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  #1  
Old 12-24-2009, 09:56 AM
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Default S&W Lock Failure?

I have read about the S&W revolver lock failures but I have never seen it happen personally and I don't have any S&W revolver with a lock.

This morning I got a call from a friend who said the lock on his model 60 may have failed. He said he was shooting the revolver at the local range when the on the 5th round he could not pull the trigger. He said the action was "locked" or "jammed" up and he could not pull the trigger. This occured after firing about 30 rounds. He didn't have the key to unlock the revolver and the range didn't have one either so he had to secure the revolver (there was one live round left) and take it home. At home he said he tried to "unlock" the action but he said the key would not turn. It's as if the whole lock and action is jammed. He's going to take the revolver to a local gunsmith to see if it can be "unlocked" next week.

Anybody here ever seen this type of lock failure? Is this what commonly happens when the revolver lock malfunctions?

Anybody else seen a lock failure on a S&W revolver?
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Old 12-24-2009, 10:32 AM
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rug357; It happens...I made a replacement assembly to remove mine, and you can get in touch with forum member Bullseye Smith, for a solution to the problem....its called "The Plug".
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Old 12-24-2009, 11:09 PM
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Massad Ayoob makes excellent arguments against disabling/altering any safety devices. If you use the weapon in self defense, you can count on a prosecutor calling you on it.
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Old 12-24-2009, 11:31 PM
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ZZ you can look at it the other way, means you are still alive to make it to court . The lock was made for storage, long and short of it. I bet he didn't have a lock failer.
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Old 12-25-2009, 12:22 AM
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The answer to solving all of the above...... DON'T OWN a gun with an IL. Problem??? What problem??
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Old 12-25-2009, 12:46 AM
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My Model 60 did the same thing as your friend's Model 60, I'm 99% sure it was the IL. I say that because the flag was partially up and unlocking it with the key "solved" the problem. To get it unlocked I had to thumb the hammer back slightly to take pressure off the flag while manipulating the key. The gun was purchased as a concealed carry weapon, but suddenly it was no longer trustworthy. The '60 and my 642 received a "lockectomy" and both have performed perfectly ever since. The only S&W revolvers I will consider buying any more are pre-lock models.
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Old 12-25-2009, 01:04 AM
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I question why the cylinder wouldn't open to allow him to remove the live round. The lock is connected to the hammer, unless a piece broke off and jammed the bolt.
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Old 12-25-2009, 01:07 AM
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Yea, I am not sure of the whole way that the lock works, but the fact that it would not operate under the lock-up raises a huge red-flag for me. Write it down, I will never own a gun with and IL. Just old fashioned I guess, my pops taught me the old school way. The only safety a revolver needs is between the shooter's ears.
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Old 12-25-2009, 01:32 AM
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When it is remove there is nothing to go wrong.
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Old 12-25-2009, 02:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zzclancy View Post
Massad Ayoob makes excellent arguments against disabling/altering any safety devices. If you use the weapon in self defense, you can count on a prosecutor calling you on it.
+1 Unless you have lots of money to try and convince 12 members of a jury.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant was so reckless that he DEACTIVATED A SAFETY DEVICE ON A LETHAL WEAPON, and so arrogant that he thought he knew more about the gun than the factory that made it!” That’s a mountain I’d rather not have to climb in court, nor debate in front of twelve jurors selected in part by opposing counsel for their lack of knowledge of firearms.

Massad Ayoob Blog Archive INTERNAL GUN LOCKS
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Old 12-25-2009, 03:10 AM
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By that logic, even if you have left the lock intact in the gun, and you actually have to shoot someone to defend yourself, the prosecutor will have an argument that you made the gun unsafe by unlocking it.
And the very act of unlocking the deadly weapon shows a reckless disregard for sefety etc.
On the other hand, if your revolver doesn't have a storage lock, and you shoot someone, the prosecutor can say you were reckless in buying a gun that did not have an internal storage lock.
All sorts of ways to play this dumb game.
Anyone caught carrying an unlocked gun will be liable for reckless disregard etc. ?
The State might be liable for any deaths from officers using guns without locks.

