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How Do I Quick-Check a Used Revolver?

Discussion in 'General Firearms Forum' started by Restless28, May 2, 2009.

  1. Give me some easy pointers on what I should check on a used revolver. :wavey:
  2. Eyescream

    Eyescream hates you

    Jan 15, 2002
    There's a very good write-up in a thread on another board, found here.

    tercel89 likes this.

  3. wanderinwalker

    wanderinwalker 6 of .44

    Feb 13, 2003
    New Hampshire
    Just one quick pointer: On a S&W or Ruger revolver, you've probably not going to get that "welded to the frame" lockup. That's OK though, as long as it comes back when to center when it wiggles.

    But the quick-check is a good one. Helped me spot a tuned S&W M-19 under cover of worn-bluing and light freckling. Best deal I've ever gotten! Millet sights, Hogue grips, a Milt Sparks holster, almost perfect timing and lockup, and it is the only gun that has ever been CLEAN when I got it home.
  4. RioKid


    Jan 11, 2009
    SW Missouri
    That is the write-up I first thought of when I read the OP's question. That is a good one. I used that info and techniques on the last 2 revolvers that I bought. Made me a lot more comfortable with my purchases.

    I wonder if that could be stickied for future reference.
  5. hogship

    hogship It's MY Island

    That's a pretty good write-up eyescream put in there, and I'll add this:

    If you pull the hammer back very slowly, make sure the cylinder locks up BEFORE the hammer does, on EVERY chamber. If it doesn't, you are relying on cylinder inertia to do this, and it's something that could be dangerous, under the wrong conditions. This should be under the "timing" category.

    Wanderinwalker makes a good point about cylinder lock-up. Many people put too much importance on a "welded" lock up.....a few thousandths is perfect, but ten or fifteen thousandths should get your attention.

    Ofc.JL likes this.
  6. hardballing


    Aug 17, 2007
    Only other point I would add is to check hammer strike as well.

    On Smith's, with the cylinder open, pull cylinder latch backward and it will allow the piece to be cocked. Place your finger/thumb under firing pin hole and pull trigger. It should "slightly" sting.

    Same action on Colt's. Rugers? Don't have a clue how to do it on theirs.

    If you don't get that "sting", then you possibly have a weak hammer spring. Maybe not a deal breaker, but it is an aspect I check as well as timing, gap, etc.

    Final thought is to look at the top of the topstrap, where the forcing cone protrudes from the frame. Is there "cutting" there? This will appear as a dug out area immediately above the forcing cone. If so, it is a pretty good indication that magnums or hot loads were fired pretty regularly. This is also often present in pre WW2 revolvers, just due to age, and if you are buying for collector value don't let it stop you. For shooters, I check this area as one of the first things I examine.

    Hope this helps, but the above post is GREAT information imo.
  7. Eyescream

    Eyescream hates you

    Jan 15, 2002
    Sweet. More good information. I sent true believer a PM and asked if he'd make this a sticky for us.
  8. Berto

    Berto woo woo

    Sep 15, 2003
    Sideplate screws with buggered heads would also indicate tinkering of the 'Bubba' nature, along with a peeled or lipped edge on the sideplate.
    It's not unusual for the front sideplate screw (yoke) to be marked ,as many folks remove this screw when taking out the cylinder/yoke assembly for cleaning.
    Also bear in mind; many bores, especially at pawn shops, may look shot out or excessively worn when in fact it's a leaded bore that only needs cleaning....guns don't always get cleaned before going on display.
    Ofc.JL likes this.
  9. gunhobbyist


    Oct 10, 2008
    When I test the cylinder timing, I also put a slight drag on the cylinder with one finger while slowly cocking the hammer. I check each chamber at least twice for any hint of a lack of a positive lock up.

    You can also get an idea if the gun was shot much by looking at wear marks caused by case head wear marks on the recoil shield and also the chamber mouths by case rims.
    Last edited: May 8, 2009
    halfmoonclip and Ofc.JL like this.
  10. skeeeter


    Dec 2, 2006
    As I found out recently sometimes you can only check a revolver by actually firing it. It showed no problems when being dry fired.
  11. G33

    G33 Frisky! Millennium Member CLM

    May 29, 1999
    With G29
    That is true for the cylinder charge holes.
    If they were sunk too deep, that charge hole may not fire.
    The primer is too low to be hit properly.
    Usually one of six only in a cylinder.
    Unless it is a 5, 7, 8 shot.
  12. Berto

    Berto woo woo

    Sep 15, 2003

    I found they usually kick you out of the shop for that unless they have a range.:supergrin:
    I had one shop i used to go to that had a snail drum for test firing, pretty cool.
    halfmoonclip likes this.
  13. Squaw Man Wolfer

    Squaw Man Wolfer

    Apr 16, 2001
    In Him.
    If I can convince the owner that I am not a TOTAL jerk, I am a firm believer in the pop a pencil out the barrel trick. This proves that the action/firing pin will actually bust a cap.

    Pull hammer back, hold 38/357 revolver pointing upward, drop pencil with eraser down barrel, pull trigger. Should launch the pencil out and up a short distance. This proves firing pin will bust a cap.

    Note that lightweight snubbies often will not bust harder caps ((CCI) reliably, but should bust softer caps like Federal. Just a fact of life.

    I would not trust a gun/ammo combo without at least 100 rounds no/fail firing test.
  14. Squaw Man Wolfer

    Squaw Man Wolfer

    Apr 16, 2001
    In Him.
    Also, (after unloading revolver), you gently cup the revolver in non-firing hand on bottom of trigger guard, and fold thumb on left side of the cylinder and two or more fingers gently on the right side of the cylinder. Smoothly cycle and release through all six (or five) cycles. Hard to explain, but you can FEEL with your finger tips if timing of one cycle is "hinky". As others have noted, this does not show up on several other tests.
  15. Ol Timer

    Ol Timer ↓ hog hunter ↓ Millennium Member

    Jan 20, 1999
    This is checking carry-up. On later Smiths, without the pair of locating holes in the ejector star and corresponding pins in the cylinder, carry-up is checked with snap caps or SPENT cases in the charge holes. There is too much free play in the ejector to achieve reliable results without.
  16. Misty02


    Aug 25, 2008
    I was told about the “checking a revolver” thread since we are buying one tomorrow. I just wanted to thank you all for the information. I’m printing this and taking it with us. :)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
  17. Eyescream

    Eyescream hates you

    Jan 15, 2002
    Sweet. I'm glad it helped. :supergrin:
  18. diamondmike


    Jul 10, 2004
    Hebron Ohio
    Everything must lock tight and most importantly its not out of time.

    Cock the hammer back and make sure the charge holes line up with the barrel/forcing cone
  19. glockbk


    Aug 6, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    All excellent tips. One last thing: take a strong flashlight with you. Shine it on the cylinder arm and make sure there are no cracks on the metal. Revolvers are very strong but every so often, someone decides to run +P loads just for the heck of it and you'll never know how many were fired. Also shine that light through all of the cylinder holes to make sure they're not cracked. I've never heard of a revolver ka-booming but I'm sure it wouldn't be a pretty sight.
  20. Foxfire5


    Sep 2, 2009
    Easy pointers? Flame cutting , timing, lockup, bore light the barrel.
    Ofc.JL likes this.