New Trigger for Chief's Special .38


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procarryusa
June 25, 2010, 11:57 AM
I have a revolver and want to fine -tune a few things.

1. I want to lighten the heavy trigger pull.

2. I want to smooth the trigger pull. It tends to be quite sticky.

3. I want to replace the ribbed trigger with a smoother trigger.

What would I need to accomplish this project? I have no gunsmithing experience (unless installing a scope counts) but am good at following directions. Where would I get the parts?

Thanks!

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rcmodel
June 25, 2010, 12:25 PM
1. Wolff spring kit.
http://www.gunsprings.com/index.cfm?page=items&cID=3&mID=58#441

2. A total cleaning & re-lube with Outers Gun-Slick graphite grease while you are changing the springs.

3. You don't want a new trigger.
First, there is nothing wrong with the grooved trigger it comes with.
Second, a replacement trigger may likely have a worse pull then the one you have that is fitted & mated to the hammer DA sear, and rebound slide at the factory.
http://www.snubnose.info/docs/lockwork.htm

Without any prior experiance, I would not suggest you try any stoning or polishing of the internal parts. It is way easy to screw them up if you don't know what to do or how to do it.

You would be amazed what a couple thousand cycles with snap-caps will do towards smoothing up the action due to break-in. Also how strong your finger will get and how much less you notice the trigger pull!!

If you simply must have a smooth polished trigger, you do it yourself with a Dremel tool, a sanding drum to remove the grooves, and polishing wheels to make it sparkle.

There are a few tricks to correctly taking a S&W apart without damaging the side plate and other parts.
Suggest you get a gunsmith screwdriver set, and do some study before attempting it.
Sticky from revolver forum:
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=397027

I really recommend this book too:
http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=25717/Product/THE_S_W_REVOLVER___A_SHOP_MANUAL

rc

Oro
June 25, 2010, 02:43 PM
I agree that if you must have a smooth trigger, it's better to modify the one in there than go to the hassle and expense of another - it's not like a 1911 drop-in.

Unfortunately, the dremeling will remove the case hardening on the trigger and hurt value. But if you have to have it that way, it's the simplest and cheapest way to go.

As for lighter springs, they will lighten the pull, but they also have a notorious habit of making the gun unreliable and unable to ignite some ammunition. Before I went that route, I would:

a) Dry fire the gun three to five hundred times, slowly.
b) develop your trigger finger, both in skill and strength.

The dry firing will help polish up the internals without potentially damaging internal work. The dry firing should improve your grip and strength to the point it seems even less stiff and more smooth.

procarryusa
June 25, 2010, 03:08 PM
Oro,

I am wanting the trigger job mostly for my wife. It is a well-used gun, but still has a rough trigger. I am thinking of having the trigger done professionally, but wanted to know if it was worth saving the money to do it myself. We have dry fired it hundreds of times and put over 500 rounds through it in the past year.

rmfnla
June 25, 2010, 03:33 PM
S&W used to offer smooth "combat" triggers for all of their frames. Often they were just a drop-in replacement; sometimes they needed a bit of fitting.

I did many such conversions for female police officers in Miami who found it hard to quality with the thin, ribbed stock trigger.

Maybe S&W can fit one of these for you?

procarryusa
June 25, 2010, 10:16 PM
I don't see the triggers offered on their website or Brownell's. Do you know where one could get one?

Oro
June 26, 2010, 12:48 AM
You can try the springs then, but be sure to rigorously test ignition of whatever the carry ammo is. Check Numrich's for the triggers. Also, Call S&W. They have a ton of stuff not on their web site. What 36 do you have that has a serrated trigger? My memory is fuzzy, but most I've seen have smooth combat triggers; I've had two 60s and two 36s over the years and I think all (vintage 1968 to 1986) had smooth triggers.

