Edward Janis, Proprietor

John 3:16

 
 
Dedicated to keeping your Colts running like Thoroughbreds!
 
 

• First Things First
• The Myth of the Four Clicks
• The Locked Up Colt

• Preventable Damage
• How to tell if your Colt is in proper tune and time
• “To clean or not to clean”
• Cleaning the Peacemaker
• The Care and Feeding of your Ivory Grips
• “Don’t Ask Me How I Know This”

• Ruining Your Ivory Stocks
• Hoppee's #9 / Nickel Parts
• Hand Loads
• Rust Your Peacemaker

• Disasembling/Assembling the Colt SAA
• The Hammer
• TV Westerns

 

 

First Things First

This essay is for those who are trying to do things right with their New or “old for that matter” Colt Peacemaker.
We will start with the proper loading sequence first. Most know this, but for new members of our fraternity here goes.

1. The first thing is to make sure your Colt is unloaded and safe.

2. Cock the hammer to the second click, which is the loading notch. If your Colt is timed properly the cylinder should turn freely. If it doesn’t turn freely your pistol is unsafe to shoot and should not be shot until it’s repaired by a qualified gunsmith.
Once the hammer is in the loading notch position, open the loading gate on the right hand side of the recoil shield. This will expose the cylinder chambers.


3. With 5 rounds set aside, not 6… Load one chamber only. Then skip one chamber then load the next four chambers in a row.


4. After you load the last bullet, close the loading gate. Then cock the hammer ALL the way back, Hold the hammer with your thumb and pull the trigger easing the hammer down slowly. The hammer will now be down on an empty chamber and the colt will be safe to carry.


5. I know someone will always say they have another way, but believe me this is THE ONLY WAY to carry a Colt Peacemaker safely and correctly.


6. If you ever find yourself being attacked by a band of hostile Indians or become involved in an extended gun battle and you feel the need to load all 6 chambers, REMEMBER, to carry a Colt Single Action safely all the Pistoleros of the past and present do so with the hammer down on an empty chamber. Many a good horse was shot when their rider fell carrying a Colt with the hammer down on a live round.

 

 

 

 

The Myth of the Four Clicks

How often have you heard someone say, “Oh it’s in great shape listen to the four clicks.”! See C-O-L-T it works just fine. Hogwash! Here’s the rest of the story. Yes, Does a properly tuned Colt Peacemaker have four clicks? Yes, but so does a Colt with a broken half cock notch. So beware, just because that Colt you want to buy says C-O-L-T when you cock it, doesn’t mean it is working properly or even safe to shoot! Old wives tales are just that, old wives tales…

 

 

 

The Locked Up Colt


There’s a condition that can occur with some stock Colt SAA’s that I call the “Locked Up” condition. This is where the hammer is ¾’s of the way down but not all the way and will not cock back or go forward to the frame. This situation is most common in 2nd and 3rd generation Colt’s. It’s actually caused by improper tuning during the assembly processes at the factory. It seems to occur on about 70% of the post war Peacemakers I work on. It’s one of the issues we address when performing our Gunslinger Deluxe Action Jobs. But for now let’s assume you have a stock Peacemaker and find yourself with this problem. The reason your Colt is locked up, is that your finger ever so slightly let off on the trigger while you were lowering the hammer from the full cock position after loading or unloading your Colt. The way to avoid this condition is to simply make sure you hold the trigger ALL the way back with your trigger finger until the hammer is ALL the way forward against the frame.
If you have done things incorrectly and find yourself in this “Locked Up” condition, here’s how to correct it. First you will notice that the hammer will no longer go forward or backwards.

To “Unlock” your Colt, first gently pull the hammer back until it stops.It will only go back a very small amount before you feel it stop. Hold the hammer back against this stopped position, then pull the trigger again and hold it Fully to the rear. This will let you release the hammer and lower it down ALL the way to the frame. Your Colt is now “Unlocked” and should function normally again. If your Colt does not respond to this solution it may be broken or damaged and should be examined by a qualified gunsmith before further operation.

 

 

 

Preventable Damage

 

Now that we know how to safely carry our Colt, let’s talk about how to keep from causing damage to our prized Peacemaker while we enjoy shooting it.

1. The fastest way to cause major damage to our new six gun is to pull the trigger of our Colt while the hammer is in the first safety notch, or in the second loading notch.
Let me explain
The first notch or click we hear when we cock the hammer back is called the safety notch. This name is misleading as this position in NOT very safe at all. A small blow to the hammer spur will quickly break the delicate hammer notch off, and can set off a live round if there’s one under the hammer, so be aware this position is NOT used as a safety, but if we pull the trigger from this same safety position it will also do the same thing, the result will be a broken hammer and an unsafe weapon, or maybe worse!


2. The second click we hear while cocking the hammer is the loading notch. We will have our Colt in this position a lot as this is the position we will use every time we load, unload or check our cylinder chambers during normal operation. The loading notch is no stronger than the safety notch we just spoke of, and can break off just as easily. By pulling the trigger in this position it will result in an expensive repair and an unsafe weapon that can discharge causing injury or death. So be careful not to pull the trigger in either of these two positions.


3. Next, we’ve all seen cylinders with that ugly ring scratched around the outside! Most think this is caused by a Colt that’s not in proper tune & time. In reality 90% of the time this ugly scar is the result of improper handling by an owner who isn’t aware of the correct handling etiquette.


