Smith & Wesson Internal Lock Failure! (& fix)

This is a discussion on Smith & Wesson Internal Lock Failure! (& fix) within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Well, after quite a few years and many, many rounds, it happened to me! My S&W 637 J-Frame locked up. Wasn't even shooting it at ...

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Thread: Smith & Wesson Internal Lock Failure! (& fix)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array 380ACP's Avatar
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    Smith & Wesson Internal Lock Failure! (& fix)

    Well, after quite a few years and many, many rounds, it happened to me! My S&W 637 J-Frame locked up.

    Wasn't even shooting it at the time. It fell onto a tile floor (soft tile, so no damage to the finish thankfully) and the little flag popped up, locking the gun. Well, that freaked me out. It only took a little working with the key to get it unlocked again, but I didn't like the idea of it happening while I was shooting it, even if it hadn't done it before.

    This has probably already made the rounds here, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

    S&W Internal Lock Removal - YouTube

    This video is a great step by step instruction process on how to remove the locking mechanism. Takes about 10 minutes and requires only the most basic of hand tools, I didn't even need half the things he used in the video. All I needed was a small flathead screwdriver and a paper clip.

    Best part is, it doesn't leave any weird holes or make it look like parts were missing like I thought it would. Externally, everything appears as is, and the lock seems to be intact...except it isn't.



    Afterward, I'm pretty relieved as the possibility of the internal lock failing was always in the back of my mind. But, now the concern is gone. My 637 gets a ton of use, probably more than anything else because it's so easy to just throw it in a pocket for a quick outing or around the house, or to put it in a pouch when I'm on the bike. Always loved it's precise, tight action, excellent trigger, and good accuracy, but felt like the lock was an unnecessary hindrance on an otherwise excellent design. Thankfully it's very easily overcome. This might just put a larger frame S&W on my shopping list, my other revolvers are getting lonely...

    Anyway, hopefully that will help someone else who wants to get rid of the lock.
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    stancehold, helderberg and sgb like this.
    An intruder will be incapacitated by tear gas or oven spray, but if shot with a .357 Magnum will get angry and kill you.

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  3. #2
    Member Array stancehold's Avatar
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    Thank you for posting this 380ACP. I also dropped my 642 this week. Mine didn't lock up, but I've been considering removing the internal lock for quite some time.

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    Does it get rid of the rattle? I am considering removing mine because you can hear the locking parts when you shake it. You can't hear it on the older ones with out the lock.

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    Distinguished Member Array shockwave's Avatar
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    If you remove the lock, you're only half done. Visit the S&W forum and contact Bullseye Smith Link here. He'll sell you a milled plug in the finish and size appropriate to your gun and this completes the job.

    It isn't just an aesthetic modification - covering the lock aperture reduces the chance of dirt and debris from getting into the mechanism. But I'd do it just for aesthetics. Thankfully, my Smiths were purchased pre-lock, but when I get that 638 I've been hunting, I'll be doing this job.
    "It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."

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    Senior Member Array Freedomofchoice's Avatar
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    I removed mine also....no longer a worry!
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    Too light for heavy work, too heavy for light work!

    pb

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    Member Array helderberg's Avatar
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    I have always respected the fact that people with children or other concerns have the option of using the lock if they felt it was needed. I also thank S&W for installing a mechanism to allow their guns to be sold in all states allowed by law so more people can have the ability to protect themselves. That said, I am glad to hear that I can remove the lock, with no damage to the gun, as I have been caring my 642 and now my 9mm shield, all the time and it has crossed my mind, what if?
    Thanks for the great post and info.
    Frank.

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    Senior Member Array Herknav's Avatar
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    [sarcasm]You obviously haven't been reading the internet or the gun rags as this can't happen.[\sarcasm]
    msgt/ret likes this.
    I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth.--Steve McQueen

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    Member Array reade's Avatar
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    Hmmm..... I removed mine but I took it all out. Also did a small bob on the hammer while it was apart. Seems to me to leaves the lock and it's other parts in there without the flag to hold them all in their place could create a problem as bad or worse than it was supposed to fix. Just my opinion, maybe it wasn't necessary.

    Just sayin, the video where the guy did the work, that pistol looked like it was loaded the whole time.


