new S&W s' vs. older ones


Sauer Grapes
October 8, 2010, 10:21 PM
I figured I'd ask this here.
I only have experience owning and shooting older S&W revolvers. {pre 1980 manu.}
How do the new ones stack up against the older ones. Are the triggers still buttery smooth? Another fella at the range and I were wondering about it today. He is a big S&W fan, but all his Smiths are pre lock pinned barrels like mine.
I'm a big S&W fan. I don't shoot my revolvers that much, but there's something about them I just like. I grew up shooting my father's mod.12 and 15. Maybe it's just nostalgia that peaks my interest in the wheelgun.

I reeally like some of the new ones, but have never had the opportunity to shoot any.

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October 8, 2010, 10:26 PM
My experiences have been disappointing with new S&Ws. A 442 I had went back twice to the factory for defects and I had enough. They fixed the first problem and caused a new one when "fixing" it.

I now only own and buy Ruger Revolvers.

October 9, 2010, 12:12 AM
Mine are excellent. A Model 60 & a Model 686, both new this year. The Model 60 has the best trigger of any gun I've ever used, and there is nothing wrong with the 686. Overall, I think the tolerances are better on the new stuff.

I also have a Ruger Alaskan - looks ugly, but shoots great. No complaints from me on modern guns.

October 9, 2010, 01:03 AM
I've only ever shot a 4" 686+ and I didn't find anything wrong with it, except its price new (800$ in stores here) from what I see on the forums, there seems to be a belief that S&Ws quality has degraded over the years, especially with the advent of locks being installed.

Lucky Derby
October 9, 2010, 01:28 AM
Aside from the lock abomination they say the tolerances are tighter.
And they are very good guns.
They certainly lack the class and pride of ownership that comes with the older ones. Of course that is my opinion.
If the stupid lock ever goes away, I may purchase one to see how it stacks up against my many older S&Ws, the newest one is 14 years old.
Old ones are less expensive and better IMHO.


October 9, 2010, 06:42 AM
I've shot older S&W's, but the first one I owned one myself was 9/02 - it was made in '01. I currently have a few S&W's - all but one, a 625-6 MG in .45 Colt from '96, were bought new - most including the IL. Oddly, the only S&W's I've sold were '01 or earlier, some much earlier, production. Obviously, I like the current production. In fact, my first revolvers were Rugers - and they are all gone - to make room for, albeit fewer, S&W's.

One caveat re recent S&W's. S&W is tort sensitive - and their production reflects that. Not knowing the conditions of cleanliness - or sources of ammo - their hammer springs are overly stout. Again, not knowing the state of cleanliness folks accept in their revolvers, they opt for stout trigger rebound springs to insure the trigger can be pulled again quickly. Both add up to a stout DA pull. Oddly, the uniformity and hardness of the MIM parts yields triggers that smooth out quickly, with dry or live fire - no gunsmith time required. So, I'd say they quickly get as smooth - and, with spring changes, will get as light or lighter than the older models. I know that everyone who tries my S&W triggers, especially owners of older guns, marvel at my recent production examples.


October 9, 2010, 07:37 AM
I like both of my new Smith & Wessons - Model 60 3-inch, Model 637 snub. Good triggers, well-made, no fit or timing issues, cylinder-barrel gap is fine. The locks don't bother me; I can take 'em or leave 'em and haven't had any issues while firing full-house +P and Magnum ammo. In fact, my Model 60 is on my hip as I write this.

What I find odd is that Smith & Wesson's "bad period" is generally acknowledged to be the later Bangor Punta years (late 70s and 80s) yet everyone gets hysterical about guns that were produced after Saf-T-Hammer took over and the so-called "Hillary Hole" lock was introduced. Incidentally, that didn't happen until after George Bush became President and both Smith & Wesson and the White House had renounced the agreement signed during the Clinton Administration.

I've put thousands of rounds through both of my Smiths and had zero problems. And, to be quite honest, the triggers are among the best I have encountered on a Smith. Very smooth. In fact, the trigger pull was the reason I chose the Model 60 over the less-expensive Ruger SP101.

