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Old January 30, 2014, 01:10 AM   #1
haymaker
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Smith & Wesson Revolvers

I know it's been discussed before but the one reason why I would not buy a Smith and Wesson revolver is because of the chance of the internal lock accidentally locking under recoil. Used Smith revolvers are as easy to find as 22 lr ammo and there isn't any of that to be found around here. I would like to consider a 686 or possibly the governor but the lock issue concerns me. What's the real deal? Is it really an issue?
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Old January 30, 2014, 04:11 AM   #2
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It seems as though the evidence has shown (or, rather, suggested) that only the ultra-light framed guns have EVER done this, and it was under HEAVY recoil, and even then it was a rare event.

For most folks who have dissected the discussion, opinions, small bits of evidence and attempted to look at the whole thing objectively...

...there are certainly reasons that many of us avoid the guns with the lock, but the idea that it's going to lock itself up under fire/recoil/gunfight are just not it. It's so unlikely to actually happen or be a concern that it's just not an issue.

I prefer some of the older revolvers. Some are for "tangible" reasons that can be argued (and do get argued!) and some are simply because I have an affection for the guns that were on the market when I became a shooter.

But I can sit here and claim with full honesty that I have none, zero, ZILCH of a concern that a Smith & Wesson revolver equipped with the lock is going to lock itself up on me.

And FWIW, I've done a fair bit of shooting with both the .460 and .500 S&W Magnum revolvers, and it's never happened on either of those that I've been shooting, either. THAT'S some recoil.
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Old January 30, 2014, 04:19 AM   #3
ClydeFrog
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Again & again & again.....

This topic has been discussed ad nausem .
In short, some S&W owners say it's no big deal. Others(like me) think it's not a serious problem with non-magnum rounds but still would prefer not to buy or carry a "lawyer lock" S&W revolver.

Smith & Wesson does market a few revolvers with no security locks. Reportedly, they don't add more or drop the design feature due to legal issues/corp SOPs.

As many forum members & gun owners know; a few states & places set up new laws/statues saying gun makers can't be sued or be subject to civil actions based on how the product(firearm) is used(or abused).
Smith & Wesson seems determined to keep this security lock design into the 2010s.
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Old January 30, 2014, 05:29 AM   #4
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I think you would be more likely to get a squib load, essentially rendering your weapon unusable, instead of one of those locks failing. I don't know about you, but I've read accounts (forums) and watched people get squibs (you tube) all the time on the internet. I've even seen someone get one in person that I was at the range with. I think I only read of two people whose lock failed/engaged ... and only one of those accounts sounded credible.

I have no skin in the game, cause I don't have any S&W revolvers, just saying...The likelihood of a S&W lock failing is extremely low (probably never happen) . The likelihood of it failing during an event that you had to defend yourself , which is also extremely low (probably never happen) would be very,very low indeed. I don't leave my gun home because I'm worried about a squib load.. I take my chances.

Anything mechanical is not going to be guaranteed to work 100% of the time. I don't blame people for trying to "stack the deck" in their favor.. but I just don't see these locks as a concern considering their track record thus far.

Last edited by Waspinator; January 30, 2014 at 05:37 AM.
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Old January 30, 2014, 07:45 AM   #5
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I have yet to hear of anything besides the ultra light types failing, with hot rounds as mentioned, that sounds legitimate. If you are concerned at all about the gun locking there are videos available showing you how to remove the internal components of the lock so that there really is zero chance. And you could feasibly have a smith seal the lock hole and refinish it like it was never there if you were so inclined.

I generally won't buy a Smith with a lock just on principle, but I would exceptions for models I want that can't be had pre-lock. The new model 69 is such an example, as is the model 21-4. If I want one that has no lock, I need to go back the last time they were made which was the 50's or before and cost a fortune.
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Old January 30, 2014, 08:47 AM   #6
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I knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy's cousin who said he read somewhere a S&W locked up once.
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Old January 30, 2014, 09:03 AM   #7
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^^^^^ I heard that too. Must be true. . .
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Old January 30, 2014, 09:04 AM   #8
Hal
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Quote:
What's the real deal? Is it really an issue?
IMHO - the way "the lock" was forced down our (the shooting public's) throat, with all the gusto that old throat stuffer (Clinton) could muster - is more disagreeable to us (the shooting public) than the actual lock itself.

Again - IMHO- if S&W had come out with an integral lock on their own and offered it as a no charge option, it would have gotten a whole lot friendlier reception.
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Old January 30, 2014, 09:38 AM   #9
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I see no sense in a gun with more things to stop it from shooting than those which do so, at least in a self defense gun.
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Old January 30, 2014, 09:48 AM   #10
haymaker
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Thanks for the replies. I have 2 older Smith revolvers, a 15-2 and a 66-3. Beautiful guns and fun to shoot. I'm looking for a revolver in the .44 or .45 range. I'm looking at a Ruger Alaskan and the larger Smith revolvers. Last summer I shot the Governor and I was intrigued. There's a lot of options with the Governor and it looks like it might be a good trail gun.
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Old January 30, 2014, 10:42 AM   #11
lifesizepotato
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal
IMHO - the way "the lock" was forced down our (the shooting public's) throat, with all the gusto that old throat stuffer (Clinton) could muster - is more disagreeable to us (the shooting public) than the actual lock itself.
I think Saf-T-Hammer buying out the company had a little something to do with it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Motownstan
I knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy's cousin who said he read somewhere a S&W locked up once.
I knew a guy, who knew a guy, whose 2nd cousin once saw a video of a S&W locking up.



