Why Smith & Wesson will never be rid of the internal lock

As a revolver guy, this conversation happens a lot. It usually goes like this:

Dude 1: I really like S&W revolvers, but I hate that stupid IL. It’s pointless and makes the guns look dumb.
Dude 2: Yeah, I hate the IL. Is there anyone who likes it?

The answer of course, is no. No one likes the internal lock. But S&W, who are no longer owned by the company that insisted on the damn thing in the first place, still puts it on their guns. But! Not all their guns. Some guns, like my excellent 640 Pro Series are issued sans lock. So we know that they can make guns without it, and it can’t be that expensive to reprogram the CNC machines making wheelgats, and any expense would likely be wiped out by the deluge of S&W fans whipping out their credit cards to buy no-lock K-frames.

Why then does the lock persist? It’s actually a pretty simple equation, which I’ll detail here: Lawyers + publicly traded company = the lock stays. Regardless of how it would play out in terms of sales, there’s basically no way to convince a publicly traded company that walking back a “safety feature” would play well on the NASDAQ. Even though it would actually increase sales, publicly traded companies like S&W tend to be risk-adverse, and for good reason. They have a duty to deliver returns to their shareholders, which is harder to do when CNN is running hit pieces on “gun manufacturer makes guns less safe.”

Make no mistake, that’s exactly what would happen. If tomorrow morning, S&W said “screw it, ditch the lock” by that evening you’d have Anderson Cooper on CNN talking about how “A major American gun manufacturer has decided today to remove a critical safety feature from their popular line of revolvers, making it easier for children to shoot themselves on accident.” Then the reputable gunblogs would spend the next week writing thoughtful articles about how the IL doesn’t make anyone safer, but provides a crutch for people unwilling to follow the 4 Rules, and then the lunatic fringe gunblogs would write articles about how they’ll still never buy S&W because of the Clinton thing, and the whole exercise would be just exhausting and stupid.

Bottom line, the lock stays. If we lived in a different political climate, I’d probably fight harder to get rid of the IL, but considering the world in which we live, the lock staying is probably in all of our best interest. Because I don’t really want to hear Chris Matthews interview Michael Moore about how the gun lobby wants children to die, do you?


  1. I use mine all the time when the piece is stored; they work and you cannot leave them somewhere, like removable locks. One or 100 S&W revolvers, all it takes is one key. If there were a couple dozen different keys out there, it would be a pain in the . . . . Sure I could live without them, then I would put trigger locks on when I stored them. The bottom line is this: as long a humankind exists, there will be something that needs to be improved one way or another. I agree completely, we do not want to provide headline material to those who would prefer to see us unarmed.

  2. Do we have CNN coverage of Smith and Wesson removing the safety on the Shield? It’s, literally, the exact same situation.

    “Smith and Wesson removes safety from popular line of guns.”

    1. Not exactly.

      The Shield has two safeties besides the external-a trigger safety,and a firing pin block.

      Revolvers have neither, directly speaking-which means as Caleb stated, the only safety in a classic sense IS the external lock.Remove that, and youve just handed a PR victory to Al Sharpton,#blacklivesmatter, and Moms Against America .

      Remember where they’re based-Massachusetts. Its not the freedom loving territory it was back in 1876.The CEO doesnt want to drive through a line of picketers any more then the shareholders want to see them.

      1. Most of their modern revolvers have transfer bar safeties along with heavy double-action trigger pulls. On the whole, I’d say that these are equivalent to firing pin block safeties and multi-part trigger safeties.

        In reality, the internal lock is nothing more than a manual safety with no permanently attached external switch. In reality, I don’t see that it does much of anything to prevent unauthorized access or use. It’s certainly not going to stop a thief — all he has to do is buy a new key — they’re not expensive, and they’re extremely easy to get.

        What’s to stop a gun thief, or even little Jimmy, from using a Visa/MC gift card (like the one Jimmy got from his Grandmother for Christmas) to order one online for about 5 bucks?

        In the end, it’s not a real safety feature: It’s just one more part that can fail, while giving the uninformed false peace of mind, and it only came about because the people running S&W lack the testicular fortitude required to stand up to leftist whackos who don’t even buy their products.

