Colt 1903 - Can't field strip - Slide hangs up on the Hammer
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Thread: Colt 1903 - Can't field strip - Slide hangs up on the Hammer

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    Colt 1903 - Can't field strip - Slide hangs up on the Hammer

    So I bought a Colt 1903 a few weeks back, this one manufactured in 1913, and I have a problem field stripping it. The hammer for whatever reason is raised enough that it jams against the slide when attempting to tear down the gun for cleaning.

    The workaround is to empty the gun, rack the slide back and lock it open with the thumb safety, turn the gun upside down, and insert a small plank that's long enough to fill the space between the firing pin and rear of the slide. Release the thumb safety and gently slide the rack off the gun.

    I thought maybe it was the main hammer spring, so I ordered a complete spring kit and after completing the upgrade the problem remains. At that point my mind turned to the hammer. The hammer physically appears to me as I would imagine it should appear, though there is some wear at the top, above the spot where the firing pin contacts the hammer. Still, it doesn't seem to me that is the reason why the hammer is raised, catching the slide by approximately 1/64th to 1/16th of an inch.

    I wrote US Armament yesterday and received the following response this morning:

    "We come across this problem a lot with the new and old version of this gun. Most likely your hammer needs to be repaired or replaced. This is something we only do in house so if you would like to send us your gun for repair we can take care of that for you. We do not just sell hammers on their own. The charge should be under $200 with shipping but we wont know for sure til we see the gun."

    I'm a bit shocked by this reply, as I was under the impression that the 1903 was flawless in regard to design and build. To learn this problem is seen a lot in both the new model 1903's as well as the old ones suggests to me the design needs improvement to correct the error.

    At any rate, I can't find information on the web from other's who've experienced this problem, and what steps are necessary to fix it. So I've come here to post and hopefully receive some feedback and help. I'd really like to get this little beauty operating properly...

    02_colt_1903_pocket_hammerless.jpg


    Last edited by CzechOne; 08-22-2019 at 08:57 PM.
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    Magazine out...Slide back to Witness Mark, so Barrel can Rotate for it to be turned a little then pulled out...Barrel out, Slide comes off forward, smack with the Heel of your Hand, if it is somehow hung up on the Hammer.

    I have never heard of any JB Design made by anyone, where the Hammer would hang up enough to prevent the Slide being slid off.

    Try that, let us know?
    Last edited by Oyeboten; 08-23-2019 at 12:33 AM.

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    DJC
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    From your picture, your pistol has been reblued which says someone has been into the works sometime or another. I suspect an inexpert trigger job was attempted which modified the sear bent and allows the hammer to sit high when cocked. If Oyeboten's solution does not work, your pistol needs surgery. Good luck and let us know how it works out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DJC View Post
    From your picture, your pistol has been reblued which says someone has been into the works sometime or another. I suspect an inexpert trigger job was attempted which modified the sear bent and allows the hammer to sit high when cocked. If Oyeboten's solution does not work, your pistol needs surgery. Good luck and let us know how it works out.
    This is likely. My brother bought a Colt Commander and someone did their idea of a trigger job, which wasn't anything like a recommended one, and rendered the hammer to junk metal status.

    The good new is that there are parts available.
    I'm thinking, that is without getting ours out, that if the hammer is raised too much it could block the removal of the slide.
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    Ken
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    I have several model Ms that are a little sticky when removing the slide. My solution has been to just get after it a little, and it comes apart just fine. There may be a case for the age and wear of the pistol to be acting in such a way as to allow the hammer to extend a tiny ways out of spec. My guns all function normally, so I don't think it is a real problem. They have never not, as in always, come apart the way they should. Maybe with a little coaxing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by oberon View Post
    I have several model Ms that are a little sticky when removing the slide. My solution has been to just get after it a little, and it comes apart just fine. There may be a case for the age and wear of the pistol to be acting in such a way as to allow the hammer to extend a tiny ways out of spec. My guns all function normally, so I don't think it is a real problem. They have never not, as in always, come apart the way they should. Maybe with a little coaxing.
    Somehow I had never heard of this before..!

