I have been around guns my entire life. So that makes me a know it all, right? Nope. Every time I buy a new gun or have the opportunity to use a gun I haven’t used before, I approach it as if I am entirely inexperienced. I personally don’t want to take chances by being cocky. I always ask the owner or seller to explain the intricacies of the gun that I am new to and more often than not, I end up learning something.
Not long ago, I purchased a North American Arms (NAA) .22 Magnum, 5 shot revolver. I haven’t shot very many small pistols, Derringers, or Saturday Night Specials. I wanted to have a little pocket revolver as a backup. I opted for a .22 Magnum due to its incredible power for its size. The quality of the NAA revolvers is very good. The first thing I did when I purchased this little guy was ask the seller to show me how to operate it. I knew it was a single action, but I wanted to know if there were any oddities to consider when loading it and I was especially curious about his preferred method for keeping it safe. Everyone I knew who had a similar single action revolver either kept one chamber unloaded, so the hammer wouldn’t rest on a cartridge, or they kept their guns at half cock. I don’t really relish either method, but was prepared to keep only four rounds loaded in a 5 shot revolver to stay on the safe side.
I am really glad I asked the seller these questions, because he showed me that the NAA revolvers actually do have a built in safety and a very good one! I can’t honestly say that I would have ever figured this out on my own. After purchasing mine, I started running into more and more people who had NAA revolvers and none of them realized that they had a safety built in. They were always thrilled when I show them how the safety works.
The safety feature on these revolvers almost seems to be a secret, so I felt like it would be a good idea to put this out there for anyone else who may be interested. You can find similar instructions in other places, but you have to know to look for them. Guns are dangerous, so don’t blame me if things go wrong. Follow these instructions at your own risk. If you plan on trying to sue me over helping you to be safe, because you harm yourself, just quit reading and go find a crying pillow.
Putting the revolver on safe is tricky. Once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly easy, but it takes getting used to, because you need a little muscle memory to be really good at it. On the back of the cylinder you will notice a notch between each chamber. The key to putting the revolver on safe is dropping the hammer into one of those notches, so that it is firmly locked into place between two rounds and the cylinder cannot turn. The reason this is tricky is that the cylinder doesn’t spin freely unless you draw the hammer back slightly beyond half cock.
Make sure your revolver is unloaded and practice doing this over and over until you feel comfortable doing it. Then practice it some more.
Pull the hammer back, while holding it firmly, so you don’t accidentally let the hammer drop. If you are right handed you’ll want to pull the hammer back with your right thumb. Once you pass the half cock point, the cylinder is released and can rotate freely. With your left hand, rotate the cylinder to align one of the slots between the chambers with the very top, so that when the hammer comes back to rest, it will fall into the slot. This is where it gets precarious and why you want to practice a lot before doing it with a loaded revolver. Now, with the hammer held past half cock, once you have the slot on the back of the cylinder aligned at the top, pull the trigger. Don’t let go of the hammer! With the trigger pulled, you can now ease the hammer back down to rest and gently guide it into the slot between chambers.
Once the hammer is resting in the slot, it is very safe. The hammer is locked between rounds, therefore can’t strike the rim of a round. The cylinder can’t turn, because the hammer is locking it in place. It’s single action, so the trigger can’t cause the hammer to draw back. It’s as safe as it can be. But remember, a gun is never safe. Treat it as if it is always unsafe and loaded.
Now that you have gotten that down pat you are finally ready to do it again at least 200 more times before you attempt it while loaded! It’s well worth it, so don’t let a little practice discourage you!
NAA revolvers haven’t always had this feature, so if you have one that is older and don’t have the safety notches, you can call North American Arms at 800-821-5783 to find out how to update your gun.
One more important thing that all NAA Revolver owners must know. Never, ever, ever, ever use PMC brand .22LR or .22 Magnum ammunition. North American Arms has extended this advisory to include any ammunition made under subcontract to PMC, such as ARMSCOR and FIOCCHI. Basically, they are saying to steer clear of Filipino ammo. There have been occurrences of double-discharge. As you can imagine, two rounds going off in a revolver that only has one round in battery (aligned with the barrel) is something that you probably never want to experience.
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