VOLUME 16-----------OCT0BER 2003
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
Well, September has flown by, dashin' and dartin' like Colorado doves used to do on the third day of dove season! I feel like I've shot a lot of ammo and hit very little this month, just like I did when I dove hunted!
Seems like the Little Heifer and I have made a lot of trips to a lot of doctors' offices these past few months, repairing old, worn, and/or damaged body parts. The good news is, they tell us we're approaching the end of our various treatments, and should soon be "Good As New." (or as new as old farts can be)
As I reported last month, I developed a deer load for my .45 Colt Ruger Vaquero, in anticipation of the October 11th opening, and with a doe tag on the desk before me. While doing the test firing, I had further reason to cuss the "lawyer proof" trigger on the .45. It's a shame to be forced to put up with terrible triggers on firearms because of our "lawsuit happy" society, when they could just as easily come from the factory with "acceptable triggers"!
Well, as Little Heifer would say, "Quit 'cher bitchin' and do something about it!" So, I tried a potential cure.
I have seen aftermarket spring sets for various revolvers by a number of suppliers, such as Brownell's, www.brownells.com ,and Midway, www.midwayusa.com ,that purport to improve upon the factory trigger pulls, so I broke out the catalogs and credit card to do a little shoppin'. I found that a lot of the aftermarket springs are made by Wollf Gunsprings, www.gunsprings.com .
I finally settled on a Wollf spring kit from Brownell's that contains 3 reduced power hammer springs. The factory hammer spring is supposed to be 23 lbs. while the kit contains one each of 17, 18 and 19 lbs. Also in the kit is a 35% reduced power trigger return spring and an "Extra Power" base pin latch spring. Cost of the spring kit is just under $20, plus about $4 for first class U. S. Postage.
Ruger Vaquero .45 Colt with Brownell's Spring Kit.
At left is the factory trigger return spring with the factory hammer spring next to it. The other two springs are the 18 and 19 lb hammer springs. The 17 lb hammer spring and new trigger return spring are installed.
The next step was to determine a baseline for trigger pull weight as factory equipped. My Lyman, www.lymanproducts.com ,digital trigger pull gauge was put to its intended use. This neat little gauge is easy to use, measures to the nearest one-half ounce, and automatically averages 10 test pulls at the push of a button. (I know I aint gotta' say this, but please make sure the gun is unloaded before testing the trigger pull)
Ten test pulls averaged 6 pounds 14.5 ounces. Pretty hard to get a good accuracy test of a 5 1/2 inch revolver and load with a 7 pound trigger pull!
Now comes the fun and easy part; disassembly! This Ruger is of recent manufacture, and so is the "new model" with the transfer bar ignition system. This essentially means the hammer cannot activate the firing pin without the transfer bar being raised into the hammer notch by pulling the trigger. (More on this later)
The owners manual that accompanies each Ruger revolver sold has fairly clear disassembly/assembly instructions, with an exploded drawing for easy identification and location of each part. If you do not have a manual for your Ruger, one can be downloaded from their web site, www.ruger-firearms.com ,for any model, new or old. Or, a call to Ruger customer service will get you a free one in the mail. (603-865-2442)
When I began disassembly, I soon discovered that the two screws on the bottom of the grip frame, behind the trigger guard, were reversed, left to right, from the way they were shown on the exploded drawing. (One screw has about a .25 inch unthreaded extension on the end that the other does not have) In an effort to solve this riddle I pulled the same two screws out of my .44-40 Vaquero for comparison and found they were also reversed, with the longer screw on the left side instead of the right.
With a mental note to further investigate the apparent discrepancy, I pushed out the hammer pin and found the answer. The hammer pin has a groove in one end that the unthreaded end of the long screw engages for retention of the pin. The hammer pin is also reversible, so it doesn't matter which side the long screw is in, as long as the hammer pin groove is on the same side. I did make a quick call to Ruger Customer Service to confirm my analysis. The helpful and courteous lady on the phone knew immediately what I was talking about, and told me the screw holes were identical so the screws can be installed either way.
I bore you with this detail just to reflect on the genius of Bill Ruger and Company. Ruger's innovations in investment casting, and engineering designed for efficient manufacturing, is a big reason we have safe and effective firearms available today from the entire industry; Firearms that the workin' person can still afford to own! The reversible screws and identical screw holes are just one example of that efficient engineering.
Now, back to the project. Cocking the hammer compresses the hammer spring so that a temporary pin can be placed in a hole in the shaft to retain the spring as the hammer and spring shaft are removed. I decided to start with the 17 lb hammer spring, which should, theoretically, give the lightest trigger pull. Brownell's sells a tool made specifically for the removal and installation of Ruger hammer springs. (I aint got one!) So, as we say in the Missouri hills, "by main strength and awkwardness" I finally got the new spring compressed by hand and had Little Heifer put the temporary pin back in the hole.
Removing the trigger pin is accomplished by compressing the cylinder lock spring out of a groove in the pin and pushing it out. With the hammer and trigger pins both removed, the guts kinda' fall out on the bench! The trigger return spring was then removed and replaced by the "35% reduced power" one in the kit.
Next comes the interesting part; Getting it all back together so everything works! The transfer bar hangs by a short pin in a hole on the rear of the trigger, while the pawl hangs by a similar pin in a hole in the bottom of the hammer. Neither is fastened, so everything has to be held together as the trigger and hammer are simultaneously slipped into their respective slots in the frame. It sounds more complicated than it is. The only real problem I had was keeping the trigger return spring on top of the trigger instead of under it, as it went together. Even then, it only took 3 or 4 tries. Replacement of the grip frame/trigger guard assembly, brings the job to completion.
So, did the effort help the trigger pull? Yes, it did. As much as I would have liked? No, it didn't. After rechecking to make sure everything was working properly, the next ten test pulls averaged 5 pounds 9 ounces on the Lyman gauge; still fairly crisp and with minimal backlash. I was hoping for a pull weight of between 4 and 5 pounds by using the lightest (17 lb) hammer spring, but still, almost a pound and a half reduction by changing a couple of springs aint too shabby! This should certainly make the Ruger more manageable should I have an opportunity to fill that doe tag.
More work on the Ruger, such as polishing pivot points and mating surfaces inside the action may improve things further. I'm not inclined to go with an even lighter hammer spring for fear of unreliable ignition due to an insufficient blow to the primer. All this is potential fodder for a future newsletter.
I can conclude that it is certainly within reason for anyone with some patience and a modicum of mechanical ability to do a spring job as I did. However, I would NOT recommend any attempt to modify angles or mating surfaces between the hammer and trigger, especially the sear area! Only a COMPETENT GUNSMITH is qualified to do that kind of work safely and reliably!
If you would like more information or further discussion on this project, drop me an e mail. Be glad to hear from you.
I'm gonna' close this month by puttin' in a picture of my future huntin' partner.
This is our granddaughter, 7 year old Jennifer, with her bouquet of roses, just after her last dance recital.
Now all I have to do is get her out of that dance costume and into her camo, orange vest, and orange hat, and we got it made!
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!