of those mechanisms, that's why the smart cowboy kept just five shots in his Colt SAA, with the hammer down over an empty chamber.

        Doc.

        Thanks for the information. Is there any reason to keep the hammer down on an empty chamber with a modern revolver? Is there a way to tell whether there is such a blocking mechanism on a particular gun?

        D.C.Clark

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        • #5
          The firing pin probably doesn't float- being a single part driven by the mainspring, and is not cocked by the motion of the bolt. I'd bet on the mainspring being sufficiently rigid (workhardened...?) that it somewhat dented the rim & started the primer as the bolt was closed forcibly. Closing it more gently would decrease the force of impact, not dent the rim and not fire the round.

          My father has an ancient single shot .22- thankfully its never done anything like that but I can see how it could happen.

          Its interesting how a small simple rifle is possibly more dangerous than my .303 Enfield- at least from the perspective of a negligent discharge such as this.

          Greg

          Comment


          • #6
            That is the Marlin .22 single shot, with the "Drop-in" breach, is it not?

            When growing up me and my brother had Remington .22 single shot rifles with out the drop in breach. You had to physically place the shell into the hole of the breach

            Never had a single incedent of misfireing as you described and we must have put 10,000 rounds through the 2 rifles. Of course they also don't have the back plunger/charging handle as the Marlin either



            Nice part was - Mom appreciated the "Removeable Bolt" when we came home with Dad. She would immediately confiscate the bolts as me and my brother would clean our rifles
            Last edited by JoeFin; 12-07-2009, 08:58 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              To cock that 22 you have to pull the handle or knob on the back of the bolt once the bolt is closed. And it is very easy for the knob to slip out of your fingers when pulling it back. If the knob slips out of your fingers before it reaches the catch for the trigger it will go off. My uncle had one like that and it had a scope on it witch made it even harder to hold on to the knob and pull agents the spring to cock it.That 22 was not a self cocker like the center fire bolt actions.

              Comment


              • #8
                Is there a way to tell whether there is such a blocking mechanism on a particular gun?
                It depends....

                This is an exploded view of the Ruger Security Six.



                Item 55 (next to the trigger) is called a Transfer Bar. When the trigger is pulled it slides up over the firing pin so that the force of the hammer is transfered to the pin when it falls. If the trigger isn't pulled then the hammer cannot contact the pin and the weapon won't go off if it is dropped on the hammer for instance. It is easy to see it in operation when the revolver is dry fired.
                Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by a3sigma
                  Thanks for the information. Is there any reason to keep the hammer down on an empty chamber with a modern revolver? Is there a way to tell whether there is such a blocking mechanism on a particular gun?

                  D.C.Clark
                  As Evan posted, Ruger has a design that works on modern revolvers, and most manufacturers use something similar. BUT, you can still purchase new revolvers based on the original Colt Single Action Army (in fact Colt still makes them), and those revolvers still have a fixed firing pin and should be carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber.

                  If you are unsure, just make sure the revolver is unloaded and cock the hammer. The transfer bar mechanism is very noticeable.

                  andy b.
                  The danger is not that computers will come to think like men - but that men will come to think like computers. - some guy on another forum not dedicated to machining

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I know of no modern double action revolver that does not have a transfer bar mechanism. "Modern" dates back well into the twenties and thirties for US manufactured revolvers.

                    I will reserve my judgement on single action revolvers as some might still follow the original Colt design and lack the transfer bar. The Ruger single action revolvers do have the transfer bar mechanism.

                    The simple rim fire rifle in the photo is typical of inexpensive single shot rifles made by many manufacturers here and abroad. They could discharge either if the cocking piece slipped or as described under certain circumstances.
                    Jim H.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You can let the hammer down on single action and double action between the chambers. That was the safe way to carry the old black power muzzle loader revolvers and it works on any revolver.

                      I doubt many cowboys carried a gun with an empty chamber and I seriously doubt anyone in combat did.

                      As to the .22 rifle with the cocking knob, yes, it will fire if you pushed real hard on the cocking knob rather than the bolt handle. The firing pin is a retracting type. That is when cocked and fired the pin moves forward and fires the cartridge and then retracts so it does not stick out of the bolt when loading a live round. Actually, most, in not all, were of the two piece type firing pins. One part acting as the hammer and the front part acting as a floating firing pin with a retraction spring.
                      Last edited by Carld; 12-07-2009, 10:04 AM.
                      It's only ink and paper

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JCHannum
                        I know of no modern double action revolver that does not have a transfer bar mechanism. "Modern" dates back well into the twenties and thirties for US manufactured revolvers.

                        I will reserve my judgement on single action revolvers as some might still follow the original Colt design and lack the transfer bar. The Ruger single action revolvers do have the transfer bar mechanism.
                        ...

                        .
                        Yeah, I have a .357 Ruger Blackhawk (single action) that I bought about 1985, that has that transfer bar. Somewhere along the line I got the impression that was a retrofit, a response to some lawsuits over inadvertent discharges.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ruger did add the bar at some time because of accidents. There was/is a retro fit kit for some of the older Rugers.
                          It's only ink and paper

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Many percussion revolvers had safety notches between the chambers for the hammer nose to rest in. These positively locked the cylinder from turning. Cartridge single action revolvers lost this feature and relied in the half cock notch to prevent the hammer from contacting the primer. This notch was fragile and subject to wear. For this reason it was common practice and it is well documented to carry the gun with the hammer on an empty cylinder or discharged round.

                            The single shot rifle pictured is a common style in use from the early 1900's. It did not have a safety, and the firing pin and cocking piece were one piece, pinned together with an internal main spring. A weaker spring retracted the firing pin, but closing the bolt as described would push the firing pin out and allow it to contact the cartridge. Done with enough force, it could cause a discharge.

                            While Ruger uses a transfer bar directly between the hammer and firing pin which is visible when the hammer is cocked, Colt, Smith & Wesson and most others use a different system which places a steel bar between the hammer and frame when the hammer is down and the trigger retracted. Colt calls it a safety, S&W calls it a hammer block. These are internal and are not visible when operating the revolver.

                            Also, the original Ruger single action revolvers did not have the transfer bar. Ruger will refit these guns for no cost if returned to the factory. Many have already been retrofitted. The diehard Ruger collector prefers the original un-retrofitted revolver, so to pays to check if an older revolver is in hand. The Ruger double action revolvers all are fitted with the transfer bar.
                            Jim H.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My 357 mag Ruger Blackhawk was purchased in the early 60's and does not have the tarnsfer bar. It has 3 positions on the hammer. Safety cock, half cock, and cocked.



                              On my S&W mod. 52-2 the safety rolls a blocking bar between the hammer and the firing pin. In this position you can dry fire it with no detrimental effect.

                              Ernie (VE7ERN)

                              May the wind be always at your back

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