Skip to comments.Single-Action Self-Defense
Posted on 09/19/2006 2:27:56 PM PDT by kiriath_jearim
Do single-action sixguns have a place in self-defense?
By Bart Skelton
It's not often enough that my friend Pete Kellen calls, but when he does the conversation is always notable . Pete is one of those people who have literally seen and done it all. He recently retired from the Department of Justice after a career as a federal prosecutor. Prior to this he was an FBI agent, as well as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Pete's a staunch supporter of gun rights and a distinguished gun collector. He's undoubtedly qualified to pass judgment on a number of subjects.
During our last discussion we hashed out a point on which we couldn't concur. Pete said he'd just read an article about the use of the single-action revolver for defense purposes. Pete is a 1911 fan, though he is also a veteran revolver shooter, his latest preference being the Smith & Wesson Thunder Ranch .45 ACP. He told me he just couldn't understand anyone being bone-headed enough to contemplate using a single-action revolver for self-defense. The statement sparked a friendly wrangle between us. Pete said his main concern with carrying a single action was the reloading time in comparison with that of an automatic pistol or revolver.
I think the idea of carrying a single action for defense purposes--with the exception of as a law enforcement duty sidearm--is acceptable. I tend to like simplicity, and the time-honored and proven sixgun fits that bill. Many exhaustive experiments have been conducted regarding the carrying of various configurations of handguns for defense purposes, and disadvantages have been discovered lingering within each. I believe personal penchant should still be the deciding factor when it comes to defense carry.
The single-action revolver has many appealing attributes. For me, the heaviness of the muzzle, the grip contour and the natural way my fingers fit the hammer and trigger are the most noteworthy. With the Colt in particular, there is no need for the fitting of custom grips, unless you wish to make duplicates of the factory stocks in ivory or some other fancy material. The natural feel of the single action makes it point easily, just like your finger, making target acquisition very fast. The ease of hammer and trigger manipulation adds to the quickness.
For years I shot a single action using my strong-hand thumb to cock the hammer. Sometime back, an acquaintance introduced me to the method of cocking with the weak thumb. After some practice I've found that I'm able to fire my single actions almost as fast as I can a double action, and while I'm no Jerry Miculek, I am able to hold my own on occasion with a double-action wheelgun.
For anyone who doesn't believe a single action can be fired rapidly enough to stop a fight, I would recommend reading up on the old revolver magician, Ed McGivern. Though he performed most of his feats with a double action, he also investigated the limits of the single action and found that he could almost equal the results between the two. Using a 51?2-inch Colt Single Action Army in .38 Special, Ed could place five shots in a playing card in one second. He held the Colt in his left hand and fanned with his right. He experimented with thumbing the Colt also, finding that he was a little slower but more accurate, and it was much less detrimental to the gun.
Shooting fast isn't the most important business when it comes to self-defense; accuracy is likely the most important consideration. Contrary to many accounts by gun experts, the single action is a wonderfully accurate handgun. I've found that most of them can duplicate the accuracy of a double action--and many autos--when shot from a rest.
At the heart of self-defense with a handgun is the ability to reload it reasonably fast. This is where the single action loses its edge. I've seen a few Cowboy Action shooters reload a hogleg with lightning speed, but it can't be done as quickly as reloading a double action. Placing the hammer on half-cock and punching out each empty with the ejector rod, then loading one round at a time takes some time, and doing it quickly takes plenty of practice.
My friend Pete is comfortable carrying a pair of 1911s, and he's a well-armed man who nobody in his right mind would tangle with. In a serious situation, that brace of slab-sided iron will provide the ultimate self-defense tool. But don't write off anyone carrying an old Peacemaker. For everyday carry, including self-defense work, I'll take a six-shooter anytime.
Things are going well for S&W. The stock will react exceptionally well if they get next year's Army contract, replacing Beretta. Good chance of it too. The new M&P line compares quite favorably w/ Glock.
Unless you happen to be Bob Munden, don't bother carrying one for self-defense unless you have no other choice. Single action revolvers are ponderously slow when used by most people, the fact that they're revolvers means that the higher felt recoil will make you slower to realign your sights on the target, and the glacial reloading speed of most models means that you better hope that there's no more than three assailants.
I'm not saying that they're not deadly, just that there are better choices out there now - and if your assailants are armed with hi-cap double action 9mm automatics, choosing a single action revolver could mean that you're dead.
the biggest problem people have with SAA for defense is reload time. if you need more than 6 shots, you've got bigger problems than just how long it's gonna take to reload.
you're either against an army or you can't shoot for crap and even having a high cap glock isn't gonna help either situation.
Both designations are acceptable .. No, they are not. It is no more acceptable to describe a cartridge by its obsolete designation than it is to address a married woman by her maiden name.
The nomenclature 45 ACP was obsoleted and replaced by 45 Auto by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI) prior to World War II. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) also recognizes only the 45 Auto. What in the world, or who, do you use for your misinformation?
".45 Auto" is simply shorthand for ".45 Automatic Colt Pistol". No, it is not. And neither designations are interchangeable with 45 Auto+P, 45 Auto Rim, 45 Win Mag, 45 Ball M1911, etceteras.
Feel as stupid as you accuse Mr Skelton of being? No, quite the contrary. I have considerably more accurate knowledge of firearms and ammunition than Mr. Skelton and could teach much to you both.
