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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

This is my first forum post (of many hopefully)

I'm interested in Colt Single Action Army's. Since I live in the EU its hard getting a firearm, but I'm working on it. I won't go far into details on that, since that is not the main point.

I'm doing a 'study' on SAA's and I've tried finding some information on Bob Munden's work on SAA's.

What I've found, was somewhat controversial. Some people said it was the best action they ever felt, but other people claim his work is shoddy, to say the least.

After looking at his website on his Option 2 work, I was left with a lot of questions. I'll try to post the website text with the questions behind them.

From his website on Option 2:


  • A refined, buttery smooth, light action
  • Creating a crisp trigger pull
  • Highly specialized timing, crowning and fitting of the cylinder locking bolt - 1. can anyone explain to me what his process is here?
  • Installing a bolt stabilizer block (another Bob Munden innovation) to protect the frame from eventual collapse when fanning - 2. can anyone explain this or show a picture of this so-called bolt stabilizer block?
  • Re-cutting cylinder locks and lead-ins - 3. I saw those extremely long lead-ins on another picture. Do they really work?
  • Recessing the cylinder locking bolt to protect the cylinder locks - 4. can anyone explain this?
  • Honing the forcing cone
  • Munden coil mainspring & handspring conversions - can these music wire springs do the job properly?
  • Sighting in at the range with the use of a barrel vice of Bob Munden’s design

I've looked through some other forum posts and have seen a video of him doing an option 1 action job, but this merely shows anything.

Last questions I have are about his "Munden Recoil Control grips". Does anyone have experience with those?

Any pictures to explain are definitely appreciated. That said, I'm not a complete new guy on SAA's.

I hope you folks can help me out.

-Prowbar
 

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Prowbar,

First, Welcome to the Colt Forum!!! This is the best place to find information on the Colt line of handguns.

I hope Jim Martin will see this post and he can answer all your questions concering the Bob Munden's "Six Gun Magic". Jim and I have discussed these changes before and I would like for him to give you some excellent advice. Jim is one of the best experts concerning the Colt SAA revolver action.
 

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Trying to think here a bit, Munden has been dead since 2012 so your study must be simply about how to make the SAA action better? I suggest if you can, talk to Jim Martin a little and he was part of a book on the SAA. He hangs around here some and does the best action job I have ever experienced.
 

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Look at Jerry Kuhnhausen's book on the Colt Single Action Army - it'll tell you about the action and how to smooth it.

Jim Martin contributed greatly to this, and unlike Munden - who died in 2012 - he's around and lively and can answer many questions - gentleman that he is.

Oh - something else - stay the hell away from coil springs...
 

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Hello and welcome to the Colt Forum from West Virginia. Glad you joined. I'm sure you will receive some education on Colt's SAA's here, as there are several knowledgeable gentlemen that know there stuff.
 

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I've often wondered about the 4th point in your list mysef Prowbar.. regarding a frame collapsing

Can anybody here address that with a little better explanation? I've read about spacer-blocks in JK's book, being placed next to the bolt in cases throat-to-bore alignment was off just-barely. The block placed in there, after removing that "x" thou-thick piece of frame metal that normally positions the bolt head... idea being to obviously firm up the 'Lock' and cut out side to side play, (and) allow a one-direction very-fine alignment adjustment.

But what's the Frame-Collapse all about? Where does that occur, and why or how?? I'd really like to understand that statement.
 

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A lot of that stuff he came up with and designed was all probably in an effort to create a gun he was satisfied with, and could do amazing things with. It obviously worked for him and I commend him. However, almost all of that stuff is totally unnecessary and some what takes away what a Colt SAA is. It was just mods to suite his needs, which is not the same needs as the average Joe.

For instance the long cylinder leads. The only reason why I could see that being done is so the bolt can drop earlier but still not create a drag. Most likely done for that reason, would help ensure lock up during super fast cycling. Which sounds like a few of the other mods are aimed at, lock up. None of that stuff is even in the realm of being required for the average person. Unless you want to follow the path of Munden.
 

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Hello,

This is my first forum post (of many hopefully)

I'm interested in Colt Single Action Army's. Since I live in the EU its hard getting a firearm, but I'm working on it. I won't go far into details on that, since that is not the main point.

I'm doing a 'study' on SAA's and I've tried finding some information on Bob Munden's work on SAA's.

What I've found, was somewhat controversial. Some people said it was the best action they ever felt, but other people claim his work is shoddy, to say the least.

After looking at his website on his Option 2 work, I was left with a lot of questions. I'll try to post the website text with the questions behind them.

