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Slam firing - Winchester and its competitors; shout out to Mark Douglas for his Colt Lightning video
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July 22, 2023 - 9:44 pm
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I started thinking about this when watching Mark’s excellent video on the Colt Lightning:

I particularly enjoyed the video as it features some carbines that are similar to what I have here.  I have a Baby SRC in .38-40, and a standard barrel SRC in .44-40.  Both have special order nickel finish. 

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Mark’s video has some great information and visual instruction about disassembling and trouble-shooting the Lightning rifle.  For those not interested, forward to close to he end where Mark does some very rapid-fire shooting using the slam fire technique with a Lightning.  Wow – is that fast!  This prompted me to wonder if Winchester every witnessed this and what they thought?  Winchester’s lever rifle competition to the Lightning (e.g. the M1892) could not be slam-fired and could not be operated quite that fast (Lucas McCain an exception).  And of course, Lucas couldn’t do that with a non-modified Winchester.  Back in the day, speed of operation often drew interest.  Exhibition and trick shooters often incorporated it.  I recall one of the exhibition shooters for the Burgess Gun Company could fire the Burgess wrist-operated slide action fast to the point that he could have six or seven empty cases in the air at the same time.

So, who here has slam fired their Winchester – or seen it done?  I understand the Winchester hammer pump .22’s as well as the M61 will do it.  I assume the M1897 will do it too and I have vague memory of hearing about that.

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July 22, 2023 - 10:20 pm
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 Any pump gun that discharges when you hold the trigger down and pump is a safety hazard in my book. You add a degree of safety when you are forced to let off the trigger and then pull it. On a pump gun your finger does not have to come off the trigger to work the action, so it’s easy  to inadvertently hold the trigger down when you pump causing a accidental discharge. On a bolt or lever gun you have to move your hand to work the action and your finger comes off the trigger.

 The 1897 Winchester along with Ithaca and Stevens made pumps that did not require a second pull. As a kid I hunted these guns and personally had accidental discharges on my second shots at flying birds. It sounded like a automatic and the second shot was not aimed. My father had the same problem and went to a model 12. That’s how I got my first shotgun. Great gun when you load only one round in it. T/R   

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July 22, 2023 - 10:35 pm
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TR said
 Any pump gun that discharges when you hold the trigger down and pump is a safety hazard in my book. You add a degree of safety when you are forced to let off the trigger and then pull it. On a pump gun your finger does not have to come off the trigger to work the action, so it’s easy  to inadvertently hold the trigger down when you pump causing a accidental discharge. On a bolt or lever gun you have to move your hand to work the action and your finger comes off the trigger.

 The 1897 Winchester along with Ithaca and Stevens made pumps that did not require a second pull. As a kid I hunted these guns and personally had accidental discharges on my second shots at flying birds. It sounded like a automatic and the second shot was not aimed. My father had the same problem and went to a model 12. That’s how I got my first shotgun. Great gun when you load only one round in it. T/R   

  

TR – thanks for your thoughts.  I’m not thinking about doing this as an actual practice.  As I suggested, that is the land of exhibition and trick shooters.  I’m more interested in understanding what rifles are capable of.  I’m a Winchester fan, but the Colt Lightning is one slick machine.  Winchester’s pattern of buying out many of their competitors didn’t happen with Colt.  I would love to have been a fly on the wall in when the Winchester management team discussed the Colt Lightning.

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July 23, 2023 - 5:00 pm
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I’ve slammed fired the 97 a couple times but never tried it with my Lightnings.  Kind of like fanning a Colt pistol.  Looks cool.

Mark,

Really like these type of videos.  Don’t want to mess with my guns but now I have some knowledge where to start if I had to.

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July 23, 2023 - 5:33 pm
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I slam fired an Ithaca 37 Riot Gun once while quail hunting. A huge jackrabbit startled me by launching from almost underfoot and succumbed to two loads of bird shot. Thought at first it was a coyote. Was my first experience with a slam fire but both loads hit their mark. Sold it to a SEAL who used one in Viet Nam, the slam fire capability was one of the reasons he liked the 37.

 

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July 23, 2023 - 5:34 pm
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Chuck said
I’ve slammed fired the 97 a couple times but never tried it with my Lightnings.  No reason to abuse the guns.

