Ah the good old days at Smith and Wesson


Master Blaster
August 1, 2008, 08:56 AM
Ah the good old days before MIM, and sideplate locks, when there were real craftsman and real Quality control. Or maybe not so good.

My latest aquisition was a 629 no dash pinned and recessed. In recent years used Smith revolvers have become increasingly desirable, becuase there is a perception that S&W was perfect way back when. Well owning many older Smiths I can tell you that this is simply not true.

I discovered my 629 at a local shop along with half a box of ammo from 1980, the original owner probably fired 10 rounds from this gun before it sat in a drawer for 28 years. The gun was perfect, no wear at all, perfect topstrap, not a spec of the errosion that usually starts to happen after 50 rounds or so.
So last saturday I took the gun out to the range.http://i340.photobucket.com/albums/o327/arc2x4/160.jpg?t=1217594853

So I am shooting and the accuracy is excellent, but I notice that the trigger pull is hard on a couple cylinders. Now this gun has a tight barrel cylinder gap which I noticed in the shop.
A tight gap is a good thing usually. IN this case the cylinder is rubbing on the back of the barrel.

The gun has end shake bad enough that the cylinder is touching the barrel. This is how the gun left the factory in 1980, the yoke barrel is a hair too short. There is absolutely no signs that this gun has any wear from firing, and the yoke is a perfect fit to the frame with no play at all. I can push the cylinder back enough that the BC gap appears normal, significant rearward movement.
I have ordered .002 cylinder endshake bearings and it may take two of them to fix it.

So you see Smiths weren't perfect even in the good old days.

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August 1, 2008, 09:07 AM
So you see Smiths weren't perfect even in the good old days.

Your point is well taken, but I don't think many people would agree that 1980 was "the good old days" for S&W.

August 1, 2008, 10:45 AM
I think those were the good old days for America, not just Smith.

August 1, 2008, 11:14 AM
I've gotten a couple of examples of little used S&Ws that were pretty grim.

The two most notable examples were 'Nam era Bangor Puntas which folks more knowledgeable than I (Old Fuff) noted had a higher than average percentage of stinkers shipped. But most of what I've seen, even from the Dark Times, were pretty good.

You can't tell beforehand if one is going to be good based on what year it was made. Good ones and stinkers were made at all points.

August 1, 2008, 11:44 AM
The late-60's into the early-80's were a low-point for many American manufacturers....captive audience led to many arrogant shoddy goods, whether cars, bikes, or guns....it wasn't the good old days....it was turkey season...turkeys made by and for turkeys...

August 1, 2008, 12:12 PM
I got a perfectly horrible Gold Cup around 1980. I thought it was a statistical anamoly but I'm beginning to wonder twenty-five years after the fact. I've heard a number of similar complaints around the same time period compliments of the intertubes.

Sometimes when I see the "revolvers are orders of magnitude more reliable than semi-autos" posts I wonder if it wasn't my specific Gold Cup that the poster was using as a basis of comparison.

'Course I heard that H-D was making motorcycles out of bowling ball parts in those days but that's only what I hear.

All this reminiscing is making me want to hit Ebay motors to see if I can land a pristine '82 Cadillac Cimarron.

August 1, 2008, 12:40 PM
You have to look at each gun to determine if it is a good one or a bad one.

The 70s and 80s were hit and miss for S&W.

I can tell you about warped barrels, triggers that went out more than once on a new gun, warped and bent frames, hammer struts shearing off on a 27-2 within 150 rounds of new, revolvers that shot 12" low, inaccurate guns.

At the same time others were just the best.

August 1, 2008, 01:24 PM
So you see Smiths weren't perfect even in the good old days.

Absolutely. I've got a post-war transitional M&P that had an improperly made forcing cone from the factory. And that was from a time when S&W quality was just about at its best.

August 2, 2008, 12:01 AM
Us old farts think the good ole days were long before 1980.

August 2, 2008, 12:18 AM
Maybe mid 40's to mid 60's? Was that a high point for S&W quality? I've heard some say the 30's were.

I know the 40's-60's was the heyday for High Standard .22 pistol craftsmanship.

August 2, 2008, 06:32 AM
While raising my family, I couldn't afford S&Ws. When I could, their QC had started dropping - I went with another US maker - and found clunkers - that worked.

When I returned to S&W - actually, after I retired - I found them to be of great quality - and, as I applauded the 'new' SS revolvers when that 60 came out, almost all of their then current revolvers in SS made sense to me. Oddly, the other, more clunky brand, started needing too much TLC to just work - their QC had dropped significantly!

