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View Full Version : First Range Trip with S&W 617: Sooooo Disappointing


JamminJ
12-30-2010, 5:33 PM
Having been passively searching for a Smith & Wesson 617 for about half a year I recently decided just to bite the bullet and order one from Budís Gun Shop. Finally, after mailing them a check, having the gun shipped and doing the DROS today was the day my waiting period expired. I picked it up, ran a boresnake though it and ran right down to the local indoor range. Before taking delivery I had checked the cylinder and trigger for smooth functioning and there were no problems either single or double action.

Starting with CCI Minimags I put ten rounds in the cylinder and fired the first two shots in double action without a problem. While attempting the third shot something seemed off Ė the trigger simply would not pull back enough to rotate the cylinder. Pulling back on the hammer with moderate force also failed to rotate the cylinder. Oh well, probably just a jam of some sort so after a bit of fiddling with the cylinder release it opened up. Nothing looked obviously wrong so weíll just reload and try again. First shot, no problem. Second shot fired but did have a noticeably heavier trigger pull. Third shot again would not rotate the cylinder.

This seemed like a non trivial problem so why not try to isolate its occurrence. Using extreme care to load and seat the cartridges properly & consistently I varied single/double action, ammunition type and quantity of rounds loaded. All scenarios gave consistent results: Round number 1 was always ok, occasionally a problem with round number 2 and almost always one with round number 3.

Iím not all that sure but it looks like firing one round unseats some of the neighboring rounds in the in the cylinder. They look to have popped back a bit and push against the frame. I think this makes the cylinder near impossible to rotate. Just curious, any revolver gurus on the forum ever heard of problems like this on a 617?

In any event, this one is going to have to be looked at under Smithís warranty service so Iíll give them a ring next week. One of their service centers, Bolsa Gunsmithing, is very local to me so it may be a pretty painless process. With a little luck Iíll add a happy note about their excellent customer service in a couple of weeks. :(

Sheldon
12-30-2010, 9:33 PM
Maybe rough chambers? Sounds like the cases are setting back upon firing and the case heads are dragging against the frame. Try some standard velocity loads and see if the condition lessens......though it should work with the minimags. I have two 617s and have never tried minimags in mine so I don't know if mine would lock up like yours too.

586L-Frame
12-31-2010, 2:38 AM
Have you tried tightening the ejector rod.
Sometimes it becomes loose and then the cylinder will bind.
Just a possiblity.

stevie
12-31-2010, 5:26 AM
Try cleaning the chambers and under the extractor star. Sometimes junk get caught under that star. Also try another brand of ammo.

shadowofnight
12-31-2010, 8:25 AM
Same exact issue my nephew has with his 617 , I figured it was the cheap cci blazer ammo he brought ...so I tried 3 different match brands I had brought along to shoot in my 10/22's...same exact issues.

Sent it into S&W , came back with the same issues...so he traded it in on a new 9mm auto.

I too had issues with a S&W revolver, my 629 ...would shoot 44 special all day long..but put 44 mag in it and the cylinder would lock up. Sent it into S&W, came back with the exact same issues.

So I figured I really liked the 629 ( Was given to me by my dad...has sentimental value ) , so I sent it back to S&W for a second time...this time I paid an extra 300 dollars to have the combat revolver package done to my 629.

It came back with chamfered charge holes, bead blasted....and supposed tuned action.

First trip to range, threw factory white box winchester 240 gr soft point cartridges in it....cylinder jammed up on the 4th round...to say I was pissed was the understatement of the year.

Since I was checking it with factory loads, I decided to take reloads from starting loads up to max loads and see where it crapped the bed.

By the time I got to somewhere middle of the road in charge strength the cylinder would jam. My Super redhawks would eat that winchester white box and reloads hotter than anything in the books ALL day long without a hitch. It was after paying for that custom service from S&W , and my nephews 617 coming back still broken that I swore off S&W for good.

Funny thing is my dads S&W model 10 has had thousands and thousands of rounds through it and is still like a swiss watch, maybe its just the newer guns...I dont know...but I wont drink that koolaid ever again.

Mail Clerk
12-31-2010, 10:31 AM
JamminJ,

Take a look at the face of your cylinder and get a cloth and clean it. Then unlock the cylinder and look at the chambers where thr rim of the cartridge rides/rests. There might be some dirt/fouling that binding the cylinder. Lastly while the cylinder is unlocked....spin the cylinder and see if it spins smoothly. You might put one or two drops of oil down the ejector rod just in front of the yoke and move the rod in and out to circulate the oil.

