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  #1  
Old 02-16-2010, 11:52 PM
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How safe is a loaded B78 or 1885 ?


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Following assorted replies to a related topic that I posted recently I’m seeking verification regarding the safe handling of a loaded Browning B78. Not having a B78 owner’s manual I sourced the following relevant data from a Browning 1885 manual :
After loading the rifle, when shooting is not imminent, the correct position of the hammer is at half-cock, from which you need only thumb the hammer back to the full-cock position to prepare the rifle for firing. The half-cock notch on the hammer is a safety feature designed to protect against accidental discharge of the rifle in the event the hammer slips from the thumb while the rifle is been cocked. The half-cocked position should be used for handling and storage – any time that the rifle is not actually being fired. It is important to note that the Model 1885 has an inertia sear which prevents the hammer from going to the dropped position unless the trigger is pulled.
I was curious about whether the short distance travelled by the half-cocked hammer and the apparent minimal striking force are in fact enough to ‘send a projectile into orbit’. Accordingly, I performed a simple test which involved loading a primed EMPTY case into the chamber and then pulling the trigger. Not surprisingly – BANG !!

Accordingly, I would very much appreciate it if other reloading B78 and 1885 owners could verify the matter by duplicating the test and then reporting back your results - for the safety benefit of all such firearm owners.
Note, if such results are similar to mine then one could argue that the only absolutely reliable safe way of hunting with a B78 / 1885 is with an UNLOADED chamber – just pray you don’t have a close encounter with an aggressive predator in the process !
I look forward to your replies, Ross.
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  #2  
Old 02-17-2010, 05:30 AM
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I understand your "concept" here, but have not completely got myself wrapped around your "testing procedure". Was the hammer locked at half-c0ck when you pulled the trigger and the primer was struck and then fired? OR was the hammer simply pulled to near half-c0ck with the trigger pulled and then moved forward setting off the case with primer?

Browning has design features which completely differentiates their half-c0ck feature on their lever rifle, from other makes. The BLR has what sounds like the same type feature you've mentioned, that does NOT allow the hammer to strike the firing pin, even when carried on the full down position, thus eliminating the danger found in other lever guns, such as Marlin or Winchester, if they were carried at full hammer down position on a loaded chamber, or carried at half-c0ck with a worn half-c0ck notch. Again the trigger must be pulled on a BLR for it to fire.

This allows the BLR to be carried safely at either half-c0ck, or full hammer down on a loaded chamber.
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  #3  
Old 02-18-2010, 12:27 AM
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Tnhunter, a clarification of my mentioned testing procedure : I chambered a primed EMPTY case, carefully lowered the hammer until it was freely resting in the ‘SAFE’ half-cocked position, then I pulled the trigger - BANG !
Note, when the chamber’s EMPTY the hammer sits flush against the falling block – no doubt causing the sprung firing pin to protrude out the other side into the empty chamber. In contrast, when the chamber’s LOADED, the sprung firing pin causes the hammer to sit about 1mm out from the block – suggesting that the point of the firing pin is lightly resting against the primer.
This begs the question – how much force does a hammer in the dropped position need to fire off the primer ? Well, I carried out the following experiment today : I chambered a primed EMPTY case, carefully lowered the hammer until it was in the fired or dropped position, then I firmly struck the hammer spur several times with a wooden dowel – resulting in only a slight indent in the primer. I then chambered another primed EMPTY case, placed one end of the dowel against the spur and then similarly struck the other end with a small carpenter’s hammer – BANG ! For consideration - one could argue that such a jolting force is unlikely to happen when carrying a loaded rifle in the field (with the hammer in the dropped position) as the hammer’s spur is ‘safely’ tucked away under the scope. However, I’m now inclined to only load my old B78 when potential game are encountered.
Cheers, Ross.
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  #4  
Old 02-18-2010, 04:30 AM
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If your rifle will fire from the half-cock, something is wrong. The hammer should not move when it is at half-cock and the trigger is pulled.
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  #5  
Old 02-18-2010, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Clifton View Post
Tnhunter, a clarification of my mentioned testing procedure : I chambered a primed EMPTY case, carefully lowered the hammer until it was freely resting in the ‘SAFE’ half-cocked position, then I pulled the trigger - BANG !
Note, when the chamber’s EMPTY the hammer sits flush against the falling block – no doubt causing the sprung firing pin to protrude out the other side into the empty chamber. In contrast, when the chamber’s LOADED, the sprung firing pin causes the hammer to sit about 1mm out from the block – suggesting that the point of the firing pin is lightly resting against the primer.
This begs the question – how much force does a hammer in the dropped position need to fire off the primer ? Well, I carried out the following experiment today : I chambered a primed EMPTY case, carefully lowered the hammer until it was in the fired or dropped position, then I firmly struck the hammer spur several times with a wooden dowel – resulting in only a slight indent in the primer. I then chambered another primed EMPTY case, placed one end of the dowel against the spur and then similarly struck the other end with a small carpenter’s hammer – BANG ! For consideration - one could argue that such a jolting force is unlikely to happen when carrying a loaded rifle in the field (with the hammer in the dropped position) as the hammer’s spur is ‘safely’ tucked away under the scope. However, I’m now inclined to only load my old B78 when potential game are encountered.
Cheers, Ross.
Thank you for the further explanation! Your experiment with a fully down hammer being struck and allowing the primer to fire is a great example why NO ONE should ever carry an older (or, in some cases newer) Marlin or Winchester in the hammer down position on a loaded chamber. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see a rifle in that status being dropped off a tree stand and the hammer striking something on the way down (step, branch, etc.) and then firing straight up. Also a rifle that slips out of someone's hands and falls upside down striking the hammer on a rock, etc.

