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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Massad Ayoob


Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Earlier blog posts on new Smith & Wesson products here in the last few weeks triggered a visceral storm of criticism in the Comments sections for S&W’s continued installation of an internal lock on most of their revolvers. The turn of the key locks the mechanism and renders the gun unshootable, even if it is fully loaded.

S&W has departed from the current policy twice. First, as mentioned here in comments, they quickly sold out a run of Airweight .38 revolvers made on older frames in stock, which did not have the controversial feature. Second, they’ve had good sales of their “lemon-squeezer” series, so called because these models come with a grip safety that the company feels, apparently, makes the internal lock redundant. These are still available, and can now be had in Airweight, the Model 42-1.

My experience and research has shown that spontaneous locking of the guns during firing (characterized as an ILF, or Internal Lock Failure) has occurred, but rarely. It normally involves very powerful guns with very violent recoil, and also very light guns (Scandium, Titanium) firing these extremely hot rounds. The buffeting from the heavy “kick” seems to be what’s jarring the parts out of alignment.  However, one of our readers reported in the comments section that he saw an all-steel S&W spontaneously lock after it was accidentally dropped. Again, a violent impact to small parts seems to have been the culprit.

I know several folks at Smith & Wesson, some highly placed, who don’t much like the locks either. However, prevailing corporate policy says the locks are going to stay for now.

Personally, all the S&W revolvers I carry or use for anything serious are older models without the locks. While I’ve bought several of the lock-equipped later models, all but one were for sport. The single exception is the Model 340 Military & Police, a roughly 14-ounce five-shot pocket revolver chambered for .357 Magnum. This gun has a unique sight concept: a huge XS Tritium Big Dot front, and a humongous U-notch rear.  Developed by S&W engineer Jason Dubois to the best of my knowledge, this arrangement allows the very rare combination of fast sight acquisition in poor light, AND extreme accuracy. This gun puts every shot in one hole at 7 yards if I do my part. I’ve shot hell out of it with hot .357 Magnum loads and never had a spontaneous lock, but I still carry it with milder 135 grain Speer Gold Dot 135 grain +P .38 Special just to be sure. (And because, in a gun this light, the Magnum rounds are just painful to shoot.)

I did not remove the internal lock, for the simple reason that I’ve seen a prosecutor raise hell about a deactivated safety device when trying to establish the element of recklessness that is a key ingredient in a manslaughter conviction. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant was so reckless that he DEACTIVATED A SAFETY DEVICE ON A LETHAL WEAPON, and so arrogant that he thought he knew more about the gun than the factory that made it!”  That’s a mountain I’d rather not have to climb in court, nor debate in front of twelve jurors selected in part by opposing counsel for their lack of knowledge of firearms.

Smith & Wesson makes their Military & Police semiautomatic pistol line with options: the customer can have it with or without manual thumb safety, and with or without internal magazine disconnector safety. I wish S&W would offer the same options with their revolvers, but it’s a much more complicated and expensive thing to do in revolver as opposed to pistol manufacture.  In the meantime, we simply have the choice to buy a different brand. If you have chosen to remove the internal lock feature from your late-model S&W revolver, do yourself a favor and download copies of threads on gun forums in which this issue is discussed, and cases of lock failure are documented.  Keep them on file. If you become the test case, that material may help to defuse arguments that removing THIS particular safety device means you’re a reckless person.

When the sights allow a five-shot group that all hit the aiming paster at 7 yards like this, without even using the Crimson Trace Laser Grip’s projected red aiming dot, Mas can forgive the internal lock. Keyway is seen above cylinder latch on this Model 340 M&P .357.


70 Responses to “INTERNAL GUN LOCKS”

  1. Sevesteen Says:

    I can understand that S&W pretty much has to offer guns with locks, and that they are not willing to make and stock two different sets of frames. Is there any good reason they could not offer an optional non-functional filler button for the lock mechanism?

    I have a centennial with a lock–I would rather have no lock, but not enough to modify it myself)

  2. Matt Says:

    The extra locking safeties currently on various hand-guns seem to be a solution to a problem that truly does not exist. If you don’t want unathorized persons to fire your hand gun, keep it on your person, locked in a safe, unloaded, and or all of the above. No fuss, no bother. I understand it really isn’t about safety either on the part of the entities wanting the safeties or on the part of the manufacture. For the manufactures it is about avoiding the possiblity of liability. Law suits against them can and have consumed huge amounts of dollars even though most are won by the gun industry.