Any defense lawyer could show the jury that the gun was useless if the storage lock was kept locked and unlocking a gun would render it the same as a gun with a removed or disabled lock.

Last edited by Alx; 12-25-2009 at 03:29 AM.
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Old 12-25-2009, 03:35 AM
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Consider the lucky prosecutor that is fortunate enough to have as his defendant a perp that used that popular Taurus revolver called THE JUDGE.
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Old 12-25-2009, 03:36 AM
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Alx, I agree with your statement, but remember one thing.
Your dealing with 12 people who couldn't get off jury duty. Some of these people may not be too sharp, if you get my drift. On top of this, they could be in fact prejudiced against gun owners, the color of your skin etc.

The prosecutor is trying to paint you into a corner. So, why play with the idea of a modified gun in a defense trial?
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Old 12-25-2009, 05:35 AM
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Move along...nothing to see here....there are no lock failures, only internet lore...Move along....nothing to see here....
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Old 12-25-2009, 10:01 AM
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May very well be a case of lock failure. OTOH, it could also be caused by powder residue under the ejector star, or the ejector rod backing out. I have had both failures on non-IL guns and had the same problem.
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Old 12-25-2009, 01:14 PM
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There are several documented cases of lock failure, specific lock failure, in this forum. The flag bounces from extreme recoil, and overcomes the spring that opposes it.

Especially prone are the alloy-framed lightweights in .357 .
If you have seen the tiny piece of wire spring that is designed to keep the flag from bouncing on recoil, you would be amazed that it doesn't evaporate from rust if a damp breeze were to blow past.

I removed the IL parts, all four of them, non-destructively from my 649.

They were a menace to my own safety.
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Old 12-25-2009, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handgunner356 View Post
I question why the cylinder wouldn't open to allow him to remove the live round. The lock is connected to the hammer, unless a piece broke off and jammed the bolt.
Unless the hammer is in the "at rest" position, the cylinder release won't move...
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Old 12-25-2009, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rug357 View Post

Anybody here ever seen this type of lock failure? Is this what commonly happens when the revolver lock malfunctions?

Anybody else seen a lock failure on a S&W revolver?

I personally saw this type of failure before. although the hammer was in full cock over a loaded cylinder when the jam I saw occurred. It seems that the little flag broke off of the lock and jammed up the lockwork. I do not believe the lock failures are common (any machine can break) but they do happen once in a blue moon. enough for me never to own a gun with a lock
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Old 12-25-2009, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 45Wheelgun View Post
Move along...nothing to see here....there are no lock failures, only internet lore...Move along....nothing to see here....
Yes there have been lock failures and i have already documented mine several times.
If I were ever to buy another IL gun, as long as it shows no signs of binding then I would leave the lock.
as for removing the flag to insure it doesn't fail or in my case to return the gun to a functioning state, If I have to use it in self defense, the last thing I am going to worry about is if a lawyer is going to exploit the IL.
If people are so worried about little things like that, then maybe they shouldn't be carrying a gun and instead carry there cell phones and call the cops.
this whole argument is getting really old.
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Old 12-25-2009, 02:49 PM
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Here is what the IL consists of, besides the hammer features that interact.

I was not able to remove the spring from the flag itself, without a microscopic tool to unsnap one of its legs from a detent, but to show it better, I slipped a small scrap of paper between its free end and the flag. You can see the coiled part around the tiny post. This spring is not much thicker than the hair line on the rule.
That is the inch scale, showing 1/16 ths of an inch, on the ruler under the parts. The other all-coil spring is itself pretty small, but looks huge in the photo compared to the flag spring.
These hard and brittle little bits are easily able to chew up an alloy frame they inhabit, screw up the action and jam the hammer when they break, get out of place, or worn.

Once they are all removed, you have a tiny pivot hole in the frame near the cyl. release, and a small hole left by the lock tumbler, marked "L" on the frame. "L" for Lubricate. If these little holes worry you, pocket lint or whatever, you also need to plug up the rest of the gun's holes and cracks.
There are 5 or 6 charge holes in the cylinder front face, a relatively huge gap above and below the cylinder, and behind it, a holes and slots in front and behind the trigger, and a large hole in the muzzle, where your pocket junk would cause you more trouble than the two little IL holes in the side of the frame. Do you really let your carry gun get that messy ?

