Smith and Wesson Lock Failures - If You Know of One Post Here Please


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cslinger
September 15, 2007, 01:08 AM
Ok so I have done a cusory search the interweb looking for failures of the Smith and Wesson lock. I have found about eight to ten incidents including those mentioned by Ayoob, as well as the Bane incident.

So if anybody knows any specific instances please post here. If you wouldn't mind post the firearm model and any other specifics. Please leave the politics out of it. I am just curious from a mechanical point of view.

As far as a political point of view I don't think the locks should be forced upon the buyer but I do think they would make a nice OPTION for some folks.

The reason I am asking is because it seems to me that in the whole scheme of things the lock going TU seems to be about as likely as a firing pin breakage, spring failure, crud under the ejector star, ejector star unscrewing slightly etc. All possibly severe failures but all reasonably unlikely in the whole scheme of things.

At any rate I am curious to see how wide spread this is. Yes I know this is VERY VERY UNSCIENTIFIC. Call it an exercise in curiosity.

Once again, please leave the emotion at the door. I am with you on the politics side, as well as the no device is a substitute for training and responsibility.

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Trebor
September 15, 2007, 02:57 AM
Go to the Smith & Wesson forum at www.smith-wessonforum.com and search the archives there. They ran a thread awhile back where people who had personally experienced lock failures posted about their experiences. The details varied from person to person, but some posts had pictures and copies of their communications with S&W. It's up to you to determine how "credible" these first hand accounts are.

For me, even if a mechanical lock failure is unlikely, the mere presence of the lock creates an additional failure mode. That's unacceptable to me in any sort of defensive firearm.

BikerRN
September 15, 2007, 04:52 AM
Jan 2007
S&W Model 22
< 50 Rounds Fired From Gun
Sent back to S&W For Warranty Repair

Sept 2007
No more lock failures, and S&W noted they "changed spring" on paperwork but never admitted to a "lock failure". They also made three other repairs to the firearm at the time. Failure was also induced at the shop where I bought the gun when "dry firing" before sending it back to S&W.
I got the gun back in a couple of weeks from when I sent it in. Since then it's had over 1,000 rounds through it with no failures or malfunctions. In fact, it's my EDC Off-Duty.

Biker

pinkymingeo
September 15, 2007, 05:08 AM
There's no way to come up with meaningful statistics. Checking various forums, I've noted that very often when a S&W revolver has action problems the lock is blamed, even though a description of the problem makes it clear that the lock had nothing to do with it. I'm sure that there have been a few actual failures, but not many. I think anybody who buys a revolver should get some good screwdrivers and a manual. Take the thing apart, and see how it works. While you're at it, you can disable or remove your lock, if you so desire.

sig226
September 15, 2007, 07:31 AM
What is the "Bane incident?" Can anyone post a link?

Rexster
September 15, 2007, 11:59 AM
sig226, the Bane incident is covered right here in this forum.

S&Wfan
September 15, 2007, 12:05 PM
Sure,

Go to: http://michaelbane.blogspot.com/

You'll then have to scroll down until you get to his August 27th entry. To do this you'll scroll to the bottom of his recent blogs, then click on "Older Entries" . . . then scroll again. WHEW!!!!


Here's what he wrote, if you don't want to wade through all the latest blog entries:

Monday, August 27, 2007
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."


http://216.77.188.54/coDataImages/p/Groups/363/363373/folders/277718/2217135Greasefitting.jpg

mec
September 15, 2007, 04:41 PM
here's what happened when a lock-neutral, pro S&W guy responded to a challenge in ref: lock malfunctions:

If you know of such an incident, with a real person who can be contacted or a real posting that can be verified, say so; otherwise shut up, already

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=206447&highlight=S%26W
and scroll down.
He had no negative agenda before the lock self engaged after falling off a table and no reason to write fiction about "THE SUBJECT."

fastbolt
September 15, 2007, 05:48 PM
Other referenced recent thread ...
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=298904&page=4

I haven't had any personal experiences where the ILS unintentionally engaged, and I've fired several revolvers equipped with them, from J-frames to X-frames. Nor have I observed any problems while watching them being fired.

I've previously been told by some folks at the factory that they've been unable to duplicate reported failures on revolvers sent back for warranty with claims of unintentional lock engagement. The possibility of improper assembly has been raised as a potential cause, and having looked at the locking arms, itty bitty torque lock springs and how the longer leg of the spring has to be properly positioned in the frame, I can see how care must be taken during assembly. I had to use my bench's magnifying lamp to really see the torque lock spring while fitting it in the lock arm. :what:

I've also been told that at least a couple of other mechanical problems had been mistakenly presumed to be lock-related on revolvers that have been returned for repair. Not surprising, since folks often mistake causes of problems, and even 'problems' in everything from computers to cars & trucks when bringing things in for repair.