    Having been an “unauthorized” person for access to various locks and security systems and areas in my life, I found it was to easy to acquire the keys to systems I was not supposed to have access too. With the advent of the internet it is even easier that 20-30 years ago. The extra gun locks aren’t going to stop a criminal smart enough to steel, copy, aquire or manufacture the key needed to open it. I’d wager it is possible to defeat either the Smith or Taurus locks with common hand tools, might need to disassemble the Smith though.

    Stick to your guns, but I’d say if you like the new models of Smith and Wesson or Taurus revolvers, keep buying them and learn to live and work with the safeties. Keep bugging the companies to stop including them too.

  3. Dave Says:

    Well, I don’t particularly like the idea. It isn’t a necessary feature for one thing. The topic has been much discussed on the net, but here goes anyway. Assuming that the failure rate of those locks is exceedingly low, that is still an added layer of complexity and added parts that can break. It adds an extra .00000whatever % chance that the gun won’t work when you need it to.
    Take two otherwise identical S&W revolvers. The Smith without an internal lock has a 0.0% chance of the lock ever causing a problem. The Smith with one has an unkown % chance of developing a problem with the lock. Whatever that number is, it is certainly somewhat slightly greater than zero.

  4. Samuel Adams Says:

    Simple solution: boycott S&W.

  5. Long Island Mike Says:

    A company that sells stuff and doesn’t listen to its customers has a problem. Mr. Golden may be a great guy and wonderful CEO but he doesn’t get it. YOUR customers are speaking, LISTEN !

    Now S&W may continue on as a company for another century or two, but how many potential buyers have they alienated? It comes down to arrogance. That’s ok. Buyers will go elsewhere. The brand will be damaged. As a public company, shareholders will suffer. How shortsighted. The end result of letting lawyers run a company.

  6. georgeh Says:

    My newer S&Ws have the lock installed with Locktite Black for my pease of mind.

    I would sure like to see someone, Brownells?, Wolfe? engineer a really powerful spring for the lock that would make certain it stayed where put, even if it took a large wrench to switch the safety.

  7. Chas Says:

    The internal lock is redundant. All my modern firearms already require a “key” to enable them to fire. It’s called a cartridge.

  8. Bill Says:

    I agree that deactivating an internal safety might cause problems if the pistol were unfortunately required to be used in a self defense scenario. I find it interesting, however, that the FBI’s Quantico gunsmiths immediately deactivate S&W magazine safeties from all pistols to be carried by FBI agents in the field. Apparently, the FBI knows what makes sense and what doesn’t for a self defense firearm!
    I personally will not purchase another S&W as long as the internal safety is present. Murphy’s Law assures that if something can go wrong, it absolutely will, and at the absolute worst possible time.

  9. Marc Says:

    The gun locks up 1 the key is at home in safe or gun box or on table- SOL 2 key gets lost – SOL 3 high adrenaline situation fumbling through key ring for gun key of right maker amide house and car keys- SOL. Scares the crap out of me.

  10. Miguel Says:

    Shut off valves in plumbing have a real and valuable use. There really are many times you are gonna need to turn off the water or the gas, especially if you need to work on older fixtures and furnaces.
    Locks on guns are exactly the opposite, they actually impair the real functioning of the weapon, do nothing to improve its service life, and subtract from operation.
    Here is a question, what is so safe about a weapon that might not fire when you need it to? My family is not gonna find it any safer. I am not gonna find it any safer, the only one who is gonna enjoy greater safety is the one making a victim of me and mine, the Deer I am hunting, or the critter that is on attack.
    When are the lawyers and paper pusher gonna learn that the whole point of a gun is that its dangerous and can take a life? Putting a little turn off valve on it might make it less scary, but is that what we really want? Do we want the youth to loose respect for guns and what they can do, all because they can shut it off?
    I try to be a safety minded guy. I will never remove the lock. I love S&Ws and will keep buying them as long as I can honestly afford to, but forever, there will always be the question-whose side is the shut off really on?

  11. Jim from Detroit Says:

    Mas, I wish you would stop making gun recommendations. My fiance and my checking account would appreciate it as well.

    When I saw the sights on the 340 when compared to the sights on the J-frames I already own I had to have one the moment I found a good deal.

  12. DWW Says:

    My Mother is in the process of getting her CCW,so I took her shopping today for a suitable carry gun. She had almost decided on a S&W 642 when a Black S&W 442 caught her eye. While She was looking them over & debating which one to buy,the gunshop owner said “let me see that little 442” and after looking at it for a second he exclaimed “this doesn’t have the lock!”.
    My Mother didn’t know anything about the locks, but I as well as the owner recommended that she get the 442 since it lacked that asinine internal lock. I own a couple of S&W Centennials myself(both with the locks)so, they are not a deal breaker for me, but I would much prefer to see S&W do away with them completely.

