Jump to content


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


Revolver Tech.

Recommended Posts

Hello All,


What I’m posting are things I’ve done to try and improve the usability and function of my Tanaka M29 / 629 type revolvers that might possibly be of use to other owners. I’ve seen plenty of advice for autoloaders so I’d like to try and redress the balance.


This does require a competence in stripping your gun down and handling small tools so if you’re the kind of person that regularly got D’s in metalwork class or you have banana hands then please leave well enough alone, Tanaka’s are expensive enough without mangling your investment.


I would very much welcome any solutions / alternatives to problems from other owners but please refrain from just adding comments or suggestions, PM them instead so that if the thread continues it remains concise.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tools :


Assorted screwdrivers – use the right size to match the screw. If the screwdriver blade has small burrs or sharp edges, gently remove them with fine grade sandpaper or they will mark the screwhead slot since the screws on these guns are made with the same (albeit good quality) monkey metal used on the rest of the gun.


Cross Pein hammer – a good one this, slim and light with a wood shaft ideal for tapping the gun surfaces to loosen panels without marring them. The small hammer head is also good for flattening off mangled screw heads.


Assorted allen keys – you’ll find the WA hop key is the right size for the grub screw holding the outer barrel to the frame.


Medium to fine grade sandpaper


Fine grade oilstone – for truing up flat surfaces, you can use fine grade sandpaper on a flat surface but an oilstone will give a better finish and is easier to control.


Very fine rubbing compound – for polishing surfaces be they internal or external. I’ve used G27 which came with a car scratch removal pack, useless for car scratches but great for shining up and smoothing metal surfaces. If using on an external silver/metallic finish be careful it doesn’t remove it or discolour it.


Masking / double sided tape – masking to protect surfaces, double sided for attaching pieces of sandpaper to file tips / rods for sanding .


Small adjustable spanner – for loosening the brass inner barrel lug.


Cloths / cotton buds and silicon spray – lots of silicon spray.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Stripping the gun down :


Tanaka revolvers break down into four main components :


1) Outer barrel / inner barrel.


2) Frame with trigger / hammer mechanism.


3) Cylinder / crane.


4) Grips.


I prefer to disassemble in this order :


3) The cylinder can be removed easily by unscrewing the side plate screw directly below the cylinder, push the cylinder out from the frame as normal and slide forward to remove the crane from the frame. On fluted cylinders you will need to align one flute with the rounded protrusion on the side of the frame or it won’t slide off, frames with unfluted cylinders have a flat protrusion.


1) I’ve so far seen two grub screw locations for securing the outer barrel. One is under the rear sight at the frame barrel entry position, this is on the PC V-Comp. The other is in a hole under the front of the barrel, this is on the Umbrella magnum (be careful unscrewing this one as there is a gap in the hole and the grub screw can get lost inside the outer barrel).

Wiggle the outer barrel away from the frame and slide it off the rubber ring on the inner barrel lug. Wrap some masking tape around the barrel lug to protect the surface and use an adjustable spanner to untighten it, then unscrew it by hand. Wiggle the inner barrel to loosen the washer and slide it off, then remove the inner barrel by sliding it back towards the recoil shield and you should be able to angle it over the edge of the shield with no problem and without scratching the finish.


4) If you have wood effect plastic grips then just undo the center screw and remove the two halves, for hogue rubber grips undo the screw at the base of the grip and slide it down.


2) Undo the remaining two side plate screws and gently tap around the frame with the hammer handle to loosen the plate, then carefully angle it up from the grip and trigger guard area to expose the mechanism. I’ve only bothered to remove the hammer from the mechanism as the spring in the trigger rebound slide is extremely strong and will need a special tool to remove it without parts flying off hazardously and possible breakage. If anyone has managed to do this easily please let me know how. To remove the hammer, undo the hammer spring screw in the base of the grip, the spring will practically fall out, then slide the safety catch back so that the hammer can be cocked to a halfway position. Hold the trigger steady and slide the hammer off its pin.


To reassemble reverse the above.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Smoothing the action :


You might notice that when opening the cylinder from the frame, it seems to be catching on something and needs some force before it will start to slide out. This is probably the cylinder center pin catching on the firing pin which is sticking out a fraction too far. The firing pin should sit slightly proud of the recoil shield but I found it was higher on one of my V-comps than the other. Using the hammer to hold the pin forward carefully sand down and round off the tip and regularly re-check the action until the cylinder only requires minimal force to open. The firing pin should still sit proud of the recoil shield surface when you’ve finished. You can also gently sand around the face of the cylinder center pin if it’s a little rough. Then use some polishing compound to smooth both pins off.


Burrs form on the cylinder ratchet pads as the hand contacts them to rotate the cylinder, they can also have a slightly uneven casting surface. I’m not sure what the factory does but I’ve had brand new guns with cylinders that show no rotation marks whatsoever yet they still have burrs on the ratchet pads. These need to be removed as they can drag on and cut into the recoil shield.

Fold some fine grade sandpaper to form a narrow flat surface (just slightly wider than a pad) and gently flatten the burrs and any surface casting imperfections, do not alter the shape of the pads or curve the edges. Then use some polishing compound to smooth them off.


The cylinder catch will become rough from contact with the cylinder surface and the catch recesses. Polish the surface of the cylinder catch and gently flatten any discovered burrs with fine grade sandpaper, do not alter the shape of the catch. Then re-polish again.


The surface of the recoil shield shouldn’t need any sanding and smoothing unless there are very severe molding protrusions / flash / burrs. I’ve only found one small protrusion on my Umbrella magnum on the edge of the cylinder pad recess. One other possible problem is the metalcote on the silver or midnight blue finish guns peeling up as the cylinder center pin breaks the metalcote away whenever you open or close the cylinder.


Relube the cylinder thoroughly inside and out with silicon spray, lube the recoil shield, the cylinder catch and the barrel face and replace the cylinder back into the frame (but do not replace the side plate screw that secures the crane). Hold the hammer back enough to disengage the catch and both slowly rotate and quick spin the cylinder, it should rotate much more smoothly now. If it’s still binding then more remedial action will be requiered which I will cover later.


The hammer / trigger mechanism on new guns isn’t lubricated except for some thick grease around the pivot pins and contact edges. Remove the hammer and use cloths and cotton buds to wipe the grease away from all the parts, then relube thoroughly with silicon spray. Action the safety catch and trigger to work the lube in. Check the contact surfaces of the hammer and the trigger for any burrs or deformation, the quality of the castings I’ve seen so far have been very high and I haven’t had to do anything except remove the grease.


The hammer spring will have sharp burrs along all its edges, smooth these with medium grade sandpaper, particularly where the hammer lug sits. Check the point where the hammer spring screw contacts the spring, if it’s been overtightened, the spring can become bent and will need to be sraightened by carefully hammering the bend out with the cross pein.


When re-tightening the hammer spring screw, I prefer to only use enough tension to ensure a consistent 134a gas release sufficent to propel the BB through corrugated card at around 15 - 20 feet since I only use my guns for indoor target shooting. That equates to approximately 2mm of screw head still protruding from the grip, if you want more power and tighten the screw right up I recommend easing the tension off when storing the gun as the spring will deform over time. This was the case with my second hand umbrella magnum, thankfully the person I bought it from left a spare hammer spring in the box.


Lube the recesses and pivot pin holes on the side plate and replace on the frame, the hammer and trigger action should be smoother now with a nice clean hammer lock and trigger break. With the cylinder in the frame (but without replacing the side plate screw that secures the crane) perform single and double action movments for at least two complete rotations of the cylinder to ensure smooth function. With the side plate crane securing screw replaced you might notice a tightening of the cylinder rotation, this is because the end of the screw is pressing on the recess in the crane forcing the cylinder against the recoil shield, which brings me to my next point.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gas refilling :




Let me repeat that.




I came to that conclusion after my second attempt at using it.


It’s awkward, it spills gas, it won’t work if the cannister is very low on gas, you can damage the cylinder valve, the cylinder scratches up the side of the frame, and frankly it’s just not natural.


Because you’re not dealing with cartridges, the cylinder is a self contained unit that has no real need to be secured to the frame. Remove the cylinder and you can refill it like a conventional autoloader magazine, it’s easier to reload BB’s, and if you have more than one gun and you like to skirmish then there’s no reason why you can’t carry a spare cylinder to swap over rather than manually reload.


As such I‘ve cut short the crane screws on my revolvers so I can remove the cylinders whenever I need to, and as noted previously with the end of the screw removed the crane won’t have that additional pressure that pushes the cylinder against the recoil shield. If the idea of cutting the screw is anathema then it can be left off during use and replaced afterwards, it certainly won’t affect the operation of the gun.


Tanaka could sell spare cylinder / crane units like autoloader magazines. It may not be very realistic but they’ve already bypassed realism in favour of the pegasus system.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Removing the hop :


The hop affects accuracy on every gun that has one for good or bad. Since I’m more interested in accuracy than distance I removed the inner barrel and used a sharp scalpel blade to cut the hop away using the inner barrel as a contour. Then sticking a piece of partially worn fine grade sandpaper around the end of an aluminium rod (I used the reloading rod from my SVI) I carefully sanded the remaining rubber as smooth as possible along with the surrounding inner barrel surface by gently rotating the barrel against the rod. Finally I rubbed a little compound around the inner barrel to polish it smooth, then lubed thoroughly and ran a small piece of cloth through the barrel to remove any dirt.


