Advice on polishing hammer and sear?


October 14, 2003, 12:45 AM
I plan to polish the hammer and sear of my Beretta Vertec (9mm).

I have found some good advice. I know what surfaces to polish. I am not exactly sure how to do the polishing. Dremel tool? Sandpaper? Oil???

Anyone know a good local source for a dremel (if I need one)?

ANY advice greatly appreciated!!



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October 14, 2003, 01:21 AM
dremel NO
Do a bunch more research before jumpin in there.
You do not want to change any angles.
You do not want to remove metal.

As the old bull said to the young bull..."lets walk down......"


October 14, 2003, 01:49 AM
Have never done a Beretta. But I believe that the conventional wisdom applies here:


Inside of frame where the hammer contacts it.

Trigger guides and recesses, inside of action bar where the frame makes contact.

Sides of hammer where it contacts frame.

Inside of mainspring housing.

Then, change the trigger return spring for a slightly weaker model.

Do NOT, under any circumstances, change the sear engagement notch, sear angle, hammer notch, angle, or relief angle on either without the proper jigs or tools, and some instruction. Tis a thin line between enjoyment and uncontrolled full auto.

Mike Irwin
October 14, 2003, 02:14 AM
Unless you know EXACTLY what you're doing, do NOT touch the sear or sear seat.

One of the most common "home gunsmithing" cluster :cuss: you can come across is a Smith & Wesson revolver that's had the sear and/or sear seat "improved" by some Johnny :cuss:-for-brains who knew just enough about the internal operations of an S&W revolver to ruin the hammer, trigger, or both by "polishing" the sear.

October 14, 2003, 04:10 AM
Mike, you're dead on.

I admit, I was one of those "Johnny :cuss: for brains. In my quest to produce the ultimate trigger pull, I butchered a few S&W triggers and hammers.

That was until a kind gentleman showed me how to properly tune a S&W revolver.

Now, I have a 686 with the dreamiest pull you could think of: 9 lb. DA, 2 1/2 SA, clean. Timing is dead on, thanks to judicious use of a Gutridge tool :) Smooth as silk, and impossible to "stack" the trigger.

October 14, 2003, 09:27 AM
To correctly polish the sear and hammer hooks you need the fixtures to hold them at the right angle and a GOOD stone to polish with. It will cost more than sending it to a good gunsmith that has the tools. Polish only what powderman mentioned to be safe.

Old Fuff
October 14, 2003, 09:50 AM
Unless one has a lot of money to pay a professional to straighten out what they did, the best way to "polish" or "hone" an action is to dry-fire it.

If there is any chance this pistol might be used as a weapon do yourself a favor and leave the action work to someone with a reputation and the necessary jigs and fixtures.

Anyone who has to post a message asking "how to do it" probably shouldn't.

October 14, 2003, 11:29 AM
A fine stone such as a hard arkansas with a bit of oil is what you need . Never a dremel !! Do not round off. do not change angles !!! A fixture helps , I use a very small clamp so keep things flat. Get some books or vidios and study them before touching the gun .

October 14, 2003, 12:17 PM
:scrutiny: Hmmmmm. Maybe I have oversimplified this a bit. I kinda figured that I'd just "knock the roughness" off the area where the sear and hammer meet.

I never intended to take off much material.... but, yeah, I can see what you guys are saying. I could easily "hit it from the wrong angle" and goof it up.

I am going to re-think doing this myself. :uhoh:
I think I will wait until I can get a good book (or better yet... a video!) After that, I'll decide if I think I can do it safely and effectively.

Thanks to ALL of you guys for the good advice. I REALLY, REALLY appreciate it.


October 14, 2003, 12:28 PM
I sometimes take the sear, hammer, and trigger out of a gun and just pollish by hand on a fine grit stone or water stone.

Sometimes I make long pins and assemble them outside the gun so I can decide what angle I want.

Sometimes I really work hard and make a fixture to hold the part so I can precisely grind it on the carbide grinder.

Sometimes I put the part in the mill vice and spin a stone with the mill.

Sometimes I use a piece of a nail in the trigger spring to control over travel.

Sometimes I replace the trigger spring with a wimpy spring.

If there is a two stage cam on the trigger, sometimes I grind it off.

