Double Action Revolvers

A revolver, sometimes called a wheel gun, has a cylinder which holds multiple cartridges and rotates each cartridge into firing position as the action is worked.

In a double action revolver the action is worked with either the hammer or the trigger.

The typical double action revolver is a six shooter. However, double action revolvers chambered for .22 rimfire often have eight shot cylinders and compact revolvers often have only five.

Most revolvers do not have an external safety, but I have seen some that do. Read the manual.

Is It Loaded?

Cylinder Latch

A double action revolver has a cylinder release button on the left side of the frame. To check if a double action revolver is loaded:

  • Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction!
  • Keep your finger off the trigger!
  • Slide the cylinder release button forward while swinging the cylinder out to the left.
  • Inspect the chambers for cartridges.



How To Unload

Double Action Ejecto
  • Follow the procedure above.
  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction! Do not get your hands in front of the muzzle!
  • Use the spring loaded ejector, located forward of the cylinder, to push live rounds and empty cases from the chambers.




How To Load

Unloaded Double Action
  • Follow the procedure in the section labeled "Is It Loaded?"
  • Insert a cartridge of the correct chambering in each of the chambers, or as many as you want to load.
  • Swing the cylinder back into the frame until it locks in place.



To Fire

In double action mode:

  • Keep your finger off the trigger.
  • Aim at your target.
  • Move your finger to the trigger.
  • While holding your aim, increase pressure on the trigger until the hammer cocks and the gun fires. This will take pounds of force. The recent trend seems to be ten pounds.
  • Move your finger off the trigger.

In single action mode:

  • Keep your finger off the trigger.
  • Pull the hammer back to full cock.
  • Aim at your target.
  • Move your finger to the trigger. Caution: In single action mode the trigger pull will be very light (easy to fire).
  • While holding your aim, increase pressure on the trigger until the gun fires.
  • Move your finger off the trigger.
  • To fire again, repeat either process. When the trigger is pulled or the hammer is cocked the cylinder will rotate, bringing the next chamber under the hammer and into alignment with the barrel.

Not all double action revolvers can be fired in single action mode. Those that can't are called double action only or DAO.

How To Lower The Hammer

Once the hammer is cocked it can not be lowered without releasing it with the trigger.

Obviously if the hammer drops on a live round the gun will fire. The hammer must be lowered in a controlled manner while pulling the trigger.

Put a thumb or finger of one hand under the hammer, while pulling the trigger and controlling the hammer with the other hand. Ease your finger out and let the hammer down gently.

Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times!

Single action revolvers.

Semi auto pistols.

Return to Firearm Actions.