Lastly buy some snap caps and dry shoot to see if it works smoothly. DON"T buy those red cheaply made plastic versions. The rim wears FAST so sooner than later the firing pin will wear that area and ding the rim of the chamber. Get some that made out of metal.

Good luck and Happy New Year,

Mail clerk

JamminJ
12-31-2010, 8:26 PM
Very interesting in the range of replied this thread received, thanks to all who responded.

I'm really surprised by the folks that had absolutely awful experiences with Smith & Wesson. Multiple trips back for repair on a "premium" firearm would certainly turn me off the whole company.

@Sheldon: No harm in trying some lower velocity loads. I've been stocking up in anticipation of the ammo ban and have 5 or 6 different types of 22LR ammo around. I'll give the bulk stuff a shot (pun intended).

@585L-Frame: Ejector rod seems tight. I also have a 686 and the spring response seems about the same between the two revolvers. Theres a bit more play in the cylinder itself on the 617 though.

@stevie: Another good suggestion, I'll give her a good cleaning before trying again. To my eye the star looks clean but who knows. I just ran a boresnake through the barrel before shooting it.

@shadowofnight: Geez, sorry to hear of your troubles with S&W. Scary stuff, I hope I am not in the same boat. The 686 I've mentioned above is a wonderful gun, only had it for 6 months but its given more than 1000 rounds of flawless service.

@comulsivegunbuyer: That's awful, sorry to hear of your troubles too.

@Mail Clerk: Thanks for the detailed suggestions, I appreciate you typing them up for me. I'll give it a really thorough cleaning in the areas you've mentioned and lube it up well too. I have it right here with me and the cylinder spins smoothly. No snap caps on hand but definitely a good idea to get some for this gun. Happy New Year to you too!

I'm hoping to get out to Burro Canyon this Monday. I'll bring the 617 along and give it another try, I'll check back afterwards.

Sheldon
12-31-2010, 8:40 PM
Is it jamming up in the same spot? Does it jam when just cycling the cylinder with snap caps.

TANK
01-01-2011, 9:57 AM
MAN AND I WAS THINKING OF GETTING ONE OF THESE. MAYBE ILL HOLD OFF FOR NOW.

Mike A
01-01-2011, 10:22 AM
For some reason S&W K-frame .22s often have a problem with the cylinder star binding up the cylinder. I have had several (K-22, M17-2, M-48-2) and they were all sensitive to any buildup of powder grains under the star. When I go to the range I bring a used toothbrush with me and brush out under the star every third cylinder full. That seems to solve the problem. However the problems cited above seem MUCH worse than this!

For some reason the J-frame Smith 22s I've had were less sensitive to this problem--you would think with lighter parts they would be worse. But my M63-1 will run for a full box without needing sweeping out and my 651 will go for about four cylinders full of .22WRMs without needing help.

The problems you cite seem really extreme to me. Maybe it's a good thing I can't afford any more Smiths! I have never before heard of such problems with centerfire S&Ws; all mine run for hundreds of rounds without cleaning (K-38, 1917, M64). Discouraging indeed. Make mine Ruger from now on, I guess.

jackandblood
01-01-2011, 11:44 AM
I have a feeling this problem has to do with all the engineering and dimensional changes required to scale to 10 rds from 6, may have been underestimated. Could explain why heritage ended up doing a 9 instead of 10 and took so long to release it.

brassburnz
01-01-2011, 12:19 PM
Your diagnosis of the problem sounds good. I've had similar problems with a Dan Wesson .22 but not with my Model 17's.

Try different ammo. It sounds like the diameter of the charge holes are oversized for the ammo you are using. With my guns, the ammo is a snug fit. After a while, it is sometimes difficult to extract the empties because of fouling build-up in the cylinder.

It is also possible that something is binding up inside your revolver. If the cylinder latch isn't pushed all the way back, the hammer could be rubbing on the inside of the cylinder latch. This happens sometimes if the cylinder push rod backs out. Make sure it is screwed in all the way. BTW it's a reverse thread.

wellfedirishman
01-01-2011, 12:41 PM
That's very odd. I have 3 different 617s from different years of manufacturing (early 2000s, mid 2000s, and 2009) and all are superb. I have never had a problem with cylinder binding.

Try plated ammo (e.g., Federal bulk pack) and see if that makes a difference. I shoot tons of that and it works great.

Also, keep a 22 cal brush handy to clean the inside of the chambers regularly. CCI ammo tends to have a waxy coating that can build up inside the chambers and under the extractor star preventing rounds from seating fully in. This would cause the cylinder binding you describe.

