Change ‘Em To Fit
Stopping in at Buckhorn Gun I spotted an old 71/2″ Single Action Army on display. It was a 1st Generation Colt, which had been fitted with a 2nd Generation .38 Special cylinder and barrel; it also had very attractive stag stocks. However, what really caught my eye was the hammer. This was not the traditional upswept hammer found on hundreds of thousands of Single Actions but rather was of the low, wide target-style. From the period of time after World War I until the early 1950s King Gun Sight Co. was the premier supplier of custom parts for handguns. King accomplished all kinds of wonderful transformations, especially on Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers including custom sights, ribbed barrels, short actions, and special hammers.
Here before me was a King hammer, and while I wasn’t in the market for a .38 Special Single Action I was sorely tempted to buy that sixgun just to get the hammer. The fellow who purchased the .38 Special Colt did not like the “funny looking” hammer so it was replaced with a period correct hammer and the boys at Buckhorn were told to give the King hammer to me. One of my most cherished Colts is an early 2nd Generation .44 Special with faded case colors, bluing worn on the ejector rod housing, barrel cut to 43/4″, and one-piece Pau Ferro stocks. The King hammer dropped in perfectly and the action functioned flawlessly.
Since the introduction of the Ruger Super Blackhawk all those decades ago, I have been regularly looking for better hammers and better handles, or if you please, grip frames for single-action sixguns. To shoot a single action sixgun successfully, or at least easily, requires an easy-to-reach hammer with enough surface area on the spur for easy cocking, matched up with a grip frame which helps to diminish felt recoil.
This search of mine probably started when seeing pictures of Elmer Keith’s Colt Single Actions which he had built up prior to WWII and which I was eventually able to handle. These favored Single Actions of his consisted of a 71/2″ .44 Special Custom Colt with adjustable sights by King Gun Sight, a 43/4″ Single Action .45 also with adjustable sights, and his favorite, the Number Five, or as he called it the No. 5 S.A.A. All three of these sixguns had low, wide, target-style hammers and started my personal quest for personalizing sixguns by changing hammers and handles.
By John Taffin
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