I've owned S&Ws from the 70's & 80's - they've all had 'problems' - perhaps why, users or safe-queens, they were sold. Often, buying used is simply getting someone else's problems. All of my S&Ws now are 2001 or later - save one - a '96 - my only real 'used' gun purchased/traded for - with the hammer mounted fp & CCH hammer & trigger. I even have eight with the IL. No matter - I prefer current production. These are, to me, 'the good old days'. Besides, you have to applaud S&W for their new goodies - 8-shot .357s, .500 Magnums, super lite weight pocket cannon, etc. Make mine new.


August 2, 2008, 12:03 PM
So you see Smiths weren't perfect even in the good old days.

The Bangor-Punta years were pretty grim.
Before that, Smith's QC was generally much better.

Nothing and nobody are perfect, but QC at Smith and Colt used to be pretty good, at least back in the '50s-early '60s, and the average new-in-the-box guns were better made and better finished than now. (And yes, I'm old enough to know.)

Bullet Bob
August 2, 2008, 12:27 PM
"I think those were the good old days for America, not just Smith."

Yup, nothing like a good old 18% interest on your average home loan.

August 2, 2008, 06:59 PM
I'm not so sure about the 80's-era guns, but I have yet to see a lemon from the late 50's. Maybe they've all been fixed, or maybe they just never had any issues to begin with. Either way, I'll take a 1955-1960 made gun almost sight unseen.


August 2, 2008, 08:11 PM
Nice guns.

I've never used 'good old days' and stainless in the same sentence. :p

August 2, 2008, 08:25 PM
I've seen a Gold Cup lemon also and a ton of newer J frame problems.

I've noticed that generaly the older the gun the better the workmanship. There are exceptions to every rule however.

August 2, 2008, 08:30 PM
Unfortunately, if it has a number, it probably doesn't count as being from "the good old days."

Whenever that was, anyway... :(

August 2, 2008, 10:15 PM
I've got a 1965(IIRC) M17-2 with the same problem. I've finally traced it down to being a problem with the muzzle end of the cylinder--whoever was running the lathe that day must have been a new guy, because the face of the cylinder is not flat....it's cut at an angle.

Peter M. Eick
August 3, 2008, 10:47 AM

You create an interesting point. We call the earlier guns "pre-27's" or "Pre-28's". I have often wondered why the collector's put such emphasis on the model number guns instead of just calling them "Heavy Duty's" or "Outdoorsman's".

To me the "good old days" is variable as it depends on the author. I consider them 1930 to 1941. Others say 1911 to 1917. This thread seems to imply it was the 70's and 80's.

Kind of interesting perspective.

August 3, 2008, 11:33 AM
I don't know, my 19-3 is a lot nicer than any new Smith, but they are still good guns. I own a 617 too. I would like o get a 27-2 one of these days. I might settle for a 686 to match the 617.

August 3, 2008, 11:44 AM
I was reading the OP more to be stating that he got a Bangor Punta 1980 revolver with issues and that other people were considering that era to be the "good old days".

Wasn't that <shudder> disco and polyester? Harley Davidson was making motorcycles out of bowling ball parts and Colt was having semi-perpetual labor issues and sporadically lost the receipe for a reliable 1911. Carter was in office and Billy Beer was at the local stop & rob.

Where I got confused early on was with the fairly constant hosannas sung on the intratubes at the altar of "pinned and recessed". A fair number of P&Rs were put out during the BP Dark Times and are represented by a greater than average number of bowsers.

When sonnets and poems were written to Pinned and Recessed when I was first (admittedly recently) getting interested in revolvers, I don't recall ever seeing anything about how great was a "pinned and recessed unless it was pinned and / or recessed during the time that Bangor Punta owned S&W and most specifically the 'Nam era thereof". No doubt because it was both too long to type and probably everybody but me already knew to add the last part.

This results in a twisted impression of "pinned and recessed" generally in that most are decent, some are angelic and a few suck. It took me a while to cipher that not all are expected to be angelic especially if the "born on date" was within a certain range.

My 28-2 (1977) continues to amaze me that it made it through anybody's quality control - but I needed an excuse to buy chamber polishers, bushings and break out the stones. If I ever get it so that nothing is getting scratched and scarred through normal operation I may send the trigger / hammer to Turnbull to get the CCH redone.

