Article submitted by Mark Hatfield.
Another good reason to always test your equipment, never trust anything until it has proven itself.
Today, while working as a Range Safety Officer, late in the day, a couple arrived to test their guns. Both had identical guns, a small five shot revolver, double action only, with a laser. Note that this laser was never used during shooting, only the traditional ‘iron’ sights. As I watched them to assess if they could safely handle their guns and not doing anything stupid, I noticed that the woman seemed to have a failure to fire but perhaps she had not fully loaded the gun, I didn’t know. She mentioned that the gun did not seem to shoot to point of aim and asked me to try it, I did. I fired two shots at twelve yards, one was right on, the other hit far to the left. I thought that the shot off to the left was perhaps me, my inconsistency. She then shot at a paper target which was placed at perhaps five yards distant.
Her group, that is, her cluster of shots, was satisfactory but far to the left of where the gun was aimed. The man seemed to be having problems also, I fired his gun and all my shots hit in the same place, far left, as had happened for the woman. I then shot the womans gun on the paper target and my hits were right on top of hers. I asked one of the other Range Officers to test fire both guns, he had exactly the same results. In addition to that, both guns occasionally failed to fire, that was with new factory ammunition by Winchester.
This model gun has the sleeved two piece barrel. When this design first came on the market, Massad Ayoob compared several of them to their older versions which used the traditional method of barrel construction. In his test, all the newer versions fired groups which were three to four times larger than the older gun, in other words, they were really bad. Supposedly this problem has been corrected, apparently not.
Consider this, one gun might have a ‘fluke’, a manufacturing defect, perhaps an oversight in the making, or someone got careless in construction but…two identical guns, each with the same two identical problems. One of the problems being that this is a gun designed specifically for last ditch self defense, to keep you alive and it doesn’t always go bang when you need it to. Add to that, not being able to put its’ shots where they need to go. Shame on you Smith & Wesson. Someone there needs to be taken out and beaten, or sued.