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Topic author: Paulus
Subject: how to set the hammer down?
Posted on: 04/07/2006 6:10:07 PM
Message:

Just wanted to poll your experience in this: which way do you let the hammer down on a Mak with one in the chamber?

Is it safe to do it with your thumb or should you always use the decocker?

I kind of hate to see that long silver scratch develop in the decocker groove, but the decocker method is safer right?

I must confess to have have gotten in the habit of pointing it in a safe direction, then with my full attention focussed on what I'm doing, let it down with my thumb. Should I change this habit?

Paulus

Replies:


Reply author: North Bender
Replied on: 04/07/2006 6:16:44 PM
Message:

That's how I've done it all my life.


Reply author: gigab1te
Replied on: 04/07/2006 6:28:15 PM
Message:

I always point in a safe direction and use the safety (decocker). But in my case, except for the "safe queen" that never, ever, ever gets fired, my other maks already have the scratch.


Reply author: Paulus
Replied on: 04/07/2006 6:43:44 PM
Message:

But, North Bender, I've read a surprising amount of vitriol against what you (and I) are doing when we use our thumb to let the hammer down.

I've felt pretty comfortable in this habit, but I'm second guessing myself.

Paulus


Reply author: Jehzsa
Replied on: 04/07/2006 7:07:25 PM
Message:

Here's another way. With the index finger and thumb of the 'weak' hand, slowly bring it down. If done properly and shtf, no hand accesories will be hurt.


Reply author: The Mr Mitch
Replied on: 04/07/2006 7:18:47 PM
Message:

I thumb mine down by pointing in a safe direction and use weak hand finger as a cushion between hammer and frame in case I do slip.


Reply author: criticalbass
Replied on: 04/07/2006 7:28:57 PM
Message:

Since some of my pistols do not have decockers I have lots of experience in letting hammers down. The one-handed method is, for me, inherently clumsy. I have fairly small hands and find it awkward to thumb the hammer and pull the trigger. I became concerned that I might have an AD.

After getting some advice, and some practice with empty (checked twice!) weapons, the best method for me is a two-handed technique. I am right handed. I hold the pistol in my right hand with the trigger finger in the "safe" position (pointing straight ahead outside the triggerguard). I grasp the hammer with thumb and forefinger of my left hand (see picture of Star BM), then pull the rigger and ease the hammer down. Some hammers are flat sided, the spur the same thickness as the rest of the hammer. With these, I am careful to have my thumb holding against the face and the front of the spur. Those with lobed spurs provide a better hold which is very unlikely to slip.

Care needs to be taken with this method (and any other) that the gun stays pointed in a safe direction.



This may not be the best method for everyone, but it seems safer for me. Anyone with a better method will be listened to seriously.

With Makarovs and other decocker guns, I use the decocker. Striker fired guns don't present this problem at all, and that's one item very much in their favor.

Paulus, I have seen some of the same vitriol you referred to. Some claim there is no reason to ever decock a loaded handgun. I suppose if one carries cocked and locked, and only shoots revolvers DA, one might make a case for that, but in the real world, there is sometimes a need to lower the hammer with a roumd in the chamber. CB


Reply author: John Rippert
Replied on: 04/07/2006 8:55:34 PM
Message:

Two-handed, just like criticalbass. That is how I have always done my 1911s and I just use it for everything.


Reply author: Paulus
Replied on: 04/07/2006 11:09:55 PM
Message:

Two-handed it is. I'll try that (with an unloaded Mak) and see if I groove to it.

Great input!

Paulus


Reply author: NO LONGER VALID
Replied on: 04/08/2006 01:03:56 AM
Message:

Its kind of funny we are talking about this subject. I got booted from a well known board for making the case of being able to decock a gun manually. I have big hands so i have always decocked my guns with one hand for over 35 years. rifles and handguns alike. I have also had to learn to use both hands with certain handguns. I think it all depends on the type gun you are handling and whether it is a newer design with a safety block or transfer bar or a older design. the most important part is to always make sure it pointed in a safe direction period!


Reply author: oldguy
Replied on: 04/08/2006 08:39:08 AM
Message:

Agree with coyote mak, I've used the one hand method nearly 50 years
as I was trained on single barrel shotguns, I feel safer then using
a decocker however like in all tools the safety is between your ears.


Reply author: Enfield4Mk1
Replied on: 04/08/2006 10:08:07 AM
Message:

I guess I'm overly cautious but I use the decocker AND use my off hand to ease down the hammer as it drops to reduce wear/impact on the parts. Just my .02.


Reply author: NO LONGER VALID
Replied on: 04/08/2006 10:58:06 AM
Message:

Theres nothing wrong with being over cautious as long as you do like oldguy said, use the safety between your ears. I, like oldguy learned the one handed method right off the bat because the first gun i ever shoot was a marlin lever action .22 rifle. i then graduated to a lever action .30/30 for hunting and it was mandatory to load a round in the chamber before heading out in the woods, other wise by the time you got thru cocking and aiming, the game was long gone from the noise the gun makes in a dead quiet forest. so it was easy to take that learned skill and transfer it to handling handguns. all the handguns i have ever owned and most i have shot have had a hammer block or a transfer bar built in them as a added safety. it all boils down to what works best for you so that you may do it safely and
consistently every time.


