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Old July 7, 2013, 10:51 PM   #1
Borf
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S&W Model 17 - cocked issues

So there I was, thinking I got a cherry of a deal at a gun show on a S&W 4" 17-6 exactly like I'd been looking for. Cock, uncock, check play, work all the way around double action. Played, poked, looked for pin marks between chambers, etc etc. All very happy.

One thing I did not do before purchase, being a rimfire, was actually cock it and pull the trigger, allowing the hammer to fall. I went through the motions and rode the hammer down with my thumb.

I got it home, took it to the range and loaded it up. Absolutely sweet - until I cocked it the first time and pulled the trigger. No takeup, very light pull, and the hammer just "rode the trigger down". I didn't actually trip the sear - it simply came off cock and put the force of the main spring back on the trigger as if you were doing a double action pull. Not sure if I'm describing what is happening in an effective fashion - but I hope someone familiar with the ailment will be able to comment.

Is this the by product of a shade tree trigger job? Dropped on the cocked hammer and break something off the sear? More importantly, is this something a gunsmith can easily put right? I'll be calling for a gunsmith in the next few days.

Any recommendations on a S&W specialist in middle TN?

Thanks!
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Last edited by Borf; July 7, 2013 at 11:00 PM.
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Old July 8, 2013, 01:11 AM   #2
Dixie Gunsmithing
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I wouldn't know without seeing it with the sideplate off. However, it does sound like the sear isn't disengaging for some reason, or the nose of the SA sear is gone to the point the trigger is catching the DA sear. How much trigger pull does it have in SA? Does it seem that there is any spring tension to the trigger itself? The only other thing that might possibly cause the sear from not becoming disengaged somehow would be the rebound slide not clearing the hammer right. Maybe someone put a part in it that wasn't the correct one for that model, I couldn't say right off?

Last edited by Dixie Gunsmithing; July 8, 2013 at 01:16 AM.
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Old July 8, 2013, 01:38 AM   #3
Powderman
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To add to the reply above:

From your description, it sounds like you have a REALLY light rebound spring.

A spring that is too light will give you a really light pull--but it will not allow the trigger to move far enough to get that top trigger shelf out of the way of the DA fly. This is what is catching the back of the trigger and pushing it down.

I suggest that you get someone who knows exactly how to disassemble a Smith and Wesson revolver (hint: if this person starts toward your gun with a screwdriver or other lever to pry the sideplate off, run away---fast!!!), and replace the rebound spring with a factory spring--which I believe is a 16 pounder. Reassemble, and then prove the handgun with at least two cylinders of ammunition at the range.
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Old July 8, 2013, 05:05 AM   #4
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My out of the blue guess, is springs. I've seen this before with someone trying to put springs in that were just too light to properly do their job, or even shortening springs. A kitchen table gunsmith might cut off a couple of coils of the trigger return spring and shorten it's action when in fact it needs the length. I have a sneaky suspicion a set of original springs will cure your problems.
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Old July 8, 2013, 06:32 AM   #5
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I have done action work on hundreds of Smiths and agree the rebound spring may be cut. Also culprit would be the mainspring strain screw not turned all the way in or shortened, screw head on forward side of butt. Turn the screw in all the way, if hammer still following trigger place a small shim between screw and spring. Lastly and most costly is someone using a stone on the hammer and trigger sear contact points, parts replacement can be required in that case. Good luck.
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Old July 8, 2013, 07:04 AM   #6
4V50 Gary
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Check the mainspring screw first. You might have to replace the screw/spring.
Check the rebound spring second. Spring may need replacement.
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Old July 8, 2013, 07:33 AM   #7
dahermit
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Quote:
A spring that is too light will give you a really light pull--but it will not allow the trigger to move far enough to get that top trigger shelf out of the way of the DA fly.
I do not understand how a too-light of trigger return spring would, "...not allow the trigger to move far enough...". It seems to me that even without a trigger return spring in the rebound slide, the trigger would still go back until the end of the slot in the rebound slide contacted the post in which it rides. Perhaps some pictures or drawings? Anyone?
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Old July 8, 2013, 08:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
(hint: if this person starts toward your gun with a screwdriver or other lever to pry the sideplate off, run away---fast!!!
Snort, I can believe it. I won't say their name, but I watched a noted gunsmith, on a DVD, use a screwdriver to pry up a plate, instead of tapping the grip portion of the frame, and it popping loose. The only thing I remember saying was, "he didn't just do that"?
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Old July 8, 2013, 08:21 AM   #9
dahermit
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Quote:
Quote:
(hint: if this person starts toward your gun with a screwdriver or other lever to pry the sideplate off, run away---fast!!!
Quote:
Snort, I can believe it. I won't say their name, but I watched a noted gunsmith, on a DVD, use a screwdriver to pry up a plate, instead of tapping the grip portion of the frame, and it popping loose. The only thing I remember saying was, "he didn't just do that"?
Reminds me of an old co-worker of mine...He would shout, "Don't force it!!!...use a bigger hammer!"
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Old July 8, 2013, 09:25 AM   #10
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I thought a model 17 with a 4" barrel was a model 18.
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Old July 8, 2013, 11:08 AM   #11
dahermit
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Quote:
From your description, it sounds like you have a REALLY light rebound spring.

