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Primer Report and NMVs (somewhat anecdotal)


Ripsaw

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First pair of Ruger New Vaquero Bisleys, .38/.357s, been shooting them for a year, Wolf springs, 40oz triggers, 17lb hammer springs. Otherwise stock guns. Zero issues with CCI primers.

 

Second pair, same guns, same springs. Recently purchased. One of the pair does not like CCI primers. The other has no problems. Have not tried Win primers, but the finicky gun seems to work fine with Federal primers. (BTW, putting the stock springs back in the gun and it handles CCI primers fine).

 

I have a stockpile of ~2000 rounds loaded with CCI primers (yeah, now I know. Understand that the only pair of guns I had handled CCI fine. So had no incentive to switch to Federal). Been loading Federal primers for the past 3 months (~2000 rounds so far) but have a bunch of CCI I need to shoot.

 

Once I get through this backlog of CCI primed ammo, I'm thinking I can go lighter hammer springs.

 

What have others found, in otherwise stock Ruger NMVs, as the lightest hammer springs that will reliably ignite Federal primers? 15lb? 13lb? I have not yet made the commitment to send a pair off to have them tuned (remove transfer bar, etc). But that is a future possibility (and why I got a second pair). Curious what springs others are using in stock Rugers? (still have the transfer bars)

 

 

 

 

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You might get a spring set from Brownells and put a heavier spring in the one gun or take the hammer out and see if it is dragging on the frame. If it is dragging that's a pretty easy fix.

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I have 2 New Vaqueros, both with 15# hammer springs. I use Federal Match primers. No problems so far since I put in the springs and switched to Fed's. I did have issues with Rem and CCI with the 15# springs. Fortunately for me I only had 2 100 round boxes to get through, not thousands of rounds. I don't have any Win small pistol primers so I can't attest to them.

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I would also check firing pin protrusion on the one giving trouble. Between hammer face, transfer bar and possible short firing pin. You could be just not getting a full firing pin strike.

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I have a pair of Rugers with 13# springs that have fired Winchester primers for about 20 years without ANY light hits.

I think you may have other issues with that one pistol.

 

My main match pistols have 19# springs!! :P

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Howdy

 

The lighter the hammer spring in the gun, the longer the lock time. If you are a very fast shooter, at some point you may put a spring in that is so light that you will be getting ahead of the hammer as it falls.

 

Why is it you feel you need lighter springs? Lighter springs are not an action job. The reason manufacturers put such heavy springs in their guns is so the hammer will be able to overcome any friction in the mechanism and still ignite the primers. Rather than going on a quest for the lightest spring possible, you might consider getting the internals smoothed as much as possible to reduce the internal friction the factory leaves in there. And you also might consider that if you tune the gun so finely that it will only ignite Federal primers you might have a problem when those primers are no longer available, exactly as happened a couple of years ago. If you remove as much friction as possible inside the mechanism, and stay with a 'medium' strength spring you will have a gun that will reliably ignite any primer.

 

To tell you the truth, back when I put reduced power springs in my Rugers a bazillion years ago, I don't remember exactly which hammer spring I used. I do know that I bought a Shooter's Pack with three hammer springs to choose from. I installed the one right in the middle of the range, and never had a problem igniting any brand of primer.

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Howdy

 

The lighter the hammer spring in the gun, the longer the lock time. If you are a very fast shooter, at some point you may put a spring in that is so light that you will be getting ahead of the hammer as it falls.

 

 

I never could shoot fast, maybe that was my problem! :)

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I would also check firing pin protrusion on the one giving trouble. Between hammer face, transfer bar and possible short firing pin. You could be just not getting a full firing pin strike.

 

This was my first suspicion, that I wasn't getting a full firing pin travel. But it seems to be enough for the Federal Primers, and it works with the factory spring. How would I go about measuring this? My first thought was to measure the cylinder face to recoil shield clearance and compare that to the other revolvers to see if there is more space there--in case the primers are further away from the firing pin in this gun.

 

I am not a "very fast" shooter, but my skill is improving. I've only been shooting a year. The comments about consequences of the lighter springs make sense. I'm happy with the current 17 lb springs.

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We've got the Wolff spring kit in one set and the Wilson Combat spring kit in a second set of NMVs. I believe both of these spring kits use 19 lb hammer springs/mainsprings. All 4 of these guns have been 100% reliable with my reloads using CCI primers.

