Index Home About Blog
From: (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: Re: Need advice on revolver
Organization: Case Western Reserve University

In article <> auspex! (Brian Ehrmantraut) writes:
#In article <>, decwrl!!well! (Roy Stuart Levin) writes:
## You can't go wrong with a Smith
#	I disagree - I have a S&W 625 that's been in twice for warranty repair
#since I bought it, and still doesn't work right.  I'll not buy another Smith.
#		Brian A. Ehrmantraut

I thought I would add a few observations based on purchases made by a close
friend over the last 2-3 years. My friend is a Smith fan and purchased 5 of
their revolvers over that period.

1) Model 24, 44 SPC. The cylinder stop bolt would drop below the bottom of
   the window and get stuck when cocked single action on occasion. This
   left the cylinder free to rotate wherever as the hammer fell. On one
   occasion while working up a load the cylinder rotated backwards and the
   hammer impacted the annular recess where the primer and the case met.
   No discharge, only a dent. This is easy to fix but it is nice to have
   a spare bolt in your parts box before starting, also it is not to expansive
   to have a gunsmith do it. Because of the intermittent nature I can see
   how it would escape detection at the factory.

2) Model 625, 45 ACP. The back of the barrel was not square: one side would
   pass a .006 feel gauge and the other a .009 feeler gauge. Spitting is a

3) Model 629 Mountain Gun, 44 mag. This gun will shoot only moderate cast
   bullet loads well ( ~1050-1100 fps) anything hotter and groups become
   patterns. Factory jacketed ammo again produces patterns. The chamber
   throats are .432+ in diameter. The biggest cast slug we had was .432
   and when set in the throats would fall out of its own weight. All six
   throats appear the same: a nice light slip fit. He is undecided about
   whether to have a custom bullet mould made or to have it repaired.

4) Model 29 Classic, 44 mag. The gun was completely out of time right out
   of the box. Single action timing was out on all six chambers, as was
   double action when performed left handed. The timing was "OK" for a 
   right handed shooter in double action but even that was not quite right
   according to Bud Brown of Cherry Corners (the S&W warranty repair station).
   After he performed his magic the gun locks up tight as a drum, single and
   double action. This is a nice accurate .44 mag now. The repair, BTW, was

5) Model 629 Classic, 44 mag. This long barrel revolver was the only one
   of the five without a problem. Well almost. When S&W introduced the
   Classic series, they started drilling and tapping the top strap for
   scope mounting. This caused a problem though. Gas exiting the barrel-
   cylinder gap would flow back along the top strap hit the first hole
   and reflect back down onto the cylinder, burning it. Bud Brown's, and
   subsequently S&W's, solution was to fill the holes with shorty 6-48
   screws and counter sinking the top strap so the screw heads would not
   interfere with the rear sight. The screws do not fill the hole completely
   but they are sufficient to prevent the burning. Only a small powder 
   splotch appears and is easily wiped off. Mounting a scope achieves the
   same effect which is the route my friend took with this gun for hunting.

Two notes:

   If you purchase a Classic and want to mount a scope be careful which mount
   you purchase. As of two months ago only Burris and Tasco made mounts
   specifically for the Classic. The Burris part number is LU-SWC. That "C"
   is important. I have no info on the Tasco. The Leupold mount does/did
   not fit. You cannot even modify it to make it fit, the holes are in
   absolutely the wrong places.

   Bud Brown
   Cherry Corners
   11136 Congress Road
   Lodi, Ohio 44254


   Cherry Corners is the warranty repair station for: Colt, Browning, ithaca
   Marlin, S&W, Winchester, Savage, Remington, and USRA. First class work.

For what it is worth.

