S&W 317 .22lr ammo issues.


September 22, 2011, 07:15 PM
So, every now and then I get a revolver and always have problems with them. I own 3 revolvers and I can never get them to be reliable shooters for me. Anyway, this time I bought a s&w 317 with the 3" barrel. I shot it a bunch and it did fine for about 200 rounds. Now, all of the sudden the bases of the cases are deforming enough that they are putting pressure on the frame and not allowing the cylinder to spin. What can I do to fix this issue? I am using cheap blazer CCI. I shot at least 100 rounds with no problems from the same box of blazer but it is just now giving me issues. I have tried cleaning it to no avail. Any ideas?

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September 22, 2011, 07:26 PM
Take your toothbrush and clean the unburned powder out from under the extractor star.

From then on, hold the gun with the muzzle pointed up when you eject the brass, and the unburned powder won't get under the extractor star.

Might not even hurt to clean the chambers & barrel with a bronze bore brush & solvent either.


September 22, 2011, 09:27 PM
Yep, very likely unburnt powder or powder residue buildup under the star. Nothing builds up enough to deform the bases. Although if the ejected brass shows signs of staining along the sides then at some point the rounds will become stiff to insert and eject due to a buildup of powder residue in the chambers. Sometimes so stiff to insert that they don't go in all the way without a healthy push.

Carl Levitian
September 22, 2011, 10:14 PM
jake, after 50 years of shooting revolvers almost exclusively, I can tell you that they need to be cleaned a little more than autos. Especially what rc told you. This was the death of revolvers for military use, they don't like a large amount of dirt. I have the same 317 as you dom as well as the better half has one as her bedside handgun. Being retired old folks, we go to the range at least once a week, and go through a whole box of cheapo Federal bulk stuff from Walmart. We seldon have any problems with our revolvers.

Karen still has the S&W model 17 her father gave her for high school graduation. That was in 1957. It still shoots well. I still have the same 1934 kit gun I got when I got out of high school and saved up my money. Aside from an overhaul in 1996, it's been fine. I can't even begin to figure the thousands of rounds that has been down the tube. On the other hand, we've never has a failure to feed or a failure to eject. We've been shooting together for our 40 years of marital bliss, and the guns have been totally reliable. But we clean them well.

A revolver will give you flawless service for a lifetime if you clean it well after every shooting session, and take a toothbrush with you to the range and brush out under the ejector after about 200 to 300 rounds. That ejector is the Achillies heel of the revolver. Take care of that, and they will take care of you. Remember to keep that muzzel pointing up when you eject those empties.

September 23, 2011, 09:08 AM
With either my older K-22 or the newer Model 617 i normally shoot ca. 300 rouinds during a range session. I use Aguilla SE SV in the K-22 and either Fedral bulk pack or Remin gton Golden bulk pack ammo in the Model 617. After 300 rounds you really have to clean up the revolvers with particular attention to the cylinder undwer the ejector star. Never had a single malfunction in a 300 round shoot.

September 23, 2011, 10:04 AM
All of the above will help you out, I will add check your ejector rod to make sure it's tight in the cylinder.....lefty tighty...righty loosie. Worth a try.

September 23, 2011, 11:45 AM
Cleaning out under the extractor seems to have helped. I am in love with my revolvers but you are definately right about them needing to be cleaned way more then my semi autos. I guess I will have to learn how to clean my guns better.

September 23, 2011, 05:13 PM
This is the little aluminum job right? Years ago, I bought an adjustable sight model (pre Hi-Viz, NIB) and had much the same problem you are.

Some cases we soft enough and my chambers oversize enough to cause cycling/extraction issues... iirc, RWS conical and ball caps were the worst. A cylinderful would actually tie the gun up pretty tight. Not to say I didn't have problems with LR ammo as well. CCI usually worked adequately, but double action cycling still got sticky.