I would suspect your rifle most certainly has a defective half-c0ck notch, if it fires from that position. Have you tried striking the hammer with the dowel when it's in the half-c0ck position? This would, I believe confirm the fact that it's defective, if it moves forward and fires. It is not unusual for a half-c0ck notch to be worn, thus unsafe, on an older lever rifle. The fact that the rifle fires when at the full down position when struck, does not seem unusual to me. This has never been a safe manner in which to carry older hammer rifles (until the BLR)

I hope a competent gunsmith (or Browning) can shed some light and fix the apparent problem with the half-c0ck position on your rifle.
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  #6  
Old 02-18-2010, 07:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pisgah View Post
If your rifle will fire from the half-cock, something is wrong. The hammer should not move when it is at half-cock and the trigger is pulled.
Definitely. I have two Browning 1885's and they will not drop the hammer if I follow the same procedure as the original poster.

Chris.
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  #7  
Old 02-18-2010, 08:32 PM
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Tnhunter, pisgah and Chris, by all accounts it does appear that my old B78 (manufactured in 1978) has a defective 'safe half-cock position' as the hammer apparently should NOT fall to the fired position when the trigger's pulled. I don't honestly know whether the relevant 'trigger locking mechanism' has worn due to extensive usage by the previous owner/s or if its being made inoperative by a botched trigger adjustment in the past. Regardless, I've organised a competent Gunsmith to investigate, and hopefully fix, the matter in the near future.
Ross.
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  #8  
Old 02-19-2010, 05:48 AM
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Best of luck and if I forgot to mention before, that is one very fine rifle and I hope it gets fixed properly for you so you can use it with confidence in it's safety!
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  #9  
Old 02-19-2010, 12:06 PM
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Tnhunter, I wholeheartedly agree with you that the B78 is one very fine rifle - soundly constructed and a real pleasure to hunt with. The super slick and precise lever action, the very effective and controlled case extraction method, and the apparent very safe half-cock hammer position (when it works properly !) really appeal to me. With regard the latter, I much prefer the B78 / 1885's 'safety hammer' over the Ruger No 1's sliding tang safety which is possibly more inclined to be bumped/disengaged whilst hunting.

As you suggested, I'll chamber a primed EMPTY case, set the hammer to the half-cock position, and firmly strike the hammer's spur with a wooden dowel to further test the defective nature of the trigger mechanism.