If you want to take the hop off then push the moon clip out from its slot and loosen the little grub screw that holds the barrel face around the inner barrel, then slide it off towards the front of the inner barrel, note that the inner barrel has a dimple where the grub screw secured the barrel face, use that to align the barrel face when reassembling . The barrel face o-ring and the hop can now be removed but the hop rubber is a little delicate so please be careful. The hop has a small square molding that fits into a recess in the barrel face so it’s aligned properly when you put it back together.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cylinder binding :


And the potential problems of buying second hand.


I recently purchased an Umbrella magnum off the forums. This gun is essentially an M29 frame with a Raging bull barrel and Colt python grips. Looked pretty much as expected at first sight, some cylinder scratches on the side of the frame, a few light marks here and there, a stiff mechanism and a lack of lubing.


On disassembly I found an attempt had already been made to remove the hop, there was a scratch (knife ?) mark and a strange discoloured patch on the surrounding inner barrel surface and the hop rubber was ragged. Since I intended to remove the hop anyway I wasn’t too concerned and cleaned it up, but what if I’d wanted the hop ?


The cylinder had one ratchet pad that had been heavily staked on its upper surface resulting in a deformed flange that stuck out along its edge. This was very odd, it seemed too specific too be accidental and couldn’t have occurred through normal operation. If it was done to remedy an operating problem then it was a serious no-no that’s frowned upon by real steel gunsmiths much like wrist flicking a gun to close the cylinder or dry firing without dummy cartridges.


Laying the cylinder on its side I used the flat of a screwdrived and the cross pein to carefully hammer the flange back into the pad and finished the surfaced with fine grade sandpaper. Then I sanded down the burrs on the other pads and polished them. After cleaning up the hammer / trigger mechanism, polishing the cylinder stop and re-lubing I put the cylinder back in and found that actioning the rotation would bind on three of the 6 turns with an increase to a decrease of severity as the cylinder passed through the three binding turns. It required considerable force to cock the hammer on the worst of the binds. The bind could even be felt when rotating the cylinder freely by hand (despite the mechanism being stiff when I first tested it I hadn’t noticed such severe binding, was this the reason for the pad being staked ?).


It couldn’t be friction against the barrel face as I’d already removed it, the crane wasn’t bent, there was also no extraneous up / down / left / right play in the cylinder when it was in the frame and the dummy cartridge ends weren’t rubbing against the recoil shield. In an attempt to find out where the bind was I repeatedly fast actioned the mechanism to see if a heavy wear pattern would form anywhere and it did on the recoil shield recess where the pads contacted.


On comparing the pads with my other revolvers, the surfaces looked much more uneven even which I put down to the original piece used for casting being improperly finished. Some research on real steel revolver binding also pointed to the possiblity of the ratchet pads being too high (usually due to burring or deformation), the pads should be fractionally lower than the recoil shield mating surface of the cylinder center pin housing so that contact with the recoil shield is minimal. However the pads and center pin housing are machined as one part on real steel. Because of the nature of the airsoft version the pads and center pin are separate parts and the pads are fractionally higher than the pin mating surface and are intended to contact the recoil shield.


On the Umbrella magnum the pads were both uneven and higher than normal. Removing the three screws from the end cap of the cylinder I gently tapped around the cylinder with the wooden shaft of the cross pein until the cap popped out. After sticking masking tape over the dummy cartridge end caps to protect them I sprayed silicon oil onto an oilstone and carefully ran the ratched pad surfaces on the stone in a circular motion stopping regularly to ensure the metal removal was even over all six pads.


Note : the pads have a slight bevel to them and metal will be removed from the inner surface of the pads.


Once the pads were approximately level (but still fractionally higher) with the center pin mating surface I evened the remaing bevel surface of the pads with a piece of medium grade sandpaper stuck onto the end of a flat needle file with a narrow tipped end, and using a flat plastic block held against the edge of the endcap to maintain the bevel angle. This took about three hours to get right.


Replacing the cap, putting the cylinder back into the frame and re-lubing again the cylinder binding was gone, and the cylinder now has the smoothest and most continuous spin of all my wheelguns.


However this was an extreme case and I wouldn’t bother doing this on a revolver that functioned ok just to try and get a better spin out of the cylinder.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

First shot power reduction :


Whilst firing one of the V-comps the other day I was finding that the power was low whenever I shot the gun for the first time after not having fired for a minute of more. The subsequent shots would be back up to power, then I would check my shots on the target, reload, and again the first shot would be underpowered.


It occurred to me just before falling asleep that when I let the gun rest, the gas would settle and the ratio of vapour to liquid would increase which in turn would increase the pressure in the cylinder chamber. Whilst this would increase the force of the gas as it left the chamber, it also increased the amount of force requiered to strike the gas release valve sufficiently to release that gas.


After the weak first shot, the gas would be agitated sufficiently to increase the liquid to vapour ratio dropping the pressure enough for the hammer spring tension that I had set to strike the gas release valve with the requiered force.


Since I set my hammer springs with the minimum tension required I increased it by one screw turn which solved the problem but this implies that the spring had actually managed to deform from the last time I fired the gun, and that previous tension had been sufficient to strike the valve with the requiered force.


I will need to monitor this and see if the spring continues to require an increase in tension or whether it levels off at a particular tension.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The S&W 500 Magnum :


And why what might work for an N frame airsoft revolver doesn’t necessarily work for an X.


I wasn’t all that excited when I first read that Tanaka was producing a replica of S&W’s 500 magnum. The gun looked unbalanced, unwieldy and a little ugly, but the more I read about the real steel original the more impressed I was by S&W’s achievement and their collaboration with Hogue and Cor-Bon. I even began to appreciate the look of the gun so when Tanaka finally released their replica I ordered one.


Opening the box, the gun had a clean charcoal black finish on the plastic parts comparable to the one on my WA SVI heavyweight slide. The metal parts had the same type of paint finish as on the SVI’s metal parts except Tanaka managed to keep their coating even and consistent. Also the instruction leaflet diagram now shows every single part of the gun clearly and concisely making disassembly very easy.






On the cylinder there were little spots of what looked to be crusted improperly mixed paint that had even managed to get onto the cylinder stop. On trying to pull back the hammer I found it didn’t seem to want to move. I assumed the hammer lock had been engaged (not having seen what an engaged one looked like before) so imagine my surprise when I tried to use the key and found it wasn’t locked at all. Applying more force to the hammer it became obvious that there was a very severe cylinder binding problem on all 5 turns. Freehand rotation was pitifully tight, I found it hard to believe Tanaka had released a revolver with a problem like this, and one which on closer examination looked to be a design flaw.


And so on to the inevitable disassembly in an effort to solve this problem.




1) Cylinder/crane unit.


On turning the revolver right side up to undo the cylinder crane screw, I noticed the frame would actually flex away from the side plate by about half a millimeter due to the weight of the cylinder and barrel. This doesn’t happen on their N frames. S&W re-introduced a fourth screw on the top of the side plate on the X frame to strengthen the structure. On the Tanaka the top screw is a casting feature, had they actually incorporated the screw and added a minor modification to the way the side plate is secured to the frame this would have stopped the flexing (I have visions of skirmishers turning quickly to the right to bear on a target, smacking the barrel on a tree or a wall and snapping the gun in half).

Undoing the screw, I found that it was hollow and had a spring loaded pin inside that kept pressure on a matching groove on the crane, very nice and I’m assuming a feature on the real steel. Removing the spring loaded pin allowed for the cylinder to be removed even with the screw replaced.


Note: Even with the cylinder removed, the weight of the barrel still made the frame flex away from the side plate.


With the cylinder open there is a two to three millimeter gap from the frame so there's no chance of scratching it, but there is now a chance of bending the crane if one insists on filling the cylinder with gas while it's still attached to the frame. Also there's no valve extension rod now since the cylinder fill valve is far enough away from the frame to use the can directly, not that I've ever cared about that.




2) Inner / outer barrel.


The front sight blade can be removed by sliding it back and angling it up, I believe this is the same on the real steel and is also a nice feature, you could fashion and fit your own front sight designs easily. In the slot there is the pin (the tip of which needs smoothing) that holds the sight in place, and below that is the grub screw that holds the compensator to the inner barrel. Loosen the grub screw, remove the compensator and wiggle the outer barrel away from the frame, the front sight securing pin and the spring behind it are loose in the outer barrel so be careful they don’t drop out and get lost on the floor.

The inner barrel is secured by the now familiar barrel lug which is untightened in the usual fashion. There is no washer behind the lug this time but the barrel face unit now extends up into a long recess in the top of the frame since it now incorporates an adjustable hop. Slide the inner barrel backwards in a straight line until the barrel face unit clears the frame, then angle it down out of the recess. Be careful at this point as the hop mechanism sits in the top of the barrel face unit and can drop out if you turn the inner barrel upside down. Slide the inner barrel back over the recoil shield to remove it.

The hop mechanism can be removed at this point by tapping it out if you don’t want to use it, and the hop rubber has a low enough profile that it doesn’t need cutting unless it really bothers you.

If you want to remove the barrel face, remove the half moon clip and loosen the grub screw, then slide the barrel face forward to reveal the hop rubber. Remove it and slide the barrel face backwards to remove it from the inner barrel.


