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  #1  
Old 05-04-2010, 11:20 AM
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Default Titanium cylinders - good, bad or "don't care"?

I'm considering buying a 646 revolver in .40 S&W and I believe that it comes in the L-frame with a titanium cylinder. I know nothing about this material, all my Smiths are either blued steel or stainless.

What are the pros/cons of titanium for a cylinder? I'm thinking primarily from a cleaning/maintenance perpspective. Is it coated like the aluminum cylinder/frame of the 317? How does it hold up? If it wears off, is the underlying metal subject to corrosion?

Thanks,
Lou
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:46 AM
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No, it is not a coating. The cylinder is machined out of titantium bar stock. The pro's are strong and lighter weight.
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:57 AM
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Cleaning procedures from the Smith & Wesson manual:

CAUTION:
REVOLVERS WITH TITANIUM ALLOY CYLINDERS

Titanium alloy cylinders weigh approximately 60% of what a similarly sized stainless steel cylinder weighs and yet is able to withstand the same operating pressures. Care and cleaning of the revolverʼs titanium alloy cylinder consists of normal gun cleaning procedures using high quality gun oil and cleaning solvents when necessary. However, under NO circumstances should the cylinderʼs chambers (charge holes) or front face be cleaned with an abrasive material such as sand paper, Scotch Brite™, Crocus Cloth, etc. To do so will disrupt itʼs protective surface layer and greatly reduce the cylinderʼs service life because of excessive erosion that will take place while firing and will void your revolverʼs warranty.
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:22 PM
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One box of 110 Magnum loads (in violation of the instrucions in the manual) made the front face of my 340PD cylinder look like it had been attacked by a wood rasp.

But i can tell the difference in my pocket between the (replacement) titanium cylinder gun and one with a steel cylinder.
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:27 PM
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The TI cylinder on my 646 tends to stain around the front, and if you can get over trying to keep it scrubbed "factory new" it is just fine. I like the lower cylinder inertia in rapid fire.

If you want to polish it until is shines like brand new, get stainless.
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:37 PM
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Question Bronze brushes are a no-no?

Catmonkey,

Is a standard bronze bore brush an "abrasive" in this context, or could Lou_NC use one in a 646 cylinder?

I noticed the S&W manual that you quoted from used the word "erosion" [from powder burning], as opposed to "corrosion." Titanium is famous for not corroding when bare titanium pipes are used under the ocean.

How the heck are you supposed to clean the lead fouling out of an aluminum cylinder? A long soaking with old Hoppie's that contained benzene would have done it, but benzene was removed from publically available solvents quite a while ago. Without an easy substitute for an old fashion bronze bore brush, I'm sticking with steel cylinders.

Best regards,

Gil
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:52 PM
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I only have two guns with aluminum cylinders, both rimfires. I clean them just like I do all my other .22s.

The titanium cylinder I clean like I do my steel cylinders - I don't use scotch brite on them either.
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:05 PM
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My "quarrel" with Titanium cylinders is the revolvers are TOO light. My Air Weight 642 is light enough. The 442 makes even the standard .38 Special "Abusive". I can handle the 642 with aplomb - not so with the +P in the "Air Light".

FWIW
Dale53
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:46 PM
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[QUOTE=Bullet Bob]I only have two guns with aluminum cylinders, both rimfires. I clean them just like I do all my other .22s.

How?

The bronze bristles of standard bore brushes are harder than aluminum so I guess they would scratch or wear away the surface of aluminum chambers.
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Old 05-04-2010, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k22fan View Post
Catmonkey,
Is a standard bronze bore brush an "abrasive" in this context, or could Lou_NC use one in a 646 cylinder?
I've heard both yes and no answers. I just use a nylon bore brush. I sure customer service could tell you. Once the titanium becomes blackened, it won't come off with bore solvent. There are lightweight versions that have a scandium frame and a stainless cylinder that only adds about an ounce of weight to the gun. You could also have the cylinder ceracoted if you find the stains on the outside of the cylinder objectionable.
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Old 05-04-2010, 02:58 PM
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Catmonkey,

I do not care about blackening for appearances sake. I'm only concerned about removing lead build up as I am primarily a cast bullet shooter. I have found nylon brushes ineffective for removing leading and not significantly better than tight fitting patches for removing powder residue.

S&W has only made .40 cal. cylinders out of titanium. The attraction to the 646 for me is its smaller size compared to the N frame 610s.

