Aftermarket SAA style hammers for modern revolvers?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by CyborgHobo, Jan 17, 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. CyborgHobo

    CyborgHobo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2017
    Messages:
    5
    I'm wondering if it's possible to find aftermarket hammers for S&W and Ruger DA revolvers that imitate the size and shape of the Colt single action army hammer. I find this style to be more ergonomic and fumble-proof. Anyone know of such a thing?
     
  2. Drail

    Drail Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    6,343
    Nope. My advice is to just learn to be proficient shooting DA revolvers in DA. Or just buy a SA. Is this question regarding a carry gun or a range gun? (it makes a difference)
     
  3. CyborgHobo

    CyborgHobo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2017
    Messages:
    5
    Carry gun. I'm a believer in cocking the hammer when the opportunity presents itself or when a longer or more accurate shot is required. I'm not looking to get into a debate about this.
     
    hannstv likes this.
  4. MartinS

    MartinS Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Messages:
    860
    I've never seen what you are looking for, just pictures of welded up standard hammers. I have seen myself cocking a DA hammer more surely by planting the hammer close to the palm, almost touching the thumb knuckle just like some folks cock a single action. This will also leave you with a high grip on the gun.
     
  5. CyborgHobo

    CyborgHobo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2017
    Messages:
    5
    That's what I do actually. The stock hammers on my s&w revolvers are fine really, I just like the one on my vaquero even more. It gives more purchase and leverage. I wonder how hard it would be to have a gunsmith weld a little extension or something.
     
  6. MrBorland

    MrBorland Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Messages:
    5,015
    Location:
    NC
    If you decide to go that route, please report back with pics and to let us know the result - particularly if you run into reliability issues.
     
  7. Pentz

    Pentz Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2016
    Messages:
    11
  8. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,000
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    Nobody is looking to debate with you. But if you calm down a little bit you might learn something.

    Other than the custom offset King hammer for Smiths, hammer styles have varied quite a lot over the years with S&W revolvers.

    Originally, S&W side swing revolvers had what was known as the Long Throw hammer.

    I always found this early style of hammer to be less than user friendly. The knurling is relatively shallow and there is not much of a gullet between the hammer spur and the body of the hammer. Fairly easy for the thumb to slip off the hammer on a hot sweaty day.

    [​IMG]



    An early style of Short Throw hammer was the so called Speed Hammer. This pair of K-38s from 1957 at top and 1950 at the bottom have Speed Hammers. It was a more ergonomic design than the old Short Throw hammer, there was a deeper gullet between the hammer spur and the body of the hammer, so it was easier to manipulate.

    [​IMG]



    This photo illustrates the difference between a modern Short Throw hammer and the old Long Throw hammer. The design of a double action revolver dictates that the hammer must be pulled back farther when cocked than when the hammer is released in double action mode. That is just the nature of the design and you cannot get around that. However the engineers realized that the hammer spring was compressed enough at double action release to fire a cartridge. Any extra rotation past that point compressed the spring more than necessary. So the internal geometry of the Short Throw hammer was redesigned slightly so that the full cock position of the hammer did not rotate back quite so far as with the old Long Throw design. You can see in this photo that the Long Throw hammer is rotated back about ten or fifteen degrees more than the Short Throw hammer. The Short Throw also contributes to a faster lock time.

    [​IMG]



    This photo shows the difference of the hammer shape of the old Long Throw design in the background and the modern Short Throw hammer in front. Notice how much deeper the knurling is on the Short Throw hammer. In addition, notice how deep the gullet is between the hammer spur and the body of the hammer on the Short Throw hammer. In practice, when cocking the Short Throw hammer, the tip of the thumb rolls into that gullet and the pad of the thumb never looses contact with the deep knurling. On the hottest, sweatiest day in July, my thumb is not going to slip off that hammer.

    [​IMG]



    I have always felt that Colt had a leg up on hammer design with their double action revolvers over Smith and Wesson. The Army Special from the 1920s in the background of this photo has a slightly better profile than a S&W hammer of the same era. The Official Police model in the foreground is a more modern Colt design, and it too is very easy to control. Notice how deep that gullet is.

