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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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Old 02-03-2016, 01:44 AM
S&W38 S&W38 is offline
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Default Model 624 with serial number within recall range

A friend has a 1985 S&W Model 624 .44 Special revolver with a 6.5 inch barrel and factory grips. He is the original purchaser, but he's not sure whether he still has the factory box, tools, etc. The revolver's serial number falls within the range of serial numbers subject to recall to find the approximately 500 Model 624 revolvers whose cylinders were made with incorrect steel.

After the owner first showed me that 624, I researched the recall issue and disclosed all of what I'd learned to the owner. I told him that I assumed his 624 would be safe with SAAMI-compliant .44 Special loads, but not with any loads producing higher pressures.

Recently the owner told me that he was seriously thinking about selling his 624.

The revolver has not been fired since I first saw it about four years ago: the owner isn't a handloader, factory ammo is very expensive and shooting isn't a priority activity for him.

Today, Thursday 07 February 2016, I examined the 624 as a shooter would, not as a collector. Single-action trigger pull is fine, double-action trigger pull needs smoothing. I can't feel any longitudinal play for the cylinder; the cylinder locks up smoothly, tightly and properly timed. There are no signs of tinkering, abuse or wear. The owner says that he has fired fewer than 50 rounds. The locking pin hole in the recoil plate is perfectly round and the interior edge of that hole is not rounded or worn. As a non-collector, I'd estimate the 624's condition at 95% or better.

All chambers of the cylinder allowed .44 Special ammunition to fully enter. Five chambers allowed factory .44 Magnum ammunition to enter as far as the lathe-cut relief groove cut just above the cartridge rim; one chamber allowed a factory .44 Magnum round to enter completely into the chamber.

The owner does not want to send his 624 back to S&W for testing because he doesn't want a coupon for a new S&W, complete with MIM parts and Internal Lock, if his revolver fails the test.

What advice should I give the Model 624's owner? Does this revolver have any interest for collectors? If it does, what is a reasonable estimate for it's worth?

We live in Central Flyover Country, so market distortions are minimal.

Once again, thanks for your patience and expertise.

Thanks for your patience and expertise.

Last edited by S&W38; 02-11-2016 at 09:14 PM. Reason: Corrected info from personal exam 11 Feb 2016.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:44 AM
Hondo44 Hondo44 is offline
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The alleged issue:

The Skeeter Skelton article in the October 1985 issue of Shooting Times magazine stated: "A steel supplier has just advised Smith & Wesson that they shipped a very small quantity of incorrect stainless steel material (11 bars) to us that was not in accordance with their certifications. The incorrect material was used in the cylinders for some large-frame stainless-steel revolvers, Model Numbers 624 (.44 Special) and 629 (.44 Magnum). The approximately 500 units containing this material were shipped from Smith & Wesson between January 1, 1985 and June 8, 1985. They would be included in the following ranges of serial numbers: ADXXXXX, AEXXXXX, AFXXXXX, AGXXXXX, AHXXXXX, ALVXXXX, N910000 thru N953000."

Skeeter goes on to say that the bad cylinder steel caused the recall of about 21,000 guns to find 500 with improper steel.

Official S&W release:

Kate Fredette of Smith & Wesson basically confirmed this same info. The serial number range includes:

ADXXXX
AEXXXX
AFXXXX
AGXXXX
AHXXXX
ALVXXX (the “V” is not a typo)
N910000 thru N953000

"Recalled guns were shipped between Jan 1, 1985 and June 8, 1985 only. The cylinder has to be checked on these handguns and the only way to know is by checking the full serial number against their records. The problem involves 500 guns shipped during that period.

"If a handgun in the recalled range has already been returned to the factory for testing, a red letter “C” that is circled will be stamped on the box label, indicating that the gun passed re-inspection. No marks are made on the cylinder of checked guns, only the red “C” in the circle stamped on the box label.

"If your gun is within this range and you do not have a box or know for certain that it has been tested, you should contact Smith & Wesson. S&W’s records prior to 1986 are not computerized, so it takes them a l little longer to look up the particulars.

"You can E-mail your gun’s serial number to:
qa@smith-wesson.com

"S&W will contact you regarding the status of your particular gun. If your gun is included in the recall, you'll be sent a prepaid FedEx label and shipping instructions. While E-mail is best, you may also call S&W Customer Support at 1-800-331-0852.

"Recalled cylinders are tested by magnafluxing*. If your recalled gun does fail, there are no replacement cylinders. S&W will keep your gun and you will be offered the choice of another handgun of equal value or a refund."

The 'real' story from Roy Jinks:

In response to a member’s email, asking Roy Jinks about the steel used in the cylinder in February of 2008 and he replied:

"The cylinder problem was the fact that some cylinders had long charge holes and you could chamber the .44 Magnum round in the cylinder. So it is an easy check. If the gun will chamber the .44 Magnum round then it has one of the cylinders that was affected. if it does not chamber the round then you are okay. You will still be okay as long as you shoot only .44 Specials in the revolver.

