" A military weapon extracting the jt\. discharged shells singly; combining strength and simplicity of action; not liable to get out of order; readily taken apart and easily cleaned; having entire exchangeability of parts, with a high order of finish. Commended for durability and actual service in the hands of a soldier. . .
The above succinct report, by the judges of the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876, is as relevant today as it was over 80 years ago. It is a striking fact indeed that the revolver referred to remains in production as of this date. As such, it can claim the longest production period of any revolver, if not any cartridge firearm, ever commercially produced. Introduced in 1873 as the Single Action Army, it is also known as the Single Action Army and Frontier, Frontier Six-Shooter, Peacemaker, and Model 4P\
It enjoyed continuous production from 1873 until 1941 when reduced sales and pressure of defense contracts terminated its manufacture. After World War II the demand for Colt Single Action revolvers skyrocketed to the point where collectors often paid from three to four times the pre-war price. In light of this strong demand, Colt's in 1955 decided to resume limited production. Specifications remained unchanged although calibers were restricted to .38 S&W Special and the traditional .45 Colt. Recently Colt's also resumed production of the unique Buntline Special version of the Single Action Army which features a barrel 12 inches long!
It is perhaps significant that only minor design changes have been effected during the years that the Colt Single Action has been produced. Early guns with serial numbers below 165,000 are
in the so-called blackpowder category, whereas those with higher numbers were manufactured after the advent of smokeless powder. The change-over, which occurred in 1896, was reflected in reduced headspace tolerances to accommodate the higher pressures developed by smokeless powder cartridges. The substitution of the spring release for the screw originally used to retain the base pin occurred about the same time as the change to smokeless.
The barrels of early Single Action revolvers were rifled with comparatively narrow lands, whereas those made subsequently have wider lands with lands and grooves of equal width. Some were furnished smoothbored for use with shot cartridges. Barrel lengths varied from three inches up to 16 and 18 inches for the special-order Buntline models. Some guns were produced
The parts most frequently roquiring replacement in the Single Action arc the hammer, trigger, and bolt which are subject to breakage. These replacement parts are usually a little oversized so careful fitting is in order. This drawing shows the steps nec-ossary in installing a new bolt. First, file sides of bolt cylinder-engaging tip at "A", trying bolt tip in bolt recesses in cylinder until a close fit is achieved. Try fit again with bolt and cylinder installed in frame. Some additional fitting may now be necessary to allow bolt tip to pass smoothly through cut in frame. The height of engaging lip of bolt, as it rises up through frame to engage cylinder, can be controlled by filing forward lip of bolt at "B". Removing metal at this point will allow bolt to rise higher up out of frame. Use care in this operation since, if too much metal is removed, bolt may not lower far enough to allow cylinder to turn. File a bevel at the rear »tip of the bolt as shown at "C" to allow this tip to slide smoothly over the bolt cam on the hammer. Timing of the bolt fall into its locking recess in the cylinder is determined at "D" If insufficient metal is removed at this point, the bolt will not fall; if too much is taken away, the bolt will fall too soon and a stripe around the cylinder will result
O Frequently the sear end of the trigger is ^ broken off. This increases the sear thickness and, in effect, forms a wedge which will invariably break tho loading notch (A) on the hammer if the trigger is not replaced. If the trigger is replaced after the loading notch is broken, it will be impossible to maintain a true edge on the sear with this rough area existing on the hammer. In this case hammer replacement is mandatory. First, determine that end of new scar will fit snugly info loading notch without any bind, and when installed in frame is not so high that it will not engage full-cock notch in hammer when hammer is pulled back to the cocked position. With end of sear at right height to engage hammer properly, stone proper angle on tip, then hone with Arkansas stone. This figure shows correct relationship of full-cock notch in hammer and sear end of trigger with hammer cocked. Note that angle on tip of sear and notch in hammor are parallel to direction of travel of sear tip when trigger is pulled. If angle is not parallel to this motion, it will result either in a hard trigger pull (because sear must lift hammer slightly to clear notch) or sear can easily slip off hammer notch, a dangerous condition without ejector assemblies. From the collector standpoint, an almost endless number of variations is likely to be encountered, from the plain standard models to those elaborately engraved and ornamented to suit a king's taste. A collection by caliber alone would be imposing, considering that the Single
Action has been factory chambered for virtually every American rimfire and center-fire handgun cartridge of significance as well as English, German, and Russian service cartridges. Suffice to say that caliber variations range from the lowly .22 rimfire up to and including the enormous .476 Eley.
Colt Single Action Army Revolver disassembly procedure
Unload revolver. Remove cylinder (14) by opening loading gate (15) and withdrawing base pin (7) and, with hammer at half cock, press cylinder out of frame to right. The base pin is removed by pressing in base pin screw. On older models below serial number 165,000, base pin is held in place by base pin screw (7A) in front of frame; loosening this screw will free base pin.
Remove stocks (42). Remove backstrap (38) by unscrewing two upper backstrap screws (39) and front backstrap screw (35). Remove mainspring screw (36) and drop out mainspring (37). Remove front trigger guard screw (32) and two rear trigger guard screws (33) and lift trigger guard (31) from frame. Unscrew bolt spring screw (29) and remove sear and bolt spring (28) from underside of frame. Remove hammer screw (30) and trigger and bolt screws (26) and remove trigger (27), bolt (25), and hammer (16) with attached hand and spring (21) from inside of frame.
The loading gate (15) is removed by unscrewing gate catch screw (24) from its hole in underside of frame and dropping out gate spring (23) and gate catch (22). The base pin screw (8), base pin spring (9), and base pin nut (10) can be removed from frame by unscrewing screw from nut.
The ejector assembly is removed by unscrewing ejector tube screw (3) from barrel (1). Lift ejector tube (2) free of ejector stud in barrel and push tube toward front of gun, disengaging rear of tube from its seat in frame. The ejector rod (5) and ejector rod head (6) and ejector spring (4) may be withdrawn from ejector tube from rear.
This completes disassembly. Reassembly is accomplished in reverse order. Removal of barrel or replacement of either barrel or cylinder should only be attempted by an experienced person equipped with proper tools. The accompanying longitudinal section shows relationship of all parts with revolver assembled.
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