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American Handgunner March/April 2012 Digital Edition - Page 42
PISTOLSMITHING the inside scooP on Pistolsmithing techniQues aleX hamilton the size difference between a giant singleaction hammer, a medium 1911 hammer and the tiny s&w .22-caliber ladysmith hammer. each has its idiosyncrasies — which is a big word for a pistolsmith! Taming Triggers Q uestions about triggers and sights dominate the majority of discussions in all gun shops. I have written about sights and the thousands of combinations available in the past, so it is time for a refresher on triggers. Triggers on the little pistols, such as the Walther PPK and others around that size and smaller, like the little .25-caliber pocket pistols, have very heavy pulls. There’s not much even the best pistolsmiths can do to lighten the trigger on these. Before you buy one you need get permission to dry fire the pistol to see if you can manage the trigger. If your hands are small, or your lady friend has a hard time with the double-action pull, you are going to be better off putting the pistol back on the shelve and looking at something a little larger. One good way to tell if the tiny pistol is for you is to dry fire and notice how far you are off the center of the target after the trigger is pulled. If you are off more than just a couple of inches you need to think twice before purchasing. The reason the triggers on the small pistols must be so heavy is due to the tight geometry. The hammers are small, and the distance between the pivot point and the firing pin strike point is short, so an extra strong spring must be installed to drive the small hammer into the firing pin with enough force to crush the primer. Installing lighter springs is not an option in most cases, as misfires will result. The Classics T rigger jobs on semi-autos like the 1911 are easier to lighten, but can be problematic on Colt and Para USA pistols with a Series 80-style firing pin block. One of the greatest little inventions for doing trigger jobs on the .45 is a little 25-power microscope made by Edmund Optic, sold by Brownells. It allows you to see the all-important contact surface between the hammer and sear. Contact between the hammer hooks and sear must be perfectly parallel if you are to achieve the proverbial “glass cracking” trigger pull. A positive or negative rake on the sear, in relation to the hammer hooks, will make the trigger pull very hard or introduce dreaded creep. Trigger pulls on single-action revolvers are fairly easy to do. The big, heavy hammer does not need much speed to crush the bee-jabbers out of the strongest primer. The trigger pull can be lightened a bit by installing one of WC Wolff’s reduced-power hammer springs. This is an excellent remedy, but does not replace a professional action job by an experienced revolversmith. A professional can also add an overtravel stop, and remove that grinding creep we all hate so much. Some pistolsmiths like to lighten the single action by grinding the mainspring down to pencil thin. This works well if done conservatively, yet if overdone, the action will feel wonderfully light, but lock-time becomes as slow as molasses in the winter, consequently accuracy suffers drastically. If a sixgun action feels really light and you can actually see the hammer fall as if it’s in slow motion, you need to replace the hammer spring. 42 the edmund optic 25x microscope makes the all-important sear/hammer connection in a 1911 crystal clear. triggerstoPPing o ne addition I would do to any trigger, no matter what category firearm, is to add an overtravel stop. The overtravel stop could be in the form of a screw in the trigger, a spot welded on the rear of the trigger or a welded internal stop. I usually try to weld the stop inside the action so it cannot be seen from the outside, and is adjusted by filing — so it will not change. No matter how it’s installed, it stops most trigger rearward travel after the sear disconnects from the hammer. This is just one way to keep the firearm from moving while the bullet is still in the barrel. If you do not understand the mechanics and geometry of your firearm and believe you can do your own trigger and action job — be very careful. You are treading in an area that could cost someone his or her life if done incorrectly. Best to get a pro to do it. * WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MARCH/APRIL2012