View Full Version : Colt Woodsman Dilemma

May 9, 2008, 11:17 PM
Any suggestions are welcome.

I recently, happily received a 3rd generation Colt Woodsman from my father who kept it handy for SHTF situations. I know, under-powered, but that's not the point.

When I took it to the range for the first time, I was disappointed to find the firing pin was not hitting the 22lr rim hard enough to consistently fire them (approx. 1/3 misfires). Aha, says me, it needs a new set of springs. I thought this because I had fired this pistol many times in the distant past (last time, 1981) without so much as a hint of this problem.

So, I took it to my favorite smith, told him the situation and left it in his hands. When I hadn't heard from him in a couple of weeks, I called and after a brief discourse on what he had done to it, he said (paraphrasing) "I haven't figured out whats wrong with it".

Here's what's been done; New main spring....New recoil spring (probably not related)....New firing pin....When those things didn't work, the firing pin was ground to allow more forward travel....The (new) firing pin spring was shortened (weakened )to allow less restricted firing pin travel.

Bottom line is, it hasn't changed a thing. The firing pin won't penetrate the rim any farther than when this was all started.

Has anyone had a similar problem and, if so, would you mind sharing the solution?.......................tog

May 10, 2008, 12:37 AM
My High Standard was doing the same thing, and I tried some of the things your gunsmith tried.
Then I ordered a new firing pin and spring......

I just installed a new firing pin in my High Standard today and test fired it (dry fired) with a spent .22 case and after 2 strikes of the pin, It was blunted so badly that it was hard to tell if it hit the case.
The pin went back to Numerich parts return today.
I never intentionally dry fire a rimfire, but have had several failure to feeds that result in dry firing, But that new pin only hit brass and it deformed the tip.
They have some issues with their metallurgy. IMHO

I will post any new developments.

May 10, 2008, 12:48 AM
If you closely examined (miked) the rim thicknesses on RF ammo, you wouldn't be surprised that you had misfires. They can vary a lot, along with the distance the firing pin has to travel to hit it.

Odds are 5 to 3 in favor of finding a brand that works in your Woodsman--if your smithy didn't damage the firing pin beyond repair.:cool:

May 10, 2008, 01:07 PM
What about the nose (hitting part) of the firing pin/striker?
Is it deformed, can it be "rechaped/sharpened" without the danger of perforated cases?

Another thing is case-rim-thickness.
About 25 years ago a gunsmith in Holland offered a rimthickness gauge.
He said that rims vary so much within one lot/box that it payed to buy a gauge and sort them, within one lot, in order to get a more concistent point of impact.
Furthermore you need to check the "head space" i.e. the distance of the front of the slide against the breech. I 've had some FN internationals in the club that consistently missfired if dirt accumulated on the slide face/breech end of the barrel.
Apparently the slide consumed some kinetic energy of the hammer by being slammed forward at the moment of the hammer hitting the striker.

Hope it helps.

James K
May 10, 2008, 01:44 PM
What ammo? Not all .22 LR is created equal in terms of case material, case hardness and rim thickness.

Also, a common cause of that problem is failure of the slide to go completely into battery, even though it may look closed. Try pushing the slide forward before firing and see what happens. Make sure the chamber and barrel are completely clean and also that the extractor area is clean.


May 10, 2008, 07:13 PM
Assuming that the F/P is not damaged, first thing I'd check on a 22 that has been stored a while is dried/gummy oil and a dirty chamber. I'd clean the heck out of it,try assorted ammo and see what happens. Brad

Old Gaffer
May 10, 2008, 08:04 PM
+1 to those that said dirty chamber.

I use a .25 brass brush and Gunzilla to clean my .22 chambers. I bend the brush so it's no longer than a .22 (to make sure I don't screw up the throat) and that, and a little solvent/lubricant takes care of the problem. When I get done with that, I pull a patch on a Patchwork from the muzzle end so as not to spread the gunk down the barrel.

BTW, try this, and when it works, find a new gunsmith - it should have been the first thing he or she tried.

When you have a clean chamber, you should be able to drop a round into the chamber, have it seat all the way to the rim, and be rewarded with a most satisfying "plop" sound. Invert the barrel and the round should fall out on its own. If this doesn't happen and you're positive the chamber is clean, it's possible that your breech had been peened by someone else dry firing, in which case a chamber reamer HAND POWERED (that is, twirled by one's unaided fingers) may be cautiously employed to restore the breech. Chamber reamers cost somewhere around 'more than I'm willing to pay', so that's a job for a gunsmith. Fortunately, there's a 'smith in my club, so I'm covered.

Let us know how it all turns out.

All the best,

Harry Bonar
May 10, 2008, 08:09 PM
Common problem on Woodsman. Check things mentioned above and see if the gun has been dry fired and the chamber is indented, this is common.
Colt never made anything decent but the 1911 in my opinion. Check one of the new Anacondas for crane play and you will see just what I mean, and I would not own a Python.
Harry B.