Gil
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Old 05-04-2010, 03:21 PM
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I see your dilemma. I would contact customer service at 1-800-331-0852 and pose that question to Smith & Wesson. On one hand I don't think you could say bronze is abrasive, but I wouldn't want to do anything to harm the cylinder if in fact it is.

Last edited by Catmonkey; 05-04-2010 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 05-04-2010, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k22fan View Post
Catmonkey,

I do not care about blackening for appearances sake. I'm only concerned about removing lead build up as I am primarily a cast bullet shooter.

Gil
+1 for me on the cast bullets.

In addition to bronze chamber brushes, I also wonder about the use of products such as a Lewis Lead Remover and lead-away cloths on titanium. I've had to use both from time to time on cylinders throats as I've experimented with various cast bullet loads.

And what about Flitz for cleaning up those rings on the face of the cylinder? This is less important to me, but knowing whether it's OK would also be helpful.

If anyone contacts S&W customer support regarding these questions please post back here!

Thanks,
Lou
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Old 05-04-2010, 07:10 PM
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I've got 3 revolvers with titanium cylinders, just pay atttention to how you clean it. Never had any problems with any of mine.
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Old 05-04-2010, 07:18 PM
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I've used the lead away cloth on my titanium cylinder with no apparent ill effects. I use it to remove the burn rings on the cylinder face and any lead build up in the cylinder throats. I don't think lead away cloth is abrasive, its impregnated with some sort of chemical(s). I push a small piece thru cylinders with a bore mop.
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Old 05-04-2010, 07:59 PM
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I don't clean any of my .22's with bronze brushes. But that's just me. I rarely clean .22 barrels at all, just clean up some around the forcing cone.

I do use a bronze brush on the 646 chambers, but as I've said, it doesn't get fired much. Too many guns, too little time.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:13 PM
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For what it's worth ,I had a 386 S.C. mountain revolver a few years ago.
Although bought used ,it was like new. I fired it ,and cleaned it with
the lead remover cloth ,and in short time the cylinder face began to
erode ,with striations extending out from the chamber mouths.

I traded it back into the shop where I bought it, and they sent it back to S&W.

I also had a 325 PD ,and sold it, after a while. But thankfully had no issues with it.

I have few uses today for any scandidium or tigranium revolvers, they
are just too spooky-light.

The 646 mentioned earlier might be the exception to me ,but, it would have to be one smokin deal.
These are just bringing too much money these days.

Regards , Allen
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:09 AM
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Here's an email message exchange I had with S&W re: Ti/Sc Cleaning.

Be cautious here -- I'm pretty sure S&W has since retracted the Nevr Dull recommendation.

Paul


RE: Ti/Sc Cleaning‏
From: Smith & Wesson Support (qa@smith-wesson.com)
Sent: Thu 8/24/06 11:33 AM
To: Paul

No solvent with ammonia should be used.
bronze or copper brush is fine
Nevr-Dull is a good product to clean lead
You may find at a local hardware store

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2006 10:57 PM
To: Smith & Wesson Support
Subject: Ti/Sc Cleaning


Can I use the following on Ti cylinders:

1. a bronze brush

2. Hoppe's #9?

3. Butch's Bore Shine?

Any recommendations

TIA

Paul
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catmonkey View Post
No, it is not a coating. The cylinder is machined out of titantium bar stock. The pro's are strong and lighter weight.
I don't know too much about the titanium cylinders, (other than the strong & light qualities) but if you read your post immediately following the above one, (Cleaning procedure from S&W manual) it states in part about using abrasives for cleaning the chambers or front face....."To do so would disrupt the protective surface layer......"
From that it would appear there is a protective coating of some kind that can be eroded, if the cylinder is cleaned improperly.
Just a thought.
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:13 AM
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I just don't like how the titanium cylinders look, especially with a stainless steel frame and barrel. I don't mind it quite as much with a black frame, like a M-329.

I continue to toy with the idea of buying a stainless 6 shot .357 L frame cylinder and having it rechambered to .40 S&W and fit to my M-646, so it is a uniform color.

Or mebbe I just ought to sell my -646. I've never shot it.

Last edited by BUFF; 05-05-2010 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:14 AM
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There is some process that is applied to the cylinder to minimize the effects of heat. I can't tell you if it's a coating or some other treatment. Titanium has a lower heat threshold and this process retards the effect of high heat to the titanium cylinder to prevent heat related erosion. What I meant in my first post was that the cylinder was not somehow coated with titanium in response to the OP's initial question to clarify that the cylinder is machined form a solid bar of titanium alloy, as opposed to cast or forging.

