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S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present All NON-PINNED Barrels, the L-Frames, and the New Era Revolvers


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  #1  
Old 09-20-2011, 04:27 PM
tall gunner tall gunner is offline
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That's what they told me today when I called about the clear coat on my 642 which seems to be wearing off in areas. I had heard different opinions about whether this was a warranty item or not so I decided to call and ask. First thing he asked me was what did I clean with. When I mentioned Hoppes he said that was the worst thing to use since it was amonia based and would attack the finish. He quoted me a figure to refinish the gun($200) and said I would have to ship it on my dime. When I asked if they would put a different finish on it (say....black) since this one doesn't hold up he said no because they would have to change the model number and they wouldn't do that. Huh? I wonder what the people at Hoppes will think now that their product can no longer be used on the most popular revolver out there? Maybe all this is normal and I just haven't been aware of it until now. Somebody clue me in.
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Old 09-20-2011, 05:00 PM
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Hey, I didn't know either. Glad you posted. You have probably helped a bunch of us. Thanks.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:17 PM
M29since14 M29since14 is offline
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Originally Posted by tall gunner View Post
...Maybe all this is normal and I just haven't been aware of it until now. Somebody clue me in.
This topic comes up here now and then. The clear coat finish doesn't seem to have a lot of admirers, and apparently with good reason. S&W could just as easily anodize the frame in nearly any color they chose, but no doubt they do not for the reason you mention - the attractive price makes the revolver very popular.

Most people who have mentioned this before mention S&W suggesting they use other cleaning products - like Break-free. I don't know much about Break-free, but I do believe I would rather have a new 442 than the 642 because of this issue.

The price to refinish does seem a bit high. Several folks here have said S&W will not remove the barrel from an aluminum-frame and they will scrap it if they have to, so maybe the high cost is for a new frame for your gun, and all the hassles (paperwork) associated with that... ? I don't know if that is true, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Can't comment on whether this is a warranty covered defect. I don't recall hearing anyone say repairs for this problem had been covered by warranty service, but I would bet if your owner's manual cautions against using certain cleaning products and suggests using certain ones, you are probably out of luck.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:35 PM
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The manual does clearly state not to use ammoniated solvents. I googled this topic the other day and the results seemed to indicate Hoppe's #9 is not ammoniated, fwtw.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:46 PM
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The manual does clearly state not to use ammoniated solvents. I googled this topic the other day and the results seemed to indicate Hoppe's #9 is not ammoniated, fwtw.
IDINGREDIENTCAS NUMBEREINECSEU CLASSIFICATION% WT
1Kerosene008008-20-6232-366-4Xn; 6515 - 40
2Ethyl Alcohol000064-17-5200-578-6F; 1115 - 40
3Oleic Acid000112-80-1204-007-1——
4Amyl Acetate000628-63-7211-047-310-655 - 10
5Ammonium Hydroxide001336-21-6215-647-6N, C; 34-501 - 5

http://www.hoppes.com/msds/Hoppes9/M...vision_1-3.pdf

up to 5% ammonium hydroxide qualifies, doesn't it?
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:54 PM
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I don't know. Technically, that would presumably satisfy the definition of ammoniated. However, there's some conflicting statements out there.

In addition, S&W's manual states to never use it on *all* their guns. Is S&W really stating to not use what has to be the most popular gun solvent there is? Especially when a couple sentences before they state to stick with products meant for cleanly guns.

My thought would be they are stating to stay away from Hoppe's #9, but I'm not a chemist, metallurgist, or engineer for S&W???
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:54 PM
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I have a Charter carry piece with an aluminum frame and stainless everything else-no clear coat. I have already sent it in once to get rid of the ugly-I carry it everywhere while working around the house-and they media blasted it and sent it back. Maybe you could try that instead of clearcoat? Flapjack.
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:20 PM
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I've only used Break Free on my 642 for cleaning since I bought it 8 months ago and the finish is coming off pretty badly. I clean after every shooting session or every 1-2 weeks, whichever comes first.

