S&W cleaning


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Jim_100
July 2, 2008, 03:09 PM
Recently a friend sat down at my cabin table after shooting his Smith & Wesson revolver. He proceded to unscrew and remove the side plate.(to clean in there) I asked about this and he said he did this every time he shot the thing. I have had my model 66 for fifteen years and have never removed the side cover and it works fine all the time. Should I be removing this plate?

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machinisttx
July 2, 2008, 03:26 PM
No! The sideplate almost never requires removal. If it's a hard use gun, I could see pulling the plate at regular intervals to clean dust/grit/powder out but otherwise it needs to stay on the gun.

Your friend isn't doing anything good for his S&W.

OFT
July 2, 2008, 04:42 PM
I pull the sideplates about once every four or five years to clean & lube. If I should drop the gun in water or dirt then I would clean inside. I do pull the sideplate and take a look when I buy a new gun just to see if it's clean inside before firing it.

rcmodel
July 2, 2008, 05:17 PM
Nothing to speak of gets inside a S&W just from shooting it.

If they are carried / used in dirt & dust, they will eventually need a through cleaning.

But the innerds of a S&W are not normally considered "owner serviced" parts.

rcmodel

.38 Special
July 2, 2008, 06:45 PM
What they said. I'd say once year at most, more like 5-10 years for most of us. Your friend is doing far more harm than good.

gsw-survivor
July 2, 2008, 07:26 PM
Properly removing the sideplate for cleaning will not harm the gun in any way and should be done on occasion to clean dried oil and other gunk and to properly re-oil the parts.

.38 Special
July 2, 2008, 07:30 PM
Even loosening and tightening a screw -- let alone removing and replacing a carefully fitted part like a revolver sideplate -- will, over time, wear it. This is not an issue when it's done every year or so, but it is when it's done weekly.

Brian Williams
July 2, 2008, 08:32 PM
I do remove the sideplate, properly, when I first receive a S&W, Heck I detail strip just about every gun I get.
But the key thing is to remove the side plate properly.
First remove theGrips
Second remove the screws from the side plate WITH A PROPER SCREWDRIVER.
Third, While holding the frame around the cylinder, using a firm mallet, hit the side of the grip frame on the same side as the sideplate.
Inertia will pop the sideplate right out.

FullEffect1911
July 2, 2008, 08:34 PM
i took the plate off of a used S&W i just bought, just to check things out. It was pristine so I put some light oil in there and closed it back up. Short of dropping the thing in a pond it will likely never be taken off again.

TonyB
July 2, 2008, 08:36 PM
last time I tried something like that I frigged up the ejector rod and had to send it off to smith and wesson...lesson learned....just regular care and cleaning for me....I'm not a gunsmith....

RonC133
July 2, 2008, 09:10 PM
Really. I did not know that S&Ws were made out of such delicate metal. I thought they were made of steel. If the sideplate wears from removal (assuming you do not pry it off with a big screwdriver and ding or bend it,) I don't see how you can damage or wear the metal enough to even notice. If it really is that delicate, maybe we should all get Rugers. I hear they are indestructible.

Likewise, using an aluminum or grass cleaning rod. With the available angle of attack even cleaning from the muzzle end, I don't see how you can damage hard steel with soft brass.

But there is a cottage industry out there with bore protectors/alignment tools. So I must be crazy/stupid/uninformed/wrong.

The Bushmaster
July 3, 2008, 10:53 AM
Nope RonC133. You are not wrong. I have a couple of rifles and handguns that are almost as old as me and they get cleaned every time they are fired with aluminum and brass rods (just replaced all my aluminum rods with anew set of brass). They all shoot as good if not better now as the did when they were new. With that said...I don't remove the side plates of any of my hand guns because I have never found any dirt or powder residue in there. I do, however, remove the side plates about once in 3 to 5 years just to change the oil (I use artillery grease).

Rugerlvr
July 3, 2008, 11:41 AM
S&Ws were made out of such delicate metal. I thought they were made of steel.

Well, some are aluminum (airweights) and some are scandium (airlites?)

Anyway, I wouldn't want to be unscrewing the side plate on my airweight every time I shot it. Pretty soon the aluminum threads would be stripped by the steel screws, and the gun would be destroyed.

RonC133
July 3, 2008, 12:19 PM
Whew. Thanks Bushmaster.

I don't take sideplates off either. I am a bit lazy and live by "if it ain't broke, don't waste time fixin' it." I just didn't see how taking the side plate off of a steel framed gun would cause enough wear to be a problem.

Another time saver that works for me. "If it ain't worth doin', it ain't worth doin' well."

Cheers.

orionengnr
July 3, 2008, 12:50 PM
Likewise, using an aluminum or grass cleaning rod.