I've been wanting to attend one of the DAO J-frame armorer's classes sometime. I thought it was interesting that the DAO J-frames have become so increasingly popular that S&W has created a 2-day LE armorer's class for them. I'll certainly have questions about any reported failures, especially in LE use, if I can get to one of the classes. ;)

FWIW, my new MP340 has only had upwards of 300+ rounds fired through it, with approx 100+ of it being various Magnum loads. This has occurred in the hands of myself and a handful of the other instructors (why suffer through test-firing all those Magnum loads myself when I can get someone else to help shoot them? ;) :neener: ). No unintentional lock engagement to date, although I've identified at least a couple of Magnum loads which exhibited bullet-jump in MY gun, and which I won't be using in my gun.

I plan on using this 340 for the bulk of my J-frame training & practice. That's why I bought it, since it had the lightweight, stronger Scandium aluminum frame, as well as the stainless steel cylinder. I thought I'd try wear it out by shooting it more than my all my other J-frames (older 649 Bodyguard, 642-1 & a 37-2).

I'll say one thing, shooting .357 magnum out of the MP340 makes shooting standard pressure loads out of my 37, and +P loads out of my 649 & 642, seem downright tolerable. :eek: Well, my trigger finger's distal joint still gets hammered by the rising trigger guard (during recoil) when shooting a lot of +P in my 642. ;)

FWIW, while I'm certainly not an engineer or a licensed gunsmith ... nor do I work for S&W ... I've also wondered about some of the reported instances of a very lightweight revolver chambered in a hard-recoiling caliber somehow being the result of a narrow range of events and circumstances. Such as an ultra light .44 revolver being fired with heavy recoiling Magnum loads, in the hands of someone who may allow the gun to roll back into their hand (rather than forcefully holding the gun and resisting the recoil impulse).

I've also wondered if the strength of the torque lock spring might not be increased to prevent such potential instances in a few of the lighter weight, harder recoiling models/calibers, to resist any bouncing of the lock arm under the heavy recoil. Just wondering on my part.

I sometimes wonder how close to the edge of reasonable human and mechanical interaction we're approaching with these really super lightweight revolvers ... :eek:

W.E.G.
September 15, 2007, 06:22 PM
Can't this stupid lock just be removed?

We've been removing magazine disconnects for decades. Why even put up with this sort of crap on a revolver?

SaxonPig
September 15, 2007, 08:10 PM
Remove it? Some do. I wouldn't for liability concerns. A lawyer (prosecutor or civil attorney or both) would eat you for breakfast in court if the gun were ever involved in a shooting. Many dismiss the possibility of being prosecuted or sued for removing a safety device (that's what the jury would be told it was) on a gun. I live with a lawyer and do not dismiss the REALITY of this happening.

I have never had the lock fail. I have never seen a S&W lock fail. I have heard of a few instances and all it seems to me involved light weight guns (like the scandium models) in hard-kicking calibers.

Any mechanical device can malfunction. The lock problem seems very small... unless it happens to you when you really need your gun to work.

DrLaw
September 15, 2007, 08:39 PM
SaxonPig
I live with a lawyer and do not dismiss the REALITY of this happening.

How sad.

The Doc is out now. :rolleyes::cool:

Troutman
September 16, 2007, 07:27 AM
<<Many dismiss the possibility of being prosecuted or sued for removing a safety device (that's what the jury would be told it was) on a gun.>>

First of all, the “internal lock” is NOT a “SAFETY” device. Let’s not lead anyone into thinking that it’s a secure way, to go about it, as far as “safety” is concerned, for any firearm for that matter, with an internal lock.
No where in the S&W manual, does it state this.
THE INTERNAL LOCK….MECHANISM…. TO SECURE
YOUR FIREARM FROM UNAUTHORIZED USE.
This is the sole use of the internal lock. Not as a safety device.

http://www.smith-wesson.com/wcsstore/SmWesson/upload/other/Revolver.pdf

Warnings are pulled out of context. See pages 16-18 of above pdf.


INTERNAL LOCK
MECHANISM
WARNING: NEVER RELY ON THE INTERNAL LOCK
MECHANISM AS THE SOLE METHOD TO SECURE
YOUR FIREARM FROM UNAUTHORIZED USE.

WARNING: IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO CONTINUOUSLY
EXAMINE YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION
TO PROVIDE A SUFFICIENT LEVEL OF SECURITY
TO KEEP UNAUTHORIZED USERS FROM FIRING
THE REVOLVER.