Good luck with getting this resolved. S&W customer service is supposed to be excellent, although I have never needed to use it.

Mail Clerk
01-01-2011, 6:06 PM
JaminJ,

After re-reading your post I now wonder if you have a burr spot inside your internals or perhaps it's slightly outta time. Take ca look at the rear of the extractor star and see of the notches has a burr on one of them. Then maybe looks closely at the cylinder lock at the bottom of the cylinder windor and pull the hammer back to see of the lock retracts out of the notch in the cylinder. Again maybe it's a timing issue.

Mail Clerk

Purdey
01-01-2011, 6:44 PM
MAN AND I WAS THINKING OF GETTING ONE OF THESE. MAYBE ILL HOLD OFF FOR NOW.

Same here! I was going to mail Bud's a check this coming week. Now I'm not so sure...

yzernie
01-01-2011, 7:13 PM
This might sound very simplistic but make sure your internal lock is turned all the way to the unlock position.

JamminJ
01-01-2011, 8:59 PM
I completed my thorough cleaning and lubrication. First off, why not a pic of the revolver. Must say it is an attractive looking gun:

http://i869.photobucket.com/albums/ab257/deadlysuperbike/DSCN2841.jpg

I didn't see anything stuck under the extractor or any problems with it. I did see some unexpected stuff. When running a brush through the barrel this was stuck inside the barrel right by the forcing cone:

http://i869.photobucket.com/albums/ab257/deadlysuperbike/DSCN2838.jpg

These are flakes of lead, probably at one point part of my bullets. I used both the minimag copper plated lead and come CCI Blazer lead round noses. I've never seen something like this before, can't imagine this is normal.

Also, found this:

http://i869.photobucket.com/albums/ab257/deadlysuperbike/DSCN2843.jpg

May be tough to see in the picture, but if you look to the lower right of the firing pin there's a darkened circle on the frame (about 1:00-2:00). This area has the finish roughed up and looks to be the place where the cylinder rotation was binding up on me. Again, I can't imagine this is normal.

Now I'm pretty much 100% sure this is beyond a simple fix. I'll call S&W on Tuesday.

BRANCHER
01-01-2011, 11:47 PM
Sorry to hear about that... mine is perfect and five of my friends have since bought them (after shooting mine) and all of theirs were perfect too... I have had very good luck with all my S&Ws but not everyone I know has... but S&W has always fixed those.... just takes some time... As a side note I usually one shoot the cheaper plated from golden bullet to federals since my eley match did gum it up after a lot of shooting... My Dan wesson 10" silhouette revolver has the same issue as well...

Mail Clerk
01-02-2011, 11:32 AM
I completed my thorough cleaning and lubrication. First off, why not a pic of the revolver. Must say it is an attractive looking gun:

http://i869.photobucket.com/albums/ab257/deadlysuperbike/DSCN2841.jpg

I didn't see anything stuck under the extractor or any problems with it. I did see some unexpected stuff. When running a brush through the barrel this was stuck inside the barrel right by the forcing cone:

http://i869.photobucket.com/albums/ab257/deadlysuperbike/DSCN2838.jpg

These are flakes of lead, probably at one point part of my bullets. I used both the minimag copper plated lead and come CCI Blazer lead round noses. I've never seen something like this before, can't imagine this is normal.

Also, found this:

http://i869.photobucket.com/albums/ab257/deadlysuperbike/DSCN2843.jpg

May be tough to see in the picture, but if you look to the lower right of the firing pin there's a darkened circle on the frame (about 1:00-2:00). This area has the finish roughed up and looks to be the place where the cylinder rotation was binding up on me. Again, I can't imagine this is normal.

Now I'm pretty much 100% sure this is beyond a simple fix. I'll call S&W on Tuesday.

JamminJ,

After looking at your pics the dark circle appears to be a stain only. That area has no bearing on the mechanics so I would worry about that area.

Now that you gave it a cleaning and the piece of lead removed could indicate it's outta time. Now don't panic as in the real world a little spitting of lead is normal. You can give it a quick and dirty check by inserting a cleaning rod down through the bore and see if the rod goes all the way through each cylinder chamber so it bottoms out the back. Bear in mind this is not accurate but good enough for a general reference. If you do this for each cylinder rotation and checking each chamber and if it comes out fine them pretty much the timing is fine although for a super accurate check Bolsa can handle that easy.

