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Thread: My new S&W 637 died after 3 rounds :(

  1. #1
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    My new S&W 637 died after 3 rounds :(

    Well if anyone had read a thread I started over a month ago I was trying to decide what new guns to buy for me and the wife. I wound up getting the Sig 229 Scorpion Elite TB (which has been awesome and preformed flawlessly so far).

    I also purchased a S&W 637CT for the wife (who wants to carry). I got it as an anniversary present for her. Before sending it in to get Diamondkoted in Pink (yeah I know, save the jokes, she wants a pink gun to carry) I wanted to run a few rounds through it to make sure everything was in proper order before allowing her to "test drive it" before the coating process.

    I loaded up the cylinder with 5 rounds of FACTORY LOADED .38 Special 130 grain FMJ ammo (not +P) and preceded to fire the first round in DA, no problems. Second round DA, no problems. Third round DA, OUCH! felt my hand burn a little and thought just powder flash no biggie. Went to pull the trigger for the fourth round and NOTHING, the trigger wouldn't pull and the cylinder didn't rotate. Hmmm, this can't be good I thought, went to open the cylinder and it wouldn't budge, WTF?? After a few minutes of jiggling and pushing the release lever. It opened and I saw this and also noticed the powder burn was infact a burn and a nice little hunk of missing skin to go along with it.

    http://www.rencomp.com/sw/IMAG0170.jpg

    and

    http://www.rencomp.com/sw/IMAG0173.jpg

    Took it to my friend the gunsmith who does the coatings, he went WTF? He took it to a guy he knows who's a S&W master armorer, he hadn't seen that happen before in 30+ years. Both verified the ammo used was indeed good and of the recommended type for that model. He thought it maybe a boring offset variance and/or another defect. (DUH) Both said contact S&W.

    So I contacted S&W today after assuring the guy I had used FACTORY LOADED ammo, which was his initial thought of the problem. They setup an RMA and assured me they would take care of it. (I sure the heck hope so) so we will see what happens.

    My question is has anyone here ever experienced a failure similar to what happened to me, S&W or any other model of revolver? What the heck could have happened? Doesn't S&W factory test them before shipping?

    Glad I insisted on shooting it first even though the wife gave me a little grief over it.

    I have a couple of S&W revolvers and have put many a round through them downrange (including way hot .44 loads in another snub nose) and never experienced anything like what happened.

    Just looking for input.

    Hevy
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    It's made by man, and his machines. Anything can happen, regardless of Brand, Make or Model

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    Regular Member Sig229's Avatar
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    Im no gunsmith, but I have heard of these problems happening with revolvers when the cylinder doesn't correctly line up with the barrel. Causing the fired round to cause major back-pressure back into the cylinder.
    This can happen even if its off by a millimeter.


    Now go back and get another Sig! lol
    Last edited by Sig229; 05-30-2012 at 11:47 PM.
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    What are we seeing in the cylinder? It looks like a partial bullet jacket. Part of it's a clean break at the cannelure, which is very curious.

    That could have been caused by timing, or it could have been the ammo. The part that's torn/smashed and protrudes out the cylinder could have gotten that way when you forced the cylinder open, or it could have been caught at the forcing cone because of bad timing.

    I'll be interested in what S&W has to say.

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    Interesting. Yea as was said before, any machine can break, and all machine that are made can have defects. Smith does a great job tho, I have faith they will get you fixed up or send you a pistol that will last many life times. I adore my 629, and a few thousand rounds have gone through it and it still runs like a champ. In fact this week end I have a few hundred more to add to the tab!

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    Regular Member markush's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I can make out exactly what those pics are showing either. Is there a noticeable ridge and constriction in that chamber?

    If it's noticeable this would be a perfect example of why you should go through each and every new gun to clean and inspect it...before ever firing it!

    I'll attach a pic of what I found in the barrel of my brand new 637 during my initial clean and inspection. Because of this I now bring a bore light and check the bores of every gun before I take delivery from the FFL, no matter who made it and new or used.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by markush; 06-07-2012 at 07:38 PM.

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    By the pictures the first two rounds the timing was not off on those. Clearly the lead separated from the jacket, I would say one round of bad ammo. Send the gun to S&W they will probably fix if it is repairable and return it to you. The only thing I can think is the bullet was oversize causing it to jam in the forcing cone, and then the pressure busting the lead through the barrel. The chunk of skin missing probably was from a piece of the jacket. I would toss that box of ammo.

