My S&W 25-5 Broke!


July 7, 2003, 11:29 PM
Halfway through my vacation to Las Vegas, we were up in Ogden, Utah, shooting at the Impact Guns indoor range. I was using Magtech, Black Hills, Georgia Arms, and Winchester Silvertips ammo.

On one chamber, the round doesn't fire. Observing the cartridge, the firing pin struck the primer off-center and failed to ignite it. Also, after this chamber, the trigger would occasionally get stuck back with the hammer down.

I'm at a loss. It's never done this before, and the weapon had been cleaned and lubed. It consistently failed to fire on one chamber, and I have no idea what to do. I bought it used and there are no gunsmiths in my area. Looks like I'm going to have to send it back to Smith and Wesson for a non-warranty repair.

So what's wrong? Any ideas?

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July 8, 2003, 01:07 AM
I would guess something happened to the hand or the ejector star. Open up the cylinder, look at the "star" shaped part on the back of the cylinder. I would guess one of the points that the hand pushes against (the hand is the silver part that comes out of the breach face and turns the cylinder) broke off or sheared off a small corner. Or, the hand is worn, chipped, bent etc. That would cause the trigger to hang up too as the hand is getting into a bind against the extractor star. Either way, unless you are very confident, get it to a gunsmith or the factory. I would suggest you stop shooting it, if one of those rounds goes off while the cylinder is out of battery, it could cause some damage to the forcing cone, along with other things.

July 8, 2003, 03:54 PM
Could this be what's known as a "timing problem", possibly? It works fine in single action mode, but in DA mode that one cylinder doesn't want to fire.

July 9, 2003, 12:47 AM

Been thinking. There doesn't seem to be anything mechanically wrong with the weapon. I can't think of any way that the firing pin would strike the primer off center on only one chamber, given that the chambers are all a fixed distance from one another.

I'm thinking that maybe I had used too much lube on the weapon, and that oil had baked on upon firing, making a small heap of burned crap on the breechface, causing the round to set off-center. I noticed that another one of the cylinders got so full of this burned goop that the round wouldn't go in all the way.

I'm thinking that I'm not going to use that Outers gun oil anymore. I thought it would be better for a blued gun than CLP, but CLP doesn't solidify when heated....

I'll take the weapon out shooting one more time to see if the problem persists.

July 9, 2003, 03:15 AM
OK should we assume that you don't know how to take the gun apart or that you know but don't have the tools with you?

Anyway lets check the hand spring:
1) Unloaded gun
2) Open cylinder
3) now with one hand pull the cylinder back and cock the hammer while watching the hand.
4) the hand should have moved from the bottom up about 85 percent of the way to the top and then down about 5 percent or so. Now at this point the long top portion of the hand should be about flush or just sticking out a fraction from the right side of the blast shield. The main body of the hand should be a little below the indented portion of the shield.
5) Now we check for spring tension: - With one hand push the cylinder latch all the way to the rear and hold it there. With your other hand push in the revolvers hand with a tip of a pen or toothpick etc. It should take about maybe 4 oz. It should move back about 1/16 - 1/8 inch or so and then spring right back when you let up on the toothpick. Do this a few times.
6) If good so far we have a working handspring we hope.

7) before you do any more live shooting point the gun up and work in double action slowly. Watch the cylinder locking bolt from the side and make sure that it is slipping into the cylinder notches on all chambers before the hammer falls. Do this slowly and with your thumb on the hammer to slow the action down to a crawl. You don't need the hammer to fall all the way. You should both feel and hear a click as the cylinder locks up. You might even hear a prior minor click preceding the final click. But the important point is that at this point with your trigger all the way back
and thumb softly holdly the hammer the cylinder must be at full lockup or the gun is dangerous. It is probably dangerous anyway but lets see if you get this far.


July 9, 2003, 03:32 AM
E357, I do appreciate the advice. However, you think you could've been a little more condescending? Yeesh. But NO, I don't know how to disassemble a S&W revolver. The 25-5 was my first revolver and it came with no manual.

And YES, I did "get that far" following the instructions for your examination. Again, there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with the weapon.

In any case, the hand seems fine. There is no discernable difference in appearance, feel, or function than the one on my M57, which is still in working order. The first thing I did when the weapon malfunctioned was to make sure the cylinder was locking up properly, and it is. As I said, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong mechanically with the weapon. I've dry fired it quite a bit, and nothing unusual has happened since my last shooting session.