There are allot of constraints, and it it has to be done right.
The big screw ups are when
1) A trigger goes off is the gun is dropped
2) If the honed edge does not break all the way across at the same time.
3) The gun goes off when the safety is taken off.
4) The mating edges are not sharp and flat, but rounded [not crisp]

There are probably more mistakes that I have not made yet.

October 14, 2003, 02:31 PM
Here are two of the things I have learned about adjusting trigger pulls:

1. Do you have a rough pull? Heavier than you would like? Want to make it better?

The first thing you should look at is the entire system--everything that moves when you pull the trigger EXCEPT the sear/hammer relationship. It's really comparable to tolerance stacking. How?

Let's take the 1911 pistol. Where are the contact points? The trigger stirrup/frame relationship, the stirrup/magazine relationship, the fit of thesear inside the frame, the fit of the hammer inside the frame, the fit of the pins (yes, the pins) for both the hammer and sear.

How about the contact points for a S&W revolver? The trigger to frame fit, the rebound slide/frame fit, the hammer and trigger pin/boss fitting, the hand/window fit, and the trigger/ DA fly fit. Don't forget the inside of the rebound slide, either--where the rebound spring goes.

Where pins are concerned that are integral to the frame, it's best to simply coat them with light grease or oil, and dry fire. Nothing smooths as evenly as the contact surface itself. Polish the large surfaces with a smooth ceramic stone and oil. Do NOT try to achieve a mirror surface. The heat treatment on these parts is only a few ten-thousandths of an inch thick. Polishing the parts will break through the heat treatment.

2. Before you go changing sear angles, change the springs. For instance, simply installing a different mainspring and rebound spring will do wonders for your Smith and Wesson. I recommend the Power Custom mainspring. Use only a full, unaltered strain screw. Also, change out the rebound spring; I prefer a 13" spring here. On a Smith and Wesson revolver, I learned the hard way: NEVER touch the sear nose/hammer notch. They're almost nonexistent to begin with.

October 14, 2003, 03:14 PM

You are to be commended for having the sense to ask.

All too many don't, ergo many butchered guns.


October 14, 2003, 06:06 PM
I am an engineer, but by no means a brain surgeon. If you are manually capable of removing and replacing the 92FS sear (no trivial task) you are capable of polishing it.

You need a small vise with plastic jaws. Clamp the sear in so that the sear face tio be polished is straight up.

A fine stone might be best, but I never bought any. I use a popsicle stick or tongue depressor wood stick as a straight edge tool with a strip of 600# wet/dry sandpaper taped on it. Polish slowly and keep the polishing face square. Don't "rock" the end as you sand, go straight up and back. You can take it down to a mirror shine if you want to spend the time. The hammer hook is simialr: clamp it so the hook face is straight up and make sure you keep it square. What you NEVER want to do is change the face angle or round over edges.

As far as polishing frame and trigger surfaces: whole lot of work with very small change in trigger feel.

Polish the sear face and the hammer hook face smooth. Install a "D" mainspring and lube with Militec or Ultima Lube or something similar and you will not believe the difference in trigger pull.

OOPS: my Ber has a SA only trigger so I forgot: take the hammer out and polish the little "tail" at the bottom (where the trigger bar grabs it) with some 600#/oil so the DA pull and release will be smooth.

BTW: If my Dremel gets within six feet of any of my guns I give it a serious spanking. Anything worth polishing is worth polishing slowly.:what:

October 15, 2003, 12:36 AM
It's not that I don't want a competent smith to do a trigger job for me...
I guess I just take pleasure in doing these things myself (if possible). I do all the work on my car (that I am capable of). I always know it's "status". - What's been done to it... what it needs... etc.

I feel the same way about my guns. I just like knowing exactly what's been done to them. There was a story here (or maybe TFL) where a guy had some work done on his carry piece, got it back and carried it for quite some time until one day he finally made it to the range and discovered that the gun was not functional. :what:

I tend to check, adjust, check, check again... and then I feel reasonably sure that my firearms will be ready when/if I need them and I know what to expect from them (and me).


Old Fuff
October 15, 2003, 11:27 AM

Checking something out is one thing. Removing metal (polishing) is another.

I presume that before doing the work on your car you purchased the necessary tools and obtained and read a shop manual. In addition you might have had an experienced mechanic help you - at least early on.