4. To eliminate scarring your Colt with that damaging drag line on the cylinder is really very easy, here’s how. Whenever you have your hammer cocked back for any reason, whether in the safety notch or loading notch before you lower it down always, and I repeat ALWAYS cock the hammer fully to the rear or full cock position and while holding it with your thumb pull the trigger and let it down from the full cock position all the way forward to the frame. This way, while you are cocking the hammer all the way back the bolt will properly index and come up from the frame and contact the cylinder in the little approach cut-out next to the lock notch on the cylinder, instead of popping up on the cylinder halfway in between the notches and dragging an ugly line all the way to the next notch when you turn your cylinder to rotate it into battery. If your Peacemaker is properly timed, following these easy steps will allow you to shoot many thousands of rounds without ever scarring your cylinder with an ugly drag line.
5. If when you cycle your Colt normally you find that your pistol is so far out of time that your bolt is popping up outside of the cylinder approach and causing a drag line on your cylinder don’t operate it until you can have a qualified gunsmith repair the problem.
By following these easy steps you can now shoot your prized Colt without worry that you will be carrying your Colt in an unsafe condition or causing expensive damage to your new Peacemaker.

Remember only point your pistol at what you want to shoot.

Happy Shooting!!!

 

 

1.) First, make sure your Colt is unloaded and in a safe condition.

 

2.) Check your pistol with the hammer down fully against the frame. The cylinder should be locked up tight with the locking bolt. (see photo A) Next, when you look at the right side of the gun, check the space between the rear of the cylinder and the frame. The firing pin should protrude from the frame approximately 50% across the gap between the frame and the cylinder. A little more or less will not matter as long as the firing pin is long enough to ignite the primer. (see photo B)

photo A

photo B

 


3.) Now cock the hammer back to the first click or notch. This is called the safety notch, (even though your Colt should never be considered safe in this position, and should never be carried as such). When the hammer is in this position the cylinder should still be locked tightly by the bolt. The firing pin should not be visible protruding across the gap between the frame and cylinder when viewed from the right side of the gun like it was earlier in the hammer down position. (see photo C)

photo C

 

4.) Then cock the hammer back to the 2nd click, or loading notch. (Beware, if you have a broken hammer notch on your Colt it may appear to function normally. When you apply light pressure to the trigger while the hammer is in the safety notch or loading notch, the hammer may fall and strike a loaded round in the chamber and unintentionally cause the gun to fire which can lead to accidental injury or death. If you have this condition, do not operate your Colt. Seek the services of a qualified gunsmith for repairs.) In the loading notch position, when you open the loading gate the cylinder will now rotate to load or unload your pistol.

If your Colt is in proper tune and time the cylinder chambers will line up with the middle of the loading shute. (see photo D) If not, the cylinder chamber will not line up with the shute and you will have to manually rotate the cylinder with your hand to move the chamber to the center for loading or unloading. Also in this half-cock position when you look at the space between the bottom of the cylinder and the frame from the right side of the pistol you should be able to see that the head of the bolt is not sticking up, and is flush or slightly below the surface of the frame. (see photo E)

photo D

photo E

 

5.) As you continue to slowly cock the hammer, if you look again at the right side of your Colt and watch the space between the bottom of the cylinder and the frame you should see the bolt pop up in the little cut-out that’s called the "approach". For proper timing, the bolt head should hit the cylinder in the "approach" right next to the lock notch. (see photo F) Not on the long edge of the notch, straddling the notch and approach. If the bolt dwell is too short, the bolt will rise too early and hit outside of the approach and scratch a line in the finish. If the dwell is too long, the bolt will rise on the corner of the lock notch and peen the corner down until the cylinder will not stay in the locked position because the notch corner will be too low to hold the bolt head.

photo F

 

6.) Lastly as you again slowly finish the cocking arc, you should watch the trigger and hear a click that signals that the bolt is dropping into the cylinder lock notch at exactly the same instant the trigger snaps forward into the full cock notch of the hammer. These two movements will not happen together if your trigger is too short due to wear, or an improperly done trigger job. Another cause of this miss-timing is a worn full-cock notch on your hammer, or again a poorly done trigger job. The last test of a properly timed Peacemaker is after your hammer is at full cock, there should be little or no over-travel in your hammer. The hammer will stop its rearward travel at the same time as the trigger reaches the full cock notch.

 

Now, if your favorite Peacemaker passes these tests, or the one you want to purchase passes them, you can be fairly certain you have a well timed Colt in your hand. The fact is that when your Colt is running right it lasts longer, parts don’t break as readily and the gun becomes a very reliable tool. However, a poorly tuned gun works against itself, losing reliability, causing more and harder wear, parts breakage and unreliability.

 

So if your gun doesn’t pass these tests then it is self destructing and doing it faster the more you shoot it, so it’s a good idea to arrange to send it in and have us take a look at it and tune it up if necessary.

 

Finally, if you enjoy shooting your Colt a lot, I highly recommend our “Gunslinger Action Job” done to your Peacemaker. With this enhancement we remove all friction, blueprint all parts, and then hand fit each and every part perfectly. This allows your Colt to lock-up tightly while still feeling like it’s running on greased ball bearings. The trigger is then adjusted to the weight you prefer with all creep removed. Your Peacemaker will easily be able to shoot hundreds of rounds a day if you choose, with nothing more than cleaning and lubrication. We call this “Total Reliability” you will truly enjoy this enhancement.

 

See the “Smithing Services" page for more information and prices.