3) Grips.


There is a screw at the base of the grip the same as on the N frame Hogues, slide the grip down off the frame.


4) Side plate, hammer / trigger mech.


As mentioned before the side plate top screw is a casting feature so you just remove the usual three screws. The side plate, hammer spring and hammer are then removed in the same way as on the N frames. The hammer and trigger have weight reducing recesses in them reflecting the injection molding of the real steel versions, and the sear and hammer spring lug are now modular components that slot into the hammer rather than being pinned.




On my 500 the hammer spring screw was tightened right up as per usual and the spring needed hammering to remove the deformation. On reassembling I found that the design of the grips requiered the hammer spring screw to be screwed in further than I wanted otherwise I couldn’t get the grips back on since they envelope the grip frame.


After cleaning and lubing the hammer/trigger mech and replacing the side plate (but leaving the barrel off), I put the cylinder back in and tried actioning the rotation. There was no binding but what I did notice was the rear of the cylinder being lifted up by the hand as it tried to rotate it. The cylinder center pin design whilst being adequate for an N frame cylinder is too loose a fit for an X frame cylinder. The ratchet pads on both types of cylinder are roughly the same diameter and the increased weight and diameter of the X frame cylinder results in the center pin angling in its slot, it simply doesn’t have a high enough tolerance to keep the X frame cylinder rigid along its axis as the hand tries to rotate it. Also of note is that the ratchet pad is now fractionally below the level of the center pin mating surface, not above as on the N frame design which means it doesn’t contact the recoil shield surface and this exacerbates the angling of the cylinder.


This angling means that the front of the cylinder is being forced against the barrel face, or more accurately the barrel face outer o-ring. Since freehand rotation had already shown the cylinder/barrel face fit to be tight I removed the outer o-ring and ran the barrel face over an oilstone to ensure it was flat and then polished it. Then I refitted the o-ring and gently ran that over the oilstone to flatten it enough to reduce the tightness to a tolerable level. I also removed the Cylinder endcap and oilstoned the ratchet pad surface, polishing it smooth just to be certain.


Placing the cylinder back in the frame and pushing it against the recoil shield, I now found I had about a half millimeter of play between the barrel face and the cylinder (the cylinder center pin spring keeps the cylinder pressed up against the barrel face) and on actioning the cylinder rotation this seemed to reduce the binding slightly but it was still unacceptable. Running my finger over the front of the cylinder, I found the milled recesses used to imitate the bullet ports had very sharp edges so these were rounded with liberal compound polishing and smoothed along with the entire cylinder surface (taking much of the paint with it).






This was enough to enable the cylinder to rotate reasonably freely when actioned although there is still a noticable pressure particularly on double action, but the rotation doesn't actually bind as it did when I first tried it. To really ensure smooth rotation, a longer higher tolerance cylinder center pin will be requiered to ensure the cylinder axis is much more rigid, a decent engineer with a lathe could probably do that for me should I become dissatisfied with my current fix. I also think that a very thin washer fitted between the front surface of the cylinder and the crane in order to move the cylinder towards the recoil shield would have meant that I wouldn't have had to flatten the barrel face outer o-ring as much as I had, it would also allow the ratchet pad to act as a bearing surface against the recoil shield reducing any potential cylinder angling.


The problem though is that the M500 with or without its cylinder binding has a fragile construction compared to the solid and well balanced N frames due to its greater weight and Tanaka's design decisions, and as such is less enjoyable to handle and shoot. Power over the N frames also doesn't seem to be that much higher, at least on 134a although one fill does last alot longer. I find myself considering the M500 as more of a fine display piece that can also be used for occasional plinking rather than a target shooting workhorse. I'm not actually sorry I bought it as I'd rather have this than nothing but I do believe Tanaka rushed its development, and I hope that future iterations include much needed design improvements.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ruger 454 Casull 7.5 inch in Midnight Blue :


(I should point out that the below describes events that occurred over a 3-4 week period, I spent a considerable amount of time working on these replicas and this is not a simple knee jerk reaction to a particularly sour situation. I also now realise why WGC still had so much stock of these guns, If I’d tried these out in person in HK I would never had bought them.)


Or how Tanaka curtailed my admiration for their revolvers.


Beyond probably needing a general smoothing of the mechanism, I hadn’t anticipated any problems with a Tanaka model that had been on the market for a while unlike their (albeit solvable) hiccup with the recent M500.


I ordered two 454’s and both were received with excessively stiff and binding cylinder rotations when trying to action the trigger or hammer. The cylinders on both revolvers had wear marks, odd scratches and a paint coat that was thinner and of a far poorer quality than the cylinders on my V-Comps. The midnight blue finish has also proven to be more fragile than the finish on my V-Comps and has actually cracked off in a number of places.


There was also another poor Tanaka design decision. On real Ruger’s there is a latch on the crane arm that secures it to the frame, because of the Pegasus design this could not be replicated but Tanaka decided to add a ball détente to the front of the ejector rod so that it would latch into the barrel underlug. They should have left it unlatched as they did on the S&W Performance Center models. The ball détente creates a visible dent mark in the plastic of the underlug whenever the cylinder is opened and closed but worse still it forces the cylinder against the recoil shield.


So yet again disassembly was requiered in order to work on these less than perfect examples. Not having had any practicle experience with the Ruger design this took some trial and error but basically they strip down to look like this :




Unlike the S&W’s you cannot remove the cylinder without disassembling the revolver first so it needs to be done in this order :


1) After removing the grip screw the faux wood plastic panels need to be tapped out. Underneath the right panel is the safety lever. I’d get rid of this as it’s both difficult to use and complete nonsense. Prise off the moon clip and lift the lever out, then push the bolt out and pull the grip down from the grip frame. You’ll notice there is a small rod clipped into the grip under the left panel, this is useful for tapping pins out of the trigger mechanism.


2) The hammer shaft and spring can be removed as a single piece. Don’t wear your fingers out as I did at first by trying to compress the spring by hand, cock the hammer until the hole in the spring shaft clears the seating plate and push a rod or allen key into the hole, then release the hammer. You can now angle the whole piece out.


3) Push the hammer pivot pin in from the left side of the frame and slide it out from the right side to remove it, then pull the trigger all the way back and wiggle the hammer up through the frame (there will be some resistance from the trigger pushing against the hammer sear).


4) The trigger mechanism including the hand and the hammer transfer bar is contained in the trigger guard and this is removed as a single unit by depressing a pin at the rear of the guard that can be seen sitting in a notch inside the grip frame. Use the tip of a flat screwdriver to do this, the spring behind the pin is quite strong so it will need some force. Once the trigger guard starts to angle away from the frame pull it out by holding the rear of the guard.

I made an error at this point. With the intention of making the pin easier to depress, I removed the spring behind it and cut two coils from one end. Only after re-fitting the spring did I realise it was also the trigger return spring and was now too short to fulfil that function. I only got around my mistake by reducing the diameter of the other end coil so that the spring sat on top of (instead of around) the shaft of the pin behind it.


5) The cylinder / crane unit can now be removed from the frame. It’s held in the frame by a notch on the trigger guard, not by a screw so if you want to be able to remove the cylinder when the gun is assembled this notch will need to be carefully filed down. On my Ruger’s the brass tubes that the crane shafts slide out of from the frame were extremely tight. Smoothing and polishing the shafts alone was insufficient so rolled pieces of coarse and medium grade sandpaper were used to remove material from inside the tubes. Even with lubing they’re still proving to be tight and the cylinders need to be wiggled out carefully.


6) To remove the barrel the dovetailed front sight needs to be tapped out. It’s held tightly in the groove so use a piece of rounded plastic like the end of a toothbrush handle so you don’t damage it. You can gently sandpaper the base of the sight to make it easier to re-fit and remove. Beneath the sight is the screw holding the sight mount to the outer barrel and the grub screw holding the outer barrel to the inner barrel. Once the outer barrel is wiggled off you’ll find a nearly barrel length compound metal lug holding the inner barrel to the frame. Unscrew the lug and slide the inner barrel back towards the recoil shield. Unlike the S&W’s you won’t be able to angle the inner barrel out of the frame, the barrel face unit will need to be removed first. Remove the hop grub screw and slide the barrel face forward to reveal the hop rubber, remove it and slide the barrel face off the inner barrel. If you don’t want the hop then tap out the ball bearing from the barrel face unit and leave the hop grub screw off. The hop rubber is already quite flat and doesn’t really need any material removed. Note that the hop rubber needs to be re-fitted to the barrel with the underside groove parallel to the barrel, not perpendicular.


As with the S&W’s there was very little in the way of burr removal requiered on the hammer / trigger mechanism, the castings and fitting all appeared to be excellent, and the usual bearing surfaces were polished and lubricated before re-assembly.


However actioning the trigger revealed a catching of the mechanism as the trigger returned forward. It was enough on one of the revolvers to intermittently stop the trigger from returning all the way if it was released slowly. This is partly due to the way Ruger designed the trigger to drop the cylinder stop. They use a separate spring actuated part that’s held in a recess in the trigger to press the stop down as the trigger is pulled back but this part then has to negotiate it’s way around the cylinder stop as the trigger returns forward.