  13. Pete Sheppard Says:

    Sadly, we (informed shooters) are in the *vast* minority these days, so S&W has to play to the larger market of folks who may not know any better. There is also the 800lb Gorilla Family of lawyers, legislators and their ilk…

    Remember, if S&W can’t sell guns, they can’t make guns.

  14. Robert Says:

    I think that the main objection with the S&W revolver locks is that it is in the sideplate, thus being a physical disfigurement and a potential entry way for dirt. Ruger, which puts the lock under the stocks, has no similar problems with complaints. If S&W moved the lock under the stocks in a similar fashion, most of the complaints would probably cease.

  15. Tom Young Says:

    I own two guns with internal locks, a Taurus PT745 MillPro and my Ruger P345. Never use them. I use to use them when at home before I got a small locking safe to store my guns that I was carrying that day due to three teenage kids running around. Now I just put them in the safe and the key hangs from a shoelace around my neck. I find it much easier to use.

  16. Hobie Says:

    I am one of those viscerally opposed to internal locks on firearms. I see them as unnecessarily complicating the mechanism. Life experience has taught me that what can go wrong, will. Aesthetically, I just don’t like the extra holes on some. I also don’t like having to keep up with an extra accessory for the firearm. A retired soldier (and infantryman) I believe in K.I.S.S.

    BUT, I do own a couple (3) of the Ruger SAs with the internal lock. I never use it. The grips haven’t been altered to permit its use. However, these aren’t really self-defense guns either.

    All that aside, the guns I like are cheaper used but in very good condition than new production. Makes my illogical, visceral objection very easy to live with!

    Keep writing Mas, love your stuff and have been reading you for a long time now.

  17. John Sigfrid Says:

    FYI, last night while dry firing my S&W 442 (with lock), I had the trigger mechanism freeze up; the firing pin was poking through the hole in the frame and the cylinder couldn’t be opened. I tried fiddling with the lock and found that the key would some times turn to the locked position, but other times would free spin in both directions; locked and unlocked.

    Am waiting for a reply from S&W regarding sending it in for repair.

    I too have heard of locks failing from firing hot loads, but from dry firing? It’s got me stumped!

  18. Matt Says:

    Buy an older barely-used S&W revolver and not only won’t this problem of the internal lock exist – but the gun will cost much less, particularly if it’s a model that was popular with police.

  19. Kevin Says:

    I just won a bid on a smith 29 a later model with the internal lock. I how I did’nt make a mistake I thiught I got a fair deal on it $549, in the box in excellent shape.

  20. Scott Says:

    You mentioned that S&W quickly sold out of their run of 642s and 442s that were made from old stock, without the internal lock. I was wondering if they are still available for sale, since they are still listed in their on-line catalog. Is S&W still making them? They certainly should. I would purchase a Scandium version without the lock if they made it, too.

  21. Mas Says:

    Scott, a dealer friend tells me another quantity of new no-lock J-frames has just become available. I haven’t had a chance to ask S&W about it yet, though.

  22. Bob Says:

    Thank you mas on the heads up with our prosecutor friends.
    I have bought “no lock” revolvers for CCW per your advise.

    Sport is one thing, personal protection is another.

  23. Good Old Mr. Wilson Says:

    Big Corporations and ‘the Government’ are becoming so intertwined and interlaced with each other these days insofar as agenda, that one can not tell the difference. Welcome to the “new world order”.

  24. Tom T. Says:

    I love S&W revolvers and have a bunch of ’em . . . but no new ones for me after the dang locks became standard in 2002. Since then I’ve ONLY looked, and purchased nice USED ones!

    I’ve learned in my 58 years to never say never . . . but that rule went out the window when the S&W IL revolvers came on the scene.

    NEVER for me. A gun HAS to work each and every time one needs it to. Internal locks need not EVER be a feature on revolvers . . . OR parachutes!

  25. John LeVick Says:

    Hey Mas. Bro LeVick here. Good thread. As you know from my posts on both the Smith Forum and our private forum, I have removed locks from the few Smiths I own that had locks from the factory, including my 340PD. As a lawyer, I fully understand the concerns surrounding lock removal. However, as a sometimes expert witness and a shadetree gunsmith, I am available to testify at very reasonable rates that the internal lock makes the gun MORE dangerous, not safer. Additionally, unless the case involves a gun accessed by a child or other unauthorized user, I could make a good argument that removal of the lock is irrelevant and keep it out on a Motion in Limine. The recklessness issue you mentioned would be the only concern.

