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Old February 3, 2012, 03:59 AM   #1
XDforty5
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S&W .22 cylinder locking

i recently inherited a old smith and wesson .22 and every few shots the cylinder locks shut and will not rotate. both when firing and dry firing. i am able to wiggle it unlocked after a little while. does anyone know what causes this? i do not have much revolver experience.
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Old February 3, 2012, 04:44 AM   #2
gyvel
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If it is an older Smith & Wesson, the ejector rod has a right hand thread ("right tight, left loose") and has a tendency to loosen when the cylinder rotates. Make sure the rod is completely tight and see if that solves your problem.

A drop of Loctite on the threads will help eliminate the problem in the future.
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Old February 3, 2012, 05:01 AM   #3
XDforty5
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wow it was that simple! thank you so much. it worked, another dumb question will this revolver be picky with ammo. i have shot this once with cheap federal 550rd bulk pack. and i had alot of rounds not go off. probably 2 out of 6 would not fire. the hammer seems to drop pretty hard and the primers were dented. it is a older gun it was my paps that died in the late 80s.
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Old February 3, 2012, 05:53 AM   #4
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Glad it was that simple!

Federal bulk pack ammo is hit or miss (no pun intended). I've had the same problems with Remington Thunderbolt and Winchester Wildcat. Usually it is a matter of the primer not filling 360 degrees of the riim. Odds are that, if you rotated the shells that didn't go off the first time say, 90 degrees, they would fire.

That revolver is one of the better .22s ever made, and you really should use quality ammo in it.
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Old February 3, 2012, 06:50 AM   #5
XDforty5
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Is it really? I have noticed the amazing trigger, assuming it is factory. What ammo do you suggest. Like I said I am very new to revolvers.
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Old February 3, 2012, 07:57 AM   #6
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XDforty5....I noticed you live in central Pa. I live in York. I could "help" you break in a classic Smith revolver if you like!

Do you know what model it is? How about some pics? We all love nice classic revolver pics
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Old February 3, 2012, 08:13 AM   #7
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Nice my brother works in York. I will post some pics later on today. It says .22lr ctg I am not sure if that is the model or what.
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Old February 3, 2012, 11:26 AM   #8
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XD- you may need to replace the mainspring on the gun. I had to on a S&W .22 that had been in our family since the 1930's. Wolff has a replacement for about $10 and it takes 10 minutes to swap. Also make sure the strain screw is tight. This is the screw on the lower front grip strap (it may be covered if someone has put on grips that cover the front strap), this screw tensions the mainspring and if loose can cause the fail to fire issues. If it is tight you should try to replace the main spring.
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Old February 3, 2012, 12:08 PM   #9
carguychris
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Couple of things...

Quote:
both when firing and dry firing.
Do NOT dry-fire this gun, or any other S&W rimfire revolver!

S&W rimfire revolvers lack a mechanism to prevent the firing pin from striking the cylinder when dry-firing. Repeatedly doing it will dent the cylinder or damage the firing pin.
Quote:
...you may need to replace the mainspring on the gun. I had to on a S&W .22 that had been in our family since the 1930's. Wolff has a replacement for about $10 and it takes 10 minutes to swap. Also make sure the strain screw is tight.
Be aware that the revolver may not have a strain screw, and the mainspring design depends on the frame type.

S&W has sold .22 revolvers in 4 different frame sizes:
  • M frame: Very small, miniature, literally looks like a toy; 7-shot cylinder
  • I frame: Compact grip frame, 1.25"-long cylinder, 6-shot
  • J frame: Compact grip frame, 1.3"-long cylinder IIRC, replaced I frame, traditionally 6-shot, some new ones 8-shot
  • K frame: Full-size, traditionally 6-shot, some new ones 10-shot
If the gun is an M frame (commonly known as a Ladysmith), IMHO you should NOT fire it. It is a valuable collector's item, parts are extremely rare, and the lockwork is simply too delicate to withstand repeated firing; this is generally understood to be the reason S&W discontinued these guns. Furthermore, the gun is actually chambered in .22 Long, and use of .22LR ammo will split the forcing cone.

The I frame came in two versions. The pre-1952 version has a short grip frame and a leaf mainspring with a strain screw. The mainspring in these guns is removed by taking off the sideplate (get directions on how to do this properly!) and loosening the strain screw all the way. New mainsprings for these guns have been unavailable for a long time, but you can often correct light strikes on older S&Ws by gently bending the old mainspring straight and reinstalling it. The key word is "gently"; do NOT kink it, the goal it to straighten it! FWIW the mainspring in these guns can actually be removed without removing the sideplate, but reinstallation is tricky because you have to gently engage a swinging stirrup on the hammer up inside the gun, which is difficult to do if you've never attempted it before.

