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I recently discovered how to chamber a cartridge in my old B78 WITHOUT the hammer retracting to the fully cocked position. An easy procedure - momentarily squeeze the trigger at the commencement of the distinctive second (and final) stage of closing the lever. Note, I’m not sure if it also applies to the 1885. Thereafter, when the need arises, simply thumb the trigger back to the fully cocked position. In hindsight, it certainly beats the normal potentially dangerous practice of firmly thumbing the hammer spur, squeezing the trigger and then slowly lowering the hammer to the ‘safe’ or closed position - exemplified on a recent goat hunt when I accidently fired off a round when I mis-timed the uncocking procedure. Namely, I pulled the trigger without having a firm grip of the hammer spur. Fortunately, as is my usual practice, the muzzle was pointing in a ‘safe’ direction at the time.
 

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Still wouldn't trust a gun at half cock either. Lots of people do it, only takes one incident to cause a major problem. Have never lost an opportunity out hunting because of an unchambered round, no gun in hand , that's a different story. I don't walk with a chambered round in a bolt action either, it isn't worth it.
 

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Pulling the trigger when closing the lever, as soon as the sear engages the hammer will safely and reliably decock the 1885 highwall. At the same time I use the lever to cock the rifle as well. Bringing it just far enough to allow the sear to engage the hammer then returning everything to battery, allows you to safely and quietly cock the rifle.

Now as far as the safety of carring around a loaded HighWall. At least the 1885 model has a mechanical block in place that keeps the hammer from engaging the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled.

I've actually experimented with striking the trigger with a finger tip to release the hammer, and if done fast enough the block engages and prevents the hammer from making contact with the firing pin. So in that respect, for the 1885, the only way to make the uncocked rifle fire would be to pull the trigger and then strike the rear of the hammer. Otherwise it ain't gonna go off.
 
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