Bobbed Hammer on an S&W .38 Special

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by jscooter, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. jscooter

    jscooter New Member

    Mar 24, 2009
    Hi, yesterday I was looking at a .38 special in a pawn shop. The store owner, who seemed very knowledgeable, had "bobbed" the hammer of this gun. I THINK he said that he had actually installed a new "bobbed" hammer, rather than just trimming down the factory one. (I got home and googled this, and I didn't have all the right questions to ask at the time!) The trigger was noticeably easier to pull than on any other similar revolver I've handled; I think he was saying that there was one less "step" involved in the action of this custom hammer, which provided less resistance.
    So now that I've googled this, I've read that one problem can be that a lighter hammer may not reliably discharge the ammunition. Is that still a problem if this is a new hammer, and not a shaved-down one? If the easier trigger action is due to a lighter spring, would this create any problems with firing reliably?
    It seems that there are some distinct advantages to this modification, such as the hammer won't snag on clothes, the easier action won't twist the wrist when there any safety advantage? (It may be unrealistic, but I've imagined a hammer snagging and causing an accidental shooting - is that possible?)
    Are there any legal issues with having such a "battle-action" handgun?
    By the way, this is a stainless steel gun, 4" barrell, he says it's an old NYC police-issue gun from the 90's. He's asking $325.
    Thanks for any advice!
  2. BillP

    BillP New Member

    Sep 9, 2007
    On a lake near Detroit Lakes, MN
    I am way out of the loop when it comes to gun prices anymore but that sounds like a lot of money for a police issue Mdl. 10. I expect that is has a heavy barrel or else it is an older one. Is this a double action only gun or can you still cock it if you want? In my day a GOOD action job on a Smith was a wonderful thing but expensive. I have no experience with doing one specially for DAO although if the hammer is bobbed that would be understandable. It is certainly possible to have ignition problems with a gun that has been worked on and as I remember, their were "duty" action jobs and "target" action jobs among those of us that shot the old PPC courses. I had one that I could not use with CCI primers although the Remington primers were softer and worked reliably.

  3. oscarmayer

    oscarmayer New Member

    Jun 24, 2008
    if it's stainless it's a model 64 38 special fixed sights. 325.00 seems like a good price. there is a wholesaler that is selling police turn in's model 64's with bobbed hammers and with normal hammers. the wholesale price is running 259.00 (?) for one in very good condition. if i'm remembering right on that price if you have "your dealer" order you one after adding shipping ,tax and tranfer fees it's right in the ballpark . but consider this when you order one that way you get what you get. you're unable to handle them and check them out first.
  4. jscooter

    jscooter New Member

    Mar 24, 2009
    Yes, it is a double action only.
    I'm a complete novice looking for my first gun, so bear with me...
    Is there a benefit to installing an after-market bobbed hammer (which I think is what has been done here), over just grinding down the original hammer?
    What is causing the easier trigger action? Is it somehow indicative of a lighter hammer (that might not discharge ammo as reliably), or is the ease of use unrelated to the weight of the trigger?
    Is a DAO revolver somehow safer than a single/double it harder to have an accidental firing?
    I'm looking at this as primarily a home/self defense weapon (though it doesn't hurt that it looks nice).
    Thanks for the advice!
  5. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    There are advantages for bobbed hammers.

    For a normal citizen, with a 2" gun, either a J frame or a K, that he is carrying concealed the bobbed hammer will not get caught on your pocket lining (if pocket carrying) or on the lining of your coat or your coattail or shirttail (if carrying on your hip with a cover garment) or on the lining of your purse (if purse carrying).

    For a cop, the bobbed hammer is a safety thing. Cops are people. They watch TV. Everytime, on TV, when it is dangerous, the guy with the gun cocks the hammer. In times of stress a cop can do that without thinking. Then, when a little kid comes out from behind him and says, "WHAT YA DOING?", the cop whips around and, because he is nervous and the gun is cocked (making it a two-pound trigger) and his finger is on the trigger, he blows a hole through the kid. If they bob the hammer, he can't cock it, and if they make it double-action only, he damn sure can't cock it. This is known as "using equipment to make up for lack of training".

    The gun is designed to work within certain perameters. Let's say, with a two-ounce hammer and a 19-pound mainspring. If you cut the hammer spur off, you've lowered the weight of the hammer. Now the gun may not fire reliably. Aftermarket bobbed hammers, however, may retain the 2-ounce weight, but are configured so as to not have the spur. Reducing the strength of the mainspring will make the gun easier to shoot (you have less tension to overcome as you cock the gun, whether you are thumb-cocking or trigger-cocking), but if you lower it too much the gun might not fire reliably.

    Every once in a while, some little old lady will show up at a cop-shop and pull a cocked revolver out of her purse. "This was my late husband's gun. I don't know how to get the hammer down." That can't happen with a DA-only.

    If you practice the two main pieces of gun safety:
    1 - don't cock it unless you need to
    2 - keep your bugger-hook off the bang-switch until you are ready to fire
    you won't have any accidental discharges.

    An easier trigger-pull is usually caused by one of more of these three things:
    1 - the hammer has been ground down, making it lighter. less weight to raise makes easier trigger. This may or may not cause the gun to be unreliable.
    2 - the mainspring has been replaced with a weaker one and/or (with S&W) the strain-screw has been backed off. This also may or may not cause the gun to be unreliable.
    3 - someone has gone into the action and taken off all the machining marks, and all the little burrs, and cleaned out any metal shavings left from the manufacturing operation. If he knew what he was doing, this is the best way. However, he could grind to much, removing not only ridges, but sharp edges necessary for safe function. Or could grind down beneath the surface hardening, so the gun will wear too quickly. Either of these will make the gun not only unreliable, but dangerous.