The buddy (and FFL holder) I had purchased it through was helping me figure out who to send it back to (SW or distributor) and decided to test fire it. After a handful of MiniMags he decided the problem was me and my lack of diligent cleaning. Being an ex-marine, he detail strips and meticulously cleans every square millimeter of a firearm after shooting it... sometimes after just looking at it.

Me? Not so much. I clean them when they need it. I don't wash my car every day either. For the record, I did clean the little 317 as best I could to see if it would help.

So he re-purchases the gun from me, intending to use it as a summer deep conceal job. Two weeks later I get a call...

"Hey this piece of crap locks up even when marine clean!"

Yeah, I told you that. It's also so light its hard to shoot precisely for me.

"Yeah that too!"

Not sure what he did with it after, but we both have KelTec .32's now for when it gets hotter than 110.

So Jake I've used way too many words to say... after giving it a good clean if you are still having issues, it may actually be the gun.

September 24, 2011, 03:39 AM
"may actually be the gun."

No, It may actually be the ammo.

September 24, 2011, 12:36 PM
I forgot to mention that besides the cleaning requirements one should look at the choice of ammo. Rdemington Thunderbolt is particularly dirty and to be avoided. Remington Golden and CCI Blazer are also quite dirty. The cleaner shhoting the ammothe fewer problems. in the HV category the least expensive clean buirning ammo I have found is the Federal bulk pack copper plated hollow points.

September 24, 2011, 12:42 PM
I have owned a 317 since 1998, and it has never seen any kind of ammo except CCI & Super-X hi-speed.

And I have never had a moments trouble with it.

Buying the cheapest ammo to save a few cents isn't always worth the trouble.


September 24, 2011, 03:55 PM
Another similar experience.

My 317-3 3" has the same problem, which I've been ignoring the past few months - I've several other 22s. The revolver is about 2 years old, probably 1500-2000 rds at a guess.

Ammo choice doesn't matter - CCI, Winchester not bulk, Remington not bulk, all types of bulk, all of it hi-speed, I haven't tried target ammo.

Nor does very clean v. not clean.

Cases are visibly swelled near the rim as if they had no support. They are wedged by the swelling back against the recoil shield. Nearly impossible to open the cylinder and happens nearly every time. This gun ran fine for the first year or so, no longer. Going back to S&W asap.

September 24, 2011, 11:29 PM
I have to chime in on this one...

I have the same gun, exhibiting the same behavior, headed back to S&W - if they will ever ship a label to my 'smith. It's been about a month now. :banghead:

In my case, it is not the ammo. It is not a loose star. It is not dirt. It doesn't matter if the gun is hot or cold.

It just seems like 2 of the 8 chambers sometimes result in the behavior, which can tie the gun up pretty good. Didn't do this at first. Any brand you feed it - except CBs and shorts.

Had my 'smith give it a spin. Same thing.

Unfired rounds rotate fine.

I am not sure what the deal is, but for that kind of coin needless to say I am extremely disappointed... :cuss:

Send it back, that's what I'm doing. I promise to report back to this thread once I get it back from S&W. Regardless - I think I see one of those new SP101s in .22 in my future soon.

September 25, 2011, 10:36 AM
Whine enough and I do believe S&W will install an 8 shot stainless steel cylinder from the Model 63 on your 317 for a very moderate charge. HTH

September 25, 2011, 10:48 AM
^ I thought about this, but I wasn't sure if the steel cylinder would batter the aluminum frame over time.

I wouldn't mind trying it. I wish I had just got a 63 to begin with... but the 3" wasn't out just yet.

Thanks for the suggestion - I appreciate it.

September 25, 2011, 02:47 PM
I am on the second 317 as the first was bought as they came out and was a total pita.

This one has a 3" barrel and adj sights and is a pleasure to carry and shoot.

I showed it to a few friends and they instantly hated me as they HAD to go buy one to carry in the woods.

