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

Rhea Cole

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Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
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.
Your experience echos my own. I never could hit anything with mine. At the time, I regularly shot a competition style pellet pistol to keep in practice, so could ordinarily hit what I aimed at. The .36 Colt is not the most ergonomic of pistols. I traded a pocket knife for mine. I only use it as a prop during Signal Corps living history events. Carrying it all weekend gave me a backache, so I keep my cellphone in the holster & leave the pistol on the table... geezers love the ten foot rule, don’t ya know?
 
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Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
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.

Short lever equals less leverage, eh?
I've never seen this, but a user could "extend" the length of the lever by sliding onto it a length of pipe during the loading process.
 

Polloco

Major
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Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
If it was rough on the hand think what it did to the brass frame. I don't think they used loading presses back then did they?
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
I hate to be simplistic but doesn't anyone possess one of these pistols. If so what would be simpler than to go outside and try to a--fire it in such a manner and b--to see if firing it prone with the lever embedded in the ground makes it any more accurate.
 

Rhea Cole

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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I hate to be simplistic but doesn't anyone possess one of these pistols. If so what would be simpler than to go outside and try to a--fire it in such a manner and b--to see if firing it prone with the lever embedded in the ground makes it any more accurate.
That is a good proposition. However, on behalf of those of us who do own & have shot these things there is no way to hit anything with one of them.

I refer to the photos above. Draw a line from the base of the grip to where it intercepts the loading lever & imagine what yoga position the shooter would have to assume to see the sights three inches off the ground... now draw a line three inches above the ground to a target... moles perhaps? Ergonomically it simply does not work.

Even with modern pistols, the circular error beyond 20 yards is the size of a garage door for all but expert shooters. it is only on TV & in novels that sniper shots over open sights with 1851 Colt revolvers happen.
 

Polloco

Major
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
I for one don't want my revolver's loading lever (or any part of it) stuck in the sand.Black powder guns get dirty enough without any "extra activities". Anything that helps stabilise would probably help though, but no thanks on the sand.
 

Don Dixon

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
Civil War revolvers can be much more accurate than the posters have given them credit for. Shooting good reproduction Remington and Rogers and Spencer revolvers I have consistently shot in the 80s on the N-SSA/NRA/MLRA 50 yard target in competition, and in the 80s with an original Remington on the international 50 meter target in Muzzle Loaders Associations International Committee competitions. The matches are fired single handed in classic code duello style and virtually every shot I fired would have killed my target. Along the way I've picked up the N-SSA's silver Distinguished Skirmisher and silver Distinguished Pistol Shot badges and the U.S. International Muzzleloading Team's International Master badge. Colt's revolvers are quite another matter matter entirely and are highly over rated. No one uses them at any serious level of competition.

The scenario described in Blood Meridian is an absolute joke written by someone who had absolutely no clue about these guns or how they were used. One could not drop the loading lever 90 degrees unless the bottom chamber of the cylinder was empty. Since bullets in the chambers sit lower than flush with the face of the cylinder, dropping the loading lever enough to give any support for the gun would still insert the face of the loading lever into the bottom cylinder. In either case it would lock the gun up, requiring that the loading lever be raised again before the gun could be cocked. Pure bullsh*t.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 
I also would not want to use the loading levers on either of my Colt Navy replicas to stick in the dirt just to prove or disprove a hypothetical. If a steadier rest was desired, and the detachable shoulder stock was not an available option, steadying the barrel across your off-hand forearm (like Bill Hickok was reported as doing with his 1851 Navy for his 75 yard kill shot on Davis Tutt) or on a fence rail, log or limb would be a better option.

I do not shoot in competition, but I enjoy ringing a 16" gong at 50 yards in my back pasture using a single-handed stance with pistols. Probably would hit the target less often at that distance if I was under fire myself though...
 

Polloco

Major
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Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
That's me, I can unusually hit what I'm aiming at but probably not when projectiles are coming back at me. Good marksmanship generally requires concentration. Hard to concentrate when you're being shot at. I've seen far more realistic threads get less publicity and attention than this "writer's fantasy". At last count there have already been 32 posts and I don't think this thread is over.
 

