The Italian gun makers are well renowned for making great reproductions of the classic firearms of the mid to late 19th century, but even so most all of them suffer from a couple of issues due to their use of lower quality parts to help keep the cost down. One of these cost-cutting measures is using springs that are of low grade and tend to often fail even with minimal use of the firearm. the other has to do with their use of screws that haven’t been hardened which results in the heads breaking off or stripping out quite easily – something I had to contend with on my Uberti made 1860 Henry Civil War rifle.
I recently ran into the spring issue on one of my Cimarron Frontier 5.5″ revolvers in .357 Magnum which is a fairly typical Colt 1873 Single-Action Army clone produced by Pietta of Italy. Upon removing the revolver from my safe, after having sat there unused for the past 6-7 months, I found that the bolt/trigger spring had failed. More specifically, the leg of the flat spring that actuates the cylinder locking bolt had broken off. Two symptoms alerted me to this failure:
- When cocking the hammer it now only had three clicks rather than four clicks which is a hallmark feature of the Colt SAA.
- When fully cocked one could still easily rotate the cylinder which shouldn’t be possible.
Knowing the factory Italian-made springs aren’t of the best quality and are prone to failure I decided to use this opportunity to upgrade the bolt/trigger spring and the main spring to a higher quality and lighter weight aftermarket springs from Wolff. Note that the Wolff springs used here work in Colt SAA’s as well as many Italian made SAA clones, but not all clones (such as EMF clones) and may require fitting to work in certain models. As such it is highly recommended that you have a gunsmith perform this job for you if you have any reservations or uncertainties about your ability to do it yourself.
With the revolver disassembled as far as we need to go for our purposes we can now look at the new replacement springs and compare them to the original springs. Both new springs are reduced power springs that should lighten the cocking effort and trigger pull some once installed. As always, when doing any kind of work that affects the trigger be sure to thoroughly test the safety of the trigger before loading live ammunition into the firearm to ensure that everything is working as it should.
New Replacement Parts
Installing the replacement springs is pretty straight forward, though as I did you may have to modify the bolt/trigger spring slightly for your particular make/model of SAA clone. In my case I only had to bend the end of the trigger leg of the wire spring slightly outward (opening up the angle slightly beyond 90-degrees) to keep it from falling off the shelf on the trigger when the trigger was pulled. This was accomplished with a simple set of needle nose pliers and a little care in the application of leverage to ensure the spring was bending where I wanted it to.
Installation and Reassembly
With the revolver reassembled all that’s left to do is function and safety test it to ensure that the firearm is functioning properly with the new parts and won’t present an undue risk to anyone using it.
The hammer and trigger feel with the new reduced power springs isn’t noticeably different than what it was with the factory springs in place, and as such I’m not sure I would recommend doing this upgrade solely for the purpose of obtaining an easier to cock hammer or lighter trigger. However, as was the case here if you need to replace a broken factory bolt/trigger spring its well worth upgrading to a more modern wire spring if only for it’s increased durability and longevity. It might actually be slightly cheaper than a factory replacement spring to boot.
Naturally I had to slip out to the range to properly function test the new springs by firing off a few rounds. I’m no pistolero, but I think you’ll agree this grouping is more than adequate should I ever find myself in need of having to ventilate a bad hombre at 15 paces.