Cylinder Cramping on S&W model 19


Luis Leon
July 10, 2008, 08:18 AM
I have a S&W model 19-5 and am experiencing a hard to rotate cylinder. I been shooting .38 special reloads through it and it had been fine. Yesterday, I chronographed, 20, .357 reloads. 13.4 grains of 2400 over a 158 grain JHP, Average velocity was 968 fps.

I thoroughly cleaned the cylinder, top strap, and crane area and made sure the ejector rod was tight. But am still at a loss as to what to look for. Suggestion/advice/comments welcomed.

best regards,

Luis Leon

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July 10, 2008, 11:27 AM
Look under the extractor star for un-burned powder flakes holding it up slightly.


July 10, 2008, 11:31 AM
Hard to say w/o actually having the gun in hand but I well remember many of the first 66s had an extremely tight cylinder/bbl gap.....When we started qualifying officers way back then we had frequent similar complaints & discovered that lead wash buildup on both the cylinder and bbl face would cause cylinder drag....all it took was a few light file strokes to cure the problem. BUT that was w/the 66 and I don't recall seeing the same issue with an 19....still its worth a cursory check. If you are unsure of what to do I strongly recommend you take it to a competant smith....likely its some small issue.....

July 10, 2008, 11:35 AM
My daughter's 19 got hung up exactly as RC described.

Wouldn't rotate, wouldn't open.

VERY frustrating

July 10, 2008, 01:08 PM
Look under the extractor star for un-burned powder flakes holding it up slightly.



I would go one step further though, and remove the cylinder/yoke assembly from the frame. I would then take those two pieces apart, and clean the cylinder bearing surface on the yoke, as well as it's mating surface inside the cylinder. The easy way to clean those surfaces is just to wipe the barrel of the yoke with an oil rag, put the two together and give the cylinder a good spin or two. Separate the two and repeat the procedure until it's clean.

To remove the cylinder yoke assembly from the gun, remove the sideplate screw that is under the cylinder window in the frame. The cylinder and yoke assembly will then slide forward and out of the gun.

July 10, 2008, 01:13 PM

But don't attempt to take the cylinder / extractor rod assembly apart.

Just work some oil down in it.


July 10, 2008, 02:44 PM
Beware of left handed threads.

Luis Leon
July 10, 2008, 10:24 PM
Thank you gentlemen, I will try the recommendations mentioned, if they don't work. I send her off to Smith & Wesson.


Luis Leon

Tom Servo
July 10, 2008, 11:36 PM
To expound on Virginian's post, make sure the extractor rod is screwed in tight. Bear in mind, it screws in counter-clockwise.

This is also the solution to 94.38% of "my cylinder won't close" complaints.

When cleaning, make sure the area under the extractor star is clean and dry. Oil will heat up and expand under there.

July 11, 2008, 12:18 AM
Great reminder,Tom Servo !!!!!!

July 11, 2008, 12:20 AM
Also, look at the fired primers....are they backing out or cratering after firing? If they are not level or below the primer pocket rim, you have soft primers and need to change brands of ammo or primers. That will lock up a cylinder pretty good. The fact that this doesn't happen with .38s, but does with .357s, suggests fired primers are extruding and binding the cylinder.

Luis Leon
July 11, 2008, 10:42 AM

I did check the primers and they are fine. I checked and tightened the extractor rod and that cured the problem. Thanks again gentlemen for taking the time to reply to my question.

best regards,

Luis Leon

July 11, 2008, 11:28 AM
I had a M10 split the forcing cone on me, common on K frames and especially .357s. It impinged on the cylinder and I was lookin' at the gun like "WTH". But, the problem was rather obvious when I opened the cylinder.

I'm surprised you got the thing to fire if you put that 2400 OVER the bullet. :D That's a light load, but I was shooting .38 wadcutters when the forcing cone split on my M10. Ain't yet figured THAT one out, just bought a heavy barrel new out of a Shotgun News ad and had it installed. It's been shooting fine ever since.

A drop of blue loctite can keep that ejector rod from backing out.

July 11, 2008, 01:55 PM
The area of the forcing cone in the K frame .357s has for a long time been a problem, particularly with the 125 gr. loads. One of the keys is to keep the forcing clone clean of lead build up. Even a small amount of lead in that area will increase pressures there quite a bit and since there is not much material there the cones can split.

What folks have said about the ejector rod and the area under the star extractor is spot on. Over the years I've had several guns bind up due to a bit of unburnt powder getting under the star.


July 12, 2008, 12:22 AM
I had the same problem with a few revolvers. I am shooting a lot of lead and the last gun giving me this problem was a Ruger SP101, it was pretty bad and I could barely turn the cylinder.
I had to clean the cylinder assembly and remove lead and powder residue. It cured the problem, like it did before on my S&W revolvers.

July 12, 2008, 10:47 AM
Try looking at the extractor star for a burr you may need a magnafying glass, a small burr will work against the hand in rotating the cyl, it also could be the B/C gap, hold the gun up to a light and look sideways so you can see the gap between the barrel and cylinder and cycle the gun slowly if the cyl touches the barrel on the problem cyl. if it does you will have to have it fixed by a gunsmith they will usually thread the barrel in deeper and recut the forcing cone to give you the proper gap, common problem on smiths made in the late 70's-80's as quality control was not the best.

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