Geoff Kotzar 

From: gmk@falstaff.MAE.CWRU.EDU (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: Re: S&W 625 info wanted
Organization: Case Western Reserve University

In article <> (Mickey Boyd) writes:
#I have decided to buy a S&W 625 (.45ACP revolver in stainless steel).  I
#am first going on a fact finding spree . . . .
#What I would like to know is the following:
#	a.  Do they ALL headspace on the moon clip?  I have heard conflicting
#	answers to this.  The one I am currently going with is that the 625's
#	marked "model of 1988" (the early ones) DO headspace on the clip.
#	After lots of bitching from gunwriters (JD Jones among them), they
#	changed this on the ones marked (model of 1989), so they do NOT.
#	Please verify/deny this statement if you can.

As far as I know even the 1989 version headspaces on the clip and not the
case mouth. I measured the headspace on my 5" model and it measured 0.917"
rather than the 0.898" (the .45 ACP case length). My gun is an early model
actually built in '89. It is in fact a contemporary of Jones' and has two
of the problems he listed: long chambers, and an unsquare breech end of barrel.
It spits quite a bit because of the uneven barrel-cylinder gap. I am going
to have this corrected as soon as the gunsmith at the local warranty station
recovers from the operations on his hands. God I hope they did a good job
when they worked on him.

I cut down 100 .45 Win Mag cases to the longer length to see if there was
any difference in the accuracy as Jones claimed between headspacing on the
case mouth rather than the clip but the weather has not cooperated long
enough to run any thorough tests.

What the status is on the newer guns headspace length I cannot say but there
is a gun show this weekend here nd I may be able to find out for you.

#	b.  Are these the only two major revisions?  (model of 1988 and 1989)

As far as I know, the only two versions are the '88 and '89. The '91 S&W
catalog still showed only the '89. The '88 version came with a ramp style
front sight which was changed to the patridge configuration in the '89

#	c.  I am considering getting one with a 3" barrel.  Anything I should
#	know about that particular model?

You need to know that that barticular barrel length was discontinued by S&W.
A flyer came in this past week from Natchez Shooters Supply which indicated
that S&W Model 625-2 (Cat # 100923) w/3"barrel is no longer available but
they listed a price for them so I guess they are still available for a while.

#	d.  As far as I know, they all come with plain black front/adjustable
#	black rear sights (my preference).  Is this true?

The '91 S&W catalog lists only black/black sights available, no red ramp and
white outline. Oddly enough the 3" model is shown with the ramp front sight
rather than the square backed patridge sight I have seen on the 5" and I
believe also on the 4" models.

#So, I am currently looking into getting a 3" 625 (model of 1989).  Any good/bad
#experiences (please accompany these with the exact revision name/number, or
#perhaps a serial number with the last 3 digits X'ed out) would be welcome.

Aside from the above listed uneven barrel-cylinder gap which should be covered
under the lifetime warranty, the only problem I have had has been hellacious
leading of the chambers with some 250 gr SWC's. It appeared that the bullets
were just a shade large in diameter for the chamber throats (which are VERY
tight BTW) but because they were loaded to a length suitable for the Gov't
Model they would chamber. When fired it appeared as if the sharp edge of the
chamber literally shaved off sheets of lead. Accuracy went to hell in a hurry
just as you would expect. A couple of weekends back I tried some loads based
on the shortened .45 Win Mag cases and several different bullets loaded to an
OAL of 1.325" to 1.375", about 0.050 to 0.100 longer than the max length for
the .45 ACP round. The bullets had been sized in a 0.451 dia die and that
combination of bullet diameter along with the bullets being seated out into
the chamber eliminated ALL leading problems, even with the one experimental
bullet that had been cast fairly soft. When the same bullets were seated out
to the long OAL in the factory length cases I still had no leading problems.
So my conclusion was that bullet diameter may be pretty important especially
with the shorter cases and full-moon clips. I still have a lot more work to
do this spring though.

There was one more problem but only if you wanted to use the gun for double
action shooting. When the extractor star was cut the factory left some tool
marks that were pronounced. First time I have ever seen this. Anyhow, after
the cylinder rotates and locks up, the hand has to ride up on these ledges to
continue cocking and by the time there is enough pressure on the trigger to
climb up and over each ledge the hand actually jumps over the ledge and the
hammer falls with a jerk. If I am very careful I can get the hand to climb
onto the ledge and glide across it but I cannot do it with any speed. It has
to be worked on some, but I was going to get an action job done at the same
time I had the barrel problem corrected.