 

 

“To clean or not to clean”

The first thing to realize about your Colt Peacemaker is that it can be shot many hundreds of rounds without needing to be cleaned. Probably the most critical area to address is the blue and case outside finish. Nickel guns are more resistant to surface rust and corrosion. Nickel finishes will turn dull and cloudy from perspiration over time, but can easily be brought back to a shiny like new look with a light application of a fine metal polish like Simichrome, or Flitz and a soft cloth. Make sure that if you have Fire Blue screws or other parts on your Nickel Colt that you remove them before you start your polish job or you will remove that nice Fire Blue along with the cloudy finish on the rest of your Colt. Also be advised: some historical or collector Colts with a Nickel finish may be worth more money if left alone, preserving the natural discoloration on an aging Colt surface. Shiny finishes are not always desirable on Nickel plated Colts with provenance or collectability.

Back to blue and case color Peacemakers. If you had to shoot your Colt several days in a row without cleaning the inside, just make sure you wipe all external surfaces with a light film of a good gun oil or CLP (Cleaner, Lube & Protectant) so the finish is protected. The important areas to address are the places that need to be lubricated before each shooting session. These include the back of the cylinder where the ratchet touches the frame. (see photo A)

Photo A

Then inside of the cylinder where it rotates on the base pin, be it a pressed in spacer (3rd Gen only) or the slide out bushing. Remove the cylinder to accomplish this.
(see photos B & C)

Photo B

Photo C

I also like to keep my ejector lubed by lightly oiling the rod & spring through the slot in the bottom of the ejector housing. (see photo D) This will help keep the carbon from attaching to the parts and creating a bind on the critical areas.

Photo D

 

The other important thing to keep in mind is that shooting lead bullets will deposit lead at the back of the bore in the forcing cone. This will not usually affect accuracy if kept within moderate amounts. If you had to shoot your Colt daily without cleaning the bore and you were worried about over leading the bore, just fire a cylinder full of full metal jacketed bullets at the end or beginning of each shooting session and most of the fouling will be removed. Anymore than that and you may have to deal with removing the copper fouling which is even more difficult.

I kind of use a broad rule of thumb, that if I shoot more than 100 rounds at a time then I try to clean the gun. I always clean it no matter how many rounds I’ve shot if I’m going to store the Colt for an extended period of time.

 

Cleaning the Peacemaker

First, make sure your pistol is unloaded and in a safe condition. Next put your hammer in the half cock position, open the loading gate and place the gun on your bench with the muzzle facing up. With the base pin latch unit pressed to one side, or removed altogether, gently slide the base pin out. If it requires more force than you can provide with your fingers, use our new “Base Pin Puller” (found on our accessories page). Once the base pin is removed, carefully “Slide” the cylinder out being careful not to let the sides of the cylinder touch the frame. The frame is very rough on the inside and will quickly make fine scratch lines on the bluing of the cylinder that will degrade the finish on your Colt. (see photo E)

Photo E

That is why we always point the muzzle up when removing the cylinder. If you do it with the muzzle horizontal, when you remove the base pin the cylinder will immediately drop onto the rough surface of the bottom of the frame window and when you remove it by sliding it out you will scratch the side of the cylinder.

Once the cylinder is out, you can clean the chambers with a bronze brush of the correct size and “Bore Tech” bore solvent or other similar product. I sometimes use a jag with a tight fitting cloth patch soaked in bore cleaner. On some Peacemakers that have been shot a lot you will see what looks like areas on the front corners of the cylinder right where the chambers are, places where it looks like the blue has come off. They will appear gray color and are on the front end of the cylinder. (Photo F coming soon . . .) This discoloration is really just lead deposits that seem to have wrapped around the corner and extend on to the outside of the cylinder.

These deposits are difficult to remove without actually rubbing through the blue finish. They can also appear on a Nickel cylinder, and look just like the Nickel has come off. Years ago I came across a product called “Neverdull” made by Eagle One; it is chemically impregnated cotton wadding. To remove the lead deposits on a Blue or Nickel cylinder, simply take a small piece of the wadding and gently rub it on these areas and you will be surprised how quickly the lead will dissolve. Remember on blue guns rub gently. Once your cylinder is clean wipe off the Neverdull, oil it and set it aside. Next the bore, I like to remove the ejector housing and place the pistol barrel horizontally in a padded vise so I don’t have to hold the gun, but I’ve done it both ways. (see photo G)

Photo G

 

Again use a bronze brush or tight fitting patch with Bore Tech or other similar bore cleaner and get as much lead out as you have the patience for. I don’t use any special lead removing devices as I know a small amount of lead won’t be detrimental to accuracy. Once the bore is done, the only part left is the inside of the frame window. Here I use cloth rags and a stiff nylon brush. Start with the brush and Bore Tech carbon remover. The Bore Tech products are nice to use because they remove the carbon deposits as good as or better than any other products I’ve used. Bore Tech products don’t smell, are biodegradable, and safe on your skin. Brush the area around the back of the barrel, the lower front corner of the frame window and finally the upper rear corner. These are the places that seem to accumulate the most fouling. When you think it’s cleaned to your satisfaction use the cloth wetted with carbon remover and get the rest of it. The bore and carbon cleaners will not protect the finish so be sure to wipe all surfaces with a light film of oil. The last part to address is the ejector assembly. Unscrew and remove the assembly, separate the parts wiping everything down, oil the parts and reassemble. Make sure to check all the screws for tightness, as they tend to shoot loose on most Peacemakers. The trick here is to torque all screws tightly without deforming the heads. I have found over the years that this is best done with driver heads that are custom ground to the exact shape and size of the Peacemaker screws. This is the reason our Peacemaker Screw Drivers are the only screwdrivers you will find on my work bench. Take note, they are a lot cheaper than a new set of screws. Now you can oil the places I outlined at the beginning of this article and replace the cylinder using the same technique I used to disassemble only in reverse order.