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    Sounds like an offset of the chamber with the cone, however the fact that the trigger wouldn't even move after the third shot is a little puzzling. I own a 637, and for the price it is an incredible little revolver. I have fired hundreds of +p Gold Dot's through it along with hundreds of regular rounds without a problem. The bad news is I have had bad dealings with Smith and Wesson's customer service with my Walther P22. I was told there was nothing wrong with my P22 and that I could ONLY use CCI if I wanted it to function properly. Besides the fact that I had already used CCI through the gun and it mis-fired with it as well as others, I also wondered what good is a gun if I can only count on it with one type of ammunition?! I don't know if they will be the same with a gun that has Smith and Wesson in the name, but their service on my Walther was horrible. Needless to say, I sold the Walther! Hope you have better luck with them than I did.

    Update: I have now dealt with S&W concerning an issue with an M&P and they were great. They handled the problem quickly and I didn't pay a sent after I was given some free stuff. It seems the Walther service is different than for their own products.
    Last edited by KYGlockster; 08-28-2012 at 10:38 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KYGlockster View Post
    Sounds like an offset of the chamber with the cone, however the fact that the trigger wouldn't even move after the third shot is a little puzzling.
    The partial jacket that is sticking out the front of the chamber had the cylinder bound up so that it couldn't turn. That is why the trigger wouldn't move.

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    A local gun shop has had a rash of S&W .38spl revolvers that have had issues like this. With some looking into it, it turned out to be a particular brand of ammo had some quality control issues. At least it didn't split the chamber. Sorry you had bad luck and I hope it gets resolve quickly.

    I had a S&W J-frame and it was very well made. It should be good for you once this is settled.
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    Regular Member moonie's Avatar
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    Also note the OP said it happened on his third shot, note the carbon on the cylinder faces, third shot but fourth chamber. Looks like the cylinder spun too far with the third shot but not far enough to line up with the fourth hole, or something similar.

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    UPDATE:

    I have an update about my gun. S&W contacted me finally and attributed the failure due to bad ammo? They said the gun cannot be repaired and must be replaced. I have contacted the manufacturer of the ammo and they are now in contact with S&W and are getting the lab results and samples of the ammo and the used casings for their own testing. If it is indeed the ammo's fault they assured me they would replace my gun. So we will see, the wheels of progress turn slow. I will keep you all in the loop once a final determination has been made.
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    Re: My new S&W 637 died after 3 rounds :(

    Quote Originally Posted by Hevymetal View Post
    UPDATE:

    I have an update about my gun. S&W contacted me finally and attributed the failure due to bad ammo? They said the gun cannot be repaired and must be replaced. I have contacted the manufacturer of the ammo and they are now in contact with S&W and are getting the lab results and samples of the ammo and the used casings for their own testing. If it is indeed the ammo's fault they assured me they would replace my gun. So we will see, the wheels of progress turn slow. I will keep you all in the loop once a final determination has been made.
    Damn metal that's crazy! I had a 20 yr old hi-point (stallard JS9) that kept jamming. I called them up "thinking yeah lifetime warranty sure..." tech said send pistol & all mags, so I did. Two weeks later what shows up? A new pistol with 5 new mags to replace the old ones with a hand written note from the tech explaining the frame had worn allowing mag travel. I was astounded and called and asked to speak to a manager, I didn't say why and they were nice and said we'll have a manager call you back today. I again thought sure...

    An hour later my cell rings, who is on the line? -Tom Deeb the owner of the company. He was nice and asked what he could help me with? I just said I wanted to commend his company and his staff for the outstanding service, we chatted for a few and before we hung up I told him he's got a customer for life. That was last summer & since then we have two new 45 pistols & a 45 carbine with 10 new spare mags in the house.

    My point is in the USA there are still some companies that know how to do business. Not bashing S&W but they have probably lost more business dinking around over this vs. had they just given you a replacement gun (tested first) hopefully. They have the resources to recoup the unit cost from the ammo maker if they were truly at fault. Why should you be out while they point fingers?

    They are lucky you are a honest guy, some folks would be going to the lawyer instead of waiting to hear from their investigative team.


