SAA firing pin wiggles too much..?


January 17, 2012, 04:18 PM

How do you fix a firing ping that has a little bit too much play sideways and causes occasional misfires by striking the primer on the side?


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January 17, 2012, 04:24 PM
That cannot be caused by a loose firing pin.
The hole in the recoil shield it must reach through to hit the primer would center it every time, without fail.

If you are getting occasional off-center FP hits, the cylinder timing is screwed up.

In otherwords, it isn't locking up in the locking bolt notch every time you cock it.

That could be caused by a weak or partially broken bolt spring, wear on the hand or bolt, or serious dirt & dry oil build-up.

Could we possibly ask what brand of SAA it might be?


January 17, 2012, 05:39 PM
Ah, that's bad.. It's a Pietta. I did check the timing by cocking it slowly, and it seems to work fine. The bolt spring has been replaced with a wire type from Wolf though.. Could that be the problem?


January 17, 2012, 05:45 PM
It shouldn't be a problem.

I have them in three guns and they all work better then new.

Exactly how far center off are you talking about?
A few thousands, 1/4 way from the edge, striking the edge of the case primer pocket?

So, maybe check the firing pin bushing in the recoil shield.
Maybe the FP hole is way too big and it is wobbling around??

At any rate, if a SAA FP hits a primer anywhere, it should fire it.
Perhaps it's your ammo?
Is it factory or reloads?


January 17, 2012, 05:50 PM
Thanks a lot. The firing pin doesn't hit the case, but pretty close.. I will check the pin hole. It's reloads, using CCI-300s. Federals might work better..

January 17, 2012, 06:57 PM
Ok, here is what happens: The timing is ok, but I can unlock the cylinder on half the chambers with slight pressure. The bolt notches look pretty shallow.. The bolt edges do not look worn though, it is a pretty new gun.

Is there a place where the bolt arm hits the frame preventing it to go deep enough in the cylinder notches, or could the notches have been machined too shallow? Can I file the bolt arm so it goes a little deeper?

Thanks again,

January 17, 2012, 08:07 PM
Put the factory flat spring back in and try that.

If it works, your wire spring is either too light, or hitting the side of the frame and rubbing.

Following that check?

Smoke the cylinder notches with a candle flame, put it back together, and cycle it a few times to figure out what is hitting where, in all the wrong places.

Once you know that for 100% sure, a needle file might be in order.


January 17, 2012, 08:09 PM
Thank you Rcmodel! Yes, it does the same thing with the flat spring. What do I file, the bolt notches on the cylinder, or the bolt arm?

January 17, 2012, 08:20 PM
Not the cylinder bolt notches!

You don't have a file you can do that with anyway I betcha!

Always fit the bolt to the cylinder.

When you screw it up?
A new bolt costs $20 bucks.
A new cylinder costs $180+ bucks.


January 17, 2012, 09:10 PM

I wondered what tool/file could possibly be used for that.. Removing metal in a notch right on top of a chamber doesn't sound like a bright idea anyway... I'll work with the bolt. Thanks again, I was totally off about the firing pin. Hopefully the cylinder notches are not too shallow. I'll figure it out now that I know where to look!

January 17, 2012, 09:49 PM
Just don't do anything with a file.

Until you know exactly why you are going to do something with a file!


Mac's Precision
January 19, 2012, 11:55 PM
Rc says:

Just don't do anything with a file.

Until you know exactly why you are going to do something with a file!

Truer words have never been spoken. A person can substitute the word 'Dremel' in place of file as well. :D

January 20, 2012, 10:41 AM
Well, that bolt is so hard! I need to invest in a high quality set of files... Anyway, I bent the wire bolt spring slightly, and it did improve the locking. I can still unlock a couple chambers, but more finger pressure is required. I don't want to do that anyway, as to not damage the cylinder notches.. Why is there a chamfer on SAA cylinder notches, as compared to the Remington 1858 rectangular notches? Just wondering... Seems like no chamfer would be better..

January 20, 2012, 11:37 AM
The "chamfers" are there to give the bolt a fair chance of getting to full depth in the notch when the gun is cocked very fast. Also to prevent rubbing a line in the cylinder if timed fast enough to do it.

Consider the cylinder is rotating at a high rate of speed and the bolt has to snap in place and stop it in it's tracks.

All the force is applied on the side opposite the chamfer to stop the rotation, so the "chamfer" isn't doing anything but good.

Remington was mostly alone in thinking it wasn't necessary.
Colt, S&W, Merwin, Hulbert, and all other revolver manufactures thought it was not only a good thing to do, but absolutely necessary.

Now, back to your problem.
It seems the most likely cause is, all your bolt notches in the cylinder are not the same width.

The cylinder stop (bolt) must be pre-fitted to the smallest notch before you do anything else.

You may need to stone the width of the tip of the bolt so it will enter the smallest of the six so it will drop to full depth in all of them.

Yes, that will make it slightly looser in the bigger notches.
But your gun will work properly when you get done.


Jim K
January 20, 2012, 11:59 AM
Before you file anything, take the bolt and the cylinder out of the gun and see if the bolt "ball" will fit into the cylinder notches. It should fit snugly but not tightly. If it does not, you can stone the ball. If the bolt fits the notches off the gun, but does not come up far enough when installed, that is another problem and check back.


January 20, 2012, 07:58 PM
Thank you very much.. Very interesting. I love to learn all those intricacies! I'll take the cylinder and bolt out, and check. I can measure the notches width as well.. I'll put masking tape around the cylinder to mark the chambers for identification.. I believe that with the bolt spring bend a bit, it is usable, but a bit tighter would be nice.. I wish they had not made those chamfers into the notches so deep.. Not much metal left for locking..
I am new to revolvers, and they are definitely more work than semi-autos.
I will look for some resources that describe revolver timing procedures, and how to fit a new cylinder, just FMI...
As to stonig the bolt, well, I'll need a stone.. What kind? I certainly don't have a file hard enough..

Y'all have a great week-end :-)

January 20, 2012, 08:13 PM
For no more then you will need to do?

Get yourself a sheet of 240 or 320 grit black Wet or Dry emery paper and a flat place to lay it on.
A drill press or table saw table, or a flat steel plate, or a piece of glass will work fine.

Even the kitchen counter top would work if you don't have anything else hard & flat.

Just stroke the bolt sides on it, and keep checking fit each stroke.


January 23, 2012, 10:04 AM
Isn't it better to grind just the head of the bolt, Rc? In your way he will loosen the fit in the frame.


The Bushmaster
January 23, 2012, 10:21 AM
Did we ever determine what brand of SAA gilgsn has or did I miss it?

January 23, 2012, 11:53 AM
Isn't it better to grind just the head of the bolt, Rc?I guess I assumed too much.

Yes, just thin the ball end that fits in the cylinder notches (if that turns out to be necessary).
Not the part of the bolt that contacts the slot in the frame.


April 11, 2016, 03:35 PM
Hello, it was a Pietta SAA. I got rid of it.. No, I did not sell it to an unsuspecting buyer.. The cylinder was bad. As much as I was happy with my Pietta 1858, this one I could no longer appreciate. I might get an Uberti but I am back in France now and it will take nine months to get an authorization....


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