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Dissembling and Assembling the Colt Single Action

Read entire instructions before you pick up a screwdriver

First pull the hammer back to half cock, and open the loading gate. Hold Pistol with the muzzle pointing upwards.
Push the base pin latch unit and remove the base pin.

Very carefully remove the cylinder making sure the cylinder does not come in contact with the inside of the frame
window. Next we remove the ejector tube with the rod, head and spring. First remove the ejector screw, be careful it’s an easy screw to slip out of and scratch your colt. Once the screw is out, the tube will either just fall off the barrel or it won’t.
If it’s tight that’s OK. I push down on the ejector head so it’s out of the way. Then either use the base pin or a ¼” punch
and slide it in the hole on the end of the tube a ½” or so. You can then pry the tube away from the barrel. Set these parts aside.

Now remove the grips. If the grips are two piece, loosen the stock screw enough to be able to lightly push on the screw head with the screw driver blade to push the opposite side away from the frame, as sometimes they stick. Continue to remove the screw, use your finger to gently push the remaining side off, through the grip frame. (If the grips are one piece you will need to remove the two backstrap screws and the bottom butt screw to remove the backstrap and grip as one, and then gently slide the one piece grip off the backstrap.)
When you remove the backstrap, be very careful on the two top backstrap screws that you don’t tilt the screw driver down and hit the top of the backstrap with the side of the screw driver shaft on that little shield area on the top of the backstrap. If you are trying to apply pressure and not paying attention, it’s east to drop the angle of the screw driver just a little bit and the side of the screw driver will scratch that part of the backstrap.

Now, the easiest way to loosen the screws on a single action backstrap or trigger guard is to loosen one backstrap screw about 2 turns then go to the next screw and loosen 2 turns. Then go to the butt screw on the bottom of the backstrap and loosen 2 turns. Then once they are all loose, you can back them all out one at a time. It’s much easier to do that then it is to take one screw all the way out from start to finish and then the same for the next screw. Because often times these parts are under a bind, especially the backstrap. (For Assembly start all the screws a few turns in, one at a time. Then tighten them half way one at a time, then tighten them all). By loosening each screw first it will release the bind and you can take them all out easily.
Next, you will see that the mainspring is underneath the hammer roller,(you should not try to loosen the mainspring screw because it’s under tremendous pressure from the mainspring) So you will need to hold the gun tightly, pointing it away from you. Push the top of the mainspring down (the part under the hammer) and slide it out from underneath the hammer to the left, not the right, but the left. What you are doing when you do that is actually loosening the mainspring screw.

After the spring is out from under the hammer, it takes the bind off of the screw, then take the larger Peacemaker Specialists screw driver and remove the mainspring screw. Use the wide bladed screw driver from our set as it can break the narrow blade. Like everything else you need the right tools to do the job right. If you’re not replacing the mainspring at this time, you can actually leave the mainspring screw on and just push the spring aside and let it swing free and the screw will hold it to the trigger guard. Once you get the mainspring loose then turn the pistol upside down and take out the three trigger guard screws by loosening one at a time, then once they are all loose, take them out one at a time.

Now that you’ve got the trigger guard off, and the gun is upside down, you will see the U shaped sear & bolt spring. It has one screw holding it in. Again, I like to use the wide bladed screw driver on the sear and bolt spring screw. Remove the screw and take the spring out. This takes the tension off the parts inside the gun. Now you can take the hammer screw out, the largest of the three screws on the left side of the pistol, using the wide blade screw driver. Once the hammer screw is out and removed from the gun, (the hammer won’t fall out because it’s attached to the hand and the hand is up inside the gun). Take the hammer by the top and slide it out the bottom of the gun, and when you do so the hand will come out with it. Separate the two parts and now you can look at the hammer and check the notches to see if the hammer is in good condition or if it’s broken.

