s&w 642 problems please help


PDA






xtralogic
May 5, 2009, 12:50 AM
Was wondering if the smith airweight j-frames have any problems with light strikes from the hammer..my friend and I had 5 out of a box of 50 rounds (.38)...then the range officer let us try his airweight .357 and his had a light primer strike...we were using different ammo with his j-frame...need some info please because i really want one but i thought this was very odd...

If you enjoyed reading about "s&w 642 problems please help" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
ArchAngelCD
May 5, 2009, 04:32 AM
I have 4 S&W J frame revolvers and none have problems with "light strikes" on primers. (and one of the J frames is a M642) Unless someone played with the works that shouldn't happen. If someone did play around inside the works like shortening the springs or something else like that, then you will have problems.

Madcap_Magician
May 5, 2009, 11:07 AM
I have had that issue with my 642, but it is a rare occurrence and only seems to occur with the cheapest (relatively, of course) of ammo. A second strike on the same rounds fires about 3/4 of the time, but out of 250 rounds of Blazer 158-gr. LRN, I had about three rounds that refused to fire consistently. I do think it was an ammo issue.

Spartacus451
May 5, 2009, 11:13 AM
With factory springs it usually isn't an issue. However I always use Federal ammo and primers with revos because their primers are more sensitive. j-frames aren't the best ignition wise but they should be reliable with factory springs.

Hawk
May 5, 2009, 11:19 AM
The issue has come up often enough that a minor cottage industry has sprung up around extended travel frame mounted firing pins.

Here's one. I believe there's at least one other.
http://www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/productdetail.aspx?p=5483&st=extended%20firing%20pin&s=

Old Fuff
May 5, 2009, 11:35 AM
Springs are an obvious concern, and should be checked out first - especially if the revolver in question was purchased used. Next, check (or have a gunsmith check) for excessive headspace and case-head clearence as well as cylinder endshake.

A longer firing pin shouldn't be necessary. If it is it will cure the problem, but not the cause of it in the first place.

If the cause isn't obvious, the best solution is to send it back to Smith & Wesson to have it checked out. If you contact the Customer Service Department they'll send you a shipping label and the costs will be on their dime. It's better to have it done right, then just to have it done. ;)

Hawk
May 5, 2009, 11:52 AM
Hey, Fuff:

On a "Gee, I wonder if that would work ..." sort of question - what's your take on the liklihood that one of those extended travel firing pins would suddenly make a stock sprung 325 run without clips?

/hijack

Clarence
May 5, 2009, 11:55 AM
I have heard of failures to fire, but only on guns that have been tinkered with.

I've got a little over 800 rounds through my 642 with nary a problem. I trust my life with it.

ArmedBear
May 5, 2009, 11:57 AM
Never had any such problems with mine, either. That doesn't mean yours doesn't have a problem. Could be springs, could be a firing pin a few thousandths too short, or other such worn out or slightly-out-of-spec parts.

What kind of ammo?

It is possible for the primers to be seated too deeply, though that's hard to do with most primers (some primers, and some cases, aren't to-spec, though). It is also possible for primers to protrude from the brass slightly, causing some revolvers to bind. It doesn't take more than a few thousandths either way, to cause problems.

Old Fuff
May 5, 2009, 12:11 PM
Hawk:

It might, but the real problem is that S&W's super CNC machines don't always get the chamber lengths right, and a rimless cartridge headspaces on the case at the front. This by the way is one reason I prefer rimmed cartridges in revolvers.

In your particular model 325, use a feeler gauge to check the distance between the case head and breech face on each chamber, using a new factory cartridge and no clip. It should be uniform, and about .006". Another factor is clips (especially full-moon clips) that don't lay flat, or are so tight that the rim doesn't seat against the clip. In either case the clip malfunction will absorb some of the firing pin's energy, and cause a mis-fire.

Racinbob
May 6, 2009, 04:52 PM
My first guess, like several others, is the mainspring has been changed. I like to tinker with different springs but never on my carry 442. The J frames are quite sensitive to a light main. Now that my 82 vintage model 60 is no longer my carry I did go ahead and put a 15# rebound and 8# main in it. Along with a bit of smoothing up it has the sweetest trigger I've ever had on a J. It hasn't missed a beat but I'd still NEVER do it to a carry. A 14# rebound and type 2 (reduced) in my 66 (also 82 vintage) has made my range buddies drool. Again, never to a carry piece. You can try putting stock springs in yours and see if that helps. I'm betting it will.

rcmodel
May 6, 2009, 04:58 PM
S&W apparently shipped a bunch with short firing pins a year or two ago.

I was at Cabala's last year and two different people returned brand new J-Frames with mis-fire problems.

Both had the "new & improved" frame mounted firing pins.

Used to be unheard of with the old style hammer mounted FP.

rc

fastbolt
May 6, 2009, 04:59 PM
A longer firing pin shouldn't be necessary. If it is it will cure the problem, but not the cause of it in the first place.

If the cause isn't obvious, the best solution is to send it back to Smith & Wesson to have it checked out. If you contact the Customer Service Department they'll send you a shipping label and the costs will be on their dime. It's better to have it done right, then just to have it done.