Last edited by Alx; 12-25-2009 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 12-25-2009, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 45Wheelgun View Post
Move along...nothing to see here....there are no lock failures, only internet lore...Move along....nothing to see here....
Quote:
Originally Posted by davel686 View Post
Yes there have been lock failures and i have already documented mine several times.
I was trying to be sarcastic. I have documented mine as well.
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Old 12-25-2009, 05:29 PM
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o ya, now it makes sense .... reminds me of the Alec Guiness line in the original Star Wars movie as he hypnitically sweeps away the guards' blocking his entry to the cantina.
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Old 12-25-2009, 05:35 PM
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o ya, now it makes sense .... reminds me of the Alec Guiness line in the original Star Wars movie as he hypnitically sweeps away the guards' blocking his entry to the cantina.
That is exactly what I was going for.

"These are not the revolvers you are looking for..."

Works on several levels.
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Old 12-25-2009, 05:35 PM
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Remove it, or buy revolvers that dont have it. You can only do one or the other. After reading all the stuff about the lock,why did he not get rid of it before he went to the range? Merry Christmas!!!!
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Old 12-25-2009, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rug357 View Post
I have read about the S&W revolver lock failures but I have never seen it happen personally and I don't have any S&W revolver with a lock.

This morning I got a call from a friend who said the lock on his model 60 may have failed. He said he was shooting the revolver at the local range when the on the 5th round he could not pull the trigger. He said the action was "locked" or "jammed" up and he could not pull the trigger. This occured after firing about 30 rounds. He didn't have the key to unlock the revolver and the range didn't have one either so he had to secure the revolver (there was one live round left) and take it home. At home he said he tried to "unlock" the action but he said the key would not turn. It's as if the whole lock and action is jammed. He's going to take the revolver to a local gunsmith to see if it can be "unlocked" next week.

Anybody here ever seen this type of lock failure? Is this what commonly happens when the revolver lock malfunctions?

Anybody else seen a lock failure on a S&W revolver?
It doesn't sound like a lock failure to me, it sounds like an ejector rod coming loose or a problem with the clyinder pawl/ hand.
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Old 12-25-2009, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 500 Magnum Nut View Post
Alx, I agree with your statement, but remember one thing.
Your dealing with 12 people who couldn't get off jury duty. Some of these people may not be too sharp, if you get my drift. On top of this, they could be in fact prejudiced against gun owners, the color of your skin etc.

The prosecutor is trying to paint you into a corner. So, why play with the idea of a modified gun in a defense trial?
I agree.

Has it happened? Who knows and how would you know? I love it when people say show me a case where this has been a factor. These people must think juries write decisions like judges explaining they "logic". Or that recorders are in jury rooms. Fact is we really don't know why juries render a particular verdict.

When in doubt play it safe is my approach.

Now when you think you may need an extra mag or gun, but that could be used against you, I say carry it. Then I accept the logic of survive first, worry later. But when you can buy used guns or new guns without the lock for carry, why carry a gun with a lock that may lock at wrong time or disable lock and give them something to use against you.

Last edited by davemercer; 12-25-2009 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 12-25-2009, 06:53 PM
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Aw Jeez, not this again. This never ending lock paranoia is a perfect example of human psychology...people tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about things that are unlikely to happen. By reading all these posts, you'd think locks are coming apart all over the place, and that our very existence is in peril since if we own IL revolvers. Never mind that our blood pressure and cholesterol are too high. Never mind that there is a 1 in 84 chance of dying in a car wreck... WE OWN IL revolvers...the sky is faaaaalllllliiiiiiinnnnnngggg.
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Old 12-25-2009, 07:17 PM
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Gee, we'd gone nearly 10 whole days without an "I hate the lock" rant and now, we have TWO of them running simultaneously. I think I'll go watch football or something.
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Old 12-25-2009, 08:28 PM
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People who are in traffic jams always blame the others for being there, just like those who post complaints about IL lock complaint threads, in those very same IL lock complaint threads ...
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Old 12-25-2009, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rug357 View Post
Anybody else seen a lock failure on a S&W revolver?
Here is a documented lock issue. Judge for yourself, but the guys gun is defective. Notice the firing pin is being blocked.

