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S&W Model 17-5 Barrel Question

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Post by mikemyers 3/15/2021, 9:32 pm

I showed my S&W Model 17-5 to a friend at the range.  He looked it over, and commented that the barrel wasn't on correctly.  He explained why he said this, and told me a good gunsmith with the proper tools could correct it.

Here's a photo that shows what he told me is wrong, now that I know where to look.  I guess I have two questions - first, is this normal with an old S&W revolver, and second, is it something I should try to get corrected or ignore?
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Post by Wobbley 3/15/2021, 9:59 pm

Well....

There’s a lot of variables in there... like “ is the barrel top groove truly on the top of the barrel?” “is the front sight vertical or does it lean, and by how much.”, “is the front cylinder latch engaging the ejector adequately.”   

What you have is reasonably common and unless the front sight is visibly off enough to be bothersome, it is seldom worth the time or money to fix.
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Post by Jack H 3/16/2021, 2:20 am

I show the degree of problem for this....
I have a Colt Detective Special Snub with that exact same condition.  It has a fixed rear sight.  At 25yards it is only off 6 inches to the left.  For a snub, I am not worried about it.
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Post by james r chapman 3/16/2021, 4:41 am

How’s it shoot.

Leo Harrison III once told me while on a tram at Vandalia,
“Don’t ever pattern a shotgun that shoots great, it’ll never shoot great again!”
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Post by mikemyers 3/16/2021, 6:59 am

Wobbley wrote:Well....

There’s a lot of variables in there... like “ is the barrel top groove truly on the top of the barrel?” “is the front sight vertical or does it lean, and by how much.”, “is the front cylinder latch engaging the ejector adequately.”   

What you have is reasonably common and unless the front sight is visibly off enough to be bothersome, it is seldom worth the time or money to fix.
I don't understand about "the barrel top groove".  Please elaborate as to what I should look for.

The front sight appears to be vertical - at least I can't notice that it is anything but vertical.
As far as I can tell, the front cylinder latch is engaging correctly, but I'm not sure how to verify this?

The problem with the gun is when I bought it, the rear sight was damaged.  After not being able to replace it on my own, my gunsmith fixed it, but the right side of the rear sight has always been too high, giving me a strange sight picture.  I got all the parts from S&W, and based on what I learned from the MidwayUSA video on how to do this, I was able to replace it with a lower one.  The rear of the sight is supposed to "bottom out" on the frame, but my sight (like my other old revolvers) didn't go down far enough.  Following the advice from the S&W tech people, I "un-bent" the sights on my other guns until they went down far enough to allow me to shoot sub-6-o'clock hold, but for this gun I wanted center hold.  With the lower sight blade, I will sight it in again today.  One thing is for sure, the sight blade is no longer high at the right.

Watch the YouTube video on how to do this - at the end, when the final check is done, the sight blade wobbles all over.  My sight now works the way I think it's supposed to work.  This video looks "wrong" to me:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6au83u4A78 

Being aware that there is a sub-microscopic spring and plunger wanting to fly off into nowhere, I took the sight apart inside a turkey cooking baggie from Publix.  They both went flying anyway, but they were trapped by the bag.  Again.  

Based on what you said, unless I'm missing something, I'm going to leave well enough alone.
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Post by mikemyers 3/16/2021, 7:08 am

james r chapman wrote:How’s it shoot.......
It has never shot as well as I can shoot one of my Model 41, or High Standard, or Nelson.  Yesterday it was horrible, as I tried to follow the training video on how to concentrate on the front sight.  During all this time, I was gripping the gun quite high, as I read I'm supposed to do - but I realized the revolver was free to flop up and down too much.  So I did it my way, gripping the revolver near the bottom of the stocks, which along with doing everything else what I think is correct gave me the best group I have yet gotten from this gun.

The sights were annoying, as I couldn't adjust the sights (again) so it was set correctly for "center hold".  I do know I'm supposed to concentrate on FRONT SIGHT to the excluding of everything else, but in the bright sunlight, and a blurry out of focus target, I never knew for sure where the gun was aimed.  I would prefer to have my front sight picture in the middle of a blurry round blob, and with the front sight in front of "black" I can see my "scratch", which vanishes when the front sight is in front of bright white paper looking even brighter from the sunlight from the target - it was a bright sunny day.

I guess I will bring a unrest with me this week, and take my ability out of the question, so I can find out how well the gun repeats on its own..

Sorry, not as good an answer as you expected - all I can say is at its best, it was as good as what I can do with my other guns, which means to me that the limiting factor is me, not the gun.


In addition to explaining how the people building this gun when new used to "bend" the sight to get the springiness, and how I could correct that, the technician sent me all the bits and pieces I need to fix the sights on most of my revolvers.  Most of them can't be adjusted for center hold, only for sub-6-o'clock.  He didn't have any sight blade with a white outline, but I'm not sure that is even useful - all my sight blades are black.
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Post by Wobbley 3/16/2021, 10:01 am

The barrel top groove is the matted groove the matted groove on the frame lines up with.  Or is supposed to.  