"Believe what you want to, but it was my project and I certainly do not remember a problem with the stainless steel for the cylinders."

Now think about this:

If S&W were to recall revolvers to have their cylinders checked, wouldn't it be more like factory protocol and make more sense to mark the cylinder rather than stamping a red circled "C" on the box? How many boxes are usually retained with the revolver and how reliable/efficient would a marked box be?

* I suspect magnafluxing was actually to verify if someone had shot 44 Mags in the cylinder and damaged it.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:36 AM
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Has anyone here ever found a 624 with a cylinder that would accept 44Mag?
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
Now think about this:

If S&W were to recall revolvers to have their cylinders checked, wouldn't it be more like factory protocol and make more sense to mark the cylinder rather than stamping a red circled "C" on the box? How many boxes are usually retained with the revolver and how reliable/efficient would a marked box be?

* I suspect magnafluxing was actually to verify if someone had shot 44 Mags in the cylinder and damaged it.
I bought a 624, well used but in very nice shape, that turned out to be in the recall range. I spent a lot of time looking into the issue, came across all of the information in Hondo44's post, and eventually decided that if the recall were all that big a deal they'd be marking the guns, not the boxes. My 624 is a great shooter and gets shot a lot - I've stopped caring or even thinking about the alleged problem.

*Never considered that might be the "real" reason for the magnafluxing, but it does make some sense.
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:50 AM
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Have 624 with the C stamp on the box, am not the original owner, think the recall was not for the quality of the stainless metal cylinder but the ability to chamber 44 magnum. Mine will not chamber a 44 magnum hand load or factory if they pass the chambering test they should be good.


Last edited by Ronbo; 02-03-2016 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
...................
The 'real' story from Roy Jinks:

In response to a memberís email, asking Roy Jinks about the steel used in the cylinder in February of 2008 and he replied:

"The cylinder problem was the fact that some cylinders had long charge holes and you could chamber the .44 Magnum round in the cylinder. So it is an easy check. If the gun will chamber the .44 Magnum round then it has one of the cylinders that was affected. if it does not chamber the round then you are okay. You will still be okay as long as you shoot only .44 Specials in the revolver.

"Believe what you want to, but it was my project and I certainly do not remember a problem with the stainless steel for the cylinders."

......
Sometime around late August or early September 2014 I called S&W with questions about a 624 and my call was eventually forwarded to Mr. Jinks and he confirmed the problem was that some .44 special cylinders were bored to .44 magnum and simply confirming that a .44 magnum does not chamber in the cylinder is all that's needed to confirm the cylinder is correct.
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:14 PM
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An old thread on this issue:

Model 624 Recall and "F" stamp
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:24 PM
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A little off topic...
But an honest question
The 629's where part of this same recall and Hondo44's train of thought makes perfect sense when your talking 624's. It is in fact the best reason I've ever heard of for magnafluxing the cylinders. Thank you Hondo.
But how does one include the 629's in this theory?
I've had several of these guns over the years(and still do). I've always treated them the same has any other 44... Sane powder charges under no more than a 250 gr pill, with magnum loads used in moderation and mid range used in volume. This is the only stamped box I've ever had and this particular revolver remains unfired for no other reason than I already had duplicate shooters in this same configuration.


Any thoughts on this?

Chris
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:39 PM
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Alright, so there are a few issues I have with the 624 recall.

To my knowledge, magna fluxing is a way to identify micro cracks in metal, if the metal is of the wrong type, magna fluxing it isn't going to help you. So if you magna flux it, find no cracks and send it back to the customer, it could be of the "bad" metal and still fail at some point in the future.

So if you do send in your 624, it passes and you have no original box for it so they can give it a red C, then what?

Has anyone just sent back just the cylinder for "testing" Could it be that in addition to a bad lot of raw material, there are also cases of 624 cylinders being chambered for .44mugnum so there are two issues in play and not just one? It sounds like an important problem, I can't believe there is such a lack of information coming for S&W.
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Old 02-03-2016, 09:12 PM
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Kurac has figured out why this whole deal is probably a NON-event. There may well have been some out-of-spec steel shipped. This means it wasn't what S&W ordered but it doesn't necessarily mean BAD. I have a funny feeling the factory unintentionally created a big deal out of no biggie. It's always made no sense to me that they stamp a red circle C on a box when many owners throw the box away. If the problem was really serious they sure would do a better job of recall.

Roy Jinks has repeatedly said the issue was some guns inadvertently got magnum cylinders. Many members here may not realize Roy was working in the factory at the time. The historian role was initially part-time to handgun manager and head of S&W factory shooting team. He knows what he's talking about. Back in the 80s it was easy to put a 44 Special cylinder in a returned gun, but there are none of the old-style cylinders left.

