Barrel problem, S&W M-52

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Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by mikemyers on 4/20/2018, 2:31 pm

First topic message reminder :

I bought my M-52 a couple of years ago.  The fellow I bought it from used it for a short time probably in the 1980's, then put it away.  I bought it, but didn't get to use it much.  I cleaned it once, but before that I hadn't shot it very much.  For the past few weeks, I'm shooting it more, and working on what to do to improve my shooting.  Today I intended to do a thorough cleaning.  

When I got to the barrel, the cleaning brass brush felt "funny" when it was close to the chamber end of the barrel.  I looked in, and saw what I thought was lead fowling.  So, lets of patches, lots of "Shooter's Choice", followed by lots of Hoppe's #9 - now it's better, but it's not clean.


Somehow I managed to get a photo of it.  The photo looks worse than what I see looking at it, but my main issue right now is what to do about it.  Can I clean it at all, or do I need to send it to a specialist?  Can it even be fixed?  Maybe I should post this in the S&W forum as well - maybe someone there has already dealt with this problem.  Here's the gruesome photo:

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by mikemyers on 4/22/2018, 12:38 pm

Guntrainer, I ordered three of those yesterday.  All I've been using is the bristle brushes, brass and nylon, and patches.  Today I got out a new Onalaska Operations brass brush, and started using that.  Alternating between the brush, wet patches, and dry patches, this is what's left.  I cleaned at 7am, and now at 1pm.  Maybe one more time tonight.  

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by mikemyers on 4/22/2018, 1:05 pm

CR10X wrote:........This is how a lot of 52 barrels look after shooting HBSWCs..........If you want to shoot a 52, then you'll have to learn how to clean it.  Careful brushing, patches and more brushing.  And if its pitted or oversize, then you'll get to do it very often.....
Cecil, when everything is finished, and the lead is gone, are you suggesting cleaning the barrel after each time the gun is used?  

If I continue to shoot the same ammunition, then constant cleaning sounds better than allowing it to build up, although fixing my crimp as LenV suggested might minimize the problem.  

For whatever reason, this was not a leading problem when Gil Hebard first tested the Model 52, then wrote the long article published in The Pistol Shooter's Treasury.
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by mikemyers on 4/22/2018, 6:27 pm

Update - but for one spec half the size of the period at the end of this sentence, the barrel is now clean and shiny.  I'll let it soak overnight, then it's done.


I have a question for you guys - there's a difference of opinion on how to take the Model 52 apart.  The factory instructions say to leave the barrel bushing in as you take it apart, but people who have shown me how to do it take the barrel bushing out first.  Is one way better than the other, and if so, why?  Does it matter?
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by CR10X on 4/22/2018, 6:53 pm

If you want to shoot a 52, then you'll have to learn how to clean it.

Exactly what I said.  No one can tell you how often to clean your gun except the gun.  YOU will have to learn how to clean IT.  

Most every gun is different with respect to cleaning needs and most people either clean too much or not enough and generally incorrectly.

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by KenO on 4/22/2018, 7:17 pm

I have a couple Lewis rods, they work, but I find the Chore Boy works better and easier. I don't have the Chore Boy brand, I have what looks like the same thing that Cylinder and Slide used to sell. 

In my 52, the swagged HBWCs do group better at 50 yards, but at 25 yards, the regular cast WCs shoot just as well, and don't lead at all.  As a suggestion, save the HBWCs for 50 yards only, and avoid the hassle of cleaning.

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by jglenn21 on 4/22/2018, 7:38 pm

if you continue to have leading with HBWC then I highly suggest you clean the bullets with mineral spirits and then re-coat with 45-45-10.. I get mine from White label lubes.... really works well.
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by dronning on 4/22/2018, 9:07 pm

jglenn21 wrote:if you continue to have leading with HBWC then I highly suggest you clean the bullets with mineral spirits and then re-coat with 45-45-10.. I get mine from White label lubes.... really works well.
+1 Got this tip from Jerry Keefer, he said the HBWC had more than normal amount of lead flakes on them and this flaking was one of the contributors of lead fouling.
- Dave
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by mikemyers on 4/23/2018, 12:18 pm

Final update:

But for one tiny area that looks more like a shadow, I'm done.  With enough time, the Hoppe's freed up the lead enough that the bronze brush could get rid of it.  As to the tiny spot that I'm not sure about, I will first try "Kroil" when it gets here, and then the Lewis Lead remover.  In the meantime the gun is cleaned, lubed, and back together again.  I might get to try it tomorrow, before I need to stop for a few weeks.

