Installing a Wilson Combat Smith & Wesson K/L/N Frame Revolver Spring Kit

Installing a Wilson Combat Smith & Wesson K/L/N Frame Revolver Spring Kit

Installing a reduced power spring kit in your revolver is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to reduce your trigger pull weight, making it easier to shoot fast, and stay on target.  While many gun owners are often under the mistaken impression that spring kits can only be installed by a gunsmith, the truth is nearly anybody can do it with a couple of simple tools, and a little patience.

Establishing a Baseline

Before we get started, we need to establish a baseline for the factory trigger pull weight, so we know how much of a difference the spring kit actually makes.  In order to do this, the first thing you’ll want to do is load the firearm with snap caps, then mount it in either a gun vise (or in my case, a workmate).  You don’t need anything fancy, but whatever you use should be stable, and remain stationary.  Next, using the Wheeler Engineering Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, we’ll do ten quick tests for our pre-installation weight.  After performing these steps on my Smith & Wesson 686, I received an average of 10lbs 9oz.

With that done, it’s time to install the spring kit.

Disasembly

Begin by removing the grips from the revolver.  Depending on your firearm, you may have either the factor pancake-grips, or a third-party model such as the one shown in my video.  As this firearm is equipped with a Hogue monogrip, we’ll simply loosen the screw in the base and slide it free of the frame.

Next, we need to remove the screws holding the sideplate in place.  There are three small slot screws on the right side of the revolver.  When selecting a screwdriver it’s very important to pick the correct size to avoid damaging the heads, or scratching the sideplate.  It’s equally important to keep track of which screw goes with which hole, as all three are different and can’t be used interchangeably.  When removing the screws, take your time and go slowly, nothing ruins a beautiful revolver like careless tool marks.

Now we’re going to remove the cylinder.  Slide the cylinder release forward and open it up, then simply pull the entire assembly out from the front of the gun.  Depending on how often (and thoroughly) you clean your firearm, it may have a lot of built up grime on the crane, so take a moment to clean it as it makes re-installation much easier.

Next we’re going to remove the side plate.  There are all kinds of videos and books out there that will tell you that you just need to ‘tap the gun’ and it’ll pop right off– but I’ve yet to ever see that happen, so good luck with that.  If it works for you with your revolver, fantastic, I’m very happy to hear that, but the fit on mine is just way, way too tight.  Instead you’ll likely need to GENTLY pry it loose, particularly if it’s been a long time since it was removed.  To remove it safely, we’re going to take a screwdriver and wrap it several times in a rag to make sure we don’t scratch or mar the firearm.  Next we’re going to gently slide it under the sideplate, and very slowly apply a little bit of pressure.  Again, if the sideplate is really stuck on there it may pop off very suddenly, so take your time.

Aside from being an extremely tight fit, as you’ll see in the video the sideplate on this 686 has a lot of dried oil and gunk on it, which acted as somewhat of a sealant, making it challenging to remove.  Again, take this opportunity to clean things up a bit so that subsequent removals are easier.

Installation

At this point we can finally see what we’re doing with the spring kit.  There are two components that we’ll be replacing including the hammer spring, and the rebound trigger return spring.

Beginning with the hammer spring, locate the small screw on the side of the grip frame; this is the tensioner for the hammer spring.  Once again using a slot screwdriver, loosen the screw until the bottom end of the hammer spring can be pushed out of the retention groove.  With that done, it’s an easy matter to slide the forked top end of the hammer spring out of place, and set it to the side.

Now comes the fun part; the trigger rebound spring.  This component is held in place by pressure against a metal pin connected to the frame.  Although several companies do manufacturer a special tool just for removing this, it’s not something you’re likely to use very often and thus few people own one.  In the absence of such a tool, a dental pick (also useful for cleaning firearms) works just as well and can be had for only a few dollars.  Using the pick, lift the grooved end of the spring housing and slowly pull upwards.  As it begins to rise, place your finger over the grooved end, as the trigger return spring is under a lot of pressure, and will fly out if you don’t stop it (good luck finding it if that happens).  Now simply slide the spring out, and set it aside with the old hammer spring.

Now it’s time to install our new spring kit.  This Wilson Combat kit comes with three different trigger return springs numbered with their weight.  Remember this is the trigger return spring, not the hammer spring, so there’s no reason for alarm that it’s a higher weight than our baseline testing showed.  We’re going to select the lowest powered spring for this example, and slide it into the spring housing (it won’t fit all the way, but more on that later).

With the spring partially installed, you’ll need to compress it far enough into the housing that it can be slid back into place behind the metal retention pin.  This is harder than it sounds, but with a little patience and a ball point pen, you can do it.  Using the pen to compress the spring, we’re going to position it just past the pin, then switch to the dental pick to push it the rest of the way so we can slide the housing back into place.  Don’t be surprised if it takes you a few tries; it’s easier said than done.

With the trigger return spring in place, we’re now ready to install the new hammer spring.  This is a pleasure compared to the last task.  Slide the forked top end of the hammer spring so that it rests flush with the pins connecting to the hammer, then simply drop the bottom end back into the retention groove.  Using a finger to hold it flush, grab your slot screwdriver again and tighten the tensioner screw.  Bear in mind that the tensioner is designed to allow shooters some leeway, so you can adjust it somewhat depending on how light you want your trigger pull to be.

Reassembly

Now it’s time to reassemble.  Slide the cylinder and crane back into place, and lock it up, then give it a quick check to make sure the action is lined up and working properly.

Next we’ll reinstall the sideplate.  As I’ve mentioned previously, these are often a very, very tight fit.  If you’re finding it difficult to reseat, put a dab of oil on the edges and GENTLY tap it back into place.

We’re now able to put the screws back in.  Locate the screw with the little black pin, and place it in the right-most hole, where it will lock the cylinder crane into place.  Locate the longer of the two remaining screws and place it in the middle hole.  Finally, locate the short screw and place it in the left-most hole.  These don’t need to be super tight, just snug.  As with disassembly, take your time and ensure you’re using the correct sized bit to avoid scratching the firearm.

Finally we’ll reinstall the grip.  For this Hogue model, that’s as easy as guiding the frame into the rubber channel and pushing down.  When it’s lined up, reinsert the retention screw.

Testing

And we’re done!  With the reduced power spring kit in place, it’s time to retest our trigger pull weight and see how we did.  After performing ten tests with the Wheeler, my 686 has yielded a new average trigger pull weight of 8lbs 11.8oz.  That’s a roughly 2lb reduction compared to the original factory pull weight of 10lbs 9oz, which is excellent.

Summary

Two lbs may not sound like much, but I can’t stress enough how much lighter this trigger feels.  It’s smoother, softer, and just feels all around better.  Best of all, there’s still plenty of adjustment left in the hammer spring tensioner screw, which means we can reduce it even further with just the turn of a screwdriver.

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