    On a related note, I view it as only a matter of time before someone sues S&W on a products liability claim arising out of a user-in-self-defense having the gun tie up because the lock is a defective design, and IT IS. I am likewise available to testify in that case!

  26. 18DAI Says:

    As an “old revolver guy” and one of the few remaining LEO’s who qualifies with and carries a revolver for serious, as well as competition, I won’t own an IL revolver. I spend to much time and money ensuring my handguns are reliable to buy one with a built in weakness.

    Why S&W will not make the IL optional, on all their revolver models is beyond me. Is not easy reprogramming a claim to fame of CNC machines? Is it corporate arrogance? I would have thought that corporate greed, wanting to sell as much of your product to as many people as possible, would have overcome them by now.

    Despite the rantings of S&W fanboys that, “S&W can’t make lock free guns, they need to sell guns in all 50 states”, and “Just ignore the lock or take it out!”, the fact remains that Maryland is the ONLY state to require an internal lock, and if I wanted to pay too much for an overated handgun only to have to tweak it and remove parts to make it reliable, I’d buy a Kimber.

    Removing the lock may be an option for some. But even if you remove that idiotic device, your revolver is STILL UGLY! Regards 18DAI.

  27. ArchAngelCD Says:

    From Above:
    “Ruger, which puts the lock under the stocks, has no similar problems with complaints. If S&W moved the lock under the stocks in a similar fashion, most of the complaints would probably cease.”

    I have to disagree. The default state of a S&W revolver if the ILS malfunctions is LOCKED. If a Ruger or Taurus lock malfunctions the default state is UNLOCKED. I wouldn’t object to the S&W ILS if the possibility of the lock disabling the gun didn’t exist.

    Since 2001 the only S&W revolvers I’ve bought were used no lock models and one of the newly released M642’s without a lock. Even though I’m missing out on some very nice S&W revolvers I will not buy a new S&W as long as the ILS exists.

  28. cxm Says:

    The IL on revolvers is probably an economic issue and little else.

    The parent company of S&W owns the patent for the IL. You can bet S&W pays a royalty to the patent holder (their owners) for every gun they make with the lock.

    This is a sweet deal from the point of view of the parent company… they get pre-tax dollars from the company they own, the company they own gets to deduct the royalty payment from their earnings for tax purposes… all in all very nice indeed.

    The reason you see the IL optional on the auto pistols is simply a result of there not being a patent advantage.

    Whoever said follow the money was right…


  29. Atilla Says:

    Simple solution:

    I respect Mr Ayoob’s opinion on altered firearms in court, but I agree with the other poster (an attorney) who said unless it’s an unauthorized person using the altered firearm, there should be no liability for improving your gun. Like putting on new sights, trigger job, grips….

    Now, S&W’s liability when someone needs to use their IL gun and it jams and they are injured or die is another story.

  30. don p Says:

    I understand all that has been stated and still have a “but”. How will the safety come into play when the gun is used in a clean cut self defence shooting? I can see if the shooting is accidental or by a child that finds the gun unsecured. Whether the safety is working or not should have no barring as far as self defence goes. I guess this is asking for someone to have a nd use common sense.

  31. Sheriff Scott Berry Says:

    It would be helpful if you would link, or post, the transcript of the entire statement made by the prosecutor to illustrate your point. I would like to see the transcript posted here…thank you, and the context as to what his comments were…

  32. Mas Says:

    Sheriff Berry has been privately emailed a contact for the information he requested.

  33. Art Nickel Says:

    I am a grandparent of two wonderful children. Unlike their father, who was schooled in gun safety from age 2, they have not been around guns except in my house. I keep my not-in-use guns in my gun safe, most do not have locks (in fact only the S&W snub has an internal lock) and some are even loaded (I live alone now and know which are loaded–I consider them all loaded so far as handling goes) as an empty gun is only a hammer.
    I like the convenience of the internal lock but I’d like to see trials on all firearms that use them, say 10,000 rounds without an unscheduled lockup.
    Maybe you could suggest this as you have a much broader podium than I do. I carry a PT-145 as I have no faith in 9mm (Kurtz or Parabellum) or .38 special and it is a better fit than my PPK/S or any magnum wheel gun; it also carries 10+1 rounds of alloy bullets designed to stop my assailant cold. But I’d like to know if Taurus has had any reports of accidental lock-up while being fired.
    I believe that any company that uses the internal lock as a sales gimmick must test them and publish all results; it is more unconscionable to have a lock that might endanger the family it is supposed to protect when a situation arises than having someone disable a lock that might endanger the user more.