Another comment is, if you do go to a gunsmith, make it CLEAR to him that he is not to stone or file on the sear notches and faces on the hammer and trigger. The reason is that the hardening on those parts is about .003" thick. As soon as you make a few strokes, it's gone, and you are down to softer steel. It will feel great for a few hundred or thousand rounds, then starting wearing to an unsafe condition. I have seen this so many times it's nauseating. The customer leaves with a gun that feels slick as a snake. Then later on it starts stepping off the sear and, Yikes. Unless they are a professional shop prepared to re-harden or re-chrome the parts, this is bad.

Given what you have added, I'd say get a Wolf mainspring and possibly a rebound spring. When you have the gun down (detail stripped), polish highly the faces of the rebound slide itself and also the recesses it rides in.

When you reassemble it, use first just the mainspring, leaving the rebound spring stock. Now try it a while and see what you think and if it's reliable. If it's still too heavy, then consider going back in and changing the rebound slide spring. Far too often, changing both at once makes for unreliable ignition.

For help with this if you don't know how to do it all, see Sylvan_Forge's excellent Model 10 thread stickied at the top of the revolver sub-forum. Great stuff. The J is slightly different, but not much.

PS - I did not mean to sound like I was talking down to you before. I now see the "firearms instructor" in the by-line, which I overlooked before. I just saw the fewer posts and made an assumption. If you are good at breaking down guns and moderately mechanical, you can do this stuff yourself with the right caution and instructions. That's also why I added the littany about why you might indeed want to do it yourself or at least communicate well with the gunsmith about not altering the sear and notches.

rcmodel
June 26, 2010, 12:21 PM
and I think all (vintage 1968 to 1986) had smooth triggers.I think none of them did.
I currently have a 36 Chief, 49 Bodyguard, and a 34 Kit Gun all made in the early 60's through 70's.

All have fine-line serations on the triggers.

I can't speak for all model 60's, but I believe they did too as they used the same case-hardened triggers as the blued guns.

rc

Old Shooter
June 27, 2010, 01:44 PM
This thread is getting interesting, just checked my 36 no dash nickel plated and it has the smooth trigger.

Factory option or ?

rcmodel
June 27, 2010, 02:09 PM
Beats me.

Standard Catalog of S&W says this about the 36 blue & 60 stainless:
"Early models used a .240" serrated trigger. Later changed to a .312" smooth combat trigger."

Guess all of my J-Frames over the years have been early models, as I have never owned a smooth one!!

rc

wriggly
June 27, 2010, 05:55 PM
This thread is getting interesting, just checked my 36 no dash nickel plated and it has the smooth trigger.

Factory option or ?
Probably was a replacement, or it was ordered that way.

EMC45
June 28, 2010, 10:33 AM
I have a Mod 36 SQ butt no dash blued. It HAD a finely grooved trigger. As did a Model 10 I have. Grind and polish. For me, it makes a world of difference. I have a 3 in. Model 30 .32 S&WL that is in Nickle. It too has a grooved trigger as well. Not for long....It shoots great, but cannot stand a grooved trigger! Have a Taurus 44 special in SS and it had a grooved trigger. It also has a wide target type trigger. That will soon change too......

gb6491
June 28, 2010, 01:05 PM
FWIW, I have a no dash 36 and a 60-9; both have the smooth, wider trigger:
http://i46.tinypic.com/qr1642.jpg
http://i42.tinypic.com/17wjmw.jpg
Regards,
Greg

rmfnla
June 28, 2010, 08:10 PM
I don't see the triggers offered on their website or Brownell's. Do you know where one could get one?
Not anymore.

Maybe a note to the S&W custom shop?

procarryusa
June 29, 2010, 12:15 PM
Seeing as it is my wife's carry gun, we might have to get her another gun before we can send it away to S&W. Oh well...just another excuse for another gun!

earplug
June 29, 2010, 12:54 PM
I have had good results going to GunBroker.com for used S&W parts.
Many firearms get destroyed but the parts are taken off and resold.
I'd look for any stainless J frame trigger that is complete. The pins and springs are a bear to deal with.
Get stainless then you can reshape the trigger and it will stay shiny.
You can do a fine trigger job with the factory springs. It is recommended to have a couple spares on hand in case you shorten them to much.

rmfnla
June 29, 2010, 01:22 PM
"Get stainless then you can reshape the trigger and it will stay shiny."

