Pinned barrels BETTER?


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Jim NE
April 13, 2011, 05:31 PM
I know that older Smiths are thought by some people to be better quality than the newer ones. Did pinned barrels REALLY have anything to do with that?

Once upon a time, some old Martin guitars had herringbone trim, and were worth lots more because of it. The trim had virtually no impact on the quality of the guitar...it was just a visual clue that let you know, at a glance, it was an old instrument, and therefore LIKELY higher quality.

Is that true for older Smiths? Or was pinning the barrel actually a better way of making a gun?

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Lucky Derby
April 13, 2011, 05:40 PM
Your guitar analogy is spot on.
Pinning is really no better than crush fit.
It however lets a person know of what era (or at least the last possible era) a revolver is from at a glance.

Niether Colt nor Ruger ever pinned barrels.

That said, given a choice between two otherwise identical S&Ws, I'll pick the pinned one every time.

rcmodel
April 13, 2011, 05:41 PM
S&W thought it was.
Colt thought it wasn't.

Who among us can say.

My general feeling is, the older guns were much superior in fit & finish because of the expert craftsmen making & hand-fitting every one.

But the new guns might be more accurate overall.

An old machinest with a worn-out milling machine could drill & ream a chamber slightly off-center occasionally.

New CNC machines can't.

rc

SaxonPig
April 13, 2011, 05:45 PM
The pinned barrel is better if you ever need to remove and reinstall the barrel.

S&W seems to have a lot more QC issues with barrels since they eliminated the retaining pin. Maybe they just need to figure out how to do the crush fit properly.

They just don't look the same without the little pin. :D

Drail
April 13, 2011, 06:26 PM
The presence of a pinned barrel simply indicates that the entire fitting process of all of the parts was done by skilled smiths who cared about the finished product. Those days are long gone. Try to imagine the Colt or S&W factoryies in 1930 when smiths and machinists were told to make the parts fit perfectly with no regard to how long it took or how many units per hour they could turn out. Quality came first. Production was whatever it took to achieve perfection. It really was like that back then.

teumessian_fox
April 13, 2011, 10:53 PM
It was certainly marketed as a better gun (w/the pinned barrel). A buddy of mine who owns a gun store said that the sales pitch was that the pin kept the barrel from unscrewing, unlike Ruger and Colt.

evan price
April 14, 2011, 05:35 AM
It may not always indicate a better gun, but certainly for me it indicates that it might be a better gun. I like my Colts, and I like my P&R S&Ws.

Remllez
April 14, 2011, 10:53 AM
I certainly think the pinned barrels on the early Smiths means better quality. Along with that pinned barrel came the recessed cylinders which to this day I still prefer over non recessed. The more a gunsmith is involved in the fitting/assembly of the revolver the better the quality. Early 1930-1960's Smith and Wesson as well as Colts are some of the finest revolvers ever made in our country.

CajunBass
April 14, 2011, 11:56 AM
I certainly think the pinned barrels on the early Smiths means better quality.

That's probably true, but is it BECAUSE of the pinned barrel, or just because they were made differently? I suspect the pin itself had little if anything to do with the quality.

They just don't look the same without the little pin.

Ain't that the truth? :D

CraigC
April 14, 2011, 12:48 PM
Doesn't have so much to do with the pin itself, although pinning is a much better solution than crush-fit if you ever need to remove the barrel, as it is that the pin simply indicates a gun produced at a time when they were of much higher quality than current guns. That is, they exhibited much better fit and finish, a higher degree of polish, no two-piece barrels, MIM parts or internal locks. However, we should also keep in mind that towards the end of the pinned barrel era, Bangor-Punta owned S&W. Which is nearly equal to when AMF owned Harley-Davidson.

StrawHat
April 15, 2011, 08:12 AM
The pinned barrel is a better shooting barrel than a crush fit barrel. The newer barrels, crush fit +/or two piece, can have a constriction in the bore where the threads enter the frame. The pinned barrelled revolvers do not have this.

Also, not all pinned barrelled revolvers have recessed chambers. The non magnum centerfire cartridges do not use a recessed chamber in the cylinder. Rimfires and Magnums were recessed.

CHM
April 15, 2011, 08:28 AM
I have a 29-2 with a 4 inch barrel, circa 1971 or so. The blue finish is second to none - absolutely beautiful and unique to that era. I inquired with S&W years back and asked about why the change and was told the guy who patented this died with the method to produce it. Hard to understand, but that's what I was told by the company. The attention to detail on these guns is more than I have seen in newer Smiths. The recessed cylinder is just one more nice detail where the rims are countersunk into the cylinder and not visible from the side. I'm sure pinning the barrel doesn't affect accuracy, etc, but just reflects the outstanding overall quality of the day, which we rarely see now unless it is custom work. I would say that about just about anything the US manufactures over the last 10-20 years. Now, we automate everything, CNC it or give to to China.