Then again, I've fired about 700 rounds through it in that time, with another 2-3 times that dry-firing (at least) during practice drills that involve a lot of handling (drawing, speed reloads, etc.). It's also been my primary carry gun the last few months during some hot and humid weather.

I think the Hoppes issue is only part of the problem. I had a 642 no-dash several years ago with the anodized finish. While I didn't handle it as much as my current 642-1, I don't recall any issues regarding the finish.

Also, I probably wouldn't send it back to S&W for refinishing if they're just going to use the same process, even if they would do it for free. I would probably send it to a refinishing company like Robar and have a better quality finish applied that will likely last longer, even if it ends up costing more.
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:51 PM
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I'm reposting this from an AR rifle forum.

The question is if Hoppe’s #9 is safe to use as a cleaning solvent for the AR platform?

For a definitive answer I called Hoppe’s (Subsidiary of Bushnell). This is what their response was:

Hoppe’s #9 is a safe solvent for all guns. However, prolonged contact with nickel, chrome or aluminum is not recommended with any Hoppe’s solvents. In addition chrome or aluminum should not be soaked or submerged in any Hoppe’s solvent. The reason is that the slightest scratch or nick in the plating, the solvents will penetrate the flaw and dissolve the underlying copper substrate & cause the chrome/nickel plating to chip & peel further. Therefore, when using on plated or lined items keep the solvent to a minimum. Hoppe’s #9 does contain a water based Ammonia however, it is diluted.
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:25 PM
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Hmmm. I use hoppes. No problems...yet. Is the "damage" just cosmetic? I clean my guns after every shoot, and I clean my carry every couple of weeks to keep it lint free, etc.

While I would like to keep my carry piece pristine, it is an every day carry. If it is just cosmetic, I wouldn't worry about it (I don't know if the damage is limited to cosmetics - I assume it is, as it's just the finish).
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:29 PM
M29since14 M29since14 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ContinentalOp View Post
Also, I probably wouldn't send it back to S&W for refinishing if they're just going to use the same process, even if they would do it for free. I would probably send it to a refinishing company like Robar and have a better quality finish applied that will likely last longer, even if it ends up costing more.
Yes, the Henry Ford principle. (Same effort usually gets the same results.) Might as well try something different.

The old 442s could be obtained with an electroless nickel finish that would last for years and show minimal wear. I just gave my daughter mine. It has had a lot of use over the last approximately 20-years. When she saw it, her comment was that she had seen me putting the gun in a pocket off and on for as long as she could remember, and it still looks like new. It's not quite that tidy, but still a nice looking revolver. Shame the finish is not still available.

Incidentally, that gun has had more than a few cleanings using Hoppe's. Until a year or two ago, I did not know to avoid using it on nickeled guns.
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:53 PM
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Hoppe's No. 9 is used on a Model 642 I've had since 1998 with no detrimental effects to the surfaces.

I've long wondered just how damaging Hoppe's No. 9 really was to nickel. I once had an ancient .32-20 Hand Ejector that had a rough looking nickel finish. I'd always heard that Hoppe's No. 9 would cause nickel to flake and come off. I decided I'd just strip the remainder of the bad looking nickel off and thought to try Hoppe's No. 9 on it. I bathed the revolver in Hoppe's and left it overnight for many weeks. I left parts of that revolver soaking in Hoppe's No. 9 literally for months. Nothing happened. This would have been in the early 1980s.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:02 PM
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Part of the reason I own and prefer a 442. No probs.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:14 PM
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Anyone tried Prolix? I use it on my nickel finish Smiths because it is "supposed" to be safe on nickel finishes. If it is safe for nickel, wouldn't it be safe for the M642 finish? Just asking.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:19 PM
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This is another reason I'm not big on these "trendy" finishes.

Sounds like a S&W problem ~ not a Hoppes problem to me.

Give me a deep rich blued finish or brushed stainless any day.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:23 PM
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I use Kroil to clean my 642-1 and don't have any finish issues yet. Wonder what you are supposed to use to remove copper fouling as ammonia is the standard copper remover??