I'm not sure that's true. Stainless doesn't do so well for triggers & hammers so S&W makes them from normal steel and flash chromes them to match the SS finish. At least that's what they used to do; I assume it has not changed.

earplug
June 29, 2010, 02:38 PM
My S&W JM 625 has the flashed chrome hammer with a stainless hammer. They have a history of chrome peeling. I got a nice finger cut from mine. I bought it new about four years ago.
My S&W M-60, 638, 642 and M-65 have no issues with the stainless trigger.
I installed a stainless trigger in my M-14 as I wanted a narrow trigger and didn't want to cut down the target trigger. I have had no issues with any stainless trigger.
Gunbroker has J frame triggers available

Oro
June 30, 2010, 05:06 AM
Ok, a cheaper option occurred to me. Tyler makes their bronze trigger shoes with an optional flat face. That would only be $35 plus shipping. That might be the way to go. Look up Tyler Manufacturing and "T-grip," google it and you will find them.

rmfnla
June 30, 2010, 08:49 PM
Gotta be careful with trigger shoes.

They can come loose and jam up the trigger. They also extend beyond the sides of the frame & trigger guard so the trigger can be pushed when the gun is holstered.

procarryusa
July 4, 2010, 10:20 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I found a local gunsmith who will replace the trigger and do a 7-8 lb trigger job for $100. Does that sound like a reasonable price? (Parts included)

Old Fuff
July 4, 2010, 12:02 PM
1. I wouldn't replace the trigger, but instead polish off the serrations and round the front face - which is a simple job.

2. The "reasonableness" of the job depends on what the 'smith does. That in turn depends on his knowledge and experience. Keep in mind that a bad job can leave you with an unreliable or even ruined revolver. Some folks on the Internet will tell you the answer is to polish this or that, and replace the rebound slide spring and mainspring (one or both) with lighter ones. I can assure you that this is not what a true S&W trained armorer does.

When it comes to a gunsmith, how do you tell the "real thing?" Ask him what special jigs and fixtures does he use? All too often the answer will be a blank look. :uhoh:

And I'll give you a big, fat hint: If one could put a RELIABLE UNDER ALL CONDITIONS 7 to 8 pound double-action trigger pull on a J-frame revolver, S&W as well as some others would like to talk to him and find out how...

rcmodel
July 4, 2010, 12:46 PM
And I'll give you a big, fat hint:Boy, truer words were never spoken!!!

rc

procarryusa
July 5, 2010, 10:52 PM
@ Old Fluff,

The gunsmith is a friend from a local gun store and well-trained. He says that you can get a trigger job down to about 8 1/2 lbs and have it be reliable. He said that since it's the older kind where the hammer contains the primer, you aren't losing energy like on the newer models and you can afford to go down up to a pound or so lower.

He recommended not shaving off the serrations, because there is soft metal underneath them. Shaving off the serrations would make the trigger wear out sooner. It seems that blued triggers are not available, but this one will be chrome and a tad wider, which will help with an even pull.

Thanks for your input! I will ask him what jigs he uses.

BBBBill
July 5, 2010, 11:30 PM
I removed the serrations from the trigger of my S&Ws years ago (mid 70s). In all of those years of shooting, the flesh of my finger has not caused the trigger to wear one tiny bit more. We are not talking about removing material from the surfaces that engage metal to metal. Only the face that your trigger finger touches.
As for light double action pulls on any revolver, but most especially an S&W J-frame, it can be done, but requires the utmost care in blueprinting the whole gun to insure that there is no excess headspace or cylinder/yoke endshake, proper firing pin protrusion, and no drag anywhere in the system. And the owner must be the type of fellow who fully understands what he is getting. That means understanding that it requires much more attention to maintenance and examination to detect changes in the gun. And those changes will happen due to wear from firing. Not the kind of thing that the average shooter will grasp. The gun must be kept scrupulously clean. Even with that, the potential for a failure in use due to dirt entering the gun in a struggle or the environment make it very iffy. The potential problems with this far outweigh any advantages gained. I know this for a fact from long experience.

