Thread: Ruger Alaskan
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Old March 19, 2013, 12:50 AM   #22
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Join Date: December 3, 2012
Posts: 302
Failure to Fire

Had a FTF with Buffalo Bore ammo. This is what they sent me when I contacted them. Looks like there may be a design flaw in the gun.


All too often, when pulling the trigger, the firing pin strikes and a deafening click emerges from your firearm. Few sounds are louder than hearing a “click” when you should have heard a boom/blast and felt recoil. After working with firearms all my adult life (40+ years at this writing) and being in the firearms industry, making millions of rounds of ammunition per year for the public, one of the most prevalent and misunderstood occurrences among the shooting public, are the actual causes of FTF’s.

Most shooters believe that when ammo fails to go bang, it is the fault of the ammo, after all, it was the ammo that failed to go bang and that very same gun has always gone bang before, so now that it made a click sound instead of a bang, ammo must be the culprit. Seems obvious, no? Well, the facts just are not so!

In relation to the above paragraph, let’s discuss firing mechanisms, better known as guns/firearms. Firearms have several moving parts that all have to be within a certain tolerance, working together, in a split second, to give a reliable firing pin/primer strike. Some firing systems are simple and others are complex, but all firing mechanisms are far more complex than ammo which consists of a stationary primer, seated into stationary brass, with stationary powder and a stationary bullet, seated within. Ammunition has no moving parts, unless it ignites. The ammunition is relying on the much more complex firing mechanism to ignite it.

After spending decades researching and learning the intricacies of FTF’s, I’ve discovered that although the ammo did not go bang, and it appears to be the fault of the ammo, in 98% of the cases, (98% is not an exaggeration) that is simply not true. The much more complex firing mechanism is normally the culprit.

Let’s look at some current and very commonly flawed firing systems.

1. Ruger Redhawk:

This is probably the most prevalently flawed firing system and generator of FTF’s currently on the market. All iterations of the Redhawk or Super Redhawk have the same hammer to frame to transfer bar problem. Anytime a transfer bar is being utilized, all other aspects of the firing mechanism must work very well to overcome the difficulties imposed by the transfer bar. The Redhawk is plagued with hammer to frame to transfer bar tolerance problems. While most Red hawks will fire most brands of primers most of the time, many Redhawks will FTF with at least one brand of primer, once in a while. Well, “once in a while” with one or two brands of commercial primers is a disaster waiting to happen, especially when the buyer of factory ammo, has no idea what brand of primer has been used to manufacture said ammo. Normally, when a Redhawk FTF’s, the hammer contacts the frame prematurely and thus insufficient energy impacts the transfer bar, because that energy went into the frame via the hammer to frame tolerance, or lack thereof. The simple solution is to remove enough (normally .020 inch) from the hammer face, where it contacts the frame. This allows the portion of the hammer that contacts the transfer bar, to hit the transfer bar more fully before contacting the frame, thus providing more strike energy to the firing pin, through the transfer bar. A story best illustrates how common this problem is with Red hawks. About five years ago, I purchased a new 4 inch Redhawk chambered in 44 mag. On rare occasion it would FTF with CCI # 350 primers, when I fired it in single action mode, but in double action mode, it would FTF much more often. (The CCI # 350 primer is made within industry standards, so don’t go blaming the primer) I took it to a local Missoula gun smith named Matt Brainard. (406-549-3249) When I walked into his shop with the new Redhawk in hand, Matt looked at it and with no input from me, said “having ignition problems”? That’s right, FTF’s are common enough with Redhawks, that Matt had a good idea why I brought the revolver in before I said anything. Matt machined roughly .020 inch from the hammer face, where it contacts the frame, allowing the hammer to impact the transfer bar with more force and that Redhawk has never had another FTF.

As if all the above tolerance problems with the Redhawks firing mechanism isn’t enough, Redhawks chambered in 454 Casull suffer from yet one more malady. 454 Casull ammo is made utilizing a small rifle primer. Yet Ruger makes the 454 versions of their Redhawk with the same diameter firing pin as the 44mag. and 45 colt chambered versions and 44 mag. and 45 colt ammo utilizes a large pistol primer. Small rifle primers, by design, require more strike energy or at least a more focused area of pin impact, than large pistol primers. So, when Ruger chose to use the larger diameter firing pin, to ignite the small rifle primer utilized in 454 Casull ammo, they handicapped the firing mechanism yet further. The larger diameter firing pin tends to cover too much surface area of the small primer and this big foot print spreads the pin-strike-energy outward too much, instead of inward, into the primer. The result is FTF’s with some brands of small rifle primers. Generally, the above discussed cure will solve this problem, but not always and enterprising and knowledgeable gunsmiths like Hamilton Bowen, sell a longer firing pin and heavier main spring for the Redhawk, which truly solves the problem. Gee, why would Hamilton Bowen have designed a longer firing pin and stronger main spring, if there was not a problem with the firing mechanism in the Redhawk?

Remember, we are discussing only the firing mechanism of all Redhawk iterations. Aside from problems with the Redhawks firing design, I love the Redhawk revolvers and I own several of them, including one standard Redhawk that was converted to 500 Linebaugh by Dave Clements, which also required modifications to the firing mechanism to be 100% reliable in double action mode.
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