S&W Barrel swap


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dashootist
January 23, 2011, 06:28 PM
Howdy,
A friend said he knows how to do a barrel swap. And I want to replace my 6" 686 barrel with a 4" barrel so I can shoot IDPA. How much work is required to do the conversion? So that I know how many six pack to buy. Is there a how-to article on S&W barrel swap?

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451 Detonics
January 23, 2011, 06:47 PM
It can be a quick job or it can take a skilled machinist with a lathe...It all depends on how the barrel lines up and the cylinder gap. I always thought the pinned barrels were easier. Most of the time it is fairly simple tho, just make sure you have a lot of support to keep from tweaking the frame, I use vise blocks made for the revolver frame I am working on.

Old Fuff
January 23, 2011, 08:11 PM
You'd better check and see if that 686 has the barrel pinned through the front of the topstrap. If it doesn't the barrel was crush-thread fitted, and changing barrels is (or should be) done at the factory. This is not a "screw one out and another one back in" sort of thing.

It might be cheaper to sell what you got, and use the proceeds to buy what you want.

dashootist
January 23, 2011, 10:28 PM
I bought my 686 brand new last year, and it has the internal lock and MIM. So I think it's got the crush-type barrel.

My friend said he would do it for free. So it doesn't cost me anything but a six pack of beer or two.

788Ham
January 23, 2011, 11:25 PM
You'd best send it to the factory! Old Fuff knows of what he speaks.

madcratebuilder
January 24, 2011, 04:51 AM
Sell the 6" and buy a 4". Six packs and barrel changes do not go together.

MrBorland
January 24, 2011, 06:53 AM
Though it'll cost more than a six pack, another option is to have your 6" barrel shortened to 4". If you see yourself getting serious about IDPA, you'll likely want to get it tuned eventually anyway (action job, chamfer, etc). Once shortened, a Weigand interchangeable front sight base (http://www.jackweigand.com/interfs.html) can be installed.

If you're just checking out or dabbling in IDPA, though, I'd wait to do anything to the 6" gun and buy something like a Model 10. Better yet, go to some matches and start chatting with some revolver shooters - it's likely someone would be more than happy to bring an extra rig for you. Wheelgunners tend to be a pretty friendly group. I myself have an open invitation (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=564734&highlight=invitation) posted here on THR.

CajunBass
January 24, 2011, 07:34 AM
Sell your gun. Buy another. No six-packs required.

Old Fuff
January 24, 2011, 10:10 AM
I bought my 686 brand new last year, and it has the internal lock and MIM. So I think it's got the crush-type barrel.

No pin = crush-fit barrel, but more then that it probably has Smith & Wesson's recent two-piece construction with an inner rifled tube an an outer sleeve. Try to unscrew that and you'll find out what trouble really is; and since the inner tube is also held by a threaded nut at the front I wouldn't recommend shortening the barrel.

At S&W things are not done as they once were. :uhoh:

My friend said he would do it for free. So it doesn't cost me anything but a six pack of beer or two.

You need a new friend. If he tries to do "his thing," you'll need a lot more then the six-packs... like enough money to buy a new gun to replace the one you now have.

Either live with it as it is, or sell it and use the money toward getting what you really want or need. If you want a revolver for competition go see what the other competitors are using - especially the winners. A little research could save you a lot on wrong-way spending.

springfield30-06
January 24, 2011, 02:55 PM
You best not try and save money by having your friend change out that 686 barrel. I have a feeling that if you let him work on it you will be in for much more money than you would have been if you just had the factory do it, or buy a different gun.

MCgunner
January 25, 2011, 01:03 PM
I wouldn't trust a friend with my PINNED barrels, let alone a new one. :uhoh: I'd sell it and buy a new gun or keep it and buy a new gun for IDPA and add to my collection. :D

buck460XVR
January 25, 2011, 01:18 PM
Sell the 6" and buy a 4". Six packs and barrel changes do not go together.


......yep, what he said.

Lucky Derby
January 25, 2011, 01:53 PM
A (suposedly) reputable gunsmith attempted this on a 629 I had, and he bent the frame. Don't do it.

HGUNHNTR
January 26, 2011, 09:17 AM
I think he meant the six-packs would be enjoyed after the work was completed. Anyway, if you are talking about nasty beer ie. Bud Lite, Busch, Miller etc. I think I would be offended if you offered any at all. However, if you were to show up with a couple 4 packs of Great Divide Hercules, or some other nice Double IPA I'd do it for you. On a serious note, ask him what his time is worth and pay him in cash or reciprocate by changing his oil or something. Just an idea.

ArchAngelCD
January 28, 2011, 02:07 AM
I hope you take all the good advice posted here and don't let your friend try to change the barrel. BTW, where are you getting the barrel? Was that free too??

CraigC
January 28, 2011, 10:08 AM
As was posted, changing barrels is not like changing your oil. If the rib doesn't line up properly or the shank is too short, you'll need a lathe and the skill to use it.

You'll be money ahead to just cut the sucker and install a Weigand interchangeable front sight, as was suggested.

Old Fuff
January 28, 2011, 03:02 PM
I bought my 686 brand new last year, and it has the internal lock and MIM. So I think it's got the crush-type barrel.

No pin = crush-fit barrel, but more then that it probably has Smith & Wesson's recent two-piece construction with an inner rifled tube and an outer sleeve. Try to unscrew that and you'll find out what trouble really is; and since the inner tube is also held by a threaded nut at the front I wouldn't recommend shortening the barrel.

You'll be money ahead to just cut the sucker and install a Weigand interchangeable front sight, as was suggested.

