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

Don Dixon

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
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.

"[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.

...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.

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.

I think you are mistaken in your conclusion that the rifle was a Colt revolving weapon. Given the descriptions the only thing that makes sense is an over-and-under swivel barreled double rifle in which the second barrel is rotated up to fire the second shot. They aren't exactly common but they are period correct. He loaded the "barrels" rather than chambers of a cylinder, and he capped two "drums." He drew the ramrod when the Colt only has a cleaning rod carried separately from the rifle.

Using the ramrod as a rest is possible, although it isn't something our army trained to do. Civilian use - who knows. Austrian Jägers were trained to use their sword bayonet scabbards as a rest in the the kneeling and sitting positions.

The section on the pistol is still bullsh*t. With the loading lever dropped he couldn't have fired the second shot. Plus, getting enough elevation for a 200 yard shot from the described position is implausible.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Zack

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
I think you are mistaken in your conclusion that the rifle was a Colt revolving weapon. Given the descriptions the only thing that makes sense is an over-and-under swivel barreled double rifle in which the second barrel is rotated up to fire the second shot. They aren't exactly common but they are period correct. He loaded the "barrels" rather than chambers of a cylinder, and he capped two "drums." He drew the ramrod when the Colt only has a cleaning rod carried separately from the rifle.

I think you are right about my misidentification - “The sergeant carried in his saddle scabbard a heavy Wesson Rifle that used a false muzzle and paper patch and fired a coneshaped ball. With it he killed the little wild pigs of the desert and later when they began to see herds of antelope he would halt-and screwing a bipod in the threaded boss on the underside of the barrel would kill these animals where they stood grazing at distances of half a mile. The rifle carried a vernier sight on the tang and he would eye the distance and gauge the wind and set the sight like a man using a micrometer.”

From here (https://frontierpartisans.com/1751/firearms-of-the-frontier-partisans-the-guns-of-blood-meridian/) it says it's one of these:
wesson-again.jpg


Blood Meridian is inspired by Samuel Chamberlain's account "My Confession" which can be read here: https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.226260/2015.226260.My-Confession_djvu.txt

"Judge Holden," who appears in the Chamberlain's account, is one of the best villains ever put to paper. A few inaccuracies about weapons usage shouldn't turn you off from this novel. It really is amazing.
 

Don Dixon

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
I think you are right about my misidentification - “The sergeant carried in his saddle scabbard a heavy Wesson Rifle that used a false muzzle and paper patch and fired a coneshaped ball. With it he killed the little wild pigs of the desert and later when they began to see herds of antelope he would halt-and screwing a bipod in the threaded boss on the underside of the barrel would kill these animals where they stood grazing at distances of half a mile. The rifle carried a vernier sight on the tang and he would eye the distance and gauge the wind and set the sight like a man using a micrometer.”

See the added emphasis in the quote. More bull. Germanic style Schutzen matches were fired in the standing position and Schutzen caplock and later breechloading target rifles of the period often had devices on the forestock to which a palm rest could be attached. Screwing a bipod to the underside of the barrel. I don't think so.

Joseph R. Brown [Brown and Sharpe] of Providence, RI, didn't perfect the micrometer caliper until 1867, and the term micrometer would not have gone into common use until sometime after that. One of the impediments to implementation of the American System of Manufacture was the problem of simply being able to accurately measure something. My impression is that the time frame of the book is earlier than that. As a frame of reference, positive click adjustments to sights were not added until after 1900.

If one is going to write historical fiction it helps to get the supporting data right. My wife gets upset with me when I tear the military, cop, and spy shows apart.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
I hate to be simplistic but does anyone have one of these revolvers. If so go outside. Stick it in the ground and fire it. Can it be done? Does it improve accuracy? I assume the worse thing that could happen is to waste the gunpowder of one rund.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I hate to be simplistic but does anyone have one of these revolvers. If so go outside. Stick it in the ground and fire it. Can it be done? Does it improve accuracy? I assume the worse thing that could happen is to waste the gunpowder of one rund.
Yes, as the photos above indicate, I own one of those pistols. Could I stick the spring loaded slide into the ground, yes I could. What taller than a few inches I could aim at is another question entirely. Admittedly, I am a somewhat portly geezer, but how I would possibly put my face on its side in the dirt to sight the thing or manage to pull the trigger is beyond me.

The point is that to anyone who does own a cap & ball Colt pistol, sticking the loading lever in the ground is an absurdity. We don’t have to try it to know that. To directly answer your question, the worst thing that would happen would be the effort it would take to clean the dirt out of the locking slide.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Yes, as the photos above indicate, I own one of those pistols. Could I stick the spring loaded slide into the ground, yes I could. What taller than a few inches I could aim at is another question entirely. Admittedly, I am a somewhat portly geezer, but how I would possibly put my face on its side in the dirt to sight the thing or manage to pull the trigger is beyond me.

The point is that to anyone who does own a cap & ball Colt pistol, sticking the loading lever in the ground is an absurdity. We don’t have to try it to know that. To directly answer your question, the worst thing that would happen would be the effort it would take to clean the dirt out of the locking slide.
So essentially you're saying what I cannot say because I do not have such a weapon and have never fired such a weapon is that it cannot be done. If you have such a weapon and have attempted such a firing and have not been able to do so, you have solved the essence of this forum. It cannot be done.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
So essentially you're saying what I cannot say because I do not have such a weapon and have never fired such a weapon is that it cannot be done. If you have such a weapon and have attempted such a firing and have not been able to do so, you have solved the essence of this forum. It cannot be done.
If you don’t own a table saw, you will just have to take my word for it when I say that that you don’t stop the blade with your finger. I don’t have to try stopping the blade with my finger to know not to do it. I don’t know how more explicitly the members who shoot historic weapons have to be to make this clear: sticking the loading lever into dirt to steady the pistol is a flight of fancy divorced from reality.
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
So essentially you're saying what I cannot say because I do not have such a weapon and have never fired such a weapon is that it cannot be done. If you have such a weapon and have attempted such a firing and have not been able to do so, you have solved the essence of this forum. It cannot be done.
I think you are reading too much into comments you've gotten. I don't think anyone has said this could not be done. The substance of the comments is that it wouldn't help much if at all, and would interfere the ability to make follow up shots (the benefit of a revolver is the ability to make several shots without reloading).
Perhaps it might work to shoot over one's shoulder, aiming by hand held mirror, and with the revolver held upside down, but the fact that it could be done doesn't mean any shooter would do it that way in real life, but would save it for the movies!



1620579033452.png
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
I think you are reading too much into comments you've gotten. I don't think anyone has said this could not be done. The substance of the comments is that it wouldn't help much if at all, and would interfere the ability to make follow up shots (the benefit of a revolver is the ability to make several shots without reloading).
Perhaps it might work to shoot over one's shoulder, aiming by hand held mirror, and with the revolver held upside down, but the fact that it could be done doesn't mean any shooter would do it that way in real life, but would save it for the movies!



View attachment 400177
What I'm trying to say is that someone who has actually attempted the shot, knows without a doubt if it can be done AND if so does it make any sense to try.
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
What I'm trying to say is that someone who has actually attempted the shot, knows without a doubt if it can be done AND if so does it make any sense to try.

Sure, it can be done:

Stick that lever in your bellybutton
or rest on top of a blueberry muffin
Steady it across your spouse
or the window sill of a house

You can prop it on your toes
or in the fork of bush of rose
Make a loop in horse's tail
or steady on the back of whale

You can cradle it on your belly
(oops! mine quivers like jelly!)
or put that lever in ear of bear
You can rest it anywhere!
 
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