Friday, August 20, 2010

Like scratching an itch.

I have a little 2" Smith Model 64 that was my bedside gun for years. It was also my only stainless .38 k-frame and so it started seeing some use at the range, since it didn't mind being sweated on or rained on or left dirty in the range bag for a couple days. Pretty soon it was coming to the range on every visit and just living in the bag between outings.

Let me tell you something about revolvers: People wax poetic about their ruggedness, reliability and simplicity, but when they call a revolver "simple", it makes me wonder if they've ever had the sideplate off of one. The mechanical ballet going on inside a Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector makes your typical autopistol look like a stone axe by comparison. Further, a revolver demands clearances measured in thousandths at both ends of the cylinder in order for it to turn freely and still function with reliability and accuracy.

When you've put a couple thousand rounds of mostly unjacketed lead ammunition through a wheelgun, the lead and carbon deposits that build up can have an effect on the trigger pull and, not to put too fine a point on it, this had happened to my gun.

Revolvers are a pain to clean compared to autos, too. Oh, sure, just punching the bore and the chambers and giving the gun a wipedown is no biggie, but when it's really filthy, you need to pull the cylinder, and that means tools and that means a pain in the butt...

So there my 64 sat, in silent rebuke, on the corner of my gun-cleaning table for the better part of a year, looking like a rental gun that had been rode hard and put up wet, while I took other guns to the range.

Yesterday it finally got its bath. I feel so much better.

18 comments:

Joseph said...

Tools? Really how DO you remove your cylinder? Are you talking about totally disassembling the cylinder from the yoke? (and that just requires a padded vise or some contraption Brownells steals your money with) Last I checked, to pull the cylinder off a k-frame, you loosen one screw and pull the yoke out of the frame.

Perhaps you're pulling the side plate too? Still, just a screwdriver. What are these "tools"? I must be doing it wrong :P

Tam said...

A screwdriver is a tool. Especially a properly-sized hollow-ground one that won't bugger up the screw.

I hadn't intended to dismantle the cylinder itself, but I left it lying unattended on the table in gunsmithing and when I came back it seemed to have spontaneously taken itself apart. I couldn't get anyone to 'fess up.

Lorimor said...

I am so much more comfortably pulling apart my wife's GP100 than my old Outdoorsman.

Trigger's way better on the Smith but the GP100 is wonderfully utilitarian.

Anonymous said...

At least a S&W is a machine - I think Colts work by voodoo . . .

erich martell
albuquerque nm

Anonymous said...

Not a true cleaning, but removing the sideplate and the cylinder from the yoke and using a ultra sonic cleaner with warm "simple green" followed by a spray of "break free" will buy you a few more months of shooting.

Dennis the librarian shusher

Jay G said...

I never have any trouble getting the cylinder out of my Ruger Security Six.

I just shoot some hot .357 Magnums through it and the ejector loosens up enough to turn it by hand. It appears to be common to the Sec. 6, as I've seen it happen in at least two other models.

Hasn't affected reliability at all, as long as I remember to crank it tight beforehand...

Although it's best to take it apart over a box of some sort - them screws are teeny and launch themselves YARDS...

Evan said...

One tool to remember when cleaning the stubborn caked on powder is the mighty eraser. Yes, a pencil eraser. I found that it does a great job removing stuff stuff that wouldn't come off with a bronze brush and cleaner. Unfortunately, it doesn't help much with cleaning out the magic hidden behind the side plate.

Montie said...

Tam,

Don't feel too bad, I am guilty of exactly the same neglect of my 2 1/2" Model 66. As a matter of fact it is still sitting forlornly in my gunsafe, so filthy from lead bullet reloads that the cylinder is binding in one spot. You have now officially shamed me into cleaning it tonight.

Ed Skinner said...

Now that it's clean, go and shoot a couple of rounds through it to get rid of the, "I can't shoot it because it's clean" prejudice.

A dirty gun is a happy gun!

Lewis said...

I seem to remember---I think it was in Fireworks---Jeff Cooper (pbuh) writing about a trip down along some river in the Mexican hinterlands, where his companion packed (I believe) a S&W .357 Magnum and Jeff packed (quelle surprise!) a 1911, albeit in .38 Super Auto, and Jeff writing about how much of a chore it was to clean the S&W after a good river dunking, whereas the 1911 took, essentially, a good shake.

You're right, Tam: revolvers, particularly double action revolvers, have a simple manual of arms, but deep inside the beast there's a whole symphony going on.

theirritablearchitect said...

"...Further, a revolver demands clearances measured in thousandths at both ends of the cylinder in order for it to turn freely and still function with reliability..."

Perhaps you could forward that bit to Taurus, with extra emphasis added to the word function.

Sorry, had to go there.

Bubblehead Les. said...

So you have an opportunity to break out the sweet heavenly smell of Hoppes #9 and you pass? Why, that's like having breakfast and turning down Bacon and asking for grapefruit instead! You know, some Gunnies have been known to go into withdrawal when they don't get enough Hoppes, and they end up selling their weapons and donating their money to Greenpeace. In fact, I've got a Smith 19-3 that could use a clean and inspect, and since the weather droids say it be a good weekend to stay indoors until the heat passes.....

Caleb said...

Compared to a S&W wheelie, the Ruger is the aforementioned flint axe. Honest to god, I have opened up every competition wheelgun I have (and buggered up some screws) and it's like 1887 in there.

Les Jones said...

For S&W revolver screws I use a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. The screwdriver on the can opener is just the right size. Be careful on grip screws, though - the can opener can scrape away wood around the screw.

If the gun is stainless then cleaning lead off the cylinder isn't a problem. I just use a wipe-away lead cloth. The cloth removes bluing, so you can't do that with a blued gun.

Tam (remotely) said...

Les,

You just made Shannon and Bob cry. (And Bob made that "Whoah!" noise.)

Joe in PNG said...

Tam, why'd you have to post this? Now I find myself missing my S&W 64-2... locked up half a world away, awaiting my eventual return...
(sniff) Hang in there, guys!

Anonymous said...

Even the old '58 Remington NMA is complicated to take down compared to a Glock, and the Remington has what, six screws, counting the loading lever, that need to come out for a complete dismount of the action? Seven if you count the mainspring tensioner. -- Lyle

Les Jones said...

Who is Tam (remotely) and what have you done with Tam?

SRSLY, what's wrong with the Swiss Army Knife, and what does (remotely) mean? I saw that on one of your comments at Unc's.