EMC45
July 6, 2010, 09:45 AM
Did my Model 30 Smith over the weekend. Nice and smooth. Also nipped about 1/8in. off the hammer spur and polished and a little cold blue. Still have about 1/4in. of checkered spur to grab.

Old Fuff
July 6, 2010, 12:31 PM
I think your gunsmith is a perfect example of the kind I worry about, and that isn’t a complement.

The gunsmith is a friend from a local gun store and well-trained. He says that you can get a trigger job down to about 8 1/2 lbs and have it be reliable. He said that since it's the older kind where the hammer contains the primer, (firing pin?) you aren't losing energy like on the newer models and you can afford to go down up to a pound or so lower.

Nobody can reduce the double-action trigger pull on a J-frame S&W to 8.5 pounds, and have it absolutely reliable under all conditions, and no one in their right mind would carry a revolver for defensive purposes that was any less then that. The main problem is a lack of mass in the small-sized hammer, combined with the fact that the hammer and trigger pivot pins (called “studs”) are close together so the trigger has minimum leverage to rotate the hammer backwards. Where the firing pin is located – in the frame or on the hammer – makes little difference. It is true that the new MIM hammers are lighter then earlier ones, and that does make a difference in theory. In practice, not so much so.

To get that lighter pull, he is either going to cut or replace the hammer and rebound slide (trigger return) springs – one or both. You can’t do that and maintain absolute reliability. If it were possible, Smith & Wesson would be doing it. You can reduce spring tensions a bit, but each reduction in poundage is matched with a reduction in reliable primer ignition. If you go too far a bit of additional cylinder end-shake may earn you a “click,” instead of a “bang!” especially if you happen to get a hard primer.

He recommended not shaving off the serrations, because there is soft metal underneath them. Shaving off the serrations would make the trigger wear out sooner. It seems that blued triggers are not available, but this one will be chrome and a tad wider, which will help with an even pull.

If I had doubts about your gunsmith before, I don’t now. He is handing you a complete line of pure “bovine droppings.”

Smith & Wesson hammers and triggers were made from a relatively soft steel (for shock resistance) and then case hardened (to leave a hard skin that was resistant to wear), and cutting through that thin surface would expose the softer metal under it. Obviously it would be foolish to polish a hammer or trigger to the point where the softer metal was exposed, but it only mattered on those places of the two parts where they rubbed together, especially under spring pressure.

The front of the trigger’s fingerpiece where the serrations are, rubs against nothing, except the user’s finger, and your finger isn’t hard enough to cause any wear.

Smith & Wesson triggers were never blued, they were color casehardened. On some stainless models they were flash chromed for cosmetic reasons only, so they would match the color (more or less) of stainless steel. Any difference in width, if there were any, would be minor. In fact many experienced double-action shooters prefer the narrow trigger with a more rounded/smooth face.

I strongly suggest that before you spend $100 and possibly get a ruined gun in return, you call Smith & Wesson’s customer service department and confirm which story is correct – what your gunsmith told you, or what I have posted here.

Do you really want to risk your wife's life and safety on a mistake?

rmfnla
July 6, 2010, 03:32 PM
I think your gunsmith is a perfect example of the kind I worry about, and that isn’t a complement.

If I had doubts about your gunsmith before, I don’t now. He is handing you a complete line of pure “bovine droppings.”

Smith & Wesson hammers and triggers were made from a relatively soft steel (for shock resistance) and then case hardened (to leave a hard skin that was resistant to wear), and cutting through that thin surface would expose the softer metal under it. Obviously it would be foolish to polish a hammer or trigger to the point where the softer metal was exposed, but it only mattered on those places of the two parts where they rubbed together, especially under spring pressure.

