I'm finally a believer - S&W quality sucks!


rock jock
January 6, 2003, 06:23 PM
I have been dismissing all the claims from those who said S&W revolvers were going downhill in their quality. I wrote it off to bitterness over their sellout agreement, especially since the last new S&W gun I bought in early 2001 (a nice little 638) was great. I have picked up two more Smith's since then, but both used - a 617 and a 586. I figured since my last new gun experience was good, and that this was only a couple of years ago, the guns available today were still upholding the fine tradition of S&W revos. Well, today my like-new PC 629 came in. The gun has had about 100 rds through it. Aesthetically, it is very nice. Good weight and ergonomics. Beautiful finish. But that's where the charm ends. The front sight is canted about five degrees to the left. The base is fine, but it looks as though whoever was putting the dovetailed sight in wasn't paying attention and pushed it over too much with excessive pressure. That ticked me off enough, but after I pulled the trigger, my first thought was "I'm glad I didn't spend another $350 and buy this gun new." My goodness, but that was a bad trigger! I mean, it was possibly the most awful trigger I have ever felt on a revolver. What's worse is that my dealer tried it and said that a guy had brought in his brand new "Jerry Miculek"-version PC 627 last week and it made mine seem smooth in comparison. I will not doubt anymore. And, I have resolved not to buy another used Smith that was made in the last few years, period. This experience has even convinced me to do something I vowed I would never do - buy a Taurus.

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4v50 Gary
January 6, 2003, 06:36 PM
Triggers are enough enough to tune up (though this is no excuse for it not leaving the factory that way) and as for the 5 degree cant, is the barrel straight or the dovetail cut off?

January 6, 2003, 06:46 PM
My 610 and 625 are just fine.

Both needed a trigger and action job but that was it.

My Model 17 is sweet too.

They've changed a few things but only a serious revolver nut could tell the differences.

At the range, they shoot the same for me.

rock jock
January 6, 2003, 06:55 PM
Triggers are enough enough to tune up (though this is no excuse for it not leaving the factory that way) and as for the 5 degree cant, is the barrel straight or the dovetail cut off?
New, this gun goes for $1,000. At that price it is about $300-400 more than the standard 629. They should be able to polish the action and trigger for that. And no, the barrel appears fine. It is the actual front sight that appears to have been bent.

January 6, 2003, 08:08 PM
You bought it 'used'. Do you know it came from the factory that way? Did the previous owner attempt some home smithing on it? Doe it really have only 100 rounds through it?

Unless you are very acquainted with the previous owner and can attest to his trustworthiness and honesty, there exists a possibility that Smith may not be the source of your problems.

January 6, 2003, 08:10 PM
The 629 I just brought home is great. Nice trigger out of the box.

4v50 Gary
January 6, 2003, 08:10 PM
Like I said, there's no excuse for the factory to allow a gun to leave with a trigger like that. At least the front sight is an easy fix. Pop it off (punch and hammer) and press on a new one.

I take things from the perspective that since I can work on most guns, if a gun cheap because it needs a little work, I'm happy as a clam. I bought a used Colt Python for $330 (back around '86) that had a bobbed hammer. Replaced the hammer ($45) and it was as good as new. Also bought a Model 10 S&W dirt cheap. Needs nothing but I'll buy a PPC bbl from Brownells and make a PPC gun out of it (just for fun). My brother bought an old LAPD Model 15 that had the SA feature taken out for a little over $100. I fixed it with a used part.

On the trigger, I suspect that if you did a search at TFL, you may find instructions on how to tune it up yourself. It's not hard to do at all but be sure you get the right size screwdrivers. You don't want to mess up the screws that hold the sideplate on.

January 6, 2003, 08:27 PM
I bought a M19 about 2 years ago brand new. I opened the box at my FFL's with him looking over my shoulder. The cylinder was a different color than the frame, and was scratched. Well, I had waited long enough to get it, so I took it home. When I started cleaning it up I checked it over really well. The timing was off, not unsafe but definately off. The real kicker was the barrel bore was offcenter in the barrel!!!!! It was a FULL .080 " offcenter at the muzzle!!!!! The forcing cone looked like it was cut with a dull uni-bit. The trigger in DA mode was terrible, gritty and heavy. SA trigger was OK. I was disgusted before I even got halfway done cleaning it. I sent it back without a shot through it with a nice letter detailing my issues.

I got it back in about 10 days (not bad!). It had a new tube on it, and looked OK. The forcing cone was pretty obviously hand honed and looked good, and the bore was centered. Timing was PERFECT. The cylinder had been polished and re-blued. As a result it had a Python type of blue to it, deep and pretty, but did not match the rest of the gun at all. The trigger still sucked, and I was told that it was as good as they were going to make it.

Overall I am EXTREMELY dissatisfied with the current S&W quality. NONE that I have looked at in the stores are nearly as well done as the guns of just 10 years ago. I ended up trading the M19 off just to be rid of it, I had a bad taste with it from the minute I started looking at it.

Used S&W? Sure, looking for a couple as we speak. New? No way.

January 6, 2003, 08:46 PM
Never thought I would give up on S&W after they sold. I sure was happy the Brits didn't own it any more & was really ready to buy till I started seeing guns friends got.
http://users.skynet.be/gedi/emoticons4u/mad/1106.gifOpen the door Mr. Ruger , here I come.