A spring that is too light will give you a really light pull--but it will not allow the trigger to move far enough to get that top trigger shelf out of the way of the DA fly. This is what is catching the back of the trigger and pushing it down.
That struck me as so counter-intuitive I had to take the side plate off one of my Smiths to see. After cocking and dry-firing the action without the side plate and observing the workings of the rebound slide and return spring, I concluded the following: There is nothing about shortening by clipping, installing a weaker trigger return spring that would not "...allow the trigger to move far enough..." A shortened trigger return spring is less likely to have the coils close up and stop the rearward travel of the trigger. A trigger return spring that was cut way too short, would not provide the pre-load pressure that is apparent when installing the spring into the rebound tunnel. If one did actually install a "way too short", trigger return spring, there would be obvious slack in the trigger (would flop for and aft) and it would be difficult to single-action cock the hammer. On the other hand, if a way-too-long trigger return spring were to be installed in the rebound slide, in theory the coils could close up inside the rebound slide and bottom out on the strut that stops the spring from coming out of the tunnel, causing the trigger to stop before it would release the hammer. However, I have never heard of such a long spring unless a K-L-N trigger return spring in a J-frame slide. But logically seem that a trigger-return spring stacked against the strut would stop hammer from releasing at all.
I experimented with the main-spring by backing it out and observing how the the single action feature worked with it slacked-off. I seemed to work relatively normal until the strain-screw was almost all the way out. So, I really do not think that could likely be the problem.
I suspect, but do not know with any certainty, that some Bubba stoned the single action notch on the trigger and/or the hammer to an incorrect angle. If that be true (and one cannot put metal back where it was removed), the "fix", may require a new hammer and/or trigger.
If someone disagrees with anything I have said, I am very open for counter-opinions. You will not hurt my feelings and if I can learn something, I will be grateful.
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Last edited by dahermit; July 8, 2013 at 11:16 AM.
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Old July 8, 2013, 01:39 PM   #12
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dahermit:

Sounds weird, doesn't it? But, trust me...it's true.

I'm not a gunsmith anymore--I only work on my own firearms. But--as has been mentioned before--there are many, many ways to dork up a Smith and Wesson--and I've seen quite a few.

1. Hey, I want a lighter trigger pull. I'll just pull this strain screw (mainspring) and grind it down just a taste.

2. Hey, I want a lighter trigger pull--I'll just clip a few coils off this rebound slide spring.

3. Hey, I want a lighter and SMOOTHER trigger pull...I'll just polish off this shelf above the trigger. Wow! Look at that mirror sheen! Hey, and this little cam under the trigger shelf? I'll just grind this off......

4. Yep...to get this stupid sideplate off, I'll just pry it off with a screwdriver (pinch it off with some pliers....now, how did that mark get there....)

5. Well, I got a bullet stuck...so I chucked up a long drill and I drilled it out. Yeah, there are some marks in the bore...but they'll buff out....)