I own a number of these 624s have have no concern about safety. Current management is all new since 30 yrs. ago when this happened. They apparently have no need to say never mind...it was all an over-reaction.
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Old 02-03-2016, 11:55 PM
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Thanks to those above who have responded to my original post, I now have a much better understanding of the strength and safety of my friend's Model 624: It's just as strong and safe as any other post-WW II S&W N-frame .44 Special revolver!

As I stated in my original post, I will share all information about Model 624 revolvers with my friend so he will have a more accurate and more complete understanding of his 624's characteristics. If I can persuade him to join the great mass of handloading plinkers and paper-punchers, that will be a better outcome for me and for the shooting community at large than if I buy his Model 624!

Last edited by S&W38; 02-03-2016 at 11:56 PM. Reason: added "post-WW II"
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Old 02-04-2016, 04:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurac View Post
Alright, so there are a few issues I have with the 624 recall.

To my knowledge, magna fluxing is a way to identify micro cracks in metal, if the metal is of the wrong type, magna fluxing it isn't going to help you. So if you magna flux it, find no cracks and send it back to the customer, it could be of the "bad" metal and still fail at some point in the future.

So if you do send in your 624, it passes and you have no original box for it so they can give it a red C, then what?

Has anyone just sent back just the cylinder for "testing" Could it be that in addition to a bad lot of raw material, there are also cases of 624 cylinders being chambered for .44mugnum so there are two issues in play and not just one? It sounds like an important problem, I can't believe there is such a lack of information coming for S&W.
I sent one I acquired back to SW last year. I had no box, so what I got was a paper that indicated tested and it was sent back. I have no idea how they tested it because the paper work does not reveal anything other than it went back and came home tested. I saw no markings on the gun that would indicate some type of intrusive testing.
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Old 02-04-2016, 11:28 PM
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It fascinates me how many want to question Roy Jinks statements about this issue. Read this again and I will explain to you what it means!

"Believe what you want to, but it was my project and I certainly do not remember a problem with the stainless steel for the cylinders."

Note he states "....it was my project...." Prior to being Historian for S&W, or likely concurrent to, Mr. Jinks was "Revolver Foreman". At S&W a "Foreman" is an equivalent position to vice president with many corporations. He was directly responsible for revolver production, why wouldn't his word be sufficient for you naysayers? He is saying thathe was the revolver foreman at the time this issue came up!

Forgive me, but I am going to interpolate an opinion based on his remarks. To me what he is saying that the few bars of the incorrect steel that were received from the supplier were made into .44 Magnum cylinders. Some Model 624 revolvers inadvertantly were fit with the Magnum cylinders which outwardly are indistinguishable from the correct Special cylinders. This was discovered after-the-fact and became part of the same recall for the sake of convenience.

Roy is, not surprisingly, a shooter. He is well enough versed with hand-loaders, and shooters in general, to understand that there are some (many) who, knowing the 624 and 629 are basically identical (in every way that counts!) would not hesitate to shoot .44 Magnum ammunition in their 624! Hence the strength concern with the Model 624!

Roy, if I am wrong I welcome your corrections to these assumptions!

To the OP. Check the gun to see if it will chamber a .44 Magnum! If it won't then don't give it another thought. If it will then just remember to never shoot .44 Magnums in it!
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:32 AM
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"Some Model 624 revolvers inadvertantly were fit with the Magnum cylinders which outwardly are indistinguishable from the correct Special cylinders."

Actually, they are easy to tell apart visually. The .44 Special cylinders used in the M-624 are quite a bit shorter than the M-629 cylinders. Like comparing the M-27 .357 Mag cylinder to the M-29 .44 Mag cylinder.

There was a SHOOTING TIMES writer named Dick Metcalf that penned an article back then that claimed that the chamber length of the -624 was the only significant difference between them and the M-629, and that one could load the Special to the same pressure as the .44 Magnum and shoot them without concern in the new guns. I thought that was irresponsible, but he is a big time gun writer so he must be right... I wonder if Metcalf's writing somehow contributed to this situation.


Like many handloading knuckleheads, when S&W introduced the Model 24-3 and Colt re-introduced the .44 Special in the Single Action Army, I had to try out the old Elmer Keith .44 Special heavy load in them when I got them. I learned what others had already discovered, that these loads kicked pretty hard, and there was little to no point in it if one also had a .44 Magnum. The limited shooting of the Keith loads didn't damage my Colt or my 4 inch Model 24-3 that I could tell, but I haven't repeated that. I figure that if I need more than a 250 grain bullet at more than 1,000 feet per second, I'll just use a gun that was designed to take a bigger, more powerful cartridge.

