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S&W 1950 .44 Special Target heavy trigger question

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Rio Laxas, Oct 9, 2014.

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  1. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    I just picked up a shooter grade 1950 .44 S&W Special target revolver that was part of an estate. While doing my mechanical inspection of the revolver, everything seemed great but the trigger was heavier than normal. The lock up and timing are good. There is no end shake, hammer push off. or signs of improper side plate removal.

    When I got it home, I discovered that someone had placed a small piece of flat metal in between the strain screw and mainspring. Once I removed it, the action was what I would consider normal. Is there any reason (other than wanting a heavier trigger) why someone might do that?


    EDIT: After comparing the strain screw to the strain screw on a S&W 28-2, it appears as though it may have been shortened. Is there any reason it can't be replaced with a modern N frame square butt strain screw?
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  2. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    That kind of thing is usually done to lighten the trigger pull, not to make it heavier, but the result might have been to let the hammer push on the end of the mainspring, and that will make the pull heavier. There is no reason you can't replace the strain screw with one for any K or N frame.

    Incidentally, the strain screw is NOT intended to adjust the trigger pull. Its purpose is to allow mainspring tension to be relieved when removing the mainspring or removing the side plate. Otherwise, it should be kept fully tightened at all times.

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  3. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    Looks like I will be ordering a new strain screw. It seems like it was a fairly common occurrence for people to monkey with the strain screw under the mistaken impression that it is the "trigger adjustment" screw. I've had a few revolvers that had loose strain screws when I bought them, but this was the first shortened one. It must have caused problems for someone to have shimmed it. Thanks!
     
  4. MrBorland

    MrBorland Member

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    Well, first, finding a replacement square butt strain screw is gonna be tough. Also, IIRC, early post-war revolvers used a different thread than later guns. I don't know when they switched threads, but if you do manage to find one, it'd have to have the correct threads.

    As for the trigger pull, it may be gunked up internally, so a good, thorough and proper internal cleaning and lubing would likely help the action.
     
  5. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    It looks like the strain screw from my 28-2 will fit the 1950. I found the strain screw at Numrich for $3.25. Hopefully it is the right one.
     
  6. g.willikers

    g.willikers Member

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    It might have been done to increase the main spring tension to correct light primer strikes.
    Maybe the mainspring is lighter than normal.
     
  7. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Agreed.
    A previous user put in a limber mainspring or shortened the strain screw, or both; then started getting misfires. So he shimmed the strain screw to increase mainspring tension so the gun would shoot.

    I have one likewise, a 25-2 worked over by a big name gunzine writer recommended gunsmith. It would not reliably fire reloads with Federal primers in moon clips. So I shimmed the strain screw with a fired primer cup. Shoots reliably now and the trigger pull is not a LOT heavier.
     
  8. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    You may also find that the previous owner ground away part of the width of the mainspring to lighten the trigger pull. I purchased a 25-2 a couple years ago that had that issue and would not reliably fire anything in Double or Single action. The trigger was wonderfully light though... I replaced the mainspring witha a new Wolf bossed power rib mainspring and then the gun was 100% and still had a good trigger.

    http://www.gunsprings.com/index.cfm?page=items&cID=3&mID=58
     
  9. MrBorland

    MrBorland Member

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    If the screw's really been shortened, the action "normal" when un-shimmed, but heavy when shimmed, installing a full-length replacement screw isn't going to solve anything, as you're just reproducing the shimmed situation. If I read the OP correctly, it seems the heavy pull weight was more their issue than the screw itself.

    Once again, I think it's very likely the innards of the gun are gummed up and need a thorough cleaning and lubing. That's where I'd start.

    BTW, are you sure about "heavy" and "normal"? Did you put a pull gauge on it? To some, a normal DA trigger feels pretty durn "heavy".
     
  10. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    I like the way Mr Borland thinks. If the gun has been ignored for a long time it's quite likely that the action is dirty and gummed up. A good flushing and lubrication could make for a lot of improvement.

    This is a perfect job for a bath and cycling the action while doused down with the easy to make Ed's Red recipe. Google for the recipe. I make mine up in a slightly modified way. I use equal parts of;

    ATF
    low odor paint thinner or mineral spirits
    common paint store lacquer thinner.

