Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Don't Try to Fix SW380 or SW9

(Updated April 2011)
Regarding the ill-fated Sigma compacts with the pinch-release mags . . .
There are other lines of various SW "Sigma" designs still produced;
I don't know about them, just the two models discontinued in 2001.

Around 1995, Smith introduced Sigma Compacts sw380/sw9m, mainly as backup
guns for law enforcement. .I hope LEO is rid of them by now, but they show
up in at least one list of approved backup/off-duty guns.
I hope there was no death or serious wound resulting from failures to fire.

They were cheap, small, and light (14oz empty), with no protruding features,
except the prominent front corners. They were striker guns, like Glock, and
the operation was too similar; they lost a patent suit by Glock.

I bought a used SW380 at a gun show, knowing little except that it was small,
light, easy to rack for my wife, and a name brand. .It has been a major waste
of time to try to make it work, and it's another serious blot on any reputation
Smith still has. [see "The Dark Side of Smith & Wesson" by Chuck Hawks,
Dec 2008. www.chuckhawks.com/smith-wesson_dark.htm]

When I installed a "lighter" Wolf target spring, it was much longer than
the spring that was in my used sw380. This is part of the light-strike problem.
But even with the Wolf spring, and extensive careful work, it will not fire
more than three in six rounds, even after shaving firing pin surfaces that
might drag on the interlock spool, and even after testing without the spool.

I dealt with every conceivable factor in battery, mechanisms, slam-fire block,
and alignments; and I took material off a dozen surfaces, even the impact nose.
I even used a punch to deform a cartridge centering wall to better align primers
with the firing pin.

Smith now has the 380 manual on their website, but they still want you to send
the gun in for striker part replacement. The striker is very light, so if the
assembly is not right, the impact is light. I think the problem is that the
striker, which combines a hammer and firing pin function, is too light, even
without and dirt, grease, or excess drag.

The slide is cast or MIM soft alloy, with a steel breach face cast or pressed
into the soft slide. What I read is that some have been good guns, and others
junk, like mine.
I would not pay ten cents for another one, since it might not fire when needed.
And I am very reluctant to buy another used gun at a gun show, or any Smith.

1 comment:

  1. I paid $200 for a nearly new SW380, wow, I could tell there was less then 200 rounds through it! I didnt consider why there was so few threw it and it was made back pre 2000's. BIG mistake, I emailed S&W about an hour ago, so 12:45am central time. I expect no real help from the makers of this pistol, and feel as if I was rob $200, and given a junk piece of metal as a paper weight, a $200 freaking paper weight! If it wasnt illegal, I would leave it in my yard growing a flower from the barrel.


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