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Old September 25, 2010, 10:54 PM   #1
Aristides
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Revolver Reliability: Single Action vs Double Action...?

I know that revolvers, in general, tend to be more reliable than semiautos. But is there much difference in reliability between a Single Action Revolver as compared with a Double Action revolver? I have a Ruger Single Six, and I also have a couple of S&W double actions. Never had a reliability issue with any of them. But it does seem that the Single Actions are a bit simpler in construction, and thus would have less chance for something to go wrong. The main potential problems I've heard of -- timing issues, ejector rod coming loose, grit under the star -- are all possibilities with DA. What types of reliability issues might be encountered with SA?
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Old September 25, 2010, 11:06 PM   #2
GeauxTide
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Cylinder play. Ejector rod housing shooting loose. Both of these are easy fixes. My Blackhawks have much sturdier than my Smiths over the years. The smoothness of the Smiths are wonderful, but they have more key parts that wear more quickly, IMHO.
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Old September 25, 2010, 11:10 PM   #3
jmortimer
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At this point in time most any well made gun, single action, double action, or semi-auto will go bang. Not enough difference to argue about but I'll take a single action as the most reliable but not by much. I like to think of this - load up your gun, put it on the fireplace mantle of your cabin in the woods, and come back in fifty years. I bet the single action would be in the best condition to fire.
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Old September 25, 2010, 11:46 PM   #4
Jim March
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Exactly. The SA has an advantage in toughness, esp. if it's a coil-spring model (Ruger and some others) instead of the traditional flat-spring setup. Longhunter is a gun dealer that does gunsmithing on SAs before you take delivery; his package for the USFA traditional-action SAs involves (in part) converting the trigger return spring to a coil setup, which brings it to just about Ruger-level durability. The flat mainspring is OK.

The advantage isn't that much though, if it's a decent modern DA wheelgun.
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Old September 26, 2010, 12:46 AM   #5
Big Bill
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I have a tendency to shoot my double action revolvers, single action. But, I think some SA revolvers are more trouble free than others. I love Ruger SA revolvers but am less impressed with some other brands.
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Old September 26, 2010, 12:49 AM   #6
rep1954
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For the money invested the Ruger single action Blackhawk is the most reliable and versatile revolver made. In it's New Model version it will carry 6 loaded chambers safely and is almost 1/2 lb lighter in it's 4140/aluminum version over the stainless one.
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Old September 26, 2010, 08:09 AM   #7
Leejack
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I've had good luck with all of the above!

My Smith and Taurus double actions have all worked well for decades.

However, my favorites are the Ruger Single Actions. When you cock the gun, something magical takes place; it's hard to explain.

If I had to cast a vote, it would be for single action.

Quote:
For the money invested the Ruger single action Blackhawk is the most reliable and versatile revolver made. In it's New Model version it will carry 6 loaded chambers safely and is almost 1/2 lb lighter in it's 4140/aluminum version over the stainless one.
Well stated sir!____Lee

Last edited by Leejack; September 26, 2010 at 08:23 AM.
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Old September 26, 2010, 08:38 AM   #8
MrBorland
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Quote:
The main potential problems I've heard of -- timing issues, ejector rod coming loose, grit under the star -- are all possibilities with DA. What types of reliability issues might be encountered with SA?
I've had the ejector rod on my blackhawk work loose. Some I know have had it launch when the screw finally backed out.

Under normal range use, though, I don't think either platforms get pushed hard enough to find their real limits. Competition, though, is hard on revolvers, and I'm betting good SAA shooters can offer a myriad of ways a SA can fail. I recall reading top SAA shooters have 3 guns: one they shoot, one backup and one that's being repaired.

As far as a DA revolver, I've had my L-frame 686 for about 4 years, using it for general range use with no reliability issues whatsoever. Clearly a reliable and durable gun. I started competitively shooting with it at the beginning of the year, though (mostly IDPA, but some ICORE & USPSA, too), and practicing my butt off with it (dry- and live-fire), and it broke during a major match last weekend. A closer inspection revealed it not only needed a fix, but a much-needed tune-up as well. This was from only 7 months of hard use.

Lesson learned: The myth of revolver reliability becomes clear when they're used hard. Inspect and tune-up competition revolver(s) regularly and pack a back-up gun before heading off to a match.
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Old September 26, 2010, 09:25 AM   #9
Daryl
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There is more difference in reliability and longevity between brands than there is between SA VS DA revolvers.

I'd take a Ruger DA over an Italian SA for reliability every time.

and I'd take an italian SA over a lesser DA.

As long as you buy a good brand revolver (I.E. S&W, Ruger, Colt, etc) you'll have one of the most reliable firearms available.

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Old September 26, 2010, 09:27 AM   #10
rep1954
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I've been shooting guns for over 38 years now and I have shot revolvers in both single and double action as well as semi-autos, with a few single shots along the way. One thing I have learned is that all of them require regular maintence as far as cleaning, lubing, checking for loose screws and yes sometimes adding a little mild thread locker to a screw. I've never let standard maintence stand in my way of buying any gun. I dont own any single shot pistols right now and they were the most reliable guns I've ever owned followed by single action revolvers and then double action revolvers with semi-autos bringing up the rear. I have never had any part break on a single action revolver but I have had double action parts break before but only twice over the years. I have had to replace parts on different guns from early customiing attemps.
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