Whether you have a shotgun, semi-automatics, a traditional double-action (TDA) weapon, or a semi-automatic pistol, there are many convincing reasons to also own a single-action revolver. Single-action handguns make a great backup weapon or concealed carry weapon. Additionally, single-action handguns need to be cocked before being fired, which enhances safety.
A single-action revolver, also referred to as a single-action firearm, is a type of weapon that typically has a six-round cylinder. It also includes a firing mechanism that requires you to first cock the weapon before pulling the trigger, releasing the hammer, and setting the firing pin to hit the cartridge. These weapons are known for their lighter trigger pull and are popular for target shooting because of their higher accuracy.
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How a Single-Action Revolver Works
Firstly, a revolver is a gun with at least one barrel and a revolving cylinder with multiple chambers that each house one cartridge. When you want to fire a round, you need to cock the hammer. This will cause the cylinder to partially rotate and align the chamber and cartridge with the barrel. Then, when you pull the trigger, a bullet will be fired out of the bore.
With a single-action revolver, you have to manually cock the hammer. Each time you fire another round, you must repeat the same process of manually cocking the hammer before firing. When you pull the trigger, a firing pin is driven into the cartridge, which detonates it and forces it out of the barrel.
Some older revolvers have a safety feature that lets you partially pull the hammer, locking it in a loaded position without resting the firing pin on the cartridge case. However, some revolvers, like the Colt Paterson, rest the hammer on the primer and can accidentally discharge, which can be dangerous.
Some single-shot firearms are single-action guns, but instead of a revolving cylinder, they only have a single reloadable slot.
A single-action revolver usually has a removable pin that helps keep the cylinder in place. These weapons also have a loading gate that lets you reload ammunition into the weapon, usually on the right-hand side. You open the gate, put the hammer in an unlocked position, and then turn the cylinder to verify that each chamber is empty before reloading the gun.
Many of these weapons have a “swing out” cylinder that allows you to check if there’s a loaded chamber and easily reload your weapon.
Some single-action revolvers also have an ejection rod to eject any fired cartridge cases from underneath the barrel.
Most guns with a revolver mechanism are handguns, but shotguns, rifles, and even cannons use this same principle. Semi-automatic pistols are generally more popular than revolvers. However, revolvers make an excellent backup weapon and are still used for private security, sport, and hunting purposes.
History of the Single-Action Revolver
In the era of single-shot weapons, a major drawback was your vulnerability to attack while you were busy reloading. That prompted the development of multi-barrelled weapons in the 16th century, like the revolver. Since then, revolvers have undergone many design changes and upgrades with quality features.
In the 19th century, Samuel Colt registered a U.S. patent for the Colt revolver, which became widespread and used worldwide. In 1873, Colt introduced one of their most famous handgun revolver models: the Single Action Army or “Colt .45,” also known as “the Peacemaker.” This model was originally made for the U.S. Army. The weapon included six cartridges and was offered in various calibers and barrel lengths.
Eventually, Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson, who formed the Smith & Wesson firearms company, patented self-contained metal and individual cartridges in the late 1800s, which were a novelty at the time. This meant that gun users no longer had to laboriously pour gunpowder into cartridges and fit caps into the cylinders.
Since then, there have been many design reforms and improvements. Compared with the first Colt revolver, which had to be front-loaded, modern revolvers don’t need to be loaded through the muzzle, and there are also improved ejection mechanisms.
Difference Between Single-Action and Double-Action Revolvers
When discussing the pros and cons of a single-action revolver, it’s useful to understand how it compares with a double-action revolver. Below we take an in-depth look at each type of revolver and how they differ while also pointing out their pros and cons.
What is a single-action revolver?
A single-action revolver or “six-shooter” has a single-action trigger that requires you to cock the gun before pulling the trigger. Many of these weapons are handguns, but you can also find longer barrelled guns that work on a revolver mechanism. Many rifles, shotguns, and other weapons like grenade launchers use revolver action.
If you’ve watched old western films, you probably noticed single-action firearms being used in duals and showdowns. A major advantage of using single-action guns is the convenience of pulling a lighter trigger that doesn’t affect the bullet’s accuracy. However, you have to cock the gun before firing, which can take time.
Various single-action semi-automatic guns operate similar to revolvers, except that the recoil automatically cocks the hammer for the next shot after the initial shot is fired.
Compared to double-action revolvers, the single-action revolver also has a lighter trigger pull and may be preferred by some gun owners.
What is a double-action revolver?
A double-action revolver performs differently from a single-action revolver. When you pull the trigger, the gun is cocked, the hammer is released, and the weapon is simultaneously fired. This happens every time that the weapon is fired.
Double-action models don’t require you to cock your gun before firing, allowing you to draw and fire your weapon in one quick action without cocking it first. While it may make you quicker on the draw, it may be harder to squeeze the trigger. Some consider this a safety benefit, as it’s more tricky to have an accidental discharge.
You can often use this type of weapon in single-action mode, meaning you can cock the hammer manually and wait to pull the trigger to fire the shot. However, you can also purchase double-action-only (DAO) weapons, where you can’t manually cock the hammer, and they can only be used in double-action mode.
A double-action firearm, such as a revolver with double-action mode, is useful for working in a high-stress environment where you need to be able to draw and fire simultaneously or where a subsequent shot can be fired quickly. This is one of the reasons why many police officers often carry double-action weapons.
However, double-action semi-automatic pistols often work by firing the first shot as a double-action and the follow-up as a single action.
Advantages of Using a Single-Action Revolver
Single-action revolvers are an excellent gun for anyone wanting to practice shooting and accuracy. They are also good guns for ensuring a single, purposeful shot, as you need to cock the weapon before shooting.
But single-action revolvers have several drawbacks, making them a great backup gun but not necessarily a primary weapon. They are reliable and accurate, which is why they are so popular. They are also small enough to be used as concealed carry weapons for self-defense purposes.
They are easier to fire than a double-action firearm, which has a tougher trigger mechanism. This makes single-action revolvers more of a safety hazard because of the potential for accidental discharge.
Types of Single-Action Revolvers
There are many types of single-action revolvers, and one of the most famous is the Colt Single-Action Army, which was made with different barrel lengths and calibers. Interestingly, the barrel length used by the U.S. Cavalry was around 13 inches.
Other famous single-action revolver models include the Taurus .45 Colt, Remington Model 1890, Nagant M1895 revolver, Mauser C78 (or M78 Oberndorf),LeMat Revolver, Ruger Blackhawk, and the Gasser M1870.
As revolvers continue to advance, the days of relying on black powder rifles and carrying around loose powder are gone. Nowadays, you can find revolvers in various designs, including those with a stainless steel finish and others made from nickel-plated steel. Many American revolvers are on the market, but you can also find revolvers made in Europe, Russia, and other countries.
Wrapping Up: Summary of Single-Action Revolver Benefits
If you’re considering buying a weapon, there are many benefits to owning a handgun, particularly a single-action revolver. These positive aspects include the lighter trigger pull and the added safety feature of having a manually-cocked hammer before the weapon fires.
Not only do they make a great backup weapon, but there are also many models to choose from, allowing you to choose one that fits in your price range. Plus, single-action revolvers are great for target shooting, and many police officers and security professionals choose to carry them.
Hopefully, the answer to the question “what is a single action revolver?” is now obvious.