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Tight chambers on S&W Model 17-5

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mikemyers
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Post by mikemyers Sat Mar 13, 2021 8:07 am

Over the time I've owned my S&W Model 17-5 revolver, as I shoot more and more, it gets more and more difficult to eject the empty cases.  I used to think it was my fault for not cleaning the chambers properly, but now that I'm giving them special attention, the same thing starts to happen.

The difference now, is when it first starts to get more difficult to eject the cases, I run a brass cleaning brush through each chamber - and see lots of "dust" come out of the far end.  After doing that, the gun is fine again, for a while.

When I asked about this at the range, I was told the Model 17 came with especially tight chambers, and this behavior is to be expected.  Is this true?

Something I have not yet tried is to put some lubricant on a patch and run it through the chambers while I'm at the range.  That, or maybe rube the ammo over a lubricated rag before inserting in the chamber.

The rounds drop in with no effort.  I assume the cases are expanding slightly?  For ammo, I used to use CCI SV, but lately I've been using the Eley Bulk Ammo from the CMP E-Store.
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Post by DA/SA Sat Mar 13, 2021 8:51 am

Soak the cylinder in Hoppes #9 over night and then run patches through it until they come out clean. Then lube with a light coat of oil.
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Post by mikemyers Sat Mar 13, 2021 10:32 am

Sure - will gladly try that.  Is this something to be done occasionally, or each time I go shooting?
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Post by CR10X Sat Mar 13, 2021 10:34 am

Smith and Wesson .22 revolvers are notorious for sticky extraction of .22 cases after a couple of cylinders.  The 60's and earlier guns seemed to be a little better, but not exactly easy all the time either. 

Personal belief is it is a function of their chamber reamer dimensions / design but the crud at the case mouth end doesn't help either.  The end of the case has to unfold from the rebated bullet crimp and, eventually, try and seal the cylinder.  It just doesn't happen fast enough with the .22 and the soot, crud, etc., migrates back up the chamber.  Some, even with extreme cleaning and oiling as above, will still start to stick a after a few cylinder fulls. 

When I was shooting .22 revolver for training, I kept a .22 chamber brush (not bore brush) right at hand and brushed out every few cylinder fulls or so. 

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Post by mikemyers Sat Mar 13, 2021 10:43 am

CR10X wrote:......When I was shooting .22 revolver for training, I kept a .22 chamber brush (not bore brush) right at hand and brushed out every few cylinder fulls or so.......

Like this????
Tight chambers on S&W Model 17-5 Screen88
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Post by Allgoodhits Sat Mar 13, 2021 11:17 am

mikemyers wrote:
CR10X wrote:......When I was shooting .22 revolver for training, I kept a .22 chamber brush (not bore brush) right at hand and brushed out every few cylinder fulls or so.......

Like this????
Tight chambers on S&W Model 17-5 Screen88

NO. That's a CF chamber brush for like a .223 or 5.56.   I use a plain .22 LR pistol or rifle brush on the cylinder. You could possible try a .25 caliber brush on the cylinder. Some .22LR ammo is more problematic than others. Bottom line, is that for easier chamber loading and extracting, just take a brush with you to the range, and run it through the charge holes after 30 to 50 rds or so. Shooting SV instead of HV also makes the problem less frequent. I have the brush on "hand" handle, and just insert, rotate then push all the way through, then all the way out.
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Post by troystaten Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:29 pm

I have a 17-4 and it had very tight chambers when I got it.  When I had an action and trigger job on it the gunsmith either reamed the chambers or polished them (it was over 30 years ago) no problems since.  I just use Hoppes' #9 on mine and don't oil them.  I live in the SF CA Bayarea so I don't have the humidity issues that some areas have.  There is a thread on in the gunsmithing section of the S&W forum that might be helpful, http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-smithing/460288-finish-reaming-k22s-how-solve-difficult-extraction-22lr-s-ws.html.  

Good luck.

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Post by mikemyers Sat Mar 13, 2021 1:26 pm

Thanks for the link - I posted a reply there, along with a photo.

Like I wrote there, new rounds just drop into the cylinder effortlessly.  By the time I've reloaded five times or so, the rounds start to feel difficult to eject.

I'm very puzzled by my photo though - it makes the cylinder look like there is a "ridge" at the end of the case, after which the diameter might be tighter?  Maybe the chamber brush will fix this?  (The photo is before I wiped down the cylinder for a final time, to remove the bits of "thread" from the patch I used to wipe things down.)

Tight chambers on S&W Model 17-5 Img_4011
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Post by DA/SA Sat Mar 13, 2021 2:06 pm

mikemyers wrote:
I'm very puzzled by my photo though - it makes the cylinder look like there is a "ridge" at the end of the case, after which the diameter might be tighter?  

