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Old February 17, 2013, 11:12 AM   #1
L2R
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s&w warranty isn't bullet proof

Bought 40 cal shield in december.
used some old ammo, maybe 15 years old Federal, Hyra shock.
blew up on the 4th shot.
I have the box of ammo it came out of.

I sent them the gun, the head stamp I found on the ground and the brass was still in the gun. They inspected it at their lab.

Just got a letter from smith & wesson saying it was not a defective gun so they are not liable. They did offer another at cost.

I see their point but it isnt' my fault either. I was hoping they would either replace it or work something out with the bullet manufacturer instead of placing the burden on me. I know smith wants out of this but they are the ones with a lab and the expert results. It would carry more weight if they contacted Federal and worked this out.

Do I try to keep them on the hook and hope they would contact Federal on my behalf, take another at cost or what? Looking for advise.
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Old February 17, 2013, 11:47 AM   #2
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It sounds like you have your answer from S&W; outside of lawyering up and/or paying a private lab to do an analysis I don't think it will change.

I feel I've been treated fairly by S&W in the past, and I believe Federal is part of ATK who I also think will do right by you on this.

Take lots more pictures, and maybe have a good local smith take a look at it and offer an opinion in writing (you will have to pay for his time).

Contact Federal to see how they want to handle it; include Smith's letter with your correspondence. Start (or keep at) the paper/email trail and if you send it somewhere make sure you can track it.

All this is assuming this is factory loaded ammo; it reads like it is at least.

Good luck on this; I agree, guns shouldn't blow up w/ factory ammo.
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Old February 17, 2013, 12:01 PM   #3
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it was factory ammo

I did take pictures.
not sure I can get it back to have another party look at it.

I was hoping someone else has been thru this and knew how to nagivate between the gun manufacturer and the ammo manufacturere.

I can see it becoming a finger pointing circle jerk that goes nowhere.

I swabbed the gun and loaded the factory ammo and then felt a nasty recoil on the 4th shot. then my hand went numb.

I do still have the rest of the ammo and possibly there is more in the box with a double charge but even if the one I shot was a double charge, there is no guarantee that others in the box are defective.
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Old February 17, 2013, 12:06 PM   #4
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If it wasn't the gun then that leaves the ammo. I assume you still have some from the original box left. Send it to federal for examination. This assumes the ammo wasn't reloaded.

Jim
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Old February 17, 2013, 12:12 PM   #5
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I have shot ammo older than that. Think how much old military ammo people shoot everyday. If that ammo was well maintained and looked good , no corosion sounds like s&w is try'n to blow you off. I still shoot up some 15 to 25years old ammo during hunting season in 357, 308 and 7mm mag.
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Old February 17, 2013, 12:16 PM   #6
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old ammo

yeah,

it was old and not sure how old. But is has always been inside the house and inside a safe. Looked brand new.

And I don't reload either.
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Old February 17, 2013, 12:17 PM   #7
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I had the same experience with S&W on a Mod 49 several years ago. I never got them or the ammo co to replace the gun...although, S&W did offer to sell me my choice of revolver at distributor cost.

BTW, the age of the ammo had nothing to do with what happened...there was a problem somewhere...gun or ammo.
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Old February 17, 2013, 12:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Looked brand new.

And I don't reload either.
Doesn't mean someone else did not reload it.
I bought several boxes of ammo from a vendor once. It was in new factory packaging. After I got it home I discovered the headstamps on the brass was from a different ammo maker. Turns out they had bought out another shops inventory and apparently allot of it had been reloaded.
What I'm saying is, unless you personally bought it brand new from a LGS/big box store there is no way for you to know for sure.

Jim
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Old February 17, 2013, 12:46 PM   #9
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I seriously doubt a S&W just blows up for no reason.
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Old February 17, 2013, 12:57 PM   #10
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The age of the ammo is not a factor here. S&W saysthe gun was not defective, so that only leaves the ammo.