The erosion, as opposed to corrosion, issue is the effect of high temperatures and titanium's lower resistance to heat than other metals. When that barrier is scrubbed off with an abrasive, it's the resulting heat that will erode the tolerances between the cylinder and the barrel and ultimately destroy the gun.
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  #22  
Old 05-05-2010, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale53 View Post
My "quarrel" with Titanium cylinders is the revolvers are TOO light. My Air Weight 642 is light enough. The 442 makes even the standard .38 Special "Abusive". I can handle the 642 with aplomb - not so with the +P in the "Air Light".

FWIW
Dale53
Concur. I replaced the titanium cylinder in my 296 with a stainless 696 cylinder. The extra couple of ounces seem to help.

I have no argument with the strength of titanium -- roughly equivalent to steel at about half the weight.
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:42 PM
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I had a 360PD and after about 400 rounds the cylinder face started to pit. I do not use sandpaper, I do not own a steel or bronze brush. All my brushes are nylon, and I only use BreakFree.

The cylinder looked bad, the words stamped on the gun were blurred because they were double-stamped, and the finish looked bad. I sent the gun back to S&W, and they replaced the cylinder, and I think they replaced the frame because the wording on the gun was now sharp (guess they replaced the whole gun?), but then came another problem...


...the flag on the Internal Lock kept engaging when firing or when the gun was held upside down. I took the gun to a gunsmith this time to remove the lock, and apparently the flag was not put on right because the little spring was not connected.

I then heard S&W came up with a new gun that addressed the problems I was having with my gun: 360 M&P.

By this time I was upset that I had spent so much money on what I had considered an experiment on S&W's part which had gone wrong. I could not justify spending more money.

I had a hard time selling my 360PD because of the reputation of it being a very hard-kicking gun. I finally sold it for about half of what I paid for it. I took that money and bought a Glock 21 (.45ACP).

Three months ago I bought a S&W 342M&P .38spl. I LOVE IT! Everything I wanted in an off-duty gun with a stainless steel cylinder.

Now if only I can find some ammo to shoot it...
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  #24  
Old 05-05-2010, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k22fan View Post
Catmonkey,



S&W has only made .40 cal. cylinders out of titanium. The attraction to the 646 for me is its smaller size compared to the N frame 610s.

Gil
Not quite. I have two 342Tis, they have titanium cylinders. Also, I believe that the 296 had one, as well.
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:59 PM
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I do not believe in attempting to make a gun look new after it has been fired. Thus I do not get concerned about the rings on the face of the cylinders. For my S&W 646 and a 327 PC with titanium cylinders I have used a bronze brush followed by a patch with Hoppes#9. I only shoot plated or jacketed bulettls in these guns.
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Old 05-05-2010, 05:57 PM
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I clean the chambers on my titanium cylinders the same way i do stainless:

Normally cleaning is to drag a .40 Bore Snake, damp with Break Free CLP, through each chamber.

When powder fouling from .38 loads in the magnum length chambers begins to build up at the front, I put an ordinary .40 bore brush on a short aluminum cleaning rod, chuck the rod in my variable speed drill, and use the drill to spin the brush at medium speed as I work it in and out of the chamber. The idea is to keep the speed fairly low, we don't want to cause a lot of heat buildup. 30 seconds of the drill is equal to 30 minutes of hand scrubbing with the same brush.

No problems at all, once i stopped using those darned 110 gr magnum loads.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:38 PM
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I don't have any titanium guns, but given all the "don't use..." and "don't shoot..." warnings on them, I would rather have steel.

I also don't believe the claims that titanium is just as strong as steel. In the bicycle world, high end parts have a lot of titanium in them. Parts like titanium pedals spindles have low maximum weight limits, while the steel spindles don't.

You can make a titanium part as strong as steel and still be lighter IF you are not constrained by the size of the part. A titanium part will not be as strong as a steel part if they are the same size.

I'm not claiming that a titanium cylinder's strength is insufficient for the job it is designed for, I just don't believe it is as strong as a steel cylinder.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:51 PM
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Titanium is wonderful. The light weight of my 357PD makes it a very good carry gun alternative.

Yes, there might be a bit of staining, however it is a gun, not a dinner plate you are eating off of. If I wanted a perfectly clean gun, I would buy a duplicate. Clean the titanium just as you would any other gun and enjoy.
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:26 PM
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Question Opinions vary quite a bit

Hello all,

I'm still not sure of anything, but perhaps my old preference for cleaning nickeled guns is the most prudent for cleaning leading out of titanium cylinders: bronze bore brushes with WD 40 for solvent. Of course I wipe off the WD 40 after cleaning because it is not a good gun preservative or lubricant, and like TSQUARED I don't remove the blackened rings around the chamber mouths.

