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  #1  
Old 12-04-2009, 11:21 AM
sraney sraney is offline
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Default Model 52 - Same Old Problem

I have a beautiful 52-2 that I really love. I also hate my 52-2. Why? Because most of the time my beautiful mint 52-2 is a single (or two, or maybe three) -shot weapon, which makes one-handed shooting kind of tiresome. I'm trying to avoid getting into reloading, and the only factory ammo I can get anymore is either Fiocchi or S&B. I believe both of these rounds are somewhat less than 700 fps. I have read in other posts that the gun "wants" about 770 fps to cycle consistently.

I finally broke down (after several years) and took it to a local experienced gunsmith, along with my Fiocchi wad cutters. With two hands braced stoutly in his test firing rig, he could make it go through five rounds quickly. However, unbraced with one hand, he couldn't do much better than I. The cases are extracted from the chamber, but they never leave the action, thus blocking the succeeding round from coming up fully into position (and slightly deforming the next casing when it's shoved forward from a too low position).

Any thoughts? Does anybody know of any other factory ammo that's actually available? Can ANYBODY really make this thing cycle consistently through five rounds (with one hand)? Thanks in advance for any thoughts you can offer.

Steve
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  #2  
Old 12-04-2009, 11:53 AM
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What cal. is it?
Not familar with the model 52, but I would be suspect of the recoil spring being too heavy.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:02 PM
44wheelman 44wheelman is offline
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I'd buy a spare recoil spring & cut about 10% of the spring length off, try that & then keep trimming a coil at a time until it works.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:07 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Wolff sells different recoil springs. 8 lbs is standard, they make a 7 lb that might be what you need.
Look about 1/3 the way down the page at:
Springs for SMITH & WESSON NUMBERED SERIES Semi-Auto Pistols
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:22 PM
sraney sraney is offline
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Thanks for the quick comments. Jim, interesting thought. The slide feels very light when cycled by hand, but I assume that it probably has the standard 8-pound spring. Perhaps the 7-pound would work better with the ammo I can get. Thanks for the input, which hadn't occurred to me. I believe I'll give it a try....

Steve
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:48 PM
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I had several 52s' and they are a fincky bunch. I never used factory ammo always reloaded and found that they were more reliable when loaded a little hotter. Even using the lighter recoil springs which did help some I ended up loading about 10% over my revovler round. One other thing that comes to mind is you say it works fine with a two hand hold? You might look into the frame weight that goes on the dust cover. Originals are pretty pricey but there is a aftermarket available for around $60, it might dampen the recoil enough to cycle properly.

Last edited by handgunner356; 12-04-2009 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:53 PM
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Default Keep it wet

Howdy,
I'll pass on what I was told.
I had one that had a problem like yours. I kept it clean and oiled lightly.
I had an old fellow who claimed to be an Air Force bullseye team armourer see me struggle with the 52 and he offered to look at it.
He told me that there was nothing wrong with the gun but to keep it wet with oil. He said if it is not splattering your shooting glasses with oil it is too dry.
I took his advice and it may not have been 100% but it was a lot better.
I hope it works a well for you as it did me.
Good luck
Mike
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:58 PM
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Jims on the right track. Wolff springs are the way to go and I have used their service many times. Order direct from Wolff and your get your springs in about 3 days from placing your order. Don't ruin a good spring by cutting coils if you can buy a new reduced power spring, you may need the old spring some day.

Now as for loads. In my 52-2 I hand load and my prefered load is 2.6 grains of Bullseye with a 148 grain Remington HBWC in Remington brass and Remington SP primer. My gun will function with loads all the way down to 2.3 grains of Bullseye and that's with the factory standard recoil spring, I didn't need the reduced recoil spring in my gun. I never chronagraghed these loads but I'm willing to bet that they are at or below the velocity you stated for Fioccchi. Factory loads including the Fiocchhi and SB work fine out of my gun. I can tell you however that my 52-2 wants to be a clean freak. I use it for NRA Bullseye gallary matches and if I put more that 50-60 rounds through it without cleaning the chamber I have the same problem as you do with yours. The old trick of Bullseye shooters putting a drop of oil on the top round in the magazine does work by keeping the fouling in the chamber soft and it does help or you can do what I do and keep a .45 cal bronze brush bent into an "L" and scrub the chamber every once in a while. Either way my 52-2 is 100% reliable shooting one handed when I do my part.