MrBorland
April 15, 2011, 09:50 AM
The newer barrels, crush fit +/or two piece, can have a constriction in the bore where the threads enter the frame.

Not trying to make a plug for newer guns, but simply to clarify: S&Ws 2-piece barrels are not crush fit: They were specifically designed to reduce stress at the barrel/frame interface. Not only does it make the joint stronger, guns with 2-piece barrels have a reputation for improved inherent accuracy*.

Many love to hammer S&W for their "cheapening" of their guns through "cost cutting" manufacturing methods; in fact, the two piece barrel construction is more expensive to produce, but it was a necessary step they initially took to produce their .500 mag.



*yes, I'm aware of the accounts of 2-piece barrel failures, but AFAIK, these were on early run guns. And besides, how well S&W has and currently implements the design is another thread.

Guillermo
April 15, 2011, 10:52 AM
Bangor-Punta owned S&W. Which is nearly equal to when AMF owned Harley-Davidson

that is a pretty good analogy.

What would be a good example of who owns them now? The IRS?

CraigC
April 15, 2011, 01:28 PM
What would be a good example of who owns them now? The IRS?
Probably. ;)


I inquired with S&W years back and asked about why the change and was told the guy who patented this died with the method to produce it.
I have to cry foul. There's nothing magical about polishing and bluing. All it takes is skill, time and money. I keep hearing folks say that you can't get finishes like the old guns due to EPA regulations or some mystical pixie dust but it simply isn't true. Fact is, most folks are not willing to pay extra for that stuff any more. If you are, there are plenty available. You will not find a post-war S&W with a better finish or attention to detail than this two year old USFA 12/22. Which, by the way, costs less than a new "Classic" K-22.

http://photos.imageevent.com/newfrontier45/sixgunsiii/large/IMG_1138c.jpg

earplug
April 15, 2011, 02:06 PM
The pin has nothing to do with quality and accuracy.
A well fit barrel to frame is all that's needed.
There is some argument that the pin was needed due to the direction of the rifling causing the barrel to unscrew.
Recessed chambers are left over from old balloon head cases that were prone to blow out at the rim.
I'd rather see a nice bevel for a fast reload with moon clips or speed loaders.

SaxonPig
April 15, 2011, 02:21 PM
I was told by S&W that in the 1980s or 1990s the EPA banned some of the chemicals that had been used for bluing and the new ones don't produce the same lustrous look.

MICHAEL T
April 15, 2011, 02:38 PM
I perfer the older S&W I want a Pin Barrel and the firing pin on the hammer Oh and the great blue job. . When I find one and have the money it comes home New S&W look like crap and stay at dealer.

jimmyraythomason
April 15, 2011, 02:47 PM
I was told by S&W that in the 1980s or 1990s the EPA banned some of the chemicals that had been used for bluing and the new ones don't produce the same lustrous look. I use the exact same solution for bluing that I used in the 1970s,'80s and '90s. The luster is directly a result of properly polished steel,not the chemicals used to blue them(though it does make SOME difference). If a hobbyist such as I can get a beautiful bluing on any(almost) brand of gun,surely MAJOR manufacturers can do it without going to their custom shops.

Remo223
April 15, 2011, 02:57 PM
The pinned barrel is a better shooting barrel than a crush fit barrel. The newer barrels, crush fit +/or two piece, can have a constriction in the bore where the threads enter the frame. The pinned barrelled revolvers do not have this.

Also, not all pinned barrelled revolvers have recessed chambers. The non magnum centerfire cartridges do not use a recessed chamber in the cylinder. Rimfires and Magnums were recessed.
I believe the rimfire guns still are.

Remo223
April 15, 2011, 03:08 PM
Pinning the barrel just simplifies the barrel fit. You dont' have to have the thread length perfect if you have a pin.

With a non-pinned barrel, the barrel must reach proper torque when the front sight is straight up. That necessitates really accurate machine work and maybe some trial and error. In the modern age of uber precise machines, pinning the barrel has less benefit.

The Dan-Wesson barrel system is even more flexible since the front sight is not even attached to the barrel...not to mention more accurate.

Sam Cade
April 15, 2011, 03:17 PM
Wow. That is some pretty bluing in CraigC's post. You could jump in that and swim around.

earlthegoat2
April 15, 2011, 03:19 PM
Deleted....Time mixup.

Old Fuff
April 15, 2011, 03:28 PM
In and of itself, the pin isn't important, but it's an indicator of when S&W stopped individually fitting barrels and went to crush-fitted threads. This won't matter unless for some reason you remove the barrel for whatever reason. When you replace it it won't come up in its original position and be tight. For this reason it is generally recommended that a revolver with a crush fitted barrel (including the more recent kind with two-piece construction) be returned to the factory for any barrel work.

As for bluing, it isn't the bluing process that's so costs so much as the work required for pre-bluing polishing. Also the market has trended toward stainless steel, or stainless combined with other metals. From the manufacturers' point of view stainless is much less expensive to finish.