October 9, 2010, 08:49 AM
a wise man said this

I cannot imagine buying a new MIM gun, ESPECIALLY with the moronic lock.

Lousy quality, internal parts that cannot be polished and a lock that works on the same rotational axis as the recoil of the gun.

I would sooner buy a Taurus


October 9, 2010, 09:17 AM
I have owned and shot both. The newest S&W I have is a Model 60-9 (late 90s). The only problem I have encountered has been with this last gun. At some point S&W started cutting cost by using MIM parts. One of these was the hammer block. My gun broke two and I was almost at the point of not trusting the firearm. I guess the problem was frequent enough that S&W addressed the issue and is now sending stamped metal replacement parts when these break. Problem solved.

Model 60-9 ~ hand polished with "Mothers Mag Polish," upgraded with elephant ivory grips

October 9, 2010, 09:27 AM
The newer guns are made using modern technology and CNC machining making them top drawer in precise parts fitting. They are also stronger in some ways.

But they lack the fine finish because polishing costs money and EPA rules forbid the chemicals they used in the past to achieve that lustrous blue and nickel finish.

Bottom line: New S&Ws work fine. Old ones have more panache.

October 9, 2010, 09:54 AM
I have a prelock 1968-1969 M38 that I would trade in a heartbeat for a 442. I dont know why . I just like the feel of the 442 and the one I held I even liked the trigger as well. I guess Im just odd. I dont fear the lock either.

October 9, 2010, 09:57 AM
the problem was frequent enough that S&W addressed the issue and is now sending stamped metal replacement parts when these break.

So instead of building them right they are fixing them right?



October 9, 2010, 10:28 AM
In theory, the hammer block should not be a part that breaks. I can't imagine they saved enough on that part to ever have gone away from the older style stamped steel. S&W Customer Service was good about getting replacement parts to me in 2-3 days. The problem for me, was that they were sending the same injection molded part. I started searching THR and other forums and found 10 other posts where owners had experienced the same thing. Out of the thousands of guns sold, that is probably not a significant number (I am sure there were considerable numbers that were not posted). But, I was not happy with the solution and was at the point of trying to find someone to fabricate an older style hammer block that would fit my gun. I talked to Customer Service at the factory about 7 weeks ago, and was told they were no longer using the MIM hammer block and I was sent a new curved stamped steel one that dropped in my gun.

I have always been a fan of S&W revolvers ~ just happy the right fix was arrived at. I do give their Customer Service a 10+ rating on service. Over the years, I have sent a couple of guns back to them for repair. Always quick and they have never charged me.

October 9, 2010, 10:32 AM
they were no longer using the MIM hammer block

thank you for clarification.

Less MIM parts is always good

October 9, 2010, 10:39 AM
In my opinion, if I want to lock a gun it makes more sense to have a trigger lock. that way I know it is locked. The last thing I want to do is to attempt to use a gum in an emergency only to find out that it is locked and not know it by just looking at it.

S&W revolvers are way overpriced. A used pre 1982 smith is hard to beat. The workmanship on these revolvers are excellent.

I work as a security officer, and one of the companies that I worked for issued us S&W model 10-11 .38 spl. This is back in 2001-2003. The trigger on this gun was not near as smooth my model 10-6.

October 9, 2010, 11:34 AM
The newer guns are made using modern technology and CNC machining making them top drawer in precise parts fitting. They are also stronger in some ways.

But they lack the fine finish because polishing costs money and EPA rules forbid the chemicals they used in the past to achieve that lustrous blue and nickel finish.

Bottom line: New S&Ws work fine. Old ones have more panache.

+1. I have two post-lock Smiths.....both PC models and one is a X_Frame that wasn't made at all before the locks and MIM. I also have several pre-lock older Smiths. The new models shoot just as nicely as the older ones and neither has given me any trouble at all. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a new Smith....the accuracy of their guns, the quality of their materials, their lifetime warranty and great customer service means more to me than the Hilary hole. I don't use the lock and don't even notice the hole. For those of you that prefer Taurus quality to that of S&W, I say..... go for it.:rolleyes:

October 9, 2010, 05:26 PM
I own 30+ pinned and recessed (where applicable) and 3 MIM/lock/new "N" frame S&W's.
While I am no fan of MIM parts and the lock, the tolerances are tighter on my new guns and I have obtained outstanding double actions on them as well.
While I have great double actions on several of the pre lock/pinned guns; the new/MIM guns were CONSISTENTLY good with the same work.

