During Episode 20 of Shooting The Breeze, I talked about having difficulties with the magazines for my Smith & Wesson M&P. When most people thing about having issues with magazines, the first thing that comes to mind is a bad spring or perhaps a broken follower.
My issue had nothing to do with the internals of the magazines. As you can see from the photo above, my woe comes in the form of surface rust. The photo makes it look a little worse than it is but, trust me, it is getting bad.
I first noticed the surface rust a couple of months ago after shooting a USPSA Match. At the time I blamed myself and chalked it up as user error. It isn’t uncommon to drop magazines in the middle of a stage. I just assumed they got a little wet or dirty and I did a poor job of wiping them off before putting them away.
In an attempt to remedy the situation, I spent extra time with my magazines while cleaning my guns. I brought out a plastic bristle brush, which was fairly rigid, and scrubbed the surface rust down with some Hoppe’s No 9 solvent. Once clean and dry, I applied some gun oil directly to the magazines and wiped it down with a rag.
The cleaning and oiling seemed to slow the rust down but not stop it. I wanted to simply sand out the rust but was concerned that I would be left with bare metal that would require some sort of re-finishing. I set the idea aside and planned to revisit it once the USPSA season was completed.
A few matches went by and the problem was slowly but surely getting worse. After each range session I would wipe down the magazines and apply a little oil to protect the metal. When the USPSA season ended, I began doing more dry fire practice to keep in shape for next season. Each practice session put a rusty magazine in my hand and I felt myself growing more annoyed.
The final straw was attending an informal shoot this past weekend. After the shoot, I handed my M&P and a loaded magazine to a friend to try. He took one look at the magazine and said something to the effect of “wow, I can’t believe you have this much rust on here”.
That comment was pretty much the breaking point and got me worked up enough to take action. I was unable to call Smith & Wesson the following day (Monday, a business day) and recording the gun podcast allowed me to stew on it even longer.
On Tuesday I picked up the phone and made the call to Smith & Wesson Customer Service. I wasn’t sure what I wanted exactly. I didn’t really expect them to replace the magazines but I at least wanted them to tell me what to re-finish the magazines with after I sanded out the surface rust.
When my daughter went down for a nap and my house was otherwise quiet, I picked up the phone and called Smith & Wesson Customer Service. I got the usual automated answering service prompting me to key in a number to re-direct my call. Since warranty or support services weren’t an option, I stayed on the line for assistance (the the automated message prompted me to do this). A woman answered the phone and asked the nature of the call. Before I could complete my sentence, I was transferred and put on hold.
While I can appreciate the efficiency of getting my call directed to the appropriate department, I thought it was rather rude. I was on hold for roughly fifteen minutes before it was my turn in the customer queue. A man named Joe answered the phone (According to my personal customer service logs, I spoke with Joe about my previous M&P problem). Joe seemed like he was in a rush to get me off the phone and move on to the next customer, but at no point was he rude about it.
To my surprise, Joe told me to send in the magazines one at a time (he assumed this was my only pistol and wanted to make sure I had at least one magazine to keep the gun operable). When I told him that I could be without magazines for a while, he said that sending in all three problematic magazines would not be a problem and they would simply replace them.
I got off the phone and used the Smith & Wesson Website to request a Warranty Return. I have yet to receive that pre-paid shipping label and I don’t plan on waiting for it much longer. Worse case scenario it will cost me $6.00 to send magazines via USPSA Priority Mail.
At this point, the story is pretty much over until I get the magazines back. When the replacements arrive, I’ll be sure to post a follow up.
You may be wondering, though, what caused the rust in the first place? To be honest, I really have no idea. My Smith & Wesson M&P is stored in the same manner as my other guns and they do not have a speck of rust anywhere on them.
Making an educated guess, I would imaging that the back of the magazine was wearing inside the polymer frame. If you look closely at the photos, you can see what looks like a worn brushed finish, running from top to bottom. My best guess is that plenty of reloads during dry-fire and USPSA Matches wore through the finish and rust began to develop.