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  #1  
Old 05-12-2017, 09:30 PM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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Toughness of revolver actions.

One thing I have noticed, is whenever we talk about Colt double actions, someone always makes a comment about the actions going out of time easily. Though no one complains about S&W revolvers going out of time. What makes a Colt weaker, or a S&W stronger? Also how do the Post 69 Colt double actions like the Trooper mk3 or King Cobra compare to the S&Ws? Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 05-12-2017, 09:44 PM
BruceM BruceM is offline
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The thing about a Smith revolver experiencing DNCU is that it is relatively easy to repair.

Then there are the Colt I-frame guns.

Bruce
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  #3  
Old 05-12-2017, 10:36 PM
Oldfut808 Oldfut808 is offline
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I broke an old SW mod19 and an SW mod29. Sold the m19 and bought a m27.
I like warm ammo.
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  #4  
Old 05-13-2017, 12:08 AM
Archie Archie is offline
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Colt double action revolvers traditionally go out of time faster than S&W. "Toughness" is a deceptive word in this case.

The Colt frame, cylinder and barrel are strong, sturdy and reliable. Just like S&W. The problem is in the design. In the Colt inner workings, when one part wears, that wear affects the way all other parts work. When any part of the unlocking, advancing, cocking, locking and hammer release system gets anywhere out of specification, it doesn't work right. By the way, changing the springs doesn't make any difference; it's the way the inner workings move against each other.

The S&W design - and I'm not sure exactly how - avoids this problem. Which is not to say S&W revolvers last forever. Parts flat wear out. Springs break.

The other factor in this is the double action pull of the S&W revolver is - in the past at least - in the majority 'better'. The force required to pull the trigger all the way through the double action cycle is far more uniform than the Colt mechanism.

Last thought: Heavy loads do not affect this problem. Heavy loads may stretch the top strap and allow extreme gas leakage in the cylinder/barrel gap AND excessive end play in the cylinder. Heavy loads may bulge the chambers in the cylinders (forming an 'egg shaped' interior). But heavy loads do not cause timing problems per se.

When people speak of S&W revolvers lasting longer, no one knowledgable is casting aspersions on a Colt's ability to digest heavy loads, or they are somehow 'flimsy'.
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  #5  
Old 05-13-2017, 12:20 AM
9mm Colt 9mm Colt is offline
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Ya got that right Archie!
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  #6  
Old 05-13-2017, 10:10 AM
Texagun Texagun is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceM View Post
The thing about a Smith revolver experiencing DNCU is that it is relatively easy to repair.


Bruce
Would you like to share what DNCU stands for?

The only thing I can think of in this context is "Does Not Carry Up".

IDNUMOTAUOTF

Last edited by Texagun; 05-13-2017 at 10:20 AM.
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  #7  
Old 05-13-2017, 10:17 AM
drail drail is offline
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It does mean "does not carry up". Easily fixed with a new oversized hand (which must be fitted) unless some fool filed on the ratchet. The weakest part on any DA revolver is the forcing cone and the cylinder locking notches for the bolt. The larger and heavier the cylinder is and the faster you cycle it in DA the faster the notches get peened edges. S&W N frames are particularly susceptible to this. The loaded cylinder has a lot of rotating mass and is suddenly stopped by the tiny locking bolt. The forcing will be eaten away by using very light bullets and large charges of certain types of powder. If your ammo creates a huge ball of flame you are tearing up your forcing cone. Don't ask how I know this.

Last edited by drail; 05-13-2017 at 10:24 AM.
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  #8  
Old 05-13-2017, 10:31 AM
havanajim havanajim is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archie View Post
Colt double action revolvers traditionally go out of time faster than S&W. "Toughness" is a deceptive word in this case.

The Colt frame, cylinder and barrel are strong, sturdy and reliable. Just like S&W. The problem is in the design. In the Colt inner workings, when one part wears, that wear affects the way all other parts work. When any part of the unlocking, advancing, cocking, locking and hammer release system gets anywhere out of specification, it doesn't work right. By the way, changing the springs doesn't make any difference; it's the way the inner workings move against each other.

The S&W design - and I'm not sure exactly how - avoids this problem. Which is not to say S&W revolvers last forever. Parts flat wear out. Springs break.

The other factor in this is the double action pull of the S&W revolver is - in the past at least - in the majority 'better'. The force required to pull the trigger all the way through the double action cycle is far more uniform than the Colt mechanism.

Last thought: Heavy loads do not affect this problem. Heavy loads may stretch the top strap and allow extreme gas leakage in the cylinder/barrel gap AND excessive end play in the cylinder. Heavy loads may bulge the chambers in the cylinders (forming an 'egg shaped' interior). But heavy loads do not cause timing problems per se.

When people speak of S&W revolvers lasting longer, no one knowledgable is casting aspersions on a Colt's ability to digest heavy loads, or they are somehow 'flimsy'.