Call this a grudging thumbs up for SOME aspects of the new S&W's.

October 9, 2010, 06:05 PM
I was looking for a .45 Colt S&W earlier this year. Read a lot about various accuracy issues with older model 25s, so got the 25 Classic in Nickel. Then I heard that the lock is a real problem.

I've fired a few thousand rounds through it. I put a reduced Wolff main and rebound spring in it. Very accurate gun. Accurate enough to break clay birds on the burm at 60 yards. Not every shot, but often enough to do it. I haven't found any trouble with the lock or the mim. I'll keep shooting it and report any trouble.

I have pre-lock Smiths as well. Very nice guns. None shoots better, few shoot as well as the new Classic.

October 9, 2010, 09:13 PM
Sauer Grapes,

I am in a gun store looking at two S&W revolvers 4 inch. First one is a 586-1 4 inch. Second one is a 28-2 4 inch. Both are the same price. No brainer. The 28-2 goes home with me.

October 9, 2010, 09:53 PM
I vote with SaxonPig on this one
(all mine are old style, but woobie pride goes just so far)

yo, G,
let's hear your take on old Colt revolvers vs. new Colt revolvers !

October 9, 2010, 10:04 PM
yo, G,
let's hear your take on old Colt revolvers vs. new Colt revolvers


I am HAPPY to drop Colt in the grease for retracting from the civilian market but do not want to deflect the OP's thread.

I will just say that Like Smith and Clinton, Colt can not carry the jockstrap of of the shadow of their past and leave it there.

October 9, 2010, 10:13 PM
It's not pinned and recessed, not good. It has a lock, not good. It has some MIM parts, not good. It has a two piece barrel, not good.

Well, maybe so and maybe not and maybe some of both. But my newer ones work, so do the older ones. Triggers feel good and accuracy is good too. I have had zero problems with any of them, new or old.

Personally, my biggest complaint is the look of the lock, I think it stinks the appearance up of a beautiful revolver brand across all the models it touches. Thankfully it just stinks up one side. With that said, one of my favorite Smith revolvers is my Model 60 .357 Mag J-Frame, with lock.

Do I buy new Smiths? Of course, and will continue to do so. As a firearm lover, it would be silly to shut myself out to a whole brand of great revolver offerings. I'm a Ruger fan as well and own four of them, great guns!

October 9, 2010, 10:32 PM
I'm new here does s&w still make the 460v I was reading on line that they make the 460 but not the 460v is this true

October 9, 2010, 11:47 PM
Hammer block? I thought everybody tosses this thing into the trash as soon as possible.

I hope people are not throwing the baby out with the bath water. Yeah, lock and MIM sux. But S&W still makes some really nice guns. Their guns are still great platforms for competition. I see mostly S&W, both new and old, at local matches. I don't see no serious shooters using Rugers or Tauri. If S&W go out of business because we don't buy new guns with lock and mim, that would be a very sad day.

October 10, 2010, 12:01 AM
that would be a very sad day

I would not shed a tear.

As far as I am concerned they are a parts company.

October 10, 2010, 01:32 AM
Well I have several of both, and I will say this for the new models, in this one particular instance of my owning a lock 4 inch 629, the trigger is one the nicest I have ever handled in any Smith. The cylinder also rotates extremely evenly, and smoothly chamber to chamber. It is also very accurate, easily putting handloads into 2 inches at 25 yards off the bags. The 6 inch that I had, also lock, was again accurate, but the trigger was not as good and the cylinder rotation had rough spots, at least it was certainly not as smooth as my 4 inch. Now I also have pre lock 29s and they of-course, they are classics and look better, but functionally, I trust my lock model 629 with heavy loads just fine, and have fired full power 240 jacketed gold dot handloads with full charges of W296 and not a problem.

