Fanning (firearms)

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Fanning is a revolver shooting technique in which one hand holds the trigger and the other hits the hammer singularly or repeatedly without any part of the cocking hand remaining in contact with the revolver or support hand. This rotates the cylinder and fires the weapon, allowing for the rapid firing of single-action revolvers. This technique is used extensively in fast draw exhibitions.[citation needed]

Slip hammering is a revolver shooting technique in which one hand holds the trigger and the other hits the hammer singularly or repeatedly while remaining in constant contact with either the revolver or the support hand. This allows for greater control of the firearm than fanning.

The idea (as spread by old western films) that people in the "Old West" fanned their hammers in actual firefights with any regularity is considered a caricature. It was done in shooting shows (where trick marksmen entertained crowds with shooting tricks) and by many a curious target-practicer. It was probably not common in actual firefights, because it does not lend itself to most real-life tactical situations, accuracy, or the use of cover. One longtime firearms instructor, George L. Tooley,[1] said: "Fanning is hard on the revolver, in addition to being inaccurate, and is not recommended".

A slip gun is a revolver which has been modified to disconnect the trigger from the hammer, so as to cause it to fire by pulling back and releasing the hammer.[citation needed] Often the hammer spur is lowered, so the gun may be fired by wiping one's finger across the hammer. The only difference from fanning is that only one hand is needed, because in fanning one hand holds the gun and pulls back the trigger while the other hand knocks back the hammer repeatedly. Slip shooting is a little slower than fanning, but more accurate and practical since only one hand is needed. Slip guns were used for various types of rapid trick shooting in which the ability to instinctively rapid fire was crucial.

Thumbing has been used to refer to a similar action as fanning except instead of using the opposite hand to pull the hammer while the trigger is depressed, the thumb of the gun hand is used. This would be necessary if firing paired revolvers.[2][full citation needed]


  1. ^ Tooley 2000, pp. 80–81.
  2. ^ 2011, Tactical Shooting, p. 14


  • Tooley, George L. (2000), George Tooley's Beginner's Book on How to Handle Firearms Safely, Writers Club Press, imprint of, ISBN 978-0-595-08873-7.