SWLockFail.flv video by TFin04 - Photobucket
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Old 12-26-2009, 02:23 AM
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the only reason i bought a gun with the IL was that it was in like new condition and was a good deal.
the lock problem didn't show until I started shooting it.
since the gun was a solid gun and a good shooter except for the lock, It was easier to just remove the flag and make it a safe, good shooter.
other wise I don't buy IL guns and won't in the future unless another good deal came along on one.
then i would determine whether I was going to carry the gun or just shoot it before I would do anything to the lock.
as has been stated before, the IL is a storage device only! not a carry safety.
no person in his right mind would use the damn thing in a carry situation and ask the person threating them to stop while they fumble for the special key to unlock the gun so they could defend himself.
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Old 12-26-2009, 03:02 AM
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I hope the price on lock guns tanks , I am starting to I want one .
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:20 AM
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I used to buy the whole no lock thing. I just think it's a tempest in a teapot now. Chance of ever having to use a gun in a self-defense situation in your life - next to nothing. Chance that at that very same moment you would experience a rare malfunction - closer to next to nothing. Jamming of a semi-auto happens more frequently than failure of an S&W IL, yet I don't see hysteria about it. I prefer them without the lock, but the lock is there to stay, so if a new model comes along that I like that has the lock, I'm not going to refuse to buy it for that reason alone. Everybody has to do their own thing though.

Last edited by rpg0123; 01-07-2010 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:59 AM
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Last time I took my 638-3, my only IL firearm, to the range, I ran a cylinder-full of every +P I had (probably why my had hurt after!), including Remington 125gr. SJHP and Federal 158gr LSWCHP.

Gun functioned fine, but I
a. still carry a BUG
b. carry my 640-1 more
c. I am looking to replace it w/a no lock something!
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:05 AM
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FWIW, JM2C, I've probably ran 500 rounds or so of various other weight and types of .38 Specials and +P through the 638-3 with no bobbles.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
no person in his right mind would use the damn thing in a carry situation and ask the person threating them to stop while they fumble for the special key to unlock the gun so they could defend himself.
Some people are not as bright as you think
I get a kick out of seeing that the majority of peeps that defend the lock, have a gun with the lock.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:17 PM
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FWIW, early last year I saw a women at the range experience a lockup on her new S&W. Couldn't open the cylinder, pull the trigger, etc. I wasn't that into revolvers at the time, so I can't tell you what model it was, but in hindsight I would guess it was a 686, because it clearly wasn't a stubnose, and I recall it being larger than a J Frame. She was complaining to the store employee that she was told that revolvers were more dependable than pistols, yet her gun didn't work. The employee told her it would have to be sent bad to the factory, but when it returned it would be better than new because a S&W gunsmith will have paid particular attention to it. Given that it was new it must have had the lock, but I can't say if the lock was the cause of the problem. On the bright side, a locked 686 makes a much better club as compared to a jammed polymer automatic.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:39 PM
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Not to beat a dead horse, but just food for thought - I have yet to open my morning paper and hear of a poor fellow found shot dead on the street with a S&W revolver in his hand, flag popped up. After almost a decade with them on there...
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:02 PM
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My guess as to why you have not read of that happening, is because people with any experience............or an ounce of brains, don't carry IL revolvers for serious purposes. Regards 18DAI.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
I can't tell you what model it was, but in hindsight I would guess it was a 686, because it clearly wasn't a stubnose, and I recall it being larger than a J Frame.
Huh, I've never heard of it on an L frame; Always been a J or a Scandium hard kicker of some kind. A dealer on another site I frequent said after all this came out he asked his rep about the locks and the guy said S&W was aware of the problem but had no plans to change them - No IL guns for this boy.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:33 PM
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My guess as to why you have not read of that happening, is because people with any experience............or an ounce of brains, don't carry IL revolvers for serious purposes. Regards 18DAI.
Oh, my...

So here is a question for the "experienced and wise one".