Where do you get a grass cleaning rod? Do you make them yourself? :)

davidconatser
July 3, 2008, 01:31 PM
I just wipe the gun down with a clean cloth and run the bore snake down the barrel and cylinders then wipe it down with a Tuf-Cloth at the range every time.

Cleaning quickly keeps it passably clean and so I only do a thorough cleaning once or twice a month.

I do not remove the side plate, but I do remove the yoke and clean the cylinder bearing area whenever it is not rotating as smoothly as it should.

Recently I waited one range session too long to do that, and had a hard time getting the cylinder off the yoke. The cylinder would rotate, but not as freely, but it did not slide off easily. I soaked the cylinder/yoke assembly overnight in a jar of Hoppe's and then was able to work it free. Lead had built up. I shoot 158 grain SWCHPs. Remington, Winchester or Georgia Arms.

It may not be as much of a problem with jacketed ammunition, but from now on I will clean the yoke whenever it does not spin really smoothly.

Master Blaster
July 3, 2008, 02:35 PM
posted this a couple months ago:

Took the sideplate of my 642 centenial, big surprise inside

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Took the side plate off my 642, lock goes Bye Bye

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Today for the first time since I bought my 642, I took off the sideplate.

I removed the lock flag/ locking piece, so no more internal lock. I carry this gun almost every day in a pocket holster, been carrying it for almost 4 years now. shot a couple thousand rounds through it in practice, and never took off the side plate to clean it. Instead I have put a couple drops of oil in it from time to time. I found out a couple things that surprised me. For starters I expected to see a bunch of dirt, lint and dried oil in it. Well it was clean as a whistle with just a hint of the FP10 I have been using to lube it!!!

I discovered that this gun lacks the hammer block safety, I supose it makes sense since the hammer is internal, and the rebound slide performs the safety function. That means its a really bad idea to reduce the trigger return spring on this gun!!!!

The lock flag which is completely internal came right out, but the other parts wouldn't budge, the bushing that holds the cam is pressed very securely into the frame of the 642.

I reassmbled the gun and dry fired it and all looks good.

Rather than risk creating a mess with grease, I sprayed the internals with remington dry lube, and will add a drop of oil or two as I have done in the past.

My gun is now lock free.

machinisttx
July 3, 2008, 04:21 PM
Really. I did not know that S&Ws were made out of such delicate metal. I thought they were made of steel. If the sideplate wears from removal (assuming you do not pry it off with a big screwdriver and ding or bend it,) I don't see how you can damage or wear the metal enough to even notice. If it really is that delicate, maybe we should all get Rugers. I hear they are indestructible.

Likewise, using an aluminum or grass cleaning rod. With the available angle of attack even cleaning from the muzzle end, I don't see how you can damage hard steel with soft brass.

But there is a cottage industry out there with bore protectors/alignment tools. So I must be crazy/stupid/uninformed/wrong.

The sideplate is very finely fitted, and it's not nearly as hard as you think it is. From what I have seen, most carbon steel firearm parts are in the 40's on the Rockwell C scale. The issue of wear isn't so much with the sideplate, it's with the screw threads, and the threads in the frame. Every time you tighten a screw, you stretch the threads a tiny bit. You're also stretching the threads in the mating part.

As far as cleaning, multi piece rods will damage the crown and the bore. One piece solid rods can pick up grit, which then acts like sandpaper on any surface it comes into contact with.

My uncle has an original 1873 Winchester in 32-20, which belonged to my great grandfather. I asked him once about shooting it, to which he replied that you'd be lucky to hit a 5 gallon bucket twice at 25 yards. I inspected the rifle and found that the muzzle is egged out, and there is no rifling for the last inch or so of the barrel. Poor cleaning technique ruined the barrel and removed that last inch of rifling.

.38 Special
July 3, 2008, 06:39 PM
And of course, a key word is "proper" removal. I think one of the reasons old hands shudder a bit at the thought of removing the sideplate after every firing is that we've all see guns with buggered-up screw heads and dinged sideplates. It only takes one mistake to permanently damage a good revolver, and the more often you perform a moderately delicate operation, the worse your odds of getting away with it. I just don't understand why anyone would take that risk with a totally unnecessary practice.

TOGGLELOCK
July 3, 2008, 09:43 PM
What is this fascination with disassembly of revolvers and pistols? Believe me, I've attended the S&W Revolvers Armorer School twice. You don't need to detail strip these S&W's. If you take off the grips and dunk the assembly in Low Odor Mineral Spirits and brush with a Paint Brush. Then lubricate the action parts. That's about all the "detailed cleaning" you need. Leave these screws and sideplates alone. The guns don't need any disassembly unless you need to replace worn parts! TOGGLELOCK

papajohn
July 4, 2008, 03:28 AM
Because we like to tinker with our toys, that's why! ;)

I used to take off the sideplates every few months to inspect and lube, now I don't bother unless the action feels gummy. I'm either smarter or lazier, take your pick!

PJ

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