  

As a public service, I’m currently offering to properly dispose of any of the several million unsafe and abused slide action rimfire & centerfire rifles and slide action shotguns specifically designed with the capability to slam fire.  Please send them to The Cinnabar out here in Oregon and I’ll see to it that they’re properly disposed of free of charge.  LaughLaughLaughLaugh

Of course, I’m not being serious.  However, I would respectfully disagree that they are either unsafe or that slam firing is any more harmful to the firearm than pulling the trigger between each cycling of the action.  Mark

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July 23, 2023 - 5:42 pm
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Mark, I just can’t see any practical reason to slam fire or fan any gun.  It has been my experience that I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn while doing so.  Looks cool though.   If I fired this fast I would end up out of sync, jamming something and probably mess something up.  Just my luck.

Edit:  Just so all of you understand I first posted as Mark quotes but changed it before most of you could see it.

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July 23, 2023 - 5:59 pm
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Chuck said
Mark, I just can’t see any practical reason to slam fire or fan any gun.  It has been my experience that I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn while doing so.  Looks cool though.   If I fired this fast I would end up out of sync, jamming something and probably mess something up.  Just my luck.

  

Haha!  I didn’t say I could hit anything while slam firing. You’ll notice there isn’t a backup camera showing the very safe target in front of me.  Laugh

I’m practicing slam firing purely for self-defense in case that pack of wolves that now resides on the ranch catches me off guard while filming with a Colt Lightning. 

I’d like to go out of this world without any unspent cartridges in the magazine.  Cool Mark

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July 23, 2023 - 6:09 pm
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TXGunNut said
Was my first experience with a slam fire but both loads hit their mark. Sold it to a SEAL who used one in Viet Nam, the slam fire capability was one of the reasons he liked the 37.

 

Mike

  

Did the Model 12 fire like this too?  I owned one when I was about 10 years old but have not had one since?  I can see a practical use for the slam fire in this case. 

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July 23, 2023 - 6:18 pm
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Chuck said

TXGunNut said

Was my first experience with a slam fire but both loads hit their mark. Sold it to a SEAL who used one in Viet Nam, the slam fire capability was one of the reasons he liked the 37.

 

Mike

  

Did the Model 12 fire like this too?  I owned one when I was about 10 years old but have not had one since?  I can see a practical use for the slam fire in this case. 

  

Not as far as I know. 

 

Mike

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July 23, 2023 - 6:27 pm
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Mark Douglas said

I’m practicing slam firing purely for self-defense in case that pack of wolves that now resides on the ranch catches me off guard while filming with a Colt Lightning. 

I’d like to go out of this world without any unspent cartridges in the magazine.  Cool Mark

  

That’s one of the reasons I use semi auto shotguns for hunting and home protection.  Just keep pulling the trigger and no jerking around. 

I just like saying I have shot every gun that I have ever owned, at least once.

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July 23, 2023 - 8:37 pm
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  The model 12 and 870, you have to let the trigger out and then squeeze it. My third shotgun was a Ithaca 37, with a slick short stroke but by then I had calmed some when jump shooting. I had a nephew with a model 37 that did just like Mike but didn’t hit anything with either shot.

 I new an old retired Milwaukee cop that said he carried in his squad a model 97 because of the ability to slam fire. He called it an alley sweeper. T/R

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July 23, 2023 - 8:51 pm
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Actually, the majority of the late 19th and early 20th century American-made slide action shotgun models, including Winchester’s model 1893, 1897 and model 12’s were intentionally designed with the capability to slam fire, with safeties in place to keep them from firing “out of battery”.  The Ithaca model 37 was the last to offer this capability.  On the more modern remakes of the model 12’s, that capability was removed. 

I’m not a strong proponent of slam firing.  However, it is a very effective way to test Colt Lightnings well-known propensity for not feeding reliably.  It’s how I test how well I’ve repaired one that’s had feeding issues.  Mark

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July 23, 2023 - 9:44 pm
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This has turned into an interesting discussion.  Rapid-fire from a semi-automatic has never interested me.  However, from a pump of lever rifle, I enjoy having a look. As a boy I watched Chuck Connors empty his Winchester .44-40 carbine in about five seconds.  As that was the opening scene for the TV show, and I saw all the episodes originally and numerous times in re-run status, those five seconds are deeply imbedded in my brain.  I recall an episode where a dude from England took on Lucas with a medium frame Colt Lightning rifle.  There was no mention of the rifle being a Colt and the English gentleman claimed he had made the rifle himself.  Anyway, he didn’t prevail against Lucas but he gave him a run for his money.

