View Full Version : Sixgun smiths, help me out

July 28, 2005, 06:14 PM
I've noticed that with some SAA type guns that have the "4-click" action - and I include Colt in this unofficial survey - the cylinder will move backwards slightly as you reach the second notch and release the hammer to the halfcock rest. Others do not. Is this (i.e., the movement) an indication of the timing being off, or is it perfectly normal?

July 28, 2005, 08:00 PM
Perfectly normal.
Timing refers to the sequence of the cylinder's unlocking, rotating, and re-locking.

With the Colt and "clones" the timing sequence is:
As the hammer starts back, the bolt drops out of engagement with the cylinder BEFORE the cylinder starts to rotate.

The bolt drops back onto the cylinder at some point before it's too close to the locking notch.

The bolt drops into the locking notch and locks the cylinder BEFORE the hammer is fully cocked.

Since I was mostly a Colt double action 'smith, I'm not well-up on the actual timing of the SAA, so just were the bolt is supposed to drop back onto the cylinder I just don't remember.

As for the cylinder having "back-lash" as the hammer is cocked, this is normal and a sign that the cylinder is free to rotate properly. A tight or binding cylinder won't do this, and is often a sign of a possible problem.

James K
July 29, 2005, 11:39 AM
To expand a bit. The Colt SAA (like modern Colts) has a two pawl hand. The first pawl engages just as the cylinder bolt releases and starts the cylinder around. As the cylinder turns, the second pawl engages the next point on the ratchet and completes turning the cylinder. If the first pawl releases the ratchet before the second fully engages, the cylinder is free to move backward slightly. This is often seen when the weight of cartridges on the left side tends to pull the cylinder backward.

What you are seeing is a hand that is not really fitted properly, but no harm is done and the condition is so common (as you observe) that no one worries about it. A good SAA tuner with a new or oversize hand can correct the "problem", but it is a cut and try operation, and at $60-70+ an hour, most folks don't want to pay for the job.


Dave Sample
July 29, 2005, 02:29 PM
I call those "Notches" on the hand. Pawl is Rugerspeak. The first notch turns the cylinder 1/12th of the way around and the second notch turns it another 1/12th so that it makes the 1/6th turn it needs to bring another chamber into postion. At 1/2 cock, the bolt drops down caught on the hammer stud and allows the cylinder to spin freely clockwise with a little back play to help it get the chambers in line to load them. Older Rugers do not allow this backlash and are very hard to load, hence, Ron Power's new Pawl that allows the cylinder to turn both ways when you open the loading gate. New Rugers now come with this feature out of the factory. They gobble up pistolsmith improvements like they are good cake as they did to my pal Milt Morrison's Birds head grip improvement. A sincere form of flattery, perhaps.
This is normal for the four click Colt type SA pistols.

DO NOT DROP THE HAMMER FROM 1/2 COCK. This will ring your cylinder and let the world know you do not know how to handle six guns.

July 29, 2005, 09:09 PM
Thanks, guys. I shall cease to worry about it. :D