Reading through this thread is scary.  I appreciate the fact that people posted their ideas, but in my inexperienced view of things, some seemed rather risky.  The ones in bold face seem best to me:

Hoppe's, repeating daily - great idea!
Dental pick.  ???????
electric drill with brush.  ??????
Lewis Lead Remover. 
Tornado Brushes. ?????
Chore Boy scouring pad strips ?????
Ultrasonic cleaner sounds reasonable - better yet, with Kroil.   Is this safe?
Kroil.   Outers Foul Out electronic bore cleaning tool
good brass brushes, such as Brownell's Double Tuff bore brush
acetone/atf mix. ????????
mineral spirits, then re-coat with 45-45-10   White label lubes. ?????
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by Wobbley on 4/23/2018, 2:45 pm

The mineral spirits - recoat with 45-45-10 (white label lube) is to correct the bulletin. SOME HBWC bullets need more lube applied, or (perhaps in the case of some) have too many loose lead particles attached via the lubricant applied.
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by Wobbley on 4/23/2018, 2:47 pm

There have been enough incidents of leading with swaged lead pistol bullets when velocities reach 875-900 fps to ignore. Some bullets have leaded lower than that range.
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by Jack H on 4/23/2018, 3:13 pm

One thing that is better than Kroil, is this stinky nasty stuff.  Definitely for hazardous duty.

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by lyman1903 on 4/23/2018, 5:06 pm

Multiracer wrote:Find yourself a couple of "tornado" brushes in 40mm. Clean all oils from the barrel until dry, then scrub with the tornado while the barrel is clamped in a vice.

I have an original pull thru 40mm brush,  but it is for the M203 or M79, not a Smith 52 Laughing

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by dronning on 4/23/2018, 5:54 pm

Jack HOne thing that is better than Kroil, is this stinky nasty stuff.  Definitely for hazardous duty.

This looks like the same stuff, 1PT like the old large 3 in 1 oil cans with the flip top.

Just noticed different flash points - interesting.
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by Wobbley on 4/23/2018, 7:12 pm

It probably isn’t the same stuff. Government specifications like VV-P-216 describe required performance of a product. In this case penetrating oil. The exact composition is up to the manufacturer. These are from two different manufacturers. Hollingshead used to market their products under the “Whiz” brand.
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by Jack H on 4/23/2018, 8:55 pm

That spec oil I pictured takes crud from the barrel in layers.  Clear through to virgin bore.  The green copper comes out last
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by CFPlinker on 4/24/2018, 7:22 pm

FWIW whether you take the bushing out first or last. 

For me using the little wrench S&W supplies requires three hands. It is much easier to use a 1/2" drive 3/4", 12 point socket. It fits right over the bushing, engages the "teeth" of the bushing, and depresses the pin all at the same time. Now it just takes two hands.

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by mikemyers on 4/24/2018, 7:30 pm

When I watched the video I linked to up above, the guy had problems doing the bushing first, mainly because the return spring was pushing against it.  I did it this way a few times, but it was a pain.  

If you take the bushing out last, there is no spring pressure pushing against the bushing and plate; you only need the tool for the first few turns, until the plate is out beyond the locating pin.  Doing it this way, the bushing turns easily, with two fingers.  

Yep, takes two hands, like anything else, one to hold the slide, and one to turn the bushing (first with tool, then with only fingers).  



I worry too much - but after watching the video, I was thinking what I would do if that happened to me, and when the bushing sprung off, it damaged the threads?  I also don't like turning the bushing to screw it off, when it is behind all that pressure from the return spring - no need to fight that pressure if you've removed the spring.  

CFPlinker, try it once the way S&W recommends - there is no need for a third hand, taking it off, or putting it back on.
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by mikemyers on 5/3/2018, 6:24 pm

LenV wrote:In my opinion that probably happened with the first box of ammo that mike put through the pistol. First box that he re-loaded. There was zero crimp on first batch (as shown in re-loading 52 OP) Probably had more blow-by then you can imagine. Of course that is just my opinion. Add 3.00 and get a bad cup of coffee Very Happy
LenV, you got it!  I still had 40 of my reloads from back then - went to the range today for several reasons, one of which was to test what you said.  The barrel was pretty clean before I went, but was starting to get lead on it by the time I finished those 40 rounds this morning.

