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Revolver Failure

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by CTGunner, Oct 1, 2010.

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  1. CTGunner

    CTGunner Member

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    Have you ever had a revolver fail to fire for some reason other than bad ammunition? If so, what type of revolver was it? What are the most common reasons that revolvers 'break'?

    This thread has gotten a lot of attention...part of the reason I ask is that I owned a brand new S&W686 when I first got into guns. It was actually my first gun. I shot about 300 rounds through it and it stopped working. The cylinder would turn the firing pin would hit the primer but the rounds would not fire. I tried several different brands of ammo. I had the owner of the gun shop look at it. It appeared to be light primer strikes. So, I sent it to S&W and after about a month I got it back...in working order, and no explanation of what was done to fix it. I sold the gun and purchased a Glock 30. Any ideas on what was going on and if it is something that I could have caused?

    I just picked up a GP100 and a 642...and I'm hoping to use them as my primary defensive weapons without fear of 'failure'...
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2010
  2. Clifford

    Clifford Member

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    Most common FTF problem with a revo is generally due to lightened mainsprings and or shortened strain screws.
     
  3. LaserSpot

    LaserSpot Member

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    Revolvers have closer tolerances than pistols so they're more sensitive to grit and debris. I had a friends S&W (in .45 ACP) lock up because of unburnt powder under the extractor star.
     
  4. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Member

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    Right. Dirt can be an issue (including the kind of unburnt powder crud under the star mentioned above). I had the sear spring break on a S&W 66 during dryfire once. It had been shot thousands of rounds and dryfired so many times I hesitate to guess; at least 5 figures, probly 6. Replaced the part w/ a free replacement from S&W and still shoot it.

    Let's see, what else...

    Apart from ammo-related failures, I guess that's it. Strain-spring loose; dirt (under star or maybe in chamber, preventing full cartridge seating); and a broken spring. Those are the only Failures to Fire I recall seeing. I've heard of instances of built-in-locks accidentally engaging or being engaged. Never seen it and think it's less likely than a very unusual malfunction like my sear-spring breakage. Other problems can develop that don't cause Failure to Fire--most common is probably the ejector rod beginning to unscrew so you can't open the cylinder.
     
  5. Archie

    Archie Member

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    Broken firing pin.

    On one of the old style 'pin mounted on hammer' rather than frame type S&Ws.

    It was a S&W M13 I carried as a duty gun in the Border Patrol. I shot it a lot and dry fired it probably more. No idea of how many times that pin clunked down on the frame, but I had the gun about four years at the time.

    I replaced the firing pin and still have that gun.

    The only other 'failure' is the matter of a soft primer backing up in the firing pin hole. Usually takes a rubber mallet or boot heel to knock the cylinder open.
     
  6. buttrap

    buttrap Member

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    Well there is a reasion why revolvers went out of style in like 1900. They just dont get along with dirt muck and such. If I had a buck for every jam I have had with a revolver I would have cash to by a new box of .45 colt ammo.
     
  7. Smith357

    Smith357 Member

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    One in 25 years

    I had the ejector rod loosen up and lock the cylinder in the closed position on a S&W M25-2. Five min and some blue Loctite fixed it.
     
  8. smartshot

    smartshot Member

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    LCR failed w/blazer

    My ruger LCR predictably failed every 4th and 5th shot while using blazer ammo. Reason being was that the cases were non-reloadable and not crimped and the light weight gun allowed the bullets to recoil out of the casing and catch on the gun's frame. I had to dangerously hit the bullet back into the case to be able to open the cylinder. Strangely, the more I shot the blazer, the less failures I had, but then I stopped using blazer all together. NOTE TO SELF: MAKE SURE THE AMMO I BUY IS BRASS CRIMPED AND THE LCR IS VERY RELIABLE.
     
  9. altitude_19

    altitude_19 Member

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    My Smith 325 had some firing pin housing issues. Scandium frame revolvers can sometimes be touchy pieces of engineering.
     
  10. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Member

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    ^^This^^

    I have seen multiple times. Technically it may be ammo related.

    Once at a class a guy blew the topstrap and the upper half of the cylinder into orbit. We never found the pieces.:uhoh:

    He swears he couldn't have double charged his reloads.:rolleyes:
     
  11. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    I've had a few problems with my 686, but I use for IDPA, etc. and dryfire the batsnot out of it. Competition, and moreso, the live- and dry-fire, and reloading practice is very hard on revolvers.

    I've broken the hammer, and it locked the gun up (though I should disclose the hammer wasn't stock, but modified to DAO).

    At a big match a few weekends ago, my gun suddenly locked up. The timer was running, of course, and revolver jams are never good, so it was an "Oh, darn" <edit -- Sam> moment. After losing 7 seconds, it suddenly "unjammed" and I finished the stage & match. Afterward, we found the firing pin spring ground itself into bits, so the jam was likely caused by a stuck pin.