I have read that that a person should fire 500-1000 rounds through their carry gun, using carry ammo, to assess reliability prior to depending on this gun for self defense. Is this a good recommendation? And if I have shot 2000+ trouble-free rounds through my IL revolver, can it be deemed reliable?
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:51 PM
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1. Being a smarta$$ does not get you real far, especially on an internet forum.

To answer your question, it is not, and never will be as reliable as a gun without a lock. The probability of malfunction, no matter how small, is greater than the probability of malfunction when the system does not exist. You may know psychology, but seems like your math could use some work

Shooting hundreds of rounds to test for function is usually more important in autoloaders, not wheel guns. You are checking for FTF and FTE, these do not exist in a revolver. If the load is accurate, performs adequately and you can shoot it confidently, you are good to go with a revolver.
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Old 01-08-2010, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajpelz View Post
1. Being a smarta$$ does not get you real far, especially on an internet forum.

To answer your question, it is not, and never will be as reliable as a gun without a lock. The probability of malfunction, no matter how small, is greater than the probability of malfunction when the system does not exist. You may know psychology, but seems like your math could use some work

Shooting hundreds of rounds to test for function is usually more important in autoloaders, not wheel guns. You are checking for FTF and FTE, these do not exist in a revolver. If the load is accurate, performs adequately and you can shoot it confidently, you are good to go with a revolver.
It was "tongue in cheek smarta$$" in response to the implication that using an IL revolver for self defense equates to lack of brains. I am an admitted novice at this, but I do not buy that argument.

Seriously though, one of my revolvers was having a problem with light primer strikes. This manifested itself early, and I fixed the problem. I didn't "trust" the gun until I fired hundreds of flawless rounds. Now I trust it.

Seems to me that there are a variety of mechanical things that can go wrong with any handgun, but if particular handgun performs flawlessly for thousands of rounds, is not that particular handgun by definition reliable?

I believe that on average, IL revolvers are less reliable than revolvers without the IL, no matter how statistically minute the difference might be. Problem is that statistics like this apply to populations and not individuals.

So, being the admitted novice that I am, I would still argue that if a person shoots thousands of flawless rounds through his gun, he could safely assume his gun is "reliable" by any definition, and he would not be "lacking brains" if he carried the gun.
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Old 01-08-2010, 02:35 PM
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I think I said it before. Most people I know do not even look at revolvers with a lock. There are plenty of older revolvers out there. And Ruger makes some REALLY nice ones w/o any locks. VERY strong actions too.
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by fighter62 View Post
I think I said it before. Most people I know do not even look at revolvers with a lock. There are plenty of older revolvers out there. And Ruger makes some REALLY nice ones w/o any locks. VERY strong actions too.
This describes me, but in all honesty I can't say it's principally because I'm afraid the gun will not go bang. My main reasons are:

1. It looks ugly.
2. Revolvers without an internal lock seem to hold their value or appreciate more than those without it.
3. It ticks me off that S&W rolled over and gave in to the Clinton administration's strong arm tactics. The lock is a constant reminder.
4. I've always suspected it's just another area to collect lint and dirt.
5. I don't feel I need it. In other words, it isn't a feature that I feel I need. I MIGHT feel different if I had rug rats running around the house, and no better way to secure the gun.
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by 18DAI View Post
My guess as to why you have not read of that happening, is because people with any experience............or an ounce of brains, don't carry IL revolvers for serious purposes. Regards 18DAI.
I doubt that since S&W is still one of the top selling handguns. There are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of the internal lock models floating around out there. You haven't heard about it because it hasn't happened.

And, honestly, no, people with experience know that there are lots of other more common and well-documented malfunctions to consider than an internal lock controversy that has never been well-documented.

I'm not wanting to get into a personal battle over this topic. I'm just posting for the benefit of newcomers and browsers who stumble across this site and get the impression that our favorite brand, S&W, is somehow lacking in quality. Not true. As an S&W enthusiast, I don't want them thinking the new S&W they just bought is not any good. I don't want them switching brands on us unnecessarily. I'd rather the casual reader be encouraged by our comments about S&W quality to go buy a revolver and an S&W rather than a semi and a Glock or Taurus.

Last edited by rpg0123; 01-09-2010 at 01:12 AM.
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