October 10, 2010, 08:11 AM
Bought plenty of new S&W's and I have *NEVER* had a problem in the slightest way with any of them. I HAVE had issues with a couple of Taurus revolvers, and with one Ruger.

S&W has been flawless thus far.

October 10, 2010, 10:30 AM
I liked pinned as there was no way the barrel was coming loose but I never cared for recessed.

The recesses allowed the cartridge rims to be flush with the back of the cylinder but were difficult to clean out. You would have to get some sharp edged tool and a cloth or paper towel to totally scrub out the gunk that would collect in the corners.

Then you could not look at the side of the pistol to determine if it was loaded. You either popped the cylinder or pointed the thing at your head to see the bullets.

I miss the hammer mounted firing pin. A direct strike mechanism is much more reliable in ignition than one which the energy of the hammer is transfered through a firing pin, firing pin spring (in some mechanisms a transfer bar is part of the system). Each time energy is transferred some is lost. That may explain the very strong mainsprings on late model Smiths.

I called Smith and Wesson and asked why they had removed the hammer mounted firing pin. It took a dedicated machine and person to make the frame cut.

My Mountain Gun in 45 LC is a fine pistol.

Thaddeus Jones
October 11, 2010, 09:23 AM
Even if S&W lost the pot metal parts, stupid lock, and cost cutting two piece barrels, they don't currently make a gun that is desireable, to me.

Give me my pre lock, pre cost cutting measure S&W's. Not only are they superior to the current production, they LOOK GOOD TOO!

October 11, 2010, 09:54 AM
I think Thaddeus and I drink the same brand of Kool-Aid :evil:

October 11, 2010, 10:13 AM
How do the new ones stack up against the older ones. Are the triggers still buttery smooth?Due to circumstance, I have acquired several NIB and lightly-used post-lock K frame and N frame S&Ws over the last couple of years. I justified their purchase by allocating them to weekly range beater duty, while my P&Red K frames stood duty as carry/HD guns.

After close to 10K rounds so far through a 66-7, I have to say that it's been a satisfying and boring ride. The gun has a very decent DA pull, and while it does lack that last little bit of 'oiled ball bearing' smoothness of my older well-burnished 19's, it's really quite nice and the difference between them is pretty small indeed. I may not yet be ready to call them equals, but they're dang close.

One thing to bear in mind is that S&W has a limited stock of parts left for their older designs. At some point in the future, the only source of parts for these P&Red guns will be cannibalized from donor guns. If someone is contemplating a S&W for high-mileage duty, a newer one with factory support may be a better choice than a 'classic' one that the factory might not be able to fix when it breaks.

October 11, 2010, 10:46 AM
I won't buy new ones. I love S&W's but everything they've changed in recent years has resulted in a cheaper gun with a stiffer price tag. It's a shame because they have some great configurations in their "Classic" lineup but I ain't payin' that much for a cheapened version of the original with the bunghole in the side. The older guns are just better....and less expensive.

Colt can not carry the jockstrap of of the shadow of their past and leave it there.
Actually the current SAA is better than the 3rd generation has ever been.

October 11, 2010, 10:47 AM

October 11, 2010, 10:56 AM
What is P&R?

Pinned and recessed. A pin is used to lock the barrel in place on older Smith & Wessons. You can see it in most pictures. New barrels are crush fitted. Recessed means the ends of the cylinders are counterbored to contain the cartridge heads inside the cylinder. Originally it was to contain a ruptured cartridge case. Not so important today with the improvements in cartridge cases.

The lack of them doesn't necessarly mean a gun is "bad" it's jut more a mark of the "old way" they used to do it.

A P&R Model 19. You can see the pin just ahead of the forcing cone area.

Personally I think it's about numbers. I've never had much interest in any Smith & Wesson with more than a two digit model number...10, 15, 19, 27, 28, 29, and so on. :D

October 11, 2010, 01:36 PM
I hate the bead blast cheesy finish on the newer stainless guns.

I hate ANY gun with those horrible laser etched logos.

Guns that go "CLANG" instead of click when you dry fire them are bad. Damm, I hate that sound. It just screams cheaply made. Many of the new ones do that.

The lock is hideous, and I will not own a gun that has it.

The use of MIM parts is also not something I care for.

