Darn Diamondback broke AGAIN......


Peter M. Eick
December 28, 2004, 06:22 PM
Ok, this is starting to get irritating. I love my little diamondback, I have shot it over 45,000 times by my best estimates. I have had the gun for 25 odd years and it has been my family shooter for years prior to me branching out.

My Diamondback broke the Bolt screw off today. This is the 3rd time it has had to be repaired in about 5 years. The first time it was spring for the bolt, which was replaced by a local smith. The second time it was back to colt for a retiming, where they retimed it, replaced the hand and the latch bushing and rebound lever.

Today, I was just changing out the grips for another set and I dry fired the gun a few times to make sure it was in good shape and on the 3rd cock, I heard a little "tink" and then the action froze up. I knew this was bad, so I gently worked on it until I could get the action open.

Once I had it open, I carefully took off the side plate (yep, the hammer handle on the frame trick works perfectly!) and I find the bolt head floating around in the action. This is the first time I have ever taken a revolver apart, so I have to say I was dang nervous. It is pretty darn complex in there. So anyway, I fished the screw head out carefully and put the gun back together.

My bet is the local smith I used to fix the bolt spring over torqued the bolt screw and eventually it snapped off. Unfortunately the threads are still in the frame. This means someone is going to have a challenge getting the screw threads back out of the frame before they put a new screw back in.

So, I guess it is another trip up to Colt to get them to fix this one. Since Colt last saw this one, I only shot about 2000 rnds of mild reloads. I am certainly going to get this fixed because this was my first centerfire handgun and it has great sentimental value to me. BUT, do I park it and never shoot it when it comes back or can I shoot it and just rack it up to age.

Also since I am going to send it back to Colt (I assume that is the best spot) is there anything else I should have them look at? I just had it re-timed on 6/11/02 so I assume it is all in good shape.

Thanks for your advise and comments.

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Jeff Timm
December 28, 2004, 06:37 PM
Assuming your 45,000 rounds are accurate, new springs all around, as long as they have the gun disassembled. The price should just be for parts, unless they have a <explitive deleted> work price list.

Who figures that 45,000 is a tribute to Colt from the Old Days. :cool:

Peter M. Eick
December 28, 2004, 06:48 PM
Thanks for the comments, I had not really thought about springs or even a good internal cleaning.

I would not have thought that 45,000 rnds would be that many rounds over 25 years. It is really not a lot if you think about it, only about 2000 rnds a year and some years none or more.

I sort of had the idea that a decent revolver (like this Colt) should last in the 100,000+ range before parts start breaking. It really makes me appreciate my big pre-war S&W Heavy Duty collection. They just go and go and go.

My estimate of 45,000 rnds was based upon my standard load. For about 20 years, all I loaded was 155 or 158 grn lead semi-wadcutters with Unique. I know from my records about how much powder I bought (give or take 1 lb) and so I estimated off the rounds. Since I did that initial calculation (about 10 years ago) I started keeping super detailed records on every round fired in my guns and what the loads etc. To bad I did not do that when I was young(er).

Standing Wolf
December 28, 2004, 09:27 PM
This is the first time I have ever taken a revolver apart, so I have to say I was dang nervous. It is pretty darn complex in there.

Colt revolvers are a pain in the ankle to work on. Every part does at least two things, and sometimes three. Some of the internal parts are fragile. The cylinder latch is wonderful to use, but far from sturdy. Hands break. Hands bend. Bolts aren't as strong as I wish they were.

You might think about sending it to the good folks at http://www.cylinder-slide.com

They've done good work on several of my Pythons over the years, albeit neither quickly nor inexpensively. I'd have all the springs replaced, the action gone over, and the timing checked. The advantage of sending it to Cylinder & Slide is that the people there work on Colt revolvers regularly. Very few gunsmiths do any more.

Best of success, eh?

December 29, 2004, 12:52 AM
More stuff wiggles and jiggles in a Colt than in a Shakira video. I took one apart to work on it and put it right back together, a deep cleaning is all I will do to one anymore.

45K seems kinda light on round count before breakage. Granted my experience with high round counts is all S&W and all K-frame in the high mileage units but I would not expect to have problems so soon.......

Peter M. Eick
December 29, 2004, 10:12 AM

You hit the nail on the head with my frustration. I like my little baby, and I have had it the longest of any of my guns, BUT, come one, it is only 45,000 odd rounds. Why would it break so often recently. None of other guns have this type of round count (most are less then 10,000) but still, am I looking at a whole bunch of repairs some day to my Smiths?

