Colt Detective Special trigger


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bikemutt
August 27, 2011, 05:40 PM
First a quick background: I obtained a very nice 3rd issue Colt DS in a trade earlier this year. Loved the gun, so did my wife who claimed it as her's. So I bought another one on gunbroker.com, same 3rd issue, quite close in serial number to the first one, and cosmetically in virtually identical condition.

After shooting the new one I realize the trigger is worlds apart from the first one. Gunsmith says it's sat so long it's gummed up and needs a good cleaning. $80 later it feels better but still shoots like crap. I ask a range officer what he thinks since I have both guns with me. He test fires and says the first gun has obviously had a trigger job, that the new one is par for the course.

Upon inspection I can see the first gun has had the hammer sides and back of the trigger polished smooth as all get out. And the guy I traded with to get it did say it had been re-blued by Colt, although he did not know why.

To describe the crappy trigger, it's a situation where the darn thing fights to get it to engage, then once enough force has been applied, it gets easy to pull which invariably causes premature firing. And it's inconsistent; some shots are OK, some are not.

I really love these Colts but I don't want to turn a $400 (now $480) gun into a $600 gun chasing a trigger job, especially since I don't really know the reason for the crappy trigger.

Anyway, I thought I'd troll this out here to see if anyone else has had a similar experience, Colt or otherwise.

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9mmepiphany
August 27, 2011, 06:03 PM
It sounds like the action just needs to be tuned.

The reason the trigger feels crappy to you is that the original action required a lot of hand fitting to get all the levers and camming surfaces correct. Later production guns lacked this handwork, but they left the factory as functional guns. The feeling of the trigger that you described, sounds like the stacking of the action as the two legs of the main spring rub against each other...this is normal for an untuned action. Tuning a Colt leafspring action, unlike that of a S&W, is more than just polishing surfaces and changing springs. You are actually re-timing and re-balancing the whole action.

What you have experienced with your gunsmith was just a bandage fix...he likely isn't an experienced Colt pistolsmith...and it was a case of a false savings by trying for the easy (cheap) route. Having someone experience with tuning the Colt action do a complete tuneup on the gun would have been the more economical route in the long run

bikemutt
August 27, 2011, 06:20 PM
Thanks 9mm. I'm on board, I don't mind spending some cash on this Colt for the right result.

So, where do I find a gunsmith who knows these Colts? I've asked around here about gunsmiths in the past, no one seems to know of any except the one at the local range, the same one who cleaned the DS.

9mmepiphany
August 27, 2011, 06:37 PM
And that is the $64k question...most of the masters are dead or seem to have fallen off the face of the earth, many of those remaining don't advertise that they can.

The lag time will usually be substantial for good work...both waiting to get to your gun and getting the work done...usually measured in months, if not years.

Have you tried giving Colt a call?

Old Fuff
August 27, 2011, 07:11 PM
The Old Fuff, who tunes his own guns, but not others, would also recommend the Colt factory. ;)

And while on the subject of tuning, I would STRONGLY suggest that one not turn one of these Colt's over to just anyone, regardless of what they might call themselves. I recently tried to find a new mainspring for a member's Detective Special, and discovered my usual sources either were sold out, or no longer carrying Colt parts.

So I went to Colt's website, and found to my horror that they were no longer listing parts for any double-action/hand ejector revolvers. They may or may not have parts in-house, but apparently they are not selling to outsiders.

Used parts, taken from scrapped guns are somewhat available, but once fitted to a particular revolver they may not work in another one. There are advantages and disadvantages to hand fitting, but this can be a big disadvantage.

When buying a used gun, beware of an "unusual" trigger pull, both single and double-action, and before you do anything else, check the sideplate screws for burred slots (indicating some jerk has been inside, who didn't know enough to get a correct screwdriver).

One last hint: Some less then knowledgeable folks sometimes try to ease stacking by "reforming" the mainspring (which is a fancy way to say "bend"). Done right it can improve the feel on a Python, but done wrong it can ruin the spring. On D-frame revolvers it isn't such a hot idea, and even less so if you can't get a new (not used) mainspring. Never, ever try ro reform a mainspring in any pre-World War Two Colt double-action revolver.

Old Fuff
August 27, 2011, 07:28 PM
This is the Old Fuff's day for free hints. Tomorrow I start charging outrageous fees... :uhoh: :evil:

To describe the crappy trigger, it's a situation where the darn thing fights to get it to engage, then once enough force has been applied, it gets easy to pull which invariably causes premature firing. And it's inconsistent; some shots are OK, some are not.

Open the cylinder and try the trigger pull. Does it still feel the same? If it is better (especially substantially so) the problem may be that the cylinder bolt itsn't dropping soon enough or far enough. If/when this happens the trigger is pushing the hand against the ratchet, which in turn is trying to turn the cylinder, that is to some degree still locked. This can ruin your day quick!

bikemutt
August 27, 2011, 07:36 PM
OK, I will give Colt a call. Patience rewarded with value is all I ask.

ColtPythonElite
August 27, 2011, 09:38 PM
Colt doesn't show a "custom" tune on their price list for D frames. However, they do for a Python, priced at $195. The price for an Anaconda is $130. I'd guess if they will tune a D frame, the cost will be somewhere in between. By the time you add in shipping, you are likely gonna be approaching 300 bucks for this trigger job..........Personally, I'd just buy another D frame.

Old Fluff is right that parts are drying up or at least getting hoarded up...Some of them even at my house...LOL.

9mmepiphany
August 27, 2011, 10:58 PM
I'm thinking the cost will be pretty close to that of the Python...I thought it would be closer to $250. It is the same action, just a difference of scale and the hammer mounted firing pin in the D-frame. The nice thing is they'll fix anything they find once they are in there.

BullfrogKen
August 27, 2011, 11:20 PM
I would use the Colt factory services as well.

bikemutt
August 28, 2011, 09:10 AM
This is the Old Fuff's day for free hints. Tomorrow I start charging outrageous fees... :uhoh: :evil:



Open the cylinder and try the trigger pull. Does it still feel the same? If it is better (especially substantially so) the problem may be that the cylinder bolt itsn't dropping soon enough or far enough. If/when this happens the trigger is pushing the hand against the ratchet, which in turn is trying to turn the cylinder, that is to some degree still locked. This can ruin your day quick!
I tried your suggestion Old Fuff, the trigger feels pretty much the same with the cylinder opened or closed. A tiny bit more pressure needed when closed which is what I'd expect since the cylinder's inertia must be overcome.

OK, you still owe me a freebie since that wasn't it :)

Old Fuff
August 28, 2011, 10:08 AM
Oh Darn!!! And I was going to die rich... :banghead: :D

At this point I don't think anyone is going to come up with an answer unless they can pop the sideplate to see what's going on, and I don't recommend you do that. It seems a bit strange that the gunsmith (?) who supposedly disassembled and cleaned it for $80.00 :eek: didn't discover anything, but maybe he didn't look.

It sounds like something is binding, but without looking I have no idea what. Trigger pull issues related to mainspring stacking usually come at the end, not the begining.

One last possibility, maybe some previous owner did a polish-the-action job and went too far in the wrong direction. When the results weren't what he expected it hit the used gun counter.

Anyway, rather then speculate, let Colt straighten it out. The revolver is well worth it. Hopefully they still have some parts.

Standing Wolf
August 28, 2011, 02:39 PM
Cylinder & Slide in Nebraska does good work on Colt revolvers. Cheap? No. Fast? No. Good? Yes.

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