Gap between cyl and barrel?


March 29, 2011, 09:08 PM
I recently bought my first "ole fashioned wheel gun". It's a Virginian Dragoon 44 mag (LOVE IT!) The first time I shot it, I noticed I was getting hit in the face with what I assumed to be powder. (Shooting glasses in place) I was using a nylon duffel bag as a dead rest and noticed a black stain on both sides of where the gun was. I wasn't sure everything was ok, so after the first shot, I unloaded it, took the cylinder off, and everything looked ok. Shot it a few more times, then went on to another gun.

So, my question is, what should the gap be? As far as I can tell, it is about .012. Is there anyway to reduce that gap? I know the gun was build in the mid 80's.

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March 29, 2011, 09:19 PM
0.012 is too much. I ran a series of tests with a 44 Mag with an adjustable gap, mainly to find the effect on velocity, but at 0.012 the revolver began to spit as you describe. A little stain on the bag is normal, but it should not be spitting back in your face.

March 29, 2011, 09:42 PM
i am not familiar with your gun- which sounds wonderful!- but a normal gap is about.005. so less than 1/2 your gap i think. i have a auto feeler gauge that i use to check these things. on a few pistols (e.g. dan wesson ) this is easily adjusted, but on your gun i believe it is a gunsmith job. many older guns i think have larger gaps, perhaps due to blackpowder issues or simply less fine tolerances in manufacture.
so, i guess you should look for a gunsmith who is skilled at the sort of gun you have.
good luck and God Bless.

March 29, 2011, 10:12 PM
Thanks for the replies. Here is a link I got from another thread about this line of guns. Mine is the stainless w/walnut grips.

March 30, 2011, 12:22 PM
Spitting can also be caused by an improperly cut forcing cone in the barrel.
Or serious lead build-up in the forcing cone.

Something the Italian made guns like yours were often found with.
Be sure the smith re-cuts the forcing cone too while he is setting the barrel back a thread to fix the gap.


March 30, 2011, 01:13 PM
N/B-Welcome-I made the mistake of firing my .44 Magnum
using a coat I had in the truck as a rest.Duh.Burnt a hole
in it.Yep.Black powder stains on both sides of the
cylinder from the blast..44 Mags,IMO,are going to
do that.Probably most any gun with a cylinder will do that.
If the blast is in your face however,well,that is strange,
unless it is bouncing off the sides of a cubicle you may be in?
Good luck.These guys have a lot of knowledge in here and
will fix you up.B/H.

March 30, 2011, 02:17 PM
suggest you check the timing. there are instructions for this in a sticky at the begining of the handgun forum page. you may be spitting lead. fwiw


March 30, 2011, 06:19 PM
Certainly .012 is excessive gap, but in regard to what your experiencing, I'm more inclined to think it's a timing issue. Also check to be sure it is locking up good and tight when the firing pin drops. With an empty gun, pull the trigger in the same fashion as you would when firing it. Without moving the trigger at all after the hammer drops, check the cylinder for good solid lock up. Do this all the way around several times. The cylinder should feel solid and shouldn't have any noticable slop. Check both DA and SA. I have a revolver that locks up solid in SA, but when I use DA I think the trigger travel is effecting how far the timing hand is extending, because it gets pretty loose. I've seen the exact same thing with several revolvers of mid range quality.
On another note, the pressures that escape through the gap are extreme. If you happen to get a body part in the path of those pressures, you'll likely be seriously injured. I know of a ballistics expert who knew this, but inadvertantly put his hand in very close proximity to the gap while testing a .357 mag. He ended up with one finger being completey dismembered, and severe damage to another.

March 31, 2011, 05:25 PM
Getting unburned powder blown back in your face is not necessarily the barrel/cylinder gap. Magnums will blow unburned powder back in your face from the muzzle blast as well.

.012" is pretty large though.

Stains on the shooting bags will happen with any revolver.

March 31, 2011, 06:14 PM
Well, I took it to a smith today. He said the gap was fine, the timing was good, cyl was nice and tight when it rotates, but the forcing cone was a little short and (as suggested here) said he he could lengthen it. So, I will shoot it saturday and see what the difference is.

Thanks for all the help!

April 1, 2011, 04:23 AM
That is just a matter of the beast is all. Revolvers due to the flash gap tend to spit **** out and at times it will deflect back into the beak.

April 1, 2011, 11:50 AM
short of such as split casings, no, a decent revolver should not spit back at you
cylinder gap .002 minimum, ~.004 optimum, .006 good, .008 more than it "ought" be but probably not an issue if gun is otherwise in very good condition
.012 is excessive
but just how much gap is tolerable very much depends on other attributes of the individual gun
(do not rest the barrel of a revolver on a sand bag, that's what they put a butt on the grip for)

April 1, 2011, 12:16 PM
The Virginian was never made in Italy, to the best of my knowledge.
Early Swiss, later US.

April 1, 2011, 12:38 PM
Yes, the Dragoon was made in the United States, and it isn't a double action:eek:.

Traditional gap for a single action is .006-.008". Lean toward .006" for shooting jacketed, and .008" for chucking lead.

.012" is way too large, though I guess it's livable. Your gunsmith should be setting the barrel back a turn, and then resetting the gap and recutting the forcing cone.

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