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Thread: S&W K-22 problem (Keyholing)

  1. #1
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    Default S&W K-22 problem (Keyholing)

    I have a 1960's K-22, 6 1/2 inch, pinned and recessed. I bought it a year or two ago and haven't had the time to figure out what the problem is. Ever since I've had it, it shoots all over the place (mostly on paper at 50ft with an NRA 50ft pistol target) with several keyholes. I've tried several different types/brands of ammo as well as the original thorough cleaning it got when first purchased. The gun is in very good shape or it would have gone right back to the shop. Just so you know it's not me, I can keep them all in the black with my basic Ruger MKII with fixed sights and a shorter barrel.

    Is it possible to "shoot out" a .22 rimfire built on a K frame? As .22's go it seems pretty overbuilt.

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    I would inspect the crown with a magnifying glass and slug the barrel and each chamber of the cylinder for starters.
    I would also try shooting a group using the same cylinder, do this for all 6 shots. It might tell you something. How is the forcing cone?
    But, S&W offers great warranty service and they may repair it for free. Have you contacted them?
    Tennessee

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    Wink

    Check your rifling in the bore, it may be so leaded that any bullets that you shoot won"t stabilize.
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    I've tried all of the above except slugging the barrel/chambers.

    Bore is good (and cleaned thoroughly. Forcing cone looks good. Crown is perfect. Like I said, the revolver looks 98+%, but shoots <10%.

    Thanks for the replies.

    Mike

  5. #5

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    Sounds like your barrel might be out of tolerance due either to wear or original manufacturing defect. Use a bright bore light to look extremely closely at the rifling. I suspect enough wear to prevent good engagement of the lands with the bullet. This problem will show up mostly at the breech end. If that's the case, S&W will probably rebarrel it without charge. You bought the gun used and maybe the keyhole problem is the reason the previous owner sold it. When a private owner sells a handgun it is usually because they no longer trust it even though they usually have another story.

  6. #6

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    I just thought of one more piece of advice to confirm barrel wear. Carefully remove a .22 bullet from a cartridge with pliers and swing out the cylinder of the gun. Then, holding the gun barrel down, drop the bullet into the breech end to see how far it will go before engaging the rifling. If it travels more than a few mm, you have confirmed the problem. If the bullet gets stuck, you can push it out muzzle to breech with a cleaning rod. I think it is possible to shoot out a .22 built on a K frame because it is only the rifling on the inside of the barrel that is really important regardless of any beef on the outside. It is important to have good alignment of the forcing cone to the cylinder chambers to prevent bullet jump and extra wear.

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    Default !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Is this a 22 mag? It is rifling or the lack of it that causes a gun to key hole. I suppose badly over sized throats could do it also. How does a round fit into the cylinder from the front end. This should be snug enough to shave off the wax lube. Also are you using copper plated or jacketed ammo. Try just wax lubed lead, 40 grain standard velocity ammo, that may help. I've never seen a S&W revolver, regardless of caliber, do this except a gun that was severely leaded up. You can still see "good" rifling even when it is severely leaded up. Use a bronze brush and scrub and look for tiny lead particles.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    It's a 22 LR. I don't think they made K-22's in 22 WMR.

    I will scrub it with the bronze brush again. I tried Sweet's 7.62 and Hoppe's Copper Solvent. I've used CCI Mini Mags, Federal Walmart special copper washed stuff, and even some 1960's vintage Remington stuff. The plain lead bullets worked the best but after a few cylinders full, she was back to the old tricks.

    S&W said that the warranty doesn't cover the old revolvers even though mine is just barely older than me (it's late 60's manufacture). They basically said "good luck finding parts 'cause we don't have them anymore..".

    We'll see.

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    I have a half dozen S&W revolvers that were made in the 1960's including a K frame model 48 22 mag and the parts are the same as all the guns from 1950's to 1990's. Oh, there are different barrels shapes and length and there are fixed sights and adjustable there are pinned barrels and screwed, but if it needed a barrel one could be fitted. And there is a huge supply of older S&W parts available, if it needed parts.

    I've never seeen any S&W revolver barrel shot out and I can't believe a 22 could be shot out. If this gun is in good condition and clean it will shoot. If it is out of time or just loose because of wear or abuse and the cylinder and forcing cone do not line up it would not shoot but would likely spit lead in all directions.

    The K frame 22's made in the 1960's were model 18 shorter, lighter barrels, ramp sight, or model 17 longer, heavy barrel, partridge sight, (target model) same adjustable rear. Before 1957 they did not have a model number stamped on them. If the serial number has a "K" prefix, it is a K-22. The last K serial number was K999,999 made in 1970. Your gun likely has a -2 suffix (1961) of possibly a -3 (1967).

