Smith & Wesson Revolvers...Unreliable ???

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 3gunner, Mar 18, 2006.

  1. 3gunner

    3gunner New Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Here's an article that was in the paper this morning. Thought some of you may be interested. I've got a call into a friend who works for this agency just to get some first hand info.

    Link to news article here

    Copy/Paste Below

    State wants faulty guns replaced
    Correction officers are experiencing serious problems with several Smith & Wesson models. Model 64 is prone to misfires, prison officials say. Another model's barrel sometimes falls off.

    State prison officials want gunmaker Smith & Wesson to replace hundreds of revolvers after dozens failed to shoot and the barrels broke off of others upon firing in training exercises. The company has witnessed the problems firsthand. Last month, three company representatives met with state prison officials at a shooting range near Smithfield to test about three dozen revolvers.

    Four of the revolvers didn't fire when a state weapons instructor pulled the trigger. The cylinder that holds the ammunition jammed on two revolvers. Then, the barrel broke off as the instructor fired a different model with a longer barrel, just as 14 others had in practice shoots dating back to 2003.

    "In one sense it's funny," said Chief Deputy Correction Secretary Dan Stieneke. "In another, it's alarming."

    In previous tests of revolvers purchased in 2004, roughly one in four misfired. They are .38 caliber Model 64s, which have 3-inch barrels. The .357 caliber Model 65s had the problem with barrel breaks. Test fires of a third revolver, the slightly smaller Model 60, resulted in cracked or sheared barrels in four cases.

    No weapons have failed in the line of duty. Stieneke said the guns will remain in service while the department tries to resolve the problems, but annual in-service training will cease until a solution is found. New hires will receive weapons training because there are enough reliable revolvers to train them.

    "On the one hand, statistically [the revolvers' performance] is not bad, but it's just the safety issue," Stieneke said. "That kind of failure gets people's attention."

    The weapons are assigned to probation officers who keep track of probationers with more dangerous criminal histories, and to correction officers who patrol prison perimeters and escort inmates outside the facilities. (Those correction officers often carry rifles and shotguns as well.)

    Correction officers inside prisons do not carry guns because there is a much greater risk that they could fall into inmates' hands. They carry pepper spray and batons.

    Correction officials have asked the company to replace the 500 Model 64s purchased in 2004. They might extend that request to replace all of the department's 5,000 revolvers.

    If Smith & Wesson does not replace the guns, the department might file a lawsuit or turn to taxpayers for help. Replacing the guns, which cost about $320 each, would come to more than $1.5 million. The department also would have to replace ammunition, holsters and other accessories, and retrain its officers to use the replacement weapons.

    "We're at a point where if we have to make a quick switch, it's going to cost millions of dollars, and it's going to take a lot of training and effort to get back up to speed," Stieneke said.

    Smith & Wesson officials did not return repeated phone calls for comment. Based in Springfield, Mass., Smith & Wesson is one of the nation's largest gunmakers.

    The company's guns have drawn criticism from other law enforcement agencies. In 2001, New Jersey canceled a purchase of about 3,200 semi-automatic pistols from Smith & Wesson for its state police because of high malfunction rates.

    North Carolina prison officials have been using Smith & Wesson revolvers for at least 20 years, even as many other law enforcement agencies have switched to higher-powered, semi-automatic handguns that carry more rounds.

    Stieneke said that no one noticed a troublesome trend with the revolvers until late 2004, when trainers began seeing misfires with the new batch of Model 64s. A misfire is when the trigger is pulled and nothing happens.

    In March and April 2005, the trainers tested all 500 of the new batch of handguns at shooting ranges across the state. They reported misfire rates of between 11 percent and 43 percent.

    In the meantime, another problem emerged: barrels dropping or flying off the Model 65s during firing. The department surveyed trainers across the state and counted up 14 cases of barrel failure in the past three years.

    Both problems led to the visit by Smith & Wesson on Feb. 21.

    Stieneke said the revolvers are no longer a popular item and that might be contributing to their unreliability. For example, the department has had to special order the Model 65s in recent years.