WARNING: NEVER LOCK A LOADED HANDGUN,
NEVER LOAD A LOCKED HANDGUN AND NEVER
LOCK THE HANDGUN WITH THE HAMMER COCKED.

WARNING: ALWAYS OPEN THE CYLINDER AND
VERIFY THE REVOLVER IS UNLOADED AND EACH
CHARGE HOLE IS EMPTY BEFORE UNLOCKING THE
REVOLVER.

WARNING: NEVER ATTEMPT TO DETERMINE
WHETHER A REVOLVER IS LOCKED OR UNLOCKED
BY PULLING THE TRIGGER.

WARNING: NEVER ASSUME THAT THE USE OF
THIS LOCK IS SUFFICIENT TO SAFELY SECURE
YOUR FIREARM. IT IS YOUR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
TO SELECT AND USE WHATEVER MEASURES
OR PRACTICES THAT WILL ENABLE YOU
TO BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT YOUR
FIREARM IS SECURE AT ALL TIMES.

WARNING: NEVER PROVIDE THE KEY OR
REVEAL THE LOCATION OF THE KEY TO ANYONE
WHOM YOU DO NOT INTEND TO USE THIS
HANDGUN.

WARNING: ALWAYS RECOVER FROM A SITUATION
WHERE THE REVOLVER HAS BEEN INCORRECTLY
LOCKED WITH THE HAMMER COCKED BY FOLLOWING
THESE STEPS. THROUGHOUT THIS PROCEDURE,YOU
MUST TREAT THE REVOLVER AS IF IT WERE LOADED.
1. WITH YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER AND OUT OF
THE TRIGGER GUARD, PLACE THE THUMB OF YOUR
SHOOTING HAND ON THE HAMMER AND PULL FULLY
REARWARD TO ENSURE THE HAMMER IS IN THE FULLY
COCKED POSITION.
2. WITH YOUR FINGER STILL OFF THE TRIGGER AND OUT
OF THE TRIGGER GUARD AND THE REVOLVER POINTED IN
A SAFE DIRECTION, UNLOCK THE LOCK USING THE KEY
PROVIDED.
3. FOLLOW THE DECOCKING PROCEDURE TO DECOCK
THE REVOLVER. ALWAYS ASSUME THE REVOLVER IS
LOADED WHILE FOLLOWING THIS PROCEDURE.
4. OPEN THE CYLINDER AND VERIFY THE REVOLVER IS
UNLOADED.

WARNING: IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO
ENSURE THAT THE REVOLVER AND AMMUNITION
ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO UNAUTHORIZED USERS.

WARNING: ALWAYS INSPECT YOUR REVOLVER
VISUALLY TO BE SURE THE HAMMER AND TRIGGER
ARE IN THE AT REST OR
FORWARD POSITION BEFORE
HOLSTERING OR CARRYING IT.
NEVER HOLSTER, CARRY OR
STORE YOUR REVOLVER WITH
THE HAMMER COCKED.
REMEMBER TO KEEP YOUR
REVOLVER POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION. NEVER LEAVE
A LOADED FIREARM UNATTENDED.


So…..leaves the question. What is the “INTERNAL LOCK
MECHANISM for? Storage?

p.s. I own two….excuse me, three S&W btw, a 29-2(pre-lock) and a 460 and 500. And the 460 and 500 never gave me a problem. But that’s beside the point. And if this post makes me an enemy of S&W (or any other company, that uses the internal lock), so be it.

Diggers
September 16, 2007, 06:40 PM
I am always skeptical about the idea that there will be legal issues for things like removing a lock or using reloads IF a SD situation occurs. First of all, if a SD shooting is justified then the person protecting them self will not be prosecuted.

Second if for some reason a person does end up in court for some reason, ANY even half way decent lawyer would be able to shoot down any issues around removal of a lock that is irrelevant to the issue of the SD shooting.

And what about changing to lighter springs in a revolver? People do that all the time and no one ever says anything about the possible legal issues there. And the change of springs really seems more relevant to a shooting incident if some one wanted to make an issue out of it.

I know anything can happen in a court room and a lot has to do with the jury, but I really think that the fear of being prosecuted in a justified SD shooting is an urban myth.

But by all means, if there really are cases out there I would very much like to read them and learn from them.

Trebor
September 16, 2007, 10:52 PM
There's more then just worrying about civil liability related to a justified self defense shooting.

Consider what would happen if someone deliberately removed or disabled the lock and then that firearm was found by a child or unauthorized person who accidently shot themselves with the gun. I'm sure you can seen how the owner's deliberate removal of the lock would hang him in court.