The best thing I like about it is that you REALLY dont know it there as it weighs NOTHING [ 9 oz I believe ].

I have shot too many kinds of .22 ammo to list [ or remember ] and had no ftf .

But accuracy is a bit fussy and I shoot whatever she likes at that moment.

I too clean her VERY well as was noted and have no problems with jams etc.

Good luck with your next one.

October 14, 2011, 12:55 AM
I sent S&W an e-mail 11 days ago describing my problems with the 317, got a FedEx label via return e-mail 2 days later. I returned gun to S&W 8 days ago, including some of the swelled empty cases. Got it back today, note says, and gun shows, cylinder replaced and I think also the extractor.

Really excellent service from S&W assuming it's actually fixed.

It was swelling the base of the cases visibly just forward of the rim, and locking the cylinder so tight it took a mallet to open it. Clean or dirty, all types ammo. 3" 317-3. I'll try it out in a day or two.

Gonna get a 2" if this one's ok, they are too light and handy for words. But violently overpriced.

October 14, 2011, 01:37 PM
^ Good deal! My gunsmith never could get a label or a callback, so I have sent off for one myself last night.

I really hope my experience is as good as yours. Thanks a lot for posting that.

October 26, 2011, 05:27 PM

I requested a label via the S&W website. Turnaround on that was about 2 business days.

Just shipped the gun off today.

I hope they address the issue. I asked for a steel cylinder and indicated a willingness to pay for this.

So far so good. I will update again once the gun gets back, and then again after I get a chance to fire it (which might be awhile). Also plan to post a pic or two. Stay tuned...

November 21, 2011, 06:06 PM
What's the word on the fix, tubeshooter?

November 22, 2011, 04:12 PM
Still at S&W. I could see per the shipping label tracking that they received it just a little over 3 weeks ago.

Have not received any contact from them, via e-mail or otherwise. If there is a charge associated with the steel cylinder (which I made clear that I was perfectly willing to pay), I'm sure they will let me know.

I hear that they have a bit of a backlog as far as warranty work right now.

I hadn't forgotten. I will definitely update once I get the gun back. I was hoping it would be before Thanksgiving and I'd get a chance to fire it, but that seems unlikely now.

November 22, 2011, 04:23 PM
Thanks for the update! Am looking at the 317 "kit" gun (3") and am curious about this issue, as it seems others have experienced it as well.

November 22, 2011, 04:41 PM
No problem! That's why I'm taking the time and trouble to update - to help people like you.

My humble advice, after all this, would be...

...if you can get by without the whole "light as a feather" aspect, just get yourself a model 63.

November 22, 2011, 04:51 PM
Ha! Funny you mention that b/c I'm tossing around that decision.

Help me understand though: why would the same gun, just made of different material, function differently? Does it have different tolerances in reality? Meaning couldn't a 63 suffer the same problem?

November 22, 2011, 05:04 PM
I am not sure exactly why, but I suspect it has to do with the aluminum alloy somehow.

I don't hear about this problem with the model 63. Also, when the problem occurs the base of the cases appear to be flared out a little.

In my particular case, it appears that 2 of the 8 chambers have some sort of problem that causes the flared cases sometimes.

As you say - on paper it shouldn't matter. Evidently in reality - it does.

Great gun when it works, btw.

November 23, 2011, 09:32 AM
These "little" issues that have been reported over the last couple of years has been the reason why I bought a M63. Not to say the M63 can't have problems, but so far so good. I believe the M317 to be a good little revolver overall.

Eventually I do want to pickup a M317 just to have one, but only after I get the 3" M63. Prioritze that wish list.

Pete D.
November 23, 2011, 08:09 PM
I have had an 317 Airlite snubbie for - hmmm - about four or five years now. It goes in my back pocket when I am hunting, gets thrown into my range bag when I am heading out to the range. I have shot maybe 20 different types of .22 ammo through it. Never a problem.