January 6, 2003, 09:52 PM
I bought a .44 629 Mountain gun For $599 new in box from dealer last month. I just took it out and started REALLY looking it over. SOB rear sight is canted . Frame is machined off center for rear sight, now I got to take it back to dealer ect. And I thought all this reinforcement and great new quality crap might be for real. Oh well I still got 3 real model 29s.:cuss:

Standing Wolf
January 6, 2003, 10:21 PM
The low quality of Smith & Wesson's new guns is just another reason to buy used. I think the company is so busy cutting costs, it's forgotten it's in the firearms business.

Mike Irwin
January 6, 2003, 10:23 PM
Told everyone I wasn't seeing things...


Mike Irwin, he's Mr. Anti-S&W incarnate. Can't believe a word of what he says! :neener:

January 7, 2003, 07:07 AM
One of the reasons why I look for older models.

Kahr carrier
January 7, 2003, 07:47 AM
Ill second that older S&W is the way to go.:)

Tony Z
January 7, 2003, 09:11 AM
I found that out years ago after I bought my wife the model 22S
for bullseye shooting. That gun now sits unused in the gun safe.
It has been completly rebuilt twice, right now it is a new gun new seriel # with about 200 rounds throught it. Customer service before the agreement was very good though.

Tony Z

January 7, 2003, 10:06 AM
stainless steel, MIM-parts and all. That said, I have to agree the a PC gun shouldn't have gotten out the door like that. I'd be willing to cut some slack were it a standard 629.:)

In any case, you own the gun, so now you have to deal with it. Unlike Taurus, you won't have to beg, cajole, threaten, or argue wth S&W to honor their Lifetime Warranty. If you ask they'll even cover the usery rate on shipping that we're all Fed-UPs with.:mad:

Kentucky Rifle
January 7, 2003, 11:48 AM
I had a new pistol in less than 10 days with a free factory trigger job and everything else just perfect. The crane even closes like it's on roller bearings.


Robert inOregon
January 7, 2003, 12:38 PM
rock jock

These guns are selling new on the street for about $850 and you got the gun for $350 off that price?

I will be more than willing to take that gun off your hands sight unseen and you can get the Taurus. Just tell me where to send the check.

rock jock
January 7, 2003, 01:02 PM
No, I bought it for $660. Not a bad price, but not a steal either.

Robert inOregon
January 7, 2003, 01:46 PM

Tell me where to send the check and FFL.

Start picking out your Tauras!

January 7, 2003, 03:44 PM
What I think is even worse is that the gun in the original post was a performance center gun. Aren't those supposed to be nearly hand built? You are paying a preimum for them afterall, they should at least have a decent trigger on them.

Every manufacturer can turn out a lemon, but I would hope that the Performance Center would catch them before shipping them off.

January 7, 2003, 04:49 PM
Smith & Wesson has had its ups and downs through the years.
Some observations on 30+/- years of Smith & Wesson experience.

- Just because you ordered it and just got delivery of it means that it is this years model. It could very well have been sitting on a shelf at a distributer for some time.

-Just because it wasn't built in the last 3yrs does it make it a diamond or a stinker. In the late '70's when they were owned by Lear-Sigler, they turned out some inferior guns, some with known design problems... specifically the redesigned gas ring on the K-frames. Next owner went back to old design, but with a price increase.

The bent sight that was mentioned was probably due to being dropped after leaving the factory, perhaps in shipping. Too, a new trainee-employee may have whacked it too!!

-Every gun is its own exception to the rule. I hold a National record in PPC shot with a 2-1/2" 686. I looked at over 300 individual guns before I procurred this one. I still had to do some tuning to the action and replaced the front sight blade to get it "RIGHT". Mass produced anything is going to exhibit variations.

-My Mod 14 6" has finished me 2nd in the Distinguished Match at the Nationals twice. I ordered it new, and after shooting/cleaning and bench testing it I found that it was throwing flyers, due to helical tool marks in a single charge hole (chamber) where the reamer picked up a chip. I sent it back to Smith, and they replaced the cylinder, and at my request, replaced both the front and rear sight blades with taller ones...charge ? $0.00 including return shipping. It now is the single most accurate revolver I own, (have Several !)

Like all other firearm manufactureres, a bad one gets out the door every so often.

Do I like the new MIM versions ? NO !!!
I have a 2001 mod 617 that took about 5 hours to get the trigger tolerable. However now, it is the nicest "squirrel rifle" I own. Carry it everywhere when I'm hunting, and when not, its in my Jeep.

Give them a chance to make it right, and usually they will. If not, trade it and give some else a whack at it. I'm always looking for another one to "tinker" with, but in my experience they still make the nicest revolvers. If you want STRONG, get a Ruger or Freedom arms. But still expect to do a little customizing to get what you "WANT".

January 7, 2003, 04:59 PM
I agree with goose, send it to the factory, a young man who works at a local shop here buys worn out smiths and for very little money, sometimes free, he says they send him back a like new gun. So I would think a recent pc gun they would stand behind it. If not post it here it works like another nail in the coffin for S&W. And put me next on the list to buy it, I don't have a pc gun but I'd like one....tom

rock jock
January 7, 2003, 05:11 PM
Some very good replies and advice. As always, I can count on the folks here to be levelheaded. I probably was a little emotional in my initial post - S&W does in fact make some good guns, but to have not just one, but two relatively new PC guns sitting in my dealer's shop to have trigger work is unacceptable. Yes, the PC shop is supposed to be better. When you pay a premium for a hand fitted gun, you expect it to reflect a higher level of quality. I probably should send the gun to S&W and ask them to make it right, but how confident can I be that they will do so, especially after it came out of their factory this way? No, I will see how my dealer does on his gunsmithing, and if the sight bothers me too much, I'll send it to S&W or buy a new one myself.

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