URGENT HELP: Model 36 caliber

Discussion in 'Revolver Handguns' started by KBlue, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. KBlue

    KBlue New Member

    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!

    Attached Files:

  2. mesinge2

    mesinge2 New Member

    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.

    View attachment 24399

    Click Image to Enlarge
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011

  3. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

    What he said up there ^^^^
  4. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

    A sticky cylinder could be that gunk is on the spindle of the cylinder.

    Don't shoot it, have it checked out.
  5. NGIB

    NGIB New Member

    Also very possible that the ejector rod is loose and it needs to be tightened...
  6. KBlue

    KBlue New Member

    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.
  7. M14sRock

    M14sRock Active Member

    Or bent. If it is bent, the cylinder will bind and not rotate.
  8. OldManMontgomery

    OldManMontgomery Active Member

    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.
  9. Doc3402

    Doc3402 New Member

    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.
  10. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    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.
  11. KBlue

    KBlue New Member

    The level of disassembly you guys are talking about is beyond my expertise. I would love to take some classes about disassembling firearms beyond a basic field strip, but I'm not sure where to start or if I could afford them.

    The ejector rod did not seem loose to me, but it was so gunked up it would get stuck on the way down. The area under the ejector star was an absolute nightmare. The cylinder wasn't stuck closed, when I tried to squeeze the trigger it was stuck. I rotated the cylinder one chamber by hand, the next squeeze went off without a hitch. Nice, smooth pull believe it or not. I haven't touched base with my buddy since I told him he would be ok using +p for self defense (and yet something tells me he hasn't taken my advice on getting his piece to a smith). I'm sure we will hang out this weekend, so I should have an update in a couple days.
  12. KBlue

    KBlue New Member

    I was finally able to go to the range with my friend yesterday. I cleaned the hell out of the snubbie. I think it was just dirtier than any other handgun I've seen. The ejector rod stopped sticking and the cyinder turned no problem after I was finished with it. At the range, we put a couple hundred standard pressure 125 gr FMJs through it. It performed well; zero misfires and accurate as any other snubbie I've shot at about 20'. I told him he should still have it examined by a smith just to be on the safe side.