November 24, 2011, 06:28 AM
I have owned a 317 Kit Gun for about 15 years and have yet to see any trouble out of it.
My wife shoots it more than I do now and if it was causing her problems I would hear about it!

November 28, 2011, 04:36 PM
No returned gun yet - but I did get a letter.

Long story short, they would kindly like $123.75 for the steel cylinder and $60 labor to fulfill my request.

Whine enough and I do believe S&W will install an 8 shot stainless steel cylinder from the Model 63 on your 317 for a very moderate charge. HTH

Doesn't sound too moderate to me... I guess I didn't whine enough. :neener:


I am in chest-deep now, and I said I would pay. So I will.

Really hoping they fix whatever, considering all this. Did not set out to spend over $800 on a simple .22 kit gun, but here I am. Stay tuned...

November 28, 2011, 08:40 PM
I don't consider $184 an obscene amount to get what you want, especially for a revolver that retails for $650+ now and S&W is willing to do the work which means the warranty is still in effect.
Not a bad day if you ask me!:)

November 28, 2011, 09:15 PM
Not obscene - but not moderate. At least not by my standards. It's 30% of the cost of an already pretty expensive gun.

I have not had a lot of major gunsmith work done, and I don't know what the ordinary going rate is to replace a cylinder.

But as you say - it is what I am asking for. And they are agreeing to perform the work. So far, so good.

I was under the impression that the warranty was lifetime. I understand that what I am asking for is a bit outside the scope of what a normal warranty would cover.

November 29, 2011, 01:02 AM
That's not a bad price for having some custom work done on a revolver, but it would be unacceptable to me as a solution from the manufacturer to a defective gun.

Sounds like they haven't done anything yet. Inquiring about the possibility of a steel cylinder doesn't obligate you to get one fitted.

If it were me I'd tell them to correct the original problem, and on their dime. If they feel they can do it in aluminum, fine. But I'd send it right back if it isn't 100% after it's trip to the factory.

I can't decide how cool (if at all... ) a steel cylindered, aluminum framed/shrouded gun would be. It would be neither fish nor fowl.

Keep us (me) posted... I feel like I have some skin in this game.

November 29, 2011, 01:31 AM
I basically feel the same way you do. One the one hand, I am asking for something that would be considered custom work. On the other, the gun should have worked properly in the first place.

I told them that I'd pay up front. I am not asking them to "give" me anything for my inconvenience or any other reason.

In my mind, replacement with another aluminum cylinder should have been free. The testing and labor to install another aluminum cylinder should be the same as a steel one. So in that sense, my friend thinks that they should have thrown in the labor and I tend to agree with that.

But there is no use crying about it. These are the terms. I can suck it up and pay, or I can have a $600 gun that works only somewhat with .22 LR but is great with shorts and CBs. These are my only options; my gunsmith does not want to tackle this.

Again, I don't know what the going rate is for a cylinder replacement. I know my smith charges $35/hour for services. So the figure is probably not patently unreasonable. I told S&W I did not really trust or want an aluminum cylinder after the problems, so I am grateful that they are willing to fix it "my way" - even at a cost. I also can't decide how cool (or not) this hybrid gun will be, but if it works I will just call it good and move on with life.

November 29, 2011, 02:36 AM
I stuff mine with cheap ammo, shoot it and don't clean it, it works. I never had a 22 auto that came close to it. That is why I buy revolvers and 22's. Maybe you shoot too fast.

November 29, 2011, 08:08 AM
Somehow I doubt that I, my friend, my gunsmith and S&W (who "tested for function and safety" and probably would have told me the gun was fine and basically to kick rocks) all shoot the gun too fast.

And that's what I thought about revolvers, too.

But thanks.

November 29, 2011, 03:38 PM
I had to send my 3 317 back to the factory a couple of times because the blast at the barrel/cylinder gap was tearing up the front of the cylinder. The last time, they replaced the cylinder with a stainless cylinder from the 63. It picked up 3.8 oz. according to my scale, and I think it is now perfect. It was almost too light before.