  34. LT. B. from N.J. Says:

    I own a S&W 340 M&P. I personally have had the internal lock jam on me also, at my Agency’s gun range. Thank God it happened during a training session, and not in a life threatening situation. I was able to unlock it using the S&W Key, but you don’t have time for a key, while trying to defend yourself. I have to be honest, I feel uneasy now, carrying the S&W. That is too bad, because I really like the 340’s light weight and accuracy. Not to mention it cost me around $900.00. I am thinking about having a gunsmith remove the internal lock. The lock is useless to me because I always keep my guns locked in a gun safe, when I am home anyway. Although it is rated for .357 Magnum, I personally only fire .38 Special Ammo with it. Specifically Federal Hyrda Shock 147 grain +P+ or 129 grain +P. My Agency only requires that we carry Federal Hydra Shock, so they are both acceptable. I wish S&W would remedy this problem as soon as possible.

  35. Ron Says:

    I don[t have any firearms with locks. I will not purchase a S&W with a lock nor any other brand. I have checked gun dealers & pawn shops for a month looking for a J frame concealed hammer without a lock to add to my Mod. 60s & 36. I will NOT purchase any with a lock and I have a modest inventory to rely on. NO MORE S&Ws.

  36. Harold Says:

    I have had three late model smiths with internal locks that engaged during practice at the range using light loads. This happened on more than one occasion with each gun! I was shooting .45 acp & .45 LC. I met with & discussed this problem with S&W reps @ the NRA show in Phoenix. They were symphathetic & polite, but did not acknowledge that a problem existed. I felt I could not depend on these guns so I de-activated my internal locks and have not had a problem since. My guns are stored in a safe & no children are present.

  37. David Kachel Says:

    1. The locks do in fact fail. This is thoroughly documented. No tool intended to save your life should have a built-in potential for failure.

    2. The locks are pointless. They are the idea of la-la leftists and dimwitted appeasers who know nothing about guns and believe the lock makes guns “safer” when they absolutely do not.

    3. The locks are symbolic of S&W’s willingness to sell us all out to gun grabbers whenever they feel threatened. To buy even one of the revolvers with a lock is to endorse S&W’s behavior in this regard.

    I love S&W revolvers. In fact, I will no longer own any revolver not made by S&W. The double action S&W revolver represents the peak of perfection for the world of revolvers in general.

    Nonetheless, under no circumstances will I buy a new S&W revolver, ever, because of the lock. I am forced to content myself with buying older, used S&W revolvers without the Hillary appendage. This profits S&W not at all. Every S&W enthusiast I know says the same thing… no way! S&W denies it, but this absolutely MUST be severely hurting sales.

    Wake up S&W. You rely on us S&W enthusiasts to buy your guns and to explain to others why they should also. You have lost us and we will not come back until you get rid of the leftists and the appeasers (remember Lord Chamberlain?) and especially the Hillary lock. We hate it. Stop lying to yourselves, and us!

    One other thing. Your quality control of late, stinks! I WAS going to buy all three of the then new Centennials (no lock) until I got my hands on a couple. You should be ashamed. Worst fit and finish I have ever seen on a S&W AND the poor quality is consistent. Everyone I know who intended to buy one of these changed their minds when they finally saw one.

  38. Ken Says:

    As a retired LEO I normally carry a no-lock Model 38 or a Colt Cobra. I do own one new 638 w/the IL, but do not carry it. My other IL is a Model 63 .22 LR used for range fun. Neither of my newer IL guns have ever locked up during a range session, but experience dictates that protection of my family is paramount. I agree with others that Murphy is alive and well – I plan to sell the 638.

    “Back in the day” we were taught to unload the revolver at home and lock your handcuffs through the open frame, and secure the other cuff to the bar in your closet. It is a shame when those who know nothing about firearms get to dictate their brand of “safety” to experienced professionals.

  39. luangtom Says:

    I think that discussion is good. However, now that S&W offers the same model revolvers with or without the IL, is that not now a point for it not being a major hang-up in any court case where the prosecutor uses its disabling against the defendent? If it is needed, why is S&W now offering the choice of with our without?

