S&W Internal Lock Failure

This is a discussion on S&W Internal Lock Failure within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; This just following from Michael Bane's Blog S&W Revolver Lock Failure! Heard about the internal S&W revolver lock failing for years, but ever since my ...

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Thread: S&W Internal Lock Failure

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array semperfi.45's Avatar
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    S&W Internal Lock Failure

    This just following from Michael Bane's Blog


    S&W Revolver Lock Failure!

    Heard about the internal S&W revolver lock failing for years, but ever since my friend Charlie Petty's scathing article in AMERICAN HANDGUNNER, which essentially said the safety failures were an urban myth (and which I can't for the life of me find on the Internet), I dismissed the idea from my mind.

    Doom on Mikey! I went out today to shot some .44 Magnums through several guns, including my ultralight-weight 329PD overhauled by Jim Stroh at Alpha Precision. I've put a bunch of .44 Specials through the gun already, and in truth I took it along as a "control" to compare the newer guns to.

    I ran 50 rounds of Winchester Cowboy .44 Special (240-grain lead @ 750 fps) through the 329 and it shot as sweet as it always has. Then I went to BlackHills 240-gr JHPs @ 1260...thumpers, but one of my favorite .44 Magnum loads. I ran through 3 cylinders-full with no problemo.

    Then I went to Buffalo Bore "lower recoil" 255-gr Keith style lead bullets at 1350 fps, a load specifically designed for the 329 and one that I have used in all my other .44 Magnums with great accuracy. Here is what Buffalo Bore says about their load:

    In order to alleviate the recoil, crimp jump and sticky extraction, we have developed this load. It is still full power, but uses a lighter weight, super hard cast, gas checked bullet and will still penetrate very deeply in big game despite its lighter weight. This load is ideal for those of you who carry the S&W model 329PD. This load will not lead your barrel.

    This load falls well under SAAMI pressure specs and is safe to use IN ANY 44mag. While we love to hear from our customers, please do not phone/email us and ask if this load is safe in your particular 44 mag.—it is—providing your gun is in normal working condition.

    Now there exists a serious full power 44 mag. load that will penetrate big bones (including a bears skull) and drive deeply into living organs and tissues, that has minimum recoil.
    In other words — and I have said this repeatedly — the ideal load for a dangerous game back-up gun, which was what I got the 329 for. As I said, I like the load..it's heavy, but nothing like the Winchester or Cor-Bon hunting loads!

    On the second round, the "flag" part of the locking system flew up and locked the gun up at almost a full cock.

    I couldn't unlock it; I couldn't uncock it; I couldn't get it to fire. It took me 20 minutes of working v....e....e....r....r....y gingerly with a screwdriver to get the lock to release enough to allow me to bring the 329 to full cock and subsequently unlock the cylinder and empty the gun.

    I'd say this was NOT GOOD for a gun billed as a dangerous game back-up gun!

    Massad Ayoob touched on this in AH in Jan/Feb 2005, quoting a failure similar to mine:
    In Rochester, Indiana, detective Dennis Reichard was firing his personally owned service revolver, a Model 329 Scandium with full power .44 Magnum, when the lock's flag mechanism flew out of its slot in the frame alongside the exposed hammer. While the .44 continued to fire, Reichard was less than thrilled with his duty weapon literally falling apart while he was shooting it, and has gone back to his old all-steel Model 629 without the integral lock mechanism.
    Mine is going back to Jim Stroh for a lock removal and a thorough examination. ALL my centerfire S&Ws with locks will get the damned things removed, and I'll live with the hole in the frame.

    In the meanwhile, I STRONGLY caution all of you about trusting your precious butts to an S&W revolver with the integral lock using HEAVY BULLETS! Especially the ultralight Scadium-framed revolvers like the 329, 325, 340, 357, etc.

    To quote from an old bluesman I once knew, "I ain't tellin' you what I heard; I ain't tellin' you what I read; I'm tellin' you what is".
    Training means learning the rules. Experience means learning the exceptions.

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  3. #2
    Member Array Erich's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    I'm so happy that it happened to Mr. Bane, not because I dislike him (I like him fine) but because now Charles Petty will have a difficult time printing S&W's claims that "this never happens."

    It's happened to me, and it's happened to others I know. I'll never own another S&W with a lock.
    Shot-placement is king. Adequate penetration is queen. Everything else is angels dancing on the heads of pins.

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    One must carry the key on the off chance you have time to use it. Or get a Ruger.

