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Open Carry of a Single-action Revolver

ChadW

Regular Member
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Jul 2, 2006
Messages
39
Location
Abingdon, Virginia, United States
Would having an empty chamber under the hammer be legal for a single action revolver? I am still waiting for my Wyoming permit to come, so open carry is my only option when I drive into Utah. Thanks for any info.
 

b0neZ

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Feb 15, 2012
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505
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Davis County, Utah
Would having an empty chamber under the hammer be legal for a single action revolver? I am still waiting for my Wyoming permit to come, so open carry is my only option when I drive into Utah. Thanks for any info.
In order to carry a revolver "Utah Loaded" sans permit, both the cylinder under the hammer AND the cylinder next in rotation must be empty.

There's no distinction in the law between Single and Double Action, unfortunately.
 

MAC702

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Actually, because the trigger cannot fire the single-action by itself, the one next to the barrel can be loaded. It is not yet in firing position, and requires two actions to fire.

The single-action revolver was the typical sidearm when this was made a law to mandate safety.
 
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MAC702

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Also remember that the requirement for a permit in UT does not apply IN your car, where you may have it fully loaded, and as concealed as you wish, including on your person.
 

utbagpiper

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MAC702 is correct on both points.

For those who want some details, the following is copied from a couple of post I made recently on UCC in answer to a similar question:

Let's start with the code, which is at 76-10-502. Ignoring black powder firearms, here is the relevant portion:


76-10-502. When weapon deemed loaded.

(1) For the purpose of this chapter, any pistol, revolver, shotgun, rifle, or other weapon described in this part shall be deemed to be loaded when there is an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile in the firing position.

(2) Pistols and revolvers shall also be deemed to be loaded when an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile is in a position whereby the manual operation of any mechanism once would cause the unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile to be fired.

(3)...


Ok. Usual caveats. I'm not a lawyer, I don't go to jail if any of this is wrong and you act on it, etc. My best understanding and application of this code is as follows:

So, under (1) if a round is "in the firing position" the firearm is loaded. A round under the hammer is in firing position, even if that round cannot be fired via the normal means. Even though cocking the gun would rotate the cylinder and cause this round not to fire, at the moment, the round is in firing position. The gun is loaded.

Now, look at (2). Where does a round need to be to be fired through "the manual operation of any mechanism once"? Put another way, can ANY round be fired through the manual operation of any mechanism once?

DA Uncocked: If the gun is a DA and uncocked, then pulling the trigger will rotate the cylinder one chamber, cock the hammer, and then drop the hammer on the cylinder that just rotated into position. This will cause a round to fire if the round is in the next up chamber.
DA Cocked: If the gun is a DA and is cocked, then pulling the trigger will cause the hammer to fall onto the chamber under hammer. The next chamber will not fired by pulling the trigger once.

SA Uncocked: If the gun is an SA, but uncocked, then pulling the trigger has no effect. No round will be fired.
SA Cocked: If the gun is an SA and it is cocked, then pulling the trigger causes the hammer to fall on the chamber already under the hammer causing it to fire. But this case is covered by (1).

Simply put then, an SA revolver must have one chamber empty to be "Utah unloaded": The chamber under the hammer.
A DA needs either one or two chambers empty to be "Utah unloaded": If cocked, just the chamber under the hammer. If not cocked, both the chamber under the hammer and the next chamber up.

There is an exception. Some revolvers like the NAA mini-revolvers, have a notch between chambers into which the hammer can be parked. In this position, there is no round in firing position since the cylinder is halfway between two chambers. So we are covered under (1) for not being loaded. Assuming the revolving is a SA (as the NAA mini-revolvers are), pulling the trigger with the hammer down in this parked position has no effect. So there is no single mechanism that will cause any other round to fire and we are covered under (2) as well. Such a gun can be carried with all chambers loaded and still be considered "Utah Unloaded" as long as the hammer is resting in the safety slot between chambers.

Also, if carrying sans permit, be aware of locations where you cannot (generally) legally possess a gun even if it is unloaded.

Under Utah State law, this includes all schools and school grounds K-12, plus post secondary (ie college campuses). It also includes day care centers, including the room where the day care is located if situated in a private residence.

Under federal law, guns are (generally) banned in all K-12 schools, as well as on the grounds, and for a distance of 1000 feet out from the edge of the school grounds, as the crow flies, without regard to how far one would actually have to travel to get to the school grounds. Federal law only recognizes permits issued by the State where the school is located, irrespective of whether the State recognizes your out-of-State permit. While this law is rarely enforced in the absence of a "real" crime, it is on the books and you should be aware of it and make an informed opinion as to the risks.

In urban areas of Utah it can be difficult to map out a course where one can travel on foot without crossing the 1000 foot exclusion zone created by the federal gun free school zone law. In rural towns, the three schools (grammar, middle, high) might well make the entire city off limits to permit free carry.

As MAC702 also noted, while in your own car, you don't need a permit to keep a handgun fully loaded and/or concealed. Long guns can be concealed, but legally must not be "loaded" (Utah definition), without a permit.

Again, I'm not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, and so on and so forth. And there is no guarantee that any peace officer is going to know the law well enough to accept my reading of it for some of the more esoteric cases like the NAA mini-revolvers. I would hope most prosecutors and virtually all judges would. But no guarantees.

Charles
 
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WalkingWolf

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Did they ever give a reason for such retardation?
Common knowledge that older revolvers had no transfer bar, or drop safety. Plus it was common for the military to carry with and empty chamber on a 1911 at that time. It was considered safer. There also is the reasoning that a second step would give someone that moment of pause before pulling the trigger, and less chance of an ND.

