L Frame Jamming?


Gunner Mike
March 3, 2010, 11:55 AM
The other night, I was sitting there, cleaning my 686-1 Smith. Since I had just bought it a couple of weeks before, I did a thorough cleaning.

I had cycled the revolver a few hundred times before this, with no problems at all. After I put the cylinder back into battery, I noticed that the cylinder was hanging up. Subsequent pulls on the trigger would not move the cylinder. Cocking the hammer was not possible. Opening it back up, I spun the cylinder and it was definitely catching, coming to a stop after only 1 complete spin.

I freaked!

I had read somewhere that this can be caused by the ejector rod being slightly unscrewed. A quick twist with my hand on the ejector rod (with no discernible movement) and closing it found the gun to be back to normal. I've again cycled the gun a hundred times with no problems. Opened, the cylinder spins easily, completing at least 10 rotations before stopping.

What gives? I know that, in its present state (at hand tight), I'm going to see it jam again.

Another question: What is the best way to tighten this part? I don't want to put marks on it.

And one last point: I read this on a S&W history page.

"Although Tomkins was clearly aware of the declining quality of Smith & Wesson guns prior to its purchase of the company, the British firm came to believe that Forstmann Little had misled it about a jamming problem in a line of L-frame .357 Magnum revolvers. In 1994 Tomkins sued Forstmann Little for damages and indemnification."

Is this a problem that anyone knows about? I've seen no posts on this.

Thanks. I appreciate any help that anyone can give me.

Mike :confused:

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Old Fuff
March 3, 2010, 12:02 PM
On occasion, someone has brought me a revolver that was doing what you experienced. On examination I discovered a bit of cleaning brush wire under the extractor star, or on the yoke barrel the cylinder revolves on. Removing the wire resolved the problem.

Over tightning the extractor rod is not a good answer. Uncrew the rod, clean the threads on both the extractor and rod to remove any trace of oil, put a drop (no more) of clear fingernail polish or BLUE loc-tite on the rod's thread, and screw it back on with firm - but not heavy - preasure. It won't move until you want it to.

March 3, 2010, 03:23 PM
Whatever is hanging up or catching, is no reason to "freak".

Do what Old Fuff recommends and chill out. It's not rocket science.

Thaddeus Jones
March 3, 2010, 03:31 PM
I think the "jamming L-frames" the Tomkins was referring to was the recall S&W issued on 586/686ND, 581/681ND.

There allegedly was a problem with the hammer nose bushing. Supposedly when shot with 357 ammunition the primer would flow back tying up the revolver.

S&W issued a recall and the reworked L-frames have an "M" stamped into the frame indicating they have had the modification.

I've known many shooters who own examples of these recalled L-frames who don't have the "M" stamp and the revolvers have been trouble free.

S&W was still paying shipping, up until recently, and performing the modification on the models covered by the recall.

All my L-frames have an "M" stamp. So whether the problem was serious.....or even real is up for debate. TJ

Gunner Mike
March 3, 2010, 03:59 PM
I'm pretty sure that Old Fluff is right. I was using a bore brush (a brand new one at that) and it may very well have worked itself out.

I appreciate the replies.

As far as freaking out? I wasn't going to get my money back if something happened, so yeah, I was concerned.

Thanks again folks.

March 3, 2010, 05:16 PM
So whether the problem was serious.....or even real is up for debate.

It was a real problem, but very small compared to the size of the recall issued; the problem was the company didn't know what models received the small batch of bad bushings. I've had two 686 under the recall, but not sent them in as they were not affected (primer flow with magnums/oversized bushings). It was exactly as Thaddeous Jonesdescribed, about the firing pin bushing and not the ejector rod loosening.

The Forstmann-Little/Tomkins lawsuit was over this issue. It was simply a greedy money-grab between rapacious conglomerates over the slightest pretext.

March 3, 2010, 08:03 PM
In September 2008 I purchased a Model 586 made in 1984. The first time I attempted to fire it with .357 Magnum reloads it did bind up on me. I thought it was my reloads and tried several different loads. Some had the same results and others seemed to work OK.

I stumbled upon this recall when reading one of the forums in September 2009. I contacted S&W and they informed me they would still honor the recall. They immediately sent me a pre-paid FedEx shipping label and I sent the 586 to them. They had it back to me in less than 3 weeks. They replaced the bushing and hammer nose. The 586 has performed flawlessly since the modification has been made. There is now an "M" stamped below the Serial #.

This cost me absolutely nothing except for my time and trips to FedEx.

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