Older S&W's are much more desirable to me.

October 11, 2010, 01:42 PM
S&W has a limited stock of parts left for their older designs

so they are not even going to be a parts supplier and will only serve to keep the demand down on the good (old) guns, thus keeping prices reasonable.

I can dig it

October 11, 2010, 01:48 PM
A very good friend of mine bought a S&W 629 Hunter awhile back, it is a custom-shop work job from Smith, #1XX a beautiful firearm!! It has the weighted under lug barrel, additional weights can be added if needed, the top of the barrel is set up for scope. I have an older model 629, thought the trigger on mine was decent..... HA !! Nothing compared to my buddies, when squeezing off a round with his, its like dragging you finger thru an puddle of oil, absolutely no grit or hesitation what-so-ever! I shot some of my 240 gr handloads thru his, all within a 4" spot at 25 yds, course, the mag porting helps his also, too bad he found it before I did, too bad they don't make this one anymore!:banghead:

October 11, 2010, 01:51 PM
One thing to bear in mind is that S&W has a limited stock of parts left for their older designs. At some point in the future, the only source of parts for these P&Red guns will be cannibalized from donor guns.I've been using this as an excuse to accumulate as many 19-2/19-4 models as I can. :)

October 11, 2010, 02:04 PM
Well, I've had more problems with the older style models I've bought than the new models.

The manufacturing has changed significantly.

Hard fitting was required in old models.

It took 7 machines to make an old style hammer.

The frame in the old models took 75 machining steps to make (without the barrel). The new frames are turned out in 3 machining steps and then go for heat treat.

The tolerances have been tightened up quite a bit in some respects regarding parts in the new models.

The new models use the cases to hold the extractor in the necessary relationship to the hand, instead of the extractor being pinned. (Which is why carry up must be checked with properly sized dummy rounds in the charge holes instead of being empty). No pins to bend or break anymore.

MIM has given us some easier replacement of parts from an armorer's perspective, too.

Don't get me wrong, I still like my old style models, but I enjoy my new models, too.

October 11, 2010, 09:47 PM
My last new Smith was a September 2001-made Model 646 .40 S&W caliber competition revolver from their Performance Center. The 2002 introduction of the hideous Hillary hole and how their (then) British leadership cowed down to the anti-gun White House turned me off to all new S&W handguns.

Ditto to Colt at the time . . . and I dumped the PC Model 646 AND my original edition (highly customized) Colt Combat Elite .45 Auto.

Frankly, there are simply too many gorgeous old pinned barrel vintage Smith revolvers continually coming on the market to mourn S&W losing their way. I can live with the MIM parts . . . and tolerated the frame-mounted firing pins . . . but that damn lock is simply a bad reminder of how close America once came to losing all our gun rights . . . and I won't go there ever again.

Thus my recent S&W revolver purchases in the past few months have included guns like these . . . and these kind of revolvers will cure you of missing the new ones completely!!! First . . . from 1970 . . .

And from 1950 . . .

Then again, sometimes I want to purchase an older Smith . . . like this new (to me) 1916-made Model 1903 Hand Ejector, 5th Change . . .

BTW, after years of turning my back on Colt autos, I'm looking at a new one right now . . . new for me that is . . . a nice Government Model made in 1969, back when Colt cared for the civilian shooting public.

Nope . . . don't miss the new ones one bit!

October 11, 2010, 10:39 PM
! ! ! ! ! !

Wow. nice ones.

October 11, 2010, 10:54 PM
Just a reminder. G.W. Bush was elected in 2000 - and AZ based Saf-T-Hammer bought S&W in early 2001. S&W was finally an American owned company again when the IL was launched in late 2001 - and Bush, etc, renounced the British owned S&W 'agreements'.


October 12, 2010, 06:57 PM
The really bad era for S&W was the Bangor Punta era. I reached legal age for buying firearms during that time, and so I developed an early aversion to S&W by seeing gaps where there should not be gaps, misaligned parts, and feeling the gritty actions. Not all Bangor Punta guns were bad; when I had to use personally-owned S&W revolvers as a young police officer, due to PD policy, I managed to find a really nice Model 581, to offset the horrendous 686 I had received sight unseen though a local vendor as part of a special deal for police cadets.