S&W really did cheap-out on the finish with the water based clear coat, though I bought it as a deep concealment gun, so screw-it if it becomes an ugly duckling due to the clear peeling.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:27 PM
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I use Birchwood Casey synthetic safe gun scrubber on my nickel Uberti and my 340M&P. I haven't had any problems yet. It's the most powerful "safe" gunk remover I've found. CLP whether breakfree or Otis is pretty weak in my opinion.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M29since14 View Post
The old 442s could be obtained with an electroless nickel finish that would last for years and show minimal wear. I just gave my daughter mine. It has had a lot of use over the last approximately 20-years. When she saw it, her comment was that she had seen me putting the gun in a pocket off and on for as long as she could remember, and it still looks like new. It's not quite that tidy, but still a nice looking revolver. Shame the finish is not still available.

I also had one of these 442s, but like an idiot traded it off a few months back for a pristine Highway Patrolman.
S&W still offers this finish. Its called glass bead nickel but its not available for stainless and costs $200.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:17 AM
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FWIW, I use Mobile One auto motor oil to clean my M638, M38-2, Sig's and M&P. I put several drops on a brass bore brush and run it through several times. Then wipe it with dry patches, Then I run a lightly oiled patch down the bore. I also lube my guns with about a drop of the Mobile on the moving parts and pins.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:45 AM
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I had an original 442-1 from '98 or so that held up really well for years of pocket carry and a couple thousand rounds.

I think it's baloney that S&W ships new 642's with a known crappy finish, so then consumers have to tiptoe around what to use on said finish, coat the gun with wax, etc...
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:13 AM
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Scratch one model of S&W for me. For those that get wound up about the IL and MIM parts, that means nothing to me. But this one is a non-negotiable (for me). I had a nickel plated 8 3/8" Model 27 for about ten years, and always cleaned it with Hoppe's. I sold it (stupidly) for more than I paid as it looked new and hardly fired some ten years later. My grandfather introduced me to Hoppe's in 1972; his experience with it was as a machine gun platoon leader in WWI and and Infantryman for thirty six years, and swore by the stuff. I'm a retired Infantryman myself, and swear by it also; I cleaned M16s, M1911s, M60s, M240s, M9s, M4s, etc. (you get the idea) with it for years, with excellent results.

Tell me I can't use Hoppe's No. 9 to clean a firearm? May as well tell me I can't drink German beer.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:35 AM
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I had a 642 and sent the gun back TWICE to have it refinished. It was covered under their warranty and I didn't pay a dime either time. I even had a seperate cleaning kit, just for that gun, so I wouldn't use any brush that might be "contaminated" with some "unsafe cleaner" like Hoppes. I sold the gun, but was always annoyed at the finish. The tech on the phone just told me to use a gun oil to clean it. I consider a gun oil a lubricant, NOT a cleaner. And for S&W, a quality firearms manufacturer, to manufacture a gun with so frail a finish, that you can't even use HOPPES #9, probably the most commonly used (for a very long time) gun cleaner on it, is just unacceptable. For me, even if i use something else to clean, I like to follow up with a quick Hoppes wipe down. Guns don't feel clean to me unless I can smell the Hoppes! I know a guy who got tired of dealing with it and just hosed down the whole gun with break cleaner, which removed the whole finish
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:41 AM
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My 642-2, bought 2/07, is in and out of it's Mika pocket holster and my pocket several times a day - every day. It's been shot a bunch - with +P 158gr LHPSWC's and wimpy/plinker 125gr JHP's alike - and cleaned dozens of times - with Hoppes #9. It has some 'holster wear' on it's edges - but I don't mind. I didn't buy it as an example of a work of art - I bought it to 'protect my bacon'. I just assumed the ammonia-based reference referred to the old Brasso cleaner/polish. With just 5% 'ammonia', it would seem that most of that would boil away after a use or two - if you lead the lid of the bottle while you clean.