Posting such erroneous information and your insulting manor on this forum under the moniker Retired Navy brings discredit to my beloved Navy. Please mature a bit before you post again.
"The nomenclature 45 ACP was obsoleted and replaced by 45 Auto by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI) prior to World War II. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) also recognizes only the 45 Auto. What in the world, or who, do you use for your misinformation?"
If you're going to pick nits on the subject, I'm going to have to inform you that "45 Auto" is not a recognized caliber name by SAAMI. Per SAAMI, and their website (http://www.saami.org/Unsafe_Combinations.cfm), it's "45 Automatic", not "45 Auto".
If you have a Ruger you can fire the +P Magnum .45 from Corbon. I fired my mounted shooting blanks, then some cowboy loads, then some hunting loads, then the +P Mags.
The +P Mags came 50 to a box, I have 49 in the box now and don't feel I will ever need to buy another box. Felt like it broke my finger when I fired it.
I've got a Springfield 1911A1 Milspec, but would certainly pick up one of those 1873s (in cal 44.40).
1 round will put you down.
The whole cylinder will turn the assailant into hamburger.
In addition, it should be noted that SAAMI's nomenclature is listed as being *strictly voluntary* and not mandatory.
Especially amusing among their recommendations is that one should never use 9mm NATO (Military) in arms marked 9mm Luger. Humorous because most Browning High Powers were marked so and *they* were the weapon used as a reference when NATO forumlated the standard 124gr round.
Are you joining the ranks of those who choose to display their ignorance on a open forum? Dig a little deeper and you will discover that both SAAMI and ANSI have established a "Full Name" and "Abbreviated Name" for each cartridge. The abbreviated name for "45 Automatic" is "45 Auto". On several cartridges, such as the 9mm Luger and 45 Colt, the full and abbreviated names are the same.
The abbreviated names are authorized so that they can fit on a headstamp. Look at the headstamps, Stupid!
Amusing to whom? The reason that every box of ammunition from reputable manufactures carries some version of the warning, "Only use ammunition that exactly matches marking on your gun" is primary because of different pressure levels allowed in the particular cartridge.
Yes, a 9mm Luger+P and be loaded and fired in a pistol chambered for the milder 9mm Luger cartridge, but that is a dangerous endeavor in some pistols. And yes, a 44 Rem Mag can be fired in a revolver chambered for 45 Colt, but will the ignorant shooter find all of his pistol's pieces?
Do you have any idea of the pressure level allowed in military 9mm Ball M882 and how that compares to SAAMI Maximum Average Pressure for 9mm Luger?
When you find yourself in a hole, it is best to quit digging.
I'm looking at some of the deactivated rounds I keep on my desk. Of the .45 rounds, some say "45 ACP", some say "45 AUTO" , and some say simply "45".
I am looking at headstamps. None of these rounds is more than 25 years old.
I also have some 9mm on my desk. Some say 9MM LUGER, some say 9MM PARA, some just say 9MM.
Even the manufacturers don't agree on just one name.
Also, you *do* know that some of the older M9's we issue to troops today with M882 are stamped "9mm Luger," right?
So what it that supposed to prove? What is the age of those cartridges? Who manufactured them? To what technical data package were they manufactured?
I also have some 9mm on my desk. Some say 9MM LUGER, some say 9MM PARA, some just say 9MM
So you are going to use Third World, Off-Shore and garage shop ammo producers as your source of information? Just how many wrongs does it take to make a right? Get serious.
Even the manufacturers don't agree on just one name. Dont fire ammunition assembled by anyone who dost know enough to comply with SAAMI/ANSI standards!. Are you trying to prove SAAMI and ANSI are wrong and gun-writers are infallible, or just that some folks, including yourself and Retired Navy never do get the word even after 7 decades?
Just what are you failing to prove? Other than your own gullibility and stubbornness, you havent proved anything yet.
By the way, was the pistol you used a Vaquero, Vaquero Bisely, or a Blackhawk? I find the Bisley grip to result in much more comfortable and controllable firing.
Vaqueros. I also have a blackhawk and just checked, their grips are virtually identical.
I didn't compete in mounted shooting last year because of arthritis in my hand. I'm building a horse barn now and have pounded close to 100# of nails. Both my hands are really screwed up for the fast single action shooting. I'll rest up when the barn is finished and try next year. I love that sport. My horse loves it too.
Yep, I remember that notch on cap-and-ball revolvers, which I have not shot in well....I guess too long!
The design doesn't seem to have made it into cartridge arms though. This is why I was thinking about half-cock, because the hammer is not all the way down. Sure would be nice to have an extra round though, and I bet the old timers would have been very grateful for it.
Instead, you manufactured a host of excuses to divert attention away from your lack of knowledge and resorted to an ad hominid personal attack.
Yes, I am an ammunition expert, and recognized as such by the U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C. And no, my statement was not to the exclusion of all others. Do you frequently manufacture quotes trying to mask your own shortcomings?
If you cant stand the heat, youd best stay out of the kitchen and off this forum. You hypocritically complain of my manors, yet started the person attacks by calling me stupid, and followed up with an accusation that I am from DU. Your lack of knowledge, humility and grace is well displayed on this thread.
No, I have not met Bart, but I knew his father. Bart was provided shoes much larger than he will likely ever fill. Your initial post was not a well meaning correction. It was a factually wrong assertion and an attempt to elevate yourself and belittle me. You failed on both accounts.
You may slink away now.
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