Reply author: wrangler5
Replied on: 04/08/2006 11:59:15 AM
Message:

quote:Originally posted by Enfield4Mk1

I guess I'm overly cautious but I use the decocker AND use my off hand to ease down the hammer as it drops to reduce wear/impact on the parts. Just my .02.



I'm comfortable lowering the hammer on my Old Model Ruger single actions, S&W revolvers and Marlin lever actions, but for the Mak (and my P-38) I'm with Enfield - I use the decocker for its intended purpose and ease the hammer down with the left thumb, leaving zero room for an AD. All of my Maks already had a stripe under the safety lever when I got 'em - just proves they're not safe queens.


Reply author: NO LONGER VALID
Replied on: 04/08/2006 2:50:54 PM
Message:

The best gun with a decocker on it is a Sig. the Mak's are like a lot of guns with slide mounted safety/decocker, they have a hammer block that keeps the face of the hammer off the firing pin when the safety is on and even when the safety is off the hammer does not rest on the firing pin. I think thats what makes the Maks so great, the design was well thought out but kept simple and reliable.


Reply author: jibjab
Replied on: 04/08/2006 4:08:00 PM
Message:

I use the same methode as Enfield, but when out shooting I'll point down range and use the decocker just to test it, so far it works but it is a little unerving.


Reply author: Paulus
Replied on: 04/09/2006 12:26:52 AM
Message:

You know, I've tried some of the techniques you good people have talked about. I guess I'm in North Bender's court. The way my hand seems to fit the Mak, thumbing it down with the shooting hand works for me.

However, I am humbled in thinking about what would happen to my right thumb in the case of an AD. The slide would slam back and probably break my thumb between the 1st and 2nd joint?

I will definitely make sure my shooting hand is conscious, clean and dry when I perform this maneuver.

Regards,

Paulus


Reply author: KY-Mike
Replied on: 04/09/2006 07:43:19 AM
Message:

I use the decocker. I figure that's why its there. I do point it down range, or in a safe direction before decocking, just in case of an AD.

If anyone has ever had a decocker fail, and the gun fired, please speak up! But in 11 years of Makarov shooting, I've never seen it or heard of it.


Reply author: Teakwood
Replied on: 04/09/2006 08:52:34 AM
Message:

Like KY-Mike said, that's what the decocker is for.


Reply author: Wild Tim
Replied on: 04/10/2006 09:53:30 AM
Message:

I also use the de-cocker and ease the hammer down. of course I also leave the safty on if the gun isn't on my person.

I don't know why you are so worried about that scratch. The scratch got its first start on mine when I removed the safty to get the cosmo out of the firing pin channel, then it got nicly imprinted when working the safty to break it in for fast crisp operating. If your gun gets fired and well cleaned it will without a doubt develop "the scratch".


Reply author: Enfield4Mk1
Replied on: 04/10/2006 12:25:44 PM
Message:

I've never heard of a decocker failing, but I do know of a person who was letting the hammer down on a Marlin lever gun and had it slip. He hated that he shot his truck. A through and through in the rear fender and bed. I'm just glad it wasn't a part of his anatomy or someone else's. A little bondo managed to hide the damage and fortunately it hit no major 'organs'.


Reply author: KY-Mike
Replied on: 04/10/2006 5:45:11 PM
Message:

A few years ago in a nieghboring urban area, a police officer serving a felony warrant used the 'thumb method' of decocking (a Beretta, I think) and shot the perp in the head at close range. He died soon after. Within hours a full-scale riot (the papers called it civil unrest) broke out in which police cars were overturned and community buildings pillaged and burned.

The officer resigned (before he was fired), and criminal charges were dismissed. I hope whatever he is doing now, he uses the decocker!


Reply author: Timbo
Replied on: 04/10/2006 8:46:26 PM
Message:

I love the de-cocker system on the Maks. Mine is a shooter so I'm not extremely concerned about the mark the safety makes.


Reply author: North Bender
Replied on: 04/10/2006 11:47:27 PM
Message:

Well, what bonehead would point the pistol at someone's head while thumb de-cocking.

This has been a great safety post. I've always been extremely careful when de-cocking with my thumb, but I'm going to dry-fire some of the suggestions here.

One more sidebar on safety. The Army beat safety into us troops and it served as a life-long lesson. It seems to me that I can recognize shooters that have been through military gun schools from ones that haven't. I've had people remark to me on the fact that I always point weapons downrange or away from un-intended targets, no matter what, but it's second nature. If everybody had a drill sergeant in their past fewer people would be accidentally shot.

My 2 cents.


Reply author: oldguy
Replied on: 04/10/2006 11:58:03 PM
Message:

quote:I've had people remark to me on the fact that I always point weapons downrange or away from un-intended targets, no matter what,




I think this is key in this discussion, use what method your comfortable with but do it in a safe manner.