Cleaning a firearm without the smell of Hoppes #9 seems, well, un-American! Apologies to my 642, but you is going to get uglier as the years go buy... but you will be cleaned when used!

Stainz

PS Now, you wanna see ugly? I have a LEO friend who carries his old backup 442 in an ankle holster - it looks like a dirty 642 because of it's worn-off finish! It still works perfectly - and, as he says, why replace it?
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Old 09-21-2011, 07:36 AM
CigarGuy CigarGuy is offline
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Thanks for the heads-up! Sounds like I'm finally going to get some use out of ALL those "other" cleaners I've bought over the years and still have a ton of as I keep going back to Hoppes.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Guns don't feel clean to me unless I can smell the Hoppes!
Yup, Yup & Yup.

Quote:
Cleaning a firearm without the smell of Hoppes #9 seems, well, un-American!
That's because it is. Next thing S&W will tell us is that you can't gargle with Ballistol.

Put it together now;

S&W take heed; A gun that doesn't smell like Hoppe's is unclean and un-American.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:32 AM
CigarGuy CigarGuy is offline
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If your hands don't burn from the application of Hoppes, what's the use?
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:43 AM
senecaap senecaap is offline
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If it comes to not using Hoppe's or not buying (new) S&W guess which one is going. Did S&W axe their quality control and product testing divisions to save money?
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:54 AM
Broadside Broadside is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tall gunner View Post
When I asked if they would put a different finish on it (say....black) since this one doesn't hold up he said no because they would have to change the model number and they wouldn't do that. Huh?
I think you need to call back and speak with a manager.

I have recently been corresponding with another Forum member about his Model 332Ti. It was originally silver, but he sent it back and had it refinished in black.

Also, $200 is the standard price to have a revolver blued or nickeled. You are just having it clear coated. That should only be $120.

S&W customer service is generally pretty good. But they do have some nit wits working for them like most companies.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:59 AM
rondo rondo is offline
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CCR Refinishing

Brad does great work and the "Cera-Hide" coating is tough stuff. $159 will refinish a revolver, it will look great and Hoppes won't bother it a bit. Just an option.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:10 AM
tall gunner tall gunner is offline
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CCR Refinishing

Brad does great work and the "Cera-Hide" coating is tough stuff. $159 will refinish a revolver, it will look great and Hoppes won't bother it a bit. Just an option.
This sounds like the way to go for me. Even if S&W would apply a different finish who's to say it would be any more durable. The 442 black seems to wear off too. I thought about Duracoat but can't seem to get a consensus as to how suitable or durable this would be for a aluminum/stainless revolver.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:27 AM
M29since14 M29since14 is offline
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If you decide to have the gun refinished with the Cera-hide, I would be interested in seeing pictures of it, learning your impression of the quality of the work, and whether you are satisfied with the durability. Always good to get/give feedback on these things.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rondo View Post
CCR Refinishing

Brad does great work and the "Cera-Hide" coating is tough stuff. $159 will refinish a revolver, it will look great and Hoppes won't bother it a bit. Just an option.
This is actually the route I'm considering. I think I'm going to wait until I can get my second Centennial (either another 642 or, preferably, a no-dash 640) before I do that so I have something else to use in the meantime.

Do you have experience using a gun with this finish?
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:26 PM
rondo rondo is offline
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I have had some stainless 1911 magazines coated (matte black) and I find the finish to be very durable. I know it's not quite the same as having a whole gun refinished, but my buddy had his CZ pistol done a few years ago and it still looks new. After seeing his gun, I decided to get my stainless mags blackened. The coating is very thin, slick, and after lots of use the mags are completely unscratched.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:28 PM
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Thanks. If the finish can handle the use a magazine goes through it should do very well on a revolver.
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  #35  
Old 09-21-2011, 04:15 PM
Steve in Vermont Steve in Vermont is offline
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I have several guns dating back to the 60's and have always used Hoppes, as did my dad before me. My last 4 revolvers (all S&W) are all SS and get the Hoppes treatment. From all the comments I've heard regarding the new "lightweights", problems with cracking frames and finish, I think I'll stick to all steel. It's unfortunate that S&W has such problems when, for generations, they built good guns without these issues. The company still makes some good guns but............
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  #36  
Old 09-21-2011, 05:05 PM
tguil tguil is offline
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This is the response I got last July from Customer Service in response to my questions about the finish on "J" frames. I specifically mentioned that I knew that both the 642 and the 442 had matte finishes.

