Revolver Transfer Bars

The differing and evolving safety systems used over the years.

by RK Campbell

I recently had a customer bring in a Ruger single action revolver from 1962, before the safety refitting. A young friend in the shop wanted to know if this was rarity. While there seem to be a number of people desiring it as collectible, I feel its only value was as a nice 1962 single action revolver that doesn’t offer anything newer Rugers don’t while being potentially less safe. I cautioned the young fellow not to sell the revolver until after having Ruger upgrading it for free.

These older unmodified Ruger single actions are becoming less common but are far from rare. It is one thing to own something for personally use and another to offer it for sale to a potentially unaware buyer having significant, correctable, and non-obvious safety deficits compared to newer handguns. If a new owner handled the older, unmodified Ruger single action like a newer model, it could cause problems.

The modern transfer bar action isn’t “lawyer inspired” to stop lawsuits, although it certainly is a good improvement on liability grounds. Even before we had such a litigious society makers were concerned with producing a revolver that offered greater safety and transfer bars do that. Transfer bar actions are nothing new but their application in modern centerfire revolvers is relatively recent. Iver Johnson Safety Automatic revolvers were designed with a type of transfer bar around 1895; prior to this, most revolvers were carried with the hammer on an empty chamber. Some revolvers featured a…

Read more in the December 2020 issue.

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