JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2006/03/s-wesson-forum.html (19 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1142821166-354826  gunner at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 02:19:26 +0000

The model 65, the model I own, has barrel breaks. I'm less then happy right now.

jsid-1142821518-354827  Kevin Baker at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 02:25:18 +0000

I've got a fairly new Model 60. I'm wondering how concerned I should be.

jsid-1142826210-354834  og at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 03:43:30 +0000

I'm not a huge fan of wheelguns anyway, but the Smith K frames have alway been my personal choice. I tend to be suspicious of the amount of work that's been done to lighten Smith revolvers, and the amount of material that's getting removed. Give me old above new anyday- and this reinforces it.

jsid-1142831410-354838  Kevin Baker at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 05:10:10 +0000

To me this looks like the barrels were improperly tightened to the point the metal stretched and failed at the front strap. That could be due to an error in barrel threading, or it could be bad metallurgy, or it could be improper torque specs.

For whatever reason, that's not confidence-building.

jsid-1142841417-354849  Chris Byrne at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 07:56:57 +0000

Honestly guys, I don't take this at face value.

I can see a few pistols getting out this way; but this is a major manufcaturer who has only jsut recently come back into the good graces of the gun world. I don't think theres any way they'd let thousands of guns go out like this.

I can see the last few years of prior ownership this happening, but under the current owners? I just don't see it.

Now I HAVE heard of lots of problems with the integral locking mechanism, but breaking off at the barrel frame join?

jsid-1142870116-354879  Joe at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 15:55:16 +0000

As far as the misfires go, S&W was maintaining that that was an ammo issue with NCDoC using the cheapest loads they could get. As for the barrels coming off, this is the first I've heard of that.

jsid-1142873417-354896  markm at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 16:50:17 +0000

"didn't fire when the trigger was pulled" can mean lots of things, from bad ammo to a broken firing pin. I want to know whether the primers of the unfired ammo had dents in them.

Revolvers are inherently more reliable in the face of poor ammo quality than semi-auto pistols. (Maybe that's why they were in production for about 80 years before the M1911 semiauto went into production.) If a revolver goes click instead of bang during a shootout, you can pull the trigger again (or cock hammer and pull trigger for a SA) and try the next cartridge right away. If it was the ammo, chances are the next one will fire. Any problem with a semi-auto will take longer to clear.

But the barrel falling off??? Ouch!

jsid-1142873585-354897  Engineer-Poet at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 16:53:05 +0000

Maybe it's over-torquing, or maybe it was bad machining creating a stress-riser.  Any metallurgist with a microscope should be able to tell you.

jsid-1142877261-354913  Strider at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 17:54:21 +0000

As far as the technical part of the discussion goes, I can get about as far as "Hey look, the pointy part fell off!".

Regarding the story as a whole, S&W has one hell of a PR disaster here, and they would be fools to not fix the problem and replace the defective run of guns. (And fire the moron in charge of developing that line of weapons!)

jsid-1142878624-354920  Kevin Baker at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 18:17:04 +0000

Strider, that "line of weapons" has been in production for decades. This is apparently a recent quality-control problem. The questions are: how recent, and how widespread?

jsid-1142879742-354924  bud at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 18:35:42 +0000

Anybody here remember (or am I the only old fart?) the discussion on the Fidonet Firearms newsgroup about this sort of failure with Ruger, 15-20 years ago?

Ed Harris (he was Ruger QC chief at the time of the incident) described the failures as being due to using WD-40 as a (unauthorized) cutting oil on
the barrel threading lathe. The chlorinated HCs in it caused crystalizations that resulted in stress cracking. A number of barrels broke off, and all the guns recalled (they had the serial numbers of everything that went through that lathe during the period that the "wrong" oil was used) showed signs of stress cracking at the threads. I wonder if this bit of lore has been lost, since I noticed that the guns appear to be stainless versions.

BTW, I've kept WD-40 away from my stainless guns ever since.

jsid-1142884717-354949  gunner at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 19:58:37 +0000

The model 65 has been discontinued so this may not be a recent issue like some think.

jsid-1142896433-354991  Kristopher at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 23:13:53 +0000

Buy a Taurus.

jsid-1143084014-355356  Mark at Thu, 23 Mar 2006 03:20:14 +0000

May not be related, but some years back S&W went from a threaded and pinned barrel to a 'crush-fit' barrel; I'm wondering if that combined with something like the 'WD-40 Syndrome' mentioned above could be at fault?

I've got an old 65, many thousands of rounds of both .38 and .357 with nary a problem. It's GOT to be something recent and stupid.

jsid-1143084408-355357  Bob at Thu, 23 Mar 2006 03:26:48 +0000

I agree, they look like an overtorque issue. The break appears to be at the start of the threaded portion which probably is the weakest point if you think about where the stress would fall from overtorquing.

