Handguns and Ammunition Forum banner
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,867 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. As some may know, a rather "healthy" number of S&W Model 65 revolvers purchased by the NC Department of Corrections failed when firing; the barrels broke off!

For those who are not, here is the news story:

"
Correction officers are experiencing serious problems with several Smith & Wesson models

Dan Kane, Staff Writer

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 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.

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 [email protected]."


I cannot verify the "validity" of the following link, but it sounds reasonable and could explain why on another board, a couple of folks have reported the same, repeated problems with a Model 686 even after it had been sent back to S&W for repair.

Anyway, here's the link:

http://grantcunningham.blogspot.com/2006/03/new-product-from-sw-self-destructing.html

On another site, I saw pictures of a couple of the revolvers. Both appeared of newer manufacture as they had the "new" (and I think ugly as hell) frame contour below the hammer and the external lock was clearly visible in one of the revolvers.

Best.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,399 Posts
Hi Stephen,

Thank you for the story and the link. It really is "eye-opening" to see the pictures from the link first hand and the accompanying analysis involving another member of the gun manufacturing industry.

What would you speculate the "cleaning solvent" containing clorides to be the cause of thread failure on the revolvers? The mechanical speculation of "over torquing" the barrels on assembly is an interesting one.

I am really amazed that the NC Department of Corrections purchased the revolvers in the first place as this seems to be the reverse of the current trend of LEO agencies purchasing semi-automatic pistols.

This also could be the reason that S&W is way behind on their warranty repairs as it took 6 weeks for me to get my M-65 back from the factory instead of the published 2-3 week turn around time.

Again, thank you for the story and the link.

Chris
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
502 Posts
I bet DOC is sorry they surplused a big bunch of Mod 65 4" & 3" last summer. I got a 3" Mod 65-5 from a dealer friend who bought over a hundred & it is a real sweetheart, cosmetically & internally. Except for minor cosmetic wear on most, it is hard to figure why they were moved out. Most were 4".
When the state guy says that many failures is not too bad statistically I want to choke! Bet he doesn't carry one! Hope we find out how all this works out (or maybe it is better not to know!?)
Thanks Stephen for the info. Regards, G>M>F>
 
G

·
in Georgia and Alabama DOC officers are required by law to carry 4 inch barreled .38 special revolvers..somebody I asked in the business said the brass only okays Smiths and Colts
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
I dont know Stephan it would seem to me that we...people on gunboards would have heard something about this from sources if this was a Smith and Wesson problem. I can accept misfires as possibly gun problems even though I would suspect their ammo first but as far as barrels falling off thats another issue. I wonder if the "armorer" was switching barrels, turning barrels in or out to regulate sights etc. The strangest problem I've heard of but other than the article I've heard nothing from any other sources.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,867 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello. Could just be a single run of guns. I have not seen nor heard of this with guns made a few years earliar. I don't think it is widespread.

Best.
 
G

·
Hi Stephen,

The mechanical speculation of "over torquing" the barrels on assembly is an interesting one.
I'd also bet the farm that it's the correct one.

Lay off well paid smart people, replace with low paid dumb people.......
 
G

·
Are those the old style barrels or the new two piece barrels? I am sure the problem with the new style barrels are related to high pressure rounds and low pressure rounds, 45acps in m325s, will not be a problem. With the high pressure rounds they are torquing the barrels. What say you? Regards, Richard
 
G

·
...
On another site, I saw pictures of a couple of the revolvers. Both appeared of newer manufacture as they had the "new" (and I think ugly as hell) frame contour below the hammer...
This is somewhat off topic, but does anyone have a side-by-side pic of the different frame contours that are referenced, above?
 
G

·
This is an old, reoccurring problem which each new generation seems to re-learn this.
Mechanism is stress corrosion cracking at the root of the barrel threads caused by use of solvents, lubricants or cleaners of high halogen content, combined with high heat, high barrel torque and interference fit of barrel thread. Occurs almost entirely with stainelss steels, very well documented in the aerospace industry.

May be caused either by use of improper cutting fluids on SS in the manufacturing process, or induced by the user by penetration of halogenated solvents into the barrel threads.

In my time in the industry I saw a few hundred examples, not all of them S&W.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,430 Posts
WOW! I am dying to know if these are the current production guns with the barrel liners. The photos appear to me to be the new style cylinder releases. The old K-Frames are my personal favorites (next to the Ns and the Js, you know). This reminds me of the dynamic disassembly method I have observed on Glock 40s and some SIGPro 357s.
 
G

·
It doesn't look, from the photos on the website, that the M65's have the two-piece barrel design. I don't believe that Smith is retro-designing older model revolvers to the two-piece barrels. Only new revolver designs --- those models introduced over the last two or three years --- have the new barrel design.


Another conundrum: The offending fluids in this problem have been described as "products that contain chlorine compounds (brand name removed for obvious reasons)" and "solvents, lubricants or cleaners of high halogen content." In the periodic table of elements the halogens are Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine, Iodine and Astatine. The cleaning product "Gun Scrubber" and similar products are "chlorinated solvents," as stated on their labels.

I wonder if it would be wise to not use these products on our stainless-steel revolvers. Or at least keep them out of the barrel threads.
 
G

·
ke4sky is correct about chloride stress corrosion cracking. It's also identified in the nuclear industry and we are positively anal about keeping halogenated solvents, etc. away from stainless steels. specific reviews and approvals are needed to even allow chemicals into the building. It requires chloride, stress, oxygen, high temperature, and a susceptible material.
 
G

·
Something else came to mind, me being an old-timer in law enforcement, I remember back in the day it was a common practice for a large agency to purchase one type of fixed-sight revolver and issue one type of ammunition. The department armorer would put each new revolver in a vice and use a rubber mallet to "sight in" the revolver to the department round. This makes me wonder if this happened and if the new manufactured Smiths can handle that.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top