    These are very nice guns and to find one with a problem is very rare. They are highly sought after and in fine shape they seem to carry high price tags. Good luck with this and I hope you find the culprit.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    I can't help but think that someone somewhere maybe rebarreled your revolver with a .22 mag barrel. Not sure if it would even fit but I would slug the barrel and see what it measures.
    I believe the .22 mag barrels were slightly larger than the standard .22 barrels. Only reason I have a suspicion about this is every time I owned a revolver built to handle both .22 LR and .22 mags I could never get decent accuracy with the .22 LR's.
    Either that are they tried lapping the barrel and screwed it up.
    Tennessee

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    It's a 22 LR. I don't think they made K-22's in 22 WMR.
    Here's a recent one.
    http://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.as...n%20K-22%20mag
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Mine reads "1Kxxxx" and it is a 17-3. It reads ".22 Long Rifle Ctg." right on the barrel, so it shouldn't be a .22 mag replacement barrel.

    It does have a little leading just above the forcing cone (in the forward area under the topstrap).

    Timing maybe?

    Another thorough cleaning and now I need to get back to the range....

  13. #13

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    My 17 never leaded there, even with hundreds of rounds in a session. So that might be a clue. But unless it was really peeling a lot of lead, I can't reconcile that with your keyholes. To me keyholes sounds more like problems at the muzzle end of the barrel- either worn or completely filled rifling or a damaged crown. I'ts not inconceivable to me that the previous owner did some muzzle damage with poor cleaning practices.

    Like most other folks, I found my 17 to be much more accurate than I could manage consistently. When my eyes were young, it would consistently hit empty 12 gauge shells tipped on end with only the brass showing at 25 feet. All day long till my arms gave out. On long sessions it only required cylinder cleaning now and then when extraction got tough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    Mine reads "1Kxxxx" and it is a 17-3. It reads ".22 Long Rifle Ctg." right on the barrel, so it shouldn't be a .22 mag replacement barrel.

    It does have a little leading just above the forcing cone (in the forward area under the topstrap).

    Timing maybe?

    Another thorough cleaning and now I need to get back to the range....
    Well, the only thing we know for sure is that it wasn't made in the 60's. The lead build up on the top strap just behind the barrel indicates it may be shaving lead as the bullet tries to enter the barrel forcing cone. Could be a factory defect with not enough cone to the barrel lead. You will need to check the alignment between the barrel and cylinder. Running a tight fitting patch down the barrel with the cylinder closed will indicate if there is drag or snag as the patch enters the cylinder, this would be bad.

    Does the cylinder lock up tight at each stop? This was a good era for S&W and few problems were encountered with their revolvers then. When you get it going again shoot about ten shots from the same cylinder chamber, then check target and barrel cone and top strap. Do this with each chamber until you find the culprit, it is probably just one hole if it is misalignment.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Well, the only thing we know for sure is that it wasn't made in the 60's. The lead build up on the top strap just behind the barrel indicates it may be shaving lead as the bullet tries to enter the barrel forcing cone. Could be a factory defect with not enough cone to the barrel lead. You will need to check the alignment between the barrel and cylinder. Running a tight fitting patch down the barrel with the cylinder closed will indicate if there is drag or snag as the patch enters the cylinder, this would be bad.

    Does the cylinder lock up tight at each stop? This was a good era for S&W and few problems were encountered with their revolvers then. When you get it going again shoot about ten shots from the same cylinder chamber, then check target and barrel cone and top strap. Do this with each chamber until you find the culprit, it is probably just one hole if it is misalignment.

    When I contacted S&W they were the ones who said it was made in the 60's after they got the serial number from me. I have called back several times on this and they have all said the same thing.

    The muzzle looks very clean and all edges are nice and sharp.

    I tried the tight patch and all chambers feel like they mate up smoothly.

    I will try the 10 shots per chamber test.

    Thanks again.

    Mike

  16. #16

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    I had much the same problem with a new 17-5 I purchased a few years ago for some bulles eye shooting and was very upset with the quality of the rev. and keyholing and poor grouping . The major fault was the throating and after some careful work on it the keyholing stopped . I worked the action over and polished the trigger groves off and shoot double action only for slow and timed fire and it is a fine piece to use now . It only likes one cartrige brand Fedral with the blue and white box High speed and is good for 10 rings at the 50 foot range.

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