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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Pull the lock & get the keyhole filled. Useless, sycophantic, feel-good. I have a Rossi single-shot I recently acquired. I pulled the lock-pin, filled the recesses with steel-epoxy, cut the pin down, and epoxied it in the "off" position. Problem solved.

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    Member Array ReefBlueCoupe's Avatar
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    FYI, I just called S&W to get a key for the internal lock on my 340 (bought used and didn't come with a key) and was on the phone less than two minutes giving my information. They are sending it for free.

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    Senior Member Array cockedlocked01's Avatar
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    Well, I'm thankful I have a pre-lock 442. I used if for 7 yrs. as a BUG for work. I sure of hated to find out that they can fail at a time that pulled it, because when the BUG comes out...

    It's a shame S&W did that, especially on their J-frames (the other models, too). Many of their J-frames are primary &/or BUG. Basically, heavily carried guns.
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    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Wake up, S&W!

    I have 5 S&W revolvers, and none of them have the lock. They were all made before the lock was invented. Even if the lock is 98% effective at staying "off", I would be reluctant to buy a gun with the lock because I would worry about the other 2%. And to me the lock is completely worthless and not required - I keep my guns in a safe when not in use.

    I wonder how many dollars in sales S&W has lost because of this lock? At least they should offer it as an option, rather than a mandatory thing on all their revolvers.

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    Member Array 18DAI's Avatar
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    Add me to the list of those that will not buy current production S&W's, till they remove the idiotic lock, or give consumers a choice.

    I have purchased 7 S&W revolvers in the last 2 years, and S&W did not get a thin dime from me, as they were all pre lock S&W's.

    I carry my revolvers. I chose them for their simplicity and reliability. An internal lock eliminates those two attributes. No thanks S&W, call me when you make them without locks. Regards 18DAI.

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    Member Array inferno3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pogo2 View Post
    I wonder how many dollars in sales S&W has lost because of this lock? At least they should offer it as an option, rather than a mandatory thing on all their revolvers.
    S&W needs to get rid of the lock pronto. I won't buy a new one and there are several models I would be interested if not for the lock. The whole idea of carrying a revolver, and giving up capacity doing so,is the theory of not jamming in a life or death situation as some semi autos have been reportedly.

    It's a darn shame,the S&W line are the top of the line in every other way.

  11. #10
    Member Array ReefBlueCoupe's Avatar
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    I'll probably end up having a gunsmith modify mine to render the lock uselsss.

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    I have only heard of this happening when you're shooting the big bullets through light guns. Not that it is an excuse, but I would trust a .38 spl j frame with the lock- just not the "thumpers".

    That said, if any of you want to get rid of your S&W revolvers with lock, let me know.
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  13. #12
    Senior Member Array kavity's Avatar
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    Mine has the lock and it functions flawlessly. though, I never have touched the lock at all. I wish I could have bought it without because I see no need for it. Eitherway my little revo has done fine with it

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    Member Array Erich's Avatar
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    I would trust a .38 spl j frame with the lock- just not the "thumpers".
    My 60-15 failed when the unloaded J-frame was oafishly knocked off a counter onto a hardwood floor. If you've taken any force-on-force training, you realize that this is the sort of knocking around that might be expected in a close range attack that becomes a gunfight.

    I wouldn't own any S&W with the lock for anything other than target use. My life and my family's lives are worth the trouble of getting a pre-lock.
    Shot-placement is king. Adequate penetration is queen. Everything else is angels dancing on the heads of pins.

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    Senior Member Array Herknav's Avatar
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    The S&W Forum has a thread going in the Lounge of members who've had an IL failure. Charlie Petty will continue to spout whatever the sponsors who advertise in his employer's magazine tell him to write.

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    Restricted Member Array SelfDefense's Avatar
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    I have been following this thread with some interest since I recently purchased a SW 340 with the internal lock.

    I have put a few hundred rounds of .38sp, a hundred rounds of .38 sp +p and some .357 magnum. I followed the instructions provided by SW and have had no problems at all.

    Every firearm can malfunction, even the revolvers without the internal lock. The real question is what are the chances of the internal lock failing? Is that less than or greater than other firearms? If so, is it within an acceptable tolerance of risk?

    It seems extraordinarily harsh to condemn SW and boycott their [internal lock] products without answers to these questions.

    Personally, I am more concerned with cracks in the scandium frame than the internal lock failing, which is why I would never consider having the lock removed and potentially compromising the integrity of the revolver.

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