Broken Hammer Plunger; Is this a weak link in Ruger design?

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Is Ruger's hammer plunger on SA revolvers a weak design?

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  • No

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Wildhorse

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 26, 2010
Messages
2
I traded for a bicentennial stainless Single-Six in 22mag last week. It had a full cleaning in 30 years so I took it home, took it apart, cleaned it all out, and reassembled it. I took it out, shot it a about 100 rounds (shot great) and took it back home. I was at home, I'll admit i was practicing dry-firing some, but everyone says this is ok with Rugers. I snapped the trigger a couple times and the whole action bound up. I took it apart and found that the hammer plunger had broke, so the cylinder stop was not disengaging.

Now it's really not a big deal because it's a cheap part, but it made me wonder, "is this a weak link in the Ruger design?" All Ruger single action revolvers share this part in common, and upon inspection the design looks to me just a little bit fragile. "That doesn't seem very Ruger like." I thought while looking at it. It's nothing like anything found in my SP101. When I look at the internals there, there isn't a single part I can imagine breaking like that.

The whole reason I am attracted to the Single Six was all the SASS guys bragging about how they shoot Rugers because, while they might not be as heavy, they just never break and you can practice dry firing all day long.

So what do you guys thing? Was this a fluke that I wont experience again for another 30 years? How many of you have had the same thing happen? Was it a result of my negligent and capricious dry firing? Or is this truly a weak link in the Ruger design?
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
11,087
I'd say you had a fluke.

That basic design has been in use since about 1955, and we just don't hear about failures.

Doesn't mean it can't -- and hasn't -- happened, just that it's pretty rare.

And for those who say dry firing won't hurt, all I can offer is that there is in every mechanical device a limited number of "cycles" before some part wears out. I prefer to save these cycles for actual use.

JMHO and YMMV and it's your gun, do whatever you please with it.

:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
 

batmann

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Messages
307
Everyone has different advice on dry firing and using snap caps.
I don't dry fire anything, especially rim fires. The only exception to my rule is AFTER I clean one, I do check for function.
I agree Ale, if they are going to be used, it will be while firing.
 

J Miller

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 30, 2000
Messages
977
I have only Old Models at the moment and none of them have broken the hammer plunger.

From what I see when I visualize cycling the action the only way to break or bend that plunger is to pull the hammer partially back to where it is in contact with the latch then drop it. That sudden reversal of direction forces the plunger back into it's slot while the hammer is changing direction.
The movement at the time of rotating is what puts it in a bind and does the damage.
Normally the hammer is in contact with the latch as it rotates in one or the other direction.

That's my thoughts on it.

Joe
 

Flash

Buckeye
Joined
May 21, 2005
Messages
1,164
During assembly on stainless guns, I found the hammer plungers to be quite a nuisance. I broke a few before oiling them heavily.
 

Pinecone

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Messages
970
The Ruger hammer plunger is a "good" design and the only one's I have replaced because of breakage were an extremely "gunked" up plunger hole where the plunger did not have "free" movement or when an "oversize" plunger was put in by someone trying to get rid of the cylinder ring in the new model SA's. Then usually, the cross pin gets broken or bent in most cases........................Dick :wink:
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 25, 2007
Messages
699
Howdy

I had a hammer plunger jam up on me once. Don't remember exactly which gun, but it would have been an 'original model' Vaquero. There was a slight burr on the transverse hole that houses the pin that keeps it in place. The burr made the plunger operation sticky. I took it apart and found an appropriate sized drill bit and twirled it by hand in the plunger hole to smooth off the burr. Problem solved.
 

JHRosier

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 14, 2004
Messages
116
I broke the plunger on a 1975 vintage single six last year.
I had put several tens of thousands of rounds through the gun and the insides had never been cleaned.

The plunger might indeed be the weak link of the Ruger single actions.
I have never broken any other part on any of my Rugers, despite heavy use.

I have also heard of folks breaking the transfer bar if it is not fitted properly.

If I were putting together a spare parts kit for the single six, the plunger, spring, and retaining pin would be included, along with a hand spring and plunger, a set of gripframe screws, ERH screw and a spare cylinder pin.
I would be generally more woried about screws loosening and getting lost or dropping the cylinder pin someplace inaccessable than with parts breakage.

Jack
 

sfhogman

Buckeye
Joined
Nov 18, 2002
Messages
1,744
It's happened to me twice, both in new guns. Here was my deal: there was some casting crap left over in plunger hole both times. I used an appropriately sized drill bit held in a pin vise to clean the plunger hole, oiled, and reassembled. While the gun is apart, I'd check the transverse hole, as Driftwood suggested, as well.

Problem solved, at least for me.

Love those SA's!

Jeff
 

GDLT31

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 26, 2008
Messages
16
I DON'T DRY FIRE ANYTHING!!!! The sound of metal to metal in a firearm makes me cringe.
 

flatgate

Hawkeye
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Messages
6,784
I've been shooting Rugers since the mid 1980's so I'm a New Guy to the scene.

I've dry fired my shooters quite a bit with ZERO trouble. None. Zilch.

Ah, but I have also inspected the parts and their "fitting" and made some adjustments.....

flatgate
 

Flash

Buckeye
Joined
May 21, 2005
Messages
1,164
flatgate":2x9xmemt said:
I've been shooting Rugers since the mid 1980's so I'm a New Guy to the scene.