    2. Actually, I saw a piece on…MSNBC about that? Didn’t really catch fire though, because the Shield is a relatively unknown product in the mainstream mindset. S&W, on the other hand, is practically synonymous with “revolver” in the mainstream.

  3. Are the people who listen to Chris Mathews and Billionaires Against Armed Proles really buying enough S&W products to make a difference if they ditch the lock and get called evil on CNN?

    1. No, but this isn’t a numbers calculation in terms of revenue, it’s about hearts/minds and public image. I’m not worried about Moms Demand Hot Action Protesting, I’m worried about the way something like this plays if someone who is seen to be a “moderate, reasonable dude” like Anderson Cooper or Bill O’Reilly gets their hands on it.

      Maybe I’m just paranoid, I just don’t see how deleting the lock would play in our favor. Tomorrow though I’ll outline a strategy on how they could get rid of it without actually getting rid of it.

      1. I’m stealing that and editing it to Moms Demand (HOT) Action.

        Should I credit you every time I use it?

  4. I wonder if they slowly just make them disappear, no big release, just stop putting it on the Classic series first(I don’t know if the classic series has them or not, I’m only assuming) and move from there.

  5. Hair splitting time: It’s really not a safety anymore than a padlock or lock box is a safety. It’s an access denial device. Since S&W and most every other reputable firearm manufacturer ship their products with a padlock, the internal lock is superfluous. Were a user to remove the IL, as allowed by some competition governing bodies, and then defend oneself with it, a person of reason shouldn’t find fault with a gun that had an impediment towards proper functioning removed. To argue otherwise would be akin to saying, “Yes, he intended to shoot the assailant but he took the gun out of the pistol safe first! That demonstrates his bloodlust!” [However, we know that may DA’s are not people of reason.]

    In the end, I always assumed the ‘Hillary Hole’ was left there in order to sell guns in restrictive states that require such things.

  6. Even if they remove the lock, they still won’t go back to the integral firing pin on the hammer design so my gun hipster rage will still burn.

  7. Smith has already started to cross the bridge with removing the lock. You can get the 442 and 340 without the lock, where as previously you couldn’t get any without it. So why not just gradually phase it out completely? Yea I understand the lawyers at Smith would balk and say they’re opening themselves up to lawsuits and such.

    Ruger even added a lock to some of their single actions and the early LCRs a few years ago, but it was hidden under the grips so you couldn’t see it. As far as I know Ruger dropped their lock about a quickly as they added it. No one in the Media cried that Ruger was removing a “safety device” and how Ruger was endangering children.

    If Ruger can do it, Smith can do it.

  8. 1 With,
    Unfortunately, logic and reason don’t show up very often in courtrooms. Lawyers will always lie to win.
    Case in point: Luis Alvarez, Miami PD, shot and killed a known felon who was drawing a gun. The killing caused a riot, and the State Attorney needed a scapegoat (sound familiar?), so Alvarez was indicted for murder.
    One of the arguments the State Attorney made in court was that Alvarez’s S&W Model 64 had two coils removed from the trigger spring (a factory-approved mod to improve the trigger), and that was done to increase the “firepower” of the six-shot revolver (even though it slowed down the trigger return). They even had a gun “expert” testify to that. (Every business has its whores.) Also, the non-factory grips on his revolver showed that Alvarez was a trigger-happy cowboy.
    Alvarez had his union behind him (would you?), and they helped him retain one of the best defense attorneys in the country, who got him acquitted. You or I couldn’t afford to even talk to the guy.
    By the way, the State Attorney in question was Janet Reno.
    What could a malicious prosecutor do to you if you removed the internal safety? That’s why my carry pistols are all factory stock.

  9. After the IL engaged on my Model 310 shooting some hot 200gr 10mm loads, and S&W told me that could never happen, I removed the lock and replaced it with a plug I bought from a forum member on S&W own forum, never looked back, the “plug” was a perfect fit in both form and functionality.

  10. S&W is one of the most risk adverse companies in the business. They won’t even sell replacement barrels for the M&P!!

  11. I’d probably agree except they already offer revolvers without locks after going all-IL. They can dual list them like the J-frames, which didn’t cause a great flurry of media interest.

    Free the N-frames!

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