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A bit confused about shooting my S&W 500

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by crash32, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. crash32

    crash32 Well-Known Member

    My S&W 500 is an absolute blast to shoot! Last weekend my friend and I made it up to the range to shoot 40 rounds out of this thing. When I would shoot it single action I never had a single problem, but there were single times when I was shooting it double action and the hammer would click and not fire.
    How did I skip a cylinder? Am I missing something? This is my first ever revolver so I was a bit ignorant shooting this gun for the first time! I just do not see how I could have either skipped several cylinders or pulled the trigger and somehow the cylinder did not rotate, but yet the hammer dropped.... sorry but I'm a bit confused!!
  2. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Well-Known Member

    One possible issue is the hammer spring tension. When you SA cock the hammer, you get a full travel hammer throw, but when shooting DA the sear trips at a sooner point in the hammer travel. In other words you would be getting light hammer strikes in DA. When this happens, carefully check the primer on the cartridge that did not fire . It should have a dent in it from the light strike.

    If it did not advance to the next cartridge you can easily tell that by carefully checking the brass under the hammer as well.
  3. 56hawk

    56hawk Well-Known Member

    You can skip a round on a double action revolver if you pull the trigger part way and then let off. At a certain point it will go far enough that when you pull the trigger again it will rotate the cylinder again skipping a round. To really see what can happen, pull the trigger just far enough that the cylinder starts to rotate. Then let off the trigger and you can turn the cylinder past the next round by hand.

    Otherwise like mnrivrat said, you are getting light primer strikes in double action. Some primers are really hard to set off. What brand ammo are you using?
  4. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    Next time it happens, open the cylinder, being careful to observe what round was under the hammer upon the click.

    As others noted, if it was a bona fide light strike, the primer will only have a slight dimple. Check the strain screw at the bottom front of the grip frame. It ought to be screwed completely in. Is the gun in factory configuration? Maybe someone put too light a mainspring.

    If it's not a primer ignition problem, it could be recoil related. Heavy recoil can do some funny things. Have you noticed whether the click ever happens with the 1st round; more specifically, have you noticed that it never happens on the 1st round?

    Back to the opened cylinder, then; you might see that there's an empty (i.e. fired) case under the hammer. How could this be? :confused: I can think of a few reasons:

    The most likely is that recoil is causing you to short-stroke the trigger. The hand, which advances the cylinder via the trigger, re-engages sooner than the sear, so a "short-stroke" advances the cylinder without lifting the hammer. In double action, you may begin releasing the trigger, but it unknowingly gets pulled again as the recoil lifts the muzzle, and brings the trigger forward against your finger (if this is the source of the click, btw, it's worth knowing about, since releasing your finger a little further after taking a shot may re-engage the sear, in which case you'd get an unintentional double-tap). You may be short-stroking fairly often without even knowing it, but you'd only get a click once the cylinder has made a full turn. In this case, the case under the hammer will be empty.

    The gun might also be slightly out of time, such that it occasionally fires slightly before the cylinder stop engages the stop slot. In this case, the gun torques under recoil, but the free cylinder doesn't, and indexes to the previous round. The case under the hammer will be empty as well.

    The cylinder may also be indexing to the previous round if the upward movement of the recoiling gun compresses the cylinder stop spring. If the gun is factory stock, I think this is less likely. I wouldn't think this would be double action-dependent, either.
  5. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    ............and .500mags are known for inadvertent double taps due to heavy recoil when combined with a lax grip.
  6. crash32

    crash32 Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot for the suggestions and answers. Next time I go to the range, I will be able to more closely see what happened. This was the first time I was shooting my .500 mag so needless to say I was more focused on the blast/recoil as opposed to cylinder action!!!
  7. Mr.Revolverguy

    Mr.Revolverguy Well-Known Member

    Could be the way you are handling the recoil of the mighty 500 as everyone here has stated. But I had the same problem and it was due to the cylinder stop spring. If you are like me when you first laid eyes on this beast and had to have it which equates to purchasing in 2003 when they were first introduced this is a known problem with that vintage. If getting a high grip does not solve this issue again let someone else shoot it to see if it exhibits the same behavior. Smith replaced my spring no questions asked I sent the 500 out on Monday and it was back in my hands on the following Monday.
  8. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

    Whenever the hammer drops and no discharge occurs you need to...

    Do not pull the trigger again...
    Keep the firearm aim pointed safely downrange for 10 seconds...
    Open the cylinder and check the primer.
  9. Scipio Africanus

    Scipio Africanus Well-Known Member

    In addition to the above advice, all very good, early S&W 500's were known to actually have the cylinder unlock and rotate backwards under heavy recoil. This was usually with the heaviest loads. S&W has sinced fixed this problem. If you can ascertain this to be the problem, a quick trip back to S&W will fix it. S&W really does have fantastic customer service, in my experience.

    Don't despair, the big .500 is too much fun to give up on. Good luck!
  10. crash32

    crash32 Well-Known Member

    The only time it did it was my final 5 rounds (of the $5,000,000 box of 20 rounds) and that was when I was shooting it one handed. It never did it when I was using my normal shooting stance with both hands on it. So... given that I am pretty sure that it was due to weak handling of the pistol.
    Shooting that .500 beast really makes you think really good about shooting it espeically when trying out the single handed shot!!
  11. crash32

    crash32 Well-Known Member

    And..... don't ask why I was shooting it one handed either!!
  12. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

    Why were you shooting one-handed?:evil:

    I really don't see how shooting one-handed can affect how the hammer strikes the primer.
  13. crash32

    crash32 Well-Known Member

    At Mike1234567.... the only thing I can think of is that when I was shooting it one handed that my hand absorbed more of the recoil making it go backwards more than usual. In turn, the trigger moved backwards causing me to depress the trigger for a split second and then press again all on one pull. Could this cause it to skip a cylinder???? Seems like it could.
    I was shooting it one handed because my friend dared me to.... and of course I never turn down a dare!
  14. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

    Not a chance...

    Recoil occurs AFTER a round is fired. You could shake the heck out of a revolver while pulling the trigger and it should fire every time.
  15. F-111 John

    F-111 John Well-Known Member

  16. John Ross

    John Ross Well-Known Member

    Were the misfires light strikes on live rounds, or hammer falling on fired cases? If the latter, MrRev and Scipio explained it. Weak cylinder stop spring, likely a gun made before July 2003. Go to

    http://john-ross.net/pdfs/maghist.pdf and scroll to page 10, "Initial discoveries."

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