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"Spring-smithing" S&W 442

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Maj Dad, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. Maj Dad

    Maj Dad Well-Known Member

    Picked up an as-new, imperceptibly fired 442 at a gun show today for $350 & I am wondering if there is any reasonable approach to lightening the trigger pull without lightening the hammer fall? Reducing the hammer fall for a lighter trigger is out and I can't foot an action job right now, so changing springs seems to be the only way. Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions not involving a smith? The sideplate seemed to be very finely fitted & the finish applied over the mating surfaces so I'm guessing that opening it will break the "seal"... :scrutiny:
  2. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    There is this:

    But I have not tried it.

    My method is the old fashioned trigger job - thousands of dry fire pulls on my 642 wearing things into each other. Doesn't change the springs but it smooths things out and allows you to get used to that long fairly heavy pull.
  3. Maj Dad

    Maj Dad Well-Known Member

    I have changed the springs in all my pistols to one degree or another, but I really hate to break the finish seal on this one. I guess if I can't live with it, I'll change them. Thanks for the input & the link.
  4. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Well-Known Member

    as wlewisiii says, dry fire the snot out of it. the trigger may smooth somewhat, but more importantly, your finger will get used to it.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I could be wrong, but I do not believe S&W ever put finish over an assembled gun.

    I would pull the screws and tap the grip frame with a hammer handle enough to see what happens.

    I think it is just a really well fitted sideplate, which is a rare thing anymore.

  6. fastbolt

    fastbolt Well-Known Member

    Personally, if the J-frame is being used for dedicated defensive carry, I won't start changing springs. Not even the rebound slide spring.

    I let the former (ret) revolver armorer talk me into trying some of the different lighter weight aftermarket rebound slide springs in a new J-frame some years ago. The manufacturer from whom I ordered the springs was pretty up front in telling me that they had competitive shooters in mind with the lighter weight springs, and that I should test whatever gun they were used in to make sure of functioning.

    After the armorer had gone through the gun and checked tolerances, removed some burrs and generally cleaned things up a bit, we started trying the lighter weight rebound springs.

    The lightest of the pack wouldn't allow the trigger to recovery most of the time. Okay, not that one.

    The "middle" spring would allow trigger recovery almost all of the time, but it was sluggish and weak. Not that one, either.

    The heaviest of the lighter weight springs allowed for consistent trigger recovery which felt decent. Lighter force in the trigger recovery (return), but also a bit lighter trigger pull. The armorer was happy. It stayed in the gun.

    After I'd put a lot of rounds down range in the following months, though, I started to notice that during rapid shot strings my finger started feeling as though it was "outrunning" the trigger's recovery. I was prepped to press the trigger again before it had fully recovered. That felt weird. Not a good thing, either. Short-stroking a revolver trigger in DA mode is not good. It bothered me.

    I replaced the light spring with the factory spring and the trigger's recovery was faster and more positive. No way I could get my finger to outrun the recovery. It's remained in the gun, and my subsequent J's have all kept their robust factory springs, as well.

    Now, it's certainly not unusual for a factory or private gunsmith to lighten the springs in a revolver, especially one being run for target/competition. The downside if the gun fails to run as desired is that it may have to come back for correction. The risk of a light strike or a failed trigger recovery is lost points ... not lives.

    Also, the lighter springs, especially the rebound slide spring, may function a particular gun under "ideal" conditions, but not necessarily under less than ideal conditions, like when the gun becomes dirty, fouled or some sort of contaminant(s) may have reached the inside of the frame. Things which can introduce more resistance to the movement of the parts, which means the lighter springs might not work, or maybe just not work as well as when the factory spring is in the gun.

    Now, what's interesting is that the "middle" weight spring that didn't work 100% of the time in my J ended up going into the armorer's J. He tried it and felt it worked fine for his needs, in his gun. His choice. ;)

    As a S&W revolver armorer who sees J's in use as off-duty & secondary weapons, I prefer to leave the factory springs in the guns. I'd rather invest some time "improving" the shooter, instead of re-springing guns which might actually be used in shooting situations. Imagine trying to explain in some court proceeding why a revolver may have failed to work as designed and intended by the factory because I'd changed springs, causing the gun not to run right when it was desperately needed. Not something I care to think about doing, myself.

    Naturally, if someone wants to have it done by a licensed gunsmith, or the factory, meaning folks who can are experienced in this sort of work and are willing to accept responsibility for their work ... and the owner is willing to stake their life on using what are probably considered "target/competition" springs in the gun ... that's not my business.