Hope this is of some help.

geoff kotzar

From: gmk@falstaff.MAE.CWRU.EDU (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: Re: Smith model 27 wear
Organization: /etc/organization

In article <199210131731.AA23086@ucsu.Colorado.EDU> fcrary@ucsu.Colorado.EDU (Frank Crary) writes:
#Since I've moved to Colorado, I seem to be getting to a range _much_
#more often (100 rds/week) and my revolver is starting to show some
#wear. The cylinder is getting a little loose (which I'm keeping
#an eye on, but isn't too significant at the moment); but what
#puzzles me is the wear to the bluing: About 1/4" from the front
#end of the cylinder, at the side edge of the grooves (I forget
#what the're really called...) and in a small spot exactly between
#these grooves. As far as I can tell, this part of the cylinder
#never contacts _anything_, although it is under a old, empty screw hole
#in the frame (from a scope mount I got rid of.) So I'm at a loss
#to understand why the bluing should be wearing there and not anywhere
#                                              Frank Crary

I have been away from the group for a week now so this may have already been
answered. In case it hasn't here goes.

When S&W introduced their new line of .44 Mags, the 29 and 629 Classics and
DX's, they pre-drilled the top strap for scope mounting. One of the holes
is in exactly the location you describe and they very quickly found that
the gasses flowing back along the underside of the top strap were reacting
with the hole and were being reflected back down onto the cylinder. The
result of this was the bluing being eroded from the cylinder in a nice
circular mark. They got a bunch of the guns back at the factory for repiar
under warranty. When they called their warranty service station at Cherry
Corners to find out if any revolvers had been returned there as well the
gunsmith, Bud Brown, replied in the affirmative and told them he had found
a solution. Said solution was to take a flat head screw that was shorter
than the top strap was thick, countersink the top strap and partially fill
the hole with this screw. If it is countersunk completely the regular sight
can be replaced without problem.

We took a 29 Classic to him for correction of a timing problem and he made
the above correction to prevent the burning of the cylinder, which is where
I first found out about this. S&W has implemented this same correction since
Bud told them about it. In fact he had to send them half his supply of the
screws so they would not have to hold up shipment of the guns.

A good gunsmith should be able to correct this for you with little delay
if he has the right size screw.

I hope this helps.

Geoff Kotzar 

From: gmk@falstaff.MAE.CWRU.EDU (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: Re: .45 acp Revolver-45 auto rim
Organization: /etc/organization

In article <4629@eastman.UUCP> (MJ) writes:
#In article <>, (William
#Oreagan) wrote:
## Question: I have a S&W 625-3 revolver which shoots .45 acp with half
## moon clips. Can I load and shoot .45 auto rim cartridges and forget
## the clips? Are the cartidges hard to obtain?, the dies? Thanks
## Bill O'Reagan
#I remember reading an article a while back in American Handgunner by John
#Taffin.  He had trouble with the .45 AR in his 625.  He contacted S&W and
#found out that the headspace was specifically designed for .45 ACPs with
#full or half moon clips.  He had trouble with .45 ARs.  This was never a
#problem with the older 25-2s according to the article.

