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New Trigger for Chief's Special .38

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by procarryusa, Jun 25, 2010.

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  1. procarryusa

    procarryusa Member

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    I have a revolver and want to fine -tune a few things.

    1. I want to lighten the heavy trigger pull.

    2. I want to smooth the trigger pull. It tends to be quite sticky.

    3. I want to replace the ribbed trigger with a smoother trigger.

    What would I need to accomplish this project? I have no gunsmithing experience (unless installing a scope counts) but am good at following directions. Where would I get the parts?

    Thanks!
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    1. Wolff spring kit.
    http://www.gunsprings.com/index.cfm?page=items&cID=3&mID=58#441

    2. A total cleaning & re-lube with Outers Gun-Slick graphite grease while you are changing the springs.

    3. You don't want a new trigger.
    First, there is nothing wrong with the grooved trigger it comes with.
    Second, a replacement trigger may likely have a worse pull then the one you have that is fitted & mated to the hammer DA sear, and rebound slide at the factory.
    http://www.snubnose.info/docs/lockwork.htm

    Without any prior experiance, I would not suggest you try any stoning or polishing of the internal parts. It is way easy to screw them up if you don't know what to do or how to do it.

    You would be amazed what a couple thousand cycles with snap-caps will do towards smoothing up the action due to break-in. Also how strong your finger will get and how much less you notice the trigger pull!!

    If you simply must have a smooth polished trigger, you do it yourself with a Dremel tool, a sanding drum to remove the grooves, and polishing wheels to make it sparkle.

    There are a few tricks to correctly taking a S&W apart without damaging the side plate and other parts.
    Suggest you get a gunsmith screwdriver set, and do some study before attempting it.
    Sticky from revolver forum:
    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=397027

    I really recommend this book too:
    http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=25717/Product/THE_S_W_REVOLVER___A_SHOP_MANUAL

    rc
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
  3. Oro

    Oro Member

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    I agree that if you must have a smooth trigger, it's better to modify the one in there than go to the hassle and expense of another - it's not like a 1911 drop-in.

    Unfortunately, the dremeling will remove the case hardening on the trigger and hurt value. But if you have to have it that way, it's the simplest and cheapest way to go.

    As for lighter springs, they will lighten the pull, but they also have a notorious habit of making the gun unreliable and unable to ignite some ammunition. Before I went that route, I would:

    a) Dry fire the gun three to five hundred times, slowly.
    b) develop your trigger finger, both in skill and strength.

    The dry firing will help polish up the internals without potentially damaging internal work. The dry firing should improve your grip and strength to the point it seems even less stiff and more smooth.
     
  4. procarryusa

    procarryusa Member

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    Oro,

    I am wanting the trigger job mostly for my wife. It is a well-used gun, but still has a rough trigger. I am thinking of having the trigger done professionally, but wanted to know if it was worth saving the money to do it myself. We have dry fired it hundreds of times and put over 500 rounds through it in the past year.
     
  5. rmfnla

    rmfnla Member

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    S&W used to offer smooth "combat" triggers for all of their frames. Often they were just a drop-in replacement; sometimes they needed a bit of fitting.

    I did many such conversions for female police officers in Miami who found it hard to quality with the thin, ribbed stock trigger.

    Maybe S&W can fit one of these for you?
     
  6. procarryusa

    procarryusa Member

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    I don't see the triggers offered on their website or Brownell's. Do you know where one could get one?
     
  7. Oro

    Oro Member

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    You can try the springs then, but be sure to rigorously test ignition of whatever the carry ammo is. Check Numrich's for the triggers. Also, Call S&W. They have a ton of stuff not on their web site. What 36 do you have that has a serrated trigger? My memory is fuzzy, but most I've seen have smooth combat triggers; I've had two 60s and two 36s over the years and I think all (vintage 1968 to 1986) had smooth triggers.