For previous clients who have had our “Gunslinger Deluxe Action Jobs” there are two more steps to check before installing your cylinder. First due to the custom modifications I preformed on your Colt to achieve ultimate reliability and maximum tightness, you may need to manually depress the head of the bolt that sticks up from the bottom of the frame in order to re-engage it with the hammer so that it will drop down when the hammer is in the half cock position.(see photo H)

Photo H

The other part to check is to manually press the hand back into its slot if it comes out too far when the cylinder is removed. (see photo I)

Photo I

Now enjoy your Peacemaker.

 

 

 

 

 

The Care and Feeding of your Ivory Grips

As Ivory is a natural material and not synthetic, it needs moisture to stay hydrated. That’s why your grips can shrink when exposed to a very dry climate or the dehumidifier inside your gun safe. I have found that this hydration loss can be stabilized somewhat by replacing the natural water with oil. When the Ivory is fresh, like after we fit them to your Colt, we can start the stabilization process by rubbing white mineral oil or other similar oil like honing oils for knife sharpening or even baby oil on the outside surfaces of the grips when we put them away in the safe. And by all means either disconnect the dehumidifier in your safe or cover your grips with a plastic sandwich bag and wrap a rubber band around the top. This way the drying effects of the dehumidifier won’t suck the moisture out of your beautiful new Ivory grips.

At first you can oil your grips every week or so. Then check them to see if the oil has been absorbed or not. If it has and they seem dry to the touch, you can oil them again. Continue this process as often as needed until the Ivory does not absorb the oil anymore. At first they may need oil once a week and then once a month for awhile then only a couple times a year. This will help your Ivory grips stay full size, and fit your Colt snuggly as well as help your grips to start the beautiful coloring process we enjoy so much. One other feature that may concern you are the “crack lines” or bark lines as we call them. These lines are a normal part of the stocks and not a structural problem with the material. If you like the bark lines make sure you request them when you place your order.

If you prefer “clear” ivory (with no lines) please request clear ivory. One last note all ivory can show small crack lines in the center nerve area of even clear ivory. These small lines can start to occur as soon as the stocks are fitted, or sometimes start long after the grips start the yellowing process.      

       

Either way don’t worry about the lines, as they are just part of the beautiful aging process that is so desirable with top quality elephant ivory. With a little care and feeding your Ivory stocks should fit nicely and add that unmistakable character to your favorite Peacemaker for years to come.

 

 

 

 

This series of short essays is provided courtesy of yours truly to save you heart- ache, embarrassment and in the end cash.

 

 

Never put a Colt you just fitted with one piece
genuine Elephant Ivory stocks into your gun safe
that is equipped with a dehumidification system.

 

Sometime on the far side of 20 years ago I decided that since I was in the Peacemaker business, and that my 2 consecutive serial numbered nickel plated 3rd generation 45’s were still wearing the Colt black plastic eagle grips, I could just barely afford to splurge. Splurge to me means one piece Elephant Ivory stocks, designed to produce the desired “Doc Holiday” effect. So after scratching together enough dinero over a period of time I now owned my 2 dream guns with beutiful ivory stocks. Next comes the good part. I did not want to be irresponsible and leave these 2 beauties out all the time to just fondle and drool over. I was a good boy and put them away in my nice humedically controlled gun safe.

Days turned into weeks before I was able to free up enough time to go out and shoot again. It was then that I found the error in my ways. Pulling out my 2 beautiful Colts I suddenly detected a distinct rattle. Looking more closely I found what can only be described as 2 shriveled up pieces of Ivory rattling around on the grip frames of my beautiful Peacemakers. It would’ve been bad enough to have learned this lesson on one set of elegant Ivory stocks, but two sets just about put me in the poor house.

 

 

Never use Hoppee’s #9 to soak
your Nickel Colt Parts

 

Along about 3o years ago I decided one evening after a hard day of shooting that I didn’t have the energy to sit and scrub my heavily fowled Nickel Colt. The short cut I decided to take was simply to take the dirtiest parts and drop them into a 30 Cal. Ammo can I had partially filled with good old Hoppee’s #9 nitro solvent. Having used this tried and true solvent ever since I watched my Dad clean his shotgun after a day in the field hunting pheasants, I decided if it’s good enough for him, it surely good enough for me. Since I’ve always thought if a little is good, a lot must be better. I plunked those nice Colt nickel parts into the can to sit overnight and ease my cleaning burden. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized I was in trouble. Pulling out those formally nickel plated parts I found that they were now rainbow colored and that a total refinish was the only way to repair the mistake of my laziness.

 

 

 

Never shoot anyone else’s hand loads in your Colt,
and never shoot your hand loads
in anyone else’s Colt.

 

Along about 20 years ago I spent a lot of ammo learning how to shoot these Colts. Or in other words a lot of time shooting a lot of ammo. It was not uncommon for me to fill a 50 Cal. Ammo can with 45 Colt shells and come back 2 days later and have to start reloading again. This activity was always more enjoyable when in the company of my shooting buddy. On one such occasion after several hours of shooting the dueling-tree mano-e-mano, and several more shooting our long range plates that were set out at 50 to 200 yards, we finally ate some lunch and settled back in our lawn chairs. With our ammo cans beside us and a coke on the other side we engaged in what we referred to as “Call shot” that’s where one of us would describe the shot he was about to try and if he made it the other had to repeat the same shot. If the first guy missed his desired shot then the other one of us would try come up with what he thought was a hard to repeat shot and so on. You get the idea.

