Flexing The Detective Specials Sideplate - Pistolsmith

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Old 02-12-2013, 11:17 AM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Macho Grande, Kansas
Posts: 6
Flexing The Detective Specials Sideplate

I bought my first Colt dbl action a couple weeks ago and wanted to ask advice here. It's a well used 1973 vintage which pushes out the top portion of the side plate when I cock the hammer or pull the trigger as dbl action. The lower portion and screws are tight and the upper horizontal split line is flush with the frame till I cock the action. This surely isn't normal; think something isn't sitting proper inside ? This DS's action was extremely gritty till I lubed it up, but it still pushes out the upper portion of the panel. Timing, lock up and action seems good with it firing each round and the pin hits the center of the primer.

Additional work, I was able to tighten the two plate screws about 1/4 turn each and now the trigger will sometimes stick in the rear position and the hammer won't always lock in cocked position.

Last edited by BulletBait; 02-12-2013 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 02-12-2013, 04:36 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,800
You have something out of place.

Here's a schematic of a Colt action. Different gun, but same design:


Things to check:

Make sure the hand that pushes the cylinder is pushed in as far as it will go, and the that rebound lever is properly seated in the slot on the back side of the hand.
It's not unusual for the rebound to slip out of the slot in the hand and drop down. The side plate will not seat if so.

Make sure the pin in the rear of the rebound lever is through the lever and the holes in the frame. These pins often drop out.

The hand is part 12, the rebound lever is part 19.

Make sure the cylinder release part 25 is properly on the pin on the cylinder latch pin part 28.

Make sure the safety assembly is properly interlocked and fully down into the frame.
These are parts 10 and 11. 11 locks onto a pin on the trigger, and locks to a pin on part 10.

Make sure the hammer and trigger are fully down in place.

Use a straight edge to insure the side plate hasn't been bent or sprung.
If someone pried it off, it may not ever again seat correctly.
Side plates are removed by rapping on the grip frame below the side plate with a plastic screwdriver handle to vibrate the plate off.
Prying will destroy the plate.

The plate is inserted top edge down first, then the bottom is pressed down in place, making sure the cylinder latch is in the correct position and on the latch pin correctly.
Snug the screws down to pull the plate down. If it won't go in place STOP.... something is still out of place, or the plate is bent and ruined.
Don't attempt to replace a bent side plate, they're hand fitted at the factory and don't drop in.

If you can't figure it out, send the gun in to Colt for repair. DON'T trust it to a local gunsmith. They don't understand the old Colt action and will likely botch it up worse. Trust only Colt.
Old 02-12-2013, 07:47 PM   #3
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Macho Grande, Kansas
Posts: 6
Thanks for the reply and suggestions. I got the plate off and back on with no problems. This was my first 'C' section on a dbl action. I'm accustom to the proctology approach to my Scouts and Rugers. All pieces in their place and fully seated and engaged. Clean and oiled inside with no rust. Plate is still flat and fits flat on receiver till I cock the gun. The top portion pushes out about 1/32" during cocking, then goes in flat again. The screws are still very sensitive to 1/4 turn tight which causes a drag on the trigger and won't let the hammer cock back. Loosen the top screw 1/4 turn and the bottom one a bit more, then everything works. It shoots decent at 20 yards, so guess I'll learn to live with the swell.
Old 02-13-2013, 05:40 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,800
I wouldn't.
No Colt revolver will push the side plate out nor will tightening the screws cause the hammer to stick.
Shoot it as-is and you'll probably do serious damage to the gun.

You have a sick Colt. Have it fixed, they're just too expensive these days to let them go.

At a minimum, invest in a copy of the Jerry Kuhnhausen shop manual.
This is a real gunsmith's shop manual written as a training aid for new pistolsmiths.
It shows in great detail ALL disassembly, reassembly, and complete gunsmithing of the Colt revolvers as the Colt factory does it.
This should help you figure out the problem.....and the gun DOES have a serious problem.


This is the best gunsmithing and troubleshooting info ever written on the Colt's.
It gets into the fine details.

Last edited by dfariswheel; 02-13-2013 at 05:43 PM.
Old 02-14-2013, 04:34 AM   #5
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Macho Grande, Kansas
Posts: 6
Good tip, I'll invest in that manual. At 1/3 of most bid board starting prices for a well used model, I knew it had issues but thought it was worth a try. I enjoy a good challenge, even if it's a reblued Colt.

got er fixed.
the hand pawl was too thick where its pivot pin fits into the side of the trigger. that matched to the rub mark on the inside of the side plate where the hand comes out to engage the cylinder. no more bulging or trigger sticking back with the screws down tight. now if I can figure a way to smooth out the angle grinder marks as a previous owner tried to remove rust pits before it was reblued. she ain't the prettiest sows ear, but is accurate enough though. an advantage in not worrying about it dropping on a hard surface. all my guns were bought to shoot often and not live in a safe. at least now I can shoot it without doing any more damage.

Last edited by BulletBait; 02-14-2013 at 10:40 AM.
Old 02-14-2013, 06:17 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,800
Glad you got it fixed.

Just be careful when working on it, I understand a lot of you guys at Macho Grande have drinking problems.
Old 02-15-2013, 11:51 AM   #7
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Macho Grande, Kansas
Posts: 6
Good catch. Very few people associate my location with the movie 'Airplane'.

In all my years, this is the first time I've ever pulled the trigger on a Colt double action. My only comparisons are my current 'K' 64, Security Six and several former 10's. I have to be honest that the 64 is much smoother in single and double action with the Ruger weighing about 3 pounds more. Perhaps this Colt is just tired and way too many experts have left their mark.
Old 02-15-2013, 06:41 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,800
Colt's feel different than S&W, Ruger, or the later Colt's like the Mark III and King Cobra.

The trigger action "stacks" and gets heavier toward the end, which turns a lot of people off who aren't used to it.
It feels just right for those of us who grew up on Colt's.
However, the Colt's usually have a better single action trigger then other brands.

The Detective Special was famous for being the highest quality, most accurate "snubby" ever made.

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