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    Last edited by Glock9mmOldStyle; 08-28-2012 at 03:04 AM.
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    I'll bet most of us would think is the "right" thing to do is replace your gun. This sounds like a rare enough situation that replacing one gun isn't going to kill the bottom line. We'd all be writing about what a great company they are, great customer service, etc.

    Unfortunately, I suspect if they did that, a crafty lawyer could make a good case in court that replacing the gun is admission by the gun manufacturer that the gun was at fault, regardless of what the facts are, and the gun manufacturer is liable for the failure. Even if the injury is a small one, the potential loss in court is something that really could trash the company's bottom line. So you're out a gun while all of this is dragging on. Yuk.

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markand View Post
    I'll bet most of us would think is the "right" thing to do is replace your gun. This sounds like a rare enough situation that replacing one gun isn't going to kill the bottom line. We'd all be writing about what a great company they are, great customer service, etc.

    Unfortunately, I suspect if they did that, a crafty lawyer could make a good case in court that replacing the gun is admission by the gun manufacturer that the gun was at fault, regardless of what the facts are, and the gun manufacturer is liable for the failure. Even if the injury is a small one, the potential loss in court is something that really could trash the company's bottom line. So you're out a gun while all of this is dragging on. Yuk.
    Not really, a no questions asked return policy would only imply very good customer service. In fact it could protect them from liability suits if it was their policy to replace for any reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hevymetal View Post
    UPDATE:

    I have an update about my gun. S&W contacted me finally and attributed the failure due to bad ammo? They said the gun cannot be repaired and must be replaced. I have contacted the manufacturer of the ammo and they are now in contact with S&W and are getting the lab results and samples of the ammo and the used casings for their own testing. If it is indeed the ammo's fault they assured me they would replace my gun. So we will see, the wheels of progress turn slow. I will keep you all in the loop once a final determination has been made.
    What type of ammo were you using? I am assuming Winchester white box since you said they were 130 grain. Right or wrong? If it was a large name manufacturer then S&W shouldn't be blaming the ammunition unless there was a recall on a certain lot number that you just happnened to purchase. I go on-line every other week or so and check and see if any of the ammunition I have purchased has been recalled; you would be surprised to see how often they do recall ammunition.

    Like I have said though, I have shot hundreds of rounds of +p ammunition through my little 637 without a single problem. I don't see a round having such a high quantity of extra powder to cause that type of damage. You may have damage to the barrel where the round was impacting at extreme velocities with an over-charge, but where the damage is is just puzzling. I believe it was weak steel or a machining error that caused the metal to be weakened.
    Last edited by KYGlockster; 08-28-2012 at 10:53 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KYGlockster View Post
    What type of ammo were you using? I am assuming Winchester white box since you said they were 130 grain. Right or wrong? If it was a large name manufacturer then S&W shouldn't be blaming the ammunition unless there was a recall on a certain lot number that you just happnened to purchase. I go on-line every other week or so and check and see if any of the ammunition I have purchased has been recalled; you would be surprised to see how often they do recall ammunition.

    Like I have said though, I have shot hundreds of rounds of +p ammunition through my little 637 without a single problem. I don't see a round having such a high quantity of extra powder to cause that type of damage. You may have damage to the barrel where the round was impacting at extreme velocities with an over-charge, but where the damage is is just puzzling. I believe it was weak steel or a machining error that caused the metal to be weakened.
    If you look at the pictures in his OP you will see that the jacket separated from the core. Even guns with timing off do not have a core separation unless there is a problem with the ammo. IMO I think it is clear that it was the ammo.

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    Re: My new S&W 637 died after 3 rounds :(

    Quote Originally Posted by KYGlockster View Post
    What type of ammo were you using? I am assuming Winchester white box since you said they were 130 grain. Right or wrong? If it was a large name manufacturer then S&W shouldn't be blaming the ammunition unless there was a recall on a certain lot number that you just happnened to purchase. I go on-line every other week or so and check and see if any of the ammunition I have purchased has been recalled; you would be surprised to see how often they do recall ammunition.