I've dry fired my shooters quite a bit with ZERO trouble. None. Zilch.

Ah, but I have also inspected the parts and their "fitting" and made some adjustments.....

flatgate
I've got to agree with the dry firing. The step on the hammer is much shallower than the thickness of the transfer bar and it's held firmly by the trigger when the hamer falls. If anything breaks during dry firing, it would have broken with a cartridge under it also.
 

welder

Buckeye
Joined
Sep 2, 2007
Messages
1,813
And for those who say dry firing won't hurt, all I can offer is that there is in every mechanical device a limited number of "cycles" before some part wears out. I prefer to save these cycles for actual use.

JMHO and YMMV and it's your gun, do whatever you please with it. QUOTE

+1. I'm told it doesn't hurt the gun, but it hurts my ears. I just can't do it. :?
 

CraigC

Hawkeye
Joined
May 27, 2002
Messages
5,197
welder":3ocpobny said:
And for those who say dry firing won't hurt, all I can offer is that there is in every mechanical device a limited number of "cycles" before some part wears out. I prefer to save these cycles for actual use.

JMHO and YMMV and it's your gun, do whatever you please with it. QUOTE

+1. I'm told it doesn't hurt the gun, but it hurts my ears. I just can't do it. :?
I have to agree with welder on this one, I just don't do it.

I have also just a few months ago had to return a brand new stainless Bearcat because every chamber was peened from firing pin strikes.
 

GP100owner

Bearcat
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
10
I know this thread is a few years old, but I had this happen to me tonight. I was not, and have never dry fired the weapon. I have a very nice birds head 32 H&R magnum single six. I've fired it all of 100 times. Tonight I was cleaning the gun and cocked the hammer back with the cylinder out of it, which I also usually don't do, and when I did it froze up. The trigger would not engage to drop the hammer. I was able to pull back on the hammer just a little, which would cause an audible CLICK. I tried a few things before taking the grip frame off, but eventually that was my only option.

When I did this 3 chunks of stainless steel fell out of the inside of the gun. 2 of them were flat circular pieces that I think was casting flash, and one was a cleanly broken pin. After some investigation I'm pretty sure it's the hammer plunger or pivot pin. There is what I think is the other half of the pivot pin still in the hammer itself.

I've left it as it is and plan to call Ruger tomorrow. I'll decide after chatting with them if I send it back to them of find a local smith. I was considering having some work done on the action anyway. It was a little sticky.

I'm not upset at Ruger or cursing the sky. Guns are machines and some times machines break even when brand new.
 

Hondo44

Hawkeye
Joined
Apr 3, 2009
Messages
7,711
You've diagnosed it correctly. I would not call this a weakness in Rugers but the cyl bolt actuating pin in the hammer will occasionally break. The NM design uses a smaller diameter pin than the old models to allow room for the transfer bar. You will probably never have one break again in your lifetime. I broke only one on a new model in the last 30 years and I have about a dozen new models. None have ever broken on my dozen or so old models, so i wouldn't worry about it. Ruger will most likely send you a free one, they did for me. It's a simple replacement you can do.

Pull the hammer out and push out the small retaining cross pin. The broken piece will be pushed by the spring behind it and fall out. Put in the new one with the short end first. Here's a video showing it being done:
http://www.ruger.com/resources/videos.html?vidID=005039
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
Messages
7,753
I think the key words in the OP, was it basiclally was NOT cleaned in what 30 years?? something sits that long, and NOT move or oiled, "$h!t" happens..........as pinecone noted it can get "gunked" up, solidify, "gel" harden, you name it............a bit of oil from time to time, and in the case of this particular part, we use 'Kroil' it DOES "climb", up and into cracks and crevises as well as flat surfaces......... 8)
other than that, it comes to 'abuse & misuse'........ :roll:
 

David Bradshaw

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 11, 2012
Messages
933
I like to strip, clean, and lubricate a new firearm. Short of that, clean as best can and lube. Burrs and metal chips do occasionally leave the shipping department with a new gun. Small parts are more sensitive to burrs than large parts. If the hammer pin moves freely in-and-out, it should not fail. If it hangs up, it may bend or break.

Guns are designed to operate lock-to-lock. They are not designed for perfect cycling when short-cycled or short-stroked.

Since dry-firing has come up, there are a few general rules:
DON'T LIKE
* Antiques don't like dry fire.
* Shotguns don't like dry fire.
* Percussion locks don't like dry fire.
* Lever actions don't like dry fire.
* Rimfires which allow the firing pin to peen the chamber don't like dry fire.
* Firearms with an extremely hard cocking piece or firing pin, or an especially a hard firing pin fall, do not like dry fire.

Some guns take dry fire in stride:
* Ruger, at the top.
* S&W.
* Most bolt action, pump, and self-loading centerfire rifles.
* Most centerfire auto pistols.

While campaigning to set the 40x40 revolver record, I broke the transfer bar on the Super Blackhawk that won the first International Revolver Championship. With 37 silhouettes down, my 38th shot "rang" ram #8. On the shot that failed to topple the ram, the transfer bar broke.

News of that inspired Ruger to put a Super Blackhawk in the dry fire machine and to run it for a week. Many, many cycles. Didn't do diddly.
David Bradshaw
 
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