Keith On Single Action Loading

posted on May 22, 2009

Elmer Keith used to discourse at length about all things revolver, and Mr. Keith was particularly adamant about the way a man was supposed to carry the immortal Peacemaker. In the western tradition, it was “five beans in the wheel.” This refers to the practice of carrying a Single Action Army with five chambers loaded and the hammer down on the empty one. For a new single-action shooter with a gun designed in the old style, getting the gun into this configuration might be a little puzzling.

It is remarkably easy to do once you have the formula. With a verified empty gun in hand, open the loading gate and pull the hammer back to the half-cock position (two clicks). At about the 2:30 position in the cylinder, you will see an empty charge hole. Insert a cartridge and turn the cylinder 60 degrees clockwise, which brings another charge hole into view. Skip this one and turn to the next, which you load. Then load the next three in the same way. The mantra is “load one, skip one, load four.” When you load the last one, ease the hammer all the way back and then lower it all the way down. It will be down on the empty chamber you skipped and the gun may now be carried safely.


Nraam 2021 150Th F
Nraam 2021 150Th F

NRA To Hold 150th Annual Meeting In Houston

Join thousands of NRA members as they celebrate the 150th Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Houston, Tex. on Sept. 3-5.

Wiley X Breaks Ground at New Headquarters in Frisco, Tex.

Wiley X, known for its lines of durable sunglasses, has broken ground at the site of its new headquarters in Frisco, Tex.

Taurus TX22 Competition: An Optic-Ready Rimfire

Following the current growing trend of optic-ready handguns, Taurus has adapted several of its handguns to accept micro red-dot sights, including the new rimfire TX22 Competition chambered in .22 LR.  

Best Seller: Citadel Boss25

The Citadel Boss25, ergonomically modeled after the ever-popular AR-15 platform and available from Legacy Sports International, was the fifth top selling semi-automatic shotgun of 2020.

I Have This Old Gun: U.S. Model 1898 Krag–Jørgensen

Watch this segment of American Rifleman Television's "I Have This Old Gun" to learn about the history and development of the United States' first standard issue bolt-action rifle, the Model 1898 Krag–Jørgensen, chambered for .30-40 Krag.

True Velocity Highlights 'Switch Barrel' Capability Of Its Composite Cartridges

True Velocity, an entrant in the U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapons system trials, highlighted that its composite-cased 6.8 mm cartridge can be employed in current firearms by simply switching out barrels.


Subscribe to the NRA American Rifleman newsletter