Reply author: NO LONGER VALID
Replied on: 04/11/2006 02:59:56 AM
Message:

as the last couple of posts have stated, don't point your weapon at any thing you don't want to shoot and use the gray matter between the ears. nothing is infallible. the best safety tool you have is the one sitting on top of your neck.


Reply author: rmeron
Replied on: 04/11/2006 07:52:07 AM
Message:

I hold the hammer with my right hand thumb,then with my left hand I raise the decocker lever,when the lever is all the way up then I lower the hammer,being very gentle about it.
I don't like to take any chances of accidental discharge.


Reply author: Paulus
Replied on: 04/11/2006 6:28:14 PM
Message:

Actually, RMERON, that's the sort of clarity I've been seeking. The decocker on a Mak is such a dramatic click that I nearly soiled my shorts the first time I used it a year ago.

Your suggestion is to hold the hammer (as I do) with my right thumb while shifting up on the decocker. That eliminates the hard slam of the hammer on the decocker lever while still relying on the safeness of the dococker itself.

I'm gonna try it just as soon as the kids are in bed (and making sure the Mak's unloaded).

Paulus


Reply author: NO LONGER VALID
Replied on: 04/11/2006 7:44:33 PM
Message:

Thats good advise. I for one have felt the same way on any gun with a slide mount decocker. they all seem to do the slam down thing when activated. the only gun with a decocker that could be let down slowly that i have owned was a Sig and they have a very well designed safety system. probably one of the biggest reasons to learning the hand only method is for those guns that do not have a decocker. most of these types have a hammer block or transfer bar but no decocker and some people aren't comfy with the idea of cocked and locked. so they just put the hammer down on the bar and the bar and firing pin lock that most have act as there safety.
as always the most important safety you have is the one on you shoulders, never point your weapon at anything you do not want to shoot!


Reply author: Ivan
Replied on: 04/13/2006 9:42:27 PM
Message:

Agree,safety is between the ears.If one observes the 4 RULES a mechanical safety is unnecessary.

1.All guns are always loaded.
2.Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not prepared to destroy.
3.Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target.(GOLDEN RULE OF GUN SAFETY,the breaking of which is responsible for 80% of gun accidents)
4.Be sure of your target AND BEYOND.

That said,I have always used my Maks the way the Russian Manual says you should do and use the decocker,however,on page 35 of the translated manual says-"if hammer release is not done by the safety but by hand,i.e.by squeezing the trigger with the right index finger while holding the hammer head with the right thumb,after the trigger is released the hammer also automatically(thanks to"cushioning")comes to rest on the half bent"(hammer half bent).On page 2 of this manual it describes this safety feature in greater detail...

All the best,Ivan


Reply author: North Bender
Replied on: 04/13/2006 10:09:42 PM
Message:

Well, as if that made any sense to this poor boy! I'll be looking to page 2 I guess.

Best respects intended Ivan, it just appears somewhat lost in the translation.


Reply author: Paulus
Replied on: 04/13/2006 10:38:47 PM
Message:

++2 to North Bender's observation. Maybe this experience is relevant:

I've practiced holding the hammer with left thumb (assuming you're right-handed), then decocking it. When I let the hammer down, I can then pull the trigger back Double Action and the hammer then falls on the dococker safety.

Hmmm, I thought this was odd.

Anyone else try this? Hold the hammer, upswing the dococker and then the action works as DA.

Is there something wrong with my Bulgie from '89 with only a few hundres cartridges run through it?

Curious,

Paulus


Reply author: criticalbass
Replied on: 04/13/2006 11:23:57 PM
Message:

Now I am confused. In fact so confused I'm unsure of what to ask, but I'll try anyway.

Paulus, why are you involving the trigger if you are using the decocker, or did I misread that? It appears you think something is amiss with your pistol, but try again to explain what it is. My feeble old brain seems to be missing some vital component in your post.

Here's where I get confused: You wrote "I've practiced holding the hammer with left thumb (assuming you're right-handed), then decocking it. When I let the hammer down, I can then pull the trigger back Double Action and the hammer then falls on the dococker safety."

When you said "decocking it" were you referring to doing it manually with the safety off, or using the safety/decocking function?

It's good to fully understand the functioning of any gun, and as long as you experiment with an empty gun there is no danger unless you manage to break a component.

OT question, does your screen name honor the unfortunate General Paulus of Stalingrad fame? CB



Reply author: Paulus
Replied on: 04/14/2006 09:30:31 AM
Message:

No, I wasn't using the trigger at all when I held the hammer back and swing the dococker lever up. After that, I put the hammer down. THEN, for some mysterious reason, the trigger can (while the dococker is still UP) be pulled and the hammer swings back and then falls (i.e., it just worked in double action).

Sorry to confuse. This just seems to be a mechanical anomoly.

And, no I was never at Stalingrad. Although this posting might be my undoing. <smile>

Paulus
 
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