  40. Internal Lock Failure - Happened to Me? - Page 2 Says:

    […] […]

  41. Bull From Wisconsin Says:

    I did not read all the replies here but was compelled to comment on legal actions.
    If an honest citizen ever looses life because of these locks wouldn’t the manufacturer be liable?
    I for one will not buy a modern politically correct desk jockey designed firearm.
    Lord help us next we will be wearing a safety harness and have an air bag in a fanny pack.
    If the bureaucratic machine was truly concerned about safety there would ba locking cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom too.

  42. brian Says:

    Just bought brand new 638 38 special from Cabelas Sunday March 11,2012. Brought it home dry fired it 3 times then gun completely locked up. Trigger is locked and cannot pull hammer back. Gun cylinder does open freely. Tried the key in the key lock but does nothing. Called Cabelas immediately since I just purchased it a few hours before. I also called Smith and Wesson and all they could say was have Cabelas send it to them. I then got on line and googled internal lock problems. This is how I found this site and many others discussing this problem. When I spoke with David at Smith and Wesson I mentioned that I did research and others have had this problem, He replied “Not that many”. I hope Cabelas takes this gun back and refunds my money, we will see. I cannot trust this self defense weapon. I will update what happens.

  43. Ken Says:

    Since my posting of Jan. 2011 the 638 is sold (it never did lock-up) and I purchased the new M&P 340 model w/o the lock. It is a joy to carry and because of the unique sight set-up, very accurate. It has become my EDC in retirement loaded w/the FBI +P round. I have shot it extensively w/ +P, and CorBon DPX 125 grain .357 designed for short barrel guns, and learned to handle it with either load. The gun handles better w/+P and is faster back on target.

  44. Deputy Marshal Says:

    After many years of .45 caliber autos (both Colt and Glock) Igot a look at the 642-2. I have always liked the snubbie and now that I don’t have to carry in a holster for all to see it looked like a good deal. HAmmerless meant no torn suit coat liners or snags coming out. I was not aware of a lock on a revolver so I got it. Now tthat I know about them and the fact that they might lock themselves does bother me. I carry my 642-2 in a Aholster which fits my pocket, keeps the weapon clean and does not print. I have put alot of rounds thru the weapon becoming familiar with it and it has not locked yetbut now I am wondering if Murphy’s Law will ever come into effect. So I ask the question”Is this lock issue just a bother because it insults a reasonable and prudent man or is there a serious record of self locking ?

  45. Sharky Says:

    I thought the point of using a revolver instead of a pistol is because there are less moving parts, and therefore less chance of a malfunction. Why add a point of failure on something that could save your life? A safe or a padlock would be much more effective when preventing access from unauthorized users and wouldn’t affect the weapon’s functionality.

  46. Janet L. Says:

    I removed the lock on my model 638 because after carrying it a while, I went to do a function check and it was locked. I had NEVER engaged the internal lock on that gun.

    My shooting mentor was of the opinion that anything which stops a revolver from going bang when the trigger is pulled is stupid, and something that can engage accidentally is worse.

    After that I did a quick disassembly, ground off the locking stud, and reassembled. Viola – no more lock, even if the ugly lock hole is still there.

  47. Tom Says:

    Just buy a Charter Arms revolver – they have not installed the ils, and I believe they still send the external trigger lock (you know, that chunky thing) with their revolvers if you really want one.

  48. Grigori Says:

    S&W is gradually making guns available without this lock. They have taken the utterly reliable revolver and unnecessarily added a failure rate to it, to please the Clintons. The Clintons have been out of the WH for a number of years, and hopefully will remain out.

    S&W should heed their customers’ wishes and dispense with the stupid internal locks. I like their designs but have passed up S&W products for other brands because I find the locks to be unacceptable.

  49. Walker Says:

    Janet L. has the right idea by grinding off the locking stud. Even if the beast malfunctions you won’t know it! I wish that all the people who removed these locks would send the parts back to S&W. Maybe they would get the idea.

  50. Sheriff on the NY island Says:

    It’s been a few months waiting for a no lock S&W 340 M&P . The dealer has no idea when it’s coming in. Another law enforcement dealer told me S&W is saying there’s a 8 month backlog.
    S&W is replying to inquiries with a disenguinious boiler plate email that they have no way of knowing what dealer is getting what model from their distributors. This doesn’t sound right to me, anyone else hear anything ?

  51. Terry Says:

    S&W does not make new 642’s w/o the IL, they’re just older frames they have that are released.

