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Another S&W PC 329 KABOOM!!

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by MrPink, Jul 6, 2004.

  1. MrPink

    MrPink Well-Known Member

    UPDATE: Another S&W PC 329 KABOOM!!

    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.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2004
  2. Marshall

    Marshall Well-Known Member

    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?
  3. Johnny Guest

    Johnny Guest Moderator Emeritus

    Marshal wrote:
    MrPink had written:
  4. JNewell

    JNewell Well-Known Member

    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."
  5. MrPink

    MrPink Well-Known Member


    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.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2004
  6. jc2

    jc2 member

    The 329 should have been a 324 (.44 Special)!
  7. Marshall

    Marshall Well-Known Member

    Ahhh, Johnny, thank you! The wife say's I need to listen better too. :eek:

    Definately a gun problem! :uhoh:

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

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    That's a Smith & Wesson special feature.
  9. Jim March

    Jim March Well-Known Member

    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...


    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...
  10. MrPink

    MrPink Well-Known Member

    S&W recalls the PC 329

    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.
  11. MrPink

    MrPink Well-Known Member

    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".
  12. Highland Ranger

    Highland Ranger Well-Known Member

    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?
  13. J Miller

    J Miller Well-Known Member

    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.

  14. MrPink

    MrPink Well-Known Member


    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.


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

    Wildalaska member

    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

  16. Highland Ranger

    Highland Ranger Well-Known Member

    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!
  17. Highland Ranger

    Highland Ranger Well-Known Member

    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.


    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?


    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.
  18. Highland Ranger

    Highland Ranger Well-Known Member

  19. DDGator

    DDGator Well-Known Member

    I believe my dealer has the 629 snub with unfluted cylinder for about $629.
  20. MrPink

    MrPink Well-Known Member

    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.

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