One of the most disconcer ting things for any responsible shooter picking up a lever gun is the use of the hammer as a safety. While there’s a cross-bolt safety on the guns, it’s thought of as an abomination brought about by litigation. The preferred lever gun manual of arms is to leave the hammer half-cocked, cocking it as the gun is shouldered. In the halfcocked position, the sear sits in a second, lipped notch on the hammer that prevents the sear from moving. The hammer never rests on the firing pin, and it can’t move any lower in this configuration any way, rendering the gun safe.
The uncomfor table par t comes when you cock the hammer or run the action on a loaded magazine, but decide not to shoot. You could snap the cross-bolt safety and call it good, but because the hammer still falls on a safe gun, and there’s so much going on with the shotgun-like manual of arms you could pull the trigger three times before you realize the gun isn’t broken. So, as Lew Gosnell teaches at Gunsite, the preferred method to safe a lever gun is to place a thumb on the hammer, pull the trigger, and lower the hammer to half-cocked. It’s unsettling, but it becomes second nature. And there’s still the cross-bolt safet y if you want to run the gun that way.