Because it was quite possible to stone or sand excessive material from a critical timing area if I did it by hand I removed the hammer and repeatedly actioned the trigger to wear in the mechanism. Once the trigger appeared to be returning forward without stopping I disassembled the trigger mechanism again to check for any resultant burrs or surface deformation.


Next were the cylinder / crane units. Since the ball détente on the front of the cylinder ejector rod was forcing the cylinder against the recoil shield, I removed the rod and sanded the ball flat with coarse grade sandpaper leaving about a quarter of a millimeter projecting from the tip of the rod. This was enough to clear the barrel underlug and allowed the cylinder a small degree of free spin when in the frame. Unfortunately this did not stop the binding on two to three turns of the cylinder when actioning the trigger / hammer mechanism.


This was confusing. The face of the cylinder was barely contacting the barrel face O-ring, the ratchet pad wasn’t contacting the recoil shield, the cylinder now had some free spin and the trigger and hammer appeared to be moving without catching.


Swapping the cylinders over, one of the revolvers actually began to lock up when releasing the trigger from a cocked hammer position. The hammer would swing forward as expected but the trigger wouldn’t return forward at all. This was happening on one or two turns of the cylinder. Looking closely the hand appeared to be wedging against the edge of the ratchet pad and the slot in the frame that it moves through. That it wasn’t doing this on all six turns implied that the shape of the ratchet pads was not even all the way around.

As with the trigger mechanism I didn’t want to attempt to re-contour the edges of the pads by hand in case I adversely affected the timing so I removed the hammer again and repeatedly actioned the trigger with the cylinder in the frame to wear in the contact surfaces of the hand and the pads. Initially about an hour of this appeared to do the trick but when target shooting there was still a binding / catching of the mechanism and cylinder rotation in both revolvers that was making my attempts at consistency impossible. What was worse was the binding was becoming inconsistent, occurring at odd moments rather than on the same turn/s.


Now becoming quite fed up I decided to hard action both revolvers repeatedly until they either wore themselves smooth or broke. This is not a course of action I take willingly where replicas are concerned. They will never be as hardwearing as their real steel originals and are as likely to wear out as wear in under this kind of abuse and I don’t recommend it.


Putting Kill Bill Vol 1 in the DVD player, leaving the revolvers assembled, and swapping the cylinders between them every few minutes I repeatedly pulled their triggers forcing them through every bind and hitch until the credits finished. Taking stock I had the beginnings of a blister on both index fingers and two revolvers full of thick black silicon oil.

After stripping the revolvers and cleaning the oil off, I was at least pleased to find nothing broken, very little burring and relatively mild wear marks. Tanaka at least used decent quality materials.


After re-assembly the revolvers initially appeared to be functioning correctly although the cylinders now had some play in them when the hammer was in the cocked position. Initial target shooting gave reasonably consistent hammer and trigger action. One new problem that did suddenly arise was the cylinder would occasionally fail to swing out when depressing the cylinder release on one of the revolvers. The cylinder would rotate but the center pin would literally be stuck against the cylinder release. Again this was an inconsistent occurrence and comparing to the other revolver there was no identifiable reason why.

However, what was worse was that as shooting progressed the binding returned on both revolvers, inconsistent and unexplainable. Eventually the revolver with the cylinder release problem would fail to time properly when slow cocking, the cylinder rotation would stop short of allowing the cylinder stop to engage the recess.


There was clearly a fundamental flaw in the manufacture of these 454’s. Previous issues that I’ve described with my S&W revolvers were able to have logically applied solutions to them because their faults were consistent and identifiable and those revolvers are now fine additions to the collection.


I have since destroyed both 454’s.


A pity. If there was one thing the 454’s excelled at it was power which was much higher than the S&W’s, but power is useless if the gun has an unsolvable binding issue that affects consistent shooting. Accuracy becomes an impossibility and when that happens the gun has no value.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I dont supose any of you have a spare cyliner stop for the M29/629 i could buy off you. The one in my Biohazard has broken.

EDIT : Spelling

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

S&W M66 357 Combat Magnum 4 inch :


Better… yet still not right.


After the Ruger debacle I was rather reluctant to try another Tanaka revolver that wasn’t a S&W N frame. I was also uncertain about their smaller frame revolvers which a number of reviewers had noted as being underpowered. However, in a recent review of the M66 4 inch by Vektor on Arnies Airsoft forums he noted that the power was on par with a TM MK23 Socom NBB, so after a few inquiring PM’s I decided to order a couple from WGC.


The M66 is the stainless steel version of the original M19 Combat Magnum which itself has a very interesting history. The following is condensed from various articles on the internet :


In 1954 Bill Jordan of the U.S. Border Patrol was asked by S&W to design the ultimate peace officer's revolver. The .357 Magnum revolvers offered at the time were felt to be too large and too heavy to be carried comfortably all day and many officers found the .38 Special caliber inadequate. He looked at S&W’s .38 Special, K frame Combat Masterpiece and suggested chambering it in .357 Magnum. The Combat Masterpiece was fitted with a longer cylinder to fill in the frame window, chambered in .357 Magnum, fitted with a heavy bull barrel with enclosed ejector rod, and given adjustable sights to create the .357 Combat Magnum, later designated the model 19. Initial orders were apparently so great that in the first six months of 1956 S&W used the entire serial number block it had set aside for it (the model 19 was offered as the stainless model 66 in 1970).

All was well with the Combat Magnum until more modern factory ammunition started to adversely affect it. The barrel forcing cones began to show excessive wear and some revolvers locked up when they were heated from cylinder after cylinder of .357 Magnum ammunition. S&W’s answer to this problem was to create the L framed blued model 586 and the stainless model 686 which were stronger but also larger and heavier which many considered a step backward from Jordan’s original request for a light high caliber revolver. Jordan’s recommendation was to train with .38 Specials and then use .357 Magnums for duty. However Jordan’s recommendation resulted in problems of it’s own. Because officers trained with .38 specials and saved their .357’s for duty use they weren’t as effective at shooting them when it was required. This was considered as one of the major factors in the deaths of a number of officers in shooting incidents, and it was eventually recommended that the same ammunition be used for both training and duty.


After the large frame revolvers I’ve been buying it was a pleasant surprise to see just how small the K frame is. The 357 magnum cylinder is extremely slim compared to the 44 and combined with the frame it makes the trigger guard and target grips seem oversized, but with the reduction in size and weight it’s not difficult to understand why the combat magnum was so popular. If I was going to carry a real revolver all day I’d want the most compact package possible capable of handling the minimum magnum cartridge suitable for personal defense. Whilst today there are many short barrelled / snub nosed 5 and 6 shot 357 magnum revolvers available on the market the combat magnum must have seemed like a godsend when it was released.

If I was to make one complaint about the way Tanaka released their replica it’s that I would have preferred it if they’d fitted Hogue monogrips which would have been more comfortable and slimmer than target grips.


Since the M19/66 has the same basic S&W design as the M29/629 it disassembles in much the same manner. The only exceptions are :


1) The hop mechanism in the barrel face which is the same grub screw/ball bearing design used in the Ruger Super Redhawk.


2) The barrel lug which has a slot in one end of it and seems to use a special tool to tighten it, similar in design to the tool you see sold to remove gas valves and which would have to be slid over the inner barrel to reach the lug. I have no idea where you’re supposed to get one of these tools from but a thick wrap of masking tape around the lug and a large pair of pliers makes an adequate substitute.


Also of note is the cylinder crane screw. Uzi Guy from the UKASC forums noted (with the M29/629’s) that instead of cutting the end of the crane screw off to allow removal of the cylinder when the screw is in, you could actually swap the crane screw with one of the other two shorter side plate screws. On the M66 all the side plate screws are the same length so the crane screw will still have to be cut if you wish to do the same thing.


The hammer spring screw also needs to be tightened in quite far even after straightening the hammer spring in order to ensure a sufficient and consistent gas release.


As per usual there were no particular burrs or deformation of any parts other than sharper than usual edges around the cylinder center pin. Castings were crisp and smoothing and polishing were straightforward. It was also nice to see that the metalcote on the recoil shield wasn’t being broken away by the cylinder center pin as it has been on my other revolvers that have midnight blue or stainless finishes, although I suspect it will wear down eventually with repeated contact.


However on checking the functioning of the gun a couple of problems became immediately obvious :


1)The front of the cylinder rubs quite firmly against the O-ring on the barrel face when actioning the revolver. The part of the crane that fits into the front of the cylinder on the N frames has a flange that sits against the cylinder face stopping the cylinder from moving any further forward. This allows the cylinder to contact the O-ring of the barrel face but not rub firmly against it. That flange is not on the M66 (as was the case with the M500 and the Ruger’s which contributed to their binding).

Thankfully the cylinder axis seems quite solid and there was no discernible angling of the cylinder during actioning to exacerbate the rubbing as there was on the M500 (no doubt helped by the small diameter of the .357 magnum cylinder), and I didn’t experience binding severe enough to make the action intolerable or actually lock up either revolver. In fact double action felt smoother than a single action cocking of the hammer.


2) The timing is off on both revolvers by about a half a millimeter. That’s how much further the cylinder needs to rotate in order for the cylinder stop to fully engage each recess in the cylinder. Either the hand is too short or the ratchet pads do not have a wide enough contact area. I’m also quite certain that there was imprecise tooling of the ratchet pad arrangement, on one of the revolvers two out of six turns started to engage after I’d re-polished and re-lubricated it but that was about as good as it got. Curiously though this didn’t affect the accuracy of the revolvers as much as I’d expected.