The front of the trigger’s fingerpiece where the serrations are, rubs against nothing, except the user’s finger, and your finger isn’t hard enough to cause any wear.


Thanks, Old Fluff; I was laughing so hard I wasn't able to compose a lucid reply!

procarryusa
July 7, 2010, 12:27 AM
The gunsmith was going to replace rebound and hammer springs. I thought that replacing the springs was fairly standard procedure for lightening the trigger pull.

As for the motives of S&W, I think that they put in the heavy springs for liability reasons, not because they can't go lower. They want to make sure that they don't have any "accidental" shootings, so they make the double action pull so heavy that it takes a deliberate action to pull it back. A careful and well-trained user can safely use a lighter trigger pull.

I thought Jerry Miculek used a revolver with a 7 1/2 lb. pull. Perhaps I'm getting faulty info somewhere.

Oro
July 7, 2010, 08:09 AM
As for the motives of S&W, I think that they put in the heavy springs for liability reasons, not because they can't go lower.

They put them in for "reliability" reasons, not "liability". Think about it for a few seconds.

S&W sells 1911-style pistols with 3.5 lbs/4lb trigger pulls from the factory. Why would they be afraid to sell a DA revolver with an 8.5lb pull? 7.5lb pull? If you sell a DA revolver that can be cocked and drop with a 2.5lb pull, why do you worry if what the DA pull is if your sole concern in "liability?"

You can swap the springs. You may get 100% reliability with many of the brands of ammo you try. But you won't get 100% reliability with all commercial ammo or all conventional reloads. But you will get much better results with stock springs.

The main concern of gun manufacturers is to turn out a dependable weapon that goes "bang" every time. They aren't terribly concerned with making it "not" go bang when you pull the trigger. The decision is up to you to pull the trigger.

If you do have him change the springs, be SURE to get the old ones back in case the gun prooves unreliable with your chosen ammunition. Then you won't have to call S&W and order new ones like so many people have to do.

I thought Jerry Miculek used a revolver with a 7 1/2 lb. pull. Perhaps I'm getting faulty info somewhere.

Probably is. Actually, I thought it was lighter than that. But JM isn't using that gun as a home defense/carry weapon, and he has a team of technicians helping him tune multiple guns with carefully crafted target ammo for competition. If he has a misfire it might cost him a stage and some embarrassment, but it won't cost him his life. If you intend on using the gun strictly for plinking or competition, and want to spend time choosing and tuning ammo for it, that is a viable route to take.

Old Fuff
July 7, 2010, 11:56 AM
I thought Jerry Miculek used a revolver with a 7 1/2 lb. pull. Perhaps I'm getting faulty info somewhere.

He may well, but I believe it's made on Smith & Wesson's N-frame, which is the largest if you exclude the massive X-frame.

The N-frame has the hammer and trigger pivot points much further apart then the little J-frame (which is the size revolver that's the subject of this thread) so the trigger has more leverage (mechanical advantage) when rotating the hammer backwards. The hammer itself is more massive, and rotates in a longer arc.

As Oro pointed out, Jerry's revolvers are perfectly tuned, and kept that way, and ammunition is carefully selected for the competition and exhibition shooting he is involved in.

The folks at Smith & Wesson are pretty sure that most of the considerable numbers of J-frame revolvers they sell are not going to be used for competition or exhibition shooting. They are weapons, and made to fit that role. So far as liability is concerned, they may hope that an owner does fool with the action, reduce spring tensions, whatever – because if the revolver fails to work and the “modifications” are discovered they are off the hook. It is unlikely that any court would lodge a judgment against them when some unauthorized aftermarket tampering caused a malfunction.

I understand why – for various reasons – people want ever lighter double-action trigger pulls on their revolvers, and I am well aware that some have reduced the pull’s weight with no apparent problem. But what they have really done is eliminate to some degree the safety margin that the manufacturer built in to insure TOTAL RELIABILITY.