Re-seating the barrel to lineup this groove with the frame groove moves the forward cylinder latch further towards the right of the gun.  If the barrel is pinned, it moves that groove as well.  A lot of things snowball with this issue.
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Post by jjfitch 3/16/2021, 11:52 am

You want the front sight centered in the rear sight notch and vertical. All other mechanical issues have to match up with this as secondary!

Not being vertical will drive your brain crazy trying to line things up. 

I got seasick trying to shoot a friends Victor with this anomaly. The rear sides of the slide was also not parallel! This gun was also nickel plated! I think one of the last Victors using leftover junk parts!

Smiles,
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Post by mikemyers 3/16/2021, 4:46 pm

It has already gotten complicated.

I couldn't get the holes to group.  So I let a friend of mine who is more experienced try the gun, and his holes were also "splattered" all over the target.  Next we had a group looking over the gun.

With the cylinder closed, and the hammer cocked, the cylinder is free to "wobble" back and forth. I can rotate it CW then CCW, then CW, and it rotates on its axis.  I think the cylinder stop should prevent this by locking the cylinder in place, but it wasn't working correctly.  I first thought that the cylinder stop was moving back and forth sideways, but that's not the problem - it feels like it is loose on whatever holds it in place, and as the cylinder rotates back and forth, the cylinder stop part to one side, then the other.  See photo. .....maybe the cylinder stop is fine, but whatever holds it in place has a problem...??

I need to watch my videos on how these parts work, but I suspect this might be the main reason the gun doesn't shoot well.

My friends were also wondering why the barrel might have been replaced, but it is so little out of alignment I doubt that itself is the problem.  It's still a nagging question in my mind.

I think the first thing to do is to replace/repair/adjust the cylinder stop.
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Post by mikemyers 3/16/2021, 5:25 pm

I tried to upload another photo, but got this error message:

"Could not upload file : exceeded total storage space. (Free space : 38)"


How do I free up storage space?
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Post by Dcforman 3/16/2021, 5:47 pm

I don't know if S&W are the same as Colts, but my Colt has some play in the cylinder until I pull the trigger. Once the hammer falls, if I continue to hold pressure on the trigger and not let it reset, the lockup is complete with no movement. How's the cylinder feel after the hammer falls?

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Post by mikemyers 3/16/2021, 6:00 pm

Honestly?  It feels like the cylinder stop is affixed to the frame with chewing gum.   :-(

I think eventually I need to take it to my gunsmith, but something is seriously wrong with the cylinder stop.

Part #67 here:  https://www.gunpartscorp.com/gun-manufacturer/smith-wesson/revolvers-sw/17-sw
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Post by james r chapman 3/16/2021, 6:40 pm

Try and cock the gun, let the hammer forward while holding the trigger back. While holding the trigger back try and move the cylinder.
There is a very tiny spring holding the cylinder bolt up on a smith.
The hand also bears against the cylinder when the trigger is held back.

To the best of my memory
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Post by mikemyers 3/16/2021, 7:52 pm

No change.....
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Post by Sa-tevp 3/16/2021, 8:49 pm

Jack H wrote:I show the degree of problem for this....
I have a Colt Detective Special Snub with that exact same condition.  It has a fixed rear sight.  At 25yards it is only off 6 inches to the left.  For a snub, I am not worried about it.

SonuvaBeechcraft! I acquired a 1973 Colt Detective Special a few years ago and it did the same thing. Supposedly a common fault but it squashed my Bill Blankenship/Motorcycle Dan aspirations of shooting it well. The factory could fix it but that was pre-bankruptcy so I sold it.
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Post by mikemyers 3/16/2021, 9:13 pm

Sa-tevp wrote:.......The factory could fix it but that was pre-bankruptcy so I sold it......
I couldn't do that unless the buyer was fully aware of the problem(s), in which case he or she might not buy it.

On a positive note, at least I now know (at least one of the things) that are wrong with the gun.

There is no reason why I should expect the gun to shoot well unless the cylinder is in line with the barrel.
If the cylinder lock is as loose as a wet noodle, there is no reason why I should expect the gun to work well.

The real choice is either I take it apart myself, or take it to my gunsmith.  If I didn't really care that much about the gun, I would already be taking it apart, following a wonderful video I have about what to do in what order.  On the other hand, I may get it to work right, but chances are that I'll get better results if I let an expert do the work (and anything else that also needs attention).  

I think early tomorrow I'll call my friends at S&W, and see if they have any advice to offer.