Somehow I don't think so... :uhoh:

MrBorland
January 28, 2011, 03:32 PM
No pin = crush-fit barrel, but more then that it probably has Smith & Wesson's recent two-piece construction with an inner rifled tube and an outer sleeve. Try to unscrew that and you'll find out what trouble really is; and since the inner tube is also held by a threaded nut at the front I wouldn't recommend shortening the barrel.

You'll be money ahead to just cut the sucker and install a Weigand interchangeable front sight, as was suggested.

Somehow I don't think so...

I'll stand corrected if I'm wrong, but I don't think 2-piece barrels were put on 686s. The X-frame, some k-frames (e.g. 67, which just went back to 1-piece), and the 620 got them, but not the 686.

dashootist
January 28, 2011, 07:49 PM
BTW, where are you getting the barrel? Was that free too??

Free barrel. I also have a 4" 686P. The original idea was to swap the barrels on my 686 and 686P. But since the concensus seems to be to sell the revolver and buy a shorter one, I think I'll make the weekend into revolver shopping.

CraigC
January 28, 2011, 10:27 PM
If it's a two-piece barrel then obviously what I said is not relevant. Then again, if it's a two-piece barrel you're better off selling it and getting an older model in the desired length anyway.

earlthegoat2
January 28, 2011, 10:55 PM
I believe my friends when they tell me they can do a keg stand for 30 minutes.

I never believe ANYONE that says they can do gunsmithing unless I have seen and tried out their work beforehand.

oldfool
January 28, 2011, 11:08 PM
"it probably has Smith & Wesson's recent two-piece construction with an inner rifled tube an an outer sleeve...
At S&W things are not done as they once were"

OUCH !

I confess I really didn't realize things had slid that far downhill
the MIM and even the infernal lock rants never did wind my TIMEX all that tight
(not even as brain dead the design that the ILS is, no dispute from this corner)
but liner barrels on a S&W 357 revolver.... that just plain hurts

I don't need any "New S&W Classics", got mine from the when/what made 'em classics
not from that time when Colt was Colt and Dan Wesson was Dan Wesson, but at least from when S&W still did k-frames (seems like only "yesterday")
comes a time a man has to acknowledge he just isn't paying attention anymore :o

Old Fuff
January 28, 2011, 11:40 PM
In fairness to Smith & Wesson, they seem to be having some second thoughts about two-piece barrel construction - at least in some models. Part of the plan was to make the outside sleeve out of an excrusions on models that had a full-length underlug (which would seem to most current/recent ones) which would result in cost savings, and the inner tube could be screwed up almost against the cylinder face to get a tight cylinder/barrel gap without special fitting. The back of the tube would (or should be) square to the cylinder face.

It should be mentioned that "crush fit" barrels should be retrofited at the factory, because once unscrewed they wouldn't go back and still be tight.

What all of this means is that progress comes at a price, and how much progress you're getting depends on how you define the word "progress."

oldfool
January 29, 2011, 01:18 AM
have seen some wondrous good things done w/ new and improved technology
(not so many as new and "anything but", but some things, quite a few)

foolish to dismiss new ideas, absent cause
I actually think CNC can produce a higher percentage of better quality guns than factory hand-fitting
(something or other maybe to do with the skill levels of individual hand fitters.. and/or butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers.. though pretty much convinced Grant Cunningham can make 'em better than they were from the factory, either way)

liner barrels not being a new idea, and not always without merit within a limited frame of reference

but for each of us, there is a limit somewhere that transcends the woobie factor
crush fit ain't pinned, but depends a lot on how well crushed
MIM ain't forged, but MIM can be done right
the ILS is just plain bad design, but worries me none with the load to gun weight ratio of what I would choose to shoot
polymer and alloy is not inherently evil, just too often poorly done

but for me, right or wrong, liner barrels in 357 revolvers is it, a break point
I will never live long enough to reconcile that, even woobie loyalties have their limits
cannot stand a bad DA trigger, even if I cannot do fast-n-accurate
and will never drop a hard earned dollar on a two piece lined barrel revolver, not even a rimfire
no matter the name stamped on the barrel, doggone it

milady wants more laminated steel, I will happily buy her more All-Clad copper-core
(they have more ??)
but all-clad revolver barrels, ain't gonna' happen
I will take Wusthof Trident forged steel over JA Henckels any day, to slice my tomato

Magnumite
January 29, 2011, 01:54 AM
Old Fuff is right. If the barrel threaded portion is short, the shoulder of the barrel needs to be machined back and crush fitted as he said. Too loose a fit and the barrel loosens, shooting bad just before and, of course, when it does. Don't face it off enough, and you'll stretch the threaded portion. Then the breech face of the barrel needs to squared and the barrel/cylinder gap set in the process. Also, after facing (machining) the shoulder and the breech face of the barrel back, it needs to have the forcing cone cut. Your burr remover will not work.

So unless he has access to and knows how to use a lathe (or barrel shoulder facing jig and cutter), forcing cone cutter, a machinist's square, a torque wrench with adapter, the frame wrench (or barrel wrench with frame holding fixture) to do the job, send it out.

dashootist
January 29, 2011, 06:49 PM
You'll be money ahead to just cut the sucker and install a Weigand interchangeable front sight, as was suggested.

I might go this route: shortened barrel.

http://www.sdmfabricating.com/4_conversion.html

MrBorland
January 29, 2011, 07:36 PM
$250 seems high to me for this type of work. Not a slam on SDM, but there are any number of good revolver smiths that could do this, so shop around a bit. Check out Fletcher, for example. He does great work. Compare his prices, too.

At any rate, if you decide to shorten the barrel and use it for IDPA, consider having an action job and chamfering done as well. It's basic IDPA TLC.

http://www.fletchercustompistols.com/smith_wesson_custom_revolvers.htm

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