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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    I didn't know that was possible to do. Thanks for the info. I bought a used 681 a few months back and had made a point of only lookng at pre lock models.
    Infowars- Proving David Hannum right on a daily basis

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    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    S&W revolver lock

    I'm a S&W revolver fan, but several years ago I became annoyed with the company because they installed this lock on their revolvers. I felt that intelligent management would have offered the products both with and without the locks, to please as many customers as possible and maximize sales. Instead they tried to force feed the internal lock to everybody, including those who were afraid of the type of lock failure the poster just described. So my small bit of protest was to only buy used, pre-lock S&W revolvers. I own about 12 of those, and no revolvers with the internal lock. If S&W ever comes around and starts leaving off the lock I might buy another one.

    Here are three of my J frames without a lock:

    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

  12. #11
    Member Array Dleavitt's Avatar
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    There are NIB no-lock 642s out there, they can just be a little hard to find. I got one just about a month ago, great little firearm.
    helderberg likes this.
    Current armament:
    Ruger 10/22
    Remington 870 Express 20ga.
    S&W M&P40c
    S&W 642

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    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    I'm a S&W revolver fan, but several years ago I became annoyed with the company because they installed this lock on their revolvers. I felt that intelligent management would have offered the products both with and without the locks,
    The fact is a piece of cable and a padlock accomplishes the same thing the installed lock does without defacing the gun and compromising the function of the thing. After all, it's not a safety it's a lock. "Intelligent management" must have been out to lunch.

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    Senior Member Array 380ACP's Avatar
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    You're welcome guys, glad to help.

    pogo2, I see we have a similar taste in grip styles!

    Quote Originally Posted by MrBuckwheat View Post
    Does it get rid of the rattle? I am considering removing mine because you can hear the locking parts when you shake it. You can't hear it on the older ones with out the lock.
    Yes and no. The rattle seems to be caused by the hammer block inside the revolver. Upon disassembling the revolver I noticed that it's just a loose part that runs along a channel in the sideplate, allowing it to move freely in a small side to side direction. Removing the lock shouldn't affect the rattle, but having done it, I notice the rattle is greatly subdued to where I have to be really shaking it hard to make a noise, and then it's just a faint tick. Otherwise everything still operates the same as before. While I was in there, I gave things a really good cleaning and light lubrication, so that may have helped as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by reade View Post
    Hmmm..... I removed mine but I took it all out. Also did a small bob on the hammer while it was apart. Seems to me to leaves the lock and it's other parts in there without the flag to hold them all in their place could create a problem as bad or worse than it was supposed to fix. Just my opinion, maybe it wasn't necessary.

    Just sayin, the video where the guy did the work, that pistol looked like it was loaded the whole time.

    I noticed that too! It was really making me nervous when he was pulling back on the trigger with a loaded cylinder.

    This should go without saying, but guys please make sure your gun is unloaded before working on your firearms.

    Also, I thought about removing the entire lock as well, but I didn't want to leave a hole...as mentioned earlier though there is a plug available and I may look into that. However the remaining lock parts seem to be secured well enough and I don't believe they will go anywhere.

    I have heard that the lock failures seem to happen predominately on the lightest guns in the most stout calibers (as opposed to ones like mine, a regular airweight in 38 SPL +P). It's entirely possible that mine could go on forever without an actual failure while firing, but still the fact that it happened at all is reason enough for me to get rid of it.

    Forgot to mention earlier that this process doesn't permanently alter anything. The flag can be easily replaced for resale or return to S&W for warranty work. Given the excellent service my little workhorse has given me over the years, I don't see either happening for me.
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    An intruder will be incapacitated by tear gas or oven spray, but if shot with a .357 Magnum will get angry and kill you.

  15. #14
    Member Array reade's Avatar
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    The assembly came out fairly easy. I kept it all intact so it could be reinstalled. About the hole, the gap beside the trigger will let dirt or lint in so I figure the hole isn't that big of a deal. A plug also has the potential to fall in and fowl the works too. I might machine up a plug with a thin cap on it that will press in from the outside? The release would help keep it in place as well. That probably would be best.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by reade View Post
    A plug also has the potential to fall in and fowl the works too..
    "foul"?

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