Gunsmiths are like doctors. Few if any are qualified to to anything and everything. That why they have specialists - and some are more "specialist" then others.

Anyone who has a gun worked on - or works on it themselves - should test it on a shooting range before they carry it. This is particularly true of pistols. These may work fine when shot by some, but not when shot by others. Ammunition can make a difference too.

You can safely smooth the action of your Beretta by dry-firing it. Tightly fitted parts will burnish themselves. Hand polishing anywhere else will make no difference.

I have seen literally hundreds of guns over the past 50 years that were ruined by inexperienced polishing. Some of them were fixed, but at considerable expense. Short of being repaired they were unsafe or too undependable too carry.

As with your example of working on a car. You can buy the necessary tools and books to work on your Beretta. That in itself however doesn't give you any experience, and the cost of getting set up will probably exceed the cost of having a single gun worked on.

Last but not least. The most recent generations of double-action pistols were designed to avoid handwork. I have discovered that a whole lot of polishing can be done without accomplishing much improvement. Single-action pistols can be improved because the lockwork doesn't include linkage to a double-action mode. Both the single-action and double-action trigger pulls may be improved on some pistols by substituting a lighter main/hammer spring. But on a weapon this may not be advisable. The reason for the factory's heavier spring is to insure the pistol will fire any ammunition in any environment - not just under ideal conditions.

With this in mind you can do whatever you want. I will comment no further.

October 15, 2003, 02:07 PM
I will comment no further. Hey, if you have anything else to say Old Fuff, I am all ears. I appreciate everyone's comments! (That's why I am here I suppose.)

I do have one additional question though.... ;)

Let's assume I've decided NOT remove the hammer and sear and polish them.

What would happen if I applied some type of FINE abrasive to the hammer/sear contact point and dry-fired the heck out of it? :scrutiny:

Would that help smooth things out? Is there any danger in this?

Of course I would thoroughly clean all the abrasive out when done dry-firing and lube that area.

Am I still asking for trouble? (Well, at least this thread got me to try out a "signature".)


Old Fuff
October 15, 2003, 04:53 PM
I'm so worried about you I'll break my own promise ......

Those Beretta's are awful expensive to experiment on .....

Two things bother me. One is that abrasives in the action can migrate, and may get to where you don't want it. Another is that if your Beretta has an aluminum frame that abrasive may enbed itself into the softer metal and then it will be pure h--l getting it all out. I have heard of people using everything from toothpaste to bore-cleaning paste. With moderation I don't suppose they would hurt, but I have little expectation they would help more then simple dry-firing, and I wouldn't care to be facing the cleaning job you'd have coming up.

Jim K
October 15, 2003, 09:40 PM
Forget the abrasive, just "dry fire the heck out of it". You will polish about all that needs polishing and not hurt anything.

A general note on "trigger jobs". The factory builds into the gun an extra margin for error so the gun will operate under adverse conditions - cold, wet, dirt, etc. Most "trigger jobs" remove all or part of that margin so that the gun will function ONLY under ideal conditions. That might be OK for a pure range gun where failure will cause nothing worse than loss of points. For a carry gun, failure can cause loss of life - yours. So go easy on those super light "trigger jobs" for any gun that could be used for serious purposes.

I have a friend who sent off his Model 29 to a well-known gunsmith for action work. He wanted to use it in bowling pin shoots. When he got it back, I tried it and the action was light and smooth. Now if he only can figure out a way to make bowling pins understand that they are to fall over when they hear "click" he has it made.


October 16, 2003, 01:27 AM
I have learned a GREAT deal in this thread. I had never thought of a lot the things you guys brought up. Old Fluff, thanks for hangin' in there! . ;)

As I think someone pointed out earlier, I obviously "don't know what I'm doing" here. The problem was... *I* didn't know that!!!!

I am going to take Jim's (and others') advice and just dry fire the heck out of it (without abrasive :D ). - I will protect the firing pin though.

My "temporary insanity" is cured! - for now....

Many Thanks!


Sleeping Dog
October 16, 2003, 08:35 AM
I've used a dremel (actually a sears craftsman) to polish the sear on Mausers with great success. I use a dremel cloth wheel with some jewelers rouge, and just shine it a little.