    [​IMG]




    Lastly, S&W Target Hammers used to have a spur that was wider than the body of the hammer. Combat hammer spurs such as on a Model 10 were usually the same width as the rest of the hammer. This K-22 was made in 1950 and it has the typical wide hammer spur of a target hammer. Very easy to control.

    [​IMG]





    Now, let's look at the geometry of the Colt SAA hammer. Part of the reason it is easy to cock is because the body of the hammer is longer than a double action hammer. Again, part of the design. It has to do with where the pivot point of the hammer is. So you have greater leverage when you pull back the single action hammer, which makes the effort seem easier. Now look at how huge that hammer spur is. It is enormous, giving the tip of the thumb plenty of space to roll down into without loosing contact with the knurling. In point of fact, the hammer spur of a Colt SAA, or any of the replicas, is so tall that it blocks your view of the sights when the hammer is down. It is a single action revolver, so why would you need to see the sights until after the hammer is cocked. You must cock the hammer in order to see the sights. I know you said you like to shoot your revolvers single action style, but I assume you will want to shoot them double action at least part of the time, and being able to see the sights usually helps improve accuracy. Ruger Blackhawks have a shorter hammer spur and you can in fact see the sights when the hammer is down. When Ruger brought out the New Vaquero one of the features was a hammer profile more like a Colt, and yup, the hammer spur blocked your vision of the sights until the hammer was cocked. Later they made a couple of different hammer styles available for the New Vaquero.

    [​IMG]



    So that's it in a nutshell. If you want to design up something for a gunsmith to weld on, don't make it so tall that it blocks the sights. Think about wider, not taller. Remember that you still are working with a shorter lever arm than with a single action revolver, so you are already behind the eightball in that respect.

    At one point, Marlin lever rifles came with a plastic attachment that you slid over the hammer spur so you could cock the hammer more easily if there was a scope mounted on the rifle. The attachment extended to either side, giving you more 'thumb access' in the limited space under the scope. Not too different than the legendary King hammer.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  9. CyborgHobo

    CyborgHobo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2017
    Messages:
    5
    Thanks for the insight Driftwood Johnson, that was very interesting. I'm plenty calm, but the internet is full of people who bully revolver aficionados, especially those who believe there is ever a reason to cock the hammer in a combat situation, so I tend to be on my defensive when discussing revolver-related topics. It hadn't occurred to me that the hammer could block the sights when down, and now I feel stupid. Instead of saying "SAA style" hammer, I should have simply asked if there were better aftermarket hammers or accessories. The DA colts from the 20th century I've been able to handle definitely had better hammers than their competitors. There's nothing wrong with the factory hammers used on Smiths and even Rugers today, but after using SAA clones, the former leave something to be desired by comparison. Anyone who wonders why it took so long for DA revolvers to overtake SA's in popularity after they were invented should handle a SAA or clone and see how wonderfully smooth the hammer cocks. I'd go so far as to say that the lack of a swing-out cylinder is by far a more significant disadvantage of this design compared to modern DAs than the inability to be fired DA.
     
    Coyote3855 likes this.
  10. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,000
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    Howdy Again

    Here is a link to hammer extensions sold by Brownells. These are similar to what I mentioned earlier regarding sideways extensions for the hammer spurs on lever action rifles. Note, these are for rifles, I do not recommend them for a revolver that may be used in self defense. I just wanted you to see what I was talking about.

    http://www.brownells.com/handgun-parts/trigger-group-parts/hammer-parts/hammer-extensions/hammer-extensions-prod9036.aspx

    In addition, you may be interested to know that some of the target revolvers made by Smith & Wesson, such as the Model 14, used to be available in a single action only model.
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    28,951
    Location:
    Florence, Alabama
    Here is the King catalog. The picture on page 4 is not real clear, but you can see how the "cockeyed" hammer was meant to be used. Note that the target shooter of the day cocked his revolver by kind of kinking his thumb straight back, not rolling the gun in his hand to get the thumb across the "gullet."
    http://www.histandard.info/King/KingCatalogs/cat19/Kingcat19D04-05P200R_1280_960.html

    I once saw a picture on one of the gunboards of a Bisley hammer spur grafted onto a Ruger Security Six.