I am going to get it fixed (again x3) and then I think I will park my little baby and not shoot it anymore. I like shooting my Colts, but I think I am going to start shooting my Heavy Duties more. The mass of the gun gives me more confidence they will last a bit without repairs.

Is Colt still the best place to send it for repairs?

Old Fuff
December 29, 2004, 10:37 AM
I would return the gun to Colt because getting the remains of that screw out will probably be tricky. They will most likely drill it out and then re-tap the hole, and not many ‘smiths have the right tap – although Cylinder & Slide will.

Two points: It is not Colt’s fault if, as you suspect, an independent gunsmith over tightened the screw; and it isn’t fair to compare a small-frame Colt to an N-frame Smith & Wesson that has more massive parts. A much more fair comparison would be between the Heavy Duty S&W vs. the New Service Colt.

Returning to the issue of the smaller guns, I have seen a number of J-frame Smith & Wesson’s that snapped the hammer or trigger pivots – that like the bolt screw in your Diamondback are on the small side. Obviously when you scale parts and pins (screws and such) downward and make them smaller they will be more prone to breakage.

I suggest that if you want a truly rugged revolver in a relatively small package you look at a Ruger SP-101. Be aware though, that while it is stout it is not a Diamondback.

Peter M. Eick
December 29, 2004, 11:48 AM
Old Fuff,

Thanks for the comments on sending it back to Colt. I looked at the threaded part left in the frame and yes it looks like a bugger to get out.

On the Colt size vs. my Heavy Dutys. Yes I understand the difference, but it surprises me how much trouble this one has had. I know it is not really Colt's fault, it was probably the local smith and use that got the better of the parts. Yes I understand fully that the little Diamondback is not an N frame 38 special. I certainly don't load them the same way or expect the same results.

My little Diamondback is now a plinker gun. Not shot often, but it is sure fun to plink a few targets with a couple of times a year. I try to get out and shoot 200 to 250 rounds out of it every once in a while.

Your comments on the J frames is making me think that once my little baby is fixed, it will become even more of a safe queen and got shot even less. I really don't want to bugger it up.

December 29, 2004, 01:02 PM
With respect, I'm not sure I'd send it to Colt. My experiences, which are admittedly a few years old now, were not good. The gun, a Python, went back and forth several times but never got better at all. Once it returned worse than when sent. Since it won't be done as a warranty repair (presumably?), I'd consider someone of known reputation, such as C&S. My $.02, YMMV.

December 29, 2004, 07:08 PM
Peter, I don't know what you will be facing with the Smiths. I am very hard on revolvers, and I would have those old heavy duties spitting in 5000 rounds. I have done it on a 27-2 and a 28-2, they just have too much cylinder mass for hard DA shooting. I beat the cylinder stop, cylinder notches, and cylinder stop frame window up in the small bore N's. For me the K-frames are the best choice. My J frames see a lot of pocket time and occasional range time, so I don't know how durable they are.

I treat my N's differently now, and they hold up extremely well. I have a feeling your Colt will be the same way.

Jim K
December 29, 2004, 07:23 PM
I am not sure an S&W would stand up better, but I do know that (with the exception of the pivot pins) S&W parts are 99.99% drop in and a heckuva lot easier to replace than Colt parts. One cause of broken S&W hammer pivots is failure to loosen up the mainspring strain screw before removing the side plate. The pins are meant to be supported on both ends and without the sideplate, one end is not supported.

That Colt bolt screw is nasty; if it is not torqued enough it will try to back out and hang up the gun. If it is overtorqued, the result is what happened here.


Old Fuff
December 29, 2004, 07:43 PM

Perhaps HSMITH has a good point. I don't know that I could bring myself to fully retire the Diamondback once it was repaired, but I would seriously think about getting an "older" S&W K-38 Combat Masterpiece (a.k.a. "model 15") as a substitute. You seem to like the S&W N-frame .38's so a similar K-frame revolver might grow on you. I am personally a great fan of the Combat Masterpiece since it was the first revolver that I purchased while still a low-end teen. They are bigger then a Diamondback, but not by much. A Diamondback is 28 1/2 ozs. vs. 34 ozs. for the S&W. Best of all, they are out of favor with today's buyers so they can often be found at very attractive prices. :evil: :D

Peter M. Eick
December 29, 2004, 08:01 PM
Thanks again guys.