I'm not sure I'd try it with a Beretta. The only pistol I've tried it on is a colt 45 clone (sistema) and it worked fine. But, if I screwed up, parts are cheap for that particular gun, so no big deal.

October 16, 2003, 12:05 PM
I gues it's what could happen before you get a chance to replace those cheap parts that concerns would know you overpolished your sear when the thing goes full auto, hopefully at the range and when your presence of mind is at its daily peak...

October 17, 2003, 01:29 PM
I hope I don't offend anybody, but some of the answers you are getting are not true.

1) A beretta has a firing pin blocking safety which makes it IMPOSSIBLE for the gun to go full auto regardless of what you do to the hammer face or sear face. Each time the slide moves rearward, the FP block drops in front of the firing pin and the trigger must be fully released and depressed again to lift it. That is the little black square piece that rises up above the slide when you are pulling the trigger.

2) As for "dry firing": yes, it will make the pull a bit smoother. But I pulled mine oevr a thousand times before I got fed up and polished the sear. The BER sears have a particularly gritty bluing on them that makes the trigger creep. Polishing it down smooth makes the pull much cleaner and removes no metal. Adding some good grease to it helps even more.

3) Not sure how "grit in the action" got into the topic, but the parts should be polished outside the gun and no abrasive should be used in the action of any gun. If you polish any points inside there, just make sure and hose the gun clean with some cleaner spray like brake cleaner. Then, re lube.

There are certainly many guns that a novice should never consider touching the trigger parts on, like a 1911 or a SW revolver. The Ber is one where you can "square polish" the faces as I described above and drastically improve the trigger pull with a very low chance of screwing them up. And if you did somehow bugger the sear, you can get a new one from Ber for about $30. No fitting required, they drop in.

cracked butt
October 24, 2003, 07:56 PM
I don't know much about the vertec, but here's whaqt I did with my 92 fs:

Disassembled it.
used crocus cloth to remove the bruniton gunk off all points of contact on the trigger bar, hammer and sear. I'm no gunsmith but if anyone wants to flame me its ok.
Work very slowly and carefully- the crocus cloth will not remove any significant metal unless you over do it.
clean the parts thoroughly, oil, and reassemble.

Not sure of the mainspring on a vertec, but on a 92 FS, a quick and easy trigger pull fix is to order a mainspring for a 96D from Beretta USA- it costs about $2 including s&h.

This much improved the trigger pull on my 92, and I have had no problems with it.

October 24, 2003, 08:05 PM
Don't really need to add much to a lot of good advice but ... my thinking is this ..... there is

1) Stoning

2) Polishing.

The former removes metal .. and as said here ANY deleterious change in angles and excessive removal - and you can have prob's..... like terminal!

The latter - now here I think you can stay pretty safe .... altho maybe in many cases useage will achieve this. I use a stitched cloth buffing wheel (6") on a ''false nose'' in my drill press ... run that at max rpm's and apply some white polish compound, from a stick.

Hold the surfaces you want to polish lightly into the edge of the roatating wheel (with eye protection!) .... and eventually you will get something close to a mirror finish. Material removed? Infinitesimally small ... but smoother? IMO yes .. enough to help with creep certainly.

Mike Irwin
October 26, 2003, 01:20 AM

When you're talking about the sear and the sear seat, you use stones to polish what you're working on, VERY VERY fine either natural Arkansas or ceramic stones.

That, and the proper jigs (or an unbelievably steady hand) is the ONLY way that you can be guaranteed of not changing sear or sear seat angles.

Polishing to a mirror finish involves removing metal, even with a wheel. And when you're doing it with a wheel, you can't be guaranteed of maintaining the proper angles.

October 26, 2003, 07:56 PM
Polishing to a mirror finish involves removing metal, even with a wheel. And when you're doing it with a wheel, you can't be guaranteed of maintaining the proper angles. Jigging would of course yeah . be safest way to go even with buffing. However .... the buffing/polishing I would consider is not actually too excessive ... maybe just a few passes ... which will mostly still achieve ... if not ''mirror'' finish .... then a high shine .... the metal removal being infinitesimally small ..... purely a fraction reduction in ''sharpness''.

Anyone in any doubt tho ... leave it to the pro's .. the real ones!!

October 29, 2003, 01:53 AM
Tell me about this Gutridge tool for perfecting the timing.

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