Home armorer SHTF Armorer: Tuning a Smith & Wesson Revolver with Wilson Combat Springs

SHTF Armorer: Tuning a Smith & Wesson Revolver with Wilson Combat Springs


For these of us that also take into account revolvers to be serious tools for everyday use (there are still a few of us, imagine it or not), the Smith & Wesson revolver platform is an excellent instrument. Although Smith & Wesson launched what we now acknowledge as a contemporary revolver within the final 12 months of the 19th century with the Mannequin of 1899 – the primary “Ok” body – the design has actually not modified markedly since then. You may put a Smith & Wesson Mannequin 10 manufactured yesterday (sure, they’re still in the S&W lineup) subsequent to a Pre-Mannequin 10 or M&P made within the 1920’s, and you’ll be laborious pressed to give you many variations – the one main modifications have come within the title of improved security or ease of manufacturing.

By Drew, Senior Editor at Survival Cache and SHTFblog

Nevertheless, the simplicity innate with a century-and-a-quarter previous revolver design signifies that any buffoonish troglodyte with a screwdriver and a Dremel tool can break right into a Smith & Wesson revolver and wreak havoc within the title of enhancing the motion  – an motion that’s universally recognized for its easy operation. In just some minutes, a shadetree gunsmith may obtain a grim pile of metal particles, a pair coil spring clippings – and a dangerously lightened set off pull.

Sadly, our topic revolver – a .22 LR S&W Mannequin 18-Three manufactured in 1969 – had been cracked open by an enthusiastic-but-sadly-dim earlier proprietor and subsequently developed a number of points. Each the double-action and single-action set off pulls had been doctored, with very gentle – which means unsafe! – operation. I’m not in possession of a set off pull gauge, however this revolver had, by far, the lightest set off pulls of any of the S&W wheelguns in my secure. Additionally, the revolver suffered from “push-off”, a illness the place the single-action mating surfaces on the hammer and set off have been so polished or worn that one can cock the hammer in single motion mode, then really push the hammer ahead with thumb strain alone to make the gun fireplace – no set off required! A tune-up was definitely so as; this Mannequin 18 has grow to be my go-to carry gun when searching journeys or different out of doors strolls are on the day’s journey menu. It completely needed to be protected, dependable, and practical.

Right here’s a video I took demonstrating hammer push-off with my Mannequin 18.

Many producers – Wolff, Brownells, Apex, Bang, Wilson Fight (and doubtless others) make tune-up spring kits for Smith & Wesson revolvers. Wolff had at all times been my go-to, however I wished to combine issues up and check out a brand new system. I’d beforehand used Wilson Fight springs in my IDPA 1911s, so I made a decision to spring (pun supposed) for the Wilson Fight Spring Equipment #178 – for Ok, L, and N body revolvers. (My Mannequin 18 is a Ok-frame). The spring equipment features a new Lowered Energy mainspring, in addition to excessive tensile energy set off rebound springs in three completely different weights. $14 thrown at Brownells had the elements winging my method.

I’m not a Gunsmith, however I play one on YouTube

I’ve been capturing and dealing on Smith & Wesson revolvers for greater than 20 years, so the next elements substitute is second nature to me. Nevertheless, if you happen to ought to need making an attempt to vary your personal elements to assist dial in your Smith & Wesson wheelgun, there are a number of YouTube movies that skillfully present pull the sideplate and disassemble these revolvers. I discovered this video to be first rate, although I by no means, ever pry in opposition to the body or another elements to disassemble; to take away the sideplate, I at all times use the plastic deal with finish of a screwdriver and rap the grip body sharply. This pops the sideplate off the gun simply and avoids deforming or burring the finely machined innards of the pistol.

Engaged on a firearm with your personal two arms is, for my part, certainly one of life’s finer pleasures. Nevertheless, if you happen to deem the ability degree required to be past what you possess, carry your pistol to a gunsmith. What I’m describing beneath with the brand new springs is straight elements substitute that any ‘smith price his salt ought to be capable to accomplish in very quick order. This straight take away & change job took me nearly 15 minutes, even with a little bit of spring testing and swapping.