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This was my first suspicion, that I wasn't getting a full firing pin travel. But it seems to be enough for the Federal Primers, and it works with the factory spring. How would I go about measuring this? My first thought was to measure the cylinder face to recoil shield clearance and compare that to the other revolvers to see if there is more space there--in case the primers are further away from the firing pin in this gun.

 

I am not a "very fast" shooter, but my skill is improving. I've only been shooting a year. The comments about consequences of the lighter springs make sense. I'm happy with the current 17 lb springs.

Federal primers are the easiest to set off. I would certainly measure the recoil shield to cylinder gap, just to be sure.

As for firing pin protrusion. What I do, and there are people who will disagree with this, with the cylinder out of the gun, hold the trigger back so that the transfer bar is in the correct position, measure from the back of the hammer to the firing pin tip with a set of calipers. Then measure just below or above the firing pin and the difference is the protrusion. There are gauges designed to measure that dimension but all of us don't have one floating around. My method works close enough.

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This was my first suspicion, that I wasn't getting a full firing pin travel. But it seems to be enough for the Federal Primers, and it works with the factory spring. How would I go about measuring this? My first thought was to measure the cylinder face to recoil shield clearance and compare that to the other revolvers to see if there is more space there--in case the primers are further away from the firing pin in this gun.

Howdy Again

 

It can get a little bit complicated determining the proper amount of firing pin protrusion because head space enters into the equation.

 

Head space for a revolver with rimmed cartridges is the amount of clearance between the recoil shield and the rear face of a cartridge. This can of course vary with the thickness of the rim of the cartridge, and that too can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and production run to production run. You can buy a headspace gauge for a particular cartridge, that will have the manufacturing tolerances figured in, but you can get by in a pinch by using several different fired cartridges. Best to decap them so the primer is not protruding. Pop a spent case into the chamber and rotate it up so the case is in the firing position and the hammer is cocked. Then insert feeler gauges until you find the one that best measures the clearance between the case and the recoil shield. Notice you are doing this at the firing position because that is where the recoil shield protrudes the most. You should have a minimum clearance to the case head of about .006. If you have much more than .006 that may affect how efficiently the firing pin ignites a primer.

 

Kuhnhausen states that ideal firing pin protrusion for a Colt or Clone with a hammer mounted firing pin is .042 min and .0.056 Max. He goes on to state that with transfer bar actions as in a Ruger, some energy is lost to the motion of the transfer bar. He states that with a factory spring, a firing pin protrusion of .045 should ignite primers. But with reduced power hammer springs a protrusion of .045 may fail to ignite primers, and suggests a protrusion of .055 - .060.

 

You can eyeball this pretty well using drill bits of various sizes. Best if you have number drills rather than fractional drills because you will have more choices of sizes. Remove the cylinder and point the gun up in the air. With the trigger pulled and the hammer down lay a drill rod next to the firing pin. Peering at the firing pin and the drill rod against a bright light you should be able to get a pretty good idea. Even better if you can lay a small flat edge against them.

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Ok, I've got some measuring to do. I have a set of numbered drill bits (actually numbers and letters). And a pair of calipers. I'll look at that tonight and compare the two guns to see if there is a difference. Thanks for the suggestions.

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Federal primers are the easiest to set off. I would certainly measure the recoil shield to cylinder gap, just to be sure.

As for firing pin protrusion. What I do, and there are people who will disagree with this, with the cylinder out of the gun, hold the trigger back so that the transfer bar is in the correct position, measure from the back of the hammer to the firing pin tip with a set of calipers. Then measure just below or above the firing pin and the difference is the protrusion. There are gauges designed to measure that dimension but all of us don't have one floating around. My method works close enough.

 

Howdy Again

 

It can get a little bit complicated determining the proper amount of firing pin protrusion because head space enters into the equation.

 

Head space for a revolver with rimmed cartridges is the amount of clearance between the recoil shield and the rear face of a cartridge. This can of course vary with the thickness of the rim of the cartridge, and that too can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and production run to production run. You can buy a headspace gauge for a particular cartridge, that will have the manufacturing tolerances figured in, but you can get by in a pinch by using several different fired cartridges. Best to decap them so the primer is not protruding. Pop a spent case into the chamber and rotate it up so the case is in the firing position and the hammer is cocked. Then insert feeler gauges until you find the one that best measures the clearance between the case and the recoil shield. Notice you are doing this at the firing position because that is where the recoil shield protrudes the most. You should have a minimum clearance to the case head of about .006. If you have much more than .006 that may affect how efficiently the firing pin ignites a primer.