    I have an early .380, I'll dig it out and take a peek, see what I can figure out about just what part of the Hammer anyway, would interfere with just what part of the Slide.
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    Well...to be completely upfront, I think the stiction in my pistols may be more related to the disconnector hanging up in the notch on the under side of the rear of the slide. And a hammer being out of spec may be the likely result of somebody 'tuning' it up and wrecking the internal relationships of the affected parts.
    Note that the notch for the disconnector was kinda square & abrupt in a lot of early pistols, and was later smoothed up to have the sharp corners, fore & aft, knocked down a little to accommodate smooth action over the disconnector. There also may have been an early fix for this that some guns got and others didn't. You can't know for sure which guns got a factory fix and which ones were fixed by a gunsmith.
    Recall also, how the slide lock/safety retaining system took kind of a loopy route before it was fixed: no retainer led to migration of the safety pivot, then a screw was placed in the end of the pivot to keep it in place, and finally the cut out in the frame and the pivot were modified so the thing was held captive until the slide was removed from the frame. Meanwhile, as the problem was being resolved one way or another, some guns got the fix and others got the gunsmith treatment, up until the final solution emerged.
    As we all have learned at some point along the way, Colt would do whatever was necessary to improve their product and to ensure safe, reliable operation, all the while with a keen eye on the bottom line. The proof, of course, is that the 116 year old model Ms(and all subsequent ones) still run good and are still a helluva little pocket pistol for anyone who might want to carry one.
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    Yes, the gun has been re-blued. One thing I did notice when I had the gun apart to install the new leaf springs was a small bend in a section of the trigger. The bend is in the left arm that extends across the center section of the trigger.

    The sear and safety appear to my eye to be in good condition but what do I know, they may not be. The safety has a little stickiness to it. A squirt of Ballistol helped alleviate that. a bit anyway, but some sticking still seems evident.

    To tear down for field stripping I need to rack the slide and engage the safety. Then I turn the gun upside down and install a small plank of wood (which I fashioned from a piece of popsicle stick) into the gap spanning between the firing pin and the rear of the of the slide. Disengaging the safety, I can remove the frame from the slide. The wood plank prevents the hammer from riding-up and catching on the slide. Of course this is all done with the arm cleared and magazine removed.

    At this point I think what DJC said about the arm needing surgery is likely the best solution.
    Last edited by CzechOne; 08-24-2019 at 08:24 AM.

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    Never heard of this, and I'm wondering why it doesn't happen when you rack the slide? Just about all pistols have these "rub points" (hammers, disconnectors, misc types of safeties etc) that can make the slide hesitate a bit if you ease it forward, but I have never seen it be so bad that you couldn't move it forward at all.

    In any case, I figure it could be solved by looking at the hammer and see if you notice where it's catching, then rounding it off slightly right there. When I troubleshoot problems like this, I usually put some marking fluid (a Sharpie will work as well) on the parts, that will make it easier to see where it rubs. But like Oyeboten said, it might just need some firm persuasion, like slapping it forward with your hand or tapping it with a rubber mallet.

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    Slapping it forward with both hand and mallet have been a "no go." There's definitely something more than that going on. I marked and rounded off the high spot on the hammer a couple days ago, exactly in the manner you suggested (via making a mark with a sharpie). I think that actually made the problem worse, because the metal I removed by rounding off seems to have had the effect of actually raising the the back end of the hammer even more.

    The ONLY way I can get the slide removed from the frame is via the wood 'ramp' I made, which prevents the hammer from recessing/rising up into the open slot between the back of the slide and the firing pin.

    Here are two photos showing the ramp I made. Notice how one end is tapered...that end fits into the rear of the slide. The square end is bumped up against the firing pins housing.

    Also notice the scratch marks on top of the firing pins housing, close to the rear of the housing...those were caused by the hammer binding the slide in that section of the firing pin housing...

    20190824_150523.jpg 20190824_150551.jpg
    Last edited by CzechOne; 08-24-2019 at 09:34 PM.
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