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Safe?

robertc1024

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Hey guys, I've got a Colt DA-38 - like this:

What should I check to insure it's safe to shoot? I know it shoots .38 long colts and they might be interesting to try to find. I've got an ancient box of them but ???. How much slop should the cylinder should have? That's the only part of the mechanism that seems loose but I've not shot a revolver before. I really don't want chunks of lead flying sideways when I shoot it.

I know they are considered fragile - maybe I've just got a wall-hanger.
 


Dune Runner

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A sloppy cylinder is not good. Whenever I am in doubt about a gun I take it to a gun smith and have it checked out. Most times they won't even charge you. BTW all revolvers will have a little blast between the cylinder and barrel. That's why you keep your hands away from that area.
 

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A sloppy cylinder is not good. Whenever I am in doubt about a gun I take it to a gun smith and have it checked out. Most times they won't even charge you. BTW all revolvers will have a little blast between the cylinder and barrel. That's why you keep your hands away from that area.
+1

Best to have a pro check the clearnaces and timing rather than find out the hard way something wasn't right.
 

Matt77

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+3 on the inspection. There are too many variables in play with a gun like this.
 

robertc1024

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Ok - thanks for the info gents. The range I'm going to tomorrow has several gunsmiths who work there.
 

Matt77

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What happened?
 

AllanD

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Hey guys, I've got a Colt DA-38 - like this:

What should I check to insure it's safe to shoot? I know it shoots .38 long colts and they might be interesting to try to find. I've got an ancient box of them but ???. How much slop should the cylinder should have? That's the only part of the mechanism that seems loose but I've not shot a revolver before. I really don't want chunks of lead flying sideways when I shoot it.

I know they are considered fragile - maybe I've just got a wall-hanger.
That appears to be a Cold 1877 "Lightning" DA revolver.
this revolver model was the favored weapon of William Bonney
aka "Billy the Kid"

It's weakness is the "hand" (actually more like a finger) that pushes the cylinder
int position for the next shot and the fact that the "bolt notches" that locate the
cylinder "indexed" to the bores are wear prone, and sometimes do not positively engage.

Unlike most revolvers these "bolt notches" are located on the back of the cylinder, not
the outside diameter as on most revolvers made after this model.

So if it is worn it is possible for the mechanism to allow the hammer
to fall on a live chamber when the cylinder is not exactly aligned with
the barrel (this is bad!)

The OTHER issue is that there are two different "Flavors" of 38Long Colt cartridges,
the early 38C cartridges intended for this revolver and similar models that are loaded
with Black Powder and later cartridges for models
like the post turn of the century "Colt Police Positive" revolver.

even though smokless propellant 38Long Colt cartridges are loaded to
fairly low pressure if I owned an 1877 "Lightning" I would not even keep
any smokless 38LC loads in my house.

I would strongly recommend having this revolver checked over by an
experienced and competent pistol smith, specifically one that is familiar
with the weak points of the Colt model of 1877 Revolver.
 
Last edited:

Carlos Murphy

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Yeah, that's what I was guna say, don't shoot smokeless powder cartridges out of it.....
 

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