Note, I loath such 'abuse' to a firearm as my father instilled the notion of absolute care and respect for them. However, until the Gunsmith identifies and rectifies the associated fault I need to positively determine how safe or unsafe it is when loaded - particularly since it's my only centrefire rifle.
Cheers, Ross.
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  #10  
Old 02-19-2010, 04:07 PM
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Tnhunter, I've just repeatedly struck the hammer's spur, whilst in the half-cock position, with a wooden dowel. Fortunately the hammer FAILED to fall to the dropped or fired position - suggesting that some sort of trigger contact point is the likely cause of my stated problem. I'm dropping my 'troublesome' B78 off at the Gunsmith this Thursday and, depending on his current work commitments, I hope to finally have this beautiful old rifle working in a safe and proper manner. I'll keep you posted. Cheers, Ross.
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  #11  
Old 02-21-2010, 05:02 AM
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Now you know the history behind the phrase "going off half cocked" An unexpected and unwanted discharge.

Something sounds very wrong, My new Winchester 1885 will not do that, but that benig said, with a scope on the rifle, the use of the hammer is tricky. So, I never leave a round in the chamber, though this rifle is for paper punching only (.223)
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  #12  
Old 03-05-2010, 03:29 PM
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A big hearty thanks to whoever posted the following B78 instructional extract (randomly sourced and filed several years ago, from an unknown forum, when I first bought my rifle) :

There are two screws on the trigger itself, the rear one is over travel and the front one controls the position of the connector bar, which trips the sear, which lets go of the hammer. The pull weight adjustment is in a hole in the receiver itself. The pull weight adjustment takes a 1/16 allen wrench, but the others require a 1.5mm. If the connector rests too far from the sear, it misses it when the trigger is pulled. If it’s too close the whole arrangement becomes inoperative. There is a critical point where things function. I even managed to get into a place where the trigger would trip from half cock ! In order to adjust the trigger take up, you need to adjust the large blued screw with the two little holes in it. Turn it clockwise and it should take up some of the slack, however you usually can’t get rid of all of it.

Accordingly, I decided to minutely adjust ONLY the trigger’s connector bar sear engagement screw and, as mentioned above, I soon fortunately managed to find the critical point where the hammer persistently no longer falls to the fired position, from the half-cock position, when the trigger’s pulled. In turn, I’m an extremely grateful and happy B78 owner !

In hindsight, I’m questioning the knowledge, competency and integrity of the Gunsmith I recently rang regarding my ‘faulty’ B78 as he was notably unsure as to what the cause of the problem might be. In reality – a very simple minute turn of an easily accessible screw !

Where relevant, I hope others might also benefit from the various adjustment procedures mentioned in the extract.
Cheers, Ross.
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  #13  
Old 03-17-2010, 02:02 AM
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I would never consider any hammer gun safe at halfcock, it's a nice feature to have when you have something you are actually stalking, but for general carrying,I would not depend on it. I don't trust any gun safety mechanism for that matter. I just don't load them until I see something I want to shoot at.
If it gets away, I can find it again,maybe not that day,but, I know where it lives, now. Had that happen with loaded weapons,too. Just another excuse to do some more hunting.
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  #14  
Old 07-16-2010, 10:52 AM
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I am very focused on Ross Clifton Safety concern.

My B78 half cock safety is problematic. I dont know if it is because of an improper adjustment, a missing piece etc.

It appears that my half cock sear is not being fully engaged. I do not understand the design principle of how it is supposed to work. I've taken the gun to two smiths and neither understood the action.

Concerning my b78:

- The half cock "Safety" does not routinely engage as the hammer is pulled back.

- When the hammer is pulled away from the fireing pin and IF it does catch the "hammer safety position", it is not secure. Pressing the trigger releases the hammer and it moves forward. Also when hammer is in the half cock "Safety Position" the hammer will move forward without much forward pressure upon it.

I ASSUME those who installed Canjar Triggers in their Browning B78's would have insisted that the half cock hammer safety work.

I first noticed my problem after the trigger pull was increased to about three pounds from one and a half for deer hunting last fall.

I need the advise of a wise man who knows of these things....

Kindly Advise...

