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Posted: 12/19/2003 7:21:37 PM EDT
i recently purchased a used smith & wesson 66 from SOG and took it to the range.  357 fired fine.  when i went to 38, i found copper shavings in the barrel.  i was using white box fmj ammo.  there was nothing obviously wrong by my amateur visual inspection.  i've never heard of something like this.  If there were a problem, wouldn't it show itself with the more powerful 357 round?  any thoughts?  solutions?
Link Posted: 12/20/2003 4:18:48 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/20/2003 4:20:38 AM EDT by ikor]
No real way to tell without examining the gun, but my guess would be that the gun is not locking up with everything lined up correctly. Let me guess...you fired the magnums SA and found the shavings after you did some DA work with the .38's? If so, this would point to the gun not locking soon enough in DA...called by S&W armorers "DCU"...doesn't carry up. When you bring the hammer to the full, SA, cocked position, everything lines up because that position cams everything a tiny bit further up.

There may be any of several reasons for this...first, swing out the cylinder and push up the extractor rod. There should be two "locator" pins in the cylinder, underneath the ratchet for the extractor / ratchet to position itself upon. (edited to add that the newest S&Ws have changed this and now use a bevel-cut extractor/ratchet system) If one of those is missing...very common...the ratchet can "give" some to the missing side, thus not locking correctly in DA. Too many other possibilities to go into here, but if the pins are there, I would seriously consider sending it back to S&W for an overhaul. If a pin is missing, it should be replaced and staked in when installed...you need a guy who knows revolvers for this and has the correct tools, etc.
Link Posted: 12/20/2003 7:35:26 PM EDT
thanks for the reply.  I've been pretty disatisfied with this revolver since I picked it up and I really don't want to put any more $ into it.  I'm thinking it's going to be history after the holidays.  Maybe a 686, new. Buying sight-unseen just doesn't work for me.
Link Posted: 12/21/2003 5:00:14 AM EDT
I can certainly understand that, but, if you ask for one, S&W will give you an estimate for repair costs before any work. Very often, the actual amount of work that needs doing is fairly small, but, these days, parts and knowledge of how these guns work and how to keep 'em running correctly is not as common as it used to be in general gunsmith circulation, so to speak. Of course, even the shipping costs to and from the factory add up to more $$$ spent.

Just curious, am I correct in my guess about SA and DA firing of the .357's and .38's?
Link Posted: 12/21/2003 5:57:30 PM EDT
it was interesting to see your speculation about the use of single action for 357 and double action for 38.  I believe you are right. I didn't follow an exact methodology at the range (I never thought there was a difference between the two in function), but after I saw what you wrote, I thought about it and recalled shooting that way.  Which leads me to another thought.  If a person has a Sig (like myself) with drop-in parts, is it more practical to use that semi-auto over a revolver which requires a blacksmith to service it?  Or am I off-base here?
Link Posted: 12/22/2003 6:37:36 AM EDT
Well, the latest autopistols...most, anyway... are designed to utilize "drop-in" parts for that very reason...to keep down the need for hand fitting, etc. Even S&W and other revolver manufacturers have changed designs to some degree or another to cut down on the need for this exacting hand work.

WAAAaaayyyy back when, S&W would "assign" a fitter to build most of a gun themselves, but that stuff stopped long before I was born, and I'm well over 50. They then went to an assembly line set up where they used "parts fitters" who had access to dozens of hammers, triggers, etc. at each station, and who would simply try parts until one fit correctly, or at least close enough that the fitter could take a swipe or two with a #2 Barrett file and voila, it worked.

This may still be...and probably IS...the method used now, but the part they don't tell you is that S&W has continued to require the fitters to turn out more and more work in the same time frames...which for a while, lead to some pretty crappy QC on new S&W's. This has mostly been corrected and the guns turned out over the last 10 years or so are, in many ways, better than those of the 10-15 years before them. FYI, the M66 had tons of problems for several years until S&W started listening to the guys using and maintaining the guns. Once they did that, things got better pretty quickly.

High quality revolvers require some very fine tolerances, but if they are "right" they will work for decades and do so with extreme reliability. If they are wrong...big problems. Magnum ammo increases the stress on parts, and the M66 and other "K" frame guns were originally designed to be shot a lot with .38 ammo and only occasionally with magnums...this is not a problem. When cops started shooting hundreds of rounds of magnum ammo yearly for qualification, the K frames simply did not hold up well to it. This is what brought about the "L" frame 586-686 series pistols, which DO hold up well to this kind of use.

I would not abandon the wheelgun if you prefer it to the auto, it still has some advantages, even now, but extreme "firepower" is not one of them...if that is important to you. Buying a used revolver...especially a PD trade-in...is not always the best way to go for someone who cannot look at the gun and see any obvious problem areas. On the other hand, there are many, many almost unused guns sometimes on the EE here and other places. I picked up an almost new 6in. 686 for $300 cash at a fun show well over a year ago...and I have shot it exactly 100 times since. No it is not for sale, but many more like it are. Here is one example...and no, I do not know the seller.

www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=7&f=88&t=189481
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