The post-1952 I frame uses a coil mainspring with NO strain screw, as does the J frame. The mainspring in these guns is removed by cocking the gun, inserting a piece of small and stiff wire (a straightened paperclip works great) through the hole in the mainspring guide, taking off the sideplate, lifting out the mainspring and guide, carefully restraining the spring as you remove the retaining wire, and then carefully removing the spring from the guide (the spring pressure is considerable and it will go flying if you carelessly release it).

The K frame has a leaf mainspring like the early I frame, but replacements are readily obtained because the K frame is still in production. All modern K frame mainsprings are interchangeable.

[Edit to add footnote] If the gun is a version that uses a strain screw, it's possible that the screw was shortened to lighten the DA trigger pull; this is unfortunately a common but misguided trick amongst garage gunsmiths. New strain screws are available from S&W for blued and stainless K frames, but if you have an I frame or a nickel K frame and you don't want to use a blued screw, you'll have to go to Plan B. Fortunately, Plan B is to use a readily available Allen-head 8-32x1/2 set screw from your friendly local hardware store. You may need to file it to length, and if the end is pointed, you should file or Dremel it down so it's blunt and won't damage the spring. Once you figure out how far you need to screw it in to stop the light strikes, purple Loctite is recommended so it won't shoot loose.
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Last edited by carguychris; February 3, 2012 at 12:22 PM. Reason: Footnote!
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Old February 3, 2012, 02:44 PM   #10
gyvel
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I still think your misfires are from the crap Federal ammo.

However, it certainly wouldn't hurt to give the gun a good cleaning and lube.

And, yes, DO NOT dry fire this gun as this will damage the chambers as pointed out above.

Since your barrel is marked ".22lr ctg" we can rule out the Ladysmith.
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Old February 3, 2012, 10:08 PM   #11
XDforty5
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Wow thanks for all the help. I am going to pick up some better ammo and take it to the range on Sunday. I will start from there. And a huge thanks for telling me not to dry fire the weapon! It makes me sick knowing I could have (hopefully didn't) damage my paps gun from being uneducated on it. I am new on this forum and I already got some much good info from you guys and I truly appreciate it!
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Old February 4, 2012, 11:04 AM   #12
carguychris
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Quote:
Since your barrel is marked ".22lr ctg" we can rule out the Ladysmith.
You're right, I missed that subtle point.

Ladysmiths had a cryptic and nonstandard barrel rollmark that said *.22 S&W CTG.* This was part of an early 20th-century attempt to sell "special" S&W-branded ammo that was actually regular .22 Long. Unfortunately, the nonstandard marking has resulted in many irreversibly damaged Ladysmiths, since the guns are capable of chambering .22LR.
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Old February 15, 2012, 01:19 PM   #13
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i just got back from shooting and the cylinder was flawless but my first go 3 out of 6 fired. it only got worse from there. second go only 1 fired. i looked at the casings and they were barely dented at all. i do not even know where to start. i was using CCI mini mags not bulk ammo.
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Old February 15, 2012, 05:31 PM   #14
carguychris
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XDForty,

Did you ever figure out which frame type it has?

Have you attempted any of the corrective measures suggested in this thread?
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Old February 16, 2012, 03:14 AM   #15
XDforty5
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i gave it a good cleaning, checked the set screw (tight), and i used better ammo. so should i just buy the $10 main spring? here is a picture finally. i still do not know the model.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg smith.jpg (159.0 KB, 37 views)
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Old February 16, 2012, 10:04 AM   #16
carguychris
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It's a K-22 Masterpiece, I'm guessing early 1950s vintage judging by the polished blue finish, 5-screw frame, hammer configuration, and barrel profile. Nice gun. It's a K frame.

This gun became the Model 17 when S&W instituted their modern model numbering system in 1957. Some collectors call this gun the K-22 "Target" Masterpiece, but this isn't a factory designation; it was concocted by collectors to differentiate the Masterpiece line from the similar Combat Masterpieces, which have ramp front sights and (normally) 4" barrels.

The good news is that this gun uses the same mainspring and strain screw as all other modern square-butt K frames. (The round-butt guns use a slightly different screw due to differing grip frame dimensions.) A quick phone call to the S&W parts department should get you what you need, and they'll probably send it to you for free, since the parts cost is probably less than $15. My M10 had a problem with light strikes when I got it, S&W sent me these parts free of charge, and the problem was solved.