PS: ROSS does your B78 have a Canjar Trigger? I sure would like a copy of the b78 documentation that solved your problem....
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  #15  
Old 07-17-2010, 02:27 AM
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Oldwalnut, my old B78 has the original Browning trigger, NOT a Canjar.

In relation to your 'faulty' half-cock 'Safety Position', carefully follow the following relevant instructions that I posted on 6 March:

“There are two screws on the trigger itself, the rear one is over travel and the front one controls the position of the connector bar, which trips the sear, which lets go of the hammer. The pull weight adjustment is in a hole in the receiver itself. The pull weight adjustment takes a 1/16 allen wrench, but the others require a 1.5mm. If the connector rests too far from the sear, it misses it when the trigger is pulled. If it’s too close the whole arrangement becomes inoperative. There is a critical point where things function. I even managed to get into a place where the trigger would trip from half cock !

In order to adjust the trigger take up, you need to adjust the large blued screw with the two little holes in it. Turn it clockwise and it should take up some of the slack, however you usually can’t get rid of all of it.”

Accordingly, I decided to minutely adjust ONLY the trigger’s connector bar sear engagement screw and, as mentioned above, I soon fortunately managed to find the critical point where the hammer persistently no longer falls to the fired position, from the half-cock position, when the trigger’s pulled. In turn, I’m an extremely grateful and happy B78 owner !

Hope this helps solve your problem.
Cheers, Ross.
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  #16  
Old 07-17-2010, 04:19 AM
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Somewhat related. . if you need the manual for a B78, you can download it in pdf format from Browning's website.
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  #17  
Old 07-17-2010, 10:01 AM
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Canjar trigger tuning

Ross thanks for getting back to me.

Info on the b78 is very thin. I am very happy you were able to fix your problem and took the time to share your findings!

To me it's good news, it leads me to believe my canjar trigger needs further adjustment opposed to being physically broken.

This past week I picked up my b78 from a second gunsmith. He asked if I could track down info on the canjar. I have no idea how the two triggers compare in their design. I wonder if the two operated on different mechanical designs or if the Canjar was machined to finer tolerances?

I assume the canjar trigger should work in harmony with the B78 hammer's half cock safety postition once properly installed and adjusted or it never would have been popular. I need to find out more about the canjar trigger adjustments.

Hearing from you has convinced me it does not make sense to let another person disassemble my pretty gun hoping to spot something obvious.

Thanks for you help
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  #18  
Old 07-18-2010, 02:50 AM
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Oldwalnut, I agree that the Canjar trigger should work in harmony with the half-cock safety mechanism - hopefully a similar minute adjustment will get it operating properly. Accordingly, I sincerely hope that someone provides you with the relevant data as the B78's an absolutely beautiful rifle. All the best with it.

Cheers from 'down under'
Ross.
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  #19  
Old 07-19-2010, 08:46 AM
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Browning B78 w/Canjar trigger.

Thanks for clearing that up. I'm hoping I will find some info on the canjar. I feel Im better off researching this a bit more before I take my next trip to the gunshop. Thanks for taking the time to help me out.
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  #20  
Old 07-19-2010, 11:10 AM
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I was lucky enough, many years ago, to obtain a hardcopy of the Browning B78 Field Service Manual (aka, the gunsmith's handbook, and NOT an owner's manual)- from which the cited quote was derived, and which is full of technical info, directions and illustrations - including the trigger adjustment.

I had posted copies of every page, including the illustrated exploded parts diagram, on another board, where it was a "sticky" for a few years.
I took it down, after I started getting hundreds of requests for personally emailed copies, ILO the web posting.

FWIW, I made my own B78 trigger adjustment tool, as suggested in the field service manual, by grinding/filing the center 1/8" out of the blade/edge of an old aluminum-handled S&W shorty screwdriver (that used to be packaged with S&W revolvers) - which resulted in the two-pronged tool needed to turn the adjuster.

About the Canjar trigger - IMO, it might be set too light.
FWIW, There is a vertical screw head, just ahead and above the face of the trigger, in the body of the trigger mechanism.
Turn it "in", or to the right/clockwise, to make the trigger pull heavier.


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Last edited by Rangr44; 07-19-2010 at 11:24 AM.
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