I can't think of a single decade in my memory I would nominate for inclusion as a "good old day" but 70s - 80s wouldn't be toward the top of the list.

The Lone Haranguer
August 3, 2008, 12:30 PM
I have a nickel 29-2 made c. 1975 whose cylinder now will not rotate when pulling the trigger in double action. I've had it since 2000 and only put about 70 rounds through it. (And I tried flushing and lubing - still no go. The sideplate will need to come off to see what is wrong.)

Ed from Maine
August 3, 2008, 12:58 PM
I think it is interesting to see almost NIB pieces being listed for sale, at a premium on account of condition, without the question arising "Why didn't this piece get used more?" ...and sometimes there is a very good reason.
I have a m.60-14 snub, with a test fire date of 7-25-07, which i purchased new before I knew better (about locks, mim, and such), and after a little over a thousand rounds of .38 special, golly, that trigger sure is nice, I can shoot that rascal all day long...which is more than I can say for a few other snubs I subsequently picked up, most of which were internet 'sight unseen' purchases. It is all a big crapshoot as far as I can see...or, to look at it another way, I am paying tuition for my (hopefully increasing) store of hands-on knowledge and experience. but I am having fun along the way...

August 3, 2008, 01:00 PM
Those good old days for Smith were the same good old days for Colt. Competition was pretty fierce which made for well made firearms.

Smith quality is very good today in comparison to all other revolver manufactures (except Freedom Arms and BFR prehaps). They are head and shoulders above the rest. So these are good days too unless you are hung up on the lock or current pricing.

August 3, 2008, 01:49 PM
It's a shame Smith couldn't earn the same reputation with their autoloaders.

August 3, 2008, 01:54 PM
1980 was NOT the good old days. I consider '79 to '89 to be the The Bad Old Days. If I told you why, you'd think I was a liar, crazy or both. You might be right about the crazy part. Even now, you don't have the need to know, so you'll just have to ponder some "what ifs".

We DID sign a treaty with the Argellians in '87 so, no, their battle cruiser is no longer in orbit. . . .

August 3, 2008, 02:44 PM
Maybe it is in American Handgunner, but Mike Venturino has an article just on the topic of “oldies ain’t necessarily goodies”.

I found it interesting because he has some of the “classic” triple locks, New Service and Colt Single actions that are supposed to be perfect. And guess what, they ain’t. Gross out of tolerance issues.

This lie of perfection was created by generations of shill gunwriters. If you notice, it is their job to sell today’s production. If you find and read vintage magazines, what they were writing was that current production is always much better than yesterday’s production. Read material from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, 90's, and even now. You could change the pictures, but keep the text, and you would not notice any difference from what they wrote 50 years old, or 50 days ago.

However the shills were able to promote vintage guns. Many of these vintage guns were owned by the writers. In the guise of historical interest articles, they were pumping up the value of their collections. Since this did not threaten sales from a current product line, the advertisers did not torpedo these articles.

The unfortunate thing was, old guns are not necessarily better. If the factory had a stable workforce, and processes were under control, then the product was better. However vintage manufacturing processes and process flow were in today’s terms, “awful”. It is just surprising more stinkers did not make it out the door. In the 70’s, American manufacturing had this Motor City based attitude that "manufacturing made it, marketing sold it, and customer service made it work".

I have a number of vintage revolvers. The older Colt DS’s are better than later. But as a rule, today’s pistols are the best built that have ever been.

And yet, we still read of the occasional stinker! And that is great, because now, we, not the shill gunwriters, control the discussion.

Slam em when you find them. Let the buggers hear you will not accept garbage.

August 3, 2008, 04:58 PM
I'm not so sure about the 80's-era guns, but I have yet to see a lemon from the late 50's

I was looking at a Gun Digest from the 50s. the writer had picked up a 1955 target- the 45acp n frame with the short lived curved spring that drove both the hammer and the trigger return. It was too weak to set off primers double action and he was floored. This was the first problem he had ever encountered with an S&W.
If he lived a few years longer, it sure wasn't his last.

August 3, 2008, 07:30 PM
If I'm reading the Kuhnhausen manual correctly the 1946 single action trigger stop was one of S&W's more spectacular blunders - that one tied up more than one revolver.

One recommendation was discarding the offending piece.

I gather it was improved in later years but it wasn't clear when.

So I guess 1946 isn't safe either.