 

Kuhnhausen states that ideal firing pin protrusion for a Colt or Clone with a hammer mounted firing pin is .042 min and .0.056 Max. He goes on to state that with transfer bar actions as in a Ruger, some energy is lost to the motion of the transfer bar. He states that with a factory spring, a firing pin protrusion of .045 should ignite primers. But with reduced power hammer springs a protrusion of .045 may fail to ignite primers, and suggests a protrusion of .055 - .060.

 

You can eyeball this pretty well using drill bits of various sizes. Best if you have number drills rather than fractional drills because you will have more choices of sizes. Remove the cylinder and point the gun up in the air. With the trigger pulled and the hammer down lay a drill rod next to the firing pin. Peering at the firing pin and the drill rod against a bright light you should be able to get a pretty good idea. Even better if you can lay a small flat edge against them.

 

Change the springs from one gun to the other you'll be able to tell if it's the spring or the gun. kR

All of this. Utilize the scientific method and eliminate as many variables as you can to find out the actual cause. For what it's worth, Rugers have a very wide degree of tolerances. I had a set that the cylinders would spin even with high primers. I didn't even realize they were high until shooting the same ammo out of my smoke wagons. Another set would lock up tight with those rounds. That first set didn't like bullets bigger than 452 while the second set chambered 454. The first set were stainless steel that I put together, one with the internal lock and one without. I was discussing this with two other shooters once and one of the fellows had the same thing with his consecutive serial numbered set. One would lock up with high primers and one wouldn't

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I bought my NVs from Longhunter with action work and I believe a 15 pound hammer spring. I had a bunch of CCI primers that I decided I would use up before switching to Federals. The revolvers set them off with no FTFs.

 

Spring weight is only part of the equation.

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17# mainsprings in my Original Bisley Vaqueros set off every CCI LP primer that they encounter. CCI is all I use.

 

The dragging hammer is most likely the problem, followed by firing pin issues.

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As far as Mr. Johnson"s statement AMEN says the choir!!! There is far too much worry about the lightest springs== the lightest bullet==the lightest powder charge. Wonder if anyone has thought about weighing their boots? Lighter pair might help them run faster! I much prefer error to the conservative side to get 100% reliability. I do shoot Federal primers, when I have them. Again for reliability. GW

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It's all about getting the inertia of the hammer transferred to the firing pin.

 

Apart from frictional drag on the hammer, there are three more springs in play.

 

While you're busy changing parts around.

 

Try swapping the base pins;

The spring loaded plunger in the base pin pushes the transfer bar out so it can clear the back of the firing pin. The hammer has to overcome this to get the transfer bar to hit the firing pin.

 

Also try swapping the pawl spring/plunger;

When the hammer hits home, the tip on the bottom of the pawl hits the grip frame and cams the pawl back in to the cylinder frame. The compression of the pawl spring is just one more thing taking some inertia out of the hammer.

 

There's also the firing pin spring, forget about that one, you don't want to go there!

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All great advice and suggestions.

 

Took some measurements tonight. The problem revolver had .007-.008 between a case head and the recoil shield, depending on which chamber the dummy round was placed in. The other revolver that works fine, never exceeded .006 inch.

 

I swapped cylinders on the two guns. Went through over 120 rounds between the two revolvers without a single FTF. All CCI primers. Did not swap base pins, just the cylinders.

 

will put another couple hundred rounds through them over the next couple days to confirm. Possibly problem solved?

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I swapped cylinders on the two guns. Went through over 120 rounds between the two revolvers without a single FTF. All CCI primers. Did not swap base pins, just the cylinders.

You are lucky you are able to swap cylinders and the guns still function properly. As already stated, Ruger tolerances are relatively loose. Sometimes you can swap cylinders, sometimes you cannot. I have a pair of Stainless 'original model' Vaqueros and I absolutely cannot swap cylinders on them. The cylinder from one gun will not even mount up in the frame of the other, the opening is too small.

