1860 Colt (Pietta) Hand Fix

I have a set of 1860 Colt “clones (Pietta) that I shoot in Cowboy Action Competition. These revolvers have been converted to cartridge using Kirst Converter Cylinders. Cowboy Action Shooting uses your firearms hard! These revolvers have been used most every weekend for the past two years.

I recently did a barrel alignment on them. You can read all about how this is accomplished by joining the SASS. http://www.sassnet.com/

One of the members wrote a fantastic article for the Cowboy Chronicle a couple years ago outlining the entire procedure. I’ll see if he will give me permission to post a direct link to the article here. Stay Tuned! It basically entails being sure the barrel arbor and the juncture of the bottom of the barrel and the front of the receiver are in alignment. Mine had a gap of .002″ on the bottom. The arbor had to be filed down .002″ so everything was in perfect alignment.

Both of these revolvers shot extremely high before the barrel alignment. I’d have to aim at the bottom of an 18″ plate from 20′ to hit the center! I shoot “Cowboy 45 Special brass with 170g Big Lube bullet over 3.3g of Traiboss powder.

Once I did the barrel alignment both revolvers were spot on! I was a HAPPY CAMPER!


Here is a target shot at 20′ with both revolvers. Five shots from each:

The four shots across the top was from another pistol I was testing. A S&W #3 … But that’s another story…

So I’m all happy that the pistols are shooting great. So I attempt some practice speed shooting and one of the pistols is firing every other cylinder….Oh-Oh!!

I take them home and tear the recalcitrant pistol apart.

What do I find but a broken hand spring. And this weekend is the SASS Tri-State up here in Massachusetts!

It’s supposed to look like this:

As you can see, the flat spring broke off! I had to fish this broken spring out of the internals of the revolver!

The article I referenced above also talks about replacing this flat spring, which is prone to breaking, with a coil spring like Ruger uses in their single action revolvers. It is actually quite easy to do and even easier if you have a milling machine.

The first order of business is to remove the grip frame, the trigger guard the hammer and the hand.

The frame is then held firmly in a milling vise, referencing off the recoil shield. I used a pair of parallels to accomplish this.

A center drill is set up .010″ from the edge of the hammer slot and eyeballed between the  grip screw hole and the top edge of the frame.

A hole slightly bigger than the pin and spring you are going to use is drilled into the hand recess.

This is what you end up with:

In my MPB (Miscellaneous Parts Bin) I have a bunch of Ruger springs and pins.

I have a few of these but they proved too short

I also have a few pins. Using a proper diameter pin with the spring from the plunger above…It was a perfect fit

The second revolver was disassembled as I had everything set up, might as well do both. When I went to break the spring off the second revolvers hand, it simply fell off! YIKES! Glad I decided to do both!

How do they work? FANTASTIC! Better than stock. Seem to be smoother and I won’t worry about a broken hand spring happening at the wrong time.

You can read about how I fixed the soft hammer faces on these revolvers here:


Thanks for visiting!

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5 comments on “1860 Colt (Pietta) Hand Fix”

  1. M. M. Wright Reply

    I’m sure you meant to say .100″ instead of .010″ for the distance from the hammer channel to the center of your hand spring/plunger hole. Might want to correct that.

    • Roy Bertalotto

      There is a fellow named “Pettifogger” over on the SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) that wrote a bunch of articles dealing with all things to improve these opentops…..“I have a four part article in the SASS Chronicle on how to fix Uberti open top problems. It describes in detail how to fix arbors. Part one was in the May edition, stay tuned for the next three months. The article you were referring to dealt with Pietta issues. Piettas almost always have correctly fitted arbors, so they weren’t dealth with in that article.”
      Sorry I can’t be of more help right now as I’m driving cross country…….

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