August 3, 2008, 11:33 PM
at about that that time, they went to the short action on the k frames. Just as it happened, Ed Mcgivern hosed them by saying that the long action revolver was the best for fast and fancy revolver shooting.

Master Blaster
August 4, 2008, 08:16 AM
SO the good old days were 1909 to 1931?

I would love to buy some Smiths in Like new condition from that era to shoot, unfortunately they are few and far between around here, and whren they do come up on Gunbroker they are very expensive.

The other problem is that if something breaks the parts are not availible, and most likely S&W will tell you that they can't fix them, although I have never sent them a gun that old.

August 4, 2008, 09:04 AM
You have to remember that "back in the good old days," whenever you think the "good old days" were, guns were made by companies who were not at all interested in profit. they would never consider doing anything to save money or to increase profits. Stockholders of course invested only in the hope of seeing improvement in the product.

The people who worked for these companies were all haloed saints who labored long hours for very little if any pay, and what they did get they immediately handed over to "The Little Sisters of the Poor" or some such charity. They actually made guns for the shear joy of gunmaking, and would have gladly paid for the priviledge of working there, but the company of course was afraid it would make a profit, so they had to make rules prohibiting the practice.

The workers never got tired. They never had to go to the bathroom or lunch. They never got bored. They never worked on Monday or Friday so you didn't have to worry about getting a gun made on Monday or Friday. They never worked at the beginning or the end of a shift. They never had fights with their wives or co-workers or got mad at their bosses, who of course were more friendly "advisers" than bosses. In short, the workers were never distracted from their tasks.

Machinery never broke down or wore out. It was all maintained to the absolute tip top form at all times. Cutting tools and drill bits never got dull, screwdrivers never slipped. The words "good enough" were NEVER thought, much less actually spoken. Quality Control was like a bulldog. They would never let anything slip out of the factory that wasn't absolutly as perfect as human hands could make it.

What a nice place the "good old days" were. ;) :D

August 4, 2008, 09:07 AM
I have a mid 60s M10. THAT was the "good old days" at S&W. :D However, I never ever buy a revolver without a thorough check out. It's easy to check such things as gap and end play and timing and such on a revolver. Used and even new, I check 'em out before plunkin' down the cash. This is why when a newbie askes about what gun to buy and someone suggests a USED 30 year old Smith that has done LEO service, I cringe. Hey, get something with a warranty at least! Perhaps Smith will warranty an antique, don't know for sure. Yeah, those old antiques were great off the press, but they've often been rode hard and put up wet. As you've seen, they weren't necessarily great off the press!

You could always get those guns worked over by the factory, ya know.

August 4, 2008, 11:32 AM
The 70's was definitely not the "Good Ol Days" for S&W or most American manufacturers. This was due in part to rising labor costs in an attempt to stay competitive in a growing world market. To stay competitive, they started automating as much of their processes as they could. For example, the CNC processes of that era can not compare to the equipment we have today. The labor in hand fitting a firearm is VERY expensive. Price a top of the line 1911 built by the custom makers. These are amazing guns but their prices just sky rocket based on how much labor is involved. You generally get what you pay for.

By contrast, S&W only employed about 35 workers during the great depression. Orders were slow and the workers had plenty of time to hand fit these revolvers. Some of the finest revolvers I own are from the 30's.

There are always issues with the manufacturing process in any time frame. Remember, these companies are in business to make money, not the perfect product.

August 4, 2008, 05:25 PM
The 70's was definitely not the "Good Ol Days" for S&W or most American manufacturers.
Following WWII, American industry enjoyed an unprecendented time of little competition in the global market because the rest of the world had been bombed to bits. It took decades for them to rebuild, but by the 70's it was evident that we had serious competition with newer facilities, better management, and favorable government policy that could produce higher quality for less cost. Also, we still suffer from the business accounting methods that Sloan inflicted on American industry which if a big reason quality is lagging in America. The answers are available if the right questions are asked, but some manufacturers simply "don't know what they don't know."

August 4, 2008, 06:18 PM
I currently don't own a S&W manufactured post-1969. :uhoh: That could change if the right gun comes along, or even if I want to splurge on a new carry piece... but for now I'll stick to pre-early-1970s guns.

August 4, 2008, 06:58 PM
One thing that I believe pertains to us Johnny-come-lately types is that Bangor Punta cuts a wide swath across S&W 20th century production. I'd guess most of mine are from that era and most of what I see for sale are from that time.

With rare exceptions, they'll be the best many of us will ever get - of the older stuff.