  52. Roy Long Says:

    Bought a new 642-2. Shot 50 rds first day ,no problem. Played witn internal lock and key, turned on and off etc. Second day shot 8 rds, cylinder locked up, would not shoot. Unloaded it, then spun the cylinder and it started working, shot 2 rd , locked up again. Asked my wife to shoot it to make sure it was not me. Dry fired it ,worked fine. She loaded it up and fired 2 rds then quit working again. Have lost faith SW. Probably I will not call SW, just fix the problem myself, What a deal! If I had know all the problems with ILS would not have bought SW.

  53. J. D. Pruett Says:

    I was disturbed to discover that a Ruger LC9 that I had ordered has an internal lock on it.

    Does anybody know of any problems with that weapon caused by the lock and whether (and how) it can be modified to disable the lock without adversely affecting the weapon’s functioning?

  54. pat frankland Says:

    I have a 460 with a lock. does the 460 have one key fits all or does each model have a key or is there a key for each serial number. And how do I get another one I lost mine but would like to get the key replaced just in case.

  55. Joe in S.C... Says:

    So.. I just came across this blog post, while looking into why my S&W 642 my wife got me for V-Day wont unlock!
    Bought on friday, ran 35round in it Sunday. Took home, was going to clean. Figured i would engage the lock, just to see if cylinder lockd as well.. You know just to check out!
    Well after engage’n the lock, i cut it back off. Now its lockd no matter what way ya turn key! So guess in calling the factory tomaro! Very unpleased!! Even more this was goibg to be my backup! Now it will be sold when i get back, or just made a range gun!

  56. Dave in upper NY Says:

    I was lucky enough to get a new 642 (no lock) a few months ago. I refuse to get one of the locker models. I hit a few gun shops in my area or do a legal internet transaction to get an older S&W to add to my acumination. Got to admit there seems to be a lot like me as it’s getting harder to find those guns for sale.

  57. Rodrigo Says:

    My 642 with lock has had the gun lock up TWICE during firing at the range .

    Sent the gun to S&W twice. Theyh said they test fired 50 rounds with no problems and sent it back to me.

    Jerry Miculek said maybe while firing a lot of LSWC bullets they caused the cyl. face to drag on the rear bbl. face. Due to lead fouling. Then the hand couldn’t rotate the cyl. locking the gun up. This happened while firing the usual 50 practice shots

  58. user 151 Says:

    Since S&W is offering the 642 now without the lock, it would seem that removing the lock plate in those with an IL could be considered and upgrade or improvements (as luangtom suggested).

  59. Mick Says:

    I own one S&W revolver with the IL, a 657 bought with the specific intention of being a deer hunting gun. The first time it locked up, I sent it back to S&W for “repair”. They said they didn’t have a problem with it. The second time it locked up, after about 75 rounds total, I had my friendly gunsmith permanantly resolve the problem. I normally have the concept that any and all of my guns should be reliable for use a defense tools should the need arise. The 657 broke that mold; it’s about the 15th S&W revolver I’ve bought. No more with the locks. The 657 does great in its current state, and is very accurate to boot!

  60. Jack Says:

    Last week I bought a new S&W M&P 340 without the internal lock. I knew if I waited S&W would make it without the lock. Couldn’t be any happier. Excellent results with the Gold Dot 38 special + P 135 grain short barrel ammo. This is fast becoming one of my favorite weapons. Maybe the perfect all around CCW weapon for a non LEO. Perfect BUG for an LEO. I did order Crimson Trace Laser grips from S&W.

  61. Tom Sheahan Says:

    I purchased a new, S&W 638CT in June 2015. Shortly after taking possession, I was at home practicing opening and closing the cylinder of the gun, without loading or firing it. I opened and closed the cylinder a number of times, when all of a sudden, after closing the unloaded cylinder, the gun locked up. I unlocked the gun and continued to practice opening and closing the unloaded cylinder, when suddenly it happened again; upon closing the unloaded cylinder, the gun locked up. I had not heard of any problem with the locking mechanism before I purchased, but after having this problem, I went on line and found out that the lock problem is widespread and has been known for years.

    At that point, I put the gun back in the box and emailed S&W Customer Service. S&W Customer Service replied with the statement “We have received your email regarding your firearm. We would suggest returning the product for our examination.” They authorized me to send the gun back and sent me a shipping label and directions for shipping.

    I sent the gun back on July 2, 2015, and included a letter telling S&W the following: “I need S&W to fix this problem with the internal lock mechanism in my revolver, under warranty, at no cost to me, so that the revolver’s lock system cannot ever again inadvertently lock the mechanism on its own, without a key. I need S&W to make sure that the lock will never again engage unless I purposely use the key. If this cannot be fixed, I need S&W to replace this revolver with a similar model that does not have the internal lock mechanism, and I would expect this replacement to be done under warranty and at no cost to me.”

