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Colt SAA timing question please

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Tallbald, Sep 4, 2011.

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  1. Tallbald

    Tallbald Member

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    Friend of mine showed me a nice maybe 85% condition .45 Colt SAA he inherited from a family member. Now I'm a Ruger SA old and new model man, and have only a passing knowledge of the Colt. Correct me if I'm wrong, but at half-cock I believe the cylinder bolt should retract, allowing the cylinder to rotate freely for loading. In this case though, the hammer must be retracted a little farther than half-cock in order to free the cylinder. What is not happening in this case?
    I also believe there are several variations to the SAA, i.e. first, second and third generation (?). Is there a link to identifying the variations and approximate dates of manufacture? Thank you each for your time. Don.
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Out of time.
    Most likely reason is a worn or broken trigger tip, which in a SAA is the sear. It comes in direct contact with the hammer notches and should be long enough to hold the hammer at the correct position for loading.
    It very likely would not be hard to fix, but you would have to know how to fix it.

    Here is a source of orginial parts & repairs.
    Expensive, but he probably has it, and knows how to fit it better then new!
    http://www.peacemakerspecialists.com/parts.html

    Colt serial number ranges off the top of my head: (somebody correct me if they are wrong)
    1st. Gen. were made from 1873 until 1941 with serial numbers all below 357860.
    2nd. Gen. were made from 1955 until 1974 with the serial number 0001SA to 73319SA.
    3rd Gen were made from 1976 until 1981. Serial #'s will start with S and end with A. (SxxxxA)

    At the present time the Colt custom shop is manufacturing the SAA again.
    I wouldn't call them a 4th. Gen, but they are different in some respects then the 3rd. Gen guns, and of higher quality again.

    Here is a website where you can look up the serial number:
    http://proofhouse.com/colt/index.html

    rc
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011
  3. bgr2014

    bgr2014 Member

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    Colt S A

    If everything else is working fine I wouldn't have anything done to it, being that it's a collector gun.
     
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I would.

    Continued operation in it's present condition is not going to do the other parts any good.

    An original old Colt trigger replacement from Eddy Janis & Peacemaker Specialists will not hurt the collector value.
    In fact it very well will increase it if it makes the gun work right again.

    rc
     
  5. BCCL

    BCCL Member

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    Cosmetic rework & refinishing can damage the value of some collector guns, not properly done functional restoration.
     
  6. SAA

    SAA Member

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    Could be a worn bolt or hammer cam as well. Have someone who knows the single action have a gander.

    1st and 2nd generation information is good.

    Correction on 3rd generation:
    Started in 1976 and has run until the present.
    Started in 1976 at 80000SA.
    Ran to end of 99999SA and changed serial format to SA01001 in 1978.
    Ran to end of SA99999 and changed serial format to S02001A in 1993.
     
  7. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    The Colt SAA has three notches. The half cock notch does not allow the cylinder to rotate -- since that was originally intended as the carry mode.

    The loading notch, halfway between the half cock and the full cock, does allow the cylinder to rotate.

    Put the gun on half cock -- the hammer should be back just a tiny bit. Now pull the hammer back farther, and you should hear another "click" before you reach the full cock notch -- that's the loading notch.
     
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I have not heard the SAA hammer positions designated that way before.

    I have always read and said:
    First click = Safety Notch (sometimes quarter cock to discourage people from following 19th century practice.)
    Second click = Half Cock (cylinder turns for loading)
    Third click = Full Cock (ready to shoot)
     
  9. Leaky Waders

    Leaky Waders Member

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    My COLTS click 4 times...just saying - C-O-L-T.
     
  10. BCCL

    BCCL Member

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    They "click" 4 times, but there are only 3 actual notches on the hammer.

    Pull one back slowly and:

    1st click it will be on the safety notch
    2nd click it will be on the loading/half cock notch
    3rd click there is no notch, what your hearing is the bolt engaging the cylinder and if you release the hammer it will fall back to the loading/half cock notch
    4th click is fully cocked
     
  11. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Three notches, four clicks -- the extra click being the bolt, as you said.

    There is a legend the Ku Klux Klan was named from the sound of an SAA being cocked (starting with the half cock already engaged).
     
  12. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    That is one of the worst things you can do to a single-action.
    Once the flat spring arm of the bolt has slipped off the hammer cam and makes that click, lowering the hammer without fully cocking it forces the bolt spring back over the hammer cam from the wrong direction.
    It sometimes results in a broken bolt, and in any case is very hard on the lock-work.

    A good rule to follow with a SAA is once you partially cock it, finish cocking it and lower the hammer. That allows the bolt arm to get back in place where it goes on the hammer cam ramp again.

    rc
     
  13. BCCL

    BCCL Member

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    I know, I wasn't advising to do it, just saying that there is no notch there and that's what will happen "if" you do.
     
  14. SAA

    SAA Member

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    Half cock is the "loading notch". The "carry mode" to which you refer is the quarter cock notch.
     
  15. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    I have always heard the first notch called the safety notch and, IIRC, that is what Colt called it. Because of the thinness of the sear (upper part of the trigger), if the sear is in the safety notch and the hammer struck, the sear will be broken but probably won't stop the gun from firing if there is a round under the hammer.

    Also, if the trigger is broken, be very careful in trying to use either the safety notch or the half-cock (loading) notch. The broken end of the trigger is too large to fit in those notches and will almost always break out the notch if let down too hard. Needless to say, hammers cost more than triggers, so replacing the trigger before anything else breaks is a good idea.

    Jim
     
  16. BCCL

    BCCL Member

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    Yep, screen shot straight from the Colt factory manual.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Safety notch or quarter cock, it is the same thing.
     
  18. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Things can get confusing, because on some guns there is only one notch besides the full cock and that is sometimes called the half-cock notch, sometimes the safety notch. (Examples: the 1911 pistol, Winchester rifles and shotguns, and percussion Colt revolvers.)

    The half-cock and safety notches were separated in the Colt SAA so that the gun could be carried safely without the cylinder being free to rotate. In the percussion guns, the carry safety function was performed by the Colt's safety pins, Remington's cylinder slots or Manhattan's extra cylinder notches.

    In practice, the SAA was often carried with the hammer down between cartridges rather than with only five rounds as is the modern (and safest) method.

    Jim
     
  19. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    That's the only safe way to carry a traditional SAA -- as many a man found when saddling a horse -- the stirrup, thrown up on the seat so you can tighten the girth, can slip off and fall, hitting you in the hip. And hitting the hammer of your SAA.
     
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