The ammo your using is good ammo wether it be Blazer or Mini-Mag. Basically there the same bullet except the Mini-Mag has a copper coating and the other doesn't

If it continues to dissapoint you then Bolsa can handle the repairs for free since it's under warranty. Just remember though.... You have a heavy barrel "target revolver" so maybe shooting it single action is your best bet. My 617 is the same as yours and that's all I do. I forgot what the other version was but I had one just like that with a aluminum cyliner instead of the SS cylinder. I got rid of it cuz I didn't think it would hold up under extensive usage.

Anyway with the rain and all Burro is not a good place to go. Good luck and have a fantastic day;)

Mail Clerk

brassburnz
01-03-2011, 6:08 AM
I've had a couple of Smith revolvers where the forcing cone wasn't cut perfectly square to the cylinder face. It caused "spitting" because lead was getting shaved off of the round. This also affects accuracy.

If the lead builds up on the forcing cone, this will freeze up the cylinder as well. Two or three rounds usually isn't enough to cause binding, but it could be.

I had a gunsmith recut the forcing cone on a couple of revolvers with amazing results. Both guns were still under warranty, but I wanted it done right away and it wasn't too exensive. $25 each IIRC.

c good
01-03-2011, 7:28 AM
If the timing checks out OK it Looks like the forcing cone/throat area is a little tight. I'd have a good gunsmith that knows S&W revolvers check the barrel/cylinder gap and throat of the barrel. Re cut both if necessary. HTH c good

DirtNapKing
01-03-2011, 7:33 AM
A $600+ gun and this is what you get? What a let down guns in general have become. It's a crap shoot it seems anymore. When you lay that kind of money down on a .22 wheel gun it better friggen work. I would hand deliver it directly back to Smith and raise some hell. They sure made a pretty gun on the outside but neglected to make it twice as pretty on the inside. Hope it gets worked out. Better yet I hope Smith will rectify the situation by fixing it right and fixing it right now or they replace the gun all together.

TMC
01-03-2011, 7:44 AM
This is interestering, I bought a 617 about 5 years ago and its shoots anything. I used it for the Steel Challenge in 2006 and shot the whole match, 200+ rounds, without cleaning and it was fine. The gun has over 5,000 rounds through it and it still shoots fine.

I did a bit of tune up a few months after buying by reducing the rebound spring, using fine lapping compound on crane/cylinder so it turns easier.

And if anybody cares, I have dryfired the crap out of it, well over 10,000 trigger pulls without snap caps with no damage. Don't worry about dryfire, the firing pin does not contact anything.

JamminJ
01-03-2011, 7:17 PM
I gave S&W customer support a ring today. After a few minutes wait to get through the phone tree the advice was quite similar to what was given here. After describing the problem the guy strongly suggested to clean thoroughly beneath the extractor and not to oil in that region (so as not to attract dirt). What the heck, Iíll try one more time before having the gun out of hand for however the repair time would be. I really didnít expect success but who knows. I did check the internal lock to be sure, that wasnít it but thanks for a good suggestion yzernie.

Too rainy for Burro Canyon, headed out to the Firing Line in Huntington Beach. I brought a few different types of ammo, this time Winchester SuperX (stuff in the fancy red 100 count plastic boxes), Winchester HiV bulk pack (Turnerís daily Christmas special a few weeks back) and my standard Federal bulk packs (stuff Dunnís had very inexpensively a few months ago). Ready to go, I loaded up 5 rounds of the SuperX figuring this would be enough to seize it up. In double action I pulled the trigger with the gun firing without incident. A second pull yielded the same results. ďOK, here it comesĒ the gun fired without incident a third time. Ditto for 4 and 5. Amazing! The problem seems to have subsided, could it be this easy?

Short answer: yes! I went through five rounds each of my other two types of ammo and happily had no problems whatsoever. Then onto ten round loads, also flawless. Single action also worked fine. All in all, I put about 400 rounds though the revolver today without one single failure or even weird feeling trigger pull. Maybe there was some schmutz under the extractor or removing the metal flakes from the barrel helped. Either way, Iím pretty pleased right now Ė albeit somewhat confused.

As an added bonus on the way home I stopped off at the Huntington Beach Wal-Mart. Swinging by the ammo section the shelves were pretty bare. I asked the guy working there if they had already received their last load of ammo. To my delight he said ďNo, weíre going to keep on selling here after the deadline.Ē This is great news indeed!

Anyway, I want to thank everyone in this thread for taking the time to share their experiences & advice. Many things were pointed out that I would not have come up with myself. In the end it probably saved a needless trip to a gunsmith.