SAA Tuning Question - Pistolsmith

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Old 07-09-2002, 10:29 AM   #1
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SAA Tuning Question

I don't do much work on Colt SAA's so I've got a question for those that know about them. I was watching the AGI video "Tuning the Colt S.A. for Cowboy Action Shooting" where Bob Dunlop describes modifying the bolt (cylinder stop) to drop into the cylinder notch sooner by filing a step on it.

Is this a worthwhile modification? Do any other 'smiths do it?
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Old 07-09-2002, 05:45 PM   #2
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I'm not as up on the SAA's as I am Colt DA revolvers, but I don't think I like the sound of that. My worry would be reduction of bearing surface on the bolt, and premature wear of the cylinder caused by the step.
I think Jerry Kunhausen's book on 'smithing the Colt SAA's is out, so before I cut away, I'd try to get a copy.
I trust Kunhausen more than I do AGI.
Old 07-09-2002, 06:19 PM   #3
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I've known Bob Dunlap a bunch of years, when it comes to gunsmithin', if Bob tells you a chicken dips snuff, don't doubt'em. Just raise the wing, you'll find the can.

Bill Caldwell
Wild Bill Caldwell Tactical Weaponry
Old 07-09-2002, 07:51 PM   #4
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Yes, I've had the pleasure of meeting Bob a few times and took a class from him once. It was just something that I'd never heard of before.

While he does cut a step on the bolt, he also makes sure that there is adequate material on both sides of the bolt for strength. I guess I'll have to buy a SAA so I can try it.
Old 07-11-2002, 05:57 PM   #5
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I taught my 1911 class one summer at Yavapai College and Bob was there. He is a terrific instructor and a neat guy. He got the number one approval rating that summer and I was number two. Since he had been doing these courses since Moby Dick was a minnow and it was my first time I was pretty tickled to come in after the Master. That being said, I have no idea of what the question is. I have done hundreds of these tune-ups and the bolt is timed up by tweaking the end of the finger that rubs against the hammer stud. The shelf on the end of the bolt determines how far the bolt comes up into the cylinder notch. Some smiths like Bob Munden cut this shelf off which I think is kind of crude. Timing is also affected by adjusting the sides of a new bolt to bring the cylinder in line with the barrel forcing cone so the range rod goes in easy. I have not seen any videos of Bob's so I can't help much. He is the greatest ,so if he says do it, do it. The bolt should come up about half way into the cylinder scoop right before it goes into the notch. Otherwise, it will skip if it is coming up right into the notch. Colt's are sloppy and I have had to replace bolts in unfired 3rd generation Colt's They are some junky guns unless they were made way back when.
Old 07-12-2002, 12:06 AM   #6
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As the hammer is cocked the bolt is pulled down out of the cylinder notch to allow the pawl to turn the cylinder and index the next chamber in line with the barrel. Before the next chamber fully indexes the bolt is released to drop up against the cylinder and rides the cylinder until the next bolt cut on the cylinder comes up for the bolt to drop into. From what you describe, the only benefit to allowing the bolt to drop early, would be if the cylinder was being spun so fast as a result of quickly cocking the hammer, that the bolt cut could somehow spin past the bolt before it dropped against the cylinder. As Dave said, the scoop leading to the bolt cut is there to catch the bolt and the bolt rides the scoop into the bolt cut.
If the bolt drops early, before the scoop, it will mark the cylinder from that point on. I have always felt that if the bolt dropped was within the generous confines of the scoop, the revolver was considered to be in time, at least as far as bolt drop timing was concerned. You will have to judge for yourself if you think you might cock the hammer hard and fast enough for the bolt cut indexing to out run the bolt drop timing.
Old 07-12-2002, 06:23 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Charlie Rock
From what you describe, the only benefit to allowing the bolt to drop early, would be if the cylinder was being spun so fast as a result of quickly cocking the hammer
Exactly the reason Bob gives for this. IIRC, in the video he says he was taught this by an old time quick draw shooter.

In reality, you aren't giving up any bolt engagement with the cylinder notch. The top of the bolt is normally cut on an angle with one side being higher than the other. He files half of the top of the bolt down to the level of the lower side of the bolt (but both sides are the same level as before. Now the top of the bolt has 2 steps instead of a slanted surface. Timing is still the same - the bolt should drop into the cylinder notch leade. Because ot the different shape of the top of the bolt, it drops into the cylinder notch a little bit earlier.

Like I said earlier, I was wondering if anyone had actually tried this.

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