The only other thing that I have seen as a problem with 52's is limp wristing it while you shoot. The slides on these guns move slow and have a long movment to clear the 38 Special case. Anything including limp wristing the gun will slow it down even farther and cause the jams like you describe.



Kirmdog
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  #9  
Old 12-04-2009, 01:08 PM
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Kirmdog has a good point, about limp-wristing. With the 52 yo need a good firm solid arm through the follow through.

I always loaded my own, 2.8 gr. Bullseye and never had a failure to feed in the nearly 20 years I owned it. I did not soak it with oil, just a light couple drops on the slide rails when reassembling it after shooting. I cleaned it after every time it was shot, including the magazines.

Good luck, try the lighter spring first, but you don't know what you are missing not reloading your own. You can tailor the loads to your own gun. For basic loading fur just the .38, it really isn't difficult, doesn't take up that much room, and you end up saving a lot of money in the long run.
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  #10  
Old 12-04-2009, 02:02 PM
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I tried S&B wadcutters, they wouldn't cycle my .38 auto either. Federal Gold Match has more oomph, it works very well (but it's expensive). My handloads using 2.7 gr Bullseye are a little lighter than the Federal loads, but work fine.
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  #11  
Old 12-04-2009, 02:29 PM
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I'm mightily impressed with this forum! I've had more input in a couple of hours on the 52-2 than I was able to gather in a couple of years on various other forums. I've ordered the 7-pound spring. When it arrives (presumably some time next week), I'll carefully clean the chamber, add a quart of oil, and have another go with the Fiocchi ammo (with the stiffest wrist and arm I can muster). I'll report the results next week.

By the way, "Who is John Galt?" :-)

Steve
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Old 12-04-2009, 07:55 PM
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I have a 52-2 for 25 years. At first it would fire 1 round and jam with either a stove pipe or just not quite make it into battery. This was with either factory ammo or commercial reloads. I went nuts on it for a couple of months looking for the reason. What I finally did was to trim all of my brass about .008" short. It has never failed since then. I have 5 magazines for it and I modified 4 of them to hold 6 rounds and used to shoot IPA meets with it. It will function with 148gr bullets and as little as 2.3gr of Bullseye where you can actually see the bullet go down range but mine is most accurate at about 2.9gr of Bullseye. Since trimming the brass I cannot remember when I had a jam. It also is very easy to make sure you get your brass back I have also used the bent .45 brush as Kirmdog has mentioned.
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  #13  
Old 12-04-2009, 08:46 PM
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I too have had the exact same issues with one of my two 52-2's, not clearing, jamming the next round and deforming the empty.

I checked the mags, oiled the rails and the barrel bushing, not much help there.

I handload, so I am able to vary the charge, but was VERY hesitant to go beyond the 2.8-9 grains with the HBWC due to the skirt blowing off issue. (I just didn't wish to find out the hard way where that fine line is.)

I found on here, in the reloading forum, the fix is to trim the cases.

Doing so, I have much less FTE, about 5 per 100. It was 1 or more in every magazine before. So it's still not 100%, but probably as close as I'm going to get.

Why it works okay in one and not the other is beyond me and the guys that I shoot with who also have no issues with their 52-2's. All are straight factory guns.
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  #14  
Old 12-04-2009, 09:48 PM
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they are a very finicky gun. back in the day i used 3.0-700x with a 148hbwc. they always worked and shot well. when you were told what they liked for speed was exactly right. sometimes not even 10fps less. the chamber brush is a good idea along with cleaning after every time you shoot. just a little gunk can make a big difference in these.
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  #15  
Old 12-04-2009, 10:05 PM
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I am a former bullseye shooter, have a lot of friends that shoot these,
the spring suggestion is the way to go,( if you can"t tune the load to the gun tune the gun for the load) have done a lot of work on target pistols getting them to work with the lightest possible loads, the springs are the way to go.
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  #16  
Old 12-04-2009, 11:34 PM
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Sorry to jump in again. If you are hand loading then what build13 and socals&w said is true, trim your brass short, I trim mine .010 short.

