Revolvers do break

The two loudest sounds when shooting are:

  • A bang when expect a click
  • A click when you expect a bang

A click when you expect a bang with centerfire revolvers often means that tools will be involved in fixing the problem. An example is a broken hammer nose on older Smith & Wesson revolvers. Until the 1990s, these revolvers had the ‘firing pin’ integral with the hammer. S&W refers to this part as the ‘hammer nose.’ If it breaks, nothing short of replacing it will make the revolver fire.

Two steel J Frame revolvers are compared in this picture. The tip of the hammer nose circled in red has broken off. It will require replacement before the snub will be functional again.

broken hammer nose edit crop

S&W changed the design of its revolvers before the Turn of the Century. The firing pin was moved to the frame from the hammer. But there are millions of older S&W revolvers that have the hammer nose design. Issues have arisen in the past because S&W has not manufactured the part in many years. They were available on the used part market but the supply was spotty. There are now two sources for newly manufactured J Frame hammer noses.

Power Custom

Jack First Gun Parts

This part is best installed by a qualified gunsmith. It may require minor fitting. The hammer nose rivet that holds it in place may also need to be replaced.

The Model 36 with the broken hammer nose was manufactured sometime before 1975. It has been through considerable live fire and dry practice. When using an older gun, it’s a good idea to inspect them on a regular basis to see if any parts have broken. The hammer nose in particular will not cause an obvious change in function if it breaks but the gun will not fire.

4 responses

  1. I have a 4″ 629 that I carried occasionally in a summer comfort holster. One day I pulled it out of the safe for some range work and in the course of clearing it noticed that the hammer spur was broken. I was shocked because the last time I had taken it to the range it had performed flawlessly! I concluded that the spur must have failed on the last shot of my session. The fact that it was my carry gun that day was pretty sobering. I was also a little ashamed that I hadn’t noticed the absence during my cleaning job. Needless the say I now check that item whenever a wheel gun comes out or goes into the safe. Machines break and Murphy swings a pretty wide loop! Thanks for a good reminder.

    1. I did the exact same thing with my model 36. Did some dry fire, loaded it up, went to the range and the first trigger press got a click. You can be damn sure I check the hammer nose after every live and dry fire session now.

  2. The roll-pin securing the firing pin to the hammer on older series S & Ws is a culprit in unnoticed failures. It sometimes fails after thousands of dry-fire practice cycles that avid target shooters do as an everyday part of training for their sport. It is often first noticed as that loud ‘Ka-lick’ noise, instead of the first shot of that big match.
    Do you keep a spare roll-pin in your match gear bag?

    1. In addition, a punch, a BB, and a flat piece of metal will be required.

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