    Like I have said though, I have shot hundreds of rounds of +p ammunition through my little 637 without a single problem. I don't see a round having such a high quantity of extra powder to cause that type of damage. You may have damage to the barrel where the round was impacting at extreme velocities with an over-charge, but where the damage is is just puzzling. I believe it was weak steel or a machining error that caused the metal to be weakened.
    I was out with a buddy a while back while breaking in his brand new 1911. He bought a 250 round box of remi UMC .45auto. Halfway through the box of ammo his gun had a failure to fire. The hammer wouldn't even drop. So we ejected the round and I loaded it into an empty mag of my G21 and chambered the round. This is when I noticed that the slide wasn't all the forward. It was just barely off. I removed the round and compared it to another round and the brass was about 1/32 of an inch longer then all the other rounds. Just because its a big brand doesn't mean they catch everything and it doesn't mean that they only have problems in large quantities. Not to mention someone has to be the first one to have a problem.

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    if the only issue is with the cylinder then maybe just a cylinder change is all that is needed ? That's nothing much ... maybe the ammo that's at fault.

    Of course there is always the standard reason: the wife did it. That goes over well here ... not withstanding the lumps on my head ..

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    Campaign Veteran Schlitz's Avatar
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    This is fascinating considering revolvers are the cutting edge of self-defense technology - of the 19th century

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    <dawns flame retardant suit> For those that were asking, it was CCI Independence 38 Special 130 gr FMJ ammo

    This type of ammo, not from this website though.

    http://www.natchezss.com/Ammo.cfm?co...ition%2050/box

    Purchased locally from a friend who has been a dealer/gunsmith for almost 3 decades.
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    Campaign Veteran MAC702's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hevymetal View Post
    ...My question is has anyone here ever experienced a failure similar to what happened to me, S&W or any other model of revolver? What the heck could have happened?...
    You should read my thread on Nevada Shooters about my S&W 347PD AirLite. It's been six months, and I'm still waiting for the replacement that I had to buy because there was nothing left of the cylinder for S&W to determine how the gun failed with factory Hornady ammo.

    http://nevadashooters.com/showthread.php?t=27593
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAC702 View Post
    You should read my thread on Nevada Shooters about my S&W 347PD AirLite. It's been six months, and I'm still waiting for the replacement that I had to buy because there was nothing left of the cylinder for S&W to determine how the gun failed with factory Hornady ammo.

    http://nevadashooters.com/showthread.php?t=27593
    Deja Vu, Your response looks VERY similar to mine. They must have a form fed letter they use. Fortunately I had all the pieces as well as the spent casings to return with the gun. Their conclusion was the same "Over-pressured ammo" They also offered me the opportunity to buy an identical model at a "Reduced" rate.

    So I called the ammo manufacturer and got them involved. I refuse to pay ANYTHING for a weapon only fired 3 times. If there is any cost involved in replacement it shouldn't be my responsibility. I made this quite clear to all parties involved.

    I am in a holding pattern at the moment until a determination of WTF happened is made by the ammo manufacturer. The wheels of progress apparently turn very slow. I will wait as patiently as I can since I have no other choice. If they say it's a gun malfunction, I will go back to S&W and ask they replace my gun. If they say it's their fault I expect them to purchase the replacement for me.

    I sometimes wonder if decent customer service and a company that stands behind their products is too much to ask for in this day and age?
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  24. #24
    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    I'm sorry to hear about your misfortune with this new Smith. They are usually ultra-reliable, and like everyone else has already told you, this sort of failure in a new S&W is exceedingly rare...

    But what REALLY impressed me about your story is how you reacted to a potentially lethal failure in a factory-new handgun. You called a gunsmith, and then contacted Smith, to see if they could "make it right" by fiixing or replacing your gun. This is what any rational, responsible Liberty-minded gun owner would do.

    If you had been a "liberal", I'd imagine that your first call would not have been to a gunsmith or the manufacturer, but rather to a LAWYER, so you coul dsue the manufacturer for "pain and suffering", and "manufacturing defective firearms".

    Kudos to you for doing the right thing, rather than seeing this unfortunate mishap as a change to cash in on the "lawsuit lottery"...
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    Had something similar happen to the same model of firearm in a class not so long ago. Fortunately, his was a squib load with a split case. Guess what the ammo was.....CCI. It didn't hurt his Smith, but it sure scared the pee out of the owner as well as myself because his new-to-shooting wife was behind the trigger.

    Every manufacturer has bad ammo from time to time. It's how the customer was treated that counts.

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