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Thread: Great post about revolver reliability - Part 2 added

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    Great post about revolver reliability - Part 2 added

    Darryl has BTDT with both revolvers and semi-auto handguns. His observations are interesting and useful. This is part one of two:

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?sto...99287713557074

    ETA 25Nov
    Part 2

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?sto...99287713557074
    Last edited by Bruce in WV; 11-25-19 at 14:18.
    Yankee refugee living in the free state of West Virginia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in WV View Post
    Darryl has BTDT with both revolvers and semi-auto handguns. His observations are interesting and useful. This is part one of two:

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?sto...99287713557074

    He's not kidding about there being very few qualified revolver smith's out there that know what they are doing. I had a 686-4 seven shot that went to an American Pistolsmith Guild member to have the timing checked, as it was slightly over timed on one cylinder. That guy couldn't fix it so I sent it to Smith and Wesson along with brand new factory parts I acquired from Numerich for re-timing it. Smith and Wesson couldn't fix it either. Not even kidding, Smith and Wesson couldn't hand fit a new extractor, lift hand, and plunger stop that goes into the notches on the cylinder. They could get the parts in but couldn't time it perfectly so they put the old parts back in it and sent it back. I've owned probably thirty revolvers and was a huge fan of the pre-lock Smith's for a long time but with hardly any people able to work on them- I'm down to six revolvers now. They are neat little pieces but there's a lot going on inside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RetroRevolver77 View Post
    He's not kidding about there being very few qualified revolver smith's out there that know what they are doing. I had a 686-4 seven shot that went to an American Pistolsmith Guild member to have the timing checked, as it was slightly over timed on one cylinder. That guy couldn't fix it so I sent it to Smith and Wesson along with brand new factory parts I acquired from Numerich for re-timing it. Smith and Wesson couldn't fix it either. Not even kidding, Smith and Wesson couldn't hand fit a new extractor, lift hand, and plunger stop that goes into the notches on the cylinder. They could get the parts in but couldn't time it perfectly so they put the old parts back in it and sent it back. I've owned probably thirty revolvers and was a huge fan of the pre-lock Smith's for a long time but with hardly any people able to work on them- I'm down to six revolvers now. They are neat little pieces but there's a lot going on inside.
    There was a very good S&W gunsmith in Northern Virginia, Sam Hatfield, who could do magic with S&W revolvers. Unfortunately, he closed his shop last Jan 1, but he's a younger man and probably still in the business in somebody else's shop. He worked on several new Smiths to tune them up for me, and rebuilt several more. Keep an eye out for him, and if you run across him working in your area, take him all the work he'll accept. He's worth every penny.
    Yankee refugee living in the free state of West Virginia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RetroRevolver77 View Post
    He's not kidding about there being very few qualified revolver smith's out there that know what they are doing. I had a 686-4 seven shot that went to an American Pistolsmith Guild member to have the timing checked, as it was slightly over timed on one cylinder. That guy couldn't fix it so I sent it to Smith and Wesson along with brand new factory parts I acquired from Numerich for re-timing it. Smith and Wesson couldn't fix it either. Not even kidding, Smith and Wesson couldn't hand fit a new extractor, lift hand, and plunger stop that goes into the notches on the cylinder. They could get the parts in but couldn't time it perfectly so they put the old parts back in it and sent it back. I've owned probably thirty revolvers and was a huge fan of the pre-lock Smith's for a long time but with hardly any people able to work on them- I'm down to six revolvers now. They are neat little pieces but there's a lot going on inside.
    Retiming a post 1992 S&W is easier than you think. The extractor isn't even a fitted part anymore.

    https://forums.brianenos.com/topic/2...omment-3085631

    Revolvers, like 1911s, have a certain level of DIY built in. That wasn't always the case. Especially with some parts like the older pinned extractors. That was truly a professional's job.

    But the post CNC guns are not as complicated as some people seem to think. Pop open a new S&W sometime and take a look around. There isn't that much hand fitting going on.

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    Darryl is a good friend, and one of the best revolver teachers walking the earth. I talked with Darryl about this exact thread and discussion tonight.

    I was also at the Tom Givens Rangemaster Master Instructor class this weekend, that prompted the original Internet posts about revolver reliability. Out of 18 people in the class, we had four people experience issues. Both my wheelguns ran fine. I had a K-frame 3" Smith and Wesson Performance Center Model 66 Comp, and a Karl Sokol 2" Model 64. Both guns were well-tested and maintained by me. I was also shooting quality factory-loaded ammo.

    It's a very difficult thing to cram all the lessoned learned from a three-day Instructor class into an Internet sound-bite. Keep that in mind.

    I will also say that the people in that class had all completed the Rangemaster Instructor Development class, and the Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Development Class as a prerequisite just to be there. So there's not a lot of people who were eligible to be in the room.

    That said, not everyone had the same level of experience with revolvers. It was really eye-opening to a lot of folks.

    The point that Tom Givens makes in that class is that a revolver has limited capacity, and will require a gunsmith for repairs. A semi-auto has immediate action drills that one can perform, and has higher capacity.

    For those reasons, I carry a 9mm Beretta Vertec filled with 18 rounds. It's been tuned by Ernest Langdon, and it extremely accurate and reliable.

    BUT - I also have a Smith & Wesson J-frame Model 342 in my left front pocket as I type this. Because they compliment each other very well.