I’ve read quite a number of reviews complaining about the accuracy of Tanaka revolvers but this is the first time I’d actually have to agree. My V-Comps, Umbrella Magnum and particularly my M500 have proven to be quite accurate and consistent in both single and double action.

With both M66’s, at approximately 9-10 feet I could only keep the grouping within 2.5 to 3 inches on DA (which is frankly poor even if the M66 does only have a 4 inch barrel) but it was fairly obvious from the shot pattern that the BB’s were dispersing. At 18 feet the dispersal was capable of causing most of the shots to miss my 6 inch by 6 inch target box by up to 2 inches.

Because the timing of the cylinders was off I expected the shots to hook to the right since the cylinder chambers would be misaligned from that side of the barrel but the trajectories were up, down, left and right with no regularity (it felt like I was shooting my WA SVI again). I tried the same thing in SA making sure I manually checked the cylinder stop was engaged for each shot but there was little to no improvement.

The rubber BB chambers in the cylinders also felt slack compared to the ones in my N frames and on a couple of occasions the BB to the right of the barrel actually shot out of the cylinder. I even tried singling out any chambers that seemed to produce wild shots but repeated attempts with just those chambers either produced different trajectories or actually managed to be right on target. Very frustrating.


So once again Tanaka continues to fumble the ball, yet despite the faults I still find myself liking the M66. It looks and feels excellent and S&W’s mechanism continues to be a joy to action, and it most certainly isn’t the complete failure that the Ruger’s were.

I also doubt the timing will get much worse since the wear on the hand and the ratchet pads so far seems non-existent and there isn’t even any signs of burring which does occur to a small degree on the N frames. It’s just a shame that they’re unsuitable as target guns in their stock condition, although they’re quite capable of hitting a man sized target at the ranges I’ve described above.


Whilst considering the M66 I also inquired with Guns and Guys about the M60 Performance Center, flat side, snub nosed, 5 shot revolver. Not because I expected it to be in any way a good target gun but because I liked the look of it so much that I simply wanted one as a display piece (as luck would have it it was out of stock). Whilst I had high hopes for the M66 that unfortunately is what it’s turned out to be, a very attractive display piece.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Very informative study of the M66.


However, I've done extensive reviewing of the M500 and M66 2.5 model- either it seems our differing environments have caused inconsistencies in data, and/or there's a difference in points of view and shooting ability.


I've got no trouble whatsoever when it comes to cylinder sticking/binding in my M500. I've recently upgraded it with real-seel smith and wesson parts and it fires great as both a target gun (with heavy BBs and adjusted hopup) and a CQB skirmish weapon, easily standing up to the semi-auto handguns it has faced.


For the M66, I reviewed the 2.5 inch version, and found accuracy with green gas and .2 BBs superb (for the barrel size, at least) at 20 feet with stock hopup adjustment.


I'm actually looking to buy the 4 inch M66 from WGC soon, putting some Uncle Mike's rubber combat grips on it, and testing the accuracy.


I live in balmy Hawaii- possibly that may be affecting the way these revolvers function, as I do know my 475 FPS M500 experienced a drop in FPS to 386 when rapidly discharging 11 BBs from the pistol, then chronoing it. The cylinder temperature has a HUGE impact in performance.


Anyway, good review of the 4 inch M66. I may pick one up in a month or so for a review.


Here's my review of the 2.5 inch if you're interested:


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

M66 Accuracy Improvement Attempt : Inner barrel


Re-examining the machining of the inner barrel I noticed that the bevel angle of the barrel throat was very shallow compared to the much steeper bevel angles of the inner barrels of the N and X frame revolvers.


The width of the edge of the barrel throat at the base of the bevel was also wider and there was a pronounced relief at the top of the bevel. These, combined with the cylinder timing issue present in both of the M66’s I own, all create a greater obstruction to the entry of the BB into the barrel.


I decided to try increasing the bevel angle of the inner barrel and reducing the thickness of the edge of the barrel throat. If I’d had access to a lathe this probably would’ve been a five minute job but since I didn’t I had to do it the old fashioned way by hand. Sticking small pieces of coarse sandpaper to the tip of my SVI reloading rod and rotating the inside of the barrel against it, I carefully ground the existing bevel down until it extended back to the hop rubber hole, and until the edge of the barrel throat was just under half a millimeter wide. Making sure that the new bevel was as flat as possible I then used medium grade sandpaper to smooth it down, rounding off the sharp edge at the barrel throat, and finally compound polished it.


Accuracy with the new bevel actually showed an improvement, but like before it was inconsistent with wild shots still occurring. At 18 feet I could at least place the majority of my shots on the target now, and at 10 feet I managed to group 4 out of 6 shots at approximately 1 inch but this was a rare occurrence. Average groupings would have been approximately 2 inches if it wasn’t for the continual inconsistency.


What was more impressive and unexpected was the increase in BB velocity and resultant force of impact on the back of my target box. In fact it was on par with my other revolvers which was surprising. Clearly the original bevel was also retarding the BB’s as they tried to force their way past it, so much so that I could now reduce the screw tension on my hammer springs by approximately one and a half turns (I left an extra half a turn on top of the minimum setting to be certain of consistent gas release).


So the end result wasn’t quite what I was hoping for but it wasn’t a complete failure either. I’ll need to see what else can be modified to try and eliminate the continuing inconsistency in accuracy.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The following is condensed from a post by Jim March from the Firingline Revolver Forum.


Further information can be found in the thread here :




Whilst obviously concerned with real steel, many of the points described are applicable to airsoft replicas, particularly Tanaka models which, mechanism wise are practically identical.


I’ve also included a list from the American Pistolsmiths Guild Double Action Revolver Check Sheets.



Revolver checkout : How to tell if a particular specimen is any good.


By Jim March.


So you're buying a revolver. New, used, doesn't matter, you want a good one, right?

How do check one over without firing it, right at the dealer's counter or gun show table?


This is how.


All of this works with DA or SA wheelguns. "Close the action" on most DA’s means swing the cylinder in, on SA’s, close the loading gate, on Breakopens, close them - UNLOADED.


WARNING: Most of these tests require violation of the "finger off trigger" rule. Therefore, be extremely careful about safe muzzle direction and making sure the gun is unloaded ahead of time, PERSONALLY, as you begin handling it.


Note 1 : Bring a small flashlight, something small and concentrated. A Photon or similar high-powered LED light is perfect. You also want feeler gauges if you're not used to eyeballing cylinder gaps; at a minimum, bring a .002", .004" and .006".


Note 2 : No dry firing is required or desired at any point. It just annoys the gun's current owner.


Cylinder play


1) With the gun UNLOADED (check for yourself), close the action.

2) Thumb the hammer back, and while pulling the trigger, gently lower the hammer all the way down while keeping the trigger back and KEEP holding the trigger once the hammer is down (you've now put the gun in "full lockup" - keep it there for this and most other tests).

3) With the trigger still back all the way, check for cylinder wiggle. Front/back is particularly undesirable; a bit of side to side is OK but it's a bad thing if you can wiggle it one way, let go, and then spin it the other way a fraction of an inch and it stays there too. At the very least, it should "want" to stop in just one place (later, we'll see if that place is any good). The ultimate is a "welded to the frame" feeling.


Cylinder gap


4) Still holding the trigger at full lockup, look sideways through the barrel/cylinder gap. If you can get a credit card in there, that’s not good, velocity drops rapidly as the gap increases. Too tight isn't good either, because burnt powder crud will "fill the gap" and start making the cylinder spin funky. My personal .38 snubbie is set at .002, usually considered the minimum. After about 40 shots at the range, I have to give the front of the cylinder a quick wipe so it spins free again. I consider that a reasonable tradeoff for the increased velocity because in a real fight, I’m not going to crank 40 rounds out of a 5-shot snub.

If you're eyeballing it, you'll have to hold it up sideways against an overhead light source.


SAFETY WARNING: This step in particular is where you MUST watch your muzzle direction. Look, part of what's happening here is that you're convincing the seller you know your stuff. It helps the haggling process. If you do anything unsafe, that impression comes completely unglued.




5) You really, REALLY want an unloaded gun for this one. This is where the light comes in. With the gun STILL held in full lockup, trigger back after lowering the hammer by thumb, you want to shine a light right into the area at the rear of the cylinder near the firing pin. You then look down the barrel. You're looking to make sure the cylinder bore lines up with the barrel. Check every cylinder - that means putting the gun in full lockup for each cylinder before lighting it up. You're looking for the cylinder and barrel holes to line up perfectly, it's easy to eyeball if there's even a faint light source at the very rear of both bores. And with no rounds present, it's generally easy to get some light in past where the rims would be.




(We're finally done with "full lockup" so rest your trigger finger)


6) Swing the cylinder open, or with most SA’s pull the cylinder. Use the small flashlight to scope the bore out. This part's easy - you want to avoid pitting, worn-out rifling or bulges of any sort. You want more light on the subject than just what creeps in from the rear of the cylinder on the timing check.

