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Old 12-26-2016, 02:41 PM
kip595 kip595 is offline
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Default Spent Case Extraction Issues .38 M&P

Howdy,

Some time ago I picked up a M&P revolver, 4" blued square butt model, designated as the .38 S&W Special cartridge on the barrel. This seems to be a 1940s gun, possibly transitional, with non-V serial number 864XXX.

The barrel slugs correctly and the cylinder does seem to be properly sized for specials vs. .38/200 or .38 S&W. When loading the cylinder all standard factory loadings I've tried so far slide in properly, with no indication of a tight or too-loose chamber; nothing has to be forced and the cartridges don't start to slide out if tipped slightly. The cartridges will then sit correctly on the rim and accuracy with all tested rounds seems to be within the right groupings for a fixed sight service gun; no consistent fliers or similar. So far Magtech, Winchester white box, Remington wadcutters, and one cylinder of older Nyclads have been tried.

The trouble is that without variation, regardless of ammo brand, upon extraction the cases 'stick' in the cylinder, sometimes without moving even a 1/4", until what I consider excessive pressure is forced upon the extractor. After the first range day with it I assumed it might just be dirty from long storage and re-cleaned it, going much more thoroughly over the gun with solvent, penetrating oil in the extractor action, a heavy scrubbing with the brass brush and cylinder chambers with a brass .357 brush.

The next trip to the range yielded slightly better results with the wadcutters, in that the first cylinder would extract far enough without much pressure to withdraw the spent shells by hand, but then moving to the Nyclads the previous problem was encountered. A new cleaning involving the removal of the crane and cylinder itself has done nothing to alleviate the issue, and so I'm out of ideas. I can only assume that for some reason the brass is expanding, regardless of loading, and 'snugging' too tightly against the chamber walls to extract cleanly.

I have shot revolvers consistently all my life, and this is the first issue I've encountered with extraction issues like this that didn't either stem from fouling, a bent rod, or in one case a poorly bored chamber on a .22 I'm not a pro gunsmith by any means, but if there are any old hands and wiser minds around to lend a thought or just tell my a** to get it in to a professional feel free to let me know, it's all a learning experience.

She's just a shooter, not a museum piece, but I like the history of the old girl and so if anyone has any ideas to try, I'm grateful to you!

Last edited by kip595; 12-26-2016 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:31 PM
Bohonkie Bohonkie is offline
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I had one like this years ago. What got my attention is you say it gets worse after the first cylinder full is fired. Unlike you, I didn't slug mine so I can't say if my chambers were too narrow. I'm not saying my cure will work for yours and I certainly advise you to listen to more knowledgeable people here or a reputable gun smith if you can find one. I bought a chamber polishing system from Brownell's. These come with bore mops that look like little polishing balls on the ends of the bristles. You chuck them up in your drill and, using the honing oil (sold by Brownells also), you polish the chambers keeping the brush moving (up and down). I have done this to several of my guns and the polishing doesn't seem to damage the metal by removing but makes the chambers smooth. Of course, maybe I merely thoroughly cleaned the chambers by doing this... dunno.
As I said, talk to someone who knows. Could it also be the extractor star?
I'm almost as curious as you to hear what others say. Good luck
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Old 12-26-2016, 08:39 PM
kip595 kip595 is offline
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I was considering a polishing kit but have never used one before. Good results for you with no metal loss, however? Might be something to consider. The star seems to grip the case rims well, so I doubt that's the issue, but of course I could be wrong there.

On the bright side, since it isn't a 95%+ collector piece, if worst case scenario I have to move on to a replacement cylinder it won't be the end of the world.

Many thanks, and a happy new year!
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Old 12-26-2016, 09:07 PM
uspatentkid uspatentkid is offline
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Check to see if the barrel flat above the extractor has the same number as the cylinder. That year production should have numbers on most of the parts. If it does not match it could have been a 38 S&W cut to use 38 Specials and rebarreled. Be careful if you choose to polish the cylinder not to exit the cylinder front and round off the edge of the cylinder. This has to have a flat surface at the barrel throat to maintain accuracy. One other idea is to use a cylinder brush with bronze wool wet with Hopps #9 to clean the cylinder . Good luck
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Old 12-27-2016, 05:49 AM
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After a thorough cleaning I'd measure the inside of the Cylinder's Charge Holes with an Inside Micrometer / Calipers and compare the results to Factory Specs for that gun. That tool may be something you will have to borrow or buy, but that will most likely tell you what your issue is.
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Old 12-28-2016, 05:08 PM
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Is it all chambers or one or two that are hanging up? Maybe try one chamber at a time to narrow down where the problem is.
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Old 12-28-2016, 05:44 PM
kip595 kip595 is offline
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Thanks for all the suggestions so far guys.

There are exactly 2 chambers that always seem to extract cleanly, which is another reason I hadn't given too much worry to it being a conversion to .38 Special. That said, I've gone ahead with a careful but thorough polish and will take it to the range Friday to see what the news is. If that isn't met with success, caliper measurements are next.

Thanks again!
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Old 12-28-2016, 11:07 PM
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torizus torizus is offline
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Could your extractor rod itself be out of line or slightly bent ?
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Old 12-28-2016, 11:54 PM
kip595 kip595 is offline
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I thought that might be the culprit initially, having seen it happen on an old Police Positive Special, but it checks out straight as an arrow. :/
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:21 PM
Biggfoot44 Biggfoot44 is offline
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If it were a .38S&W recut to .38Spl , the swelling of the fired cases would be readily apparent..
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Old 12-29-2016, 02:01 PM
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Years ago, I had a similar problem with an S&W Model 19, combat magnum. Cutting to the chase, I sent the gun back to S&W and they fixed whatever was wrong with it. If I had to guess, it's seems that one or more of the individual chambers were a bit out of round if that's at all possible.
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Old 12-30-2016, 09:23 PM
kip595 kip595 is offline
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Once again a heartfelt thanks to everybody for chiming in, especially Bohonkie up there. Much like yourself I'm not sure if it was the polishing itself or if it just gave it the deep cleaning to end all deep cleanings, but took the old M&P out to the range today with an assortment of non-Plus P specials ranging from lead wadcutters by Remington, to HPR, Winchester FMJs, and even some musty old cowboy reloads I had sitting around. Ate every one like a champ; but more importantly after that polishing slid out every spent shell like silk, regardless of brand or load. Superb accuracy at 15 feet and no evidence of key-holing, so I am once again a happy shooter.

Happy new year to everyone!
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