 

And forget about consecutively numbered Rugers having similar characteristics. Just does not happen. Not all the time anyway.

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I would also check firing pin protrusion on the one giving trouble. Between hammer face, transfer bar and possible short firing pin. You could be just not getting a full firing pin strike.

 

I would also check firing pin protrusion on the one giving trouble. Between hammer face, transfer bar and possible short firing pin. You could be just not getting a full firing pin strike.

 

+1

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All great advice and suggestions.

 

Took some measurements tonight. The problem revolver had .007-.008 between a case head and the recoil shield, depending on which chamber the dummy round was placed in. The other revolver that works fine, never exceeded .006 inch.

 

I swapped cylinders on the two guns. Went through over 120 rounds between the two revolvers without a single FTF. All CCI primers. Did not swap base pins, just the cylinders.

 

will put another couple hundred rounds through them over the next couple days to confirm. Possibly problem solved?

 

Well; Maybe; not entirely, That clearance may or may not get larger in time but it most certainly will not get smaller by itself.

 

I would call Ruger and get a return authorization. They should email you a prepaid shipping label, couldn't be easier. Unless you bought them from Davidson's, They'll just send you a new one straight away.

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Well; Maybe; not entirely, That clearance may or may not get larger in time but it most certainly will not get smaller by itself.

 

I would call Ruger and get a return authorization. They should email you a prepaid shipping label, couldn't be easier. Unless you bought them from Davidson's, They'll just send you a new one straight away.

 

If I return the gun to Ruger, I will have to put the factory springs back in it. In that configuration, the gun works fine. What will they do? What do I tell them is wrong with the gun?

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I would also check firing pin protrusion on the one giving trouble. Between hammer face, transfer bar and possible short firing pin. You could be just not getting a full firing pin strike.

 

I did this. They were the same within the margin of error measuring with a good pair of calipers. That is, within +/-.002 considering the measurement to the hammer face is a little finicky.

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If I return the gun to Ruger, I will have to put the factory springs back in it. In that configuration, the gun works fine. What will they do? What do I tell them is wrong with the gun?

 

Call their customer support and explain what you found, I think they will understand about the desire for lighter springs and help you out. At least they should be able to confirm or deny if the gap you have is within their specs. If they say it is and won't fix it for you then we're back to figuring out how to get a better hammer strike.

 

It could depend greatly on which support person you get. Being one myself I have to admit that the amount of support you get can depend on a lot of variables. Time of day, day of week, 'time of month' etc...

 

Note: when you made the check with the feeler gauges I assume the hammer was at rest with the trigger pulled. The firing pin actually travels a bit further in when 'struck' by the hammer. Which is why a heavier spring will get it to fire. You probably already knew that but I thought I would mention it just in case.

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I measured the firing pin from the rear--using calipers between the firing pin and the cocked hammer and then from the frame to the hammer and taking the difference. both guns essentially the same.

 

I tried measuring the actual pin protrusion by pushing the hammer against the transfer bar with the trigger pulled, and using a set of feeler gauges to assess the pin "height." I could not tell any difference between the two guns, both about .031 inch. This is, of course, using my Mark I calibrated eyeballs, so some allowance is needed for that. :blink:

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I measured the firing pin from the rear--using calipers between the firing pin and the cocked hammer and then from the frame to the hammer and taking the difference. both guns essentially the same.

 

I tried measuring the actual pin protrusion by pushing the hammer against the transfer bar with the trigger pulled, and using a set of feeler gauges to assess the pin "height." I could not tell any difference between the two guns, both about .031 inch. This is, of course, using my Mark I calibrated eyeballs, so some allowance is needed for that. :blink:

I hear ya,

 

I think the best thing for you to do at this point is call the support line at Ruger and explain your situation and see what they have to say about it. I have only needed their help a few times but it has always been a pleasant experience. Two guns had to go back to them and they sent me prepaid shipping labels and fixed the problems at no charge. It took about 3 weeks to get the guns back and that was precisely the time frame they quoted so I'm very happy with them.

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I took two single six .32's to build a pair of "Cougars" (Rugers turned into Colts) about fifteen years ago and have been using them ever since.

 

Good Lord willing, I will make it to my 18th EOT, and if you go this year, ask to see and handle those two Cougars, as they will be in their side holsters mounted on my Horseless Carriage.