You also want to check each cylinder bore, in this case with the light coming in from the FRONT of each hole, you looking in from the back where the primers would be. You're looking for wear at the "restrictions" at the front of each cylinder bore. That's the "forcing cone" area and it can wear rapidly with some Magnum loads.




7) To test a trigger without dry-firing it, use a plastic pen in front of the hammer to "catch" it with the off hand, especially if it's a "firing pin on the hammer" type. Or see if the seller has any snap-caps, that's the best solution. Flat-faced hammers as found in transfer-bar guns (Ruger, etc) can be caught with the off-hand without too much pain.

SA triggers (or of course a DA with the hammer cocked) should feel "like a glass rod breaking". A tiny amount of take-up slack is tolerable, and is common on anything with a transfer bar or hammerblock safety.

DA triggers are subjective. Some people like a dead-smooth feel from beginning of stroke to the end, with no "warning" that it's about to fire. Others (myself included) actually prefer a slight "hitch" right at the end, so we know when it's about to go. With that sort of trigger, you can actually "hold it" right at the "about to fire" point and do a short light stroke from there that rivals an SA shot for accuracy. Takes a lot of practice though. Either way, you don't want "grinding" through the length of the stroke, and the final stack-up at the end (if any) shouldn't be overly pronounced.


Detecting Bad Gunsmithing:


8) OK, so it's got a rock-solid cylinder, a .002" or .003" gap, and the trigger feels great. Odds are vastly in favor of it being tuned after leaving the factory. So was the gunsmith any good?

First, cock it, then grab the hammer and "wiggle it around" a bit. Not too hard, don't bang on it, but give it a bit of up/down, left/right and circular action with finger off trigger and WATCH your muzzle direction.

You don't want that hammer slipping off an overly polished sear. You REALLY don't want that . It can be fixed by installing factory parts but that'll take modest money (more for installation than hardware costs) and it'll be a "bigtime" unsafe until you do.

The other thing that commonly goes wrong is somebody will trim the spring, especially coil springs. You can spot that if you pull the grip panels, see if the spring was trimmed with wire cutters. If they get too wild with it, you'll get ignition failures on harder primers. But the good news is, replacement factory or Wolf springs are cheap both to buy and have installed.

There's also the legal problems regarding light triggers. If that's a concern, you can either swap back to stock springs, or since you bought it used there's no way to prove you knew it was modified at all.


In perspective


Timing (test #5) is very critical, if that's off the gun may not even be safe to test-fire. And naturally, a crappy barrel means a relatively pricey fix.

Cylinder gap is particularly critical on short-barreled and/or marginal caliber guns. If you need every possible ounce of energy, a tight gap helps. Some factory gaps will run as high as .006"; Taurus considers .007" "still in spec" (sigh). You'll be hard-pressed to find any new pieces under .004", probably because the makers realized some people don't clean them often (or very well) and might complain about the cylinder binding up if they sell them at .002".

The guns in a dealer's "used pile" are often of unknown origin, from estate sales or whatever. Dealers don't have time to check every piece, and often don't know their history. These tests, especially cylinder gap and play, can spot a gun that's been sent off for professional tuning, like my snubbie, the best $180 I ever spent .

As long as the gun is otherwise sound (no cracks, etc) a gunsmith can fix any of this. So these tests can help you pick a particularly good new specimen, or find a good used gun, or help haggle the price down on something that'll need a bit of work.


Hope this helps.

Jim March




American Pistolsmiths Guild Double Action Revolver Check Sheets


This check list consists of five major sections:


1.) Cylinder fitting.

2.) Action tuning and fitting.

3.) Barrel fabrication and fitting.

4.) Miscellaneous modifications and accessories.

5.) Finishing.


Each check sheet item or modification cited is required unless otherwise noted. Although optional modifications are not required, they will add to the quality and appearance of the revolver and will, consequently, make a favorable impression on the examiners. In a formal inspection, field representatives will apply the following notations to the blank provided in the left margin:


S: Satisfactory

U: Unsatisfactory

NA: Not Applicable


This check list is primarily keyed to Smith and Wesson revolvers, but will, in most particulars, apply to other makes and models. Also attached are other sets of armourers checks and tests that will also be used to review the general fit and function of guns submitted, although, this series of check items may not be applied completely or specifically. Feel free to contact Guild officers with any questions.





1.) Yoke and crane :


a.) Yoke/crane must align with the center pin and rear bolt hole. May be out slightly at three o'clock to hold the yoke close to the frame, but not to the extent the cylinder binds.

b.) Yoke/crane endfloat should not exceed .001".

c.) Ball detente lock must function properly. Do not drill into the barrel threads.

d.) Front of the cylinder must not hit the barrel extension upon closing or upon rotation.


2.) Extractor/Ejector :


a.) Should operate smoothly with all guide pins in place.

b.) Ratchet teeth should be free of burrs and must not be "staked" to achieve timing.

c.) Ratchet teeth should be .003" to .007" below the center of the extractor and should not rub the frame.

d.) Ejector rod runout should not exceed .006".


3.) Cylinder assembly :


a.) Opening and closing should be smooth with a proper bolt fit in the front and back.

b.) Cylinder stop must be properly fitted where utilized (as a cylinder lug). Ratchet must enter recoil shield ramp smoothly when cylinder is closed. Excess rearward float will require stop/lug replacement.

c.) Cylinder should turn smoothly and freely in the receiver.

d.) Headspace must be correct for the cartridge. Standard cartridges would be .060" to .064".

e.) Cylinder endfloat not to exceed .001".

f.) Front bolt, if utilized, should fit and function properly.

g.) Face of cylinder should be square. Gap should not vary over .006" with barrel.

h.) Recoil shield ramp should be smooth, free of burrs and tool marks.





1.) General function :


a.) Cycle should be smooth, free of galloping, stacking, hitching, binding, knuckling, sear clicking, etc.

b.) Cylinder must time and carryup correctly and evenly on all chambers. Bolting (cylinder stop drop) must occur before the hammer falls in DA and SA modes.

c.) Both DA and SA cycles should exhibit sufficient mainspring tension for reliable ignition.

d.) All safety devices, hammer block, rear bolt plungers, and springs must be in place for functioning.

e.) Cylinder stop/bolt must be fitted properly, holding the cylinder and preventing throwby.


2. Trigger :


a.) Pull weight in single action mode should be 2.5 pounds minimum for match guns and 3.5 to 4 pounds in service guns.

b.) SA pull should be clean and crisp with a minimum of .004" overtravel.

c.) Hammer should not "push off" under thumb pressure.

d.) DA pull must be heavy enough for reliable ignition and positive trigger return.


3.) Hammers :


a.) Should not rub side of frame.

b.) Smith and Wesson hammer nose/firing pins should protrude a minimum of .045" to .060".

c.) If the hammer spur is removed, the single action notch should be removed. Rear of the hammer bolt contact point must not be removed (on S&W only).

d.) Hammer must not push off under thumb pressure in single action mode.





1.) Custom barrel required and for standard barrels where applicable :


a.) Should exhibit an attractive contour.

b.) Crown should be even, true and free of burrs.

c.) Barrel should be free of sharp edges.

d.) Barrel should not be screwed into the frame with excessive torque causing bore disfigurement.

e.) Forcing cone should be smooth, concentric, and of proper depth, measured with a plug gauge.

f.) Face of the barrel extension should be square with the cylinder face.

g.) Barrel to cylinder gap should be .004" to .006" maximum (.009" on service guns).





1.) Sights :


a.) Sights and ribs (required on custom barrels) must be installed neatly, square, and level.

b.) Front sights must be square and parallel to the centerline of the gun.


2.) Chamfered chamber mouths :


a.) Must not be excessively deep when cut in a pistol that chambers a cartridge of high pressure.


3.) Scope mounts :


a.) Must be drilled neatly, straight, and level.

b.) Drilled and tapped holes must be properly executed.





1.) Metal preparation :


a.) Surfaces ripple free, corners sharp, screw holes crisp.

b.) Screw heads free of damage.

c.) Welding should not show hardness which effects bluing or plating. Should be free of pits and inclusions and be properly finished.

d.) Solder joints should be free of gaps; no excess solder.


2.) Finish proper :


a.) Bluing and plating should be evenly applied, free of clouds, spots, and discolouration.

b.) Matte finishes should be even; no over-spray.


3.) Serrations and checkering (optional) :


a.) Should be even with parallel lines.

b.) Diamonds should be sharp and free of runovers.


4.) Stippling :


a.) Should be uniform in texture and coverage.

b.) Stippling should not overrun and remove sharp corners.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hop Removal Amendment and Cylinder Surface Smoothing


Hop Removal.

I previously wrote that I would remove a fixed hop by cutting off the protrusion with a sharp scalpel using the inner barrel surface as a contour. This worked well but would always leave a small ledge of rubber protruding into the barrel. However since the BB’s were only slightly impeded by it and I was happy with the resultant accuracy I left it as is.


Whilst working on the M66’s intermittent accuracy problems I decided to get the hop as flush as possible to ensure that it wasn’t part of the problem. Removing the hop rubber from the inner barrel I turned it inside out and placed it over the end of a bic biro. Using a piece of medium grade sandpaper I carefully sanded the protrusion down (keeping the strokes parallel to the circumference) until the hop rubber was the same thickness all the way around the outside. I finished off with fine grade sandpaper and finally a coating of silicon oil.