Now on the left side of the gun you will see two more screws, the back one is the trigger screw, it’s no longer under tension so you will be able to remove it and also remove the trigger out the bottom and that will allow you to inspect the trigger.
The next screw is the bolt screw and you can remove it and the bolt. Inspect the bolt for damage. Be careful to keep these two screws (bolt and trigger screws) separate because they are different lengths. You will notice the frame, when you turn the gun upside down, is tapered so the screws that are farther forward will be shorter overall length and the ones behind that will be longer. So try to keep these screws separate so you get them back in the right hole. The other way you can tell where the screw goes is by the wear marks on the shaft of the screw. The trigger screw wear mark will be right up by the threads because the trigger rides on the inside of the shaft. The wear mark on the bolt screw will be out towards the end of the shaft and there will be two little lines where the bolt has worn the bluing off of that screw. So that’s another indicator of where the screw goes when you put the gun together, the parts will talk to you and tell you where they belong. Last we will
remove the loading gate, screw, spring and gate catch. While your Colt is upside you will see a small screw that’s flush on the left rear of the frame. This is the gate screw. It controls the spring pressure on the loading gate. Remove this screw, under it you will find a spring and a small cylinder shaped pill called the gate catch.

Sometimes the spring gets caught on the threads inside the hole. Just use a small punch that will slide into the center of the spring and wiggle it. The spring will come unhooked. Next remove the gate from the frame by sliding it out. Last is the gate catch, if it is hesitant to fall out just hold your Colt by the barrel with the hole facing down and gently tap on a soft surface, like a rag folded on your bench it usually comes out. If it still resists, use a small stiff piece of wire and push the catch out from the top. Now you can inspect the parts and then assemble in reverse order.


Start by putting the bolt in. Slide it into the bottom of the frame with the head into the little window in the frame and then put the screw in and snug it up but don’t tighten all the way yet. Next the trigger. You will have to hold it with one hand as you put the screw through the holes in both sides of the frame and the trigger itself, screw this one in until it’s snug. Now here comes one of the trickier parts, take the hand as it sits away from the hammer, don’t try and put it on the hammer yet, just take the hand by itself and with the spring towards the rear of the gun and the steps at the top, slide it into the slot that’s on the left of the inside of the frame by compressing the spring so it will fit in the slot. Only slide it in ¾ of the way so that the post is still below the bottom edge of the frame. We need the post out so we can attach the hand to the hammer before we slide them both together up onto the frame fully. Once you have the hand slid up in the slot about ¾ of the way, just leave it. Now take the hammer and very gently slide the hole on the left side of the hammer over the post of the exposed hand. Be careful so that you don’t dislodge the hand that is already up in the frame slot.

The trick is just put the hand in ¾ of the way, take the hammer and make sure it’s oriented correctly so that the firing pin is pointing forward and then just slide the hammer onto the hand post and slowly slide them both back up into the gun and everything will line up. Now you will be able to look through the hammer screw hole in the frame and see the hammer screw hole in the hammer, move it around till the hammer screw hole is lined up with the frame screw hole and then you can install the hammer screw and snug it up.

Now tighten up the trigger, bolt and hammer screws. Once that is done you are ready to re-install the sear and bolt spring. Turn the gun upside down set the sear and bolt spring in the frame so the hole in the spring lines up with the screw hole in the frame. If done correctly the straight leg is on the trigger, and the curved short leg is on the bolt. Do not put the spring in upside down. It will not work that way. Now you can re-install and tighten the sear and bolt spring screw to hold the sear and bolt spring. This is basically your mechanism. Now, before you put the handle on the gun (the backstrap and trigger guard) you can actually cock the gun, pull the trigger and let the hammer down to make sure that everything is functioning correctly. It’s best to hold the gun by the barrel with your left hand and manipulate the action, the hammer and trigger, with your right hand. It’s a little tricky but you’ll get the hang of it. Now the gate assembly.

First put in the gate, then the gate catch with the tapered end in first. Then install the gate spring, with a drop or 2 of oil, then the gate screw. Start with the gate screw in just far enough to sit below the surface of the frame. Try the gate, if it feels too loose, turn the gate screw in until you like the way it feels. Do not screw the gate screw in all the way, or the gate will not work. Adjust until you like the feel. The next part is the trigger guard. Turn the gun upside down and lay the trigger guard on the frame. Line up the three screw holes and start one screw, put it in about ½ way and then start the next screw, putting it in ½ way and then do this with the third screw. The screws with the longest thread area are the two rear guard screws and they go in the back. The front of the trigger guard will take a front guard screw. This screw has the shorter threaded area with a real thin head. It will be the same screw as the butt screw. There are three pairs of screws that hold the backstrap and trigger guard on the peacemaker. Two backstrap screws, two rear guard screws and two front guard screws, even though one of the front guard screws is called the butt screw. You start with the two longest threaded screws and thread those in the two rear holes. Then the thinnest head screw goes in the front hole of the trigger guard.