Oh wait, here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsIWXd_9xPE
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Old January 30, 2014, 10:46 AM   #12
buck460XVR
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Over the years a major cause of failure to function of my S&W revolvers is the loosening of the ejector rod. It is a well known problem with S&W revolvers and most with a S&W revolver have experienced it. Do we see thousands of threads over the years on gun forums with folks claiming they'll never own one because of the possibility of their gun locking up? Now I ask, how many folks with a S&W revolver with an IL have had it lock up on it's own? Still, every time S&W and revolver is mentioned in a thread, folks jump outta their chair and beat on their chest about the lock failing.


Don't like the lock and can't find a older gun without one, remove it. There are a ton of videos and other instructions on the web on how to do it. If you found your way here, you can certainly figure out how to Google that too.
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Old January 30, 2014, 11:10 AM   #13
DPris
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Lock failure is real, and while the odds are in your favor it does happen.
Mostly with J-frames, but both Bane & Ayoob have documented it in larger frames.
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Old January 30, 2014, 11:28 AM   #14
Paul105
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+1

I've personally experienced unintended lock engagement under recoil. Several times with different S&W 329s and twice with a 6" 629 half lug.

On the first 329, I figured it was a fluke until it happened the second time. I have had three 329s (still have 2 - both are carry guns) and the lock has been removed (not a recommendation). The 629 was basically a range gun so I just ignored the 1st occurrence -- removed the lock after it happened again.

Have other Smiths with the IL that have never had a problem, but if I'm going to carry a particular gun, the lock is removed. Everyone has to make up their own mind regarding this issue.

FWIW

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Old January 30, 2014, 11:34 AM   #15
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Ahhhhh . . . can these not be disabled and plugged?

Regardless of if a person likes 'em or not . . . they aren't going away. I too, have heard all the hoopla about an IL lock-up - this horse has been beaten to death so many times . . .

As long as there are those though that have the "documented" truth . . . did you also hear about the guy who had a 1911 malfunction - it was on a range while practicing SD shooting? Hmm . . . that nails it for me . . no way do I want a 1911 platform. Or the Colt Python that didn't work worth a darn and got out of time? Makes me want to sell mine right away.

It's a personal decision . if you don't like 'em then don't buy 'em. That will just leave more in inventory for those that don't have a problem with it. . . . who knows . . . if there is less demand for 'em . . maybe the price will drop on 'em.
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Old January 30, 2014, 11:47 AM   #16
Hal
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Quote:
I think Saf-T-Hammer buying out the company had a little something to do with it.
???


I don't catch your drift.

The lock agreement was made between Tomkins PLC and the Clinton administration. Clinton promised to call off the dogs (law suits) if Tomkins agreed to the locks.
After they did and signed the agreement, the shooting community pretty much destroyed S&W by boycotting.

Tomkins PLC reacted by dumping S&W for a huge loss.

Saf-T-Hammer bought S&W for $15 million (plus assumed $30 million in debt).
I clearly remember the backlash at the time when people found out that the locks were here to stay - despite the change in ownership.
People were T'ing off on Saf-T-Hammer for not going back on the agreement - but - there wasn't anything they could do about it.

Still - the underlying cause of all the hard feelings was the way the agreement & the lock were forced down our throats.

I'm rather unclear about your statement. Perhaps you can expand on it?
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Old January 30, 2014, 12:13 PM   #17
ZVP
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Just as a matter of self=opnion, I prefer the oder "bo lock models. I prefer the most simple solutions and the lock mechanism is just one more thing that xould mess-up!
I have NEVER gerd of a failure!
I just prefer the simpler older guns without locks.
JMHO
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Old January 30, 2014, 01:09 PM   #18
DPris
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You may scoff & you may buy the new "locks". Your choice.

The malfunctions do happen, not ONLY in lightweight Js, they are documented, they occur often enough for some to choose not to take the risk.

One occurred at the attorney general's office in my state not too far back during an agency qualification with their investigators.

To further answer Haymaker, yes- it IS an issue.
Make your own decision.
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Old January 30, 2014, 02:11 PM   #19
jason_iowa
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Everything is a risk. The locking system malfunctioning is no more a risk then any other mechanical failure in any firearm. I would rather it were not there but it does not stop me from carrying late model smith revolvers.

As to the squib issue I find it laughable. My lifetime around guns in and out of the military and law enforcement along with everyone I have ever met in and out of the military and law enforcement none have ever seen a squib or hang fire. I think they are issues of a bygone era and simply not possible with modern ammunition and firearms.