On the inner barrel the sharp edge at the base of the bevel was rounded off with medium grade sandpaper and then polished.

Replacing the hop I found the original positioning left the bottom edge of the inner barrel hop hole exposed (visible when looking down the inner barrel) which could catch on the BB. Removing the hop and turning it around 180% and then replacing it covered the edge.


Now when I drop a BB into the barrel it slides smoothly past the hop rubber. I was so pleased with the result that I’ve now done the same to all my other revolvers that have fixed hops.


Cylinder Smoothing.

Whenever I use my revolvers I keep having to regularly re-polish the cylinder stop because the surface would roughen from contact with the cylinder. If you look closely at the cylinder surface there are fine grooves all the way around it. On black models the paint covers much of this but even on those the paint surface isn’t exactly smooth to the touch.

I decided to thoroughly polish the exterior surface of the cylinders on my revolvers including the cylinder face which, since it rotates against the barrel face O-ring, is another source of friction.

On stainless finish models this presents no cosmetic problems but on midnight blue or black models the paint will be removed on any edges. Surface wise I’ve not had the paint come off with the very mild polish I use unless I deliberately used a lot of force as was the case with the cylinder face on my M500.

Personally I like the paint removal from the edges as it adds definition and a mild wear effect that gives the revolver a little character rather than just shades of black, and the cylinder surface gains a nice smooth sheen to it which results in a little less wear and tear on the cylinder stop.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

M29 Classic 6 Inch :


I’m fairly certain I received the last of WGC’s original stock of this, it looked like it had been sitting around for a very long time. The polystyrene box had yellow oil stains in it and the faux brass surfaces on the revolver had tarnished heavily (though they cleaned up nicely with a toothbrush and a small amount of polishing compound).


Tanaka’s inconsistent build quality also caused another problem. As the hand would reach the top of its motion in either SA or DA it would bind between the frame slot and the bottom edge (rotation wise) of the proceeding ratchet pad requiring force to complete the action. This occurred on all six turns. I managed to alleviate the majority of the bind by very carefully sanding the bottom edge of each ratchet pad with medium grade sandpaper stuck to a flat needle file. As the revolver wears in the rest of the bind should become negligible, currently the action is quite acceptable.

There were also a few light surface scratches on the frame and barrel which was disappointing.


I was surprised to see the hammer spring screw hadn’t been tightened to maximum as it has been on all my more recent revolvers. It was set just slightly less than the screw depth that I’ve been using on my other N frames. The hammer spring also showed no signs of deformation and appeared to have a stronger tension than usual (perhaps some of the parts that Tanaka used to use in the past were of a higher quality than the ones they’ve been using recently).

Another surprise was the amount of power the cylinder was putting out at my usual hammer spring screw setting. It was closer to what I experienced with the Rugers, strong enough in fact for me to reduce the setting by another screw turn.

The free spin of the cylinder was also excellent straight out of the box.


Since the Classic is an N frame the construction is the same as all the others except for the outer barrel. The grub screw that secures it is located under the front sight. You have to push out the pin that holds the sight in place and angle the sight out of the slot. Fragments of the barrel thread actually came away with the grub screw when I unscrewed mine, I used a little Loctite threadlock to hold it in place when I re-assembled. When replacing the front sight pin, pushing the sight forward will wedge the pin securely in position.


Accuracy is on par with my other N frames, though it’s currently exhibiting a tendency to group high from target center. Lowering the front sight compensates for this but I’m not sure of the cause, it’s probably yet another idiosyncrasy that occurs from the inconsistencies in Tanaka’s build quality.


The Classic is a very attractive revolver, I prefer the looks of the Classic to the original M29, the heavy underlug gives greater presence to its profile. I’ve also always liked the design of goncalo alves grips as well but I was concerned that the plastic replicas would feel too hollow, but they’re actually quite solid and stable. It would have been nice to get a Classic with a midnight or stainless finish too but I decided to buy the black version because I also wanted a revolver I could use where I didn’t have to keep worrying about damaging the finish.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

M629 Classic 8 Inch :


Wow, I managed to get a Classic with a stainless finish. I’ve wanted this particular model since I started buying revolvers. Dentrinity had them but I didn’t trust a company that asked you to send money without giving you an order no. and I was extremely cautious about buying overseas considering many of the problems I’d read about on the various forums.


I first became aware of this particular M629 back in January when the owner asked me if I could help with some problems concerning inconsistent gas release and hop alignment. Not having heard anything for quite some time I suddenly found a reply to my ‘revolvers wanted’ post telling me that it was working ok now and was I interested in buying it.


When I went to see the revolver I have to admit to asking a trick question about how the outer barrel was removed but my heart almost jumped out of my mouth when the owner pulled the barrel straight off. I could see a groove in the tip of the inner barrel where the grub screw had been unknowingly raked along it. I later found out he’d been passed erroneous advice about ‘monstering’ the barrel off.

Please take note that Tanaka always secures the outer barrel somewhere and with something (in this case as described in the above M29 Classic post) and advice about ‘monstering’ should be ignored (in fact it should be ignored whatever gun you may be dealing with). It was lucky that the inner barrel didn’t have a milled groove for the grub screw to tighten into as it does on the Umbrella Magnum.


Overall though the revolver was in extremely good condition considering the repeated disassembly and reassembly the owner had told me it had been through to get it working to his satisfaction.

There were a few small dents in the barrel and a couple of surface marks but otherwise the finish only needed cleaning and polishing. I also have a suspicion that the cylinder was subjected to wrist flicking, there was an unusually deep cylinder center pin groove formed in the plastic and metal of the recoil shield and cylinder release. The action itself though was very smooth and there was no cylinder binding whatsoever, free spin was even better than on the M29 Classic.


On examining the inner barrel I found the solder the owner had used to fill in the old barrel face grub screw recess in order to create a new one so that the hop could be aligned properly. Unfortunately he’d ground a deep groove into the surface of the inner barrel to give the solder sufficient purchase so it wouldn’t fall out. When I tried to sand the solder flush with the inner barrel surface it fell out anyway. Since I was removing the hop I wasn’t worried about its alignment so I tightened the grub screw into the groove but there was so much metal removed the brass was actually dimpling into the barrel. Since I couldn’t apply too much pressure I used Loctite threadlock to keep the grub screw secured. It would have been much better to create a new grub screw recess by putting the inner barrel in a vice and using a very sharp center punch to carefully fettle the brass over the old recess whilst forming the new one.


Accuracy turned out to be very good, on par with the M500. Longer barrels definitely add greater stability to the BB, though I’d personally consider a revolver with a barrel length over 8” to be unwieldy. Power was also up to standard at my usual hammer spring screw setting and gas release was consistent.


I was very impressed with this M629 Classic, for a second hand item with a problematic history it’s turned out to be an excellent purchase, easily one of my favourites.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

M60 38. Chiefs Special :


I never intended to buy one of these. I’d always associated revolvers with large calibers, but since WGC didn’t tell me they only had one M29 Classic in stock instead of two until after I’d transferred my money, I needed to fill the order with something else. After much deliberation I decided on the M60 since it was the only available item that I hadn’t tried, which interested me, and was within price (the Colt Detective Special was available but I find that design to be utterly unappealing).


Just as you need to have the M500 in your hands to appreciate how large it is, you need to handle the M60 to appreciate just how small it is. For what is essentially a weapon, I think it’s adorable. The action gives the most wonderful click-click sounds of any revolver I’ve tried so far, they’re like clean precise chimes. The action is also smooth and free of cylinder binding and I only needed to apply lubrication and smooth up the cylinder stop and cylinder surface. The cylinder doesn’t spin freely but the rotation is fine.


The M60 is typical S&W in design. The differences are the hammer uses a coil instead of a leaf spring and the outer barrel is held in place with a pin instead of a concealed grub screw. Therefore if you want to adjust the force of the hammer you need to change the spring. You could add a small cylindrical spacer to one end of the spring shaft to compress the spring but I don’t know if that will deform it over time. You definitely don’t want to make it weaker. For my purposes it’s fine as it is.

Be careful tapping the barrel pin out of the frame, its diameter is smaller than it looks. I put three little annoying dent marks around the hole on one side because I overestimated the size. The hop is fixed and was removed as per usual..


I find the design of the hammer to be of concern, it has a very narrow neck just above the sear, not a problem for real steel but we’re dealing with monkey metal here. In Snowmans review of his M36 the hammer was broken at exactly that point. I think it would take long term repeated impact from normal action or a considerable amount of force to break it (unless the alloy used was already poor quality) but it does raise a question mark over longevity.


Shooting the M60 was interesting. Power was better than expected for a small five shot cylinder, it was on par with my TM Glock 26, possibly slightly higher. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of accuracy and at 18 feet the M60 most certainly wasn’t. I averaged 2-3 shots out of 5 hitting anywhere on the target and I couldn’t control where the shots went. However at 11 feet accuracy was much more attainable, I could place all my shots on the target and for the most part they would hit within 2-3 inches of target center, sometimes a little better. There would regularly be odd shots that curved off in random directions and I could actually see them curving even at such a short range. Such are the consequences of an extremely short barrel on a Tanaka revolver.


Not really that surprising though, and despite the accuracy I’ve decided the M60’s a keeper. It has an attractive quality to it, it’s comfortable to hold and pleasing to use, and if nothing else it has remarkable novelty value.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great additions to a post that I believe should be stickied in this forum.