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July 24, 2023 - 4:37 am
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I have slam-fired several of my Model 1897s and the one Model 12 that I have in my collection. The Model 12 Riot and Trench guns were intended to be used as slam fire weapons. As Mark has mentioned, there is nothing mechanically “unsafe” about slam firing a Model 1897 or Model 12. The firing pin cannot be struck and launched forward until the bolt is fully in its battery position. Anyone who states or believes that it is not safe to slam fire a Model 1897 or Model 12 is misinformed, or is simply perpetuating an urban myth.

WW I soldiers who were issued Model 1897 Trench Guns were trained how to effectively slam fire their weapons with standard 00-Buckshot loads.

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July 24, 2023 - 1:12 pm
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  I take back my comment on safety hazard. I totally understand the advantage of a pump that can be slam fired for police, military, and home defense. 

 As a 12 year old hunter I did not know what I was doing wrong, just that it went off when I didn’t intend it to. The concept of or reason for slam firing a gun was not explained  to me or my father. We did not realize it was intended to do that just both of us had accidental discharges while pumping in a round with the weapon shouldered. To the best of my knowledge that trigger design has been mostly eliminated on current design pumps. I went to hunter safety with both my boys and they never explained the concept of slam firing. I started them with a Ithica model 37 and one shell at a time in the gun at first for pheasant hunting.

 My father had good reason to walk behind his 12 year old 100 pound son in a marsh pheasant hunting with a J Stevens 620 Browning.

 It would be good to know that the gun will go off when the trigger is held back and pumped. It would be good to know if your 12 years old and quickly pumping a shotgun on your shoulder with your finger on the trigger that the forward movement and slamming of the breech in the closed position can cause an accidental discharge. The forward movement of a hard pump shifts the gun forward and can cause the trigger to be pulled. Everyone using one of these guns must understand what they have in their hands. T/R  

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July 24, 2023 - 3:47 pm
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Never heard of the urban myth but does anybody know where this was discussed during the design and the proper operations of these guns?  I’d be interested in reading what the Military had to say.  Close quarter combat and laying down a field of fire are two of the times I think it would be useful.  I tried to shoot my semi auto shotgun a couple of times as fast as I could.  If I started the first shot aimed at the ground the third shot was well over the top of a 6 ft. target. 

My only Model 12 was made in 1930 and my Dad never taught me how to hunt by using slam fire.  I have a 93 but have never tried to shoot this one like that either.

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July 24, 2023 - 5:34 pm
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This continues to be educational for me.  I’ve been around firearms since I was a child (which was quite a while ago) and throughout all of those years, I’ve gained only the vaguest knowledge of slam firing.

It makes me wonder if when the Hollywood writers dreamed up, “The Rifleman” did they have knowledge that there was another .44-40 carbine out there that could fire 12 rounds in five seconds – and not require any modification at all?  Lucas could have been, “The Lightning Man.”  Kind of catchy?  One wonders if they had done this, there would be a whole lot more Lightning collectors….

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July 25, 2023 - 1:53 am
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Biggest issue I have with slam firing is that I cast, size, lube and load every 38WCF and 32WCF bullet I fire. I’m not a particularly fast loader as I only have a four-cavity mould and load them on a single stage press. That, and I don’t have a Colt Lightning. Wink I guess this capability is an early example of suppressive fire; you’re not going to hit much but whoever you’re shooting at will likely keep their heads down!

 

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July 25, 2023 - 2:03 am
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TXGunNut said
Biggest issue I have with slam firing is that I cast, size, lube and load every 38WCF and 32WCF bullet I fire. I’m not a particularly fast loader as I only have a four-cavity mould and load them on a single stage press. That, and I don’t have a Colt Lightning. Wink I guess this capability is an early example of suppressive fire; you’re not going to hit much but whoever you’re shooting at will likely keep their heads down!

 

Mike

  

Mike – a .38-40 Lightning!  And there’s about ten minutes left!  It’s a nice one.

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