FWIW I bet you that the strain screw in the gun is substantially shorter than the new strain screw will be. Many, many older K frames have had the screw filed down in a misguided attempt to lighten the trigger pull.

[EDIT] Don't forget- you can also use a set screw as I explained in my earlier post. Since it sounds like this gun is primarily a range toy, it won't matter too much if it shoots loose periodically.
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Old February 17, 2012, 03:24 AM   #17
XDforty5
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thank you for the info! i just emailed S&W i hope you are right about the free parts.
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Old February 17, 2012, 10:13 AM   #18
carguychris
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S&W has never charged me for a parts order that was less than ~$25.

BTW here's some instructions on proper sideplate removal, copied from an old post of mine.
Quote:
The proper way to remove the sideplate is to remove the screws, remove the grips, and then whack the bottom of the grip frame with a non-marring tool such as a wooden block or a screwdriver handle. The sideplate will then "walk" upwards until it can be easily removed.

The slot in the bottom of the hammer block engages the pin on the side of the rebound slide. This sometimes isn't obvious to n00bs because the hammer block may fly off as the grip frame is whacked to dislodge the sideplate.

Do not cycle the action an excessive number of times with the sideplate off. This practice can bend the hammer and trigger pivot pins and/or cause parts to go flying. Doing it a handful of times won't hurt anything if you're careful, just restrain yourself.

The proper way to reinstall the sideplate is to position the hammer block in its fully upward "safe" position, point the top of the sideplate downwards, position the groove in the sideplate so it engages the hammer block, slide the sideplate upwards along the hammer block until the tab engages the frame, then seat the sideplate in the frame using firm but not excessive thumb pressure. The hammer block should not move during this procedure, and you should be able to seat the sideplate almost all the way down with your thumbs. If the sideplate will NOT seat, it is probably jammed against the hammer block; you need to remove it and start over. Do NOT try to force it down with the screws or you may bend something or strip the screw holes!
Two other notes that aren't mentioned:
  • Make sure you use a properly fitted set of hollow-ground gunsmithing screwdrivers! S&W is out of replacement sideplate screws for some older models, so there may not be a backup plan if you bugger one up.
  • Do NOT get the two small round-headed lower forward sideplate screws mixed up with one another. They look identical, but looks are deceiving; the forward one is a slightly different size and is hand-fitted to the cylinder yoke retention groove. (The rearmost small sideplate screw under the grips should have a flat head, so it's difficult to mix up with the other two.)
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Old February 20, 2012, 02:06 PM   #19
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the parts are in the mail!
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Old March 15, 2014, 11:38 AM   #20
virginiaham
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gyvel: cylinder lock solution

gyvel: your post and solution was a time and $$ saver. After giving the symptoms thorough thought, it all made sense. In 2 minutes, the problem
was resolved. thank you kind Sir.

btw, the revolver is a 17-3, 1957.....limited edition...yes, yellow crayon
letters fill.

Again, many thanks.
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Old March 15, 2014, 01:03 PM   #21
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Op if your finding or maybe have a good stash of 22LR good on you! Here if you don't have a stash you take what you can find, hoping that ends soon.
But if no stash just shoot what you can find. That K22 is a tack driver with the right ammo, I like Federal Gold Medal Target down to my last brick and I can't find any to restock right now.
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Old March 15, 2014, 01:19 PM   #22
Driftwood Johnson
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Howdy

You own one of the finest 22 target revolvers ever made, the K22. Be sure to thank your pap when you say your prayers tonight. Open the cylinder and look on the frame under where the hinged piece (yoke) was sitting. If you see words like MOD 17 or MOD 17-2 or something to that affect, the gun is a Model 17 made after 1957. If there are no words, just numbers, the gun was made before 1957 and goes by the name K 22.

Be sure the extractor rod is tight. Also look for fouling underneath the extractor star, between the cylinder and the star. Fouling there can cause problems opening the gun. Most of the after market springs that I am aware of are to lighten the hammer pull, so putting an aftermarket spring in will not help with inconsistent ignition.

Did you ask for a new spring when you called S&W? A new spring, and a new strain screw should make everything right.
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Old March 15, 2014, 04:49 PM   #23
RJay
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" a old S&W " ?? Good Grief Charlie Brown, that gun is younger than 80 per cent of the forum members.
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