A friend of mine had once upon a time purchased a Colt King Cobra revolver chambered in .357 mag and loved it. Just a fun take to the range gun, not a carry weapon or anything like that, he just liked the look and feel of a badass revolver. I was in the same boat as I had fell in love with a S&W 686 snub, ALSO chambered in .357. Now here is where the differences lie.
I clean my guns. Probably too much at times and not enough at others; but when I clean them I clean them soundly. Smooth, shiny and all parts in polished working order until I am sure it is better than the day I bought it. My friend is not so thorough. Here is the math that led to the issue.
+Foam lined Locked case
+8 months of neglect
= Pistol Rusted in and out
This poor thing wouldn’t cock fully, would not go past half a pull in DA and the chamber failed to rotate at all. Basically, the King had gotten Lockjaw.
My buddy called and asked if I knew what to do and with such little knowledge of damage to that extent, I recommended what he already knew…find a gunsmith. Well, a couple more months went by as we both got busy with work until finally, he asked/I offered to take a look at it.
Upon receiving the revolver, I was a little concerned I had gotten in over my head. I took it down to the workshop and stared at it a bit. Pulled up some exploded diagrams, tried searching Google and YouTube, alas, hopeless. So I dove in and immediately put two hands into the hammer and snapped that bastard back with all my might. CRACK!
Shit. Did I break it? Squeeze trigger. Nothing. Sonofabitch. Two fingers and PULL trigger. TINK! Holy crap it works?!? Now I am curious and see hope, so we begin with the dousing.
One can of Gunscrubber, a mangled plastic gun pick and a fistful of patches later, she smells and looks awful, but she is spinning and working again in DA and SA. Good stuff. Then the OCD kicks in. I have the chamber out and soaking in some Hoppes, I have the grips off and drying and I can see rust on the Bolt (the part that holds the cylinder in place when cocked). Do I dive deeper? how much does it matter? Do I give a damn if this kid’s gun is for shit? UUUggghhhh.
Get the screwdriver out and let’s get brave.
I opened it up and was instantly mortified. Almost every contact part had rust either holding it in, holding it on or connecting it to another part aside from the places I had broken it free. The kind of thing you would see in the TITANIC wreckage. So I started dousing it with Hoppes and hope to get a better view. I then took a picture so I knew where all the pieces went so I had a full color reference where everything was supposed to be. Let’s play operation.
One piece at a time, laid out in a magnetic tray I got each trigger assembly piece and spring out, bathed, scrubbed, polished and replaced. Scrubbed the bejeezus out of the interior. A day of soaking and 2 hours of scrubbing and polishing later, everything slid right back into place like it had never seen an issue. I am impressed with the gun AND myself.
But did I do it right? Does it work?
Took a video to send my friend, and if you hadn’t known the condition it was in, it just looks like another video of a jackass putting a revolver through the paces. Spin the cylinder, DA dryfire (with snapcaps), SA dryfire, rapid fire, open the wheel gun, eject casings. It looked like a solid used gun with wear marks, not like a victim of deep sea negligence. It was at this point I knew, you HAD to respect the revolver.
I may not have 12-18 rounds, I may not have several magazines for a speedy reload, but I do have a new love for my S&W 686 and my Ruger .44 mag. Apparently, you can lock it shut with rust, scratch it, mar it, clean it little to none… but with a little TLC, you can almost always have a gun with VERY little moving parts still be VERY lethal. I will never get rid of any of my revolvers, that’s for sure.