August 6, 2008, 12:36 PM
I can easily understand the 60s-70s being referred to as the "good old days." Several years ago, my first S&W revolver was a brand new 629-6, long before I knew better. No real issues to mention, but it was the only one I had, nothing else to compare it to. Gradually, I also acquired some B-P era guns, a couple of 28s, and more than a couple of 27s of various lengths. Holding my 4 inch 28-2 side-by-side with the 4 inch 629-6 was an exercise in shame for current S&W production. My '72ish Highway Patrolman far outstripped the .44 in every single way, from tolerances, to fitting, to trigger.

Now, the same thing would undoubtedly be the case when comparing one of my 28s to a 1930s Registered Magnum. There's just no way to compare my mass produced HP to a real, honest-to-God ".357 Magnum."

I guess it's really about perspective.

August 6, 2008, 12:48 PM
As loud as the complaints were about the Bangor Punta quality control, It was still possible to get hold of some fine individual examples then. From about 1989 to the mid 90s= pre MIM Pre you-know-what, the revolvers were still pleasant to look at,well set up and very accurate.

August 6, 2008, 12:53 PM
S&W revolvers from the eighties have character but not necessarily quality. It depended on the individual that assembled the gun - and they got paid a small amount per gun.

August 6, 2008, 01:54 PM
I guess it's really about perspective.

...and luck of the draw. My 28-2 may have been in the station adjacent to yours and also doesn't compare to modern production - but in a direction opposite to the one you observed.

But I've got some from the same era that are very nice.

The guy in one station might just have been more talented or had a better day or wasn't hung over - when stuff has a fair amount of hand fitting involved it can be a good thing or not so good depending on a wide range of issues.

With apologies to Dfariswheel for once again resurrecting a post of his from six years ago - you can't judge based strictly on a "born on" date.

One more time:
You cannot judge a gun based on just the year it was made. Guns aren't wine.

Each individual gun must be judged on it's own merits.
I've seen recent Colt and S&W guns that are made in "bad times" that are some of the finest quality guns I've ever seen.

I've seen a Colt Officer's Model from the 1930's when quality was supposed to be the absolute top of the mountain, that was a mess. Bad blue job, bad action, misfit sideplate, badly out of time, it should never have left the plant, especially then.

I've seen a pre-war REGISTERED S&W .357 Magnum, supposedly the finest quality gun S&W ever made, BRAND NEW IN THE BOX, that looked like something a shade tree mechanic put together. Barrel not indexed properly so the sight was off to the right, there was NO barrel-cylinder gap, cylinder crane didn't lock up properly and you could actually hear the cylinder clunking if you shook the gun sideways, the hammer would "push off", and a blue job with scratches, ripples, and dished-out areas.
The original owner kept it as a, then rare, factory curiosity.

The point is, people who say "Oh, I'd never buy a 1990's Colt or Smith, they're not any good", is passing by some good quality guns.

The current crop of guns is not up to the old standards because the OLD PEOPLE are gone. With all the strikes, layoffs, corporate downsizing, and more layoffs, the old workers are all gone.

The people who knew exactly how to make high quality guns, and took pride in their workmanship have been replaced by off-the-street employees who know little about guns, and haven't the experience and skills.

A lot of this I blame on the Harvard-Yale-Wharton MBA grads that are running, and ruining companies today. They are taught to watch the money. Ignore the product, ignore the production floor, ignore the workers, and ignore quality. Manage the money and everything will be fine.
These people have the same attitude toward workers. The theory is: workers are as interchangeable as screws and bolts. It doesn't matter if you're making paper, jet aircraft, cars, plastic, or guns, the same people will do fine.

There is a difference in "gun people". They have the natural talent base that allows them to develop high order skills, and the pride in workmanship. people like this make good guns, in spite of the company. "Interchangeable" people will make bad guns in spite of the company.

Bottom line: Judge a gun on it's own merits, not when it was made. You might be pleasantly surprised.

November 2002

Which is why, even if I had the funds, I'd stay well clear of "sight unseen" registered magnums. There's one, and probably only one, dog out there and I just know I'd be the one to find it.

Master Blaster
August 17, 2008, 01:07 PM
Last night I got my ejector rod apart finally, and added one cylinder and slide endshake bearing, I tried two but the gun was hard to close, so I went with one and its now perfect a nice even BC gap. Tomorrow afternoon I will take it out and shoot it again.

