S&W Model 41 Malfunctions


January 13, 2004, 07:06 PM
I have an S&W M41 target .22 pistol, about 25 years old, which has started malfunctioning. Every once in a while, the fired case doesn't quite make it out of the ejection port, and gets stuck between the top of the barrel extension and the next cartridge rising out of the magazine. The open end of the empty shell is usually pointing about 90 degrees to the right. It could be the 2nd round in the mag, or the 9th, or anywhere in between - no obvious pattern.

I've cleaned and re-lubed the pistol thoroughly - the chamber has not a speck of lead in it, nor is there any pitting. The chamber mouth has no peening from dry-firing. There is no obvious breakage of the extractor claw. I have several magazines, and get the same results with each.

Chambering is not a problem - the slide always goes to battery (assuming the fired case makes it out the ejection port) and the chambered round always fires when I squeeze the trigger.

The pistol used to "suck up" just about anything from Winchester, CCI, or Remington, and malfunctions were rare - maybe once every couple of thousand rounds. But now, Remington HighSpeed seems to work best . . . if a jam on every other mag can be considered "best."

I'm sort of running out of ideas - my next step is to start swapping out all the springs, but are there any suggestions on what else to try before I start ordering parts from Brownell's? (Suggestions short of sending it in to S&W would be welcome.) :confused:

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January 13, 2004, 07:43 PM
Howdy hank. I'm not familiar with your pistol, but that sounds like an extractor problem to me. Check the hook for wear. If the gun has an external, spring loaded extractor, the spring is probably worn out. Probably Smith & Wesson parts. There also might be some gunk
in or around the backside of the extractor or in the spring that's keeping it from moving freely. Try squirting some carb cleaner in the area to flush it out and see if it gets better. if it does, repeat until the fluid runs clean and
put a few drops of CLP Breakfree in it.

Jim Keenan may be able to provide you with more specific information.
Not too many pistols that he hasn't had a hand into at some time or another.

Good luck with it.


Old Fuff
January 13, 2004, 07:58 PM
The S&W model .41 has an internal breechblock that is held in place by a pin. If, through use, the breechblock becomes loosened even slightly it will start giving ejection problems. A really good cleaning may make it worse by making it looser. Before doing anything else check this out.

Jim K
January 13, 2004, 09:31 PM
I would tend to go with the extractor spring as being the problem.

With the slide off, check the slide stop, which is also the ejector, to make sure it is not damaged or worn; I have not seen a bad one unless someone beat on it, but still something to check.

Then drive out the cross pin in the slide and remove the bolt (breech block). With the bolt out, carefully remove the extractor and its plunger and spring. Make sure to keep control of the parts. You can also check the bolt itself for looseness or damage at the same time.

If the extractor appears OK, then clean around and under it, as well as inside the hole in the bolt where the spring and plunger go. Do not oil; oil will only retain crud. If all appears well, reassemble and test fire.

If the extractor is not OK or the spring is weak, it is no big deal. Gun Parts Corp. (www.gunpartscorp.com) has the extractor and spring for a total of about $10.


January 14, 2004, 07:02 AM
And here all this time I thought Old Fuff's millieu was 1911s...See what I
get for gettin' stuck on one design? I need ta bone up on some other stuff.:scrutiny:

Cheers all!


Old Fuff
January 14, 2004, 01:04 PM

I don't know a whole lot about the model 41, but back in the dark ages of pre-history the .22 bullseye target market was divided up between the S&W model 41, various Hi Standards and Ruger's Mark 1. The military armorers at Camp Perry were always working on 41's because of problems relating to the barrel rib catching ejecting cases. This I was told was caused by extractor and ejector issues that were usually related to what might be called a loose or "floating" breechblock within the slide. When they slightly squeezed the slide in the right place, and sometimes replaced the pin with a larger one the problem(s) went away. In the present case I don't know if this is what's causing the problem, but it's the first thing that should be checked - given that the pistol has already been cleaned.

If the breechblock is loose the extractor doesn’t hold the fired case firmly enough so that the ejector will kick it out at the right angle and the barrel rib bounces it back into what amounts to a shrouded ejection port. In this respect both the Hi Standards and Ruger’s worked a lot better.

January 14, 2004, 03:31 PM
Good ideas all . . . especially about the breech block. I'll have to take a closer look at things this weekend.

Thanks for the advice. ;)

Standing Wolf
January 14, 2004, 06:33 PM
The first culprit I'd think of with a model 41 would be the recoil spring, which happened to be the first part I had to replace on the new model 41 I bought about four years ago.

The good folks at http://www.gunsprings.com make an assortment of springs for this pistol. I'd recommend buying the lot and trying them all.

That's not to say your pistol couldn't be afflicted with extractor problems; it's just that I've seen several model 41s whose apparent extraction problems were cured in P.D.Q. order by replacing recoil springs.

Best of luck, eh? Please let us know what worked when you get the gun back in working order.

January 14, 2004, 06:51 PM
Dayumm...These boys is good, ain't they? Didn't I tell ya these boys wuz good?

I gotta git more education.

Cheers all!


January 14, 2004, 07:22 PM
This happened all the time when I was shooting standard velocity .22LR (eg target ammo). As soon as I switched to Hi Velocity fodder it had no problems. So I switched to Hi Velocity, .22 Power Points worked real good.

January 18, 2004, 01:18 PM
High-dollar S&W Model 41's and their kindred rimfire target guns, like the High Standards and Hammerli versions, are built for target shooting. That's great that high-velocity rimfire ammo works the actions more briskly, but hardly conducive to target accuracy in a match-grade gun, which more often than not work and group best with target-grade (standard velocity) ammo.

That's like saying a balky M1 Garand isn't cycling like it used to with M2 Ball, but a hotter load fixes it. It doesn't get to the crux of the problem that caused the malfunctions to begin with.

January 18, 2004, 01:49 PM
Actually, .22LR Power Points grouped pretty good thru mine and I preferred handling them to the standard velocity ammo. YMMV

Standing Wolf
January 18, 2004, 09:24 PM
I believe shooting high velocity loads in a model 41 would shorten its life expectancy. I know doing so will crack the right side of a High Standard's frame. I believe the model 41 is somewhat more ruggedly constructed than High Standards, but it's still not in the same durability class as the average plinker.

If higher speed ammunition solves the extraction problem, I'd guess that's further evidence in favor of my supposition that the recoil spring needs to be replaced.

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