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Old September 21, 2012, 08:15 AM   #22
Senior Member
Join Date: July 20, 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 10,167
At one point I owned six ILS-equipped S&Ws...then It Happened to an acquaintence. He was dry-firing his 360 at the time. If it can happen, even once, while dry-firing, I have no confidence in the design. I sold all of my ILS-equipped S&Ws (most of which were the Scandium Ultra-Lightweights that seem disproportionally represented in Auto-Lock instances) and slowly replaced them with older and often heavier models.
If you have no confidence in a gun that has the potential to experience even one malfunction, then I'm surprised you own any guns at all. Many, many things can potentially cause problems with a S&W revolver (or any other revolver for that matter) such as a backed-out ejector rod, dirt under the extractor, or a broken firing pin.

Also, I feel that the ultra-lightweight scandium magnums are really just pushing the limits of the design in several ways. A gun with recoil so ferocious that you have to worry about bullets jumping crimp, a blast shield that needs to be replaced at the factory periodically, and which can't fire bullets lighter than 120gr lest the topstrap be eaten up is probably going to wear out most of its components faster and is, IMHO, more drawback than benefit.

The S&W site once had a thread that went on for pages about Auto-Lock occurrances, and the many who chose to argue pro or con. While the arguers outnumbered the people who had actually had It Happen to them, there were (IIRC) well over a dozen, and perhaps two dozen instances. The board subsequently changed ownership, and the new owner made his opinion known without saying a word--all of the evidence disappeared overnight, and any further discussion was shut down rapidly. I don't spend much time there anymore.
Anonymous internet forum posts are not a particularly reliable means of tabulating information for several reasons. In particular, the honesty of the poster cannot be verified, the poster's understanding of the incident cannot be verified (a problem with locks up a S&W revolver could easily be mistaken for an auto-lock by someone not familiar with the design), and one person can post about the same event multiple times under different handles giving the impression that one event is many.

On the other hand, I have a Taurus with a lock that is subtlety placed in the hammer of the gun that does not trigger a negative emotional response.

Actually, if you look at the design, the Taurus' lock works on an axis 90* from the recoil (ergo, the lock is designed to be unaffected by the recoil impulse), where the S&W lock is on the axis of recoil. my case at least, it is not an "emotional response", but a fact-based, mechanical engineering-supporteded response.
The lock "flag" on a S&W, which is the part that actually blocks the movement of the hammer, rotates up and back into engagement and down and forward out of engagement. When the revolver recoils, the gun moves up and back as well so inertia would be forcing the lock "flag" down and forward out of engagement. Also, the stud on the lock "flag" must be lined up with a recess in the hammer in order to be put into engagement. When the hammer if fully forward against the firing pin, as it would be at full lockup when the gun is fired, the recess in not lined up with the stud and thus the "flag" is blocked from up/back movement.

This leads me to believe that on the extremely rare occasion that an auto-lock does occur, it is the result of defective and/or improperly fitted parts rather than the design itself. This is reinforced by your report of an auto-lock when a gun was dry fired as the recoil arc has nothing to do with dry fire as there would be no recoil. The Taurus and Ruger designs (or any design for that matter) are no less susceptible to defective/improperly fitted parts than the S&W design is, but they are less noticeable to the casual observer.
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