August 17, 2008, 01:24 PM
What ever happened to the Super Vel company? Does anyone make equivalent ammo today? Anybody know?

August 17, 2008, 01:31 PM
I too judged 'newer' S&Ws - i.e. post-1979 - somewhat harshly until recently. While I had not had any bad experiences with a post-79 gun, I was swayed by the many stories and I stayed away from later S&Ws. Until last Monday, my latest production S&W was my early 70s Model 32-1. I had looked at some later S&Ws but had never found the right one. Then, I picked up a Model 681, 1982 vintage, and after putting it through its paces, decided that it was a very nice piece of work for $250. Was I deterred by the lack of a pinned barrel? Perhaps a little at first - but I quickly overcame that, and judged the gun on its merits. It is truly a marvelous gun - and I will not hesitate to buy post-79 S&Ws anymore. Although I will admit that I'll still be more attracted by the pinned barrel...

Old Fuff
August 17, 2008, 06:00 PM
Over a long period of time the Old Fuff has disassembled a whole lot of Smith & Wesson (as well as Colt) revolvers, ranging in age from the early 1860's to present. In terms of hand-fitted workmanship and attention to details, the best that you will see were made from the middle-latter 1890's to the beginning of World War One. S&W even put hardened steel shims in the cylinder notches so that the notches wouldn't be battered by the cylinder stop around the turn of the 20th century. Later they put little bushings in the hammer and trigger so that the color case hardening wouldn't get scuffed up on the sides, and the sides of the hammer and trigger were highly polished before they were case hardened.

The revolvers made during the Great Depression (1929 - 1940) were almost as good, (sometimes better) and the steels they used were superior. After the Second World War the materials continued to improve, but the finer workmanship slowly went down as labor became more expensive, and cost-cutting eliminated many of the "nice to have, but not necessary" features.

From it’s inception just before the Civil War until 1965 the company was controled by the D.B. Wesson family or his decendants. At that point it was sold to Bangor-Punta, and thereafter it became a division of this or that conglomerate until the present owners took over in 2001. The conglomerates had little interest in guns, just making money – and it often showed.

Without question, all of the guns made during to so-called “golden ages” were not perfect. What has always amazed me though, is that under the stress of wartime production they could make so many that did work. Perhaps they’re quality hit it’s lowest point during the years surounding the Viet-Nam war when no matter how fast they increased it, production could not keep up with demand, and corporate bean-counters were at the helm. Even so, poor workmanship was the exception, not the rule.

Some years ago an officer in Her Britannic Majesty’s S.A.S. ask me to customize an “older” S&W revolver for him. I ask him, “Why don’t you do this to a new gun?” “Because,” he said, “they don’t make them like they used to.” He had a lot of experience in his background, and he didn’t get it sitting behind a desk. I then checked out his gun and found it to be tight, perfectly timed, and all six chambers “ranged” as being absolutely concentric with the bore. They weren’t all that way of course, but he did have a point.

Old Fuff
August 17, 2008, 06:14 PM
Master Blaster:

"I would love to buy some Smiths in Like new condition from that era to shoot, unfortunately they are few and far between around here, and whren they do come up on Gunbroker they are very expensive."

If you are willing to accept a Military & Police .38, made during the later 1920's through about 1946; you will find many on the auctions that have a little mileage but a still fine shooters. This is especially true if the barrels are 5 inches or longer. Prices are around $300 - which isn't bad these days.

Of course you may have to bid against the Old Fuff...

Old Fuff
August 17, 2008, 06:20 PM

The trigger stop was only offered on KT (K-frame/Target sighted) revolvers, and worked fine if they were correctly adjusted, and the screw tightened and staked. The problem was that after early production, adjusting the stop (which required removing the sideplate) was eliminated as a cost-cutting move, and most owners never touched it. Under the circumstances it wasn't a surprise when it often didn't work as it should.

August 17, 2008, 06:27 PM
Great stuff guys,

I have been hesitant to post to this thread as I am one opined S.O.B on this subject...

Guess I must be learnin' ~ Like the old sayin'...

I never learned a thing while I was doing the talkin'.....


August 18, 2008, 07:19 PM
Interesting stuff, Fuff.

My biggest (recent) bone-headed maneuver was to restrict my prowling for S&Ws to .357, .41, .44 and (fat chance) .45 Colt. This was due strictly to my stock of brass - I figured I'd just download .357. Hence, with the exception of a singular 640, I've avoided .38 Spcl S&Ws like the plague.

