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I’ve just returned from gunsmith Dave Sunturri, who confirms that the internal lock on my Smith & Wesson Performance Center 686 failed, causing the gun to lock up. Click here for the video of the actual failure, as it happened. Make the jump for another video describing the problem.

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  1. Wow. That’s the first lock failure that I have heard of on a full-size gun. No locks for me now on any revolvers, large or small.

  2. I’ve heard of lock-ups on full-size pistols, but to my knowledge they were .44-Magnums that were shooting ultra-hot loads. I’ve never heard of a .357 locking up, and certainly would never have imagined it locking up while shooting .38SPL’s.

  3. Patrick,

    I thought I was firing 38s. MY bad. I’d forgotten that I’d just switched cartridges for a test. They were Federal .357s. Straight out of the box. Not reloads.

    • Even still – the .44’s were lightweight models with high-pressure loads. I would never have guessed a standard .357 load in a stainless gun would lock it up. Makes me glad I have all (but one) pre-lock S&W models – no locks, and no MIM parts.

  4. Thanks for the follow up on this RF. I thought I noticed the lock tab sticking up on the previous post, but someone else having more knowledge than I seemed to think otherwise. I don’t know a lot about that mechanism. I’ve got 6 ‘lock’ S&W, all magnums, all having held together with even stout reloads, including a 4″ 500.


  5. Hot damn, guess I was wrong about that one. That’s pretty shocking that it was the IL mechanism. Like everyone else, that’s the first time I’ve heard of them locking up in a full size, steel framed gun. Guess there’s a first time for everything.

  6. The question then becomes, what will you do? Send it back to S&W? My guess is they’ll just say something on the order of, “One in a million shot, doc! We’re sure it will never happen again.”

    If I owned the gun, I think my response would be to have the lock disabled. Don’t know if that’s legal/kosher/Marquis of Queensbury rules, but I know I’d never fully trust the gun as is, certainly not in a home defense role. Your thoughts?

    • I’ll be calling Smith tomorrow. Full report to follow. I’m looking into the lock options, if you know what I mean.

    • Legally, having the lock disabled might be something that could be held against you by a dirtbag lawyer (oh, wait, that’s an oxymoron). “This bloodthirsty assassin deliberately disabled the safety device on his gun!” And I don’t know if you can sell the gun to a dealer with the lock disabled.

      But…I don’t know how comfortable I would be carrying a revolver with a safety lock that could fail and get me killed.

      • Dude, that’s not an oxymoron, its a redundancy. If it were an oxy, then dirtbag and lawyer would be opposites. Instead they are indistinguisable from each other.

    • I think you leave yourself open to liability, or the gunsmith that disables any factory installed “SAFETY” device.

  7. Disabling the lock can be justified due to it’s history, but it can be one more thing to fight in court and give you a black eye in the eyes of the jury. Sell it and buy a used pre lock version or a new one without.

  8. One of the first of these I ever heard of was on an L-frame 5 shot .44 Special, can’t remember the number.

    Can’t find an active link now, the one I had saved is dead.


  9. If you read the owners manual it clearly states to not operate lock with hammer back. Guy in video does not point this out.

  10. I have one of these revolvers no trouble so far onabout 2500 rounds. What did the factory do? Tim Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

  11. I know that it has been several years since this post, but I’d love to hear an update. What did S&W say, and what did you decide to do about the lock? I’m asking because I’m considering a 686, and I’m trying to decide whether I should hold out for a model without the lock (if I can find one), or just get a Ruger. Thanks!

  12. I wish I had found this article earlier. I searched for failures on S&W internal locks but found very little. Eh, maybe I can still trade it for a Ruger.

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