- One of the most common problems with revolvers is binding of the cylinder. With double-action revolvers, this is often
noticed as resistance in the trigger stroke. Such binding can be caused by one or more high primers, crud under the
extractor star or - in S&W revolvers and some copies of them - loosening of the sleeve that forms the forward portion
of the extractor rod.
- A good precaution, after closing the action of a loaded revolver, is to check that the cylinder is not binding. If the
revolver has a hammer with an exposed spur, the hammer can be eased back just far enough to disengage the cylinder stop,
which rises and falls in a slot at the bottom of the cylinder window. Once it is disengaged, the other thumb can be used
to check that the cylinder rotates without binding. If the revolver lacks an exposed hammer spur - such as if the hammer
is concealed or the spur has been removed - the tip of the little finger of the non-gun hand can be usually inserted
behind the trigger, allowing the trigger enough travel to disengage the cylinder stop without the risk of firing the
- If binding is detected and is traced to one or more primers that project beyond the head of the cartridge case, those
rounds must be replaced. This problem is seen more commonly with reloaded training ammunition but can occur with factory
ammunition as well.
- If no high primers are detected, check the mating surfaces of the underside of the extractor star and the recess in
the cylinder in which it seats. This is the most crucial area for cleaning on a double-action revolver and a revolver
shooter should always take a nylon-bristle brush - such as a toothbrush - to the range for such cleaning. Accumulation
of unburned flakes of powder here can be eliminated by avoidance of oil at this location and by turning the muzzle
skyward while ejecting fired cases.
- On S&W revolvers, there is a tendency for the sleeve that forms the forward portion of the extractor rod to shoot loose -
even after the change to a left-hand thread, circa 1960. As soon as you detect this, carefully unscrew the sleeve,
degrease the male and female threads with a solvent such as acetone, then apply a drop of a temporary Loctite
(e.g., 222) or nail polish to the male thread before reassembly. The other thread that merits this precaution, when it
is found to have worked loose, is the one for the slotted nut that holds the thumbpiece (cylinder release) to the bolt.
These threaded parts, along with the side-plate screws, strain screw and the screw that holds the rear sight in place if
the revolver is fitted with an adjustable sight, should be checked on every cleaning.
- While revolvers have long been touted as being more reliable than autoloading pistols, this is a handy guide to function testing
the more commonly encountered double-action revolvers. Also, this useful discussion of testing revolvers for other aspects