The misfires...I wonder what the NC cops are using to lube their guns. It wouldn't suprise me if cheap ammo with unsealed primers are combined with a heavy dose of thin oil like wd40 that's deactivating primers.

jsid-1143230409-355589  Ed Harris at Fri, 24 Mar 2006 20:00:09 +0000

Old problem rearing its ugly head again, not really a new problem. A
troublesome sporadic one when people forget about good shop practices and get sloppy.

Stress corrosion cracking is generally caused by contamination by solvents or cutting fluids too high in chlorides. Over-torquing barrels barrels creates a stress rise at the root of the thread which makes the problem worse. Microscopic examination of the failed barrels would be obvious to a competent
engineer, especially familiar to those with aerospace or nuclear power systems experience.

Ruger had a short run of this back in the 1980s when they first starting making stainless magnums. I saw a few dozen guns come back when I worked there. All were traced to one guy on night shift who was over-torquing barrels on Redhawks which didn't quite line up, instead of taking a pass off the front of
the frame on a Blanchard grinder as he should have done. He also used a wrong, slippery high sulphur thread lubricant intended for chrome-moly instead of the anti-seize compound used with SS.

This condition is aggravated by tight fit of barrel threads, such as whenusing a class 3A, combined with high stress, high temperature, and high barrel torque. Ruger fixed their problem by changing to a looser 2A fit on the barrel threads
and assembling barrels to the frames using a Loctite product to cement them solidly while reducing stress on the threads and positively preventing any seepage of cleaning solvents into the barrel threads after they left the factory.

jsid-1143493816-355888  1894C at Mon, 27 Mar 2006 21:10:16 +0000


Thanks for the comment on WD-40 and SS revolvers.

I had not heard that WD-40 could be bad for SS before. I'll keep it away from my ruger GP100.

jsid-1144786651-357833  Big Dee at Tue, 11 Apr 2006 20:17:31 +0000

I'm a 20 year corrections vet in NC and a 13 year firearms instructor. I participated in some of the test that resulted in the demonstration shoot that the news story was written about. Our departments older Model 65's are good guns, not great, sorta like fleet vehicles in a motorpool. The prison divisions guns are getting old. 20 years plus, with thousands upon thousands of rounds through them, and are due for replacement. Probation division uses same model, shorter barrel, and some of our guns are getting old and worn out also from thousands and thousands of rounds. The older guns are starting to have worn out lockwork, etc, etc. The new replacement guns coming in to replace older guns are of poorer quality control. Cylinders bind, machining is rough in the lockwork and fitting areas. the barrels are lined instead of solid. They have internal lock mechanisms that are tending to be faulty. The new guns also have a balance point that is further back in the frame, resulting in more percieved recoil. Barrels are falling off the new guns, not the older ones. The problems are in the manufacturing process of the NEW guns. Old guns have to be replaced, and they are actually better than the new guns. We have three models. 4 inch model 65, 3 inch model 65 and 2 inch model 60. these are being replaced with 4 inch model 65's (prisons_ and 3 inch models 64's (probation) The story is not B.S. and I have personally seen many misfires in training from guns that do not function after firing a couple of cylinder full due to heat expansion and powder residue binging the guns, in addition to mechanical malfunctions. Smith kept claiming it was our ammo. we shoot winchester or remington .38+p 125 grn lawman loads, depending on which manufacturer gets the contract for that year. It is NOT the ammo! I have shot hundreds of it through my older model 65 with NO problems...

Smith representatives were at the demonstration shoot, and the word i got from a person who was there was that the smith people could have fell through a hole in the ground they were so embarassed, and they were in total shock and could not deny what our department officers had been telling them for over a year.

I have a model 19 at home that was manufactured in the 60's and i won our state pistol competition two years in a row with it....I don't hates smiths, but the new guns they stuck us with are cut down ladysmiths, built in a hurry as cheaply as possible, and they are dangerous. the reason these faults have not shown up in a duty situation is that NONE of the new guns have yet been used in an on duty shooting. Luckily, we in corrections here in nc have been able to defuse situations with out mouths, not our guns for the most part...but that is changing. we had an officer involved shooting with the .38 last year, and the assailant DECIDED to stop the assault after being shot by the officer, not was stopped by the officer. The emergency room trauma surgeon stated that if he had wanted to, the shot offender could have easily continued the assault. shooting an offender is not supposed to make him think, it supposed to stop him!

jsid-1206847916-590016  Art Zimmerman at Sun, 30 Mar 2008 03:31:56 +0000

I just heard of this problem with the
barrel breaking off a the last thread Model 686p .357Mag/.38. Sounds like a torgue problem to me also. Someone could get seriously hurt or killed. These guns should have been recalled by now. When that barrel breaks off it could kill the shooter or your buddy. When it came off I saw a flash looked around to see what that flash was didn't notice anything so tried to release another round, couldn't fine the front site. Turn gun to it's side and notice barrel was gone. Found barrel 8' to 10' behind me. I thank god I was shooting staight out with my arms fully extended and not shooting down a 45 degree or more. I think that barrel would have lodged in my forehead.

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