HGR 085 - Single Action Safety

Hello and welcome to Handgun Radio! I’m your host Ryan Michad from the wilds of Central Maine, and this is your home for all the news, information and discussion in the handgunning world. This week, Weerd Beard and I discuss single action firearms and how they can be carried safely & how those mechanisms work!

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Week in Review:


- Some great videos coming out from Ian over at Forgotten Weapons from the James D. Julia auction house, be sure to go check those out!

  • Another one of my favorite channels on Full30 is Duelist. Mike Beliveau is the proprietor of the Duelist channel, and he does great videos on classic handguns and rifles. He writes for Guns of the Old West and does a great job. Go check them out!


Main Topic: Single Action Safety

Last week when Weerd and I were discussing inexpensive, not cheap handguns, I made a comment to him about how even though I understood all the mechanisms preventing accidental firing, I was still somewhat uncomfortable with carrying a single-action auto. I did it when I carried a Browning Hi-Power, but I still was sometimes leery. Weerd and I thought it would be a good topic of discussion to cover how single-action handguns can be safely carried while not worrying about accidental discharge.

What are the Conditions of Carry? (0,1,2,3, etc)

0 =  Ready to Go.  Chamber loaded, magazine loaded, hammer back, safety off.   All you need is a trigger pull to fire the firearm

1 = Cocked-and-locked.   Chamber loaded, magazine loaded, hammer back, safety on.   Safety need to be disengaged to reach condition zero

2 = Hammer-down.   Chamber loaded, magazine loaded, hammer down (preferably on half-cock) safety off.    This is a pretty lousy idea with 1911s,  but it is very viable for double-action guns like Berettas, Many CZs.  Technically this the the only way you should carry a traditional SIG Sauer

3 = “Cruiser Ready”  Chamber empty, magazine loaded, hammer down, safety off.   Generally this is a bad idea for carry, as you need to rack the slide and chamber a round.  There is a lot to go wrong here, from short-stroking the slide, to simply not having a free hand available to you when you most need it.    The term “Cruiser Ready” comes from how police carry rifles and shotguns in their cruiser.   There is actually some validity if you have the gun for specific circumstances, where the gun won’t be under your direct control, like a gun in a desk drawer in your private office, or a gun on your nightstand while you sleep.  Extreme caution should be used with this as it is still a loaded gun, but it is a bit safer than many of the other above methods.

4= “Unloaded”  Chamber empty, magazine (or magazine well) empty, hammer down, safety off.  This is frequently the definition of an “Unloaded” firearm.  Technically condition 3 is also “unloaded” as no round is chambered,  but in the eyes of the law this is the recognized definition of “unloaded”.

How do safety mechanisms in modern firearms work?

Single Action Revolver Safety:

  • On an old style single action (or sometimes double-action) revolver with a fixed firing pin, it is imperative that you carry the hammer on an EMPTY chamber. While at rest the firing pin is in direct contact with the firing pin primer and will fire if the hammer is struck. Use the load one skip one technique as shown in this video and watch this Hickok45 video showing how the guns can fire.
  • Single action guns like the North American Arms Mini Revolvers actually have notches between the chambers to rest the hammer down on a fully loaded cylinder.

Single-Action Auto Safety:

What makes cocked-and-locked carry safe?

Thumb Safety.   Most block the travel of the hammer, and either block the travel of the trigger, or disconnect the trigger.


Series 80

Firing Pin Safety (Heavy Spring, Light Firing Pin)

Is Cocked and Locked Dangerous?


Until next week, have fun & SAFE SHOOTING!!!