Changing the Springs

As acknowledged earlier than, the Wilson Fight spring equipment offers a substitute mainspring and several other substitute set off return springs. These are the 2 main springs that stay in a Smith revolver, and like several spring, they have to be changed each few thousand rounds to keep up the gun, and hold its reliability in prime type. That is true whether or not the gun has been hacked on or is 100% straight.

In a Smith & Wesson Ok, L, or N-frame revolver, the flat mainspring lives within the grip body.  The mainspring is held  into the body by way of a pressure screw, and interacts with the hammer on the higher finish. The mainspring’s pressure offers energy to the hammer to set off ammunition, but in addition generates stacking drive that provides weight to the set off pull. Due to this fact, working the mainspring is often the best method to offer a lighter, smoother set off pull on a S&W revolver. Which means that some enterprising rotary instrument homeowners have been discovered responsible of heating and bending or grinding meat off the mainspring in lieu of spending the paltry few {dollars} for a lowered energy mainspring. This sorry excuse for gunsmithing often leads to a severely weakened mainspring that breaks/deflects when wanted most or is incapable of reliably setting off ammunition. Spend the cash, get the right half.

Additionally learn: Survival Gear Review: Kraft Holsters

The OEM mainspring in my Mannequin 18 hadn’t been fooled with that I may inform, however as a result of revolver’s classic and modicum of wear and tear, I made a decision to play it protected and change with the brand new Wilson Fight piece. The brand new blued spring metal mainspring had a barely completely different profile, however its hook mated with the hammer stirrup superbly, and the tail slid into its assigned slot within the grip body with zero drama.

The set off rebound spring is considerably extra irritating to get to and change than the mainspring, so it could but stay untouched in your revolver. Nevertheless, it’s not THAT laborious to exchange, so it’s possible you’ll dig into the innards and discover that the spring has had a pair coils clipped off within the tireless seek for lessened double-action set off pull weight. The set off rebound spring offers the impetus for the set off to return to its ahead place after being pulled, so it is sensible that the set off pull may very well be lessened by lowering spring drive – often completed by the uneducated by way of clipping coils off the spring. Whereas this may certainly work (offering too many coils aren’t minimize), it’s removed from the right approach to accomplish this mission, particularly when new springs can be found

Unique clipped rebound spring at backside; substitute Wilson Fight springs above.

in differing weights that permit the pull to be tuned to the person’s liking. Nevertheless, lighter weight rebound springs can have a tradeoff – the set off could return to its ahead place sluggishly, impeding reliability and quick follow-up pictures; undoubtedly not Jerry Mikulek accredited.

The Wilson Fight equipment supplied three completely different rebound spring weights – particularly 12-, 13-, and 14-pound weights. The upper the burden, the stiffer the resistance to the double-action set off pull, and the extra constructive and energetic the set off reset. Figuring out the unique manufacturing unit spring weight is correct round 17 kilos, I began with the center weight 13-pound spring. Whereas the brand new DA pull performed nicer than the unique spring’s clipped coils may handle, it was nonetheless a contact too gentle. I swapped out for the 14 pound pull spring and located it fairly passable – very easy with no grittiness or weight stacking, with a quick set off return. Good.

Getting Previous the Simple Half

As soon as the ultimate screws have been tightened and the revolver was perform checked, a fast run to the sandpit confirmed a pleasant crisp DA set off pull, with 100% constructive ignition over a number of completely different producers of ammo. The “lowered energy” mainspring had me cringing only a bit in idea – no person likes to suppose weapons they depend on have gentle hammer strikes – however when the reliability proved to be absolute I used to be pleased. The simple a part of the undertaking – spring swapping – was full and a winner. On to the superior portion of our undertaking.

Addressing the hammer push-off was a complete new kettle of fish. With a hammer push-off scenario, the areas the place the hammer and set off interact one another have metallic lacking. This lacking metallic can have disappeared via sheer put on, tear, and use – or, it might grow to be evicted by some goober with a bastard file not having the slightest inkling on minimize sears.