"....Thanks for your e-mail. The 442 and 642 are both aluminum frames. The 442 is blued, the 642 is anodized and clear coated. They are equally as durable, just a matter of personal preference..."

It appears that some of the Customer Service folks really do not "know" their products well. For what it's worth I bought a 442.

Whatever...I'll use CLP on my 442 and sniff Hoppe's #9 when I clean my Rugers.

Tom
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:11 PM
dubhelix dubhelix is offline
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Default 642 finish issues

I had a 642 that I bought new a couple years ago. The clearcoat started flaking off the frame at the bottom of the grip within a month, so I sold it. I only used Breakfree CLP on it. All my S&W's are now solid stainless except for a pair of 442-1 Airweights. The finish on the frame is holding up great, but the blueing on the barrel and cylinder is wearing. Sheesh. I'd sure like a 442 with a stainless cylinder and barrel, but blued frame. It would look funny, but I wouldn't care. Nobody sees those guns anyway.
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  #38  
Old 09-21-2011, 06:52 PM
Hondo44 Hondo44 is offline
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Originally Posted by dubhelix View Post
Sheesh. I'd sure like a 442 with a stainless cylinder and barrel, but blued frame. It would look funny, but I wouldn't care. Nobody sees those guns anyway.
Go for it, have them changed out. I got tired of hearing and reading about all the cautions for cleaning the Ti cylinder on my 296 .44 Spl so I bought and installed a SS one made for the 696 .44 and never looked back. It even looks better.

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  #39  
Old 09-21-2011, 07:13 PM
tguil tguil is offline
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Originally Posted by dubhelix View Post
... I'd sure like a 442 with a stainless cylinder and barrel, but blued frame. It would look funny, but I wouldn't care. Nobody sees those guns anyway.
Here you go. It's yours for $369.

S&W MOD 442 38SPL 1-7/8" DUO 0213895E : Revolvers at GunBroker.com

Good folks to deal with.

Tom
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  #40  
Old 09-22-2011, 01:21 AM
dubhelix dubhelix is offline
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That's what I'm talking about. It's the wheelgun version of the two tone autoloader. Odd looking, but practical. I'll bet the sight picture is high-contrast, too. Too bad that one has a lock, or I'd scoop it up.
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  #41  
Old 09-22-2011, 06:14 AM
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Quote:
I'll use CLP on my 442 and sniff Hoppe's #9 when I clean my Rugers.
A good compromise, actually. I should mention in regards to my earlier post that in my day in the Army, CLP/Breakfree was the standard issue stuff for everything from handguns to heavy machine guns and although Hoppe's is the best solvent in town, CLP will do it all and I'm a big fan of it. And it's easier than cleaning with one, then oiling down with another. But you still can't gargle with it like Ballistöl!
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:30 AM
338winmag 338winmag is offline
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I have a 340SC with this problem. I wrote the factory about it, including pictures. I haven't heard back from them, but it I don't get satisfaction from them, I plan on having it coated by another vendor.
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  #43  
Old 09-22-2011, 10:43 AM
Goat Man Goat Man is offline
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I bought a used 642 and it was messed up like some of you have described. I contacted S&W and they took it back on their dime and replaced the frame. What I got back was a totally new 642. Now after reading all the info posted here I continue to be somewhat concerned as to what exactly is safe to use to clean the 642? I suppose for now I will use the Mobil One approach.
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  #44  
Old 09-22-2011, 12:23 PM
M29since14 M29since14 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goat Man View Post
...Now after reading all the info posted here I continue to be somewhat concerned as to what exactly is safe to use to clean the 642? I suppose for now I will use the Mobil One approach.
Why not just follow the advice of the folks who made it - S&W? If they say use Break-free, why wouldn't you?
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  #45  
Old 09-22-2011, 03:06 PM
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Another 'caveat emptor' - Hoppes #9's ammonia content can damage Melonite finishes - like the new Governor has. This is from a S&W CS rep in a call today. Is nothing sacred? I don't consider a firearm clean without the Hoppes #9 stench. Even at 63, I guess I am never too old to 'learn'. Hoppes 'Elite' is okay, according to the S&W CS guy.

