A Tale Of a New Gun and Its Two Trips Back To Smith and Wesson

By Al Margheim

 

Last Updated September 07, 2008

 

 

I recently purchased a brand-new Smith and Wesson Model 340SC .357 revolver from a local gun store. Unfortunately, this premium revolver was defective right out-of-the-box. Two problems surfaced during my first session at the range:

 

  1. Twenty percent of the time, the trigger did not return to the forward position after firing (defective trigger recovery).
  2. When you pulled the trigger vigorously, the back of the trigger would hit the frame, denting and scratching the frame.

 

The second problem was merely irritating, but the first problem was completely unacceptable.

 

I returned the gun to the dealer and they shipped the gun to Smith and Wesson for repair. Ten days later, I had the gun back, looking like new. It was several days before I was able to get to the range to double-check the work and when I did the trigger seemed to operate correctly. Unfortunately, they hadn’t fixed the cause of the frame scratching. After my second range session with the gun, the trigger had scratched/dented the frame again.

 

Curious about why the trigger was scratching the frame, I examined it closely and noticed that the trigger was sitting cock-eyed in the frame, slanting to the right side of the trigger guard. Holding the gun perpendicular to the floor, the trigger should have also been perpendicular to the floor, too, but it was at an 80-degree angle instead. In other words, as trigger dropped from the opening in the frame to the bottom of the trigger guard, the trigger slanted to the right, until the right side of the trigger was almost even with the edge of the trigger guard.

 

I called Smith and Wesson and spoke to Mel, one of their customer service agents. He told me to ship the gun directly back to them and they would take care of it. I enclosed a letter with the gun, describing the problems with the trigger. I also expressed my frustration at having to send the gun back for a second time.

 

The day the gun was delivered to Smith and Wesson, I called Mel to find out what he thought about the trigger problem. He proceeded to tell me that:

 

  1. He didn’t think the trigger was hitting the frame
  2. The scratch in the frame had probably been there since the gun was made (a mind-boggling statement considering that someone in their repair department had polished the gun to remove the scratch the first time the gun was returned to them)
  3. Most customers wouldn’t even notice the scratch, so why should I care about it.
  4. There was nothing wrong with the way the trigger was slanted…it was well within factory specifications.

 

Now, maybe many customers wouldn’t notice, but I’ll bet a lot of other customers would. I’ve been buying Smith and Wessons for thirty years and none of the other dozen S&W handguns that I’ve bought had triggers that looked like they were part of a cap-pistol.

 

Since Mel didn’t seem to be taking the problems with my gun seriously, I asked to speak with the manager of the Customer Service department. He listened politely while I explained the situation. Again, I expressed my frustration at having to send the gun back to them twice for repair He told me that their department hadn’t had much experience with the Scandium frame guns yet, and he would talk to one of the design engineers to get the story on the trigger.

 

About five days later, Federal Express delivered the gun to my house. I eagerly removed it from the case and gave it a good look. The frame had been polished again, but the trigger still slanted down to the right. Wondering if they had at least fixed the cause of the frame scratching, I took the gun to the range and was pleased to confirm that it was no longer scratching the frame.  However, to my great dismay, I also discovered that someone had done a little “extra” work to the gun and had screwed up the letters stamped on the barrel.

 

Fortunately, before I returned the revolver to Smith and Wesson’s Customer Service department the first time, I took some pictures for an article that I was planning on writing, so I can show you exactly what they did.

 

The picture below was taken before the gun was returned to Smith and Wesson the first time.

 

 

 

Note the “NO LESS THAN 120 GR BULLET” letters stamped at the bottom of the barrel. They are reasonably legible.

 

 

Below is a picture of the barrel taken after the gun was returned from S&W the second time. Compare the lettering on the “NO LESS THAN 120 GR BULLET” text.

 

 

 

Somebody in Smith and Wesson’s repair department re-stamped the minimum bullet weight message and did such a poor job that it is barely readable.

 

How did this happen?  I mean, they were supposed to repair the trigger, not the barrel. I re-read the work-order that was returned with the gun and verified that it made no mention of anyone re-stamping the lettering on the barrel.

 

I’m hoping the manager of Smith’s customer service department will be able to explain.

 

Considering the public-relations problems that Smith and Wesson has had the past few years and that large numbers of American shooters still hesitate to buy Smith and Wesson handguns, you might think that the company would make an extra effort to treat its customers right and to try to generate some good will. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case.

 

If you’ve had a similar experience with Smith and Wesson’s repair department, please email me the details at almargheim@hotmail.com.

 

2008 Update: I should have updated this page long ago, but I'm happy to report that the dealer I purchased the 340SC from exchanged it for a new 340SC that had none of the problems the first revolver had.

 

I have to say that I'm very happy with second 340SC. It is a great pocket gun that shoots very well with moderate .38 loads. I read many gun magazines and wonder why so many gun writers criticize the 340SC for its hefty recoil with .357 loads instead of singing its praises as an extremely packable, durable .38. I admit that I've fired only five .357 loads in my 340SC, but I bought it knowing that I was going to use it only with moderate .38 loads and +P .38 loads.

 

One of the reasons I chose the 340SC over other pocket pistols is because I figured that the 340SC should last a lifetime of regular practice with .38s. (For what its worth, one of the guys at S&W told me the 340SC was designed to shoot 5000 full power .357 loads before needing a tune up.)

 

Oh, I spoke with the manager of S&W's customer service department about the lettering on the barrel. He said that he couldn't explain why the lettering had been redone but he did say that the lettering isn't stamped on the barrel, it is applied with a laser.

 

Al Margheim

June 1, 2003

Last updated September 7, 2008