    I then squirt in about a 1 to 2% shot of Mobil 1 to aid with lubricity.

    The nice thing with this is that you can dunk or pour the mix through the various openings in the action. Namely down through the frame where the mainspring lives, the hammer opening and in through the hand. And you can do it all without the need to remove the side plate. Pour into the gun and cycle the action a bunch of times to clean out all the pivots and sliding faces. Wearing nitrile gloves for this is a wise idea as the solvents and oils are not good for our skin or internal organs. Once flushed and cycled a bunch of times allow to drain well and dry. The residual ATF and oil left behind is all the lubrication and rust protection you require.

    Ed's Red isn't a favourite of everyone but at "hidden actions" like in a revolver where you don't want to remove the side plate often it's a great option.

    Next up would be a full detail strip down and cleaning. If nothing else it would be a good starting point for your ownership so at least you know the condition of the action internals.
     
  11. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    In doing further research, I have found some indications that the strain screws on some of the older revolvers were hand fit. I have decided to take the revolver and replacement strain screw to my gunsmith (a S&W armorer) and have him fit the new one for correct mainspring tension. I will also have him give the revolver a thorough cleaning. I have disassembled a S&W revolver before, but I don't really like doing it.

    To clarify my previous statements, the trigger pull was initially much heavier than any of my other S&W N frames and the mainspring seem to make an unnatural arch when the hammer was cocked. Upon removal of the shim, it seemed more or less normal, but was actually lighter than any of my other N frames. I do have a trigger pull gauge, but I did not think it was necessary to use it, as I've got plenty of others to compare it to by feel.

    Thanks for all the suggestions!
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2014
  12. MrBorland

    MrBorland Member

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    Hmmm...:scrutiny:...have your gunsmith check the rebound slide spring, too. :scrutiny:
     
  13. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    Will do. Removal of the shim caused the unnatural arch to stop, if that makes a difference.
     
  14. MrBorland

    MrBorland Member

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    It's tough to see what you mean by "unnatural bend" without pics. IME, adding a bit of tension via the strain screw & shim doesn't visually change the bend in any obvious way.

    One way to lighten the mainspring tension, though, is to remove the spring and manually bend it near the top. Some would do this in lieu of spending money on aftermarket springs or if they simply weren't available.

    How the single action trigger feel? I'm thinking the gun might've been primarily used in single action for target events. A bend might've been added to the mainspring to lighten the action, but too much bend was added, so the strain screw got shimmed. Then, for some reason, a heavier rebound spring was added. Maybe it had to meet some minimum DA pull weight. You might be surprised at how much the rebound spring contributes to the pull weight, and if a heavier-than-necessary rebound spring was added, the DA pull can end up heavy (especially if the innards are gunked up) without affecting the SA pull.

    I'm speculating, of course, but since the rebound spring does affect the DA pull, I'd certainly have your gunsmith check it out as well.
     
  15. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    As an update, I took the revolver out to the range while waiting on the new strain screws to show up. I left the shim off and and fired 50 rounds. I only had one light strike off of a single action shot.

    I'm kind of tempted to leave it alone, as the trigger is great in double action now, but I am still planning on taking it in. This is the nicest shooting S&W revolver I have ever owned.
     
  16. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Does your spring look like this one?

    Thats what it should look like, if somebody hasn't been dinking around with it.
    The strain screw is out of an unmolested Model 66 and measures .580".

    PS: I just took the one out of my 1950 Target and it measures .582".


    SW66StrainScrew.jpg

    rc
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2014
  17. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    No, it looks much worse. I reckon I'll need to replace that too.
     

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  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Well, theres your problem!!!

    That spring is most definitely Bent in all the wrong places. :eek:

    You may not even need a strain screw.

    What does yours measure?

    rc
     
  19. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    Unfortunately all three sets of my calipers are in storage right now, but it looks to be about a shade under 9/16" or 0.56". The tip of the strain screw is shiny, so I think it has either been ground down slightly or it was rubbing against the shim.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2014
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