You didn't load the ammo, and you are certain that it was factory loaded, right? IF that is correct, then the ammo maker is at fault. Unless someone put reloaded rounds in the factory box, before you bought it (and that does happen sometimes), the factory needs to know what happened.

You may wind up with your best option being to buy a new gun at cost from S&W, I can't say. But at the least, you need to tell the ammo maker what happened, and provide the lot# of the ammo, if you have it.

There is a trust issue involved as well. IF the maker wants the ammo to examine, you have to trust that they will do a fair and unbiased job. Odds are they will, I think.

You may get replacement of your gun. You may not. That is one issue, and sorry, I can't help you there. But a second issue is always present in these situations, and that is could this ammo do that to someone else? The only thing one can do about that is inform the ammo maker, and let them decide if a recall is in order.

In your situation, with ammo 15 years old, probably not. S&W is under no obligation to contact Federal on your behalf, after all, all they have is your word, and the remainder of the case you sent them with the gun. S&W should have no issues providing their results to Federal, IF Federal asks, but they won't be asked if you don't tell them there is a problem.

My advice is contact Federal, provide all the information you can, including reference to S&W's letter, and ask how this can be made right(for you), and safe for the rest of the shooting public.

Good Luck, and please report back to us about how it works out.

As far as the ammo is concerned, I see only two likely possibilities. The round was loaded wrong (wrong powder/amount) creating excessive pressure. This would be a factory error.

Or, the bullet set back when chambered, creating the dangerous pressure overload. This is also a factory error (insufficient neck tension of the case) but it is a different kind of error, and would take a different kind of investigation to reveal. The remaining rounds in the lot are critical to determining which possibility is more likely, and if it was that single round, or something in the production run that was defective.
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Old February 17, 2013, 02:48 PM   #11
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Wonder if you were a gov't employee if they would have responded this way?

Either Fed +/or S&W is at fault.

Pursue it, nothing to lose.
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Old February 17, 2013, 03:46 PM   #12
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as for the ammo

It was indeed bought at a LGS in Fayetteville, NC.

As stated, it has the old sticky price tag from a label gun. Not only does it have the price, it has the LGS's name on it.

So I do have the box, the lot number etc.

40 is a caliber I have not used in some years so this sat around until I bought the shield.

After inspecting the gun, and swabbing the barrel, I went thru my stash and found the hollow points. I figured that would be a good test for the gun thinking if it these ran thru it then most any round nose would be fine.

So the question now is, do I buy another from Smith and hope to get reimbursed from Federal or do I hold out until Federal gets back to me.

Guess I will call the number from S&W provided and see if they have an opinion.

Thanks everyone for the feedback.

At that point, I can only hope Federal is honest and does take a look at it. I still have the box with the other rounds still in it.
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Old February 17, 2013, 05:21 PM   #13
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All I can say is a Lawyer is going to cost you more in fees than the retail price of a new pistol, completely ignoring the time and hassle involved. Not sure if small claims court would be appropriate for this or not.

I'd say it boils down to how much time and money you have to invest in resolution and what your time is worth to you.

I'd likely just take their offer to get a new one at cost and chalk it up to bad luck. I try to avoid drama if at all possible.
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Old February 17, 2013, 05:42 PM   #14
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navigating the issues

Not looking to lawyer up or stir the pot.
Wasn't trying to badmouth Smith or Federal. Just looking for advise and well, I had to give details to do that. Imagine if I said, a gun blew up, they won't give me another one. What should I do?

I don't hold Smith liable for bad ammo but don't think I should either.
Seems like it would have been better pr to send another one than to push this onto me. I am guessing this is their first line of defense hoping I bite.

I came looking for advise and some some good ideas.

And yes, I am a little ticked that their offer was dealer cost not their cost.
And worst of all, why not send the bill to Federal. They have the gun, the casing, the lab and the opinion of an expert in their own lab.

It just doesn't sound the same when little ole' customer sends a complaint on heresay. Even if they are not liable, a 100 bucks out of their pocket is easier to cover than the manhourrs arguing over who is covering the cost.