I've only recently figured out that excludes a whole bunch of spiffy stuff from my radar. I'm planning on calling the nice lady at Starline and broadening my horizons, as it were. Seems there's a lot of .38s out there not least of which are the M&Ps you speak of. We'll see how that goes.

The mystery of the hammer case color is slowly resolving - seems some of my recent purchases were less used than I had guessed and are taking on various degrees of "chewed upon" with the 28-2 at the head of the class, going from "no wear" to "scratched white on one side" inside several hundred cycles.

Nice to know that S&W once took care of that issue. I guess the only "modern" handgun I own that's totally immune is the STI Texican. Even the Turnbull classic has managed to get minor scratches. A couple of the S&Ws may not have been shot enough to manifest yet but I'll remember not to be disappointed if they scratch up to some extent.

The problem with broadened horizons is that now I may be competing for .38s along with everyone else and Shade00 will be watching the '79 thru '01 vintage which used to be my "happy hunting ground". I had nearly come to associate "pinned and recessed" with "cobby assembly" but that was due to a couple from '77 that are fortunately not typical of the breed. The P&Rs have in general not been up to the standards of the '80s thru '01s of the specific examples I've gotten but you pretty much nailed the troubled times: 'Nam era Bangor Punta. It's all playing the averages - some from that time are quite nice.

August 18, 2008, 07:40 PM
"Us old farts think the good ole days were long before 1980."

Roger that! My M 29 6" was bought slightly used in '67, a delight in every way. Shot 3-4" groups at 100 yards with iron sights and Winchester 240 gr. SWC ammo back then. IT probably still does but my eyes can't do it now. Can get 6" groups with my heavy reloads tho! Love it.

August 18, 2008, 07:49 PM
Compare a 60-70 year old colt woodsman in excellent shape to anything new today and tell me again the good old days were a myth.

August 18, 2008, 07:54 PM
Hawk: Well fortunately for you I can't buy locally in Texas. ;) You won't have too much competition from me. However, I have a soft spot for .38s - more so than .357s. Might even pick up a .32 along the way - two of them actually, both pinned - one from the 30s, one from the late 60s.

And yes - I'm shopping in the '79-'01 'vintage' now - so watch out. :) The point is, though, that you can't judge a Smith by its pin.

Old Fuff
August 18, 2008, 08:11 PM
Oh boy!! I have created two monsters here. Once upon a time they were happy in their ignorence. but not now... :neener:

How am I going to aquire those previously worthless vintage revolvers when a flock of new (and educated) bidders start showing up at the auctions? It's getting harder and harder to steal a good ol' gun these days. Why I can remember when laying a fresh fifty dollar bill on the counter could liberate some hardly worn pre-war S&W .32 or .38 Special. Now I've been left behind in a cloud of dust.

Who was the :cuss: :cuss: that spilled the beans?

Oh woe is me.... :D

August 18, 2008, 08:32 PM
I have a 64-5, made in 1988. It is not pinned, not recessed, but it is a great gun. It's VERY accurate, trigger is great, and I've been very happy with it. It was a former security guard's gun...carried more than shot...but I love it :)

Guess one of the good people at S&W made it that day! :D

August 18, 2008, 08:58 PM
Still learning, but my limited experience:

My 73/74 M-66 was my first revolver in about 20 years, and encouraged me to seek others.
My 73-ish M-19 is the most beautiful firearm (of any description) that I own.

I owned a 1955 M-17 for a short time, but sold it after I bought a mid-70's M-18.
I owned a 6" 27-1, but sold it after I bought an early 80's 4" 586. (I'm not so big on 6" barrels.)

Both of the replacements shoot as well or better and seemed to have every bit the quality/trigger/blueing of their predecessors (okay, 586's blueing is not the equal of the 27. I still have my eye out for a 5" M-27). And I can carry the 586 in the winter time :)

Guess I'm a heretic.

On the plus side, I sold all of my ILS-equipped revolvers two or three years ago, and most of the replacements came as a result of that sell-off.

I wouldn't trade any of them for a Ruger or a Taurus on a bet.

August 18, 2008, 10:55 PM
My experience;

625-8 had some problems, but was customized to perfect.