[QUOTE=TSQUARED] I do not believe in attempting to make a gun look new after it has been fired.

Amen.

[QUOTE=TSQUARED] For my ... titanium cylinders I have used ... Hoppes#9.

Paul105’s quote from S&W Customer Service, “No solvent with ammonia should be used.” contradicts TSQUARED’s use of Hoppe’s #9 which contains ammonia. I don’t know if the Break Free CLP that Gearhead Jim wrote he uses contains ammonia, but this raises the question of whether Gearhead Jim’s titanium cylinder face’s coating was degraded by solvents before...

[QUOTE=Gearhead Jim] One box of 110 Magnum loads (in violation of the instrucions in the manual) made the front face of my 340PD cylinder look like it had been attacked by a wood rasp.

Also recall that Allen-frame wrote he used lead remover cloth on the front of his 386Sc’s titanium cylinder and it eroded badly afterward.

I hope this doesn't change the topic to too much petty hair splitting, but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38-44HD45
Not quite. [referring to my statement that S&W only made .40s with titanium cylinders] I have two 342Tis, they have titanium cylinders. Also, I believe that the 296 had one, as well.
I'm sorry. I ment to write that all the .40 cal. revolvers S&W has manufactured have titanium cylinders.

Best regards,

Gil

Last edited by k22fan; 05-06-2010 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 05-09-2010, 09:05 PM
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Hi all I just bought a used like new 340PD and was wondering this very same thing.,is the ti cylinder an inherently flawed design? Or can the issue be traced back to some owners not obeying the warnings on ammo use and cleaning solvents? I called S&W and they said as long as I obey the warnings on cleaning solvents and ammo weight restrictions i should be fine in regards to my guns titanium cylinder.

They also told me a way to determine if the protective coating was still intact,was to simply look at the cylinder,and see if I notice any pealing or dull looking spot on the Ti cylinder. They this is a tell tale sign that the protective coating has been damaged. Can anyone here confirm this?
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:12 AM
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Jeez... where are all the old regulars here? We discussed this ad infinitum MANY years ago.

The titanium cylinders have a clear coat of some sort. Once that is breached, the erosion process begins. Hence the warning against agressive cleaning procedures/products.

The titanium cylinders are not flawed; just different. My 360PD, acquired in 2004, has had well over 5000 rounds through it. Gentle scrubbing with solvent and nylon brushes (both bore and regular toothbrush type) has kept it clean. I specifically avoided lead bullets, so as not to have to deal with any leading.

.
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:13 PM
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Default 340 PD with Disabled Lock

Four years of daily pocket carry, and enough practice to have a lot of confidence, with no titanium issues.
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:44 PM
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I believe the preferred (and totally safe to the cylinder coating) cleaner to use is "Hoppes Elite" which is a non-toxic cleaner. I then put a dab of "Slide-Glide Light" on the moving parts if they need it and a very light coat of "Sheath" in the bore and my gun is ready again for it's daily duty of pocket carry.

I use Nylon brushes exclusively and I don't worry at all about the firing marks on the cylinder.

My 340PD has probably had 1,000 rounds through it with no issues. It is the lightest, most powerful and most reliable solution I have found to pocket carry. It is a specialty gun. The weight savings the titanium offers is worth it for me. The gun disappears and does not rip out the pockets of even the lightest dress slacks.

Although I have some steel J-frames and good holsters for them, I never end up using them for CCW, because if I am going to use a holster, then I want a bigger gun.

The Scandium/Titanium J-frames are perfect for pocket carry. I also like my Scandium/Titanium 329 .44 Magnum for when I am Mountain Biking in Bear country. Neither gun is meant for a day at the range idly plinking, but both guns excel in the niche they fill.

With the cleaning regimen I have been using, I have had zero problems.

Of course, I *did* "de-lockify" both guns......I now have ZERO chance of a lock malfunction in these ultra-lightweight Magnum revolvers.

Cheers,

i8mtm
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Old 07-11-2010, 11:07 PM
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It seems to me that the Titanium cylinders are not as rugged as steel over the long haul.

I would not want one.
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S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present Thread, Titanium cylinders - good, bad or "don't care"? in Smith & Wesson Revolvers; I'm considering buying a 646 revolver in .40 S&W and I believe that it comes in the L-frame with a ...
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