S&W 617 Revolver Restoration – From Grimy to Shiny

| November 3, 2023 | 0 Comments

I coach a youth shooting team and we have a S&W 617 22LR revolver that runs great, but it’s never really had much of a shine since we got it late last year. To make matters worse, it’s had a active season this past year so it’s seen better days.

Here’s a few pics of the before:


Notice massive swirl marks – it came to us from guns.com like that, and the finish was more like bead blasted – not shiny at all.

Here’s a good look at the cylinder, and keep in mind this as after a cleaning and not much use since this past July:

Needless to say it was grimy, and when we’d load it you’d have to exert force to get the rounds to seat – then fight a bit to get them to eject.

Last night I couldn’t take it anymore and a combo of my ADD and OCD got the better of me so I just started cleaning it randomly when I was supposed to do other things.

Here’s the after results:


It was so shiny it was starting to look closer to my Colt Python than a modern-day S&W


One of the biggest improvements was the barrel crown and cylinder:


Yes, I am now noticing I missed a few spots in these pics, but under a borescope the barrel and all 10 cylnder chambers were 100% carbon free. I spent so much effort on that – way more than I should have – that I had to stop. I took a couple quick pics then went about my business again.

The big takeaway here is that this revolver doesn’t have to look as terrible as S&W ships them. With a little effort with some

How I Cleaned It

A HUGE shout out to people here who mentioned in other posts what they used for cleaning as that helped me a bunch. Here’s the short list:

For the insides of the barrel and cylinder, I used a copper brush with Hoppes No 9 & JB Bore Paste – about 150 strokes per hole (so * 11) plus about another 300 strokes on spots that the borescope showed weren’t 100% spotless. And no, this won’t hurt anything. I’m a precision 22LR rifle shooter out to 400 yards, and this type of cleaning is necessary to get it perfect. And yes, I’ve tried Iosso, Patchout (foam and regular – with and without Accelerator for 24 hours), Boretech Eliminator, Boretech Rimfire, Butches Bore Shine, Ballistol, Boretech Camelon Gel, and many, many more. Watch Erik Cortina’s “Believe the Target” YouTube channel where he interviews hall of fame benchrest shooters, world champions, etc… – most of those who are the best get in there and scrub to perfection with a brass or copper brush and paste of some sort – often times using a drill.

I cut Clenzoil Field & Range Saturated Gun Oil Wipes and used them as patches to clean out the paste out of the chambers and barrel.

For the cylinder exit, crown and a few other spots I used the BIRCHWOOD CASEY Lead Remover & Polishing Cloth.

I lubed the hell out of it with Hoppe’s HBL4 Black Precision Gun Oil, but I cleaned the grips with hot water to avoid having them deteriorate from chemicals.

Most of the shine was thanks to some elbow grease with Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish and Cleaner Paste. Towards the end I did some parts with my Griots mini orbital polisher, but that makes a bigger mess, and I was just getting tired. More than half was done by hand with about 7 – 10 minutes of effort per section using a terrycloth towel.

I follow that up with a Mayflower Products Pro Size Polishing Cleaning Cloth. This is great for spot cleaning and maintenance cleaning.

My final touch was with Invisible Glass to make the oils less slimy and give it a good shine.


From 10 yards offhand, I cranked out 10 shots to confirm she was still working. 5 in SA (in the 1″ ring) and 5 in DA (the 5 in the outer ring from 10 yards away on to this 2″ target.

I’m not happy with the shots outside of the 1″, but I wasn’t supposed to be at the range, so I rushed it and it showed. However, I confirmed nothing was broken so that was good.

Tricky Ejection


I don’t know if this is just a feature of this gun having tight chambers on the cylinder, or if we just have a really crappy ejector rod on this copy. However, I still had to fight to get the ejector rod to move, but then again, the brass does expand when its shot. With live ammo they drop in without effort and eject like butter.

The rod moves smoothly but feels terrible to me considering I’m used to my Manurhin MR73 Sport & Colt Python ejector rods being A LOT smoother. Then again, they cost a bit more. However, even my cheap S&W Bodyguard 38 Special has a lot smoother rod than this one.

I’m curious if existing 617 owners – especially 617-6 series owners – have this issue.

Guest Post By: Ron Martinsen

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