1.) First, make sure your Colt is unloaded and in a safe condition.
2.) Check your pistol with the hammer down fully against the frame. The cylinder should be locked up tight with the locking bolt. (see photo A) Next, when you look at the right side of the gun, check the space between the rear of the cylinder and the frame. The firing pin should protrude from the frame approximately 50% across the gap between the frame and the cylinder. A little more or less will not matter as long as the firing pin is long enough to ignite the primer. (see photo B)
3.) Now cock the hammer back to the first click or notch. This is called the safety notch, (even though your Colt should never be considered safe in this position, and should never be carried as such). When the hammer is in this position the cylinder should still be locked tightly by the bolt. The firing pin should not be visible protruding across the gap between the frame and cylinder when viewed from the right side of the gun like it was earlier in the hammer down position. (see photo C)
4.) Then cock the hammer back to the 2nd click, or loading notch. (Beware, if you have a broken hammer notch on your Colt it may appear to function normally. When you apply light pressure to the trigger while the hammer is in the safety notch or loading notch, the hammer may fall and strike a loaded round in the chamber and unintentionally cause the gun to fire which can lead to accidental injury or death. If you have this condition, do not operate your Colt. Seek the services of a qualified gunsmith for repairs.) In the loading notch position, when you open the loading gate the cylinder will now rotate to load or unload your pistol.
If your Colt is in proper tune and time the cylinder chambers will line up with the middle of the loading shute. (see photo D) If not, the cylinder chamber will not line up with the shute and you will have to manually rotate the cylinder with your hand to move the chamber to the center for loading or unloading. Also in this half-cock position when you look at the space between the bottom of the cylinder and the frame from the right side of the pistol you should be able to see that the head of the bolt is not sticking up, and is flush or slightly below the surface of the frame. (see photo E)
5.) As you continue to slowly cock the hammer, if you look again at the right side of your Colt and watch the space between the bottom of the cylinder and the frame you should see the bolt pop up in the little cut-out that’s called the “approach”. For proper timing, the bolt head should hit the cylinder in the “approach” right next to the lock notch. (see photo F) Not on the long edge of the notch, straddling the notch and approach. If the bolt dwell is too short, the bolt will rise too early and hit outside of the approach and scratch a line in the finish. If the dwell is too long, the bolt will rise on the corner of the lock notch and peen the corner down until the cylinder will not stay in the locked position because the notch corner will be too low to hold the bolt head.
6.) Lastly as you again slowly finish the cocking arc, you should watch the trigger and hear a click that signals that the bolt is dropping into the cylinder lock notch at exactly the same instant the trigger snaps forward into the full cock notch of the hammer. These two movements will not happen together if your trigger is too short due to wear, or an improperly done trigger job. Another cause of this miss-timing is a worn full-cock notch on your hammer, or again a poorly done trigger job. The last test of a properly timed Peacemaker is after your hammer is at full cock, there should be little or no over-travel in your hammer. The hammer will stop its rearward travel at the same time as the trigger reaches the full cock notch.
Now, if your favorite Peacemaker passes these tests, or the one you want to purchase passes them, you can be fairly certain you have a well timed Colt in your hand. The fact is that when your Colt is running right it lasts longer, parts don’t break as readily and the gun becomes a very reliable tool. However, a poorly tuned gun works against itself, losing reliability, causing more and harder wear, parts breakage and unreliability.
So if your gun doesn’t pass these tests then it is self destructing and doing it faster the more you shoot it, so it’s a good idea to arrange to send it in and have us take a look at it and tune it up if necessary.
Finally, if you enjoy shooting your Colt a lot, I highly recommend our “Gunslinger Action Job” done to your Peacemaker. With this enhancement we remove all friction, blueprint all parts, and then hand fit each and every part perfectly. This allows your Colt to lock-up tightly while still feeling like it’s running on greased ball bearings. The trigger is then adjusted to the weight you prefer with all creep removed. Your Peacemaker will easily be able to shoot hundreds of rounds a day if you choose, with nothing more than cleaning and lubrication. We call this “Total Reliability” you will truly enjoy this enhancement.
See the “Smithing Services” page for more information and prices.