The LSI era was a breath of fresh air; all of a sudden, S&W revolvers were tightly fitted, and had decent to excellent actions. I bought a really sweet 3" Heavy-Barrel Model 60 during this time, and recently acquired an LSI-era Model 19-5, pre-owned, that appears unfired, that I consider one of the sweetest sixguns I have ever handled.

Things stayed quite good until the MIM trigger era. The contour of the MIM triggers does not work well for me; the "combat" width forged trigger is perfection for me, in DA fire, with K/L frames. An MIM trigger is hollow in the back, not suitable for being dressed-down to the feel I like. Therefore, my preference for sixguns built during the era of forged triggers. The Performance Center continued using forged triggers for at least a while after the standard models went MIM.

The keyhole is ugly, but the actual malfunctions attributed to the internal locks seems limited to certain lightweight models firing powerful cartridges. I am considering a certain J-frame purchase, which would be my first IL purchase. The MIM trigger is OK for me with J-sized guns.

Not all pre-Bangor Punta S&W revolvers were so great. I had an S-numbered (pre-N-frame designation) Model 58 with what felt like gravel in the action. I sold this one when I started divesting myself of N-frames, which I finally had to admit were too big for me to shoot well in DA. (I did, however, keep my ex-SAPD Model 58; we shared to many adventures for me to sell that one.)

To be clear, though I am better-known for what I have written on THR about my Rugers, I am still a fan of S&W, too. I am not a one-brand type of guy; an individual Colt, Ruger, or S&W weapon can make me feel all warm inside.

October 12, 2010, 07:17 PM
My first was a 66-5 from about 2000 which is the best S&W I've owned. It has no lock. The second was a 29-10 Mtn Gun with lock. Very good accuracy and decently put together. The third was a 625 Mtn Gun with no problems. The fourth was a 686 +. Every one of them were well made and shot well.

I have no preference as to new or old, they are still S&W's. I've found the newer guns to be just as accurate if not more so then the older guns.

Would I buy another newer model? Heck yes.

Joe Demko
October 12, 2010, 07:31 PM
The only time S&W made good guns was, I think, before they were in business. I've been shooting them decades now, and all I've ever heard is "S&W ain't what they used to be."

October 12, 2010, 07:46 PM
I'd take a brand new 68 Camaro over that abomination Chevy has now. I'm like that with new S&W's.

October 13, 2010, 07:44 AM
Bottom line: New S&Ws work fine. Old ones have more panache.


Old or new, they shot just fine. It's all relative, I recall from hanging out at gunshops in the 70's, the old timers complained how quality went down hill since the war (WWII).

October 13, 2010, 08:52 AM

The metallic 'clang' you hear when dry-firing a 'modern' S&W has been the formed sheet metal hammer block safety for a while. It came about after the second World War. Additionally, while being hollow-backed makes the MIM trigger at least as sturdy as a forged part, you cannot reshape it without weakening it. And... the PC Shop still has forged parts - my new 2 5/8" PC627 UDR's, both of them, came with them - and they were made this year. The trigger is easy to see - if it isn't hollow back, it's still forged. Case in point - triggers with the short roll pin installed on the backside as a trigger stop. Also, flash chromed - a la the early 620's and the 625JM (Apparently, you cannot flash chrome MIM.). In their defense, MIM parts are highly uniform - and strong - and ugly. Forged still require fitting.


October 13, 2010, 10:42 AM
These date in the original run of the 2 5/8" PC627 UDR from 1999 - new models today differing by the included IL and plastic PC box in lieu of the Al/plastic box. My pair were made this year - and came with the same too-small boot grips. Larger grips - like my Ahrends, which they sport in the picture below, are far more comfortable. An N-frame with boot grips seems like an oxymoron.

No, before '99, there wasn't anything quite like them... eight-shooting SS .357M's in the 27 style. Why two? One will be a home defender... only a few bucks less than the 327NG I considered - and my choice has a PC Shop trigger, eased charge entries, and is moonclip ready. It's additional ten ounces won't be a problem, either.


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