Sunday, September 27, 2009

N-Frame Exorcisms

I spent the morning doing exorcisms on a couple of my N-Frames, including the hapless 329PD with the Amazing Self-Engaging Lock. While I would never recommend that you do this fact, I would GET DOWN ON MY HANDS AND KNEES and BEG YOU not to ...there's a great YouTube video that shows you how to go about it. Keep in mind that should you remove the locking mechanism, you must not sell the gun until it is replaced, so save the little LOCKED flag or add the gun to your permanent collection. And remember, a "lock" is not a "safety device." All locks can be do I know this? Meet Mr. Sledgehammer. That's why I keep my guns in a great big heavy steel box anchored in concrete.

The problem, as I've stated before, is the tiny spring that supposedly tensions the "LOADED" flag and keeps it from riding up is insufficient in handling the recoil of a heavy bullet hot load in a lightweight frame. The flag bounces under recoil, and in the worst case the bouncing flag catches the hammer as it falls, jamming the revolver. This creates a VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION — the hammer is under spring tension and there's a live round underneath it. I've cleared this jam a couple of times, and I'd prefer not to do it again. I suggest backing off the strain screw and release the mainspring tension WHILE KEEPING THE GUN POINTED DOWNRANGE and your hands out from in front of the barrel before addressing the jam.

Speaking of things that occasionally don't work, Brigid at Home on the Range has had some problems with her Blackhawk Sherpa holster:
I've worn this holster for over a couple of years, not daily certainly, but on regular weekends out in the city, drawing from it enough for practice until I found it easy to use. The SERPA button is very lightly sprung, I'm guessing by known weights of single action trigger pulls it's probably just a little over a pound. Point being, it's light, and doesn't require must of a conscious effort to operate it, no tugging or strength of hand, so I never noticed any impediment to a natural, instinctive draw stroke.

The holster has not been exposed to any heat or conditions that would warp it. It's not dirty. I wasn't doing a one-handed reload where I might have inadvertently inserted the gun in the holster facing backwards (when you do that I understand the tension device in the holster can lock behind the front sight, locking the gun in the holster.) I don't pull up on the weapon at all before or while pressing the button. I drew exactly as I've drawn it hundreds of times, having bought a couple of these over the years.

The SERPA button just stuck.
Because I'm not an LEO and don't have a specific need for a retention holster, I don't particularly like mechanical retention adds one more little thing that can break. For a regular carry holster I like some kind of tensioning screw I can adjust. For a field holster, I'm not adverse to a retention strap...I have one on the FA crossdraw I use for my packing Super Blackhawk .44.


chris said...

I still cannot fathom why S&W hasnt recalled these guns and fixed the problem. Makes me not want to ever buy a new Smith.

Bill Lester said...

"I still cannot fathom why S&W hasnt recalled these guns and fixed the problem."

Because they don't see it as a problem. I had personal e-mail contact with Herb Belan at S&W a couple years ago and he flatly denied it was an issue. Only recently have they acknowledged there have been, I believe, a couple hundred lock failures that were fixed under warranty.

The problem is that the entire nation is paying for the goofy laws of Kalifornia. The largest market for handguns demands a lock. S&W and others refuse to give up this huge customer base, so they add a lock to all their handguns to keep their costs down and production schedules up. Everyone has to deal with these Frankensmiths as a result.

Anonymous said...

MB wrote "...your hands out from in front of the barrel".

A better choice of phrase might be "...keep your hands away from the muzzle"


Chas said...

"I still cannot fathom why S&W hasn’t recalled these guns and fixed the problem."

Markie Marxist sez: "That's an easy explanation. You see, the locks are supposed to get gun owners killed when our Marxist/warrior/hero/criminals attack, and the gun doesn't work because it's locked. If the lock prevents the gun from firing, even when it's turned off, that's a feature enhancement, not a bug."
"No matter how many times I explain this, private gun owners still refuse to understand that either way, they're supposed to die. They just don't get that. Their level of naiveté is hilarious! We give them guns that are supposed to get them killed, that work in a way that will get them killed, but they still can't believe they're supposed to get killed! Unbelievable, but hilarious! Ha! Ha!"

Jason said...

One simple question: Why did S&W back off on the required key locks on the M&P pistols, but they have not relented on the revolvers?

Mathew Paust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mathew Paust said...

Professional market v. civilian?

Anonymous said...

That lock has definitely cost S&W a sale to me. I was eye-balling the 329 like Michael's. Not now! I've got an older 6 1/2 inch N-frame that I will covet instead. And, being the jerk that I must be, I almost popped for a Serpa that was on sale at my favorite BIG shooting supplier. "No Sale" there too.
Life Member
P. S.: "A safety is a mechanical device that can and will fail." That's what is taught in most Boy Scout Shooting Merit Badge training. That's why we follow all of the other shooting rules. Nowhere in any of the "real" rules, do we find any reference to the use of "safeties", or similar devices. I have never read any instructions (note that I DID NOT say LAWS here!) that tell us to keep the "ignition swithch" on "OFF", until we are ready to "drive" the gun! The idiot laws tell us that no gun should be able fire when the trigger is pulled, unless the key is turned to "on". How stupid!