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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am convinced Colt makes the SAA to look at these days and not to actually shoot them as Samuel and his customers originally required. And these actually shot better than my more recent Third Gens from the Custom shop. The nuances of a SAA? You can judge for yourself how Colt addresses them, then or now.

This is my long winded story of my brace of Colt's .44s :) It took some doing and a few good folks involved to make them "real shooters".

I bought both these guns off Gunbroker early May of '14. One was built in '79 the other in '80. Back strap ears to hammer are perfectly profiled. Guns are both nickel, .44 special marked on the barrels, and came with plain wood grips. They were a little over polished and dished out when finished by Colt. But I was buying what I hoped would be shooters...other than wanting bright nickel, the finish was not a huge concern to me. I paid $1400 with the box for the 1980 gun and $1275 no box for the 1979 gun. Neither had been fired. 1980 gun had a bad cylinder from Colt. You had to pound empties out of that gun that would fall out of the other gun. Some one had a bad day on the drill press @ Colt. Not the first time I have heard that about a Colt 44 Special. Colt Customer Service refused to do anything about it so I bought a new cylinder and fit it to the gun. Lady at Colt customer service thought a '34 year old gun would/should be "out of warranty" Guess it was hard to argue with that logic @ the time :) Aint no thing, other than money, right? The bad 44 Special cylinder became a bespoke 45 Colt cylinder with the correct size throats and tight chambers. It shoots great! Nice to have options.



One gun shot damn near perfect point of aim with my 240 gr. hand loads. The 1980 gun came with a 45 front sight. (see a pattern here on the 1980 gun?) It shot right on for windage but was way off for elevation. Took it too the range and cut down the front sight and it too now shoots just little high for POA. Makes those 50 and 100 yards shots easy. Unusual for Colts' of any vintage past 1st Gens to shoot POA in my experience.

So the guns shoot! Within a few rounds it became obvious the timing was not just way off but not even close to being functional. By this time I had already done a trigger job on both guns...but I know "timing" is beyond me. So off to Jim Martin for new hammer cams and a internal rebuild. As usual Jim took care of me in short order. He's a BIG .44 Special fan as well. And shoots his guns so he know exactly what I was looking for. Guns then went to Gene at Gunner Products in Florida for one piece ivory. Awesome job by Gene on my newest nickel guns! As always :)



As that was happening the hammers went back to Nutmeg to have the cocking serrations recut in a early 1st Gen pattern and renickeled. I am liking these guns more and more every day. Next I plugged in Colt bullseye ejector rods.


Hammers actually do fit flush without ammo in the chamber. Firing pins are resting on snap caps here.


I shot a few hundred rounds through both guns and was very happy with them......except for one small detail. The guns shot exceptionally well but they had pressed in bushings. Mind you nothing wrong with pressed in bushing. Surely didn't effect how they shot. But I'm not much into "cost savings" to make things better. Reminds me of the "new" improved push feed Model 70s. Not a fan of those either. Not a real Colt's in my book with a pressed in bushing. Clones really and not the best clones at that...without removable bushings. Thank goodness the bean counters didn't make their fix...unfixable. Easy enough these days to have a good hand drill out the cylinder and fit a new bushing... if you have a bushing. I got lots of bushings for any third gen $1300 Colt!



I grew up fiddling with a Colt long before I ever got to shoot one. Tearing down our family 1st Gens while sitting on the floor of the living room, under the watchful eye of one or the other of my parents. They were actually Mom's guns so usually Mom supervising me handling her father's Colts. "Pull the hammer back to half cock, push the cross pin in, pull the cylinder, then pull the bushing." I was doing that from 3rd or 4th grade on. No bushing? It aint really a Colt is it?.

Funny now because if they had been my Dad's gun (Marine DI) likely none of that would have ever happened.


Ya, not so politically correct these days..."fook 'um". Nothing for me to admire in today's politics that I see anyway.

So by now, I got this dandy pair of nickel Colts. Nice as they are the the pressed in bushings aint doing it for me. I pull the cylinders and send them off to Jim Martin again :) Why I didn't do it the first time I have no clue but there you are. Couple of weeks later the cylinders return via USPS. Easy.

My lathe is still standing on end, straight up from the move in the new shop. Not set it back up yet. "Bummer", I say. I need to fit a couple of bushings. Piece of piss to fit a bushing given decent tooling. Hunted down my Dewalt hand drill and a #2 Swiss file. BTDT before, 'nuff said. Took up the rocking chair and a long neck on the porch around 6:30PM and put on my readers. Fifteen or twenty minutes later one bushing is fit and the gun is working again. Ten minutes or so on the second. Dewalt is a little tricky to hold between your knees, run the trigger and get the file cutting right. But it is a workable solution to the problem. Cut the first bushing a little short. Shim would fix it but I'd rather just use it on another gun some time down the road. So I started a second bushing for that gun. Got two bushings fitted properly...and tight. No room for a shim in either. Happy with the results. And only one "spare" part sacrificed to the DeWalt. Should have done it all first time around with Jim. But I now finally have a "real" pair of Colt .44s that really are Special :)

One can get a lot of chit done with an electric drill and a Dremel when pressed :) Both should require a Federal license to prove you are not totally stupid for just thinking about using either on a firearm :) Likely more good 1911s wrecked with a Dremel that JM Browning shot in his life time. Takes a real chuckle head to start with a DeWalt! Call that my PSA.