BUT, the problem you are having is with factory loads and I believe that if you read all the post including you original you may find your answer to your question. You said that when the gunsmith fired the 52 with two hands that there were no problems but when fired with one hand it was back to jamming. The gun is being held firmer with two hands that one and therefore the gun and it's slide are working as they should, with one hand the guns frame is rocking in your hand and slowing down the slide hence the jams.

Just my 2 cent for what it's worth.

Just one more thing. I did have some FTF problems when I bought some magazine replacment springs from a big name gun parts warehouse that were suposed to fit the 52 magazine, they seemed a bit stiff but I tried them anyway and got jams with the last 2 rounds in the magazine. This happened in two Bullseye matches during timed and rapid fire stages and really wrecked my scores with alibi's. I got smart and figured out that the springs were so heavy that they would push up the round in the magazine up against the bottom of the slide so hard that it was actualy slowing down the slide and causing FTF. I replaced those springs with the magazine springs that Wolff sells for the 52 and have had no problems since. If you are getting recoil springs from Wolff it may be benificial for you to order yourself a new magazine spring and cover all your bases.

Wolff springs are one of the few places that you can buy quality springs for the 52. If you need hammer/main springs you can use the Wolff hammer springs that are made for the model 39. My gun it takes the Wolf LONG HAMMER SPRING and I think most 52-2's do but you could call Wolf and double check if you have questions.


The 52's are a different breed, keep them well oiled and clean and they are wonderful. Treat them like they are a 1911 and you'll end up selling it out of frustration. It's a learning curve that's really not that hard to figure out.


Kirmdog
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  #17  
Old 12-05-2009, 12:18 AM
NE450No2 NE450No2 is offline
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I shot NRA Bullseye with a 52 for several years.
My reload was 2.8gr of BE [Bullseye]. I shot Winchester or Remington factory 148 Wadcutters at 50 yards sometimes in the bigger matches.

I kept the gun oiled. I never had any functioning problems...

I used it to shoot rabbits as well.

Keep it oiled and get a spring kit and lighten the spring a little at a time with the ammo you have till it works.
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  #18  
Old 12-05-2009, 02:17 AM
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Default Model 52 issues

My two favorite loads include the Remington LHBWC 148 grain bullet and either 2.5 grains of Clays or 2.7 grains of Bullseye.

I have had NO feeding issues whatsoever with my 52-2 and have yet to shoot them through my 52 no-dash or 52-1.

If I encounter an issue.....a spring kit will be on the list.

3D
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:15 PM
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I would second the Federal Gold Match, and the set of springs, Make sure your grip and stance are very firm, They used to say that you should hold the gun until you could see the oil start to squeeze out, then back down a little bit ;-) Seriously, I worked on a S&W Sigma with my Son-in-law, who is a cop. It would work flawlessly for me every time, even with mixed ammo. He with a much more flexible "Weaver" type stance would get lots of FTF's etc. You may want to find a real Bullseye gunsmith to tune it up for you. I might try Larry at Home - Larry's Guns Inc.
He would be my go to guy now that our old friend Don Nygord has gone to the eternal Free Pistol Match in the sky (Hey! when you die you get to do what you want)

DLB
FKWG

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Old 12-11-2009, 06:38 PM
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Well, another beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact. I purchased the 7# Wolff spring and tried it out today. For the first couple of magazines, I thought I had it solved--four consecutive shots on the first magazine, all five shots on the second magazine. Thereafter, however, it started returning to the usual one or two shots followed by stoppage. This thing has worn out my patience for this year, so it's going back in the drawer until spring (at least).

I have nothing but good things to say about the Wolff gun spring folks. Extremely fast service. I ordered the spring on Friday and had it in my hands on Monday.

Thanks to all for your input.