6. Hey, I don't know what happened. I just adjusted the timing on the cylinder...How? Well, I heated up the cylinder hand, and peened it so that it was longer....don't know why it broke......)

Oh, and the favorite.....(and the biggest money maker)

"Gun just stopped working. Can you fix it?"

(an hour later, after disassembly, dropping it into an ultrasound, treating with water displacing oil, lubrication and reassembly...)

"Wow!!! You're a miracle worker!!!"
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Old July 8, 2013, 04:53 PM   #13
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It may need this or that. You could try this or that. I'm pretty sure it's either this or that.

It simply needs a tune up from an expert. Take it to a gunsmith that knows S&W revolvers. Give him the gun and 150 bucks or so. Get it back in better than new condition with things repaired you never new were out of spec.

Or spend twice that on tools, springs, guesswork, kitchen table smithing that was surely the reason the gun isn't working right in the first place.


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Old July 8, 2013, 05:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
I suspect, but do not know with any certainty, that some Bubba stoned the single action notch on the trigger and/or the hammer to an incorrect angle. If that be true (and one cannot put metal back where it was removed), the "fix", may require a new hammer and/or trigger.
My bet would be this as well. Since I have the springs and know how, I'd check the springs first (unless, upon dis-assembly, the damage to the single action sear was obvious) by replacing the rebound spring and test (dry) firing. I've gone really light with springs before, but the worst I've gotten was misfires (esp. in rimfires) and lousy trigger reset. However, I never mess with the mainspring screw, just the spring.

Alternatively, there may be a burr on the hammer that is hanging up on the trigger after the trigger is pulled. In that case, a little stoning will clear it right up.
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Old July 8, 2013, 05:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
It may need this or that. You could try this or that. I'm pretty sure it's either this or that.

It simply needs a tune up from an expert. Take it to a gunsmith that knows S&W revolvers. Give him the gun and 150 bucks or so. Get it back in better than new condition with things repaired you never new were out of spec.

Or spend twice that on tools, springs, guesswork, kitchen table smithing that was surely the reason the gun isn't working right in the first place.
The original poster was not suggesting that he was going to work on his malfunctioning gun, he was going to take it to a 'Smith (furthermore, he asked what could be causing the malfunction), and I was merely trying to understand what could be causing it. And, to get an answer to my question (How could a faulty trigger return spring cause the problem as he described it). This being a forum, it would be a whole lot more interesting if, as an answer to a question such as the O.P. posted, there would be some thoughtful information based on experience, instead of just posting the obvious, "Take it to a gunsmith".
I get the impression that some of you guys do not read very well or are not bothering to read all the posts.
An aside, it is easy to say, "...Take it to a good gunsmith...", but in many areas there are no good gunsmiths...here in Michigan (as far as I know, and have been told), there are no requirements for calling one's-self a gunsmith and hanging out a shingle. What I overheard at a gun club a few years ago sums it all: "There is only one good gunsmith around here and he is always drunk."
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Old July 8, 2013, 05:51 PM   #16
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...I've gone really light with springs before, but the worst I've gotten was misfires (esp. in rimfires) and lousy trigger reset...
Me too. Too light trigger return springs will result in unreliable re-set, but I do not see how, as someone posted, it could result in the hammer pushing back against the trigger. It does not make sense unless I am missing something. I am tempted to try to buy that gun from the guy just so I can study it to determine what is causing the malfunction, then fix it, then lose interest in it, then sell it.
The malfunction he describes interests me because I had a Model 19 that was doing the same thing in the early '80's. I did not happen until I had misread my powder scale and had overloaded some rounds. After the first round went off, I knew I had screwed up (I pulled the rounds and weighed the powder which confirmed an over-load). I had trouble extracting the round, and after than, the hammer would push back against the trigger every time it was fired or dry-fired (I cannot remember if it was just single-action, double-action or both). I fixed the problem, but for the life of me, I just cannot remember what I did to get it to work properly again...too many years ago. In my case, the problem was not a botched trigger job...it had never even had the side plate off when it happened...it was the over-load for sure.
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Old July 8, 2013, 06:50 PM   #17
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What has been described is the result of a too-light trigger pull. There is really no way to know what causes THAT until someone who knows something about S&W revolvers can get the sideplate off and check.