Very good. Very good indeed.
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  #9  
Old 05-13-2017, 12:08 PM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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I had to fix a New Service a while back. It had a cylinder that spun freely in double action. I wanted to replace the hand, and the bolt, but you cant get over-sized New Service parts, so I got a Python bolt, and modified it to work, and used the original New service hand. Gun locks up tight now, I just wish I could get a new hand to smooth up the action. The old will have to suffice for now.
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  #10  
Old 05-13-2017, 01:43 PM
BruceM BruceM is offline
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Quote:
Would you like to share what DNCU stands for?
It's Smith & Wesson factory acronym for "Does Not Carry Up" ie: the hand does not carry the cylinder up completely. The usual cure for this problem in a Smith revolver is fitting an oversized (wider not taller) hand. The ratchets on the ejector generally do not need to be touched up. As I said, this repair is pretty quick and straight forward as compared to what, as I understand it, generally needs to be done with a Colt.

Bruce

Last edited by BruceM; 05-13-2017 at 01:50 PM.
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  #11  
Old 05-13-2017, 02:33 PM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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Everyone talks about the V spring guns being a pain to fix, but how about the coil spring Colts? Such as the Trooper mk3/4, Lawman, King Cobra, Peacekeeper etc.
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  #12  
Old 05-13-2017, 07:24 PM
dfariswheel dfariswheel is offline
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The Post-1969 Colt revolvers like the Mark III, Mark V, King Cobra, Anaconda, and "SF" models like the SF-VI, DS-II, and Magnum Carry are extremely tough revolvers.
Master gunsmith Jerry Kuhnhausen thought the Mark III through King Cobra medium frames were the strongest medium DA revolvers ever made, including the S&W "L" and Ruger.
This was due to Colt's very high grade forged frames and cylinders combined with the very sturdy and simple action design.

As for repairs, these later models are both extremely easy to repair, and can be a problem.
The Colt Mark III series was the worlds first "drop-in" built revolver.
Colt made the parts from sintered steel, an earlier form of MIM.
These parts were molded to such tight dimensions "most" any part would fit and function.
To build or repair one of these later Colt's a part is pulled from a bin and test fitted into place.
If it doesn't work, another part is pulled from the bin until one does work.
This meant that these revolvers could be simply assembled by semi-skilled workers instead of each part being stoned and even bent to fit and function by a master fitter like the older action models.
This significantly lowered the cost to build the guns.

That's also a potential problem.
These molded parts were given a very thin, almost-hard surface hardened finish to prevent wear.
Unlike older guns, any stoning or even polishing will break through the hard surface and ruins the part.

When one of these models needs to be repaired, since a local gunsmith doesn't have bins full of parts, he has to order one part from a parts house.
If for some reason it doesn't fit, he's left with attempting to return it for an exchange and hope the next one fits.
This often leads to a local gunsmith deciding to just stone a part to make it fit and save himself the time and expense of returning and reordering parts.
Since that almost always breaks through the hard surface and exposes the soft inner steel, the part is ruined.
What happens too often is that a local will do whatever he needs to get it working, figuring that the altered parts will last long enough he'll never see the gun again.

It's not unusual for someone to buy one of these Colt's and to start having problems with it, often unsafe triggers or timing problems.
This is usually due to the parts having been stoned and ruined.
Due to the transfer bar safety-ignition action's design, a timing problem is a sign of serious trouble.

So, actual repair can be as simple as dropping in a new part, but if it doesn't fit you have to hope a local gunsmith knows not to start stoning or polishing and will properly obtain another part.

The older Colt's can often benefit from some action smoothing due to minor roughness of the forged and milled parts.
The newer models can only be improved by installing a lighter spring kit.
Since the action parts are molded, they're already as smooth as will do any good so any "polishing" will not do any good, and is likely to ruin the part.

In operation, these later Colt's are nothing at all like the older action models.
As example, Ruger, Dan Wesson, and Taurus basically copied Colt's Mark III transfer bar safety-ignition action design.
In all these guns timing is far less critical then the older Colt's like the Python, Detective Special, etc.

In these models and the S&W, the cylinder locking bolt is designed so it rides on the cylinder for most of it's rotation, which leaves a drag line on the outside of the cylinder.
Timing is not very critical and the action can wear or be out of order and often still work acceptably.
In all these brands, the cylinder does not lock up tightly with the trigger pulled and testing the action by holding the trigger back is NOT a valid test for anything.
Even in a gun in which the cylinder seems to be locked tightly, there's still enough looseness built into the design to allow the necessary cylinder movement to allow the bullet passing from the chamber into the barrel to force the chamber into alignment.

In the old Colt action the timing is absolutely critical.
The cylinder locking bolt should drop back onto the cylinder only in about the middle of the long leade in front of the actual locking notch.
Timing in the old Colt action is critical, and if it gets out of order it just stops working properly and begins to damage the gun.