Steve
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Old 12-21-2009, 07:24 PM
sraney sraney is offline
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Well, time to take back all of the bad things I said about the 52 wanting to malfunction. Since I'm too stubborn to reload, a couple of you recommended Federal Gold Medal wadcutter. I finally got around to shooting some Gold Medal today (at 67/round, counting shipping from Able Ammo). It completely transformed the gun! Since I've owned the gun, I've only used the cheap Fiocchi or S&B wadcutters. With the Gold Medal, the gun felt completely different (still using the 7# Wolff spring). Even though there is (I think) only about 20 fps difference in the muzzle velocity of the ammo (approximately 690 fps vs. 710 fps for the Federal), the pistol has a noticeable increase in "snap," and it functions absolutely perfectly, at least for the first 50 rounds. (My pocketbook couldn't stand any more .38 caliber fun for one day.) Thanks to the the forum members for your input. I'm a happy guy--it's like getting a new pistol. Happy holidays to all.

Steve
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:56 PM
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my 52-2 will not cycle w/2.7 bull. 148 hbwc. runs fine w/3.0 bull. or 231. you really need to load your own & find what the gun likes. also make sure your not limpwristing the pistol.
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  #23  
Old 12-22-2009, 12:10 AM
Kirmdog Kirmdog is offline
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Steve


Glad to hear your 52 is running well now! Like many have said, they are picky about ammo. Now that you have a factory load that shoots good it's time to get into handloading for your 52.

Kirmdog
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Old 12-22-2009, 01:33 AM
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Glad that you got yours working.

My 52 has been pretty much flawless for as long as I can remember. I have a Bomar rib on mine and mostly it sees my hand loads which are a tad hotter than most to overcome the added mass. The only factory ammunition it has ever shot is the Winchester or Federal Match and it worked fine with both.

I have never tired the Fiocchi or S&B wad cutters in any firearm. Actually, I can not recall shooting either brand of ammo in any caliber.
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:14 AM
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I own two 52-2, and both had exactly the same feeding problems.
I purchased 7# Wolff springs for both, and it is much better now, although the problems are not 100% solved.
Best results with the factory ammo I am able to find are with the Sellier & Bellot and witn the Magtech 148 gr WC. With Fiocchi, the failure rate is close to 100% !

MA
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Old 02-16-2010, 11:36 PM
7cstevan 7cstevan is offline
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Just bought my first 52-2 Last wk.
FYI, I've never had much luck with any Fiocchi ammo in any of my Berretta 9mms or Sig 380's--not really bad ammo, just not very good either despite their rep for being a high end ammo.
So far I've run new Rem 38 spl wadcutter and some 20 year old SW Nyclad wadcutter and it cycles perfectly with both. I also just a had a local reloader put up about 700 rounds for me with brass I had saved up. Haven't tried it yet, but he likes to load about 10% hotter (about 800 fps) than the factory "mid range" loads that my SW paperwork says is standard for 52's. That jives with what the other guys on this post say. My reloader puts up his load for a bunch of bullseye shooters, and he is one too so I think he is on the right track. I'll be shooting his reloads this Thurs. so I'll let you know how they work out.
PS, I shot both 2 handed while sighting my new toy, and single handed for NRA Gallery bullseye last wk at my club and the gun went "boom" 100% of the time with the ammo's mentioned above--no alibi's at all
Steve

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Old 02-21-2010, 06:04 PM
Model 15-4ever Model 15-4ever is offline
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This is like a support group for Model 52 owners. I've wanted one of these for 30 years and finally found a nice near-new 52-2 two months ago. Took it out and it was incredibly accurate (299/300 on the NMC), but functioning was horrible. Twenty percent of fired cases had the same exact malfunction as the OP experienced: brass trapped between the breechface and the barrel hood. Another 40% of the fired brass ejected but was crushed. This was with Remington, Winchester and Federal factory.

I called S&W and they asked whether I was the original owner. They advised to send the gun back and if repairable they would send me an invoice for the cost. Two weeks later to the day, a box arrives back from them. Inside is my 52-2, with a note "replaced ejector, test fired 15 rounds, N/C". The label from a box of Federal Gold Medal was taped to the box flap.