    Another comment is, if you do go to a gunsmith, make it CLEAR to him that he is not to stone or file on the sear notches and faces on the hammer and trigger. The reason is that the hardening on those parts is about .003" thick. As soon as you make a few strokes, it's gone, and you are down to softer steel. It will feel great for a few hundred or thousand rounds, then starting wearing to an unsafe condition. I have seen this so many times it's nauseating. The customer leaves with a gun that feels slick as a snake. Then later on it starts stepping off the sear and, Yikes. Unless they are a professional shop prepared to re-harden or re-chrome the parts, this is bad.

    Given what you have added, I'd say get a Wolf mainspring and possibly a rebound spring. When you have the gun down (detail stripped), polish highly the faces of the rebound slide itself and also the recesses it rides in.

    When you reassemble it, use first just the mainspring, leaving the rebound spring stock. Now try it a while and see what you think and if it's reliable. If it's still too heavy, then consider going back in and changing the rebound slide spring. Far too often, changing both at once makes for unreliable ignition.

    For help with this if you don't know how to do it all, see Sylvan_Forge's excellent Model 10 thread stickied at the top of the revolver sub-forum. Great stuff. The J is slightly different, but not much.

    PS - I did not mean to sound like I was talking down to you before. I now see the "firearms instructor" in the by-line, which I overlooked before. I just saw the fewer posts and made an assumption. If you are good at breaking down guns and moderately mechanical, you can do this stuff yourself with the right caution and instructions. That's also why I added the littany about why you might indeed want to do it yourself or at least communicate well with the gunsmith about not altering the sear and notches.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I think none of them did.
    I currently have a 36 Chief, 49 Bodyguard, and a 34 Kit Gun all made in the early 60's through 70's.

    All have fine-line serations on the triggers.

    I can't speak for all model 60's, but I believe they did too as they used the same case-hardened triggers as the blued guns.

    rc
     
  9. Old Shooter

    Old Shooter Member

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    This thread is getting interesting, just checked my 36 no dash nickel plated and it has the smooth trigger.

    Factory option or ?
     
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Beats me.

    Standard Catalog of S&W says this about the 36 blue & 60 stainless:
    "Early models used a .240" serrated trigger. Later changed to a .312" smooth combat trigger."

    Guess all of my J-Frames over the years have been early models, as I have never owned a smooth one!!

    rc
     
  11. wriggly

    wriggly Member

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    Probably was a replacement, or it was ordered that way.
     
  12. EMC45

    EMC45 Member

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    I have a Mod 36 SQ butt no dash blued. It HAD a finely grooved trigger. As did a Model 10 I have. Grind and polish. For me, it makes a world of difference. I have a 3 in. Model 30 .32 S&WL that is in Nickle. It too has a grooved trigger as well. Not for long....It shoots great, but cannot stand a grooved trigger! Have a Taurus 44 special in SS and it had a grooved trigger. It also has a wide target type trigger. That will soon change too......
     
  13. gb6491

    gb6491 Member

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    FWIW, I have a no dash 36 and a 60-9; both have the smooth, wider trigger:
    qr1642.jpg
    17wjmw.jpg
    Regards,
    Greg
     
  14. rmfnla

    rmfnla Member

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    Not anymore.

    Maybe a note to the S&W custom shop?
     
  15. procarryusa

    procarryusa Member

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    Seeing as it is my wife's carry gun, we might have to get her another gun before we can send it away to S&W. Oh well...just another excuse for another gun!
     
  16. earplug

    earplug Member

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    Parts on GunBroker.com

    I have had good results going to GunBroker.com for used S&W parts.
    Many firearms get destroyed but the parts are taken off and resold.
    I'd look for any stainless J frame trigger that is complete. The pins and springs are a bear to deal with.
    Get stainless then you can reshape the trigger and it will stay shiny.
    You can do a fine trigger job with the factory springs. It is recommended to have a couple spares on hand in case you shorten them to much.
     
  17. rmfnla

    rmfnla Member

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    "Get stainless then you can reshape the trigger and it will stay shiny."