From his website on Option 2:


  • A refined, buttery smooth, light action
  • Creating a crisp trigger pull
  • Highly specialized timing, crowning and fitting of the cylinder locking bolt - 1. can anyone explain to me what his process is here?
  • Installing a bolt stabilizer block (another Bob Munden innovation) to protect the frame from eventual collapse when fanning - 2. can anyone explain this or show a picture of this so-called bolt stabilizer block?
  • Re-cutting cylinder locks and lead-ins - 3. I saw those extremely long lead-ins on another picture. Do they really work?
  • Recessing the cylinder locking bolt to protect the cylinder locks - 4. can anyone explain this?
  • Honing the forcing cone
  • Munden coil mainspring & handspring conversions - can these music wire springs do the job properly?
  • Sighting in at the range with the use of a barrel vice of Bob Munden’s design

I've looked through some other forum posts and have seen a video of him doing an option 1 action job, but this merely shows anything.

Last questions I have are about his "Munden Recoil Control grips". Does anyone have experience with those?

Any pictures to explain are definitely appreciated. That said, I'm not a complete new guy on SAA's.

I hope you folks can help me out.

-Prowbar
He used piano wire to smooth the action,anybody can do that,as far as the bolt block being "his innovation" it wasn't,the old time gunsmiths came up w/the bolt block because the soft frames in the blk pwdr guns took a beating because of hard use,the bolt window in the frame would get "egg shaped" from slamming the hammer back because of the heavy tension main spring & a new bolt would slide sideways in the bolt window resulting in sideways play in the cyl. the bolt block stopped that.Re; HIS [it wasn't] coil spring conversion,he used to buy those units from John Phillips in Tempe Az back in the mid 70's [I worked w/John & was a close personal friend] then later he found someone else to build them for him.The longer approaches allows the bolt to be timed to fall sooner to help control its re-bound if any,the deeper lockslot gets more of the head of the bolt deeper to help control damage to the lockslots from the stress of fanning the gun.I've hopefully answered some of your questions,I do have some [not his] bolt blocks but I don't know how to take the pictures & also don't know how to post them ,I don't spend a lot of time on this "evil machine" making long posts either.I can say this though over the yrs I've repaired many of his guns because he didn't always stand behind his work.
 

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A lot of that stuff he came up with and designed was all probably in an effort to create a gun he was satisfied with, and could do amazing things with. It obviously worked for him and I commend him. However, almost all of that stuff is totally unnecessary and some what takes away what a Colt SAA is. It was just mods to suite his needs, which is not the same needs as the average Joe.

For instance the long cylinder leads. The only reason why I could see that being done is so the bolt can drop earlier but still not create a drag. Most likely done for that reason, would help ensure lock up during super fast cycling. Which sounds like a few of the other mods are aimed at, lock up. None of that stuff is even in the realm of being required for the average person. Unless you want to follow the path of Munden.
To build off this, I suspect this is why Munden used a coiled music wire spring? If your intention is to strictly speed up the Colt action, a coil spring stores more inertial energy (by design) than a flat spring does. Also, by removing metal and reducing the mass of the cylinder bolt and employing a coil main spring, one could make the action cycle faster. This maybe beyond the Colt's intended design limits and would not make the action cycle smoother though?
 

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The coil spring makes the action mushy, too - very 'Ruger-like', for lack of a better term - but you expect that feeling with them - you don't from a Colt.

You expect more...

Munden was a showman - much like Cooper - and he was his own best promoter.

You see some of his work in SASS circles because those guys were all convinced that if they bought one of his action jobs, they'd suddenly be transformed into a shooter with his speed - and SASS is all about speed.

Thing was, he put hundreds of thousands of rounds downrange, and he did it continually - very few even consider doing that sort of thing, so they discount the experience and buy the product instead - knowing it'll transform them.

No Colt needs these piano wire modifications - proper smoothing and patience will give the finger-flicking action once common in the First Generations of days long past.
 

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One thing I forgot to mention when munden was buying the coil spring conversion kits from John Phillips John was also doing the lockslots & approaches on the cylinders for him,I was in John's shop one day & he was boxing up 8 or 10 cyls to ship back to munden & John told me this will probably be the last time I hear from him & I asked why & John told me he was sending them COD because munden wasn't paying him for a long time & he said he put a note in the box telling munden that from now on include payment in advance for the work,John was right he never heard from him again.A little trivia about John,he was the gunsmith that built the SA that Sharon Stone used in that awful western,it started out as a 3 screw .357 ruger,John "colterized" the frame by making it look like a colt frame & installed a .45 titainium rifled bbl. & made the cyl from titainium also, when it was finished the only parts in the gun that were steel was the frame & internal parts,this was done to get the gun a light as possible so she could draw it effectively.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Guys, many thanks for all the answers and support!

Abwehr, thanks for that link. On that topic though, wouldn't that groove in the locking bolt weaken the part (and possible affect the timing?) just something I thought of.

459459: yeah, thats my main idea. When I have my first personal SAA (which will probably br a clone) I want to know how to slick it up.

I'll be sure to take a look at that particular book.

Jim Martin: now I have to see that western, lol. But titanium parts? Man... Thanks for the good explanations, by the way.

Dogface6: were the first generation Colts smoother out the box of did they just slick up over time because of all the rounds put through it?

On the topic, does anyone have a picture of that bolt stabilizer block?
 

