No Place For Plastic

In my last entry I mentioned mining new veins of stupidity.  I guess there’s no better place to start than my own…

On Saturday I met up with some friends over at Bass-Pro for some time on the pistol range.  When I got back I decided to go ahead and clean the guns right then so I wouldn’t have to worry about it later.  As I was disassembling my S&W 22S I somehow managed to dislodge the entire slide assembly, which (under spring tension) launched itself into the air and landed on the hard tile floor.

It’s not like I wasn’t warned that it could happen:

I’d also had the spring and recoil rod launch themselves before (I ended up having to order a new recoil rod, as I never found the original in that incident).  Still, even being careful and mindful of all the past incidents and warnings, I somehow managed to fumble the damn thing. 

When I picked it up I noticed that the little “cup” that holds the recoil spring was broken.  It’s part of what they call the “slide insert” (#37) and it’s made of plastic.  The slide insert also holds the firing pin, firing pin return spring, and firing pin stop pin (6,7,8).  In other words, it houses the firing pin assembly.  Fortunately, all of these parts are available from Brownells and together only cost $19.42.  Not a horribly costly mistake, I guess, but it’s still annoying that important internal components of a pistol would be made from plastic. 

Speaking of internal components made of plastic, my other annoyance with this gun is the recoil spacer (part #25 in the previous diagram):

It seems to be a weak spot in the design of this gun.  It’s made of nylon and it seems to wear out quickly.  They’re not terribly expensive ($1.69 from Brownells), but it seems like a bad idea to use something so fragile as part of the recoil spring assembly.  I had just replaced the one in this gun before going to the range.  We only put about 50-100 rounds through it and already the new spacer was showing signs of wear.  I don’t have an exact count of the rounds expended with the one I had previously replaced, but I don’t think it was more than 500.

Now there are those who also decry the use of “plastic” (or polymer as the manufacturers prefer) at all, but I’ve found that if done right it’s not a problem (such as the lower frame of the Glocks and Springfield XD’s).  I should also note that my Browing Buckmark uses a plastic recoil spacer, but even after all the times its been fired the spacer looks nearly new (I’m guessing several thousand rounds).

1 Comment

  1. I have one of these too.  It’s a great pistol.  Mine lasted a few more rounds than yours, but a quick call to S&W brought me a new one gratus asap.

    S&W will take care of you, call them up.  (Ask for an extra one).