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Dissapointed with USFA

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Pilot, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    I've been a big proponent of USFA since I've had my Rodeo in .45 Colt for about two years. I don't have many rounds through it, but its been flawless the times I have shot it.

    Last night while dry firing it WITH SNAPCAPS, the cylinder timing went horribly wrong. On the second click of the hammer the cylinder swings freely and allows out of sequence firing. This pistol has never been abused, nor fanned and again has less than 200 low power rounds through it. I'm going to send it back to USFA to make it right, but this bothers me. I was going to occasionally carry my Rodeo as a woods gun, but now I think I'll get a Ruger SAA for that.

    What has happened to cause the gun to malfunction this way?
  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Calm down, the world isn't coming to an end... ;)

    The second "click" is when the hammer is at half-cock, and the cylinder can turn for loading or unloading.

    If the cylinder spins freely it's because the hand spring is either broken or weak enough so that the hand doesn't act as a brake on the ratchet. Unfortunately the hand spring is a problem associated with the original Colt design. Folks often advocate this revolver "as it originally was" without modern improvements, but when that's the case you have to accept the warts too. What happened to you could (and has) happened to any and all of the various makers, including Colt. I'm sure that USFA will fix it in quick order.

    In my view the Ruger, with it's transfer bar safety, coil springs and modern lockwork might make a better gun to pack in the woods, but I'm not sure it would be a better single action revolver for all purposes.
  3. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    Yeah, thanks Fuff, I thought my Rodeo was the bees knees and have been praising it since I've owned it. I'm sure USFA will make it right, but I think for woods carry, the Ruger may be the way to go due to the transfer bar system which gives the ability to carry six instead of five. Plus they're probably the most rugged out of the box SAA wannabe. I'll keep the USFA for the four clicks however.
  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I think the point I was trying to make was that problems related to the flat hand spring are common to all single action revolvers that are Colt's or exact clones. I prefer the old hogleg because of it's smooth action, but I have learned to take the bad with the good. Unquestionably the Ruger is a more rugged revolver that can be safely carried while fully loaded.

    One solution you might consider: It is fairly inexpensive to have a qualified SAA gunsmith remove the old-style hand spring and replace it with a coil spring & plunger of the kind used in the Ruger. But while this takes care of one issue it doesn't address others, such as broken cylinder bolts and trigger/bolt springs - although in the case of the trigger/bolt spring I recommend one made of music wire and offered by Brownells (www.brownells.com) along with a large number of other parts and accessories for all makes of single action revolvers.
  5. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    I wonder if USFA could do some of these for me if I ask them? I've heard of the music wire modification. I'll also talk to some local smiths about the mods too. Thanks!
  6. Virginian

    Virginian Well-Known Member

    Note, Cimarron has replaced everything but the mainspring and trigger/cylinder bolt spring with coil springs. If you add a Wolff kit (and I assume you could add one of these to any Colt or clone), you get a wire trigger/cylinder bolt spring. Gets much closer to a Ruger in any event.
  7. LightningMan

    LightningMan Well-Known Member

    Old Fluff is right these guns are of the original colt design but they can be made to hold up better. I too own two USFA's not Rodeo's but none the less have had the same problem with broken springs. Hand springs & bolt/trigger springs are most prone to breakage as I use my for cowboy action shooting. If you have some machining experence along with access to a drill press you can install the same coil spring & plunger used in Rugers for your USFA. I would also use the wire type trigger/bolt spring and you can get these from different places like Brownells, Midway and others, but these wire springs IMHO need to be replaced once a year if you shoot alot, as they get weaker much faster than flat leaf springs. If you want a good gunsmith do it for you, I would give Long Hunter shooting supplys a try as Jim Finch AKA Long Hunter is a Cowboy action shooter himself and he sells his own line of USFA Rodeo's with all the necessary work done. Try www.longhunt.com or call 806-365-0093 Good luck, LM.
  8. Confederate

    Confederate Well-Known Member

    I like single action revolvers, but I'm not at all wed to the old design. I had a SAA once where the first click was for loading, so the cylinder was supposed to freely rotate. But when the hammer was drawn back to the second click, it would lock into battery. My SAA Ruger doesn't do that; in fact, it has no first notch setting. Loading is accomplished by opening the chamber latch.
  9. OFT

    OFT Well-Known Member

    There's nothing wrong with the original design. Some of the first generation Colts are still perking along. I have a second generation in 357 that I bought new in 1969 ($175.00) that has had several thousand rounds of 357 and 38 Special through it and it still works just fine.
  10. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    With the hammer completely down, right?

    I don't have the tools nor experience to do it myself, but I may have a competent gunsmith like the one you suggested do it. I would like to be able to rely on any firearm I own, but with this happening I won't carry it until I feel its as reliable as my others. I never realized the SAA design was this fragile. Thanks.
  11. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    You got a bad spring!

    Get it fixed and quit worrying about it.

    Flat springs that don't break in the first few hundred rounds could very easily last the life of the gun and never break again.

    With that said, no, Colt SAA's are not as durable as a coil-spring Ruger.

    But they are far from fragile either.

  12. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    I think its reasonable to worry about a gun you may carry, especially when people I trust here recommend replacing several parts to make it more reliable. If the SAA design needs that much modification to be reliable then I consider it fragile.
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Colt introduced the Single Action Army model in 1873, and the U.S. Army, quickly adopted it and used it mostly on the western frontier until 1892. They recalled some later at the turn of the 20th century to battle an insurrection in the Philippine Islands.

    On the civilian side it was a staple sidearm on the frontier and elsewhere. It continued in production until 1940, and following World War Two it was reintroduced during the mid-1950’s. It then continued in production until this day.

    While it was not officially adopted, many officers in the British military services purchased their own, and carried them through various actions within their Empire.

    Obviously, with this sort of history the revolver was not chronically fragile or weak. If it were it would have disappeared long ago.

    But there isn’t a handgun made that doesn’t have issues, and Bill Ruger addressed some of these by changing the design of the cylinder bolt, and substituting coil springs in place of flat ones. Later he added a transfer bar safety so that the cylinder could be carried safely when it’s fully loaded. This isn’t the case with the original Colt or exact copies thereof. It should be noted that Beretta (and maybe Taurus) also make single action revolvers that incorporate a transfer bar safety.

    There are some that prefer the Ruger for it’s unquestioned ruggedness, and other that treasure the old six-shooter for what it is. Neither side is wrong.
  14. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    Fragile may be too strong a word. I know a bit of the history of the SAA and realize it was an Army issued weapon and considered state of the art for a long time and preferred by many. That's why I wanted an accurate representation of one like the USFA. I still like the USFA a lot and think its a fine pistol. I would buy another one. I'm just going to get it fixed, maybe have some of the recommended mods done also. I'm somewhat of a purist and like the old style action a lot.

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