All of this is not to say that the particular revolver in question can’t have the trigger pull improved, or at least made to feel that it’s better. There can be a difference between what a pull feels like it weighs, and what the weight really is. But getting that kind of trigger pull involves a lot more then polishing some parts and cutting spring tensions. It also involves some things that real professionals do that I never see discussed on Internet forums. That’s why I ask the question, “What jigs and fixtures does he have?”

And you know, that went right over everybody’s head… :uhoh:

rmfnla
July 7, 2010, 03:04 PM
One important fact that I think has been overlooked (unless I missed it) is the J frame uses a coil mainspring, unlike every other S&W revolver (they all use leaf springs.)

Coil springs have different characteristics than leaf springs and are not as forgiving to modification.

procarryusa
July 8, 2010, 12:23 AM
What about these springs? http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=375177 Will they help to lighten the pull? I test all my ammo before carrying it, so I'm not really worried. Are the springs all one needs for lightening the pull?

Old Fuff
July 8, 2010, 11:08 AM
I test all my ammo before carrying it, so I'm not really worried. Are the springs all one needs for lightening the pull?

:banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

procarryusa
July 8, 2010, 07:03 PM
@old fuff

Do you know what kind of jigs i should be looking for or are you just looking for someone to taunt who is trying to learn. I Don't enjoy being treated like i'm stupid.

rmfnla
July 9, 2010, 05:12 PM
procarryusa: You can't test all your ammo without firing it. I know what you really meant, but your mis-statement illustrates why you don't go for the lightest trigger pull possible: You need a margin of reliaqblity to make sure all your ammo fires all the time.

The Wolf springs will help with your trigger pull. FYI, the trigger rebound spring is what determines the trigger pull. Note that the lightest trigger rebound spring is 13 lbs, a good bit more than the 8-1/2 you were quoted by your "gunsmith."

What do you need jigs for?

triggerman770
July 15, 2010, 03:15 AM
the fire control area is NOT a place for a non smith to start. When I do a trigger on a Smith(any frame) I will change the rebound spring and then polish all the bosses for the hammer and trigger. I polish the area on the frame where the rebound slide rides, and litely on the shelf where the sear rides(but not the bottom of the sear itself. this has generated very smooth pulls and winds up in the double action pull "feeling like 3-4 pounds" but actually being 7-8 pounds. Fuff is right about the trigger geometry on the J's being different from the k;l;n;x frome. I have a pre 36 Chiefs special that I'll be doing after I get the paying jobs out of the way

Mac's Precision
July 23, 2010, 06:08 AM
I might suggest that your gunsmith may not have a full understanding of what he is doing. His experience and training may be in question if he is seriously suggesting such a thing. The J frame is not in any way the same as a K,L or N frame. His suggested 8.5 pound pull is totally inappropriate for a J frame and should not in any way be done. The J frame main spring should not be replaced or cut. Any alteration to the J frame Main spring can leave said gun unreliable due to light primer strikes. The very best you can hope for with a J frame is a quality internal polish job to reduce internal drag. The J frame will never feel like a tuned K frame no matter what you do so don't try to make it something you shouldn't. If the double action pull is too heavy for her to handle seek a different gun as modification of her gun will result in the hammer falling and then the loudest 'click' in the world.

I don't mean to make light of your requests or your selection of gunsmith in any way but I have been down this road many times and I have tried many of the available spring kits in my own model 60. Slick and reliable is your goal here...not slick, light pull and occasionally loud. The factory main spring is the heavy weight it is for a reason. That little hammer needs all it can to reliably pop primers. There just isn't enough mass or mechanical leverage to make due with less in this case.

As for polishing out the serrations on the trigger... Don't. If you remove enough metal to remove the grooves...the trigger will be quite thin. It will remain sturdy enough to shoot...but cosmetically it will look silly. One could...soften the sharp edges on the serrations...but don't attempt to totally remove them.

Cheers
Mac.

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