Knowing now what I didn't back then, I found that Hoppe's #9 did start to remove it, a little bit of Kroil did better, and the Lewis Lead Remover (tightened just slightly) took everything off.  I was afraid of it getting stuck in the barrel, so I kept tightening the pressure on the rubber piece just a tiny amount each time until it felt "good".  Lead beGone!

Thank you LenV....    if I ever meet you, I'll buy you that cup of coffee!
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by james r chapman on 5/3/2018, 7:28 pm

mike, the real Choir Boy, when dismantled and the copper threads wrapped around a brass/bronze brush will rapidly remove stubborn lead deposits when the rod is put into a slow speed drill.
Works all the time. don't plan on using it all the time though.
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by mikemyers on 5/3/2018, 8:07 pm

Jim, now that I have the Lewis Lead Remover (not to mention the Kroil and JB), why use anything else?

I've had an old Lewis Lead Remover from way back when - as far as I can remember, I never used it until I tried my new one today.  I was real careful about tightening down the nut, as some of the videos I watched implied you might need a tractor or a body builder to pull the rod through.  Nope, tightening in small increments, no problem.  Each time a little more lead was gone.


I'm guessing the key word you wrote was "rapidly".  As for me, the last thing I'm in is a hurry.  It took me three hours to clean the Salyer (went quickly) and a whole lot more to clean the Model 52, because of the barrel - and learning new things about how to do this.  Maybe once I'm more experienced, I'll appreciate the word "rapidly".  Not yet.
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lead remover

Post by whitez06 on 5/10/2018, 9:10 am

I usually just read the posts, but it's interesting to read them. In regards to your barrel leading problem. I use frontier big 45 metal remover (you can find it at amazon, or frontier big 45.com) Just follow the directions, and it really works (at least for me) as stated, and doesn't harm the barrel. Kroil works if you allow it to soak over time. I usually use Hoppes, and have no issues.
My opinion only

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by Ray_Grigsby on 5/14/2018, 1:03 pm

I too bought an apparently NIB Model 52-2 shipped from the factory in August of 1973. After initial range time it had considerable leading in the first half inch of the barrel after the chamber. I have found on my 45 barrels that an initial clean followed by a degrease with Gun Scrubber followed by a clean dry oversized patch pushed through will bring the lead with it.  Works best with a short pistol rod and an oversized patch with barrel held in hand and tapping the rod on the bench to drive it through.  With this 52-2 that still left some stubborn deposits deep in the grooves as shown in your partially clean picture. At this point I decided to use J-B bore cleaner Smile That removed the lead.  Bore is clean and bright.  Last range session I tried a new strategy in that as my final rounds of the day I fired a couple mags of Berry's plated 148gr HBWC's down the bore.  Just went to clean and no lead to be found. Running 2.5 or 2.7gr of N310 with Hornady 148gr HBWC for short and long line ammo. Just my $0.02

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by Ray_Grigsby on 5/14/2018, 1:19 pm

That guy in the video is an idiot. The S&W Manual clearly tells you to take the slide off the gun and the spring out before you remove the bushing and then the barrel for disassembly. Smile

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by mikemyers on 5/14/2018, 1:32 pm

Ray_Grigsby wrote:That guy in the video is an idiot. The S&W Manual clearly tells you to take the slide off the gun and the spring out before you remove the bushing and then the barrel for disassembly. Smile
On the one hand, I wouldn't call  him an idiot.  He didn't know, and  probably didn't have a S&W Manual.  I still learned stuff from watching him.  On the other hand, doing it properly can't harm the threads at the end of the slide, and doing it his way potentially could.  Why take a chance?  Doing it as S&W suggest is SO much easier, with far less chance of damage.

Seems to me like even with 1911's, half the world wants to take the bushing off first, and the other half wants to take the slide assembly off first.
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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

Post by Sgt_Gold on 5/15/2018, 10:37 am

I had an M52 and had the same problem. I used a patch soaked in Butch's Bore Shine to soak the barrel and cleaned the rest of the gun first. I had to do this every 200 rounds or the barrel would short chamber on me.

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Re: Barrel problem, S&W M-52

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