Posted by Marty on 3/3/2013
A recent recurring question has been that when the barrel is installed the breech won't close and/or lock when closing is attempted. It is always alarming when I get this question after I have just sold and delivered a new frame. Here are some first thoughts and questions that I throw out to calm down my customer:
1) What kind of barrel is it? A centerfire or a muzzleloader? If it is a muzzleloader be sure the breech plug in in and seated fully. If a centerfire do you have another barrel that could be mounted and tried?
2) Have you function tested the frame without a barrel on it, including the frame bolt? Be sure the frame bolt is backed out, this will stop the hammer from locking back. Test the hammer manually by tripping the cam inside the frame. This is a safety feature so the hammer won't fire unless a barrel is installed. If these items test out then the frame is functioning perfectly and most likely the problem is the barrel.
In all 5 of these cases it was the barrel, either the breech plug was not seated all the way in or the locking lug was not functioning properly to allow the trip cam to be tripped OR then even worse the following.
In one case the breech plug was too long and thus created a headspace issue with the frame, I'm not a gunsmith so I referred each customer to Mike Bellm. His advice on both the muzzleloader and centerfire barrels was that they needed to be "shaved" down on a lathe which his company has the ability to do.
I guess with the smallest of tolerances that are acceptable for proper fit and function it is inevitable that something doesn't fit properly. Thanks, Marty