1988~ M 10-7. Rough as a cob local PD trade in. I recently bobbed the hammer spur that was dropped and chipped anyway. The single action had 1/8 inch creep before lettoff. The out of round top side of the hammer had been contacting the frame it's whole life, corrected with stone and shims. I recently got under the hood and changed springs and noticed the rebound slide was severely pitted. I put it to a stone and realized after many passes that I would wear it to dust before these pits went smooth. I bought it for a song and a dance. For all of it's faults it locked up tight, was accurate and goes bang every time. It does the job it was meant to do.

66-1 Purchased recently and is absolutely flawless mechanically with a few handling marks. This is one of the good ones. Too good to pass up.

617-5 Bought new. Barrel had bad rifling otherwise perfect. Rebarreled on the factories dime and is a now a laser.

August 18, 2008, 11:42 PM
I just "got back into revolvers" this past year after app 15 years. From the
70's I had my 29-2 a 36 and a Colt Python. This past year I bought a 2'' 15
m34 2'' and a 2 1/2" Diamondback. They are from the 60-70's. I also bought
a couple post lock revolvers. A629 Mountian Gun & 3" 24 from Lew Horton.
I love them all. I just cant stand that little "twang" I hear when dry firing the
new ones. But they sure do shoot good. Glad I got the bug again tho. There
are so many 'homeless' Smiths out there. All those mentioned above were pre
owned. Autoloaders have their place. Just too messy tho. The 25 belonged to
a former cop from Long Island. I rescued it and gave it a new home. Guess
we need to adopt all those homeless police guns and give them new homes
like they do those greyhounds in Fla.:):)

August 19, 2008, 01:11 AM
The 70s were the good old days for marijuana, VD, and Detente. Anything manufactured in the US, probably not.

Now if only the Japanese would make handguns*, they'd soon show us how to make a good product. To be good, you need a good competitor.

*yeah, yeah, and have you seen the cars they were making back then?

August 19, 2008, 01:44 AM
I think the Japanese would make guns like they make home electronics. Mass produced crap.

Master Blaster
August 19, 2008, 08:28 AM
Yesterday my son daughter and I went to our club and did some target shooting. I took the 629 no dash, and put 100 rounds of target loads, and 20 full power loads through it, Its problem is solved by the enshake bearing washer and its a great shooter. Its the only P&R stainless gun I own, and now that its fixed I will shoot it proudly for many years to come.

BTW FUFF, I have a 1946 long action M&P I acquired a couple years ago, in LNIB condition, that is my oldest S&W revolver, I am always on the lookout at local shops for the oldies.

My daughter shot my 1960 model 17 yesterday, its her favorite revolver. Ithink that there are great examples from every era of S&W production, but you do have to look them over carefully no matter when they were made.

Old Fuff
August 19, 2008, 09:11 AM
I think that there are great examples from every era of S&W production, but you do have to look them over carefully no matter when they were made.

Of course. The first thing I do is ask myself, "Why did the previous owner sell or trade in this gun?" The second is to look for burred screw heads.

It is always possible that a particular gun was defective when it was shipped, although this is less likely in those manufactured in the 1950's backwards, and more so in those made 1940 and backwards. But you have to deal with issues concerning wear, abuse, and owner tinkering with the lockwork. I would say, "Examine a gun as if it was a used car," and in both cases the age doesn't matter. :uhoh:

August 19, 2008, 10:14 AM
I think the Japanese would make guns like they make home electronics. Mass produced crap.

Amazing, time travel really does work. That statement may have been true in, say, 1950, but apparently you haven't handled a lot of Browning rifles or shotguns made in the last forty or so years. Miroku turns out a fine long gun.

August 19, 2008, 11:19 AM
O.K. I'll take your word for it, on the Miroku guns as everything I've handled was from Belgium. But I certainly would not put the Japanese Victory Company or the thousands of clone mfg's like it in the same catagory as Hafler.

Evyl Robot
August 19, 2008, 11:48 AM
CajunBass - Nice, dude.

I think the Japanese would make guns like they make home electronics. Mass produced crap.

All of the Truly Japanese-made electronics that I've seen are amazing. The mass-produced crap usually comes from other locales in the Orient. I have nearly exclusively driven Japanese cars, and am quite happy with them (ranging in production from 79 to 04). I'm not sure how I would feel about Japanese revolvers. I would probably have to try one out in any case.


August 19, 2008, 12:39 PM
Japanese autos are giving USA a serious run for their money. However in the home electronics dept. I must respectfully disagree, the only thing amazing about them is their sales figures (PM's welcome).

Maybe they will start producing a revolver that outclasses western countries, but my doubts are extremely high.

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