November 29, 2011, 04:24 PM
Thanks, ClemY. I hope my results are as good as yours!

I especially appreciate the info on the weight difference.

How long has it been since you have had the steel cylinder? Any issues?

November 29, 2011, 05:36 PM
I don't remember exactly how long I have had it, but it has worked fine.

November 29, 2011, 05:58 PM
Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

Looks fine to me... certainly different, but fine.

December 19, 2011, 05:35 PM
Another update, before this thread falls into the abyss...

No returned 317 yet. I called them 9 days after I sent the money, and they had no record of having received it. The service rep said he would look into it and call me back.

True to his word, he called about 4 hours later and said they have the money and also confirmed the return address. I was told that they are out of stock as far as the steel cylinder, and that they will begin work as soon as it is available.

That was two weeks ago. I called last week, got a different rep, same status.

Called today, different rep, same status. At least this one did not ask me "Did I pay?" as question #2, right after "What's the serial number?".

So it looks unlikely the gun will be back before the end of the year. After having researched around, it may take them 2 months to machine this cylinder for me.

ClemY has already pretty much stolen all the thunder with his pic, but I will still post a pic once this is returned. Just in case somebody cares; because I borderline don't now so I'm sure nobody else really does.

December 19, 2011, 05:44 PM
I'm still following! The 317 may be under the tree waiting...

December 19, 2011, 05:50 PM
Thanks for the kind words. I guess anything is possible...

For the record, I don't think S&W has bad products in general. But I do think that this particular model has issues, and is probably best avoided.

If I had read the S&W forums first and saw the history of problems, I probably could have saved myself some grief.

February 9, 2012, 04:08 PM
Nothing yet.

I've called about every 10 days or so - always the same story.

I have had the concept of "backordered" explained to me about 5 times.

I have been told that there is a shortage of revolver parts in the last year.

This last time (today), I was basically told in not so many words that they would rather use whatever stock they have on making new guns than fixing problem ones.

I consider this ridiculous. I shouldn't have to post on 12 message boards and pitch a huge b*tch just to get my gun fixed in a reasonable amount of time. Surely it doesn't take 2 whole months to machine a cylinder. They sure didn't need two months to take my money...

February 9, 2012, 05:56 PM
They make things in batches. I ordered a 3"Model 63 in Apr of '10 and finally got it in Dec. I had to wait until they got around to it with their production schedule. Something similar happened when I shipped my .44 Redhawk back to get a 5 1/2" barrel. I ended up waiting 6 mo. or more for that.

February 9, 2012, 06:09 PM
Thanks ClemY. I needed a dose of perspective.

I know 2 months isn't all that long in gunsmithing time. I'm just impatient, I guess.

Seeing all the stories of "they got mine back in 8 days" hasn't helped...

Hoppes Love Potion
February 9, 2012, 06:29 PM
I'd say that was very poor service all the way around. I looked at a 3" 317 last week, now I'm very glad I didn't buy it.

Jim K
February 9, 2012, 06:33 PM
FWIW, that doesn't sound like a problem with the cylinder, it sounds like a headspace problem caused by battering of the recoil bushing or the frame itself. Sometimes folks (including manufacturers) forget that the little .22 LR works up a fair amount of pressure, like 25,000 psi, and aluminum alloy just might not stand up to a lot of firing.


February 10, 2012, 09:17 PM
I've had binding issues with CCI velocitors in my 317, but not with the typical HV bulk ammo. Suits me fine as it has functioned fine over thousansds of rounds of federal bulk hv.

March 8, 2012, 01:39 PM
Finally back, as of today (minutes ago, actually).

It looks like they increased the gap between the forcing cone and the front of the cylinder just a little as well.