Anyway, even this event led to boredom after awhile, and I suggested to Phil, my buddy, that we switch Colts and see how the other fella’s gun shot. That would have been fine had I had the foresight to ask to shoot his ammo too! I was unable to think this thing all the way through before I loaded up 5 and proceeded to unload my buddies 1st generation 45 Colt. I noticed a decidedly different report on the third shot. Stopping to examine the situation I unloaded the other 2 rounds and I could feel a sickening drag in the action. After close examination and removal of his beautiful 1st generation 45 Colt cylinder, my stomach suddenly sank as I saw a slight ballooning in one of his chambers. Of all the thousands and thousands of 45 Colt rounds I’ve loaded in over 30 plus years of doing this, the only round I ever somehow over-charged ended up ruining my shooting buddy’s expensive 1st generation cylinder.
If only I had asked to shoot "his" ammo too!

 

 

How to apply a nice even coating of rust
on your brand new peacemaker.

 

Now after reading that title I’m sure you’re thinking: "I’m not that dumb". Well I have to admit it's not beyond my scope of accomplishment to successfully execute that task. Was it easy yes? Was it fast yes, did it require an extensive refinish? You guessed it, yes again. Now we all try to avoid the obvious pitfalls that occur in dealing with expensive firearms. It goes without saying, it’s those not so obvious pitfalls that sometimes sneak up on us.

We know that the beautiful lustrous blue and subtle rainbow of blues, pinks and straw browns are one of the most enduring features of these lovely single action revolvers. And most know that there is very little corrosion resistance in either of those frontier era finishes.

That is precisely why we have been continually engrained with keeping these fine Colts coated with a thin film of oil at all times. Now here is where the catch comes. It all turns to rust without you even seeing it happen; Inside the “Dreaded” Gun Rug. This is the exact place you confidently placed your prized Colt to protect it. Well, little did I know that the ultra soft "imitation sheepskin" acts just like a Zippo wick, transferring any outside moisture right to that delicate blue finish. Slick as a whistle in about 4 or 5 days (give or take a few) I had a nice uniformly applied rust coating trying to eat into my new single action. Now to add insult to injury even after I applied mouth to mouth by carefully refinishing that beauty, the value had just been cut in half.

 

 

The Hammer

If there is one part in a Colt that could be considered the “heart” of your pistols action it is the hammer. Not only do we have to manipulate it every time we shoot, load, or unload our piece, it along with the trigger controls the timing and function more than any other part. That is why so much attention is paid to the exact size and location of all 3 notches as well as the hammer cam. If any of the notches are worn, broken, or modified your Colt may be out of time as well as unsafe to shoot. This condition can render your pistol useless as well as dangerous. Shooting is not advised without first undergoing repairs by a qualified gunsmith.

The hammer and trigger on your Colt not only determine the trigger pull weight and creep, it controls the cylinder timing, bolt timing, the hand timing, as well as the ease of loading and unloading.

Fixing or replacing broken hammers

Replacing a broken hammer is not an overly difficult job if one is available. But here in lies the catch. Colt does not see the need to manufacture hammers for any 1st or 2nd generation pistols and only offers replacement hammers for current 3rd generation Peacemakers. This situation leaves thousands of single action army owners up the paverbal creek without a paddle.

What are your options you ask?

1) While it may be possible to use a current production hammer in a late 2nd generation pistol, the early 2nd generation Colts and all 1st generation Colts will not function properly with a modern hammer, due to the fact that the notches are in a different location. Besides it is never advisable to try to cross-generation critical parts like the hammer.
2) That leaves trying to find a proper vintage replacement. From my more than 25 years of experience, it’s like finding hens teeth. Yes, you see hammers for 1st and 2nd gen Colts for sale quite often, but Beware 95% are not usable without a complete rebuilt. Most of the hammers I see for sale are poorly described or are passed off by sellers who say they “seem” like they are useable. But upon close examination they more likely than not have broken notches (that is why they are not in a gun) or have been modified by trying to file in a new notch where one was broken. Remember these are guns we are talking about. Your life or the lives of others may depend on what someone says “looks” ok!
3) That leaves the last and most difficult option, hammer rebuilding. This process is an age old option and is not without its drawbacks. The most common ailment we find on vintage Colts is a broken half-cock notch. Second is the full cock notch that either has been filed on or stoned by a well-meaning gunsmith or owner to try to lighten the trigger pull, and is now too short or won’t hold the trigger. The 3rd most common ailment is a worn or deformed hammer cam. This will cause the bolt timing to go south and scratch a deep gouge line on the cylinder.
4) Repairing a hammer properly addresses all the above problems while restoring proper timing also. But “Beware” a “quick fix” of welding a small dab of weld on a hammer to restore a broken notch can lead to a “quick failure” too. When a “small” weld is accomplished on a vintage part the weakest point of the weld is at the junction between the parent material and the new material, or the joint between the two. This joint will be too close to the stressed area and will likely fail at that spot again. The only way to completely avoid this situation is to grind out all the area around the notches and place that joint far away from the stressed area. Remember when you have a broken half cock notch on your Colt it may seem to work ok. The timing will be ok and it will seem to work fine, right up to the point where one time when you are loading your pistol and you accidentally touch the trigger. At which time the hammer will fall from the half cock position and probably land on a live round. The gun will go off and at best will shoot something you didn’t want to shoot. And at worst will kill or injure you or someone close by. It’s just not worth it!