Ditto what he said.

Fixing a potential symptom of an underlying problem is not the same thing as properly identifying and correcting the actual problem.

my friend and I had 5 out of a box of 50 rounds (.38)...then the range officer let us try his airweight .357 and his had a light primer strike...we were using different ammo with his j-frame...

What ammunition was being used in each instance, in which gun, when the 'problem' was observed? This can be important to track, although S&W can certainly examine the gun without knowing what ammunition was being used and check it for conforming to proper specs. It's just that sometimes an ammunition problem masquerades as a gun problem ...

It might need a replacement standard firing pin, and then it might require some other correction ... and then it might be the ammunition.

I was talking to a fellow the other day who just got his high-end customized Colt .45 back from a very reputable smith. He experienced a failure-to-fire which he thought was a firing pin problem virtually right out of the gate, using a premium load from one of the major manufacturers. Rattled him. After seeing that all the other rounds of the same brand/type fired fine, and the round which failed the first time continued to fail to fire after 2 more solid f/p hits ... with a resulting indication of deep primer dimpling ... he realized that he just gotten that seldom 'bad round'.

461
May 7, 2009, 09:56 PM
I got a J frame about a year ago that was plagued with light strikes right from the box, to the point of one or two rounds per cylinder. I simply called Smith and they took care of it perfectly. While it's the only gun I've ever had to send back fresh from the box, the way the service was handled keeps my faith in the product high. After coming back, that little 432 has fired everything it's been fed and it's been well fed.

Noxx
May 7, 2009, 11:09 PM
I feed every kind of junk through my 642 and I've never had a failure to fire, although as I purchased mine in the time period mentioned, this does cause me some concern.

Did Smith put out a recall notice with a serial# range, or are you supposed to find the bad ones yourself?

Old Fuff
May 8, 2009, 12:48 AM
Did Smith put out a recall notice with a serial# range, ...

Not that I'm aware of.

... or are you supposed to find the bad ones yourself?

You go it! :banghead:

Meeteetse
May 9, 2009, 11:45 PM
Did someone mention making sure the strain spring screw should be checked? Obvious, but I know of more than one that was tinkered with to lighten the trigger pull and it resulted in misfires. If I missed someone else suggesting this I apologize.

My 442 has never failed me. Love it.

Old Fuff
May 10, 2009, 02:09 AM
The 642 and other J-frame based revolvers have coil mainsprings, and therefore no mainspring strain screws. ;)

Meeteetse
May 11, 2009, 07:23 PM
You are exactly correct. I had my Mdl. 13 in my hands when I made the statement. Half-heimers I suppose.

Dr_B
January 17, 2012, 01:32 PM
This thread should not exist. A manufacturer that has been making revolvers as long as Smith and Wesson has should not be letting guns leave the factory with quality control problems. Some people have firing pin problems. I have a 637 that keyholes within 7 yards of the target. Neither one should be occurring.

sixgunner455
January 17, 2012, 05:17 PM
Dr B - send the gun back! They're supposed to shoot straight. Sheesh.

OP - I have had my 642 for quite a while. I carry it almost every day. It has never misfired. I have only put a bit over 1000 rounds through it (it's my favorite gun to carry, not my favorite to shoot), but whether factory loads, factory reloads, or my handloads, it has never, ever missed a beat.

btg3
January 17, 2012, 11:03 PM
The OP started this tread over 2 years ago.

Nasty Ned
January 17, 2012, 11:34 PM
Assuradly you have a short spring or a weak one. I have shot dozens of chief's specials of all types and weights with about every kind of 38 load you could imagine, factory and handloaded, and have never had a misfire. You might use a weaker return spring, but, leave the factory hammer spring in place and you won't have any trouble.

My opinion, yeah I know about opinions.

just for fun
January 18, 2012, 12:04 AM
Nephew's Dad had passed and his Mom gave him his Dad's J frame Smith. It was a newer model with the frame mounted firing pin. Never had problems with my reloads in dozens of guns over a time period of 20 years. That is till THAT gun! Could take his misfires and put them in my "old" (built in 1968) J frame with firing pin in the hammer and they fired! I know that his gun had never been into. Sure wish I known about that longer firing pin! Got a few peices of remington brass that the primers seat too deep,but that's 357 brass, and I know to check it. The above mentioned reloads- primer depth looked good. Live and learn.
To think that this is such a wide spread problem that the aftermarket industry makes a part to correct it, doesn't say much for my beloved S&W company!!

Old Fuff
January 18, 2012, 12:42 AM
Keep in mind that these mis-fires can be caused by a number of things besides a short firing pin. One of them is wear to the yoke barrel (the barrel is the tube the cylinder revolves on). The condition is called end-shake, and it allows the cylinder to move forward when a chambered cartridge is impacted by a firing pin hit. A mis-fire occurs when the blow is softened.

If the end-shake is corrected after a longer firing pin was installed you may end up getting pierced primers and escaping gas.

A longer firing pin should not be installed until the headspace, case head clearance and firing pin protrusion has been determined.

If you enjoyed reading about "s&w 642 problems please help" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!