S&W cylinder stuck


December 13, 2012, 10:37 PM
I have a 22 caliber S&W 6 shot revolver; about 15 years old, very well oiled, very good condition, no rust, perhaps as few as 500 total rounds life time through it. That said, the cylinder will not open. Upon pressing the cylinder release button on the left side, it moves all the way until it touches the cykinder housing, but the cylinder will not open. Is this an easy fix or am I in need of a gunsmith?


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December 13, 2012, 10:45 PM
This may sound silly, but make sure it isn't cocked. I actually ran into that at a range. A fellow wanted to unload his revolver and couldn't get the cylinder open. He actually slammed it on the side to try and force the cylinder out.

December 13, 2012, 10:54 PM
Check to make sure the ejector rod has not come loose and backed out.

December 13, 2012, 11:01 PM
Seized crane yolk maybe. The fact that you can move the thumb latch all the way forward I think points to that.

Driftwood Johnson
December 13, 2012, 11:14 PM
Check to make sure the ejector rod has not come loose and backed out.

Very common. That's why S&W eventually put a reverse thread on the cylinder rod. If it is an earlier gun, the act of the cylinder rotating can cause the cylinder pin to unscrew slightly, making it difficult to open the cylinder. Be sure the extractor rod is screwed in all the way. Just a half turn can jam one up. A bit less common is if some unburnt grains of powder get wedged under the extractor star.

December 13, 2012, 11:17 PM
+1 on the ejector rod. I bet it has loosened up. If your revolver was made after 1961, the ejector rod will have a left hand thread. Tighten (turn to the left) it up and I bet you will be able to open your revolver.

December 14, 2012, 01:12 AM
Kyle1965 has hit it. Very common Smith-itis, Loc-Tite is your friend.

December 14, 2012, 01:38 AM
Sorry but Loctite is not your friend.

The ejector pin thread is a rather fine one so I feel it's best to not use anything on it that will produce strain at some point if it has to be taken apart.

Instead I have solved my ejector loosening woes by simply tightening it a LITTLE harder. I start with finger tight. Then I've got a pad of thick leather that I use with a pair of pliers to just very lightly pinch it a hair tighter.

This is one of those times when "just enough" is "just right". It's better to try pinching it a little tighter by too LITTLE and have it come loose again. Then try it a touch tighter than last time and you'll likely be good from then on. The final torque needed to lock it against creeping isn't that much. But it's more than any normal human can manage with just finger tightening.

December 14, 2012, 08:47 AM
Check to make sure the ejector rod has not come loose and backed out.
Kyle got it right. I just checked the ejector rod. It was free and would turn both left and right. After a few seconds it became obvious that it was a right hand thread. Turning the ejector rod right enabled me to open the cylinder. I will now get some Lock Tight and hopefully put an end to this problem forever. Thanks.

That actually is an easy fix.


December 14, 2012, 11:55 AM
Get BLUE #242 Lock-Tight.

It will hold the ejector rod from ever loosening again.

But can still be dissembled if it every becomes necessary in the future.

Degrease the threads, then just apply a tiny drop and put it back together.


Jim K
December 14, 2012, 12:08 PM
BCrider is right, but I didn't use leather. I used to have a piece of U shaped soft copper that I put in the vise and used it to clamp the ejector rod. Then, with a couple of cases inserted in the chambers to take the strain off the ejector, I hand turned the cylinder tight. Done that way, the ejector never loosened up and I never used a thread locker.


December 14, 2012, 12:08 PM
You're right about a tiny drop of blue loctite. I have a dovetail rear sight that was a real loose slip fit (a lame set screw fell out while shooting) and I put a drop of blue on the sight and slipped it on with my fingers. About an hour later I saw that the sight wasn't perfectly aligned and thought I'd be able to slide it just a smidge with my fingers if I tried real hard. I had to use a doublejack and brass drift to move that thing where I wanted it.. about 1/64". I had to really whack it.

I'd dip about 1/8" of a toothpick into the loctite and then barely touch a few of the tops of the first threads (draw a "line") and that'd be plenty for life.

December 14, 2012, 01:17 PM
I made mine, but they are available.


A drilled & split oak or maple block with a clamp screw on one end works well too.

Sure beats an old pair of channel-lock pliers some people use anyway!!


December 14, 2012, 06:27 PM
Sorry BC misspoke again, blue Loc-Tite is MY friend, and I guess rc's too.

December 14, 2012, 06:31 PM
Blue is CPE's friend as well.

December 14, 2012, 11:13 PM
I guess that blue isn't that bad. Especially if used in moderation as described above.

I'm one of the apparently rare breed that takes their cylinder crane assemblys apart now and then for cleaning out the ejector and star. So for me using the leather and a slightly harder pinch on the threads instead of a dab of blue works just fine.

I know that rc' and a couple of other regulars have taken me to task for this but so far no harm has been done..... But I do this stuff with care and control.

Rc', it sounds like you're describing a wooden "nutcracker" wrench. I've seen and made them for a few applications. And in other cases I've used alloy versions for uses that were not firearms related. A very nice option I'd say. And yet another way to skin a cat.... oops, the family pet just looked at me mean like when I typed that last bit. He's not happy now.... :D

And one of my S&W's would certainly agree with you about the vise grips. It's got scars from a previous rough owner that make me grit my teeth every time I see it.

December 14, 2012, 11:51 PM
The tool that RC referenced at Brownells is excellent. Reasonably priced and does not damage finish or rod. This is the same tool that my gunsmith uses.

December 15, 2012, 04:26 AM
Jeez, I just looked at the tool in rc's link. Talk about overkill what with the clamping screw. I bet I could literall SNAP OFF an ejector rod with that thing even if the rod was welded in place! ! !

I was thinking something more like a three to four inch long aluminium bar stock sort of deal where there's a "pivot" hole near one end and a hole for the ejector rod knurling about 1/4 inch in from the end hole and the rest is the handles to apply the pressure to grip the rod. Not that Spanish Inquisition torture device like that one... :D

December 15, 2012, 08:15 PM
I had a S&W 629 that had it's ejector rod back out, jammed the cylinder shut even with the cylinder release fully depressed. I got mine open by using a small flat-head screwdriver and pressing in on the forward latch while pushing forward on the cylinder release, that freed the cylinder.

December 15, 2012, 10:40 PM
All you have to do is put a business card or something between the cylinder and locking bolt and turn the cylinder backward (or forward depending on the age of the gun) while holding the rod from turning to tighten the ejector rod enough for the cylinder latch to work.

Then fix it after you get it open.

Prying with a screwdriver is just another way to mess things up that shouldn't have been messed up.


Bud The Traveler
January 16, 2013, 07:06 PM
RC, Thanks for all your posts related to locked cylinders on S&W revolvers. My friend's M19 .357 experienced a locked condition. Your posts allowed me to unlock w/o damage. I think I will use the "slightly more tighten" method you described using a leather cushion first. If it happens again, then I will apply the lok-tite fix. I am new to the site but have learned a lot already with your help.


January 16, 2013, 08:05 PM
Just for the record, rcmodel is right.

Blue loctite has been my friend for 20+ years of dealing with "Smith-itis". Some have been subsequently disassembled with a bit of heat (hair dryer) and no ill effect. If there is a better remedy I haven't heard of it, fine threads and all.

January 17, 2013, 05:07 PM
rcmodel is right....use a business card (I used a plastic wallet calendar at the range the one time I had the issue).

Screwdrivers are not good friends to many klutzes......

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