5) In the following photo you can see a typical broken hammer. (see photo A)

Then we grind out all of the notch area. (see photo B)

Then with special welding rods that are made to use on 100 year old steel we completely weld up the notch area. (see photo C)

The next step is to mill both sides of the weld area parallel. (see photo D)

Next comes the difficult job of cutting out all 3 notches and drilling the hole for the hammer cam and the hole for the hand stud to operate out of. This step is done using small Swiss hand files and a “pattern Hammer” from the correct and same vintage as the one we are rebuilding. It’s very important during the notch cutting to periodically check the location and depth of the notches with a proper length trigger and a frame jig. This ensures total compatibility between the hammer and the trigger when they are complete. The notch cutting is done completely by hand with hand file only. No milling or dremel tools are used during this process. Then each notch is hand stoned to remove all file marks and surface hardened to promote longevity. (see photo E and F)

The next step is shaping and installing the hammer cam with a special aero-space adhesive. Finally we carefully remove all the heat and burn marks that were made when it was welded. We do this carefully to preserve the natural patina and color on the part so it will not look like it was repaired or altered on the usable upper part when reinstalled in a vintage Colt. (see photo G)

Now your repaired peacemaker looks correct and works like a factory new action. Do it right the first time and your prized Colt will work correctly for years to come

 

 

 

TV Westerns

How to turn that finely tuned Precision Instrument into a battle scared Hunk-A- Junk in three easy steps Now I know this sounds pretty counter intuitive, but let me tell you it happens to more Colts than I care to mention. It all starts with our great love affair with TV Westerns. That’s the first place we all became acquainted with our beloved Peacemakers. Right up there on the screen we watched incredible feats of marksmanship and fancy gun handling. The very same movie stars taught us to both love and also destroy our favorite pistols. How’s that you ask? Well just sit down, relax and I’ll start from the beginning. It really doesn’t matter what era you grew up in. Whether you watched Hoppy and Gene at the Saturday Matinee double feature or “The Duke” and “Clint” on your color TV’s. We all got the same message. We not only desperately needed one or more of these western hoglegs, but we needed to be able to “Handle” them like our hero’s. Here in lies the rub. Those Colts we saw on the big screen were “fanned,” hit the rocky ground when the bad guy yelled “drop it mister,” and were shot way more than 6 times between reloads. Most were abused to the point that a gunsmith was hired with the sole purpose of keeping the guns that were used and abused running so that your favorite star always had at least one working to film with. Now the truth of the matter is, you can get away with that kind of stuff with your cap gun, but it can be very detrimental to the health and well-being of your real Colt Single Action. The number one ailment of 1st Generation Colts and quite a few 2nd Gen Colts are broken hammer notches and trigger tips. This damage can be caused by dropping your cocked Colt on a hard surface when the bad guy yells “drop it mister”.

But the most common mistake is when you try to out-draw the bad guy on the television and the hammer accidentally slips out from under your thumb while you’re clearing leather trying to execute that lightning fast draw. That’s when it falls to the half-cock notch just in time for you to level off that blaster and pull the trigger before your opponent does. You not only died because your gun broke, but you just did irreversible damage to your Hammer & Trigger. Mark one up for your TV hero. Number two is that nasty drag line around the outside of your nice new cylinder that lines up with the cylinder notches. You have to really look close to catch this one. But if you, like me tend to watch these westerns over and over you will see your hero load or unload the blanks from his Colt and let the Hammer down from the half cock position without drawing the hammer back to the full cock position first. What this does is let the locking bolt pop up against the cylinder halfway between the cylinder notches. That’s when he permanently scars that nice Colt cylinder with a ring as he rotates the cylinder back around to lock. Our TV hero was very considerate to teach us that one. And number three – Fanning. Now we all know that the Colt Single Action can be fired very quickly, especially If you’ve seen the best cowboy action shooters at work. This is made easier if you’ve had an action job done like our “Gunslinger Deluxe Action Job”!

It can be fired so quickly it rivals fanning speed. But hears the difference, fanning is what fast draw competitors do with highly modified pistols to set blindly fast one or two shot times with blanks or wax bullets. So if you want to fan like your favorite movie hero, I’d highly recommend starting with a Ruger, have it modified for fast draw fanning with a turned up hammer. Then you can out shoot all those movie villains. You will have a fun toy and won’t destroy the value of that prized Colt. You will come out ahead financially also! But the bottom line is this. A good Colt with a good action job can be fired by a highly trained shooter just as fast, and a whole lot more accurately than your TV hero can fan blanks all over the street of a TV set. Does it look cool? Of course. Does it break your Colt? Of course. Can you learn to fire your Colt as fast and accurately with a lot of training and practice? Of course. Now enjoy that Western with your favorite Peacemaker!

 

Dissembling and Assembling
the Colt Single action

Read entire instructions before you pick up a screwdriver

First pull the hammer back to half cock, and open the loading gate. Hold Pistol with the muzzle pointing upwards. Push the base pin latch unit and remove the base pin.

Very carefully remove the cylinder making sure the cylinder does not come in contact with the inside of the frame window. Next we remove the ejector tube with the rod, head and spring.

First remove the ejector screw, be careful it’s an easy screw to slip out of and scratch your colt. Once the screw is out, the tube will either just fall off the barrel or it won’t. If it’s tight that’s OK. I push down on the ejector head so it’s out of the way. Then either use the base pin or a ¼” punch and slide it in the hole on the end of the tube a ½” or so. You can then pry the tube away from the barrel. Set these parts aside.