DixieRifles

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The .36 Colt is not the most ergonomic of pistols.
I have {edited: had} a replica 1861 Colt Navy with regular barrel that I loved to shoot and it was nice. I was just referring to the snub-nose, cheap Colt copy. The Navy was made by Navy Arms. Ive handle other replicas and the grip has a different feel.

When I picked up my Colt, I felt like I was Clint Eastwood!!
 

DixieRifles

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Short lever equals less leverage, eh?
I've never seen this, but a user could "extend" the length of the lever by sliding onto it a length of pipe during the loading process.
I think I tried that.
I had replica brass bullet molds with short handles. I hollowed out wood dowels to make grips for it. I tried one of those a few times. I also built a loading stand that freed up one hand.
 

Polloco

Major
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Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
I've thought about that "pipe extension on the lever thing" but that could possibly put too much stress on the frame, particularly brass framed ones. Especially if you use harder bullets or balls made from lead other than pure lead, wheel weight lead being a good example. The engineers who designed the short loading levers should have known what they were doing,right, maybe? These replicas (especially overseas ones) tend to wear out fast enough. They don't need anything to speed up the wear + tear process.
 

sourdough

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May 29, 2017
Location
Pe Ell, Washington
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?

Pure BS. With the load lever stuck in the sand/earth how is the shooter able to do any elevation corrections with the butt of the revolver stuck in the same sand/earth? How was the shooter able to obtain a sight picture lying on flat ground with the revolver in that position?

Never happened except in the author's imagination.

Regards,

Jim
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Pure BS. With the load lever stuck in the sand/earth how is the shooter able to do any elevation corrections with the butt of the revolver stuck in the same sand/earth? How was the shooter able to obtain a sight picture lying on flat ground with the revolver in that position?

Never happened except in the author's imagination.

Regards,

Jim
Does the citation include digging out a hole to set the shooter’s chin into? It is an amusing image, but perfectly absurd.
 

Zack

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Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
I don't think there are any spoilers in this but here's a warning regardless. I want to quote the larger passage for context as well as to point out several of the other men use their ramrods as rests to aim rifles. I believe (and this is just a best guess) that the rifles in question are the Colt First Model Ring lever rifles. This guess is based on the fact that they are revolving rifles in 1849 and that seems to have been the only one on the market.
Colt_Paterson_Gewehr.jpg

Colt_2nd_Paterson_Rifle.jpg

"[Glanton] reholstered the gun and stood his empty rifle upright against the saddle and held it with his knee while he measured powder down the barrels.....He was watching a rise to the north where a band of mounted Apaches were grouped against the sky.

They were perhaps a quarter mile distant, five, six of them, their cries thin and lost. Glanton brought the rifle to the crook of his arm and capped one drum and rotated the barrels and capped the other. He did not take his eyes from the Apaches. Webster stepped from his horse and drew his rifle and slid the ramrod from the thimbles and went to one knee, the ramrod upright in the sand, resting the rifle's forestock upon the fist with which he held it. The rifle had set triggers and he cocked the rear one and laid his face against the cheekpiece. He reckoned the drift of the wind and he reckoned against the sun on the side of the silver foresight and he held high and touched off the piece..... [he hits the target but only wounds the man]

Glanton turned in the saddle without taking his eyes from the indians and held out his rifle to the nearest man. This man was Sam Tate and he took the rifle and reined his horse so short he nearly threw it. Glanton and three rode on and Tate drew the ramrod for a rest and crouched and fired. The horse that carried the wounded chief faltered, ran on. He swiveled the barrels and fired the second charge and it plowed to the ground.....

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. The horses were two hundred yards out and moving fast. With the second shot the pony that bore the leader bucked and a rider alongside reached and took the reins. They were attempting to take the leader off the wounded animal in mid stride when the animal collapsed."
 

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