T. O'Heir
May 10, 2008, 10:29 PM
"...to make sure I don't screw up the throat..." Brass wire will never do anything to even the softest steel.
"...Aha, says me, it needs a new set of springs..." You should have given it a really good bath, especially the innards of the slide, then tried as many brands of ammo as you can to find the ammo that both shoots well and cycles the action, first. Springs do not lose temper through use.
"...Colt never made anything decent..." You mean Colt can't make a revolver and Smith can't make a cf pistol?

May 11, 2008, 12:28 AM
I truly appreciate the input. I have placed an order for a new hammer and sear, since I believe these have been altered sometime in the past, and I have a new firing pin from Wisners that I had ordered with the springs, sometime back. When I can get all this stuff together in the gun it will be almost totally new, internally and I can get on with the task of making sure the gun is in complete battery and that the chamber and barrel face are not obstructed.

Regarding ammunition; In the condition it's in currently the gun miss-fires on everything I've tried, save one. I had no problem with some old CCI stuff in one of those plastic boxes of 100 with the sliding lid. I don't think it was mini-mags, because I have a box of those and they are copper (or brass) coated and miss-fire like the others. The ones that worked had the old horse-shoe shaped C logo and were lead, not coated and, unfortunately, had no label.

I think the potential problems with the chamber, or barrel/bolt face make the most sense and I will address them both on Monday, post Mother's Day.

Once again thanks for the help. If I can get this thing fixed before this thread dies, I'll get back here with what the problem was.......tog

May 12, 2008, 09:21 PM
I own and love to shoot a 3rd gen Woodsman that I inherited when my father died. It never fails, and is lots of fun to shoot. I do clean it occasionally. It's practically pristine.

According to the Gospel of Harry, I suppose all those folks who are happy with their Colt M16s, M4s, and ARs should just junk 'em! :D

May 13, 2008, 03:16 PM
Mr. Bonar
How the heck could say that???

Harry Bonar
May 13, 2008, 05:52 PM
It is just my personal experience. Sorry if I offended you.
Harry B.:)

Harry Bonar
May 13, 2008, 05:58 PM
Forgive me for my probable overstatement, ALLYCAT I do have AR15s and I do agree the weapons you mentioned are good weapons = perhaps I ran my tongue too far without thinking = I do that from time to time.
Harry B.:D

May 13, 2008, 10:44 PM
All is forgiven.
theoldgringo, let us know what the outcome is regarding your woodsman.

May 21, 2008, 01:07 AM
before taking out any old parts, first scrub the gun very very well, using a dental pick to get into the tiny crevices that the bolt and fire controls have.

I have several MT woodsmans, and about half which were covered in old oil, grime and crud when bought needed nothing more than a complete detail clean to work better.

Woodsman's were put together by the highest trained gun artisans of our era, leaving the orignal parts in the gun alone and JUST cleaning it till its as shiny as new, will most often make the gun work like a top.

Harry Bonar
May 21, 2008, 05:57 AM
Even though I might have knee-jerked and made too large of an all inclusive statement before I must reiterate my feelings.
Yes, the AR, and a few other guns Colt has made are excellent I can still remember over a long span of time having much trouble with alot of Colt products.
The Woodsman series always gave trouble, the revolvers were very loose and are very bad in the crane fit. Other than that I do agree that Colt makes a good product in certain areas.
I much prefer a Springfield Armory to a Colt 1911 and Smith revolvers also, although Smith has some problems too.
This is just my opinion.
Harry B.

May 21, 2008, 08:45 PM
Truth is, Harry, I asked for information regarding fixing a Colt Woodsman, not a diatribe on how foolish I must be for owning one. Fact is, there are some very serious Woodsman collectors out there, but I guess they're all fools and (yes, I know it has military and historical ties) the genuine Colt 1911 is one of the most sought after handguns on the planet.

I'm not a big fan of the brand myself and I have no objection if you wish to start a new Colt bashing thread - in fact, given my current circumstances, I might join you.

Since you brought it up, I'm not a big fan of the AR, or any of the other "black rifles, either. No, I'm not anti AR, I just don't have the desire and don't feel the need to own one. But that's also fodder for another thread,.

Do you know how to fix this Woodsman?.............tog

Harry Bonar
May 22, 2008, 08:32 AM
Never was, or is, my intention to open a :Colt bashing post."

It's just my opinion on some Colt products, even the 1911 had, and has, some problems; but you'll find this with Ruger too.
I just have this opinion of Colt; Colt has made some very fine products, but with some I've noticed design features not to my liking but that's just me, not everybody.
Ruger, at first, with the Blackhawks had some real alignment problems and some timing problems; I wrote Ruger about it and Bill Ruger himself sent me a personal letter that I treasure to this day.
I really, really, just expressed my opinion. Sorry if I offended anyone. Yea, I was guilty of hyperbole initially, but that's just ole Harry B..
I did not mean anything demeaning or personal - I probably like some guns you guys absolutely hate.
Harry B.:)

Jim Watson
May 22, 2008, 09:12 AM
If you see the chamber mouth is peened from dryfiring, I recommend you get the chamber ironing tool from Brownells rather than reaming out the burr. You need to push that metal back in place to support the rim against the firing pin fall and not make a permanent divot with no resistance there.