Just a primer will drive a bullet through the barrel of any firearm I own. If you don't believe me try it yourself. Even a 91/30 with a long barrel and a 40 year old primer drove the bullet through the barrel went 5 yards and stuck in an oak log.

everyone should carry a bug anyway to reduce your risk.
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Old January 30, 2014, 02:26 PM   #20
TopMCITWS
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Have a 625 JM which was purchased a little over a year ago. This revolver has been used in USPSA matches firing 45 acp rounds which have ranged in potentency from marshmallow loads to fire-breathing hollywood single-shot car explosion loads

With this wide range of loads and approximately 10,000 rounds or more down-range -- this revolver has never had any incidents of an IL lock-up.

Aside from personal experiences with this particular revolver, cannot say emphatically that a lock-up never happens; however, it does seem like the issue is an exception rather than a rule.

Just my two-cents worth
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Old January 30, 2014, 02:35 PM   #21
DPris
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Jason,
The lock IS more prone to failure in activating itself statistically than a standard mechanical failure, by the nature of its unnecessary design.

And I've personally had to pound a lead bullet out of my S&W Model 25-5 that only made it halfway down. Commercial reload, the primer popped, but there wasn't enough pressure to drive the bullet all the way through the barrel.

This was, incidentally, at a police training session using ammo from a reputable reloader.

Just because these things have never happened to you does not mean they don't exist.
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Old January 30, 2014, 03:07 PM   #22
Sevens
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Quote:
Over the years a major cause of failure to function of my S&W revolvers is the loosening of the ejector rod. It is a well known problem with S&W revolvers and most with a S&W revolver have experienced it. Do we see thousands of threads over the years on gun forums with folks claiming they'll never own one because of the possibility of their gun locking up? Now I ask, how many folks with a S&W revolver with an IL have had it lock up on it's own? Still, every time S&W and revolver is mentioned in a thread, folks jump outta their chair and beat on their chest about the lock failing.
I'll quote this for two reasons. One -- so that it gets seen & read again because it's a phenomenal point. And secondly... to expand on it.

I had a very sweet Model 19-4, 1977 production year, IIRC, and on one range session (58 shots through it that day), it -STOPPED-

It was extremely difficult to even open the cylinder, but I managed to unload the revolver. Couldn't figure out what on Earth was wrong, so I packed it away and went about the range day with other guns.

Got it home an eventually figured out that it was a two-way combination of a loosened ejector rod and some gunk under the extractor star. But the revolver was DEAD on the range, out of service, no way in heck it was going to keep shooting and if it were a fight and not a pretty Saturday afternoon bunch of shooting, this (very nice, mind you) Model 19-4 would have been a club and nothing more.

It wasn't just "not working", it was -SO- "not working" that I was afraid it was seriously broken on the inside. It was a lousy feeling until I searched for a little help and figured out how to get it rolling again.

These revolvers are absolutely precision machines and the tolerances are very small. A lot of small parts working in a very defined path of motion. I can't help but remember the way this revolver STOPPED dead on the range and the small bits I had to take apart and address (at home, in a well-lit work space) to make the revolver happy again, and it is this personal experience that I think of as if it were yesterday every time I see someone beating the same old tired drum about how revolvers "always go bang", blah blah blah, etc etc etc.

I -love- revolvers and I have a slew of 'em and I wouldn't ever give 'em up. I don't happen to carry a revolver, but I certainly would. But the idea that revolvers "always work" while semi-autos have a litany of issues is nonsense.

And buck460XVR's assertion that you might just as well see your ejector loosen up as your S&W's ILS locking up on it's own (if not more so) are SPOT-ON. And if that somehow WERE to happen, a quick twist of that key and your revolver is back to normal, but tightening a loosened ejector rod (or worse, crust/crap under the ejector star) is a problem you aren't going to fix quickly, even if you're astute enough to recognize the stoppage.
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Old January 30, 2014, 03:17 PM   #23
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Quote:
The lock IS more prone to failure in activating itself statistically than a standard mechanical failure, by the nature of its unnecessary design.
I'd like to see those statistics. I can tell you from experience that I've seen all sorts of mechanical failures with Smiths (before anyone yells, I deal with a lot of guns), but I've yet to see a verifiable instance of the lock spontaneously engaging.

Now, I have seen all sorts of things attributed to the lock that had nothing to do with it. The lock does not cause squibs, timing issues, loosened ejector rods, or negligent discharges.
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Old January 30, 2014, 04:29 PM   #24
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I have shoot thousand"S of rounds throw my S&W and have never had one thing go wrong with them. From 32 S&W long up to 460. MY 44 mag has had the hell shot of of it shooting metallic silhouette. I all so have a 375 Dan Wesson that I used.
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Old January 30, 2014, 05:37 PM   #25
DPris
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Tom,
Three people I know & trust have reported locks activating themselves.

Again- just because it hasn't happened to you doesn't mean the issue does not exist, or that it will never happen to you.

Nowhere have I said not to buy a new Smith, just confirming the issue is real, the possibility of an accidental lock activation exists, it has happened often enough to establish it as a potential concern, and none of this is merely, entirely, or exclusively Internet rumor or confined to J-Frames.

Buy a new S&W lock if you want one.
My purpose in participating in this thread is to address the original poster in making an informed decision, not to talk anybody out of buying a current Smith.
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