Revolver pawl, what steel?


Mauser lover
December 21, 2012, 11:05 AM
I am trying to make a pawl for an out of time revolver, but I don't know what kind of steel I should use. Should I go for something REALLY hard, or should I go a bit softer and less brittle? Should I just use something soft then case harden it? I just want to get the gun back to working well.

I cannot find pawls for this gun, already looked.

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December 21, 2012, 11:21 AM
I would use O-1 drill rod or flat, or a drill bit shank.

Good tool steel that can be oil hardened and drawn clear through when you get it shaped.
Draw the temper to dark blue color and it will be hard, but still soft enough to file for final fitting.


December 21, 2012, 11:49 AM
I'd go with plain old 1095 because it's easy to heat treat (if required).

4v50 Gary
December 21, 2012, 11:54 AM
O-1 or if you can get it, 4140. O-1 is easily heat treated (propane) and after polishing, tempered.

Mauser lover
December 21, 2012, 04:24 PM
Okay, where is the best place to get that drill rod?
What temperature would "dark blue" be?
So, I shape it, heat it to whatever temperature "dark blue" is, and then quench it in oil? Is it really that simple?

December 21, 2012, 04:46 PM
No, you heat it cherry red and quench it in oil.
That makes it harder then woodpecker lips.

Then you polish it and heat it again till it turns blue.
That draws the temper and makes it less brittle but still wear resistent.

O-1 flatstock:

O-1 drill rod:

Or just use an old drill bit shank like I said in the first place.
It's already heat treated, if you don't overheat it grinding on it..


December 21, 2012, 08:18 PM
There are various methods of heating the part to get the correct hardness, which for a part like this is a deep royal blue.

Here's one of the best: The sand bath method.
After hardening the part as above, polish it to bare steel.

Get some clean sand like aquarium sand and wash it to remove dust and dirt.
Dry it, then break up the clumps to fine sand.
Put the sand in a pan about 1 1/2" to 2" thick.
Put the pan on a stove burner and heat the sand hot. Check with an oven thermometer. When the temp is over 500 degrees it's ready.

After polishing the part to bare steel so you can see the colors, rinse it with alcohol.
Hold the part with long tweezers or with a heavy wire.
Bury the part in the hot sand with just a corner above the surface where you can see it.

As the part heats, it will start changing colors, from a light straw, to a golden straw, to brown to purple, to a brilliant deep blue.
The colors will change fast so pay attention.
When it's a deep blue pull the part out and drop in cool water.

You can do the same procedure using a bullet casters lead furnace.
Melt the lead and submerge the part under the surface and watch the colors change.

The advantage of the sand or lead method is that the entire part is uniform in hardness with no softer or harder areas.
This is a more controllable method since you can see what's happening.

December 21, 2012, 08:29 PM
Can get even easier if you try air-hardening stock. Available at all industrial suppliers: Grainger's, McMaster-Carr, etc. Procedure is the same, except one doesn't need a pot of oil. Once everything is shaped and adjusted, can be case-hardened to give a very wear-resistant surface. But you'll have to buy the surface-hardening powder.

December 21, 2012, 08:44 PM
Air Hardening and Case Hardening are two completely different things.
One does not equate the other.

Air hardening steel means it gets hard immediately upon heating and exposure to air cooling.
And it can get hard just grinding it into shape.

Once hardened, there is very little you can do to anneal it so you can work on it again.
Very Bad stuff to mess with for making parts in my experience!

Case Hardening on the other hand, can be applied to even mild steel stock you cannot harden or temper any other way.

Both has it's uses for sure.
But this isn't it.


Mauser lover
December 21, 2012, 08:49 PM
Thanks all, will let you know how it turns out (might be a while though)... Thanks for the links to those steels...

Jim K
December 21, 2012, 09:31 PM
If you really plan to use the gun instead of just playing with it, don't make the hand (pawl) too hard. You want it softer than the steel of the ratchet so it (the cheap part) wears out before the ratchet (the expensive part).


December 22, 2012, 05:13 PM
Never said that air-hardening equates to case-hardening. Case-hardening can be applied to any ferritic steel.
Easy to temper or anneal air-hardened steel; just like oil-hardened, in fact. I have made almost-countless tools and parts using air-hardened steel (retired machinist, designer, engineer, furniture maker). It usually costs a little more, and few know about it.
Again, the key is that few know about it. And thus few know how to use it. In a small shop looking for predictable high-quality results, it's the cat's meow.

December 22, 2012, 08:32 PM
I wouldn't say that "few know about it",air hardening stock became pretty much the standard in tool & die back in the 70s.Hardness for this application is actually about the least important aspect to worry about.Toughness is a much bigger benefit for what he needs to do.The biggest problem with oil hardening stock is that it's going to distort during tempering more than almost anything else readily available.
For what he needs, S-7 would give the best result,most likely,assuming he has the ability to hit a fairly small temp. window.
Take a look at the info at the link below.

December 22, 2012, 08:38 PM
Thanks, bob2231. I had temporarily forgotten about Online Metals as a source of info.

Mauser lover
December 23, 2012, 01:24 AM
How small of a window will I need to hit?

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