Now remove the grips. If the grips are two piece, loosen the stock screw enough to be able to lightly push on the screw head with the screw driver blade to push the opposite side away from the frame, as sometimes they stick. Continue to remove the screw, use your finger to gently push the remaining side off, through the grip frame. (If the grips are one piece you will need to remove the two backstrap screws and the bottom butt screw to remove the backstrap and grip as one, and then gently slide the one piece grip off the backstrap.) When you remove the backstrap, be very careful on the two top backstrap screws that you don’t tilt the screw driver down and hit the top of the backstrap with the side of the screw driver shaft on that little shield area on the top of the backstrap. If you are trying to apply pressure and not paying attention, it’s east to drop the angle of the screw driver just a little bit and the side of the screw driver will scratch that part of the backstrap.

Now, the easiest way to loosen the screws on a single action backstrap or trigger guard is to loosen one backstrap screw about 2 turns then go to the next screw and loosen 2 turns. Then go to the butt screw on the bottom of the backstrap and loosen 2 turns. Then once they are all loose, you can back them all out one at a time. It’s much easier to do that then it is to take one screw all the way out from start to finish and then the same for the next screw. Because often times these parts are under a bind, especially the backstrap. (For Assembly start all the screws a few turns in, one at a time. Then tighten them half way one at a time, then tighten them all). By loosening each screw first it will release the bind and you can take them all out easily. Next, you will see that the mainspring is underneath the hammer roller,(you should not try to loosen the mainspring screw because it’s under tremendous pressure from the mainspring) So you will need to hold the gun tightly, pointing it away from you. Push the top of the mainspring down (the part under the hammer) and slide it out from underneath the hammer to the left, not the right, but the left. What you are doing when you do that is actually loosening the mainspring screw.

After the spring is out from under the hammer, it takes the bind off of the screw, then take the larger Peacemaker Specialists screw driver and remove the mainspring screw. Use the wide bladed screw driver from our set as it can break the narrow blade. Like everything else you need the right tools to do the job right. If you’re not replacing the mainspring at this time, you can actually leave the mainspring screw on and just push the spring aside and let it swing free and the screw will hold it to the trigger guard. Once you get the mainspring loose then turn the pistol upside down and take out the three trigger guard screws by loosening one at a time, then once they are all loose, take them out one at a time.

Now that you’ve got the trigger guard off, and the gun is upside down, you will see the U shaped sear & bolt spring. It has one screw holding it in. Again, I like to use the wide bladed screw driver on the sear and bolt spring screw. Remove the screw and take the spring out. This takes the tension off the parts inside the gun. Now you can take the hammer screw out, the largest of the three screws on the left side of the pistol, using the wide blade screw driver. Once the hammer screw is out and removed from the gun, (the hammer won’t fall out because it’s attached to the hand and the hand is up inside the gun). Take the hammer by the top and slide it out the bottom of the gun, and when you do so the hand will come out with it. Separate the two parts and now you can look at the hammer and check the notches to see if the hammer is in good condition or if it’s broken.

Now on the left side of the gun you will see two more screws, the back one is the trigger screw, it’s no longer under tension so you will be able to remove it and also remove the trigger out the bottom and that will allow you to inspect the trigger. The next screw is the bolt screw and you can remove it and the bolt. Inspect the bolt for damage. Be careful to keep these two screws (bolt and trigger screws) separate because they are different lengths. You will notice the frame, when you turn the gun upside down, is tapered so the screws that are farther forward will be shorter overall length and the ones behind that will be longer. So try to keep these screws separate so you get them back in the right hole. The other way you can tell where the screw goes is by the wear marks on the shaft of the screw. The trigger screw wear mark will be right up by the threads because the trigger rides on the inside of the shaft. The wear mark on the bolt screw will be out towards the end of the shaft and there will be two little lines where the bolt has worn the bluing off of that screw. So that’s another indicator of where the screw goes when you put the gun together, the parts will talk to you and tell you where they belong. Last we will remove the loading gate, screw, spring and gate catch. While your Colt is upside you will see a small screw that’s flush on the left rear of the frame.

This is the gate screw. It controls the spring pressure on the loading gate. Remove this screw, under it you will find a spring and a small cylinder shaped pill called the gate catch. Sometimes the spring gets caught on the threads inside the hole. Just use a small punch that will slide into the center of the spring and wiggle it. The spring will come unhooked. Next remove the gate from the frame by sliding it out. Last is the gate catch, if it is hesitant to fall out just hold your Colt by the barrel with the hole facing down and gently tap on a soft surface, like a rag folded on your bench it usually comes out. If it still resists, use a small stiff piece of wire and push the catch out from the top. Now you can inspect the parts and then assemble in reverse order.

 

Assembly

Start by putting the bolt in. Slide it into the bottom of the frame with the head into the little window in the frame and then put the screw in and snug it up but don’t tighten all the way yet. Next the trigger. You will have to hold it with one hand as you put the screw through the holes in both sides of the frame and the trigger itself, screw this one in until it’s snug. Now here comes one of the trickier parts, take the hand as it sits away from the hammer, don’t try and put it on the hammer yet, just take the hand by itself and with the spring towards the rear of the gun and the steps at the top, slide it into the slot that’s on the left of the inside of the frame by compressing the spring so it will fit in the slot.

Only slide it in ¾ of the way so that the post is still below the bottom edge of the frame. We need the post out so we can attach the hand to the hammer before we slide them both together up onto the frame fully. Once you have the hand slid up in the slot about ¾ of the way, just leave it. Now take the hammer and very gently slide the hole on the left side of the hammer over the post of the exposed hand. Be careful so that you don’t dislodge the hand that is already up in the frame slot.