I will call S&W tomorrow and share my thoughts:
  • I am disappointed that this letter came to me not the ammo manufacturer.
  • If they believe the pressure was too high then Federal should be involved. As it is old, they may already have proven issues with that lot for all we know.
  • As stated my letter to them, I have the box, the lot number even the price tag showing who sold it to me a.k.a. a local LGS.
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Old February 17, 2013, 05:54 PM   #15
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age of the ammo is a potential factor.

whats the headstamp on the federal ammo.

years ago when 40sw was young caliber Federal made some ammo that was thin in the casehead and would rupture when fired in poorly supported chambers.
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Old February 17, 2013, 06:46 PM   #16
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Any sign of oil or something else leaking onto the box of ammo? I've had squib loads from contaminated ammo. Follow a squib up by another round and kaboom!
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Old February 17, 2013, 07:10 PM   #17
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Ammo rarely increases in pressure over time, it is usually the other way around. Can you provide good, clear closeups of the remaining ammo? Maybe we can determine if it is reloaded.

Jim
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Old February 17, 2013, 07:45 PM   #18
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Quote:
I am disappointed that this letter came to me not the ammo manufacturer.
If they believe the pressure was too high then Federal should be involved. As it is old, they may already have proven issues with that lot for all we know.
As stated my letter to them, I have the box, the lot number even the price tag showing who sold it to me a.k.a. a local LGS.
I feel your pain, but I do not believe that S&W has any liability to contact the ammo maker. They examined the gun, found nothing wrong with their product and offered to replace it at a discounted price. While that sucks, they can only control their product, not how you use it nor what ammo you load in it nor how that ammo was made.

Your effort is best spent with Federal. Anyway, I wish you best of luck finding a resolution.
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Old February 17, 2013, 08:55 PM   #19
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no oil, no reloads

see pix.

the only 40 hollow points in my safe were these.
I took them out of the box, loaded the mags and went to the range.

The red tag is faded but says, Jim's which is in Fayetteville, NC.

If you see something, let me know but they look almost like new to me.
Again, I know they are old, you can tell by the lot # and price.

Thanks for all the support.

As for S&W having no liability. I am not yet willing to let them off the hook yet. Had I contacted Federal first, they might have said it was the gun. So I think it is fair to keep them both accountable for this until Federal has a chance to review it.

In the end, it is up to them to eat the cost to build one more for me and make this a positive PR situation or suffer some amount of blemish on their reputation.

I will report back what they decide.
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Old February 17, 2013, 09:32 PM   #20
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Hand OK?

Hope you're not a lefty by the looks of that.
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Old February 17, 2013, 09:35 PM   #21
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Quote:
In the end, it is up to them to eat the cost to build one more for me and make this a positive PR situation or suffer some amount of blemish on their reputation.
I have to be honest with you, that's a bit unfair IMO and if I was them I wouldn't do it (nor would I expect them to in your shoes).
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Old February 17, 2013, 09:45 PM   #22
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If the ammo is at fault (and if it wasn't the gun, it WAS the ammo)....then your gripe is with Federal, not S&W. They did offer a replacement, at cost. I think that is more than fair.

As for S&W not taking up the matter with Federal, on your behalf,....why would they ? You bought a gun from them (indirectly)....you didn't retain them for legal services, after all. More importantly, why in the world would you expect them to ? It's not their problem and you shouldn't expect them to take it on. What you need to do is contact Federal, supply them with all the evidence you have....and insist that they make it right. You may not get anywhere, but THAT is where you need to direct your efforts....and your ire.
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Old February 17, 2013, 09:45 PM   #23
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Is it just that one round headstamped "Federal" vs "FC" on all others?
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Old February 17, 2013, 11:29 PM   #24
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wpsdlrg nailed it.
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Old February 17, 2013, 11:30 PM   #25
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Don't use old ammo..... Also, if the ammo blew the gun, overload/etc... Then it should be the ammo company fault, that could have been your face/hand.
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