That's the reason for the over night soak in Hoppes. It will soften that carbon ring up and allow it to be cleaned out.
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Post by CR10X Sat Mar 13, 2021 2:17 pm

Ok, did a search and .22 revolver chamber brush didn't come up anywhere anymore.   They even used to make them with 6 brushes in a holder so you could do a quick brush of all chambers all at once.  Wasn't great for real cleaning but worked for a quick brushing.  

Just get a regular .22 brush and see if it works.  You can go to a .243 bronze brush if you think the .22 isn't working good enough for the chamber. 

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Post by Axehandle Sun Mar 14, 2021 8:20 am

I use a 24 or 25 cal rifle bore brush on a pistol rod on mine.  Keep it on the bench while shooting.  Just lay the gun on the bench, open the cylinder, hold the cylinder in your hand, and push and pull a dry brush through each chamber two or three times.  Chambers look slick and smooth  from end to end.

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Post by mikemyers Sun Mar 14, 2021 8:36 am

I'm sold.  Have ordered another quart of Hoppe's, and I'm already keeping a (standard size) brush on a rod on my bench.  It didn't "fix" anything, but it is definitely preventing the issue.  Once the Hoppe's arrives (tomorrow?) I'll do the overnight soak, then clean.  

At the S&W forum, most people seem to be recommending a reamer.  I find it difficult to accept that S&W deliberately made the chamber holes "too tight", expecting purchasers to use a reamer.  If the tighter holes improve accuracy at all, I can believe and accept that.

I mostly believe that the holes aren't "too small", but the cases are expanding "too much", which is the real problem.  I haven't tested it yet, but I used to think that CCI had more of an issue then Eley, which I used to blame on the lubricant on CCI rounds.  Maybe Eley also has lube on it, but in my hands it "feels" more like bare metal.

Anyway, thanks for the advice - I will do everything suggested, with the exception of reaming out the chamber holes.  

(One fellow in a YouTube video put a brush on a rod that was powered by an electric drill and "polished" the chamber holes.  I don't have any plans to do this - yet.)
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Post by Allgoodhits Sun Mar 14, 2021 10:15 am

Another possible check. If that RF gun has been dry fired excessively, there is a possibility that the firing pin, has peened the edge of the charge holes. This in essence asks like staking. Look close to see if this condition exists. It may be so slight that it is not noticed inserting live cartridges into a clean cylinder, but once a little fouling occurs the problem can be revealed. IMO, if it does exist, then is the time to use a chamber reamer, just to knock off that small area which may have been peened over.
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Post by mikemyers Sun Mar 14, 2021 11:17 am

I accept that anything is possible.  It was a used gun, purchased through Gunbroker.  It arrived with a damaged rear sight.  After discussions and photos went back and forth, the previous owner refunded me the cost of the parts plus installation by a gunsmith.  I did most of the work, but couldn't get the sight adjusting screw with the related parts in, so I took it to my gunsmith.  Ever since then, the rear slight blade fits "at an angle".   I've got it adjusted to where it works for me, but I would prefer to have the blade sit perfectly flat.  

I guess anything is possible, including what you just suggested.  I did dry-fire the gun when I first got it, then realized it's "just" a 22 and dry-firing was not a good idea, so I bought some packs of Tipton (I think) snap caps, which absorb the impact of the firing pin.

The Hoppe's should be here by tomorrow or so - will clean thoroughly, then re-evaluate.  I can't visibly "see" what I think you are describing - maybe I will take a high res photo of the back of the cylinder.
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Post by troystaten Sun Mar 14, 2021 3:01 pm

I think what happens with S&W is that the reamers wear out and are not replaced as soon as they should be which results in chambers not being as smooth as they should be.  This is not a new problem for model 17's as I have read this being a problem with 17's of many vintages.  Most of the time when people ream the cylinders not much material is being removed.  You can also polish the chambers which can help.  Good luck.

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Post by Allgoodhits Sun Mar 14, 2021 4:13 pm

troystaten wrote:I think what happens with S&W is that the reamers wear out and are not replaced as soon as they should be which results in chambers not being as smooth as they should be.  This is not a new problem for model 17's as I have read this being a problem with 17's of many vintages.  Most of the time when people ream the cylinders not much material is being removed.  You can also polish the chambers which can help.  Good luck.
^^^^ What he said.

You also could take a small amount of 0000 or 000 steel wool, wrap it around a normal .22 cal cleaning brush. Insert and spin or twist as you push it in and out. This will polish the chamber while removing buildup. The steel in a S&W cylinder is darn hard, you won't hurt it with fine steel wool and cleaning brush. Consider it more than cleaning, yet much less than reaming.
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