    That, along with the weapon failures, has Stieneke thinking it is time to follow the rest of the law enforcement community and switch to semi-automatics.

    Staff writer Dan Kane can be reached at 829-4861 or
  2. henry0reilly

    henry0reilly Member

    May 22, 2004
    This is very hard to believe.

  3. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    I have owned several S&W revolvers and those of other manufacturers (Ruger and others). I have never seen anything as described in the article. I find S&W guns to be extremely well made, reliable, durable, and in general the best revolver on the market from a major manufacturer. Barrel falling off? Ever try to remove a barrel from a S&W? I have on a couple and believe me they are not easy to unscrew from the frame. Breaking and falling off? As hard to believe!

    I wonder if this is not another Internet Rumor that was started by someone who has had a problem of some kind with S&W???? Revenge, maybe????

    At any rate the story is totally unbelievable!

  4. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    S&W had some problems with their early semi-auto pistols....namely the Model 39 and Model 59 (which led to the joke that the 59 was a 39 with 20 more mistakes :D ), the Sigma Series doesn't have a great reputation, and the current S&W-marketed Walther PPKs have had some quality problems......but.......even during Smith's worst years (Bangor Punta), as far as I know, they've always made top quality revolvers.

    In fact, during WWI, when S&W was making the M1917 revolver, the Gov't. complained that they were making them too good and not cranking them out fast enough.....which let to the Government taking over operation of the S&W plant.

    This is a new one on me! :confused:
  5. Carl S

    Carl S New Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    Bunnell, FL
    I concur. I would like to see some verification of this story. I am extremely skeptical.
  6. henry0reilly

    henry0reilly Member

    May 22, 2004
    Published or not I'm still skeptical, too.

    The story was published, see the link in the original post. That doesn't make it true...
  7. Carl S

    Carl S New Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    Bunnell, FL
    I agree. That's why I would like to read another source. Plus, in my dealing with the news media, I found that only once or twice did they get things right and accurate. I'm somewhat distrustful of the media. Really, I'm a whole lot distrustful! :D
  8. 3gunner

    3gunner New Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I have not been able to locate any other media source reporting this story. The paper inwhich the story appeared is probably the largest in this State though. However, I did speak with an employee of the agency having the problems with the S&W revolvers. He says it's all true and he has witnessed it first hand. He says the 38's are having problems with misfires and the 357's are having the problems with the barrels breaking. Unfortunatly, he is not high enough up the chain to provide any written documention of these problems. He did mention that Smith & Wesson is aware of the problem as they flew several of their representatives to N.C. and they witnessed the same problems themselves. He said they left with a few guns and scratching their heads. I don't know for sure, but I expect it took a little more than an internet rumor for S&W to fly their reps out of state.

    I'll try to follow this and maybe we can determine "the rest of the story".

    FWIW, this was not an attempt to bash S&W or spread any rumors against them. Trust me, I have invested plenty in S&W and love every piece I have.
  9. jeanp1948

    jeanp1948 New Member

    Sep 26, 2007
    I think the article is another unreliable source as I have not run across anything even remotely close to the problems listed in this so-called article from a D.O.C.

  10. Light Coat

    Light Coat New Member

    It's an old story that cropped up about 2 years ago originaly. I would guess that there is sabotage involved; due to the fact that their purchasing agent is railing for autos. I've only seen one revolver pop its barrel and it wasn't easy to get that to happen. Or perhaps the guards should quit shoving doughnuts down the barrel for snack time.
  11. noslolo

    noslolo New Member

    Oct 15, 2004
    Johnstown PA
    Hard to believe, at best. I have never had any problems with my 686. I bought because my father in law has a 686 that he used to shoot 1000 rounds a night! four nights a week for a couple of years. He is the best dam shooter that I have ever seen. Gee I wonder why?
  12. Dakota Red 1

    Dakota Red 1 New Member

    Nov 26, 2007
    My first S&W was a 29-2 that hung up due to the cylinder star not being fully machined for one chamber. A few minutes with a small file sorted it out but I wondered how the heck they let that one get out of the plant. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
  13. That's probably the best explanation.
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