    Ammo was an issue in the class. One shooter had Winchester ammo that had surface grease and/or some other substance on the cases. It caused difficulty with loading and unloading. That person is an extraordinarily skilled revolver shooter, and a friend. They changed ammo, and the gun ran fine.

    Another gun had keyholing - that was not a lockup.

    Two other guns ran European ammo with hard primers. Those two guns had light primer strikes.

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    I'm a sample of one, but I do know this:

    My M&P9 everyday carry gun has never had a jam attributable to the gun. It has failed to go into battery 3 or 4 times, but I was using lead flat point handloads, and the lead smeared on the way in. To be expected running lead loads in a semi, although my round-nose lead bullets have been perfect so far, as have jacketed bullets of all shapes.

    On the other hand, my 686, firing far fewer rounds, had a jam at the range. Cylinder locked up tight. Investigation revealed a tiny piece of jacket got wedged in the cylinder gap. In a situation, I'd have been killed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeriousStudent View Post
    and will require a gunsmith for repairs.
    If the audience is a bunch of Glock guys racking up instructor hours who probably won't shoot more than a few rounds through a J-frame now and again, then that's fair.

    If the prereq to even be in the class is a ton of Instructor Development hours then I would have thought the analogue to the 1911 would have come up. In that, they're really "enthusiast's pistols" and that comes with learning, to some degree, to be your own gunsmith. Which for the newer S&Ws, is easier than it used to be.

    ...
    Two other guns ran European ammo with hard primers. Those two guns had light primer strikes.
    Just out of curiosity do you know if the guns having light strikes had "factory equivalent" spring kits in them? And if they had the firing pin on the hammer or frame?

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    I think this is a fair point. For me, the only revolver worth bothering with is the J-frame. Mine have lasted thousands of rounds and I guess I might send it back to smith if it broke, but honestly I would probably just fork out $350 for a new one and swap over my laser grips.
    it seems to cause some people real emotional anguish not to insist, at every opportunity, no matter how irrelevant to the discussion, that you....

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    Interesting thread. I ran revos in competition for 2 years in the mid-2000's. Local, state, regional and national matches. Lots of practice sessions and LOTS of time customizing gun and gear, maintaining the gun and load development/reloading. Enough that nearly half the wood on my walls is from those two years. First year I ran a Model 19-4 (pinned, not recessed). Next year was a 686-7. Both had their pros and cons.

    I ran autos before and after those years. My experience is that a quality revo in good condition and with limited use will go bang as long as it's left alone. Almost everyone who "tinkers" with one will run into issues eventually if they shoot it enough. Those issues can be tuned away, but some of them require a lot of skill to diagnose and correct.

    Parts for the early S&W guns are becoming quite scarce and most people don't know that it sometimes takes a box full of them just to find one that fits or can even be made to fit. Everything in them goes together so precisely that mating one part at the limit of the tolerances with another part at the opposite limit, is impossible or may require welding and re-cutting to accomplish.

    The later guns (non-forged internals) have far fewer tolerance issues and most parts will fit out of the box. S&W made many process and parts changes to ensure interchangeability, streamline production flow and cut down on reject rates. Unfortunately those guns have lost much of the refinement of the earlier guns, and tolerance stacking creates it's own gremlins. Anyone who's ever experienced "trigger freeze" or a blown speed reload due to "extractor clocking" knows what I'm referring to. And don't even get me started on the frame mounted firing pins and their extremely fragile springs.

    Pretty much anyone can shoot one. Very few can shoot one at a high level. Even fewer know how to keep them running to their peak potential on a sustained basis. Fewer yet know how to fix them properly when they stop working properly. Even if you do all that, it's a rare shooter who can run one at 8/10ths of a similarly skilled auto shooter.

    When I went back to running autos in competition, it was like removing shackles and running free. I didn't have to spend hours and hours and hours modifying, tuning and polishing the gun and gear. I wasn't over at the safe handling area furiously scrubbing chambers every other stage so the reloads would drop. I didn't have to clean the gun after every range session so I could inspect critical areas for fatigue and stress. I didn't have to worry about strain screws and ejector rods backing out, lead buildup on the cylinder face, unburned powder under the extractor star, etc., etc., etc. I just shot, quick scrub and add lube to be ready for the next match. It was EASY.

    I love revolvers as much as the next curmudgeon, but I don't rely on them for defense anymore. I guess I just like easy in my old age.
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    I started as an LEO when wheelguns were the norm. Of course I went thru my first academy with a 1911. Then I became an instructer and armorer. I remember that S&W’s metal frame semi auto armorer school was 40 hours and most of the first day was spent learning to correctly use a file. I never made it to revolver armorer school as it was 80 hours and we were going away from wheel guns. I’m sure others here have attended Glock, SIG, M&P, etc schools which are 4-16 hours, and no filing involved.

    I can’t find fault with the linked article. Revolvers are complicated beasties. They are the opitome of the old addage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Almost every revolver I ever saw malfunction in law enforcement use had been worked on by some one who didn’t know what he didn’t know. I did see revolvers in extremely poor states of maintenance that kept right on shooting thru the fifty or so rounds of a requalification course.

    If we are talking about guns that routinely see high round counts in competition then yes you are going to be contributing to a gunsmith’s kid’s college fund on a regular basis. If you can find said smith.

    I still carry a revolver on occasion, just for old times sake.
    Last edited by Gunnar da Wolf; 11-20-19 at 15:27. Reason: Old age

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