Works fine now. What a great company S&W is. They'll fix a gun that was discontinued nearly 20 years ago.

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Old 02-21-2010, 08:57 PM
Jimmymac46 Jimmymac46 is offline
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My two cents. Handgunner covered it nicely, don't shoot the same loads you would use in a target PPC revolver or similar target loads. The 52 is designed to shoot mid-range wadcutters. That means, 800 fps or there about. That means 2.8 grains of Bullseye minimum. It is a 50 yard target pistol and consequently needs a little more energy.

Another trait of the 52 is a very slow cycling of the slide, and if you don't keep your wrist, grip and sight picture solid throughout the entire cycle, including the return to battery, you risk a malfunction. The problem, IMO, is procedure, not equipment.

Lastly, when reloading, make certain your full length sizer die is designed for an auto, meaning it will undersize slightly or at least back to factory mid-range wadcutter specs. The chamber of the 52 is tight and a slightly over-sized cartridge in an undersized chamber could add to extraction friction, slowing the slide somewhat. Just some suggestions.
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:40 PM
7cstevan 7cstevan is offline
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Just a follow up to my last post on this. On my second day at the range I had some failures to feed--the front of the round jammed at the TOP of the barrel, but it was ejecting OK

But, I hadn't cleaned the gun from when I'd bought it a wk earlier.
Field stripped it, cleaned it with spray cleaner and small brushes, blew it out with compressed air, polished a few spots on the feed ramp with 1500 grit wet or dry paper on a pencil tip, cleaned it all over again and oiled it well.

Runs flawlessly now either one hand or two hand hold, both with and without the bbl. wt. Still like the other guys say this is with reloads loaded to about 800 FPS. The paperwork with the gun says the original Smith load was down around 750 fps. so I'd have to agree slightly hot loads help.

Just got my Aimtech mount in and red dot mounted and sighted in, then ran out of time-now to see how I do this wk at my bullseye league night!

Keep you posted

Enjoy!

Last edited by 7cstevan; 02-22-2010 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 02-26-2010, 08:31 PM
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I like 3 to 3.1 grains of W231. Works just fine.
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  #31  
Old 02-26-2010, 08:42 PM
allinthexring allinthexring is offline
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Model 52 - Same Old Problem Model 52 - Same Old Problem Model 52 - Same Old Problem Model 52 - Same Old Problem Model 52 - Same Old Problem  
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Default Model 52-2 ammo

try NSK Sales Ltd.
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  #32  
Old 02-27-2010, 01:02 AM
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andyo5 andyo5 is offline
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It sounds like maybe:
1. Your extracter is reluctant to let go of the empty cases. Maybe the hook dimensions are too tight.
2. Too strong a recoil spring.
3. Something wrong with the ejector?
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  #33  
Old 05-11-2010, 11:22 PM
ullrichj ullrichj is offline
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Any suggestions on where one may obtain a spanner wrench for the 52-2. I have looked a few places and been told by S&W that only option may be machine shop! Thanks in advance for any help!!! JU
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  #34  
Old 05-12-2010, 10:33 AM
TSQUARED TSQUARED is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ullrichj View Post
Any suggestions on where one may obtain a spanner wrench for the 52-2. I have looked a few places and been told by S&W that only option may be machine shop! Thanks in advance for any help!!! JU
I never use the spanner wrench my 52 performs fine with finger tight adjustment of the collet.
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  #35  
Old 05-12-2010, 10:35 AM
TSQUARED TSQUARED is offline
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With respect to ammo choices. I have not used Fiocchi wadcutter ammo in 38 S&W but have used them in 32 S&W Long - they were very mild. I have used 2.8 gr. Bullseye with Remin gton 148 gr. LHBWC and Rem 1.5 primer and have never expereinced a feeding problem.
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  #36  
Old 05-12-2010, 10:38 AM
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DHENRY DHENRY is offline
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Very often (as has been stated) it is a spring issue.
Don
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1911, 380, aimtech, bullseye, cartridge, commercial, ejector, fiocchi, fouling, gunsmith, model 39, model 52, nra, ppc, primer, remington, sig arms, sigma, wadcutter, weaver, winchester

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