In these older Colt's when the trigger is pulled the cylinder is forced into alignment with the barrel and tightly locked in Colt's famous "Bank Vault" lockup.
Since the hand that pushes the cylinder to the next chamber also is what forces the cylinder into tight lock up, it's normal wear of the hand that causes Colt timing problems, and is the source of claims the action is "weak" and gets out of order easily.

In fact, the hand in the old Colt action is a normal maintenance item to be either repaired or replaced as needed.
What causes increased action wear is abuse such as pulling the trigger in double action as hard and fast as possible, and "force cocking" the hammer in single action by jerking the hammer back hard.
The older Colt's can be fired fast in DA by using a trigger control technique known as "rolling the trigger".

The later Colt's, S&W, Ruger, etc will withstand more of this abuse then the older Colt's will, but the action is still being damaged.
Strangely, police in the old days were issued or bought a Colt revolver when joining the force and often carried it for a 20 or 30 year career without many reports of problems.
This is because they understood that when the action wore it was time for maintenance.

Back then, most every gunsmith had to know how to work on the Colt's because so many police and Federal agents carried them.
Now most of those gunsmiths are gone, and everyone knows how to work on S&W and Ruger revolvers, but have no idea how the complicated old Colt action functions.
Back in the old days, having a Colt hand repaired or replaced was a common job and plenty of new parts were available.
Not so today, which leads unknowing Colt owners to continue shooting a revolver long after normal maintenance is needed.
As it's used past the repair point, serious damage begins to happen.
Of course, it's the "weak" Colt's that are at fault, just like continuing to drive a fine car after hearing loud "Clanking" noises in the motor are the cars fault when it fails.

A final problem with the old Colt action is it's complexity.
It was originally designed in the late 1890's and is an extremely complex action with tiny, but critical operating surfaces.
Each part performs AT LEAST two totally unrelated functions.
Make a small adjustment "hear" and something totally unexpected and disastrous happens over "there".
Because the old Colt action is totally counterintuitive it has the reputation of being a "watchmakers gun".

Due to the lack of qualified pistolsmiths who can do repairs or maintenance, and the lack of parts, too many people either retire fine guns, or abuse them by continuing to use them.
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  #13  
Old 05-13-2017, 08:08 PM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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Thanks dfariswheel, that anwsers that question. Though I wonder why the they changed the shape of the frame on the mk3, rather than maintaining the classic I frame profile. The were able to keep the D frame profile with the SF-VI
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Old 05-14-2017, 06:44 PM
PolymerMan PolymerMan is offline
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My understanding... and this is second, maybe third hand information on the differences between Colt and S&W.

I don't own a Colt and never had, but allegedly the S&W has wiggle room when the cylinder locks up. You can feel it yourself when you cock a S&W into single action. There is just a little bit of wiggle in that lock up. In addition, the barrel's forcing cone has a wider opening. When, the cartridge ignites, and the bullet transverses the cylinder gap, it has the effect of self correcting, and realigns the cylinder to the barrel.

The S&W is designed so that it is more tolerant of any timing issues.

The Colt (again I don't own one) has a very tight lock up, and the forcing cone has less tolerance. So in theory, when a Colt locks up, ready to fire, it has almost no wiggle room, and any misalignment between the cylinder and the barrel will result in bullet shaving as it transverse the gap.

Like I said... I am repeating what I have read. Hopefully someone better informed than myself can confirm this theory or dispel it.
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Old 05-14-2017, 09:44 PM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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Polymerman, I believe you are correct. The Colt marketing department used to punish S&W for those reasons. Though ironically their "surperior",and expensive action helped their down-fall. Even with the cheaper mk3 revolvers they were still playing "catch up" with S&W, only to get slaughtered by the plastic fantastic in the '90s. S&W, and Ruger only survived, because they were in bed with the government. If it were not for defense contracts, and termination of product lines, We may have seen Colt revolvers with evil ILS on them.
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Old 05-15-2017, 01:26 AM
Capt. Methane Capt. Methane is offline
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Archie and dfariswheel-thank you for the lucid explanations of the inner workings of the Colt DA revolvers. Given Colt's reputation I couldn't understand how such fine revolvers could be fussy about timing, especially when they were more expensive and for a long time considered superior to the competition.

I have some training as a mechanic and with the guts of a Smith or Ruger on the table I can easily see how they work together-apparently that is not true of the Colts.
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:26 AM
TRSOtto TRSOtto is offline
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When it comes to DA revolver actions and I hear the word "strong", the only brands that comes to mind are Ruger and Dan Wesson.

Smith and Colt can ride on the short bus.
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Old 05-15-2017, 09:33 AM
havanajim havanajim is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRSOtto View Post
When it comes to DA revolver actions and I hear the word "strong", the only brands that comes to mind are Ruger and Dan Wesson.

