The pedant weighs in: Zingy vs. Cracked

On the FB, I am not all that melodramatic.  I’ve had an account since what, 2009?  I would be very surprised if I’ve ever made a remark about politics on FB in that time.  I do like to get my Onion feed and my Cracked magazine feed there. 

The Onion is the best observer of irony out there, nuff said.

I was talking to my sister-in-laws significant other recently, and he alluded to something I think I was aware of:  Cracked Magazine’s listicles have an odd respectability.  I certainly read them, and it’s not all stupid jokes certainly.  Their editors like ironic pieces, and I think I would say that some weighty counterintuitive observations come with that content.  Thing is, they are publishing a lot of reader submissions.  It’s interesting.

Anywho, item 1 in this list on dropped guns going off is not as right as it could be, not quite right, or worse.

The trope of the dropped gun firing / discharging comes from the fact that dropped loaded revolvers used to consistently fire.

Colt’s six-shooter and its contemporaries ostensibly had six shot capacity, but it you load it fully you have one chamber aligned with the barrel, with the firing pin resting on the cartridges primer.  You fumble that revolver and drop it on the floor, it’s likely to go off even if the hammer doesn’t take a direct blow.

So what you do is load five rather than six, with the empty chamber being the one aligned to the barrel.  That’s the ‘safe position’ for a six shooter, as there is no mechanical safety.  Empty chamber under the hammer at rest is what allows the person to holster the gun and walk around with it circumstances and environment permitting.  There a piece of folk wisdom that instructs how to load six-shooters so that the empty chamber aligns to the barrel.  This method is variously called “load 1 skip 1 load 4” or “5 beans in the wheel”.

Double action revolvers came by the turn of the 20th century, and I believe both Colt and Smith and Wesson had by then invented a hammer block that prevented the dropped revolver from firing.  This was never retrofitted to the peacemaker design.

Semi-auto’s like the 1911 were designed with elaborate grip safeties that also eliminated some potentialities for discharge when dropped.

So yeah, we’re a long way from the six-shooter era, and if the screen writer employs that trope in something other than a western they do stand a chance of getting it wrong.  But loaded guns do go off when dropped, even modern ones.  The writer muffed that one a bit.


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