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Installing a Wide Spur Blackhawk Hammer in a Bisley Frame
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.

I have always preferred a checkered, wide spur hammer on my revolvers; especially one that I carry in the woods.  The checkered wide spur gives me greater purchase on the hammer if my hands are cold, wet, or if I am wearing gloves.  This is especially important if the revolver is a single-action where I have to cock the hammer every time.

Ruger makes two styles of grip frames for their single-action revolvers; the standard “plow share” grip, and the Bisley grip.  Each grip comes with its own style of hammer.  I have a stainless steel, Ruger Bisley Blackhawk with a 5 1/2“ barrel in .45 LC that I regularly carry with me when I hunt.  The Bisley hammer only comes with a narrow spur, so I want to fit a wide spur standard Blackhawk hammer to my Bisley Blackhawk.  Because of the differences in the two grip frames, a standard Blackhawk hammer will fit in a Bisley grip frame, but a Bisley hammer will not fit in a standard grip frame.  So fortunately, I will not have to alter the shape of the hammer.

I purchased a Super Blackhawk hammer assembly #780-000-535 from Brownells. The standard Blackhawk hammer comes only with horizontal lines cut into the wide spur.  The tops of these cuts are rounded, which does not provide much purchase when cocking the hammer.  So, I will have to cut new checkering to make nice sharp points.  Hand checkering is very time consuming and not for the faint of heart.  I was fortunate to have had personal tutoring on hand checkering by the late Dave Sample, master gunsmith.

The first step was to prepare the hammer for checkering.  I took a #0 pillar file and cut a notch in front of the spur.  This notch will provide clearance for the checkering file.

Next, I used a blue marker to coat the spur.  This helps me to measure progress. I covered the front of the hammer with thin leather and masking tape to prevent me from marring the surface.  I then set the hammer in my vise about 1/4“ below the top edge of the jaws.  This allows me to use the front edge of the bronze vise jaws as a guide to ensure my vertical cuts are nice and straight.

Using the edge of the bronze vice jaw as a guide, I took my 20 lines-per-inch (LPI) checkering file and began to cut the vertical lines.  The surface of the hammer was hardened, but after I broke through the surface, the metal cut easily.  I filed until the checkering file no longer cut metal.  

I then raised the hammer in the vise and finished cutting all of the vertical lines. After I complete the horizontal cuts, I will file off the partial points on the edges.  It took me three hours to complete the vertical cuts, primarily because I could not take full strokes with the file.  I could only take short strokes on the front of the spur.

Using the front of the spur as a guide, I cut all of the horizontal lines.  This only took one hour because I could take long, full strokes with the checkering file.  After I completed the horizontal cuts, I took the #0 pillar file and removed the partial points on the edges.

I took strips of 400-grit wet/dry sand paper and polished out the file marks on the top of the hammer.  This took another hour to complete.  So, this 3/4 square inch of metal took about 5 hours to checker.

I am not quite ready to install the hammer yet.  I now need to prepare the sear engagement surface.  I reduced the sear engagement surface to 0.014” and polished the surface as described in my article Accurizing the Ruger Single-Action Revolver.

I reassembled the revolver and put some Brownells Action Lube on the hammer and sear mating surfaces.  I now have a very positive grip on the hammer spur when I cock the hammer.

Most of the tools I used I purchased either from Brownells or MidwayUSA. 


   © Copyright 2008 Roy Seifert.