I think I will get a rare opportunity to actually shoot it tomorrow evening. Looking forward to testing it. I will post a picture soon as promised, but other than the wood grips I had bought and will re-install it's no different from ClemY's earlier pic.

March 8, 2012, 06:18 PM
In before the Swamp People start telling you to...

"cheeeewt eeet!"

(I do want to know the conclusion to this adventure)

March 11, 2012, 08:35 AM
Well, I got to shoot the returned gun just a little bit two days ago. 3 cylinders worth, and everything fired okay. 1 round (#7 of the 2nd cylinder) was a little resistant and required a heavier-than-usual trigger pull.

This could be one out-of-spec round, so I'm not going to panic.

The additional weight really does help. It's noticeably easier to shoot now. The downside is that it is no longer a featherweight, so it feels like a "real" gun. I don't think anybody will say it feels like a toy they way they did when it was all aluminum (several people told me that). Haven't actually weighed it, but seems to be somewhere between 17 and 18 ounces.

I read around a little more, and while some report no long-term problems with their 317 there are a couple of reports of frame cracks after thousands of rounds. So any potential buyers should be aware of this. S&W appears to be good about fixing/replacing any such guns, so if it does occur I'll just send it in.

Thanks to everyone for listening and bearing with my rants 'n reports. I truly appreciate it.

Finally - as promised, a couple of pics. They aren't the greatest, and I apologize in advance.

March 11, 2012, 04:16 PM
For me the steel cylinder improves the gun. The only other area was the sights. I don't do well with the combination of rounded HiViz front with a V rear. I put on a serrated ramp front and square notch rear. That plus Pachmayr gripper grips makes the gun much more useable for me.

March 11, 2012, 04:27 PM
I have a 317 and have had no problems with it. I even use it in my pistol classes with all sorts of ammo. Again No problems.....except when it's dirty, a quick clean and it is back on the firing line.

March 18, 2012, 05:56 PM
Both my wife and I have 2" 317s. Her's was an Xmas present to the tune of $525. Took it out to the range and after 2 cylinders of Rem golden bulk the cylender started to bind. Yikes!!!!!!!!!! Called Smith and they said they'd send me pickup buy I asked if there was anything I could do. Told me to clean under the star very well and to clean and oil the yoke. Did so and took it out to the range and the same thing all over agai. A friend told me his did not like remington at all. Cleaned it up again and out I went with a box of Federal bulk. Fired about 200 rounds without a hitch. Another friend had one and offered to sell me his. He was having the same problem. I mentioned the ammo but he didn't want to hear it. Bought it from him at a fir price. Cleaned it up and it works like a champ. Both of them also seem to have an aversion to stingers so we have those 40 grain winchester supers in them. As a side note I put a wolff 9# hammer spring and a 13# rebound (trigger) spring i the wife's and that trigger is slicker than snot on a door knob. I put the 14# rebound in mine and that's lightened the trigger some. We're both very pleased with them.

March 18, 2012, 08:17 PM
I bought a 3" 317 to teach my daughter and son how to safely handle a handgun. I was going back and forth between the 317 or 63, both in 3". Long story short, I bid on both and won the 317. Hopefully it'll be here this week.

April 13, 2012, 06:26 PM
I know this thread is old news, but I just wanted to go on record to make sure everybody understands that S&W did in fact fix the problem, as far as I can see.

I don't have a whole lot of rounds through the gun, but no issues so far. I even tried a cylinder of random "bottom of the range bag" ammo of various manufacture and age (although all of it was somewhat old) and again no problems.

I just felt moved to post this today and felt it was the High Road thing to do. Thank you S&W.

April 14, 2012, 03:10 PM
I like the way it looks with the SS cylinder. Are those the original grips?

April 14, 2012, 05:00 PM
Thank you! No sir, those are aftermarket J-frame grips.

I found the original grips a bit chunky. My hands are kind of small.

I thought I would have a problem with only a 2-finger grip, but turns out I was wrong. On this model, it has been fine.

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