As I said "timing" is beyond me. I think this was the timing of all the work done...but it has been 3+ years now. Only the cylinders getting drilled for bushing are a for sure thing for date, as they showed up today. Jim Martin is the man for SAA work. Or at least I think it was Jim Martin and I think it was today...wait and I'll ask the wife if I can find her again :)

Not good that I remember every detail of tearing those Colts down 50+ years ago but can't remember when I actually had a set of ivory added! As Anthony Hopkins kept saying after the stroke in LEGENDS OF THE FALL, "screw'um!!"

 

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Those are perfect in every way. My late friend and Colt SAA collector Mike Devlin had such a pair that I drooled over. I think he got one of them from Gordon Davis. I like the old time knurling on the hammers. I have a 1958 .45 that has the knurling removed. When Jim Martin fixed it he recommended me getting it recheckered. Thanks to you I now know who can do it right.
 

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Nice pair! My only special .44 Special & not as anything as your pair but the title seemed to fit so I show it --


Came .44 Russian nice inside but externally challenged. I DIY best to make it look a BBQ gun & reamed its cylinder for .44 Special ----->
 

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A lot of work to make new guns work right, but you did a great job and thanks for sharing all the information you did, super job !
 

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Wyatt, do you remember Mike Devlin's consecutive numbered pair of .44s with 7 1/2 inch barrels? He got them from me. They started out as .44 Specials but I think he had them fitted with .44-40 cylinders.
 

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Wyatt, do you remember Mike Devlin's consecutive numbered pair of .44s with 7 1/2 inch barrels? He got them from me. They started out as .44 Specials but I think he had them fitted with .44-40 cylinders.
I do. And I remember him saying he got them from you. I could be wrong, but it seems like he said you had another one consecutive to those two. He also had a pair of 4 3/4" 44-40s that might have been yours that Frank Leaman engraved. AND a smokeless frame Colt Frontier Sixshooter he got from you with your signiture real nice one piece grips. He said you wanted to buy it back once. I remember what he paid for it, too. I have pictures of them with the moose antler grips Leaman put on them, and of the 4 3/4" guns, too that Frank engraved.
 

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Mike had quality stuff. Do you remember when he passes away? After I dropped out of CAS I lost touch with everyone.
 

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Mike had quality stuff. Do you remember when he passes away? After I dropped out of CAS I lost touch with everyone.
He died in 2011. I had to check the Prescott AZ. obituary since I thought it was more recent. The older I get, the faster time flies by. Being such an Winchester lever gun expert, do you remember Mike's 1866 rifle in .41 Long Colt (centerfire, of course)? I think he couldn't verify a factory conversion, though.
 

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Interesting. The 3rd Generation Single Action Army .44 special I just acquired also has a cylinder issue. Cylinder looks unfired but the colt was fired at least a few times, I'm assuming by the factory.
I had put this one on layaway, so a return wasn't an option, besides I had already transferred it and taken the gun home. and the cylinder issue never would have occurred to me. Overall the S.A.A. is pretty good and I didn't get gouged buying it.

In each chamber there is a small depression on the inside at about the same location as the locking slots. At first I thought someone had tried to be Elmer Keith shooting heavy loads, but there's no powder ring around the cylinder bore. I tried to take some photos but they aren't too good.

Cozmo what was the issue with your cylinder?
 

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“In each chamber there is a small depression on the inside at about the same location as the locking slots. At first I thought someone had tried to be Elmer Keith shooting heavy loads, but there's no powder ring around the cylinder bore. I tried to take some photos but they aren't too good”

Ken,
I would bet it’s not a depression, it’s most likely a different “sheen” from the heat of the mill cutting the stop notches or treatment after they were milled, it’s only an optical illusion created by such. I see it often.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
This is a mighty old thread to dig up :)

kenhwind said:
Cozmo what was the issue with your cylinder?
This pretty much covers it, "1980 gun had a bad cylinder from Colt. You had to pound empties out of that gun that would fall out of the other '79 Colt."

I was using mild 240 gr loads I was shooting in a S&W at the time, that would fall out of the '79 gun I bought with the 1980 gun. The '79 guns was used, the '80 gun seemingly unfired. But I wouldn't bet on that. At the time most Colt spare parts were still easy to find. I just bought another nickel 44 Special cylinder and fit that to the gun and haven't had a problem since.

The original cylinder you had to forcibly pound the empties out. Bad enough you would easily bend the ejector rod head if you weren't really careful. I ended up pulling the cylinder to pound them out. Same ammo was no problem in a N frame smith or the '79 Colt. Still using the same loads today. No problems since. I had the 44 cylinder rechambered to 45 and still use it in another Colt. Wish I'd have thought about it then, I'd have had it rechambered to to 44-40.

I tried polishing the chambers. That was no help. I thought it might be a 44-40 cylinder but it wasn't Once I figured out I couldn't use that cylinder, I didn't bother to look at the problem any further. I would today. 38 cylinder would be a good donor to make a 44 Special.
 

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“In each chamber there is a small depression on the inside at about the same location as the locking slots. At first I thought someone had tried to be Elmer Keith shooting heavy loads, but there's no powder ring around the cylinder bore. I tried to take some photos but they aren't too good”

Ken,
I would bet it’s not a depression, it’s most likely a different “sheen” from the heat of the mill cutting the stop notches or treatment after they were milled, it’s only an optical illusion created by such. I see it often.
Bill, thanks for the reply. Hmm, I didn't think about that. I was going to post a thread but this one showed up in my search.
We might have gone shooting but its been raining here in FL. I just might go out back and pop off a few rounds to see if I have Cozmo's issue.
 
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