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Loading the Single Action Pistol
The cylinder in a single-action pistol does not swing out on a hinge as shown previously, rather, the cylinder is either completely removed, loaded with cartridges, and then reinstalled or is loaded by opening the loading gate, placing ammunition into the chamber, and then rotating the cylinder to load the remaining chambers.
Loading the Double-Action Revolver
Today's modern double-action revolver consists of a mechanism that allows the cylinder door to swing-out on a hinge, exposing all the chambers in the cylinder. The official terminology used to describe the mechanism is called a swing-out cylinder, which works on a crane or yoke design which swings the cylinder and the ejector rod to the side of the revolver. When closed, the cylinder is aligned perfectly center with the frame and with a chamber perfectly aligned with the barrel. The action is completed when various locking mechanisms, which commonly includes the ejector rod, the center pin in the rear, and other systems that hold the cylinder in place.
The revolver is placed into the left hand, facing downwards, and pointed in a safe direction (pointing away from any part of the body but not in a direction where an unintended target could get shot); generally between 30 and 45 degrees. ALWAYS point the gun in a safe direction! To load a swing-out cylinder, depress the cylinder latch while pushing it through the frame as pictured above. Press slightly on the ejector bar with your thumb to allow the ejector to clear the chambers for adding or removing ammunition. DO NOT swing the cylinder out with great force or by jerking the gun in a sideways manner to allow gravity to open the cylinder; opening a cylinder in this fashion can cause damage to your firearm. Once opened, if necessary, you can rotate the cylinder with your fingers to move the chambers into a better position. Note: ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire!
A speed-loader allows the revolvers chambers to be reloaded in a single motion. Although they take a little practice, speed loaders
are the closet equivalent to a semi-automatic magazine.
Once the ammunition is loaded, the cylinder should be swung back into its original resting place within the frame of the gun. There
should be an audible "click" when the cylinder is in place, alternatively, you can push on the side of the cylinder to ensure it will not
Firing a Double-Action Revolver
Almost all modern double-action revolvers will allow you to fire from two different modes. Generally, you can cock the hammer and
prepare the firearm for firing, or, you can pull on the trigger and allow the gun to rotate the cylinder, cock the hammer, and then
release the hammer in one complete pull of the trigger.
This is an excellent opportunity to remind students of the three major safety rules followed by the two major firing rules:
1) ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
2) ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
3) ALWAYS keep your gun unloaded until it is ready for use.
4) ALWAYS know your target and what is beyond.
5) ALWAYS know how to use your gun safely.
You can continue to fire from the single-action mode, the double-action mode, or any combination until the number of desired shots
have been made or the gun has been emptied.
When firing from the single-action position, the shooter will notice the trigger is easier to pull and easier to get a shot off. This is
because the work of pulling the hammer and expanding the firing spring has already been done, leaving only the last action to
release the hammer by pulling the trigger. The user will also notice the trigger is recessed further towards them in the trigger guard
area, again, the action of setting the hammer and springs into the firing position adjusts the trigger into the firing position.
As mentioned previously, some double-action pistols are designed primarily for self-defense. These revolvers rely on the internal
striker style mechanism. This style of revolver cannot be "cocked" in the same manner as the single or double-action revolver.
The process begins by placing the hammer into the half-cocked position using whichever hand is easiest to control the hammer. The revolver is then placed into the left hand, facing downwards, and pointed in a safe direction (pointing away from any part of the body but not in a direction where an unintended target could get shot); generally between 30 and 45 degrees.
Ammunition is loaded into the first empty chamber with the right hand. The cylinder is rotated to expose the next empty chamber where the ammunition is once again loaded. The process continues until all chambers are loaded with ammunition. When all chambers have been filled with ammunition, the loading gate is closed to prevent the exposed ammunition from falling out of the chamber.
Firing the Single-Action Revolver
The process begins by cocking the hammer with the thumb of the hand you are holding the gun with or, in the case of a two-handed hold, the hammer can be pulled back using the support hand if this is easier for the shooter to complete. Note: ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire!
With the hammer cocked and the gun ready to be fired, ALWAYS point the gun in a safe direction, be sure there is nothing beyond your target that can get damaged, pull the trigger to release the hammer and to discharge the ammunition. Compete the entire process until the number of desired shots have been taken or the cylinder is emptied.
Unloading the Single-Action Pistol
To unload a single-action revolver, the revolver should be tilted in an upwards direction and pointed in a safe direction. Holding the revolver with the left hand, with the hammer half-cocked, open the loading gate to allow the spent cartridge to fall out of the chamber. If the cartridge does not drop freely, use the ejector rod to push the spent cartridge out of the chamber. Rotate the cylinder exposing each chamber in order and allow the spent cartridge to release or use the ejector rod to release the cartridge.
Unloading the Double-Action Revolver
To unload a double-action revolver, the revolver should be tilted in an upwards direction and pointed in a safe direction. Holding the revolver with the left hand, push the cylinder latch with the right thumb while pressing the cylinder into the open position. Note: Some models have the cylinder latch built on the crane. You fingers should be half encircled around the cylinder when the action is completed.
If you have unused ammunition in the gun, you can choose to tilt the revolver at less of an incline. This will allow you to press the ejector rod slightly, lifting the cartridges away from the cylinder. You can then identify the spent shells by their primer cap being hit by the firing pin, remove those cartridges and replace them with fresh ones.
Alternatively, the user can point the revolver straight-up and press the ejector rod with his thumb, which will expel all the cartridges, spent or not, in one motion. If there is live ammunition remaining, the shooter should catch the cartridges with his right hand to avoid unspent shells from hitting a hard surface and discharging when the primer cap is contacted.