Are you sure that you are remembering this correctly? When the 625 Model
of 1988 was introduced it was found to be chambered long by about .020".
This meant that the ACP rounds would often misfire if the half- and full-
moon clips were not used. With the clips or the 45 AR's headspacing was
achieved by way of the rim or the clip - at the back of the case - rather
than the case mouth. The original poster should have no problems using
the AR cases once he finds them. I was at Cherry Corners two weeks ago
talking to Bud Brown who replace untold numbers of cylinders on the 625's
due to the overly long headspce. After J.D. Jones wrote his review about
the misfire problem and S&W's shuck and jive routine to cover it up, Brown
was deluged with the repairs. He is still really sensitive about S&W's

Sadly, Cherry Corners has closed its doors as of the end of February. Bud
suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. One has been "repaired"
and he has only 30% of his strength with it. When I asked if he had any
idea of the cause he told me "shooting". Lots of it. Those of you who have
one of the 625,000 L-frame 357's that Smith recalled, probably had it
repaired and test fired by Bud. Something like half of them were shipped
to him by S&W for repair. I did not realize just how important he was to
Smith & Wesson until I called them about a warranty repair station and
they told me that they opened two new ones here in Ohio to replace him, but
thay don't do the magnum work. They still funnel that work to Bud. Only he
has to use a Ransom rest for test firing now.

geoff kotzar

From: gmk@falstaff.MAE.CWRU.EDU (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: Re: Lifetime Guarantees
Organization: /etc/organization

In article <9304152040.AA11691@boris> zippy@tc.fluke.COM (Steven Zopfi) writes:
#I notice that both Taurus and S&W advertise lifetime policies.  Smith &
#Wesson advertise a 1 year limited warranty with a Lifetime Service

Taurus discussion deleted

#however S&W sounds like they will possible charge you parts but labor
#is free.  Anyone actually excercise their Lifetime Guarantee with
#either manufacture?

I have had to make use of the S&W guarantee twice so far. The first time
was on a 29 Classic which turned out to be out of time right from the get
go. I took it to the almost local warranty station and the problem was
corrected without charge. The second was for a 625 Model of 1989. This was
the first year covered under the Lifetime Warranty. A number of these guns
had the barrels put on incorrectly. The breech end of mine was not square
to the bore which resulted in heavy spitting. I took it to the same warranty
station. When the gunsmith tried to remove the barrel he found that it was
galled into the frame. Apparently someone at Smith had already set the barrel
back once and had botched the job. The local repairman did not even bother to
finish removing the barrel but sent the whole gun back to S&W. They returned
a completely new gun to me. No charge for anything. It still has some of the
same quirks that this series of gun had when introduced, like overly deep
chambers that absolutely require the use of half or full moon clips to even
fire a round, but the barrel problem seems corrected.


[MODERATOR: And later that same day, Geoff posts...]

From: gmk@falstaff.MAE.CWRU.EDU (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: S&W warranty

I just received the replacement 625 after a 2 or 3 week wait. So it was fully
four years after the date of purchase, if that helps.


From: gmk@falstaff.MAE.CWRU.EDU (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: S&W Repairs and Product Quality
Organization: /etc/organization

In article <> Anthony Zilka writes:

# Subject: Repairs at S&W factory

# I was thinking about sending a S&W model 41 back to
# S&W for repairs. It has a misfire problem that happens
# about once every 20 rounds.
# Has anyone had the S&W fix a tough problem?
# Are they any good?
# Do they test fire the gun to make sure its fixed?

You asked for advice about whether to send your Model 41 back to Smith &
Wesson for repair at your expense. My opinion is to forget it; find a GOOD
local gunsmith to do the repair. But at all costs forget about trusting
your pistol to the gunsmiths at S&W headquarters. Let me recount my recent
experiences with S&W service and you will understand why I say that.

First let me point out that over the years I have owned 18 S&W revolvers,
a few of which I still own. Over the last three months I had to send one
in for repair under their warranty program and purchased two new ones. I
really like the S&W revolver design even though it is not the most robust.
If you can get one properly set up, they are a delight to shoot. But getting
a good one out of the factory nowadays is like winning the lottery.

