HAM­MER TIME

Recoil - - No. John. Wayne -

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.

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