I guess I would classify myself as a pretty careful shooter. I do shoot DA, but generally slowly. Almost never with a quick snap of the trigger on my big Heavy Duties or any of the Colts. Mostly I would say I am a SA kind of guy. Just cock it back, and pop the shot. I am painfully aware of how some of my older S&W's have bolt stop peening and wear and tear. A couple of my Heavy Dutys must have been used extensively in DA only mode because the bolt stop and the cylinder are highly peened up. The lockup is still ok, so I figure they will last for a while. My Pre-28 was also shot this way. It also kills me every time I pull out one of my nicest looking 1930 (very very early specimen) Heavy Duty that someone "Bogarted" the crane and it hangs up on 3 of the 6 cylinders. I also am disgusted at how someone bent the ejector rod of my 1939 Registered Magnum. How someone can do these things to fine guns just astounds me.

Anyway, I am careful with my revolvers, in particular my Colts. The python is treated to only mid range reloads of lead and the Diamondback has never once had a jacketed bullet down its barrel.

I found a box today and will start packing it up tomorrow with a letter. As I remember last time I sent it Fed-Ex insured. I am assuming this is still the choice.

Finally I see there was some concern about sending back to Colt. Is anyone else concerned about sending it back to Colt considering the problem of the stuck threads?

Old Fuff
December 29, 2004, 08:32 PM

>> It also kills me every time I pull out one of my nicest looking 1930 (very very early specimen) Heavy Duty that someone "Bogarted" the crane and it hangs up on 3 of the 6 cylinders. I also am disgusted at how someone bent the ejector rod of my 1939 Registered Magnum. How someone can do these things to fine guns just astounds me. <<

Both of these conditions are not hard to fix. If the yoke is misaligned on the H.D. it can be straightened. Same with the ejector rod assembly in the Registered .357 Magnum. I wouldn't put of with this sort of thing. Get them fixed!

December 30, 2004, 12:13 AM
TEN demerits and a week of detention for the Fuff.

You didn't have to tell him about the pre-15's and the 15's!!!!!!!!!! They are the best kept secret in revolvers, and my personal favorite. I have a '49 vintage K38CM that is the slickest and most accurate handgun I have ever touched....

If we intend to hoard these things we need to keep it quiet and then the prices will stay decent. When we have a foot locker full each then we can start telling people.

Old Fuff
December 30, 2004, 10:00 AM
You have been picking up pre-model 15's behind my back ???

You can't!!!!

I want them all ..... all I tell you ... ALL :fire: :fire: :fire:

I was going to let Peter have just one ... But never did I suspect what you were up to. One can't trust anyone these days ... :eek:

Now I'm going to go look in the safe and be sure they're all there ... :evil: :D

Peter M. Eick
December 30, 2004, 05:19 PM
Well the Diamondback is off to Colt via Fed Ex. That was taken care of today.

On my other "smithing" projects. I have been in contact with Cylinder and Slide about fixing the Heavy Duty. As soon as I get the Diamondback back home in the safe, then I will pay my money to get in the queue on the Heavy Duty. Once it loops back, then the Registered goes in for its turn.

I really don't like having my guns out of the safe unless they are at the range. It just does not feel right.

On the pre-15's. No guys, I am going to stick with pre-numbered N frames. The size is just right for me. I really don't want to drop to a K frame sized 38. I really enjoy the big framed guns and the weight. It just feels right in my hands. Really now, the next thing I would like to find is a triple lock target in 38 special (but I would settle for a 44 special if I had to).

Seriously though, thanks again for the advice.

Old Fuff
January 6, 2005, 05:57 PM
Peter ... (And anyone else that might be interested).

Go to Jim Supica's site, (www.armchairgunshow.com) and order a hardcopy catalog called the "Old Town Station Dispatch #43 & #44" - unless of course you already have one.

Jim is selling the largest collection of older classic S&W N-frame revolvers I've seen in a long time. New Century (Triple-Locks), .44 Military Models, .455 Revolvers (including .45 Colt conversions), .45 model 1917's. - page after pages of goodies - some of which are unique. All are for sale to the first buyer who puts his money down. There are also some interesting K-frames, and yes - even automatics and a selection of antique and modern long guns.

This book should drive any S&W collector or plain Ol' gun lover up the wall, and I'm sure it will remain as a major reference book for a long time. Lots and lots of good information, even for those who aren't buyers. Make a move now, and as quickly as you can.

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