Colt SAA hammer replacement Q's


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vanfunk
July 11, 2009, 08:12 AM
Hello Everyone,

I recently became the owner of another Colt SAA - this one is an early 3rd Generation (1978) example, with a 5.5" barrel in, I'd say conservatively, 95% condition. However, the hammer sticks out like a "sore thumb" as it were. The previous owner must have whacked it on something, as there's a dent on it like it was struck on the top by a flathead screwdriver. Also, the hammer doesn't rest entirely square to the frame when in the down, fired position - it's slanted to the left just a weensy bit when viewed from the rear. Everything else about the gun is great, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep it. What I do think I'd like to do, though, is replace the hammer. With my C&R discount I can get a new, Colt SAA hammer assembly from Brownells for $85. Or, the more stylish option is to get a case-hardened hammer from Peacemaker Specialists for about $225 or so.

Regardless of which way I go, is hammer replacement on a Colt SAA something I can do myself, with only a layman's knowledge and skill? I really wanna do it myself, but I don't want to "experiment" on an otherwise nice Colt.

Thanks in advance for your help!

vanfunk

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rcmodel
July 11, 2009, 11:39 AM
Yes, if you can take a SAA apart, you can replace the hammer.

I doubt much hand fitting was done of the 3rd. Gen Colts if mine is any indication.

As for "slanted to the left"?
It could be the hammer is actually bent.
Or it could be the hammer screw is bent.
Or it could be the hole through the frame is drilled crooked on a 3rd. Gen gun.

I would pull the old hammer out and get to the bottom of that problem before I spent big bucks on a new hammer.

PS: While you have it apart, drop in a Wisners spring kit.
http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=13179/Product/COLT_SAA_REDUCED_POWER_SPRING_KIT

It will make you a happy camper!

rc

Virginian
July 11, 2009, 11:53 AM
As noted above, assuming the problem really is the hammer, I wouldn't have any concerns about being able to change it myself.
A $140 premium for case hardening one hammer?! I would think you could get the Brownell's hammer color case hardened for a lot less than that. Also, I would call Colt and see what they will charge you for a hammer. You never can tell with parts. I know you will do well just to equal Remington's prices, and they beat everyone on shipping.

vanfunk
July 11, 2009, 03:10 PM
Thanks Guys,

RCModel, thanks for the perspective on the hammer. As the polishing of the hammer is generally substandard (with regard to the polishing of the flats, the bluing of the rounds, and the squaring of the top), I had assumed that it was likely just a "bad part" all around, and that just dropping in a new one would be the way to go. I see what you're saying, though, and I hope there aren't problems with holes being drilled off-center, etc.

Virginian, I also thought the price was a little excessive for the case hardened hammer, but that is the going rate. Numrich sells the USFA case hardened hammer for Gen 1,2 and 3 SAA revolvers, and that retails for about the same amount.

I know it's hard to say, but is it likely that there will be fitting required if I do get a new Colt hammer? Do you know if there's an online disassembly guide for the Colt SAA?

Thanks a bunch,

vanfunk

rcmodel
July 11, 2009, 04:22 PM
As I said in post # 2, I doubt hand-fitting will be required on a 3rd. Gen gun.

The very most important thing about working on one is using gunsmith hollow-ground screw-drivers.
Don't use the .99 cent screwdriver in the junk drawer that fits light socket screws!
http://www.forsterproducts.com/Pages/screwdrivers.htm

Here are instructions for SAA disassembly:
http://www.gunreports.com/special_reports/handguns/Colt-Single-Action-Army-Models177-1.html

rc

Virginian
July 11, 2009, 05:09 PM
And be careful with hollow ground screwdrivers, too. You do not want hardened because they can shatter and then gouge what you're working on. I bought a RIG 10-in-1 eons ago, and two bits are bent but it has been great. I bought a B Square set with a bunch of bits last Fall, and two are already broken. Fortunately I was being very careful and did not screw up a gun.

dfariswheel
July 11, 2009, 07:46 PM
My two cents:

You "may" need to do some fitting when installing a new hammer. The hammer itself will drop in without much trouble, BUT...the hammer or trigger may need work to give either a safe, or good trigger pull.
The hammer notches may well not be totally compatible with your gun/trigger without at least some fitting.

I have seen Colt's with Italian replica hammers after some fool damaged the original attempting a trigger job, so your poorly finished hammer may not even be the original.
If you really want to do it yourself, be smart and invest $30 or so in Jerry Kuhnhausen's book "The Colt Single Action Revolvers: A Shop Manual".
This is a real pistolsmiths book that covers EVERYTHING about the single action revolver, including all about fitting new hammers and other parts.
Its the best money you can spend if you want to work on it yourself:

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=133799
Its out of stock, but you can buy it a number of other places, including direct from the publisher.

For screwdrivers I recommend the Brownell's "Magna-Tip". You can buy only the sizes you need and use your own handle, or I recommend one of the "law enforcement" size handles. These are the perfect size for gun work.

http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=417/Product/MAGNA_TIP_SUPER_SETS_trade_

Of course, one option is to simply send the gun in to Colt and have the experts supply and fit a new hammer.

vanfunk
July 13, 2009, 05:29 AM
Thanks All,

The new hammer, magna-tips, and manual are on their way to me now.

Dfariswheel - you bring up a great question - that of whether the hammer's already been replaced with an Italian replica. I cannot dismiss the possibility, as this one really seems poorly made, but it is marked with a "P".

Hopefully, the parts will be in by next weekend and I'll make the swap.

Thanks again,

vanfunk

vanfunk
July 17, 2009, 01:06 PM
Well, I got the Colt replacement hammer and installed it last night. Everything seems OK, nice positive C-O-L-T clicks throughout the hammer travel. However, it doesn't seem that the hammer is sitting quite so far forward in the frame when at rest (in battery), as opposed to the previous hammer. Is there a spec for firing pin protrusion from the recoil plate I can check - other than just firing the gun to see if it works? The replacement hammer is perfect, and much better finished that the one that came on the gun, lending further credence to the notion that it was an Italian copy.

Thanks!

vanfunk

rcmodel
July 17, 2009, 02:05 PM
I don't recall the exact spec right off the top of my head.

But, if you hold the gun up to the light, the tip of the FP should not quite reach the rear face of the cylinder.

You should be able to see a small sliver of light between the two.

On my gun, the hammer contacts the frame on the curve just below the firing pin hole. That is the positive "stop" that keeps the firing pin away from beating out the hole in the recoil shield.

rc

vanfunk
July 17, 2009, 07:50 PM
Thanks! I think I'm good. It looked a little wrong in the poor light of my basement workshop, but it looks just fine in the light of day. I'm pumped now to try out my two new Colt SAA's this weekend. Got some Black Hills 255 grain lead coyboy fodder to try out, and an old waffle iron to plink at.

Thanks again,

vanfunk

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