Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

By , on November 21, 2010

Firearms, Opinion


In the days when the revolver was the typical handgun carried for personal protection, it was essential to keep the chamber beneath the hammer empty. The reason was simple. The hammer and firing pin was one piece. A round would easily fire if the hammer received an impact while the pin was resting on the primer. This could and often did occur when the revolver was not cocked, its normal status when carried. About 40 years ago manufacturers began to use transfer bars. The trigger, in addition to releasing the hammer, moved a bar up between the hammer and the firing pin. The hammer could only cause movement of the firing pin through the transfer bar, allowing discharge. When the hammer is down and the trigger is in its normal position, the hammer cannot contact the pin. The hammer simply rests on the frame.  The manufacturers , despite the inherent safety of these designs, continue to advise owners to never carry with a round chambered.

This advice continued even with the advent of  safe auto loaders, such as the Glock series of pistols. These are designed to fire only when the trigger is pulled, and the trigger has a safety catch  to prevent unintentional trigger movement.

I cannot imagine needing a pistol for self defense and taking time to chamber a round. What’s more is this is an opportune instance for a jam to occur. On the other hand, not following the manufacturer’s recommendations is a bit troubling, as well. Are manufacturers still advising carrying with an empty chamber to limit their liability from claims for damages from accidental discharge?

Your thoughts and comment on this issue are welcome.



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