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Jim Martin, if you have a photo of the Bolt Stabilizer Block, e-mail it to me and I will post for you!

As far as Munden's work on the SAA, I think Jim Martin, who is the Master Action Tuner, has pretty well spoken on his work.

Prowbar,

If you get a Clone for your first SAA revolver, even the Uberti, Cimmaron or Taylors (most are Uberti guns) really do need some minor work on the action. I have to remove burrs in the Chimney, in the Hammer slot, and some of the action parts. The Bolt requires some work too to remove sharp edges on the Leg so it will not "chew"up the Cam. Get the Kuhnhousen Book on the Colt SAA Revolver and read it. Jim Martin was the one that wrote the "tuning" section of the book.
 

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Prowbar,

Welcome to the forum.

No, in my opinion the groove in the bolt doesn't weaken it.

The bolt block in simplest terms, is just a little cube of metal that fits between the frame and left side of the bolt to fill the space in the frame. Mundens just laid in place and wasn't attached to the frame. The bolt then is 'blocked' meaning restricted in it's side ways movement when the cyl slams to a stop against it. This is how the block prevents the bolt from tearing the little window of thin metal that it sticks up thru in the bottom of the cyl window in the frame. Which it will do on a gun that is fanned.

Here's a photo of a bolt block in a Ruger:


Others offer the bolt block such as Bowen Classic Arms but it's held in place with a screw. Others solder it in place.

Here's another fast draw gimmick used on Rugers to keep the cyl from slamming into the bolt but not as efficient as the bolt block. It's a hammer stop:



I've also had to fix a Munden action job, but on a Ruger. He eliminated the safety transfer bar but the hammer had to be held back with a thumb to load and unload or the firing pin would catch on the case rims and the cyl couldn't be turned.
 

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Looks like a fitted shim - but if you call it a 'Bolt Block' you could get more money for it...

Gimmicks...

As to the actions - earlier actions of Colts and Smith & Wessons were 'fitted', and done so by experts who understood the actions completely, so every piece leaving the factories was a well-fitted, well-timed piece = simply because that was expected, and they put the time into doing so.

As machining tolerances became ever closer, a lot of this fitting wasn't needed to put out a well-functioning piece.

As an aside - despite what you may think, most First Generation SAAs weren't shot daily, weren't used as C&WAS or 'Fast Draw' toys, didn't see daily combat, didn't get fanned or spun by exhibition shooters - most likely ever fired a couple hundred rounds during their working life - their actions were what they were - well-fitted.

Later came the abuse...

Once the popularity of the Western arose, so did all of the fantasies of the dime novel and paperback readers, and that's when they started to suffer at the hands of fools, but when they were being used by their target demographic of days long past, they were in good shape, and did their job.

Again - get Kuhnhausen's book, and you'll get a much better understanding of the workings as a whole, and what to do to them to make it as smooth as you may want.

All of mine - covering all Generations - only needed stoning on the high points and rub marks, followed by Pro-Shot's 'Pro-Gold' as a lube - I just did what would've been done 'back in the day' before it left the factory, and they've been flawless.
 

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Thing was, he put hundreds of thousands of rounds downrange, and he did it continually - very few even consider doing that sort of thing, so they discount the experience and buy the product instead - knowing it'll transform them.
Anybody who has ever participated in any of the competition shooting sports has seen this...people trying to buy scores with the latest and greatest widget promoted by the current #1 shooter.

There is no substitute for practice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hondo44, thanks for the excellent pictures and information.

Abwehr, thanks for the tips. Yes, my first SAA will probably be a clone, still deciding between Uberti or Pietta (from Cimarron or Taylors en Co.) I'm still going to buy a real Colt one day, just want to get experience first with the platform in general, don't want to ruin a real Colt.

Dogface6: very interesting. I always have these twisted theories on what would have happened in the old west but I have seen too many movies and read too many books that didn't contain 'accurate' information. I knew the duels never happened, though. Still can't see why some people believe that they did happen.

I'm going to look for a copy of the Kuhnhausen book - just trying to find one in the EU to save on shipping costs :)

Does anyone have experience with the Munden Recoil Control Grips?
 

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Don't use the 'John Ford Reference Library' if you want to know anything about the 'real' Old West - as opposed to the 'reel' Old West.

Movies are made to feed fantasies and provide mindless entertainment - and no one has more active fantasies than 'auteurs' and their Assistant Directors.

If you really want to know and understand the American West, try to connect with the old Time-Life series 'The Old West' - your Public Library should have it.

You might also take a look at www.cascity.com to see what's what, and to look for more historical aspects of the era - there are several forums dedicated to that very thing.

Remember these words from Radney Foster, when he penned 'Went For A Ride' - he summed it up nicely.

'It Wasn't Cowboys and Ponies,
It Was Horses and Men.
It Wasn't Schoolboys and Ladies,
It was Cowtowns and Sin...'

'Big' difference from Gene and Roy and Hoppy - believe me.

****

If 'Munden's Recoil Control Grips' worked - many of us would be using them - but we're not.
 
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