Most likely possibilities are a worn or broken trigger (SA sear) or a worn or broken hammer (sear notch), but there are other possibilities, including a too long trigger stop or a mis-adjusted trigger stop on an old style gun, and a mainspring screw unscrewed too far.

Deliberately weakened springs are a possibility, but the above are more common.

Jim
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Old July 8, 2013, 07:11 PM   #18
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Quote:
This being a forum, it would be a whole lot more interesting if, as an answer to a question such as the O.P. posted, there would be some thoughtful information based on experience, instead of just posting the obvious, "Take it to a gunsmith".
OK. So like I said, it could be this or that etc. Discuss it for a while. Get a bunch of answers that probably have nothing to do with it. And a couple that do. From people who range from experts to guessperts. Then take it to a gunsmith. Who will find stuff out of spec that you never knew were out of spec.

If there are no smiths in the area, that doesn't change the solution.

Discuss it all you want.


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Old July 8, 2013, 07:20 PM   #19
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Thanks for all the feedback.

To answer a few of the questions - double action pull is a little heavy. Took a turn or two off the screw, lightened it up nicely but didn't change anything about the cocking *except* a certain "grit" became obvious when cocking the hammer.

Had a few minutes when I got home from work today - took off the grips - looks like someone used a crowbar to get the sideplate off at some point. Nice.

Removed side plate (tapping of course). I think that even I may be able to see the problem. There really isn't a single action sear notch to speak of. At least any more. More of a rough little valley that's barely visible with some metal displaced towards the side of the hammer - maybe like someone used a file?

I did take some time to observe the interaction of the rebound spring. Interesting dynamics at work there - wasn't aware of that interaction.

So thanks for the feedback all. I suspect I have what's effectively a double action only smith at this time. Off to the gunsmith for an estimate. It may just stay a double action gun, which is probably better for me anyway!

I think there's a special place in hell for the shade tree gun butcher, at least on rarer pieces.

To answer someone else's question - there are indeed 4" model 17s in addition to 4" model 18s. I believe the 4" model 17-6 was introduced after they discontinued the model 18, though I could be wrong.
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Old July 8, 2013, 07:51 PM   #20
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Borf,
Thanks for sharing your information. What you found/observed makes more sense than the posts about "too light of a trigger-return spring kept the trigger from coming far enough..."
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Old July 8, 2013, 08:19 PM   #21
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Quote:
To answer someone else's question - there are indeed 4" model 17s in addition to 4" model 18s. I believe the 4" model 17-6 was introduced after they discontinued the model 18, though I could be wrong.
A 4" barrel can be added to a model 17, too, after sale. Not unheard of.
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Old July 9, 2013, 08:05 AM   #22
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Borf,

Great! I don't think you will have too great a problem finding a new hammer for a K, though one could possibly fix the old one, the time it would take to straighten that out would probably cost more than a hammer. A good smith will be able to locate one, and may have it on hand.
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Old July 9, 2013, 08:21 AM   #23
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Stop the bickering, please.
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Old July 9, 2013, 10:35 AM   #24
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"There really isn't a single action sear notch to speak of. At least any more. More of a rough little valley that's barely visible with some metal displaced towards the side of the hammer - maybe like someone used a file?"

Seen that more times than I care to remember.

Some years ago a friend brought me a Model 29 he had purchased pretty cheaply. He knew there was an issue with the single action, as it would push off, so he brought it to me to fix. There was so little single action engagement left that the hammer would drop if you shook the gun.

Fortunately, hammers are cheap (relatively speaking). It can make a difference as to which engineering change you order with at least some of the guns, so if you have a 17-2, try to get a hammer that's denoted as being for a 17-2.
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Old July 9, 2013, 11:29 AM   #25
dahermit
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Quote:
Seen that more times than I care to remember.

Some years ago a friend brought me a Model 29 he had purchased pretty cheaply. He knew there was an issue with the single action, as it would push off, so he brought it to me to fix. There was so little single action engagement left that the hammer would drop if you shook the gun.
Could you determine, one way or the other, if it was Bubbaed, or if it was just wear?
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