Cylinder hard to open?


September 23, 2010, 04:28 PM
I've borrowed an old S&W Airweight .38 (wooden handles). It seems to shoot fine, but the cylinder is a real pain to get open.

Any ideas of what might be wrong? I know very little about revolvers. Thanks.

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Jim K
September 23, 2010, 04:55 PM
Check to make sure the extractor rod hasn't unscrewed and be binding on the front barrel lug. That is the MOST common reason for cylinder binding on S&W revolvers.


September 23, 2010, 04:59 PM
And if I recall correctly, S&W extractor rods screw in opposite of normal, like a propane tank. So righty-loosey, lefty-tightey.

Also when the gun is open check underneath the ejector star and clean it well. I use teethbrush or Q-tips.

September 23, 2010, 05:06 PM
If those two procedures do not do it, then consider to inspect the internal part of the sliding 'Bar' where it's end has a little coil Spring...sometimes a Factory burr or bit of crud can be there limiting the mechanical travel of the release mechanism.

Ky Larry
September 23, 2010, 11:20 PM
The threads on the ejector rod are left hand. If this rod is tight, give it a good scrubbing and lube. I had this same problem with my S&W Model-19. Fixed it with a drop of blue (Removeable) LocTite on the rod threads.

September 24, 2010, 12:55 AM
I have a Charter arms 38 undercover. Does the same apply to this pistol also?

Jim K
September 24, 2010, 01:41 PM
The Charter Arms is different and shouldn't have that problem.

Ky Larry, how do you know the threads are left hand? He says it is an old gun.


September 24, 2010, 01:58 PM
Thanks you all.

The area under the ejector star was clean.

I couldn't get the ejector rod to screw tighter by hand, and didn't want to try and force it.

I'm not comfortable with opening it up, as it is not mine....

September 24, 2010, 02:56 PM
Are there any metallic scratch/scuff marks on the face of the cylinder? I had a S&W once that was defective and the cylinder face would scrape on the start of the barrel when opening and closing.

Also, check the little tiny button near the muzzle and see if that moves freely back and forth when you push forward on the cylinder release.

Another thing you could check is there could be something preventing the cylinder release from travelling forward fully, like a little piece of grit. If you are uncomfortable unscrewing that one button you could try blowing it out with some canned air or compressed air.

September 24, 2010, 11:12 PM
My S & W Model 10-6 was very hard to open...I checked everything, and, indeed there was a factory 'burr' impeding full motion of the internal bar element housed in the Revolver Frame to which the Thumb latch is Screwed...anyway, I de-burred things, spiffied up all the inside parts...cycled beautifully then, but...still hard to open! Lol...

Examined things some more, and sure-enough, the inner Rod of the Cylinder's ejector mechanism was actually a little too short.

I removed it, added a tiny dab of Silver Solder-Brazing ( this to the Recoil Shield end of the Rod which is the end which was too short)...filed that down a little and polished the end, and..."perfect", 'Like Buttah'...opens and latches superbly, and will never wear or gall the Recoil Shield either like plain Steel ends do.

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