View Full Version : SA to DA conversion?

March 27, 2008, 02:04 PM
Hello all-I have a question that's been bugging me for a while and no one has been able to give me a conclusive answer. I have the opportunity to get my hands on a Beretta Laramie (SA Schofield copy). However, I really don't like SA, but love the styling of the gun itself. I found out that the Harrington and Richards 949 was a DA gun styled after a SAA gun, but I'm not a fan of the .22. Is it possible to convert a single action revolver like the Schofield to a double action revolver?

Bill DeShivs
March 27, 2008, 06:00 PM
Not for less than the price of a new double action gun.

March 27, 2008, 11:51 PM
I'm not terribly concerned with the price, I'm willing to dish out the extra dosh for something unique and I really want. Besides, if I do get a new DA revolver, I'd just think to myself, "Now why didn't I use that money to turn a Schofield into a DA from an SA in the first place?":)

March 28, 2008, 05:11 AM
Since money is no object I would say that you should be able to find a gunsmith that can do it without too much of a problem. :cool:

James K
March 28, 2008, 04:13 PM
You are talking about a complete redesign of the gun, and there is (IMHO) no way it could be done. What you would really have to do is have someone build a completely new gun, with a new design, but using the general shape that you want. If money is really no object, someone might be willing to try if you wave 100 grand at him, and give him a year or two.

The H&R you mention was never a single action; it was just tricked out to look like a SAA. The internal mechanism was the standard H&R double action system.


March 28, 2008, 05:37 PM
Well wait a minute...
How close are the similarities between the new Schofields to the old S&W top breaks, and maybe a N-frame? I don't have any books or schematics handy- but it do make a feller wonder. I could see re-pinning, going with a captured rebound slide and pretty much rebuilding from scratch the hammer and trigger to adapt to totally different dimensions. Then, would it be better suited to a flat main spring or a coil type like on the Taurus' and the M36's? Yes, it would be expensive- quite expensive, but it could also be a dandy between projects project. Or, might get someone a pretty snappy grade at a Smith or Machinist school. Either way, it's way outta my league. Good luck.

Jim Watson
March 28, 2008, 06:07 PM
I suggest a little background study, first.
The Beretta Laramie is a somewhat copy of the S&W New Model No 3.
Not all large S&W topbreaks were Schofields and this is one that is not.

I cannot imagine the work it would take to convert one to DA. $10,000 might not cover it.

But you don't have to, because S&W did it for you 127 years ago. They made the .44 Double Action from 1881 til 1913. They look and operate similar to the single action No 3 except for the DA trigger and the bigger trigger guard required to accomodate it. They are so close that collectors occasionally run into guns with the other model's barrel. A No 3 with a 4" barrel very likely has a DA barrel. See pictures at:
The double actions have not caught on with the collectors and one can be had for much less money than a single action. Maybe not much more than an Italian copy. Shooting is best done with black powder, David Chicoine who specializes in gunsmithing them says even light loads of smokeless will beat them up.

March 28, 2008, 07:37 PM
You could go the Hollywood route.
Back in the Saturday afternoon matinée cowboy movies, a lot of stars were actually shooting double action Colt revolvers fixed up to resemble a single action.

Usually, the grip frame was altered to look like a single action, and a fake, non-functioning ejector rod was installed on the barrel.

Since many more modern double action revolvers, like the Ruger GP-100, have a small "stubby" grip frame under the grips, it would be fairly easy to make a set of custom grips that are shaped like a single action.
Re-barreling with a round barrel with a single action shaped front sight would give a reasonably close single action look.

So, it's do-able, but it's one of those projects where the top-end custom gunsmith is going to ask "Say bud, just how much money DO you have there"?

James K
March 29, 2008, 11:16 AM
Well, Ruchik asked about converting a Schofield copy to double action, not about working over a normal DA to feel like a Schofield. The grip frame of the Schofield or early No. 3 could be faked fairly easily by grinding and filling the grip of any square butt N frame. Some serious gunsmithing work would probably be needed, but the hump could be cut down, the sideplate altered to match, then the hollow filled in by welding. Not cheap, but not totally out of sight, either. Working over a DA to the newer No. 3 or Russian configuration (with the hump) would be even less of a problem.

Either way, of course, the result would be a "one of a kind" gun and the value would be about zero to anyone else, but what the heck, if you want something like that, and have the money, go for it.


Jim Watson
March 29, 2008, 11:38 AM
But it still wouldn't be a topbreak.

I agree, the Hollywood approach would be best if he just wanted something that looked "cowboy". A New Service with the butt reshaped like a SAA and a dummy extractor rod housing would be the easiest.

Or just buy an 1878 DA Frontier. They are sturdier than a Lightning and less expensive than a period SAA... or a gunsmith's time.

I think they all look odd, whether original or fake; a trigger guard big enough for the DA trigger arc is a dead giveaway.
The best cosmetic fake I know of was the old High Standard Double Nine, but it was only a .22; unlikely to satisfy the OP.

James K
March 29, 2008, 06:51 PM
It is pretty hard to catch, especially on TV, but in the final shootout in "Shane", Alan Ladd used what looked like a Colt New Service. Ladd was a small man and had small hands, so he couldn't handle a single action very fast. They gussied up the DA revolver to look enough like the SAA he had been carrying to get by all but a few viewers.

Of course that was in the old days. Today, they would turn the "boys in the back room" loose on the digital master, and he could have had anything anyone wanted.