    We also discovered that the gun itself was in dire need of a tune-up, and included replacement of a bent crane screw/plunger assembly. The crane screw/plunger seems a weak link in Smith's design, as it's the only thing holding the cylinder assembly in place. Reloads put a good deal of strain on it, and bent plunger assemblies on competition revolvers aren't uncommon. Unfortunately, at some point they'll bend enough so the cylinder can't open and/or close (which did happen to another wheelgunner at this same match), or even fall out, so I'd consider this a FTF averted.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2010
  12. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    I had a Ruger Security Six that I suspect was the victim of a "bubba trigger job"

    Whether that was the case of not, a mainspring fixed it.

    I too have had crud build up under the star. I forget what I was shooting but it was particularly dirty ammo.

    Had a Smith 19 that I bought locked up for a great price. Fixed it and gave it to my daughter for her 15th b day. I don't guess that it was a revolver that failed "on me" but it failed on someone.
     
  13. Jonah71

    Jonah71 Member

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    Yes I have. The Taurus Mod. 65 .357 key lock safety system locked up. Did it again even after they had it for 2 months. Finally traded it.
     
  14. Taroman

    Taroman Member

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    S&W Model 60. Broken bolt. Locked it up tighter than a tick. Luckily, this was at the range and not during a social encounter.
     
  15. Jonah71

    Jonah71 Member

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    Since I ALWAYS clean my guns after use (sometimes before I even leave the range), dirt is seldom a problem. May seem a bit obsessive, but it's hard for an old man to unlearn a 45+ year habit.
     
  16. JoelSteinbach

    JoelSteinbach Member

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    The only revolvers that have mechanically failed have both been Taurus, one with a crane out of alignment the other a Judge that I would have to jiggle the cylinder after each shot, I no longer own any Taurus products.
     
  17. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    We have had several accounts on this forum of revolvers -- especially Rugers -- breaking the transfer bar.

    Other things include:

    • Bullet creep -- bullets moving forward under recoil and tying up the cylinder.
    • Primer lockups -- mostly metal flowing into the firing pin hole. A backed-out primer can also tie up the cylinder.
    • Crud under the ejector star.
    • Loose ejector rod.
    • Loose or backed out strain screw
     
  18. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    My Redhawk had some light firing pin strikes in slow DA. Ruger took care of it.
     
  19. oldbanjo

    oldbanjo Member

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    My brother had to send his, back up ,gun for repair, it wouldn't fire. It was a Charter Arms.
     
  20. Uniquedot

    Uniquedot Member

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    Willing to bet it wasn't the key lock causing the problem. I had the same problem and the only thing i could figure was the key lock was locking up the gun, but i finally figured out that it was the extractor spring failing to press the pin back far enough in the closed position.
     
  21. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Two early Charter Arms .38 Spl snubbys that gave 50%-75% DA mis-fire rates right out of the box. No more Charters for me in the last 40 years.

    An occasional S&W ejector rod loose 45 years ago.
    They all get lock-tighted, along with the cylinder thumb-piece nut, when they follow me home since I knew better.

    Colt & clone SAA broken bolt springs.
    They all get Wolff music wire bolt springs now.

    Compared to bottom-feeders, my list of revolver failures or parts breakage over the last 50+ years is probably 10-1 in favor of revolvers just always working.

    rc
     
  22. Snakum

    Snakum Member

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    I was a wheel gun fanatic in my early years and owned a Colt Python, S&W 29, 10 , 27, and 36, a Dan Wesson .357, and a Ruger Blackhawk. And the only issue I ever had was when shooting the DW with my brother's very hot handloads. I ran the snot out of all of them but I kept them spotlessly clean and well oiled. I guess I was just lucky, considering how much I shot.

    But I have had a friend lock up a Taurus 85 when the 'cylinder poker upper thingee' broke and I saw an old Charter Bulldog blow up once when the guy was pumping hot loads thru the little thing as fast as he could pull the trigger.
     
  23. MR.G

    MR.G Member

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    Had a few revolver failures. Most due to crud under the ejector star, or ejector rods comming unscrewed. Also had a Colt Cobra that had an internal part breakage and locked up completely.
     
  24. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Properly used, with the barrel pointing skyward, the unburned powder falls out inside the emptys when you eject them.

    If you eject with the barrel pointed down, all kinds of bad things can happen, including powder grains under the ejecter star, an empty case rim under the star, etc.

    As you open the cylinder, point the barrel up, and hit the ejector rod. The cases & dirt will end up on the ground, not in the gun.

    rc
     
  25. Big Bill

    Big Bill Member

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    I've never had one of my revolvers fail me - NEVER! Probably because I am meticulous about keeping my guns clean. However, I've had a FTF because of faulty factory ammo. A while back, I started shaking ammo that has been stored for awhile. I've read that it's the thing to do. Maybe it's helped, maybe not; it's hard to say.

    Almost all the problems I've experienced with handguns, has been with auto loaders.

    rc- thanks for that reminder.
     
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