How much cylinder play is too much?


Arkansas Paul
September 21, 2012, 04:41 PM
Was at a local pawn shop today looking for used revolvers. I want something my wife can handle easily so I figure a .357 will do the job fine. She can shoot .38s and I can shoot the big boy stuff.

Anyway, the local shop has a 4" Ruger Security Six that barely has traces of a turn line. I mean, I doubt it's had 500 rounds put through it. Locks up like a tank.

They also have a 4" Smith and Wesson 19-3 with jeweled trigger and hammer. The lock up isn't as tight as the Ruger. When you let the hammer down and keep the trigger depressed, there is quiet a bit more play in the cylinder. But OH MY GOD the action is so freakin smooth. There is no comparison between the two in that regard.

They're both $350.00 and they won't budge an inch on either one. I don't really blame them, as they just got them in this week. If they'd been there for six months, they prolly would.

Anyway, what do you guys think?

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Vern Humphrey
September 21, 2012, 04:50 PM
Smiths are notorious for having a little play even with the hammer down. Colts should lock up tight under the same conditions. What you should check for is end shake -- can the cylinder be moved forward and backward any noticeable amount.

Also check the stickie at the head of this section of the forum -- lots of good advice about used revolvers.

I think the Smith is a good buy at that price, but the Ruger less so.

Arkansas Paul
September 21, 2012, 04:55 PM
Thanks Vern.
I didn't know to check forward and backward movement. It has obviously been used a little more than the Ruger, but man, it's smooth as butter.

Colts should lock up tight under the same conditions.

They actually have a 4" Colt Lawman as well for $300, and it does lock up a little tighter than the Smith. I really didn't like it though. It's heavier than the others, and the grip didn't feel right. Hopefully I don't get attacked for not liking a Colt. :)

September 21, 2012, 04:55 PM
The Jewelled hammer & trigger on a S&W would be a deal breaker for me.

All that tells you is some guy had a drill press, some grinding compound, and too much time on his hands.

It doesn't tell you if he had a clue what else he was doing while he had it apart.

If he stoned the hammer notch, trigger sear surface, & DA fly, and cut through the case hardened surfaces?
You will be buying some real expensive parts pretty soon.

Also he could have done several other things to the mainspring or strain screw that will result in both a wonderful feeling trigger, and mis-fires.

I'd let somebody else worry about whether it works or not, and if it doesn't, how much more it will cost to fix it so it does.

The $350 gun could easily turn into a $600 gun real fast..


Old Fuff
September 21, 2012, 05:20 PM
I trust that you were following the stickie in the forum's Handguns: Revolvers sub-forum. While it is generally correct, the only popular hand ejector revolvers that are supposed to lock up with absolutely no rotational movement when the trigger is held back are Colt's made between 1908 and about 1970 - excluding the Python and snubbies built on their D-frame. (Dective Special, Cobra. Agent. etc.). Smith & Wessons are built to allow a little movement so that the bullet when fired, can align itself with the bore.

While Smith & Wesson revolvers are justifiably famous for the smoothness of they're actions, this particular one is suspect. As rcmodel explained, this one has been tinkered with, and that may be good or bad. Done right is good, done wrong may have ruined it. Taking the risk is up to you.

September 21, 2012, 06:28 PM
It's necessary you understand how modern double action revolvers operate.

The only modern DA revolvers that lock up tightly with the trigger held back are the older Colt action as used on the Python, Official Police, Diamondback, Detective Special, etc.
This was the famous Colt "Bank Vault Lockup" in which when the trigger was pulled the cylinder locked tightly.

ALL other modern DA revolvers like the S&W, Ruger, Dan Wesson, Taurus, and the newer Colt's like the Mark III, Mark V, King Cobra, Anaconda, etc ALL are specifically designed NOT to lock up tightly when fired.
In these revolvers the cylinder is locked as tightly as it's going to when the hammer is cocked.
Pulling the trigger and checking cylinder movement is not a valid test for anything in these guns.

The reason these revolvers do NOT lock tightly when fired is so the slightly loose cylinder can allow the chamber to align with the bore as the bullet passes from the chamber to the barrel.
In order for the revolver to work correctly the cylinder MUST be loose and they all are.
Even a gun that seems to lock tightly has enough backlash built into the action to allow the cylinder to move enough when fired.
If the cylinder was to lock tightly the gun couldn't operate correctly.

There is no standard or specification on how loose the cylinder can be.
The only test on these more modern revolvers is:
1. Is the revolver accurate.
2. Does the revolver spit bullet metal out the barrel-cylinder gap.
If the revolver is accurate and isn't spitting metal, it's good.

So, pulling the trigger and checking cylinder rotation on these later revolvers tells you nothing at all. That one is tighter or looser than another gun means nothing.
The gun must have cylinder rotational movement or it's not working correctly.

The Ruger may be tighter and may seem to be tightly locked, but when fired the cylinder will move as needed.
That the S&W seems looser means nothing, it's working as designed.

Arkansas Paul
September 21, 2012, 07:35 PM
Thanks for the replies.
And yes, the Ruger did have a little play, just not as much.
I am definately gonna pass on the Smith and prolly the Ruger as well. I thought it was a smokin deal at first but after some research, that's about what they're going for.
The search continues.
Again, gracias.

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