Smith and Colt can ride on the short bus.
OHHHHH...... OHHHH NO, he didn't just say that!!!!! Ohhhhh, the humanity!!!!!! What has this world come to????
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:37 PM
dfariswheel dfariswheel is offline
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Ruger and Dan Wesson (We're talking about medium frame DA revolvers here) are assumed to be stronger then the Colt or S&W medium frames simply because they're thicker.

S&W and Colt used forged steel where DW and Ruger used cast steel.
Cast steel usually needs the extra size to equal the forged frames.

Some of you may remember the infamous "Burger War" of the 80's.
Ruger started it by putting ads in gun magazines intimating that since Ruger guns were thicker they were stronger then the alluded to S&W revolvers.

Some advertising genius at S&W came up with may well be the most devastating ad of all time with their famous "Burger" ad.
Ruger slunk off and never tried it again:

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  #20  
Old 05-15-2017, 09:41 PM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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I love the burger ad. Ruger still boasts that their revolver is surperior because it does not have a side plate ( I have no idea how that influences strength.) If Ruger used forged frames their revolvers would not have been competitively priced, causing them not to sell. We saw what happened to Colt when they tried to make a surperior gun. The reality is that better does not sell to the majority but cheaper does. Remington played second fiddle to the Winchester model 12 with their stout model 31 for years, but when the dirt cheap 870 came out, the expensive model 12's days were numbered. I know those are shotguns, but it is a good example of why Ruger made their guns the way they did.
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  #21  
Old 05-16-2017, 08:04 AM
vinny vinny is online now
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If the Ruger, say GP100, is thicker why does it weigh the same as the 686? The former weighs 40 oz and the latter 39.7 oz.

I believe the Ruger is thicker where it's needed, top strap, barrel frame interface. Note the Ruger does not have the same grip design, where Ruger uses less steel.

http://www.ruger-firearms.com/produc...eets/1705.html

https://www.smith-wesson.com/firearms/model-686
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  #22  
Old 05-16-2017, 01:49 PM
ekaphoto ekaphoto is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FNHipowerluv View Post
I love the burger ad. Ruger still boasts that their revolver is surperior because it does not have a side plate ( I have no idea how that influences strength.) .
It is not only the side plate issue but the flutes where the GP100 vs S&W are are also a factor. On the Smith the flutes are over the cylinder vs Ruger between at least on older Smiths. The plate issue is hard to describe but basically you have a solid frame vs hollowed out frame with a plate. I had an issue 686 years ago that was out of time and our duty ammo was 38+p. Rugers are just built more solid than the others in general. I am not bashing smiths, I am looking at a model 60 at the moment and would like the new colt 38, but facts are facts. There is some truth to the steel ie different types of steel are stronger than others also heat treatment is a big factor. All are nice firearms and do the job well but each has its own strengths and weakness. The Smiths and Colts are very refined the Ruger no so much without some work = cash but are strong.
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  #23  
Old 05-16-2017, 08:58 PM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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Thanks for the replies so far. Companies like Ruger can brag about their revolvers being stronger. But unless you are talking about bohemeths like 454 cussul or 460 S&W, I see no need to make an overbuilt revolver. Most of us run 38 specials through our 357s. If you want to abuse your revolver that is fine, but I prefer to plink with 38 special, and carry with 357. To practice with 357 just seems like awasted expense, and unnecessary punishment to your gun. If you are on a quest to make the hottest revolver round than get the Ruger. For moderate magnum shooting, both Colt, and S&W guns are more than strong enough, it is just a matter of which one goes out of time first.
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Old 05-16-2017, 09:21 PM
TRSOtto TRSOtto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
.....

Ruger slunk off and never tried it again.
Yeah......and while Ruger was "slinking off".....Smith and Wesson had to redesign the Model 29 internals to keep the gun from melting down after 4 or 5 boxes of factory 240 grainers.

The Redhawk and the Dan Wessons went on to dominate silhouette shooting and the Model 29's were relegated to the pretty glass display boxes.

Too bad the S&W design engineers weren't as sharp as the S&W marketing weenies.
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Old 05-16-2017, 10:19 PM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRSOtto View Post
Yeah......and while Ruger was "slinking off".....Smith and Wesson had to redesign the Model 29 internals to keep the gun from melting down after 4 or 5 boxes of factory 240 grainers.

The Redhawk and the Dan Wessons went on to dominate silhouette shooting and the Model 29's were relegated to the pretty glass display boxes.

Too bad the S&W design engineers weren't as sharp as the S&W marketing weenies.
Once again, why would you want to abuse your gun like that? Does silhouette shooting require hot loads? Forgive my ignorance. The way I see it, if you want to shoot hot loads, get a rifle...
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