Tell me more! Loading Lever And Aiming A Pistol // Blood Meridian

Zack

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There is a scene in the incredible novel BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy - one of if not my favorite book of all time - in which one of the characters uses the loading lever on a pistol for aiming purposes (no spoilers):

"Glanton had drawn his pistol and he gestured with it to the men behind and one pulled up his horse and leaped to the ground and went flat on his belly and drew and cocked his own pistol and pulled down the loading lever and stuck it in the sand and holding the gun in both hands with his chin buried in the ground he sighted along the barrel."
Page 164-165

Can you actually do this? Can you actually fire the weapon with the loading lever pulled down and stuck in the ground? Would it prevent the revolver chamber from rotating?
 

ucvrelics

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Interesting question and the answer is yes. The load lever does not stop the cylinder from rotating. As you can see in this diagram, if its not in the cylinder as in loading a round it just sits there and has no way to interfere with the cylinder turning.

1619268772182.png
 
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Polloco

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Interesting question and the answer is yes. The load lever does not stop the cylinder from rotating. As you can see in this diagram, if its not in the cylinder as in loading a round it just sits there and has no way to interfere with the cylinder turning.

View attachment 398821
But this one was pulled down, which means the plunger was pushed backwards into the bottom chamber wasn't it?The charge in the bottom would have prevented this. So yes you can but only if the bottom chamber is empty.
 

Jeff in Ohio

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There is a scene in the incredible novel BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy - one of if not my favorite book of all time - in which one of the characters uses the loading lever on a pistol for aiming purposes (no spoilers):

"Glanton had drawn his pistol and he gestured with it to the men behind and one pulled up his horse and leaped to the ground and went flat on his belly and drew and cocked his own pistol and pulled down the loading lever and stuck it in the sand and holding the gun in both hands with his chin buried in the ground he sighted along the barrel."
Page 164-165

Can you actually do this? Can you actually fire the weapon with the loading lever pulled down and stuck in the ground? Would it prevent the revolver chamber from rotating?

For every type of percussion revolver, the plunger part of the loading lever entering the chamber mouth doesn't prevent the revolver from firing the chamber that is already beneath the cocked hammer, but after firing, the user can't then cock the hammer again because the cylinder would be locked until you raised the loading lever back up.

If the loading lever ON A COLT MODEL 1860 REVOLVER is pulled down so that it is sticking straight down (at a 90 degree angle), the plunger part of the loading lever enters the bottom cylinder and so has locked the cylinder. If it is lowered to a not-quite-90-degrees angle, the plunger will not yet be entering the cylinder (and so not locking it), but wiggle that revolver just a bit, and that lever may lower a little bit more and lock the cylinder.

ON A COLT 1851 NAVY REVOLVER, the lever only has to be lowered 45 degrees and the plunger attached to the lever will enter the mouth of the chamber. If that lowest chamber was loaded, the plunger could not enter that (already full) chamber far enough to allow the loading lever to extend straight down to act as a support monopod.

All this would be pretty awkward, but I suppose if done to steady the revolver for a single shot, using the lever as a monopod support could be used.
 
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ucvrelics

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Notice he cocks his gun first then pulls the lever down.Because you sure can't do this the other way around. With the lever pulled down, the cylinder will not rotate. Cylinder won't rotate , the piece won't cock.
He just ask if it could be done to fire a round, and it can. If he was using it like this he was snipping.
 

Zack

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So to fire more than one shot, he'd have to return the loading lever to its regular position, cock the hammer, and then lower the loading lever again?

Scene is set in 1849 btw. The pistol in question is either a five-shot Colt Paterson or a "Whitneyville Colt."
https://frontierpartisans.com/1751/firearms-of-the-frontier-partisans-the-guns-of-blood-meridian/

A quote from earlier in the book (page 45) - "They rode well armed, each man with a rifle and many with the smallbore fiveshot Colt's revolvers. The captain carried a pair of dragoon pistols in scabbards that mounted across the pommel of the saddle so that they rode at each knee. These guns were United States issue, Colt's patent, and he had bought the from a deserter in a Soledad livery stable and paid eighty dollars in gold for them and the scabbards and the mold and flask they came with."

Not 100% sure if the above is in reference to the Whitneyville, but later in the novel the scouts are identified as using "Whitneyville Colts."

Colt Paterson
Colt-Patterson-Percussion.jpg


Whitneyville Colt (I think):

Colt1stDragoon-44Cal.jpg
 

Polloco

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Wasn't that "pulling down the lever" used in some movie scene? But you got to admit most old westerns didn't depict revolvers with loading levers on them, regardless of the time period. Before examples are noted and quoted, yes there were some. Just not near enough.
 