There is a silver lining to things like this - the more issues I get to deal with, the more I learn.
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Post by Sa-tevp 3/16/2021, 9:32 pm

mikemyers wrote:
Sa-tevp wrote:.......The factory could fix it but that was pre-bankruptcy so I sold it......
I couldn't do that unless the buyer was fully aware of the problem(s), in which case he or she might not buy it.

An experienced gun store owner eagerly bought it from me at a price higher than I expected. How many people think they can shoot like Bill Blankenship or Motorcycle Dan with a snubnose?
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Post by mikemyers 3/16/2021, 9:55 pm

Just found this - might be relevant to what I'm noticing:
    https://www.shootingtimes.com/editorial/gunsmithing_0806/99263
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Post by james r chapman 3/17/2021, 4:41 am

Only comment, don’t dry fire/test with the side plate off.
This can damage the unsupported hammer and trigger studs.
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Post by mikemyers 3/17/2021, 6:29 am

Thank you Jim, that might have seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  

The more I think about it, the more I think I should just take it to my gunsmith.  
When I try to understand what is going on, what my fingers tell me is happening should not be possible.
How can the cylinder stop rock back and forth like that?  

At times like this I wish I had an old revolver that I don't care about, that I could use to learn about things like this, but that could leave me wanting to do the exact thing you just warned me about.  

I will call my friends at S&W and see if what parts they suggest I get to take to the gunsmith along with the gun.
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Post by mikemyers 3/17/2021, 5:11 pm

Update - I had a long talk with my friend at S&W Tech Support.  Regarding the first photo, the way the barrel lines up in my photo is irrelevant.  The bore of the barrel is lined up with the frame, and what is shown in my photo is no sign of a problem.

The real problem is almost certainly the cylinder stop.  S&W is sending me the standard part, and an oversize part, along with the spring, and whichever part is not used I can offer to return to them.

Since then I've spoken with Frank, the Gunsmith at OnlyTheBest Gunshop, and he tells me if I get him the gun and parts this week, he will get it back to me the next day.  He has become my gunsmith for revolvers and pistols, and I have always been more than satisfied.  

Web site:  https://otbfirearms.com 

I've told several people at my range about him, and a short time later they come back to tell me how well everything worked out.  As a matter of fact, the only way I even know about him is the praise people were giving to him at my range.

(It's also a very nice gun shop, but I'm afraid to look too closely at the showcases!)

One last thing - I found this video, and watched it from end to end.  I have a feeling I won't be purchasing any new S&W guns made with the "MIM" parts.  Does any company currently manufacture guns "the old way", or has that become just "history".  Great video by the way, at least in my opinion.  There's a lot more to it than just dropping in the new parts - fitting them is critical.

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Post by mikemyers 3/22/2021, 4:33 pm

My Cylinder Stop arrived today, so I'll take everything to my gunsmith tomorrow, assuming the roads are free of all the idiots doing a spring break takeover of Miami Beach.

Meanwhile, I think I was wrong about how these parts work together, but let me as a simple question here.


With a S&W revolver, the cylinder stop fits into a groove in the cylinder, and "locks" it in place.  I notice that if the hammer is not cocked, they cylinder is still free to move quite a bit, but cocking the hammer locks the cylinder rigidly in place, presumably placing the chamber directly behind the barrel.

My question - what happens inside a S&W revolver, that locks the cylinder place if you cock the hammer?
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Post by james r chapman 3/22/2021, 5:45 pm

The bolt goes into the cylinder cut and the hand maintains pressure on the indexing star.
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Post by mikemyers 3/22/2021, 6:35 pm

I never learned about this, and after watching several animated videos, I can't find something that shows what you wrote.

I know about hand will rotate the cylinder , and the cylinder stop will move up into the round groove, preventing the cylinder from rotating, but if the hammer isn't cocked, the cylinder still has some rotational "play".  I'm searching for the bolt, and how it goes into a cylinder cut, without much luck.

This was one of the better animations:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXSWXGBahiI

The 90 minute long video I linked to earlier mentioned the bolt, but it wasn't clear to me what the bolt did, and how.  

Until now, I thought the hand rotates the cylinder, and the cylinder stop locks the cylinder in the position for the next shot.  But I know there is more - only when I pull the hammer back all the way, does the cylinder really lock in place.

I plan to take the gun to the gunsmith around noon tomorrow, along with the new cylinder stop, but I've lost confidence that this is really the issue.  I described how the cylinder stop can "wobble" back and forth - well, that is true for all my S&W revolvers.  

I watched the first half of that long video last night, disassembly - time to watch the second half, re-assembly.  

(Not that it's a matter of life and death, but after being told that there is one special screwdriver that all S&W maintenance people use, I couldn't find one for sale.  I've got lots of screwdrivers, including special ones for machinists, but I figured I'd get "the real thing".  Oh well.)


Is this the bolt you are referring to?
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1004528936
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Post by james r chapman 3/22/2021, 7:09 pm

No

Sorry, meant cylinder stop
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