Fact or Fiction: Riding on an empty chamber?!?

Growing up, my sister and I would love to sit and watch movies all day!  If we could’ve gotten paid for it, we’d be rich!!!  For some reason, my favorite genre was always Cowboy and Western movies!  LOVED the grittiness of the antagonists, casinos in every saloon, and most of all the GUNS!  Six shooters, Henry rifles, and dare I say….. the venerable 8 gauge shotgun?!?!?  Ahhhh yes.  Good old Cowboy movies!

If anything existed that I loved more than Western movies, it’d be the myths that they gave rise to.  One of the most interesting propositions is that our gun toting buddies from the wild west would purposely leave one of the chambers of their revolvers empty, especially when riding horseback.  Wait…wait..wait.  You mean to tell me that Clint Eastwood…..the Pale Rider….A Fist Full of Dollars….was cold enough to leave one chamber empty??!?!?!  With all that shooting??!?!?!?  Well guys, sometimes movies tend to steer us wrong (yes they do, even you in the back!!!).


Guess what buckaroos?… We’re here to tell you that this is in fact not a myth at all.  One chamber was quite often left empty for safety reasons.  Another surprise for you crackshots out there!!  We’re gonna explain to you, just why your great uncle Jesse would purposely short himself a 45 Long Colt round in the Wild Wild West!

As you can see from this picture of our trusty friend “the Pubic Defender,” most of the revolvers in those days used centerfire cartridges.  The danger was that any serious jarring could inadvertently force the firing pin to strike the primer of a loaded chamber, thus igniting the powder and firing the bullet.  That means if you and your friends from the James Gang were attempting to flee from the Pinkerton’s (fast on your tail), from the most recent bank heist, you may accidentally shoot your horse in the hind or forequarters (depending on which way your gun was facing!!)!!!  To prevent that from occurring, they rested their hammer on an empty chamber and therefore if any jarring occurred as you skedattled out of town, your horse would be able to see another day!!!

Luckily for all you bank robbers out there …horseback riding is now a recreation, and not a necessity.  We also have technologies (i.e. internal safeties) that prevent such things from happening.  Although many gun experts of today still prefer to have one chamber empty, it’s now safe (pretty much!!!!).  But why would they do that!!!  Well…one tip we want to give to all of our readers is this…. Although firearms come with safeties that are supposed to do their job, they are still machines.  They may fail at any given time.  So…. WAKE UP!!  Ensure that YOU are safe.  Follow all of the safety rules!!!

***When handling firearms with live ammunition present, please be sure to follow three basic rules: 1) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire, 2) Know your target and what is beyond it, 3) Never let the muzzle cover anything that you are not willing to destroy.

We want to thank you for stopping by our lane at the shooting range!  We hope you enjoyed this segment of Fact or Fiction, and we hope that you stop by again… soon and often!!!   Remember to follow us for updates about new posts and news about PSA.  We look forward to chatting with you soon!

And as always….remember to watch your six and stay low.

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