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URGENT HELP: Model 36 caliber

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Old 01-30-2011, 01:46 PM   #1
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Default URGENT HELP: Model 36 caliber

A friend of mine bought his first firearm from an individual at a gun show last week. It is a S&W model 36 with 1972 stamped under the cylinder crane. When I looked at the piece yesterday, I couldn't find the serial # (google searches today tell me it's on the butt of the gun). The first thing I told him was get your azz to a gunsmith to make sure everything is in working order (I pulled the trigger a few times with some snap-caps, you should have seen the horror on my face when the cylinder stuck). More importantly, he got .38 special +p ammo with it. Does anyone know if a S&W .38 special made in 1972 can handle .38 spl +p? I will try to get the actual serial # from him today. The piece did not come with the original owner's manual. It will be beautiful once it is cleaned and properly serviced though. Any help is greatly appreciated!

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Old 01-30-2011, 02:04 PM   #2
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Well first it looks like someone bubba'd the hammer spur. That could be an issue.
Hammers are made to be a certain weight and removing the spur lightens the hammer; therefore, the strike of the firing pin is lighter. This could result in light hits on primers and a failure-to-fire. Factory spurless hammers are made differently than simply removing the spur.

Furthermore, while the chief's special (model 36) can shoot +Ps it is not a good idea to do so regularly. The frame was not really made for that pressure level. I carry +Ps in mine (pic below) and shoot perhaps two loads of +Ps per range trip just to stay current with them. A steady diet of +Ps will lossen the gun up however and may damage the weapon.

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Old 01-30-2011, 03:18 PM   #3
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What he said up there ^^^^
What we have here is... failure- to communicate.
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Old 01-30-2011, 03:45 PM   #4
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A sticky cylinder could be that gunk is on the spindle of the cylinder.

Don't shoot it, have it checked out.
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Old 01-30-2011, 04:45 PM   #5
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Also very possible that the ejector rod is loose and it needs to be tightened...
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Old 01-31-2011, 02:50 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies, everyone. The stickiness could very well be gunk. That poor little snubbie hasn't been cleaned in a good while. I'm glad I posted a pic because it never dawned on me that a bubba'd spur could negatively affect performance. I'm just going to keep on his case to get it checked out by a gunsmith ASAP.
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Old 01-31-2011, 05:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by NGIB View Post
Also very possible that the ejector rod is loose and it needs to be tightened...
Or bent. If it is bent, the cylinder will bind and not rotate.


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Old 01-31-2011, 05:43 AM   #8
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Default Don't worry about the hammer spur.

I've had too many S&W revolvers in J, K and N frame without a hammer spur. They all fire with appropriate ammo.

First step is to clean everything thoroughly - I see you've got that in hand.

After that, look to make sure screws are tight, including the extractor rod. Come back with more information if that doesn't fix it.
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Old 01-31-2011, 11:24 AM   #9
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First, clean it. I see that's already on the agenda, so good thinking there. Next inspect it. You don't say whether the cylinder would refuse to turn or if it was stuck closed. Either way I would check the ejector rod to make sure it is tight. Remember, righty tighty does not apply. The ejector rod is reverse thread.

What I have seen on a lot of Smiths is an overzealous use of WD-40 causing the ejector rod to break loose. What I usually do in these cases is loosely reassemble the cylinder/ejector rod assembly and use a good bore cleaner/grease remover to clean out any excess oils. Then I take it apart being careful of any springs that may be living in there. At this point I usually hand clean the parts with Q-Tips sprayed with the same cleaner.

On reassembly I have seen many people use Loc-Tite in the hope of preventing future problems. I don't do this, and I don't recommend that anyone else does. If you tighten the rod without all that penetrating oil in there the rotational forces of the cylinder should keep it tight. That is the reasoning behind the reverse threads.

Remember not to Conan the rod enough to bend it or strip the threads, and remember to pad the rod when you tighten it to prevent plier marks. I usually use a piece of clear vinyl tubing slipped over the rod. Don't get a piece that is too tight or you will never get it back off. You should lightly oil the assemble, but never use a penetrating oil on a handgun.

To me the 36 has always been one of the best looking revolvers Smith has put out. I would tell your friend to see if he can get the hammer replaced. Being bobbed like that shouldn't have any effect on the firing as long as the thing has factory springs in it, but it just doesn't look right.
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:59 PM   #10
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The "bubba" spurless hammer is not an issue. The S&W armorers instructor actually presented that as an option if you wanted to go spurless.

Good cleaning and tightening goes a long way. To tighten the ejector rod (left handed threads) make sure you have two or more dummies in the cylinder to support the ejector star when tightening.

A steady diet of +P ammo is not good for this gun.

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