Associated: Survival Gear Review: Ruger Alaskan

When an completed gunsmith polishes S&W revolver single motion sears within the seek for a stellar, glass-rod-breaking set off pull, often Arkansas stones are utilized to sq. up the engagement surfaces. When two sharp, sq. edges are attained on the respective hammer and set off sears, the set off breaks cleanly and crispy, because the two surfaces can disengage from one another evenly and instantly. If the engagement factors are rounded, uneven, or beveled, the hammer disengages from the set off in a sliding, wishy-washy form of method that may go away you lustfully wishing as an alternative for a Glock New York set off. The opposite consideration is that when correctly minimize, the set off and hammer solely interact one another by a number of thousandths of an inch – which is loads when underneath pressure from a correctly tuned mainspring. However, if the sears aren’t sq. and as much as spec as a result of a gleeful abrasive session or sheer put on, that few thousandths turns into much less thousandths – and abruptly the hammer may be pushed off with out pulling the set off. No bueno.

The choices on the desk for me have been: new hammer and set off and the following value and time sourcing and doubtless becoming these elements, or taking a night and trying to scrub up the prevailing elements. Because it didn’t value something and I had nothing to lose, I selected possibility B.

The hammer and set off have been pulled out of the Mannequin 18 – once more – and arrange in my bench vice to maintain them at a snug working angle for me. Gingerly, I used sharpening stones to slowly sq. up the mating surfaces. A variety of trial and error is concerned right here, since I solely wished to take away sufficient metallic to get the job completed. I’d make a number of sluggish passes with the stones, then rigorously set up them within the gun to test for enough engagement.

A pair hours of tedious work handed, and I ultimately discovered that the prevailing elements seemingly couldn’t be made recent and new(ish) once more. I gave it a go, however ultimately there simply wasn’t sufficient metallic left within the elements to make the top consequence protected. On to elements substitute.

Luckily, I’ve a Smith & Wesson Mannequin 17 – additionally known as the Ok-22 Outdoorsman – which is the heavy-barreled, 6” brethren to my 4” barrelled Mannequin 18. The 2 weapons have been each of late 60’s classic and each based mostly on Smith & Wesson’s Ok-frame, so elements can be a direct swap-out. Earlier than I began sharpening the hammer and set off of the 18, I did try to play with the puzzle items to see if I may interchange simply one of many elements gun-to-gun and have issues work advantageous. Alas, although I attempted the hammer from the  Mannequin 17 with the Mannequin 18 set off, and the 18 hammer with the 17 set off, each mixture nonetheless resulted in hammer push-off, confirming to me that each of the unique Mannequin 18 items have been FUBAR. So in the long term, I made a decision that the 18 can be used rather more often than the 17, and simply popped the Ok-22 hammer and set off in my 18 to provide a pleasant protected revolver.

On the lucky facet (for me at the very least), I do know people who have some S&W elements accessible, together with a brand new set off and presumably a new-but-rare rimfire hammer in order that I can get my 17 up and operating correctly once more. If not, Numrich Arms presently has substitute elements in inventory that I can trade immediately for cash, so that’s an possibility for after I really feel like capturing the Ok-22 once more. However till them, my beloved Smith & Wesson Mannequin 18 is again on top of things with a stunning, easy and most significantly protected operation.

Don’t Strive This At Dwelling, Youngsters…

As acknowledged within the introduction, the Smith & Wesson revolver is a stellar piece of equipment that provides easy operation, reliability, and (often) very advantageous accuracy to the top person. However beware the Bubba which will have come earlier than you when shopping for used – particularly classic – S&W wheelguns. And if you wish to attempt your hand at Smith smithing, begin small, and study the right disassembly of the gun first. Then go for swapping the mainspring and set off rebound spring; these two springs being swapped for tuned aftermarket elements will often get you the place you’re seeking to go. However if you happen to begin getting the fingers twitching in direction of the Dremel and the wire cutters, use good, frequent sense and produce your pistol to a seasoned, revered gunsmith to have the job completed correctly. You’ll have a correctly functioning and protected firearm that may hold you correctly functioning and protected when it’s wanted to be there for you.

Ideas? Considerations? Questions? Pontificate within the feedback beneath!


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