Gary A
September 16, 2007, 11:20 PM
If someone leaves a loaded firearms where a child can get it, they have other things to worry about in court beyond disabling the ILS. They're gonna get hammered in any case.

jeff-10
September 17, 2007, 12:19 AM
I really don't mind the lock but a lot of long time S&W fans despise it. They outta add the option to purchse revolvers without it or move it to the hammer so you can change it out with a "target" hammer or something. Similiar to Taurus's design. I really doubt it hurts S&W's bottom line as the majority of there customers are probably non-gun ppl (who buy revolvers for home defense) and don't care one way or the other about it.

Fburgtx
September 17, 2007, 12:37 AM
Why don't they pay Taurus a licensing fee (like they pay Glock for ripping off some of their tech and using it on the Sigma) to use the Taurus lock design, which is OBVIOUSLY a better design?? (And,if Taurus would ever get off their keisters and spend about $20 on each gun improving fit/finish/trigger pull, would S and W even sell very many revolvers to non-collectors???)

Troutman
September 21, 2007, 02:42 PM
<<Consider what would happen if someone deliberately removed or disabled the lock and then that firearm was found by a child or unauthorized person who accidently shot themselves with the gun. I'm sure you can seen how the owner's deliberate removal of the lock would hang him in court.>>

Being fair. And open-minded.
I see your point and agree with you. The thing is. The lock has to be used (locked position). Otherwise, it’s as if the lock never existed. One has to be disciplined to do that, in those situations. That’s if they do load the firearm. Whether this is a good thing or bad is up for discussion. That is loading the gun, and then locking it. Some gun owners do keep guns loaded (talking in terms of keeping them in the home) and stashed away, in a draw, let’s say. Where, one can just use the master lock (cable lock) and keep it unloaded. One has to realize that there is give and take (for defense, as well as safety), to this condition while at the home.
Let’s face it. The reason why gun companies (which I don’t blame them for doing it) put those warnings in the manual (see post 13) is for liability concerns. After being blackmailed (with lawsuits) from the political platform (let’s leave lawyers, out of it), can see being gun-shy about it. That is, claiming it’s a “safety” device. If anything, their saying, DON’T use it as a safety device. Or let me be fair a “pseudo” safety device? For those that think otherwise, Turkey-buzzard, ambulance chasing, carpet-bagging lawyers would love to have gun companies commit to it as a safety device, per say.
The gun with the lock, in the “locked” position, while loaded, is not any more dangerous, or safer, then in the “un-locked” position, while loaded. Looking at those warnings! If there are cases where (IL) it does lock up. There is a possibility that the lock (locked position) can be un-locked by accident as well.
Not using the lock, can it make a bad situation, into a worse situation? Of course.
Here is a real world situation:

http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/latestnews/stories/wfaa070919_mo_lockdown.f2c8ae7d.html

I don’t know if it had an IL or not? If it did? Was the IL in the locked position? Bottom line…one thing for sure…...good thing it was not loaded.

Using the IL is not a “get out of jail free” card either.
I would not 100% rely on the lock (locked position) for that condition (loaded gun) either. Don’t get too comfortable with that idea…! I say.
The other thing, it’s not only the gun-banners that make claims against gun companies, also gun owners as well. We are in a sue-happy generation, as I’ll put it. Even if it’s not legit lawsuits. Or trying to pass the buck! Look at television, commercials, those media-happy, polyester suit wearing, scraping the bottom of the barrel lawyers will have you suing your own mother and father for any grievances you have with them.
The IL is (to me) a LAST DITCH RESORT, for CHILD SAFETY or unauthorized user. Not only for the gun-owner, the gun companies as well. Condition being, wanting a loaded gun to keep handy, while being safe? Keeping in mind.

1) IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO CONTINUOUSLY
EXAMINE YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION
TO PROVIDE A SUFFICIENT LEVEL OF SECURITY
TO KEEP UNAUTHORIZED USERS FROM FIRING
THE REVOLVER.

And

2) IT IS YOUR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
TO SELECT AND USE WHATEVER MEASURES
OR PRACTICES THAT WILL ENABLE YOU
TO BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT YOUR
FIREARM IS SECURE AT ALL TIMES

I will leave you with one more real world situation. To learn from?

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/collin/plano/stories/092107dnmetlatebrief.37a0b49.html

Don’t know the details?
Can an IL (locked position) have benefited? (Let’s say if the B.G. used the gun on them, other than for intimidation purposes)
Whether or not it had an IL lock, just un-load it while away from the home?

Me……Lock or no lock? See 1) and 2).

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