BUT like the NAA revolver, SA revolvers without a transfer bar could be carried fully loaded. The original empty chamber thing was for C&B colts, that problem was cured with the Remington 1858 with cylinder notches. Because the hammer rests against the primer, or the rear of the cylinder the hammer can be lowered between case heads, putting any round out of firing position. It is the way I carry my Colt Navy conversions fully loaded safely. The drawback is the cylinder stop rests on the cylinder eventually leaving a tiny mark where the cylinder line usually is. This can be cured by having just one cylinder machined with on notch in between chambers. As the conversion cylinder for the 5 shot C&B pocket revolver comes.

This is also the way breaktop H&R type DA pocket revolvers are carried. The cylinder stop is on the trigger, so the cylinder freely rotates with hammer at safety notch, just like the Nagant revolver. Since these revolvers have no transfer bar or drop safety, and the cylinder can rotate freely, the hammer is rested between case heads, or on the primer of an empty case. To carry a old breaktop since they are DA one would have to use an empty case to stay legal.
 
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utbagpiper

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Did they ever give a reason for such retardation?
What retardation? Gun free school zones? Having a legal distinction between loaded and unloaded?

The forum contains an easy to use "quote" feature that, with a little effort to pare down the quoted material, makes it very easy for others to know the context of your questions.

Would that some folks would make use of that feature rather than just assuming everyone can read their minds or is willing to wade through walls of text without quoted material set off well.

Assuming you are disparaging Utah's definition of "loaded": The law has been like that for a long time. I suspect that WW's explanation is spot on.

And for mature adults it is obvious that the law actually gives great benefit to Utah's gun carriers. So long as any legal or social distinctions remain between a loaded and unloaded gun, Utah's statutory definition of "loaded" allows gun carriers to have their guns about as close to fully usable as possible without actually having one in the pipe (or otherwise under the hammer) while still being legally not "loaded."

The legal definitions that cause us far more problems would be those that deem a gun loaded if ammo is in the same zip code as the gun.

Charles
 

Brian D.

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Jul 27, 2007
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Cincy area, Ohio, USA
Utbagpiper, perhaps the word "retardation" was used in the sense that having laws that force carry of a gun in a mode other than fully loaded and ready to fire SLOWS DOWN the speed in which one can get the gun into action. A bit of wordplay may have been davidmacbeth's intent. Can't say I think it's all that funny, but will (reluctantly) give a couple of points for cleverness.
 

utbagpiper

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Any penalty applied the the peaceful carry of a pistol is a affront to liberty. The loaded not loaded debate highlights the need for the good citizens of Utah to have this law repealed. Just about every modern pistol is designed to be carried safely in condition 0/1.
We're working on removing the legal penalty for carrying a loaded gun in public sans permit. But I think we'll leave the legal definition of loaded on the books as long as we can.

Socially there is a difference between loaded and not loaded, even if in most legal cases or safety considerations there shouldn't be.

As a simple experiment, consider on the typical reaction to the news report about a homeowner who "Leaves a loaded gun where a child can get it." Compare this to the same situation that can be honestly and legally described as "An unloaded firearm stored in a nightstand."

Don't get too hung up on the specifics of the example. Just consider on the likely difference in emotional reaction among most, including many in the RKBA community.

A legal definition of "unloaded" that allows a full magazine to be in the gun, so long as the chamber is empty has its advantages for gun owners in litigious age.

Charles
 

Johnbo

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Aug 23, 2013
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44
Location
Georgia
So in Utah it would be legal to carry a blackpowder cap and ball revolver fully loaded and capped as long as the hammer was down between the chambers on the "safety" pins, as long as it's single action.
 

WalkingWolf

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So in Utah it would be legal to carry a blackpowder cap and ball revolver fully loaded and capped as long as the hammer was down between the chambers on the "safety" pins, as long as it's single action.
That is my understanding, but that does not mean an individual officer will see it the same way. It would not be just C&B, cartridge revolvers without a transfer bar, or hammer block could be carried also by resting the FP between case heads.
 

JoeSparky

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Jun 20, 2008
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Pleasant Grove, Utah, USA
That is my understanding, but that does not mean an individual officer will see it the same way. It would not be just C&B, cartridge revolvers without a transfer bar, or hammer block could be carried also by resting the FP between case heads.
Actually,

Read part 3 closely ----https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title76/Chapter10/76-10-S502.html?v=C76-10-S502_1800010118000101

76-10-502. When weapon deemed loaded.
(1) For the purpose of this chapter, any pistol, revolver, shotgun, rifle, or other weapon described in this part shall be deemed to be loaded when there is an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile in the firing position.
(2) Pistols and revolvers shall also be deemed to be loaded when an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile is in a position whereby the manual operation of any mechanism once would cause the unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile to be fired.
(3) A muzzle loading firearm shall be deemed to be loaded when it is capped or primed and has a powder charge and ball or shot in the barrel or cylinders.


Amended by Chapter 328, 1990 General Session
Muzzle loading is "loaded" when it is capped, primed, or "has a powder charge and ball or shot in the barrel or cylinders." Hammer position has no bearing on this as does the requirement for non-muzzle loading firearms when the hammer positioned over "an unexpended (sic) cartridge, shell, or projectile is in a position whereby the manual operation of any mechanism once would cause the unexpended(sic) cartridge, shell, or projectile to be fired" would make the weapon "loaded."
 

WalkingWolf

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Cap and Ball are not muzzle loaders. They load at the chamber of the cylinder. A ML rifle of course being single shot would be loaded when primed. But no matter what it is up to the interpretation of the government official, or the courts. Considering the contradictory terms in the last section the law could be considered vague.
 
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