First gun: a 625-2 Model of 1989. They had a LOT of trouble with the early
run of these guns. The breech end of the barrel was not cut square to the
bore so they spit like a bitch, also the chambers were cut so deep that if
half- or full-moon clips were not used the gun would not fire. My gun had
both problems. I took it to the warranty station at Cherry Corners near
Cleveland to have the barrel taken care of. The plan was for the gunsmith
there to pull the barrel, set it back one thread, and square the breech end.
He got the barrel half way off when he found the it had already been set back
one thread before it ever left the factory by some clown who galled it getting
it back into the frame. Bud Brown would not set it back an additional thread
so he sent it off to S&W for replacement. The gun I gave to Bud had a barrel
problem but was at least in time. The one I got back had the breech end of
the barrel square to the bore but was now out of time. Another problem that
needed factory attention. This was the first screw-up.

I had trusted S&W to check out a replacement before shipping it out to make
sure that everything was OK. I had trusted the warranty station gunsmith to
also check it out. Silly me. Cherry Corners is a two and a quarter hour trip
each way for me, so I figured screw-it why waste more time or money shipping
it back to S&W. Besides I had retimed some of my pistols before, so I ordered
some oversized hands from the factory. When I talked to the parts rep, she
told me that they no longer miked them so I could not get a specific thick-
ness. I ordered 5 figuring that I would get a range of thicknesses, one of
which should fit and I would have 4 spares. What I got was not five over-
sized hands but rather two oversized hands and three standard sized hands.
Now I had two hands that would work but I had wasted my money on the other
three. I did not know that S&W just dumped all of the hands into one big
pile and you got what they sent regardless of what you ordered. By this time
you might be asking "Can anyone at Smith and Wesson get anything right the
first time through?". The second screw-up.

Enter a gun show a month or so ago. I found a 629 Classic-DX at a very good
price. I checked the timing on this one at the show. Single action timing was
fine. Double-action timing was out on two chambers. These are supposed to be
the best of the Classics'. There is a test target included showing a sample
group fired from a Ransom Rest. Now a minor timing problem can result in the
gun being battered a bit when fired and it can make spitting a bit worse but
in general it is not dangerous. Besides, I planned on using this for hunting
and will probably never fire this one double action so I got it. But I still
wonder if anybody there can do their jobs right. Third screw-up.

Last problem. I ran across a 657 Classic Hunter. Part of a very limited run
and a gun I had been looking for for over a year. Again I checked the single
and double action timing and both were absolutely perfect. The double-action
trigger pull was heavy and stacked at the end but that could be corrected. The
single-action trigger pull was crisp and light as could be. After I got it
home I noticed that in single-action, the hammer would drop with no percep-
tible movement of the trigger. The last time I ran into this it was because
the single action notch was too shallow. There is an easy test for this. With
the hammer at full-cock, take your thumb and push on the hammer spur. If the
hammer releases and falls, you have a very serious problem. Well, I have a
very serious problem. A single-action condition like that is DANGEROUS and
must never be used. I literally made this last discovery three hours ago (this
was written on Sunday night) and what I want to do is call up S&W and scream
"Can ANYBODY there do their f*cking job right the FIRST f*cking time?".

Based on these four very recent experiences with Smith and Wesson quality and
the competence of their workforce my only conclusion is NO. Again I say forget
about using the gunsmiths at S&W. Find someone local to you that you can deal
with face to face. If it isn't done right at least you have someone to talk
to and you don't have to chew up $10 in shipping and insuranceeach time. This
brings up another point. My opinion of their Lifetime Warranty, is that it is
a very good con and an effective way to hide the lower quality of their pro-

You the user have to know enough to recognise any problems and be willing to
ante up the shipping and insurance charges. If they had so much confidence
in their quality, they would reimburse the user for all shipping charges
on warranty repairs. But that would put pressure on the production people to
make certain that the guns functioned properly.

And to anyone else reading this, if you want a revolver that you can take
right out of the box, go to the range and shoot with confidence, don't buy
Smith & Wesson. Or to put it another way, if you do buy S&W, the first thing
you should do is take it to a gunsmith. Have that individual list all the
problems and then immediately ship it off to Smith for repair under the
warranty, before you ever fire a single round out of it.

geoff kotzar

Index Home About Blog