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.


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