    Found the thread but the pictures have expired. You could contact the guy, he is still active on TFL.
    http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=472450&highlight=bisley

    This is a photoshop mockup of what he was working on.
    http://thefiringline.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=103724&d=1480905428

    I think Chic Gaylord, writing in 1960, was one of the last to recommend single action for long self defense shots.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  12. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,000
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    Howdy Jim

    Thanks for the link.

    Here is a photo of King's Cockeyed hammer.


    [​IMG]
     
  13. MrBorland

    MrBorland Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Messages:
    5,015
    Location:
    NC
  14. jmar

    jmar Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2016
    Messages:
    262
    People who build fanning revolvers often have custom hammers, but i'm not sure how they do it. Maybe search around and find a gunsmith who does that type of work. It won't block the sites if it goes back more than out and will have more leverage.
     
  15. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,000
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    "Fanning Revolvers", those used in fast draw competition are always single action revolvers. The OP is talking about modern, double action revolvers. Horse of a completely different color.
     
  16. jmar

    jmar Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2016
    Messages:
    262
    Obviously... The modification is the same, so the gunsmith should be able to do it no matter the color of the horse.
     
  17. MartinS

    MartinS Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Messages:
    860
    A good thread this, shows what can happen when this board flexes it's muscles and the smooth, seemingly effortless expertise of the true Big Kahunas comes off the porch.
     
  18. Drail

    Drail Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    6,343
    Yes, please post photos of whatever you come up with.
     
  19. MrBorland

    MrBorland Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Messages:
    5,015
    Location:
    NC
    +1. And, as I mentioned earlier, comments on whether you notice any change in function.

    A little while ago, I became interested in hammer design. Using some mock-up models of stock and modified hammers, I was amazed to find and conclude that factory hammers aren't just shaped as they are because that's what fits in the lockwork - instead, their shape, weight distribution and best location of the firing pin seem highly engineered and and very specific. The hammer on any gun is really quite a remarkable piece of design.
     
  20. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Messages:
    8,911
    I'd love to read an elaboration on this observation.
     
    gotboostvr likes this.
  21. MrBorland

    MrBorland Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Messages:
    5,015
    Location:
    NC
    Think of a bat hitting a baseball - when it connects at the bat's "sweet spot", the ball really sails and the batter doesn't feel a jar at their hands (the pivot). Connect off the sweet spot and it stings the hands, and, because energy is siphoned off to jar the pivot, the ball thuds.

    A revolver hammer is much like a baseball bat, and it has a sweet spot, too, and it ought to be at the firing pin. As far as hammer design, then, the the gist of it is 1) that the hammer is designed to both fit the lockwork and to position the sweet spot at the firing pin, and 2) you (read: I) can't modify the hammer so as to keep that sweet spot appropriately positioned. IOW, the hammer has a very specific design. You can lower or increase mass (inertia), move the center of gravity, but you'll move the sweet spot as well. How much any of that actually matters would need to be empirically determined through experimentation, which is why I'm curious to see what functional effects installing a SAA-style hammer in a modern revolver would have.
     
  22. jmar

    jmar Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2016
    Messages:
    262
    What do you mean by at the firing pin? I guess i don't understand. The only thing i can think of that makes a difference on a hammer is the distance from pivot point. Further out laterally the more leverage. The higher the smoother the draw but slower. Closer down to pivot point the faster but harder to cock. I don't see how much else would affect anything.
     
  23. Drail

    Drail Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    6,343
    I have always looked at the S&W hammers and thought how elegant the designs were (as well as the internal parts). Subtle changes have been made over the years but it is still a marvelous piece of engineering that is still hard to improve on. But I switched to shooting all of mine DA only many years ago. Even with the ones that still have a hammer spur. I really can't remember the last time I thumb cocked one at the range.
     
  24. Malamute

    Malamute Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,168
    Location:
    Rocky Mts
    I may be one of the few that still shoot DA revolvers SA. I shoot more distance stuff than not (100-300 yds), which may be part of my preferring to have the SA ability. Many say they can shoot a long, heavier DA trigger as well as a short, clean, lighter SA trigger, but Ive not achieved that level.
     
  25. Drail

    Drail Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    6,343
    100 to 300 yards with a SA Bisley is almost too much fun. Wasted a lot of my youth doing that. Nothing like sitting on your butt waiting for the bullet to get there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
    Malamute likes this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice