Another S&W PC 329 KABOOM!!


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MrPink
July 6, 2004, 10:00 AM
Building on the other thread of a PC 329 KABOOM, a friend of mine bought one after seeing mine. Recently he was at the range shooting W-W 240 grain factory ammo when the gun exploded. Similar to the other thread but the damage was worse: barrel flew off, side of the frame next to the crane and above the crane blew out, topstrap with the front sight flew back. Ti cylinder held, fortunately nobody was hurt.

Sorry no digital pics, but the gun is back at S&W. I feel bad about this because my buddy bought it after seeing mine. He was looking for a lightweight woods backup to a custom Ti Remington 700 300WSM he had made. Now he'd like it if S&W gave him one of the 500 X-frame 4" comped guns.

BTW, when he originally bought the gun, the barrel was canted from vertical and had to be sent back to S&W. He and the gunshop gunsmith are wondering if S&W screwed the barrel tighter and caused metal fatigue.

With 2 of 100 guns now exploding, it has me a little weary of shooting mine. I'll keep you posted as things evolve.

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Marshall
July 6, 2004, 01:28 PM
Boy, that sucks! One of these day's, that or something like that is going to kill someone. I'll be interested to hear the outcome.

Curious, what loads was he shooting?

Johnny Guest
July 6, 2004, 01:53 PM
Marshal wrote: Curious, what loads was he shooting?

MrPink had written:Recently he was at the range shooting W-W 240 grain factory ammo when the gun exploded. :D
Johnny

JNewell
July 6, 2004, 02:03 PM
Sorry to hear about the loss. More bumps on the path of materials technology.

I'm struck by a couple of things. The early 342s were extremely reliable -- but the .38 Special (even +P) is a low-pressure load. Problems seem at least as much related to the scandiaum frame as to the titanium cylinder -- very interesting the the cylinder in your friend's 329 was intact. Going from the .38 Special platform to the.357/.44 Magnum level seems to be testing either the materials choice or at least the manufacturing technique. The crystal ball says "go slow at this time."

MrPink
July 6, 2004, 02:30 PM
JNewall,

With my 329, I have been "going slow" - not out of fear of a kaboom, but because full power loads just plain hurt too much (just like full power loads in my 340). I had been using W-W 210 Silvertips as a max load, while also liking Proload's "Tactical Lite" 200 grain Gold dot loading.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I just hadn;t been shooting the gun much. figured it was kind of a weird gun: Painful to shoot full power stuff in, light in weight, but big in size.

jc2
July 6, 2004, 02:45 PM
The 329 should have been a 324 (.44 Special)!

Marshall
July 6, 2004, 04:29 PM
Ahhh, Johnny, thank you! The wife say's I need to listen better too. :o

Definately a gun problem! :uhoh:

.44 Special, LOL . Sounds like that is what should be used huh? :scrutiny:

Standing Wolf
July 6, 2004, 11:21 PM
BTW, when he originally bought the gun, the barrel was canted from vertical and had to be sent back to S&W.

That's a Smith & Wesson special feature.

Jim March
July 7, 2004, 03:02 AM
For any newbies paying attention:

Titanium cylinders are ALMOST as strong as steel cylinders. Not quite as strong, but pretty dang close.

Now we're seeing these KBooms in 329s where the cylinder does NOT cut loose.

This is a sure-fire sign that it's NOT the ammo's fault. If the ammo was bad (factory double-charge, wrong powder, VERY rare but not impossible), the cylinder would go up.

The intact cylinders therefore means we've got bad guns. The Scandium can't handle 44Maggie. Yes, they SHOULD have been built as 44Spls, or 45LCs mebbe. In fact, a good case can be made that for these guns, 45LC in "Ruger Only" +P power levels would be a better idea than 44Mag.

Here's why: the "Ruger ONLY!!!" loads run about 33,000psi peak. 44Mags run up to 40,000 for the same ballistic energy (same bullet at the same speed). Doesn't make sense, until you realize that with the right powder you can use the extra case volume in the 45LC to reduce peak working pressure while getting the same net effect.

BUT, remember too that when you take a Ruger Blackhawk in 44Mag, swap the barrel to 45 and ream the cylinder to 45LC, you're not doing anything unsafe BUT the thicknesses in the cylinder walls have gone down. So it's a damned good thing you don't need as much peak pressure in the 45LC, because you're ceiling is lower too. On Rugers, the cylinder ALWAYS cuts loose before the frame so it's all about cylinder strength.

Ahhh...but transfer all this over to the Riboflavin 329. Now we know that reaming the 44Mag titanium cylinder to 45LC and swapping barrels will drop the peak pressure being put on the FRAME by 7,000psi or more.

Whoa. And it's the frame that's cutting loose...sounds damned good to me.

Wouldn't be all THAT expensive a conversion...swap barrel, ream cylinder...a pure stainless cylinder would weigh a bit more but for gawd's sake, it'll help with recoil control. Only possible gotcha: if the TI cylinder has steel cylinder bore liners this wouldn't work AT ALL. Check this first...start with a magnet.

Even with "Ruger ONLY!" loads, you're now putting less stress on the frame.

Better yet: this is what S&W should do...except they'd be validating the whole 45LC+P world, AND they'd have to admit that they've been doing weaker heat-treats and action parts on the prior N-Frame 45LCs...

Sigh.

If they'd only done what Ruger did long ago and built their 45LCs to 44Mag specs, they'd have been MUCH better off in the new Scandium world...

MrPink
July 7, 2004, 12:29 PM
Just got a call from my dealer. S&W is recalling all PC 329s. He did not know if the recall applied to the standard 329. Said S&W will replace it with something, but what that will be is TBD. Sure hope I have a say in it.

If anybody has a PC 329, PM me for the S&W rep contact info.

MrPink
July 7, 2004, 01:08 PM
Update, part deux:

Talked with the S&W rep handling the recalls. They are offering the following replacements:

- X500, 4" comped snubbie
- X500 8 3/8"
- PC 629 7 1/2" light hunter
- 327 2" 8-shot

Of course I'm not wild about any of these (or I would have bought one). I have an upcoming PC 586 L-comp on order and they are trying to see if they can switch my 329 out for that.

S&W is also tossing in a $50 gift certificate "for your troubles".

Highland Ranger
July 7, 2004, 01:25 PM
As a way of subscribing to this thread, I'll ask a question: are they just doing away with the 329?

Also, this is not an inexpensive gun. I have the Lew Horton version, set me back over $1000 plus all the accesories I have sunk in it - I guess I get to eat those?

(Anyone need a 3" holster for an N-Frame?)

This is a bummer.

Recall is not yet listed on their web site, I have an email in to S&W, I'll post the response here.

Annoyed that I haven't gotten a call from my dealer . . . . . he's losing points for this one.

Kudos to Mr Pink! My (count them) ten fingers all thank you.

Anyone point WildAlaska at this thread? He sells customized 329's up in Alaska . . . . or is this the PC version only on recall?

J Miller
July 7, 2004, 01:29 PM
Hang on to your PC329 and in a couple years you'll have a desireable collectors item.

This has happened with several other gun makers too.

Joe

MrPink
July 7, 2004, 02:08 PM
HR,

Talking with the CS rep and my dealer, neither knew if the standard 329 (4" sleeved barrel) was being recalled at this time. Remember the PC 329 was a run of 100 black and 100 clear finished guns. I'd venture a guess that more than 200 standard 329s have been produced.

JMiller,

Sure it would be a collector's piece, but would you own a gun you can't shoot? Big market for that?

Wildalaska
July 7, 2004, 02:37 PM
OK before we all get our panties in a bunch..

Its a recall for PC 329s only..
The suspician is a bad "lot" of frames (heat treating or alloy composition)'
Regular 329s are not affected.
I have yet to hear about one failing up here, and we and the other shops sell a ton of them

WildinfohighwayAlaska

Highland Ranger
July 7, 2004, 02:56 PM
Spoke to Phylis at S&W customer service - she was surprised I heard about the recall so fast as they just decided to do the recall.

Gotta love THR!

Confirming Wild's post, regular 329's are not effected, this is just the PC version only.

Apparently the barrel and frame are different on the PC version (not sleeved). When I asked why they were being recalled she said there might be an issue with the frame and that because so few were made they decided to just recall them and replace with something else so they wouldn't have to stock replacement parts going forward.

She said NOT TO FIRE THE GUN! And is sending me a return label. She seemed to want the gun back and said we can figure out what to replace it with later. (I don't think so!)

The replacement choices are:

- X500, 4" standard version (not PC)
- X500 8 3/8" (not PC)
- PC 629 7 1/2" light hunter
- 327 2" 8-shot PC

I have the light hunter and none of the rest appeal to me. So I asked about a 1911, she said she might be able to do a 1911 or there was some talk of doing a trigger job on a standard 329 4" and replacing with that.

I asked about cash or money toward another gun but no movememnt there.

I also have another problem - we here in the PRNJ need pistol purchase permits and this swap needs to go through an FFL. So I guess I need to go to the police station and figure out what to do. My guess is I will need to apply for another purchase permit.

This really stinks but I guess it beats having your fingers blown off.

PS Wild - My panties are thoroughly bunched man!

Highland Ranger
July 7, 2004, 03:25 PM
As I am looking into this another thought occurred to me. And I am getting annoyed.

List price for the 329pd is $1200 and its not heavily discounted. Don't have it in front of me but I will edit to add the price when I get home.

These guns with wider poduction runs will most likely be discounted deeper but here are the list prices:

- X500, 4" standard version (not PC) SKU: 163504 - $1150
- X500 8 3/8" (not PC) SKU: 163500 - $1017
- PC 629 7 1/2" light hunter SKU: 170181 - $1171 ($950 on Davidsons)
- 327 2" 8-shot PC - SKU: 170245 - $1179

So the trend is to offer lower value guns that can be purchased on the street at a deeper discount.

OK.

So add the $50 gift certificate they are offering for our trouble.

Subtract the $25 gift certificate they are giving to anyone buying a new gun this summer and subtract my nics fee ($35?) and all the time and hassle I will have to go through to get another purchase permit.

And what do you have?

A REALLY BAD DEAL!

I can't tell you how disppointed I am in Smith and Wesson. This just stinks. They put a defective product on the market and it costs me money time and energy to help them make sure they don't have a lawsuit on their hands when this thing lets go and hurts someone.

I think I am going to have to make a fuss.

Highland Ranger
July 7, 2004, 03:45 PM
On a related note, does anyone have any idea what the 629
Trail Boss - Deluxe Anniversary (Fluted Cylinder, Mag-na-port) costs either list price or street?

No list price on the web site. (see http://www.swfirearms.vista.com/store/index.php3?cat=293607&item=838767&sw_activeTab=1)

If its a $500 gun I need to ask for two!

At least the holster and grips will fit and it fills the same nitch albeit in stainless.

DDGator
July 7, 2004, 04:17 PM
I believe my dealer has the 629 snub with unfluted cylinder for about $629.

MrPink
July 7, 2004, 05:15 PM
HR, I had asked about a 3" 629 when I talked with Phyllis - she didn't seem to have any readily in stock. I too have been thinking about a replacement, and while I have a PC 586 L-comp on order, to swap an L-comp and the PC 329 even (+$50 gift cert) would have me on the loosing end of the deal.

I'm trying to think of a gun/services that costs more than the PC329 where I toss in a little extra cash to make it work.

Highland Ranger
July 7, 2004, 05:26 PM
Let me know what you come up with.

The math I illustrated above works in their favor.

I would think us being good and returning the guns lowering their future liability would mean that we get a little something something . . . .

Standing Wolf
July 7, 2004, 06:30 PM
(Anyone need a 3" holster for an N-Frame?)

Yep. Check your PM, please.

Highland Ranger
July 8, 2004, 10:12 AM
Add another cost to the above - The FFL will probably hit me $50 for the transfer.

patentmike
July 8, 2004, 05:45 PM
Maybe you could ask them to custom engrave that replacement?

Highland Ranger
July 8, 2004, 10:26 PM
Didn't look at prices for that and didn't get a chance to call Smith today.

I'll try to call tomorrow and I guess my position is, here is what I have in the gun, make me whole and if you want to do the right thing, give me something for my time and energy.

Explain the cost to management as cheaper than the cost of a prosthetic hand.

BTW, looked up cost: 1032.59 with tax and nics. Add another $50 for the transfer plus the purchase permit/nics and I am calling it $1100 . . . .

So again, the list price of their suggested replacements is less in some cases, let alone what I could actually buy the guns for, even here in overpriced PRNJ.

Kamicosmos
July 10, 2004, 03:05 AM
Not really adding anything to the thread, but have a comment on the:

- 327 2" 8-shot PC

Saw one at my local shop. That gun is a real-life Photoshop job, eh? Funny looking thing. Don't quite get the point either, the 2 inch barrel suggests CCW, but it's on a big frame and 8-shot cylinder, which doesn't suggest CCW...least not casual CCW.

I now return you to the thread, already in progress....

Stainz
July 10, 2004, 07:46 AM
I think a better choice has existed since 89-90... the 629 Mountain Gun. Yes, it is a 4" SS 629 capable of anything another 629 - and your hand/wrist - can take... and it weighs about 50% more than the 329. My collection of Ti revolvers has forever stopped at one - my 296. Over eighteen months of shooting it with it's picky palate is enough... no more Ti! Yeah, I've seen pictures of one of them ka-boomed, too. Mine is fine...must have launched over 1,000 Blazer 200gr Gold Dots and 500 of Georgia Arms ammo and my homebrews same bullet reloads by now. Great trigger = shoots POA at 12 yd, too.

S&W hasn't made the 629MG since '01-'02, although the 29 MG blued variant was out last year, like the 25 MG blued variant in .45 Colt is now. I bought my SS MG's new for a street price of ~$500-$520, while the Ahrend's stocked blued models were a bit more. Maybe they can swap you one of each. I have problems considering a 4" 500...

Stainz

Highland Ranger
July 11, 2004, 09:23 AM
FYI - Lew Horton has a 6 1/2" PC 500 mag. More than the 329 but you might be able to work a deal.

Marshall
July 11, 2004, 09:45 AM
Ask them for two 5 1/2" Redhawks and a double holster and belt rig. LOL :evil:

Highland Ranger
September 1, 2004, 02:50 PM
I guess waiting a bit paid off.

Spoke to Phylis from S/W customer service.

They have a new option, they'll take the 329 barrel, machine it and put it on a PC 629 frame. Not quite as light but still a 3" PC gun.

They'll also bead blast it to the same finish.

She said they'd done about 15 or so alrady and they look nice.

If anyone has pictures they could share or comments on the work, please let me know as I am getting ready to send mine in.

Thanks!

Highland Ranger
September 9, 2004, 04:22 PM
Wanted to bump this again now that we are back up - anyone get this job done and if so how did it come out?

Sent mine back this week so I guess I'll be answering my own question soon.

Details from the letter to warrany people:

1. The existing Performance Center ported titanium barrel will be removed from Serial Number XXXXXX. That frame and serial number will be destroyed.


2. The existing titanium barrel will be remounted on the stainless steel, Performance Center “629 Light Hunter Model” (SKU: 170181) which includes: Ball detent yoke lock-up, Chamfered charge holes, action job, sights aligned etc. as indicated on your web site: http://www.firearms.smith-wesson.com/store/index.php3?cat=294735&item=831467&sw_activeTab=3 (The provision for scope mounting is probably not practical and thus not required on the titanium barrel.)


3. The barrel will be refinished to match the stainless frame.


4. The gun will be test fired and include the test casing.

Hope it comes out ok. They did not want the case or grips, just the gun.

Pug Puppy
September 11, 2004, 10:24 AM
This is ridiculous! Smith and Wesson should give you your money back, plus buy you any one of your choices of a new gun.
It is utterly inexcusable that a product meant to save lives, malfunctions.

Highland Ranger
September 11, 2004, 10:33 AM
Maybe you're right - maybe we as consumers should expect more.

I was just happy that they'd make right on the gun. Granted, I bought and paid for a lightweight woods bear gun and I'll be getting back something less than that, but at least I'll have a gun and not a paperweight.

But you may have a point . . . . especially when it's more than just a defect, it's a liability lawsuit waiting to happen.

Tamara
September 11, 2004, 09:47 PM
It is utterly inexcusable that a product meant to save lives, malfunctions.

It happens. (Check, for instance, on the advisability of actually shooting an early Al-cylinder pre-Model 12 or pre-Model 37 from the '50s...)

One day, a PC329 will be a "$3,000 do-not-fire" collector's piece. ("Beware of fakes!" :uhoh: )

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