    If someone wants to install the springs themselves, and are able to do it without damaging the gun or causing a problem, then that's also not my business.

    Dry-fire and live-fire will help "wear in" both the gun and shooter in most instances, I'd think. The little DA/DAO J's do have some heavy triggers, along with smaller grips and a shorter reach.

    Just some thoughts I thought I'd share.

    I'm not anybody's expert at anything, though.

    I do happen to like the little 5-shot guns, myself. I'd neglected an older 649 I had in the safe for some years after the trend to smaller pistols chambered in duty calibers was well underway. It wasn't until I picked up one of the then-new 642-1's that I became interested in breaking out my revolvers and dusting off my revolver skills so I could more effectively use them as off-duty weapons again.

    I just picked up my 6th J-frame this year, and I'm thinking about picking up another one. I like to shoot them quite a bit, too.

    While shooting has been determined to be a "perishable skill", I sort of suspect that shooting a DA/DAO revolver well is probably more taxing than some other guns. ;)
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2011
  7. CSA 357

    CSA 357 Well-Known Member

    i do my own trigger jobs on all my k and n frames, i leave the j frames alone the trigger on my mod 38 is heavy but i dont like to mess with the j frames they are not the same as the larger frame smiths
  8. 340PD

    340PD Well-Known Member

    I have used an Apex kit in my 640. It definately did lighten the trigger. I had an issue with the trigger resetting every time. I got a quick response from Apex that suggested that I may have to modify the "hand" slightly. I did not want to take the risk of altering the timing so I went back to the stock springs. If you do switch springs, especially the rebound spring, I recommend a rebound spring removal tool. It could save you a lot of time finding parts that yost flew out of your revolver. By the way, Apex has a great 2 part video on youtube. This whole job takes under 10 minutes.

  9. Red Cent

    Red Cent Well-Known Member

    The J frame can really benefit from polishing. You can make a very noticeable difference in the trigger weight by polishing the necessary parts. The rebound slide spring can be reduced in power. However, you must help it. The bolt stop spring fights the rebound spring. The interface of the bolt stop and trigger must be glass smooth. The rebound slide must be glass smooth and the surfaces it touches. The hump on top of the rebound slide should be polished. The firing pin block exerts pressure here. Some throw the block away. Be aware, the revolver can be fired if dropped with the block removed.
    My M60-10 J frame is used in PCCA and themain spring has been clipped two coils. The rebound spring has been clipped three coils. The bolt stop spring has been reduced considerably. And all internal parts have been polished. I cannot outrun the reset and I can run the Smith decently. I use Federal primers and they all go bang. I DO NOT carry it for defense.
  10. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    I have found that if you dry fire your J frame 500 or more times you will not only improve your trigger control but smooth out the trigger considerably. I would give it a try before you do anything else. I would use snap caps when firing a revolver that many times.
  11. Remllez

    Remllez Well-Known Member

    Fastbolt has it nailed, I agree completely with what he said, the design and geometry were engineered into the J- frames for a reason and if they will be carried as self defense guns you won't notice the reduction in trigger pull but you will notice the piece not firing.

    I've never thought of snub nose pistols as target guns and if the pull is heavy but smooth I can live with that on a defensive gun. Dry firing may help smooth everything out but more importantly it builds strength and familiarity into your trigger finger.
  12. Tony_the_tiger

    Tony_the_tiger Well-Known Member

    I have a 442 that had a less than stellar trigger pull out of the box. I decided against tampering with the springs and instead cleaned and lubed it, shot it 200 times, then cleaned and lubed it again. The trigger is MUCH better now. I agree with others that the strong springs are in there for a reason - to ensure this lightweight firearm can pop the cap off cartridges with tough primers - which means reliability. Two things needs to happen neither of which involves altering the firearm... you need to shoot it and put some lube in it, and you need to strengthen your trigger finger.
  13. earplug

    earplug Well-Known Member

    The rebound spring and the hammer spring interact with each other. If you mess with one you should/need to adjust the other.
    A reduced power rebound spring would not work well with a full power hammer spring.
    The springs are set up from the factory for worst case operation. I used to haul a M-38 in my pocket while building duck blinds in Cypress Swamps. I don't do that anymore and can mess with my springs all I want.
    Smoothing and polishing helps.
  14. Tony_the_tiger

    Tony_the_tiger Well-Known Member

    Worst case scenario... sounds just like a situation where you might need a ccw...

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