The 8 inch M629 seems to be the most consistent of the M29s, I have heard this from others as well. My 6.5 inch HW M29 looked nice, rotated nice, but had horrible accuracy.


Instead of the old Colt Python for the next and final tech review, have you thought of the Tanaka Smython .357? Redwolf has them for 168 I believe, it's a pretty Colt Python barrel coupled with a Smith and Wesson cylinder and trigger mech....


Btw, the new Smython has a non-hop barrel...so it'll save you from cutting the rubbers out. Who knows, maybe Tanaka has the "Pegasus 2" improved cylinder design in the Smython, and coupled with the non-hop barrel, would make an amazing target shooting/CQB revolver.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Colt Python 6 Inch :


I think these were left sitting in WGCs storeroom even longer than my M29 Classic; bigger oil stains and severe tarnishing, but nothing that couldn’t be cleaned up.


The Python has long been considered Colt’s flagship revolver and one of the finest revolvers ever made. The barrel rifling was reputed to have an increased twist, the bore was tapered to improve the stability of the bullet as it left the barrel, the mechanism was hand fitted, and Colts Royal Blue finish was unique in the industry. It also had a price tag to match. Of the very few complaints I am aware of, a couple are that the trigger can be difficult to get used to compared to a S&W, and because the mechanism is hand fitted, repair and replacement of parts can be costly.


I think the Python is a handsome revolver but I don’t find it as attractive as an M29 (especially the Classic). Rather than the lines appearing to flow they’re a little too geometrically orientated for my liking. However the design of the Python sets the barrel low relative to the position of the grip frame compared to a S&W. This coupled to a grip design that is more ergonomic (if less aesthetic) than the grips on an M29 allows the hand to form a natural high handed grip that automatically lines up the front and rear sights as you bring the revolver level with your sight line. On just about every other gun I’ve tried I have to adjust my hand positioning a few times to be able to do this.


Tanaka has replicated the Python extremely well, it has a more solid feel to it than their S&W M29/629s and gives no sense of flexing in the frame. Tanakas inconsistent build quality still causes problems though.


The cylinder/crane unit isn’t as secure in the frame as the M29/629s and the crane arm will move slightly out of its recess if you press on the cylinder. This isn’t a problem when shooting since the cylinder rotates into the frame but it’s a disappointment nonetheless.


The cylinder visibly angles in the frame when you action the revolver and is particularly bad in DA. As you can imagine this increases friction with the barrel face O-ring.


It has a partial timing quirk from replicating Colt’s hand design. On the Python the hand has an upper and lower tip. The lower tip seats under the following ratchet pad when firing the gun SA or DA and stops the cylinder from rotating backwards. With the cylinder stop engaged this ensures the cylinder is locked tight with the frame and barrel. Because of the looser tolerances of Tanaka’s replica the cylinder falls short of locking up when you cock the hammer in SA. Only when you pull the trigger does the lower tip of the hand push against the following ratchet pad and rotate the cylinder into the locked position. This can potentially cause an impairment in accuracy unlike a real Python which obviously locks up properly before you pull the trigger, and as the parts begin to wear heavily I’m concerned the revolver may fail to lock up in SA at all (I should make it clear that the cylinder does lock up correctly in DA).


And so on to disassembly.


1) Cylinder/Crane Unit.


The cylinder release comprises the left side of the recoil shield.


Note : I’d like to clarify that left and right should be considered when looking at a gun from the rear. You can look from the front if that’s your decision but I don’t particularly enjoy pointing a gun at my head.


To swing the cylinder out you pull the cylinder release back. The center pin is part of the cylinder release and slots into a recess in the cylinder endcap. The cylinder crane screw is in the same position as a S&W. The screw has a spring and pin inserted into it that keeps pressure on a matching recess in the crane. Removing the spring and pin allows you to replace the screw and still remove the cylinder/crane unit from the frame, but the screw only tightens up once it’s past level with the frame surface which looks ugly. You can either leave it level and adjust it whenever it starts moving or use some threadlock it secure it in position.


2) Side Plate, Hammer/Trigger mechanism.


The side plate is on the left hand side of the frame and unlike Tanakas S&W models it’s plastic, not metal. Why this is I don’t know, maybe they fancied a change. The edges of the cylinder ratchet pads can hit the sideplate as you swing the cylinder in and out, this can be alleviated if you file a small bevel in the side plate where the pads contact it. The cylinder release fits in a slot in the side plate and the spring behind it will push it out when you remove the plate. Unusually all the metal parts of the mechanism have been nicely finished in black paint. They’ve always been bare on all the other Tanaka revolvers I’ve seen except for the trigger and hammer for obvious reasons.


Whoever at Colt put the seal of approval on the design of the Pythons hammer/trigger mechanism should have been slapped. It has to be the most overly complicated setup I’ve seen for a revolver and it’s not conducive to disassembly for anyone outside of a Colt workshop. In no way am I even going to try and disassemble it.


The Python uses a tightly fitted folded leaf spring, one side of which is used for the hammer and the other side is used for the rebound lever the tip of which sits in a recess in the hand and returns the trigger to the forward position. This means the force of the hammer cannot be adjusted, although the spring is already very strong (when I was testing the action with the side plate removed, the tip of the rebound lever slipped off its location on the hand. It took a lot of force to put it back in position). As well as returning the trigger forward, the rebound lever also lowers the cylinder stop which operates by way of a see-saw pivot which is screwed into the frame. Behind the hammer and trigger are the safety lever and hammer block which are moon clipped in position. I was surprised to see Tanaka actually add the hammer block, they always show it on the diagrams for the M29/629 but I’ve yet to see one fitted.


I dislike the way the rebound lever puts pressure on the hand to return the trigger forward. The hand is already stressed from rotating the cylinder and pivoting in the trigger and the force applied by the lever is off center to the trigger. I much prefer S&Ws rebound slide which pushes directly on the trigger from behind and doesn’t rely on the hammer spring.


3) Outer / Inner Barrel.


Like the M29 Classic the outer barrel grub screw is under the front sight, the Python having two pins to tap out. The inner barrel is disassembled in the same manner as the M29/629s. The Python has the standard fixed hop.



The SA on the Python is very good. I don’t like way the hammer needs to be pulled back so far that the thumb piece actually bites into the web of my hand, but the cylinder rotation is reasonably smooth despite it angling in the frame and increasing friction with the barrel face O-ring. The trigger break is also crisp and light.


DA on the other hand is dreadful. I now understand the complaints about the real steel. If you ignore the affects the cylinder rotation of Tanakas replica has on it what you will first feel is a short take up before the trigger contacts the hammer sear. Then an increasingly heavy tension as the trigger is pulled back until the hammer is about 2/3rds of the way back (compared to the SA hammer cock). The tension then suddenly disappears as the hammer falls forward. There is no sensation of the break point that you get with a S&W which give a much more even tension and more controllable trigger pull.


With the cylinder in it gets worse. I often found myself overcompensating for the increase in initial weight of the trigger pull and yanking it through its motion. The obvious result is the front sight being pulled off target.

In order not to overcompensate I have to apply a lot of control over my grip and trigger finger to keep the revolver steady and ease the trigger back smoothly. Even so, because of the cylinder angling what happens first is the cylinder ‘jumps’ approximately half way through its chamber rotation and then I have to try to continue to carefully pull the trigger whilst tightening my grip to keep the gun steady until the hammer falls.

Because of this I cannot shoot the Python DA with one hand if I want to attain any form of accuracy.


Shooting from my usual 18 feet, accuracy in SA is extremely good, on par with the best of the S&W series though the Python is still subject to the occasional inconsistencies that occur in all Tanaka revolvers.

Accuracy in DA was a trial. With effort good groupings can be achieved but I found it difficult to maintain that much effort. Most of the time I would pull the revolver off target to some degree or other.


Power is the the most impressive aspect of the Python, easily equal to the Rugers in strength.


I have mixed feelings about this revolver. SA is perfectly servicable and so is the accuracy but the DA ruins the experience. With continued practice I’m sure my ability with the DA will improve (and after the revolver’s had some time to wear in it’ll hopefully be a little less strenuous) but I doubt it will ever have the same quality as a S&W.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

M66 Accuracy Improvement Attempt 2 : 7” Ruger Super Redhawk inner barrel


Since the 8” M629 classic had demonstrated superior accuracy compared to its 5/6” M29/629 brethren I assumed it was due to the longer barrel improving the stability of the BB. Therefore I reasoned that adding a longer barrel to my M66 should have the same effect and at 7” the inner barrels I salvaged from my deceased Ruger Super Redhawks were twice the length of the one on the M66. Surely the accuracy would improve considerably.


Disappointingly it did not.


Despite shooting from a bench rest to keep the revolver steady there was no discernable difference in accuracy over the modifications I made to the stock inner barrel of the M66 during my previous accuracy improvement attempt.


In his review of the new Tanaka S&W M10 M&P 4 inch, Seth makes mention of definite improvements in both consistency and accuracy over the other Tanaka revolvers he’s tried including the M500.




Considering that the M10 has the same barrel length as the M66 there are definitely other aspects of Tanaka revolver construction that I need to take into account over mere barrel length.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and the use of session cookies.