Even during the last shooting session, after the malfunction started, it functioned fine in single action mode and while it was consistent in the malfuction in DA mode, it didn't do it with every single cylinder.

Hence my theory that it may have been gunk from too much lube getting baked on, or something.

July 9, 2003, 04:02 AM
Sorry no offense please, you said you were on vacation and I don't know if you brought tools or anything about you. You edited post about nothing wrong mechanically arrived as I was editing mine and I did not see it.

I think I understand how my wording of "Did you get that far" etc. bothered you. I meant and should have written "did your revolver get that far".


July 9, 2003, 06:10 AM
Did you check if the cylinder-stop comes up right on the chamber in question?
I had a problem with a M15 where the trigger did not reset positively because of the spring on the stop and some rough spots on its front.

If the cylinder is locked, the firing pin cannot hit off-center, so better check this out. The stop is the little steel that grips into the notches of the cylinder as the hammer is back.

If the hand would be worn/too short, the cylinder would not rotate far enough for the stop to come up into the notch.

July 9, 2003, 07:57 AM
might want to wait till ya get home to do this...

Sounds like the first thing you need to do is break it all the way down and give it a good cleaning under the sideplate and the nooks and crannies.
I doubt if that ole N-frame has ever been cleaned inside and out since it left the factory. Smith's don't need it too often, but they aren't immune to it either.

Years of hardened lubes can turn to varnish and gum things up pretty solid, some worse than others. Mixing different based chemicals can also wreak havoc on things. Since this is an older second hand item, you don't know 100% of what's been used on/in it. I've seen some real messes of chewing-gum type stuff caused by different *reagents reacting with each other.

I had a gunsmith tell me one time that the majority of his work fixing broken guns involved nothing more than cleaning them.

Hey, enjoy Vegas! It's like nowhere else in the world!

*reagents are the carriers oils and lubes sometimes use to make them flow.

July 9, 2003, 03:22 PM
I'm actually home now.

Okay, so how do I take it apart to inspect the insides?

July 9, 2003, 03:45 PM
If you remove the grips and remove the 3 sideplate screws. Tap a little bit with a screwdriver handle to loosen the sideplate and it will lift out. There should be one loose part, a hammer block that sits on a pin on the rebound slide IIRC. and works in a channel in the sideplate. Without further disassembly, blow out the mechanism with Gunscrubber in a well ventilated area (outside). Work the hammer back and forth while spraying to get all the nooks and crannies clean as a hound's tooth. The stuff will evaporate in a minute or two. if you coat everything with Breakfree CLP and put a little grease on the bearing surfaces I wouldn't be surprised if the difficulty disappeared. Best of luck!

July 9, 2003, 06:58 PM
Well, I just took the sideplate off and blasted the guts of the revolver with Gunscrubber. I examined the internals thoroughly, checking for function. There does not seem to be anything actually broken, damaged, bent, or out of place. The revolver functions fine, and, in fact, when it was malfunctioning, still functioned fine, except that one chamber didn't fire.

I have no idea. Since nothing's broken, I'm not going to spend the money to send it back to Smith and Wesson. (Though I eventually want to get it rebarrelled to 4".) I'll take it with me next time I go shooting, and see what's what. It's possible that being in my trunk in some of the very hot places we were at during the trip, combined with not having been cleaned and too much lube, caused some of that Outers oil to bake on there and gum up the works, or something.


Thanks for the help, at any rate.

4v50 Gary
July 9, 2003, 11:29 PM
I'm wondering if the hand wasn't properly fitted to one notch in the star ejector. If the hand is stuck in the upward position, the trigger is all the way back and cannot return to its position of rest. That would also explain the off center primer strike since the hand rotates the cylinder into position for firing (movement is arrested by cylinder stop). The hand may not have rotated it enough too.

Get some snap caps and load w/6. DA for about 50x with right hand. Then DA the same for left. See if you can get 100 DAO rotations w/out a hiccup.

Make sure the ejector is clean & same for the hand. If you've got the sideplate off, snap it (DAO w/snap caps) and watch. Be sure to put thumb pressure near the base of the hand so it (or the rebound slide) doesn't start working its way out (but not too much such you bind it).

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