Stainz
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Old 09-22-2011, 06:52 PM
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Looks like Breakfree or Gunzilla for me and just keep the Hoppes #9 around as a cologne. Wouldn't want to damage the 642 or Gov.
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  #47  
Old 12-27-2012, 02:22 PM
Airy Airy is offline
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Default Hoppes Elite Not #9

Thanks for all the posts here. I took a different avenue and called Hoppes. Great customer service and they said #9 is not for all metals. They said their Hoppes Elite would be safe for cleaning the 642. They also suggested that if you ever get #9 on the 642 finish to blot it off. Do not rub or wipe the product into the metal finish.

I am so glad I found this thread before I used the Hoppes #9 on my 642.
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  #48  
Old 12-27-2012, 05:51 PM
L Pete L Pete is offline
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[B][B]I have used and will continue to use Hoppes #9 on my almost new 642. If my finish flakes or rubs off, well, so be it.

I guess that's why I prefer the good ol' Model 60 in 38 Spl. It's a hard gun to beat for all around everything. My 30+ year old Model 60 just keeps on keeping on.
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  #49  
Old 12-27-2012, 06:05 PM
Alnamvet68 Alnamvet68 is offline
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Smith & Wesson is doing itself a great disservice by not specifying which cleaning liquids are safe for their clear coated line of handguns. Just a simple blurb like, "Use Mrs Green Machine Gun Solvent for Clear Coated Handguns." Is that so hard, or do they (S&W) like being trashed on gun forums for what has been a multi-year issue since they started this clear coat crappola?
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  #50  
Old 12-27-2012, 06:35 PM
shawn mccarver shawn mccarver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stainz View Post
Another 'caveat emptor' - Hoppes #9's ammonia content can damage Melonite finishes - like the new Governor has. This is from a S&W CS rep in a call today. Is nothing sacred? I don't consider a firearm clean without the Hoppes #9 stench. Even at 63, I guess I am never too old to 'learn'. Hoppes 'Elite' is okay, according to the S&W CS guy.

Stainz
Since melonite is not a "finish," but a metal treatment, I just cannot see how this is accurate. Melonite is a QPQ process and is apparently the same process as Tenifer used by Glock. There have been threads on this topic and indeed, the company that pioneered the QPQ process seems to own both trade names.

In any event, Melonite makes the steel hard and is not a covering or finish in the sense of blue, nickel, cerakote, NP3, etc.

If it helps at all, I have used nothing but Hoppes No. 9 on all guns, including the 642, since the beginning of my shooting, which is now more than 40 years ago. Since it is a solvent, not a lube, naturally, after brushing out the barrel, chamber or charge holes, and any other areas, Hoppes No. 9 is completely wiped off. This is followed by a light coat of Break Free CLP. I have never suffered ANY ill effects. On the other hand, I do not submerge, I do not let Hoppes No. 9 remain on any part longer than the few minutes it takes to clean. And, I do NOT clean after each shooting session, but only every so often. Lube, yes. Clean no. It just isn't needed with modern non-corrosive primers and ammo.

As to Hoppes No. 9, it has been well known for as long as I have been shooting that it is not to be allowed to stand for extended periods on nickel or other plated finishes, so that much is not news.

Last edited by shawn mccarver; 12-27-2012 at 06:37 PM.
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