 

Why I am mentioning this is because the hammer pull and trigger pull are about the same on both guns. The hammer slap is so light, I need to use Federal Magnum Primers exclusively.

 

To accomplish that, the transfer bar had to come out, I swapped the trigger and hammer from a pair of 3-screw single six .22's., then removed both firing pins and modified each to extend into the recoil plate cup another .030 inch.

 

After marking the location of the firing pin cup (to make it easy to re-align), I removing the cup and put the base of the firing pin into an electric drill, and used my Dremel tool with a cutter to face off .030 from the front face of the firing pin and reduced the number of coils in the rebound spring to allow the firing pin to extend that .030 deeper into the cup. This made the firing pin longer!

 

I then fitted a Ron Power (Power Custom Shop) stainless steel blackstrap and triggerguard to the

now modified Ruger and installed a set of Colt grip panels and slotted the Ruger hammer and trigger pins to make them look like screw heads.

 

Polished off the ugly Ruger Warning from the side of the barrels and installed modified ejector rods and faced off the front of the cylinder pin to allow the ejector rod to go full travel to the rear.

 

A lot of SASS shooters have seen and used these guns over the 15 years since they were built and truthfully, I think 10,000 to 1,2000 rounds have been shot through these guns without misfiring.

 

I wore the bolt down on both about a year ago and both had to be rebuilt (hard welded, because a hard weld is stronger than stainless steel).

 

Other than that, they keep on firing reliably!

 

"Coyote Cap"

SASS Life 14184

Founders Platinum Mbr.

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Slick McClade (Slicksmajicguns.com) sells 12 or 13 lb hammer springs.

 

I put a set in my Ruger's this past winter and so far, they are working great.

 

And although I'm a slow shooter, my Rugers have been short stroked and I don't worry about lock time..... :D

 

 

..........Widder

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Ripsaw,

 

I gave you a good suggestion in post #31. The whole post probably got a little too deep and long winded, but the results speak for themselves.

 

That suggestion involved removing the firing pins and making alterations to increase the distance the firing pin can go forward to assure solid hits on primers.

 

To make that change (with the exception of the transfer bar absorbing energy), allows for an extremely light mainspring !

 

Get the lightest mainspring available and fine tune that spring, using primed empty cases.

 

When the depth of the firing pin strike is consistently deep - - - you have won the battle !

 

"Coyote Cap"

SASS Life 14184

Founders Platinum Mbr.

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Ripsaw,

 

I gave you a good suggestion in post #31. The whole post probably got a little too deep and long winded, but the results speak for themselves.

 

That suggestion involved removing the firing pins and making alterations to increase the distance the firing pin can go forward to assure solid hits on primers.

 

To make that change (with the exception of the transfer bar absorbing energy), allows for an extremely light mainspring !

 

Get the lightest mainspring available and fine tune that spring, using primed empty cases.

 

When the depth of the firing pin strike is consistently deep - - - you have won the battle !

 

"Coyote Cap"

SASS Life 14184

Founders Platinum Mbr.

 

I wouldn't consider that a "good" suggestion. You should consider who you are vs. who you're audience here is. What would seem like a simple procedure to a lifetime master gunsmith like yourself is some pretty advanced craftsmanship for us simple cowpokes.

 

You did mention marking recoil plate, which is good since most folks wouldn't think of it only to realize later that it would have been a good idea before they took it out.

 

However; you did not mention that they should first call Ruger and order up some spare firing pins (might as well get a few springs too). If you want to find out how fast you can ruin a gun part, start your timer at the same time you fire up your Dremel.

 

Also; I would like to know your secret on putting that cross pin back in so that it looks right when your done. Seriously; if you have a method, please share it with us.

 

Your post was interesting and I would love to see and test drive your pistols, you kinda missed the point of the OP. Ripsaw has some new guns and one of them has something different about it that prevents him from installing a lighter mainspring and getting reliable ignition. Modifying the firing pin and spring is not a good place to start. Better to identify the difference between the 2 guns and address that. If it should turn out that the firing pin protrusion is the problem, best to let Ruger correct it.

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I wonder if the OP might have swapped cylinders , with-out noticing there-by causing the problem...

That would explain the swap working so nicely ... I have seen this more than once ...

 

Jabez Cowboy

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