    I'm not sure that's true. Stainless doesn't do so well for triggers & hammers so S&W makes them from normal steel and flash chromes them to match the SS finish. At least that's what they used to do; I assume it has not changed.
     
  18. earplug

    earplug Member

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    SS Triggers

    My S&W JM 625 has the flashed chrome hammer with a stainless hammer. They have a history of chrome peeling. I got a nice finger cut from mine. I bought it new about four years ago.
    My S&W M-60, 638, 642 and M-65 have no issues with the stainless trigger.
    I installed a stainless trigger in my M-14 as I wanted a narrow trigger and didn't want to cut down the target trigger. I have had no issues with any stainless trigger.
    Gunbroker has J frame triggers available
     
  19. Oro

    Oro Member

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    Ok, a cheaper option occurred to me. Tyler makes their bronze trigger shoes with an optional flat face. That would only be $35 plus shipping. That might be the way to go. Look up Tyler Manufacturing and "T-grip," google it and you will find them.
     
  20. rmfnla

    rmfnla Member

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    Gotta be careful with trigger shoes.

    They can come loose and jam up the trigger. They also extend beyond the sides of the frame & trigger guard so the trigger can be pushed when the gun is holstered.
     
  21. procarryusa

    procarryusa Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. I found a local gunsmith who will replace the trigger and do a 7-8 lb trigger job for $100. Does that sound like a reasonable price? (Parts included)
     
  22. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    1. I wouldn't replace the trigger, but instead polish off the serrations and round the front face - which is a simple job.

    2. The "reasonableness" of the job depends on what the 'smith does. That in turn depends on his knowledge and experience. Keep in mind that a bad job can leave you with an unreliable or even ruined revolver. Some folks on the Internet will tell you the answer is to polish this or that, and replace the rebound slide spring and mainspring (one or both) with lighter ones. I can assure you that this is not what a true S&W trained armorer does.

    When it comes to a gunsmith, how do you tell the "real thing?" Ask him what special jigs and fixtures does he use? All too often the answer will be a blank look. :uhoh:

    And I'll give you a big, fat hint: If one could put a RELIABLE UNDER ALL CONDITIONS 7 to 8 pound double-action trigger pull on a J-frame revolver, S&W as well as some others would like to talk to him and find out how...
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  23. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Boy, truer words were never spoken!!!

    rc
     
  24. procarryusa

    procarryusa Member

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    @ Old Fluff,

    The gunsmith is a friend from a local gun store and well-trained. He says that you can get a trigger job down to about 8 1/2 lbs and have it be reliable. He said that since it's the older kind where the hammer contains the primer, you aren't losing energy like on the newer models and you can afford to go down up to a pound or so lower.

    He recommended not shaving off the serrations, because there is soft metal underneath them. Shaving off the serrations would make the trigger wear out sooner. It seems that blued triggers are not available, but this one will be chrome and a tad wider, which will help with an even pull.

    Thanks for your input! I will ask him what jigs he uses.
     
  25. BBBBill

    BBBBill Member

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    I removed the serrations from the trigger of my S&Ws years ago (mid 70s). In all of those years of shooting, the flesh of my finger has not caused the trigger to wear one tiny bit more. We are not talking about removing material from the surfaces that engage metal to metal. Only the face that your trigger finger touches.
    As for light double action pulls on any revolver, but most especially an S&W J-frame, it can be done, but requires the utmost care in blueprinting the whole gun to insure that there is no excess headspace or cylinder/yoke endshake, proper firing pin protrusion, and no drag anywhere in the system. And the owner must be the type of fellow who fully understands what he is getting. That means understanding that it requires much more attention to maintenance and examination to detect changes in the gun. And those changes will happen due to wear from firing. Not the kind of thing that the average shooter will grasp. The gun must be kept scrupulously clean. Even with that, the potential for a failure in use due to dirt entering the gun in a struggle or the environment make it very iffy. The potential problems with this far outweigh any advantages gained. I know this for a fact from long experience.
     
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