May 22, 2008, 10:05 AM
What you said, I would not consider hyperbole; It may be simply the truth and I'm not at all offended by that. You're a respected voice on this and, I assume, other forums and I read with interest what you have to say. I simply believe in staying on subject and that a discourse on the problems encountered with Colt and Ruger revolvers, which have nothing to do with the Woodsman firing pin problem, significantly alters the vector of the discussion and is material for another, different thread.

I'll let you know how it all turns out................tog

Harry Bonar
May 22, 2008, 05:57 PM
Sorry I got off the subject. Let me know what was wrong.:)
Harry B.

gunney 67
September 28, 2008, 04:54 PM
I don't know when your 3rd gen gun was made, but I have one made in 1927 that has a slide stop that has to only be fired with standard velocity ammo . Hi vel ammo will batter the slide stop over time and damage it. you can tell if it is the standard ammo only version by checking the slide stop at the back of the grip frame where the web of your thumb wraps around it. if it has cross-hatching similar to checkering, use standard ammo only. the newer versions are not available., I've checked.

September 28, 2008, 11:03 PM
Did you ever solve the problem?
If so please share with us, thanks.

September 29, 2008, 10:00 AM
gunny & Michael
Semper-fi and thanks for responding. This Woodsman was mfg. either in the late 50's, or early 60's and had always worked well with standard velocity ammo. To my knowledge, the last time the gun had been fired was around 1980 (I was present), when it still worked well. When my dad handed me the gun three, or so years ago the box contained a non-itemized receipt for repairs, dated 1998, which he had brokered through the infamous "Gun Room" in Portland, OR. Now then, I won't commit libel because I can't say the repair was the cause of the malfunction, but I can say, "it hasn't worked since".

I, subsequent (to the OP), have replaced the firing pin, sear, hammer and springs, cleaned it thoroughly and lightly "flitzed" the chamber and that solved the non firing problem. However, now the gun won't cycle. A closer inspection reveals a small (for lack of a better term) ratcheting notch on the hammer on this gun which apparently is not present on earlier generation Woodsmans. It appears that this notch engages the sear at cock and releases when the trigger is pulled. I have no idea how the earlier ones cocked. So, what is now happening, is the gun is firing every time, but the hammer is following the bolt forward, rather than engaging the sear, as the gun attempts to achieve battery.

I recently received an e-mail from one Robert Rayburn, saying he had the appropriate hammer, but my attempts to return mail have failed. I'm guessing I'm being blocked as spam. If any one knows how to contact Mr. Rayburn, please let me know, or if anyone knows the location of the appropriate hammer I'd appreciate knowing about that, too.

I think it's great that guys resurrect these old threads and take an interest in the results. The reason I didn't post results was the "long" time lapse between the OP and the (almost) fix.......... Lesson learned.

Thanks again and good shooting.

October 1, 2008, 08:05 AM
Forgive me for my probable overstatement, ALLYCAT I do have AR15s and I do agree the weapons you mentioned are good weapons = perhaps I ran my tongue too far without thinking = I do that from time to time.
Harry B.

Harry, you certainly haven't offended me, and I'm always interested in your advice and opinions. Honestly, when I first noticed your posts, I thought that you'd made your name up, and it was hard for me to think that you were always being serious. ;)

I sure do like my old, pristine Colt Cobra more than those five-shot S&W snubbies.

My personal experience with my Woodsman has been excellent. Had to go online to figure out how to strip it for proper cleaning, but, now that I've figured all that out, it runs great. I have noticed that the mags need to be kept clean, and, contrary to everything that I know about mags, I even lightly lube the mags.

The advantage that you have over me, Harry, is that you've actually worked on a bunch of problem firearms, while I'm blessed with possessing mostly functioning, non-defective firearms. :)

May 21, 2016, 12:35 AM
To remove the firing pin:
There is a tiny slot screw, which is part of the extractor, at the extreme left side, inside the slide near the firing pin.
Using a small jewelers screwdriver, rotate the screw/extractor 180 degrees.
You can now remove the extractor section from the front.
After this, using the screw that held the handle grips together, screw into the round pin near the firing pin.
Release the pressure on the firing pin by pushing in on the firing pin using a small screwdriver and pull the round section out that has the screw in it.
This will release the firing pin so it and the spring can come out.
Reassemble in reverse order.

May 21, 2016, 02:39 AM
Unless you can travel back in a time machine 8 years, the OP cannot answer. 8 years is a long time to wait for someone to come up with an answer.