Start all three screws, then when you tighten them up make sure that the trigger guard is centered on the frame on the outside edges. The holes in the trigger guard will be big enough that you can tighten the trigger guard on the frame and it will be cockeyed, sticking off of one side or the other. Run your fingers down both sides and find out where the overhang is and try to minimize. This way the trigger guard is being centered on the frame as you do your final tightening. Next, turn the gun right side up and take the mainspring, it will be loose and flopping around. Rotate it so it comes up on the left side of the hammer. Next take the large screw driver and tighten up the mainspring screw so that it is tight with the spring tip on the left side of the hammer. What we are doing here is positioning the tip of the mainspring on the left hand side of the hammer so that after you tighten the screw you will now be able to push the top of the spring down and push it to the right under the hammer roller. As it’s sliding under the hammer make sure to center the little roller in the groove at the top of the spring. In essence you are actually tightening the mainspring screw at the same time. If you start with the spring on the right side of the hammer, you will be loosening the screw as you slide it underneath the hammer. Once that is done and the roller is centered in the spring groove then you can put the backtrap on. Again be careful not to lower the angle of the  screw driver and scratch the backstrap. Keep it parallel to the screw itself. Screw in the top two backstrap screws about ½ way, these two screws will have the short threads but will have the thick heads like the rear guard screws.

Get the top two screws started and then start the butt screw which will be the same as the front guard screw. The butt screw will have short threads and the thin head, and will go in the bottom of the backtrap. Now tighten the top two screws the rest of the way, then tighten the butt screw last. No Loctite!!! Now you can re-install your grips. Next, open the loading gate and cock the hammer to half cock, so it drops the bolt, and you can install the cylinder. Point the muzzle up, and carefully slide the cylinder in the frame window. Now look down through the hole where the base pin goes until you can see that the cylinder is centered under that hole, this way when you start the base pin in, it will go all the way in and won’t stop because the cylinder is out of alignment. Once you get the cylinder set into the frame being careful not to touch the cylinder on the frame window, push the latch unit aside, seat the base pin all the way in and release the latch unit. Close the loading gate, cock the hammer all the way back, hold the hammer with your thumb pull the trigger and ease the hammer down.

The last part to install is the ejector tube. Slide the rod and head into the tube. Next slide the spring in, sometimes the spring has an end that is a little larger, or has the coils opened a bit more than the other end. If not, no problem. If so, install the small end in the tube with the larger end sticking out, This larger end helps keep the coils from going down in the frame hole and binding the rod. So with the parts together, put the back of the tube with the spring sticking out, into the frame receptacle and lay the tube against the barrel. It may need pressure or a light tap with a nylon or rawhide hammer to seat, tap or hold the tube while you start the ejector tube screw. I like to turn the screw counter clock wise until it drops slightly, then clock wise being careful not to cross thread it. Snug the screw tightly or the vibration of shooting will cause it to loosen and fall off.

Again No Loctite!!! You are now re-assembled

Attention Gunslingers

The above disassembly / assembly instructions are for stock Colts that need internal parts replacements or adjustments.  If you have a Peacemaker that has our “Gunslinger Deluxe Action Job” it is not recommended or necessary to detail strip or disassemble your Colt. When we perform a “Gunslinger Deluxe Action Job” on your Colt we maximize the reliability to the point that we even use special assembly techniques that require special measurement tools during the final assembly process. Disassembly for normal cleaning should be limited to removal of the cylinder and grips. Proper internal lubrication can be accomplished without total disassembly. If your Colt has shot in excess of 1000 rounds and you would like to clean the internals, please contact Peacemaker Specialists for further information.