Storing Cocked Or Uncocked


O.K. now I’ve joined the ranks of sub-gauge hunting arms I’ve got what I hope isn’t an unusual problem.

So what’s the problem,snap caps! I have looked everywhere on the web as well as ALL the gun shops in Utah for them. Am I looking for something that just doesn’t exist?I’m also wondering since I can’t find them, can I drop the hammers on expended hulls for storage purposes or will this cause firing pin damage?Lastly, which is better storing this gun assembled or to take it down?



Dear Randy,

Omnipotent butt-saver that I am, I’m not going to do it for you this time. Yes, I have seen 410 and 28 gauge snap caps in clear plastic with maroon bases and brass “primers”, but I don’t remember where I found them. Actually, they were probably given to me. The only suggestion that I can come up with is to scan the shooting mags at your gun club. “Shotgun Sports” usually advertises that sort of thing. I know they are out there. Don’t overlook searching on the Web. Try and also search for “The Gun Room”. There are tons of others. I am pretty sure that a question to will turn up some snap caps.

I use snap caps a great deal, but I don’t use them when I store the gun. If you read Robert Churchill’s “Game Shooting” book, you will notice that he does not recommend releasing the triggers when storing the gun. Since he was one of the better known gun makers this surprised me. His argument was that you are only releasing the spring slightly as the spring is under considerable tension even when the hammer is dropped. Of course, he was talking about leaf springs, not coil spring. Still, I’ve never made it a habit to store my guns, leaf or coil spring, hammers down and have never noticed any particular problem with springs. Of course, my competition guns get new pins and springs on a regular basis, but my game guns don’t and they haven’t suffered. All modern cameras are stored “cocked”. Before autoadvance there used to be a big thing about storing them uncocked. Now you never hear it. That said, I do store my pistols and rifles uncocked. I guess it is just habit.

What I do use the snap caps for is dry firing. I often practice with my guns by lifting and swinging them in the house. Snap caps are ideal for clicking at aiming points when training. They are also ideal for “live” dry firing at clay targets. You would be amazed at what you can learn when you “shoot” at a clay target without the gun going off in your face. People think that they have to use a shell since they are paying for that clay target, but dry fire/snap cap practice on one or two targets that you are having difficulty with can often show quite clearly what the problem is. It certainly makes more sense than missing the same bird over and over again.

I also use dry firing with snap caps a great deal when introducing new shooters to clay targets. You can’t miss when you dry fire. I can tell where they are pointing the gun and don’t give them a live round until I am absolutely certain that they are going to hit the bird. It is a great confidence builder for a new shooter.

I store all my guns assembled and muzzle down in the gunsafe. After a day’s shooting, the guns are disassembled, cleaned, regreased, reassembled and stored. I generally use gun slips rather than take down cases, so the gun can go from the safe to the slip to the field without being disassembled. If the gun is to be taken in a take down case, then I carefully degrease the hinge areas before putting it in the case. I regrease before assembling. It isn’ t the lack of grease that really causes wear. It is grit-contaminated grease that is the problem. Hinges, trunions or bearing points must be surgically clean before applying new grease and assembling the gun.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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4 Responses to Storing Cocked Or Uncocked

  1. James Jones says:

    Gamaliel shooting supply has lots of snap caps in various gauges. Jim Jones


  2. Steve Handerer says:

    I bought my 28 gauge snap caps on ebay.
    I always use snap caps to relieve the spring load. Springs do weaken eventually ie car suspension springs, engine valve springs and clock springs etc. Trouble is without having two guns in use with and without snap caps you never know what the difference is!


  3. Jay says:

    For double guns, O/U or SxS, one can use a “firing pin block”. These, usually made of horn, where often included in the cased accories of better guns. The block is held against the breech face while the triggers are pulled. The the gun is reassembled uncocked. I have no idea if it is any benefit, but my memory is that all the new O/U Citoris and Beretta 6xx’s I have bought came de-cocked. If one worries about dry fire damage, a gun stored de-cocked cannot be inadverntly dry fired.


  4. Dennis Bosch says:

    Bruce and Randy
    Do not use spent shells as snap caps other than in the field.
    You should never get use to seeing a shell in the chamber and thinking it is a spent shell.
    Its just to easy to make a mistake in this situation.
    Coach Dennis Bosch


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