DixieRifles

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It can be done but only 1 shot. Then you would have to retract the Lever to cock it.
Ive played around with an empty pistol and hold the Lever in down position as you would hold a Thompson machine gun.
However it really makes no sense to plant the Lever in the sand. 1st Sand would not secure the pistol and 2d You would have to be flat on your belly.

Holding the Lever in down position would have an advantage to placing your support hand a few inches below the gas escaping from the cylinder.

6A094FBB-6BE3-4B8A-9CC1-05DEE73D2EB3.jpeg
 

DixieRifles

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s a fully lowered loading lever even long enough to extend that far below the hand holding the grip?
After looking again at the photo I posted, I was say it would not be low enough.
Then again, you could assume the shooter is a cavalry trooper or officer wearing gloves.
 

Jeff in Ohio

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SOME models you could do that - once that Colt 1851 Navy lever gets half way to straight down, the plunger enters the chamber - if that chamber was loaded
Wasn't that "pulling down the lever" used in some movie scene? But you got to admit most old westerns didn't depict revolvers with loading levers on them, regardless of the time period. Before examples are noted and quoted, yes there were some. Just not near enough.

As you say, lots of movies just had the civil war era characters use the the later colt single action army models, which were easily available to movie makers, and used the easy to load centerfire blanks.
In "The Searchers" John Wayne returns from service in the Civil War in 1865 with the Model Model 1873 Single Action Army as a sidearm.
 

Polloco

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Almost all who replied agree, it can be fired but not cocked.And I wholeheartedly agree on guns that weren't even devoloped yet find their way into too many movies.It's a pet peeve of mine.
 

Rhea Cole

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loading lever atop load.jpg


Loading lever in position atop a loaded cylinder.

Loading lever in empth cylinder.jpg

Loading lever in position at an empty cylinder.

sight picture.jpg


Sights on an 1851 Colt.

I have never heard of anyone using the loading lever to steady a cap & ball revolver. Realistic effective range for one of these things is single digit tens of yards. The sniper rifle scenario described at the head of this thread made my pistol shooting expert laugh out loud. One of the great things about CW history is that just when you think you have heard everything, a whole 'nother sumthin' comes along & shows me what I really know.
 

johan_steele

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There is a scene in the incredible novel BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy - one of if not my favorite book of all time - in which one of the characters uses the loading lever on a pistol for aiming purposes (no spoilers):

"Glanton had drawn his pistol and he gestured with it to the men behind and one pulled up his horse and leaped to the ground and went flat on his belly and drew and cocked his own pistol and pulled down the loading lever and stuck it in the sand and holding the gun in both hands with his chin buried in the ground he sighted along the barrel."
Page 164-165

Can you actually do this? Can you actually fire the weapon with the loading lever pulled down and stuck in the ground? Would it prevent the revolver chamber from rotating?
Yes you could do it... but hitting anything is another matter entirely. To me it screams pure moonshine.
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Location
Lockhart, Texas
There is a scene in the incredible novel BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy - one of if not my favorite book of all time - in which one of the characters uses the loading lever on a pistol for aiming purposes (no spoilers):

"Glanton had drawn his pistol and he gestured with it to the men behind and one pulled up his horse and leaped to the ground and went flat on his belly and drew and cocked his own pistol and pulled down the loading lever and stuck it in the sand and holding the gun in both hands with his chin buried in the ground he sighted along the barrel."
Page 164-165

Can you actually do this? Can you actually fire the weapon with the loading lever pulled down and stuck in the ground? Would it prevent the revolver chamber from rotating?
Thank you for posting that. Blood Meridian is also a favorite of mine. Gruesome favorite. Beyond liking the book, and having forgotten that one paragraph, now owning and having live fired my reenacting pistol a couple of times at the black powder range, I think that is a danged clever idea. Wish I'd thought of it when writing my own Texas Ranger novel.
 

DixieRifles

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The sniper rifle scenario described at the head of this thread made my pistol shooting expert laugh out loud.
I owned a cheap-o .36 caliber Colt replica with Brass frame and 5-1/2 inch long barrel. No matter how I braced it, the rounds were off the 8-inch target at 10 feet or closer. Never knew it this was due to the sights or warped frame or whatever.
Also that short loading lever required more force to ram the ball and was rough on the palm of my hand. I got rid of it.
 

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