    I will try to report back to this website what I find out from S&W and if they fix this problem for me under warranty.

  62. Wolfgang Says:

    So, you are willing to believe a disabled internal lock, or reloaded SD ammo, will make a case go from justifiable homicide to murder even though you cannot cite a single case of that actually happening yet are inclined to believe that the internal lock is fine since it only rarely causes a problem even though it is well documented that it does, in fact, lock up on its own and you even admit you do not want them for serious work. Either refuse to buy an IL S&W or don’t, you cannot have it both ways just because you like S&W, the company has changed and needs either a new spine or to go out of business.

  63. William Fuller Says:

    Bought a (used, wonder why it was re-sold?) S&W Stainless airweight snub with internal lock. Used it at the range a couple of times and it “locked up”! I returned it to the dealer and he tried to tell me I probably did not close the cylinder. I like wheel guns and have been shooting them for 60 years. Never failed to close a cylinder. First thing I checked when It did not work. Traded it in for an “old” model 36 which I have now fired a couple thousand times with no lock up or my failure to close the cylinder. Absolutely no more internal locks for me, my wife and I are too precious to carry one.

  64. Raff Says:

    I only own one S&W with the dreaded lock and will not be buying another. If you remove the sideplate and actually see how it works it is incredibly flawed and seems like it could have been designed better. S&W should be ashamed to be selling people such nice looking revolvers with a lock that is not 100% fool proof. It is no wonder so many have “locked up” while in use. But there is good news. There is a user on the S&W forum that has been making plugs. He sells them for every frame size and in either stainless or blue. Get one. They work. I got one for mine and it’s the only reason I decided to keep the revolver. But from here on out it’s older Smith’s for me. Pre-lock and pre-MIM triggers.

  65. Silver Creek Al Says:

    Just got a 642-2 because it meets my needs… have locks that I never use on a Bersa Thunder (.380) And a Taurus 85 (.22), and both work perfectly after many rounds on the range. After looking at the lock on the 642-2, I can imagine why there are problems, I don’t have time to find an older model without the lock so I will have to think of a fix…. I appreciate all the thoughts about solving the problem it saves me a lot of time.

  66. John Says:

    I have a 20 year old 686+ with no lock that I love. It would likely be the last of my guns to get rid of, which is to say, I’d never get rid of it. For me the lock’s biggest drawback is that it takes away from the best looking revolvers made, It’s ugly and superfluous. I keep waiting for Smith to do away with it and they never do. They don’t seem to realize that they’d see a huge spike in sales from guys like me if they were to bag it. I do have a 642 with the lock and want to tell all of you who hate it that it’s a snap to disable. Remove the side plate, the main spring and the hammer and it’s right there. Just take it out and no more IL. The only drawback is that removing it leaves a hole on the side plate, which could allow dirt and other grime to get in there. Other than that it’s worth it in a defensive firearm.

  67. Seede Says:

    Bought a 638 a short time ago with no regrets. I did remove the lock piece and kept it with both keys set aside in my gun case. If I ever sell the gun or need to return to S&W I will put the lock piece back in the gun.

    Have carried my M49 for number of years and decided to get a lighter carry piece and this fits the bill. I see nothing wrong in removing the lock piece and see nothing to take away from its appearance. I bought for self defense and not a show piece. Come on now and get real. A little hole does not take away from a good carry piece.

    I think S&W should include a key hole plug in the kit for cosmetic reasons if anyone is that sensitive.

  68. FoulPet Says:

    Simple solution since SW still have locks everywhere is don’t buy a SW.
    Literally dozens of nice pistols out there and if you want a revolver, buy a Ruger. Maybe one day the pistol angels will bring colt back from the dead. Till then show SW they don’t deserve your cash.

  69. Rob Says:

    I would never buy a Smith with the lock. It’s ugly, completely unnecessary, and a dust magnet, and introduces potential failure. Plus it just stands out like a sore thumb and looks cheap. I can’t ever bring myself to buy a new Smith with a lock, much as I like S&W. Sad.

  70. Ken Says:

    The M&P340 I posted about here in 2012 is still pocket carried, in a holster, daily. I’ve been through a variety of three eightys, settling on an LCP, but it is only carried when deep concealment is necessary. I carry the short barrel Speer +P 135 grain HP b/c most of the .357 loads are too hot for quick follow up shots.

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