We had one forum member here damage his Model 624 cylinder shooting it and returned it to S&W, who couldn't repair it. Or he returned it for inspection and it failed; it's been a few years and I don't quite remember which or who. Perhaps if he is still with us and reads this, he will refresh us.

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Old 02-06-2016, 09:00 PM
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Up for another look
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:42 PM
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Once again, thanks to all who have contributed to this thread. I have learned much, and I will share it all with my friend, the owner of the Model 624. Then he can make a better, or at least better-informed, decision about his revolver. This week, he's been too busy to meet with me. We're trying for late next week!
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Old 02-11-2016, 09:36 PM
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Please see Post Number One for new information based on my 11 Feb 2016 personal examination of the Model 624 we are discussing.
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Old 02-12-2016, 01:43 AM
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If he sends the gun back, it won't pass inspection, so don't send back.

He's never fired 44 Mas, therefore cyl is safe.

He now knows better than to fire 44 Mags in it, even if they fit; he'll be safe.

Course of action: do nothing except keep a note with revolver for future owners or family members that 44 Mags. are incorrect ammo for that gun.
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Old 02-15-2016, 07:47 AM
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This thread has bothered me at some conscious level the whole time it's been going, and this morning, I understand why!

I have, currently, four Model 624's, a three incher, a four incher and two six and one-half inchers, one of which is soon headed to (probably) Hamilton Bowen to be cut to five inches.

I have had these guns for years, 1988, 1986, 1988 and 2003 respectively, plus several others that have passed through my hands and safe, AND I HAVE NEVER TRIED TO CHAMBER A .44 MAGNUM CARTRIDGE IN ANY OF THEM EVEN ONCE!!!

That means, any one of these guns may have defective, irreplaceable cylinders, which may or may not render them unsafe to shoot. My standard .44 Special handload is the Skeeter Skelton classic, a cast 250 grain Lyman 429421 semiwadcutter over 7.5 grains of Unique with a large pistol primer, which has averaged in the past, through other revolvers from three inches to seven and one-half, 850 to 950 feet per second, while the standard, traditional 246 grain round nose lead cartridges from Winchester and Remington don't always break 700 feet per second from the same revolvers.

Well, I guess it's truth or consequences time. I will check back later.
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Old 02-18-2016, 01:45 AM
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I have a 6 1/2" Serial Number AHBxxxx that will chamber a .44 mag.
I also have a 4" Serial Number AHCxxxx that will not.

The only ammo that I shoot in either is 200gr LRN reloads at around 850 fps.

IF I ever decide to sell the 6 1/2", I will warn the new owner to not load .44 Mag in it.

I would probably sell the 4" before I would sell the 6 1/2" because my old eyes like the longer sight picture.
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alk8944 View Post
It fascinates me how many want to question Roy Jinks statements about this issue. Read this again and I will explain to you what it means!

"Believe what you want to, but it was my project and I certainly do not remember a problem with the stainless steel for the cylinders."

Note he states "....it was my project...." Prior to being Historian for S&W, or likely concurrent to, Mr. Jinks was "Revolver Foreman". At S&W a "Foreman" is an equivalent position to vice president with many corporations. He was directly responsible for revolver production, why wouldn't his word be sufficient for you naysayers? He is saying thathe was the revolver foreman at the time this issue came up!

Forgive me, but I am going to interpolate an opinion based on his remarks. To me what he is saying that the few bars of the incorrect steel that were received from the supplier were made into .44 Magnum cylinders. Some Model 624 revolvers inadvertantly were fit with the Magnum cylinders which outwardly are indistinguishable from the correct Special cylinders. This was discovered after-the-fact and became part of the same recall for the sake of convenience.

Roy is, not surprisingly, a shooter. He is well enough versed with hand-loaders, and shooters in general, to understand that there are some (many) who, knowing the 624 and 629 are basically identical (in every way that counts!) would not hesitate to shoot .44 Magnum ammunition in their 624! Hence the strength concern with the Model 624!

Roy, if I am wrong I welcome your corrections to these assumptions!

To the OP. Check the gun to see if it will chamber a .44 Magnum! If it won't then don't give it another thought. If it will then just remember to never shoot .44 Magnums in it!
Just checked my 624, it will NOT chamber 44 mag. I would never try to shoot 44 mag in a 44 Special anyway!
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Old 01-11-2021, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
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Has anyone here ever found a 624 with a cylinder that would accept 44Mag?
Yes, it was a 3" Lew Horton.
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:12 PM
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My 624 will chamber 44 mag rounds . I'm not going to send it back because they don't make any pistol I would want . I only shoot it about once a year . I made a list of all my S&W's in a spread sheet . I have a column for if it has a box , papers etc. I made a note that my 624 will chamber 44 mag rounds . If I go before my better half , she knows what to do .
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