The trick is just put the hand in ¾ of the way, take the hammer and make sure it’s oriented correctly so that the firing pin is pointing forward and then just slide the hammer onto the hand post and slowly slide them both back up into the gun and everything will line up. Now you will be able to look through the hammer screw hole in the frame and see the hammer screw hole in the hammer, movie it around till the hammer screw hole is lined up with the frame screw hole and then you can install the hammer screw and snug it up. Now tighten up the trigger, bolt and hammer screws. Once that is done you are ready to re-install the sear and bolt spring. Turn the gun upside down set the sear and bolt spring in the frame so the hole in the spring lines up with the screw hole in the frame. If done correctly the straight leg is on the trigger, and the curved short leg is on the bolt. Do not put the spring in upside down. It will not work that way. Now you can re-install and tighten the sear and bolt spring screw to hold the sear and bolt spring. This is basically your mechanism. Now, before you put the handle on the gun (the backstrap and trigger guard) you can actually cock the gun, pull the trigger and let the hammer down to make sure that everything is functioning correctly. It’s best to hold the gun by the barrel with your left hand and manipulate the action, the hammer and trigger, with your right hand. It’s a little tricky but you’ll get the hang of it. Now the gate assembly.

First put in the gate, then the gate catch with the tapered end in first. Then install the gate spring, with a drop or 2 of oil, then the gate screw. Start with the gate screw in just far enough to sit below the surface of the frame. Try the gate, if it feels too loose, turn the gate screw in until you like the way it feels. Do not screw the gate screw in all the way, or the gate will not work. Adjust until you like the feel. The next part is the trigger guard. Turn the gun upside down and lay the trigger guard on the frame. Line up the three screw holes and start one screw, put it in about ½ way and then start the next screw, putting it in ½ way and then do this with the third screw. The screws with the longest thread area are the two rear guard screws and they go in the back. The front of the trigger guard will take a front guard screw. This screw has the shorter threaded area with a real thin head. It will be the same screw as the butt screw. There are three pairs of screws that hold the backstrap and trigger guard on the peacemaker. Two backstrap screws, two rear guard screws and two front guard screws, even though one of the front guard screws is called the butt screw. You start with the two longest threaded screws and thread those in the two rear holes. Then the thinnest head screw goes in the front hole of the trigger guard.

Start all three screws, then when you tighten them up make sure that the trigger guard is centered on the frame on the outside edges. The holes in the trigger guard will be big enough that you can tighten the trigger guard on the frame and it will be cockeyed, sticking off of one side or the other. Run your fingers down both sides and find out where the overhang is and try to minimize. This way the trigger guard is being centered on the frame as you do your final tightening. Next, turn the gun right side up and take the mainspring, it will be loose and flopping around. Rotate it so it comes up on the left side of the hammer. Next take the large screw driver and tighten up the mainspring screw so that it is tight with the spring tip on the left side of the hammer. What we are doing here is positioning the tip of the mainspring on the left hand side of the hammer so that after you tighten the screw you will now be able to push the top of the spring down and push it to the right under the hammer roller. As it’s sliding under the hammer make sure to center the little roller in the groove at the top of the spring. In essence you are actually tightening the mainspring screw at the same time. If you start with the spring on the right side of the hammer, you will be loosening the screw as you slide it underneath the hammer.

Once that is done and the roller is centered in the spring groove then you can put the backtrap on. Again be careful not to lower the angle of the screw driver and scratch the backstrap. Keep it parallel to the screw itself. Screw in the top two backstrap screws about ½ way, these two screws will have the short threads but will have the thick heads like the rear guard screws.

Get the top two screws started and then start the butt screw which will be the same as the front guard screw. The butt screw will have short threads and the thin head, and will go in the bottom of the backtrap. Now tighten the top two screws the rest of the way, then tighten the butt screw last. No Loctite!!!Now you can re-install your grips. Next, open the loading gate and cock the hammer to half cock, so it drops the bolt, and you can install the cylinder. Point the muzzle up, and carefully slide the cylinder in the frame window. Now look down through the hole where the base pin goes until you can see that the cylinder is centered under that hole, this way when you start the base pin in, it will go all the way in and won’t stop because the cylinder is out of alignment. Once you get the cylinder set into the frame being careful not to touch the cylinder on the frame window, push the latch unit aside, seat the base pin all the way in and release the latch unit. Close the loading gate, cock the hammer all the way back, hold the hammer with your thumb pull the trigger and ease the hammer down.

The last part to install is the ejector tube. Slide the rod and head into the tube. Next slide the spring in, sometimes the spring has an end that is a little larger, or has the coils opened a bit more than the other end. If not, no problem. If so, install the small end in the tube with the larger end sticking out, This ;arger end helps keep the coils from going down in the frame hole and binding the rod. So with the parts together, put the back of the tube with the spring sticking out, into the frame receptacle and lay the tube against the barrel. It may need pressure or a light tap with a nylon or rawhide hammer to seat, tap or hold the tube while you start the ejector tube screw. I like to turn the screw counter clock wise until it drops slightly, then clock wise being careful not to cross thread it. Snug the screw tightly or the vibration of shooting will cause it to loosen and fall off. Again No Loctite!!! You are now re-assembled

 

 

 

 

WANTED: GUNSLINGERS


If I have performed a “Gunslinger Action Job” on your Colt Peacemaker, and you would like to have a Certificate of Authenticity, please contact us with the serial number of your Colt and approximate date of service. Upon confirmation of the work performed we will issue you a signed Certificate of Authenticity from Peacemaker Specialists.


Please call for details: 805.238.9100

Click on the image below for a larger sample

 

Make sure you check back at Connoisseur’s corner for more insights into the legend we call the Peacemaker.

 

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Contact Peacemaker Specialists at (805) 238-9100 with your questions about Colt Single Action parts and service