CraigC
April 15, 2011, 03:33 PM
Recessed chambers are left over from old balloon head cases that were prone to blow out at the rim.
Not true. Recessed chambers came about with magnum cartridges. Very few, if any, cylinders chambered for standard cartridges that used balloonhead cases had recessed chambers. Even the 12/22 .22LR pictured above does NOT have recessed chambers. IMHO, I'd rather never have a revolver with recessed chambers. There is little to no reason for it and you can't tell at a glance that it is loaded. Custom gunsmiths recess the chambers on the hard kickers because it better supports the loading gate.

Old Fuff
April 15, 2011, 03:36 PM
Pinning the barrel just simplifies the barrel fit. You dont' have to have the thread length perfect if you have a pin.

Indeed? Then how come the slot in the barrels was made before the barrel was installed, and is an elongated slot? It does insure that the front sight will be at the 12:00 position (more or less within a couple of degrees), as if it isn't the pin won't go through. :uhoh:

Remo223
April 15, 2011, 03:45 PM
^I'm not understanding why you are not understanding. If the barrel isn't up to proper torque, but the pin lines up, put the pin in and you're good to go.

The front sight isn't machined on the barrel AFTER the barrel is installed. Why would the pin be any different?

I just don't get your comment at all.

MrBorland
April 15, 2011, 03:47 PM
IMHO, I'd rather never have a revolver with recessed chambers. There is little to no reason for it and you can't tell at a glance that it is loaded.

Likewise. The recesses are also more nooks and crannies for gunk to build up. Additional cleaning, to be sure, but they also provide additional opportunities for freshly-loaded rounds to not fully seat - either because of the crud in the recesses or because of some kind of burr on the case rim. Either one will slow your reload and/or affect the trigger pull. I can live without either.

Old Fuff
April 15, 2011, 04:44 PM
If the barrel isn't up to proper torque, but the pin lines up, put the pin in and you're good to go.

If the barrel isn't tight it will either be loose or will become loose, pin or no pin. If you look at a new or previously fitted barrel you should notice that the slot in the barrel is larger then the pin that goes through it.

In Smith & Wesson revolvers the pin was never necessary because barrels were correctly fitted in the first place. S&W used them as a (questionable) sales point over competitor's products - with a special aim at Colt's.

When the barrel is correctly (and tightly) fitted the slot in the barrel will allow the barrel to turn in enough so that when it is tight, with the front sight a 12:00, the pin will still go through the slot. If this resulted in the barrel being too long at the back thereby closing the cylinder/barrel gap, the barrel was filed to adjust the gap.

Remo223
April 15, 2011, 07:02 PM
^You are saying the pin is a fraud. I've never heard that before. That's a pretty strong accusation.

earlthegoat2
April 15, 2011, 07:35 PM
Remo223, just give up.

You cannot just use the pin to fit a barrel. If the barrel does not have proper seating to the frame it WILL come loose from shooting be it a 32 S&W or a 44 magnum. The pin does insure and simplify proper front sight indexing.

Continually arguing with members who have been outstanding contributors to this forum for many years will get you no where and gain you no sympathy. Use the information to learn for the future.

Dont turn this into a repeat performance of you telling 1911Tuner he knew nothing about 1911s.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=579601&page=3

CraigC
April 15, 2011, 08:11 PM
Remo223 has a habit of this, last I saw he knew more about making revolver grips than Roy Fishpaw. :rolleyes:

Old Fuff
April 15, 2011, 08:59 PM
You are saying the pin is a fraud. I've never heard that before. That's a pretty strong accusation.

Ah no, that isn't what I said at all. The pin is sort of a suspenders & belt sort of thing, and a feature S&W could point to that Colt (and later, Ruger) didn't have. I have seen a fair number of older (meaning pre-World War Two and sometimes pre-World War One) revolvers that had been rode hard and put away wet, where for whatever reasons the pin was missing but the barrel was rock-solid tight. Colt's and Ruger revolvers never had a pin, and they're products never developed a reputation of having a barrel come loose.

On a number of occasions I have had to set a barrel back a turn or two to correct a cylinder/barrel gap and the pin went back in regardless.

Some firearms - mostly inexpensive .22 rifles - have barrels that are press fitted into the frame or receiver and then cross-pinned. Quality revolvers were never made that way.

Fishpaw, who....? :neener: :D

earlthegoat2
April 15, 2011, 09:28 PM
Some firearms - mostly inexpensive .22 rifles - have barrels that are press fitted into the frame or receiver and then cross-pinned. Quality revolvers were never made that way.

Here is an example of this. The pin did not help this barrel it seems.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=586109

Vern Humphrey
April 16, 2011, 03:07 PM
Pinning is really no better than crush fit.
Well . . . the crush fit has two consequences. One of them is a slight "choke" or constriction at the breech end which causes inaccuracy. The other is that a worn or cracked forcing cone is a factory repair job, since your average smith doesn't have the capability to remove or install a crush fit barrel.

woad_yurt
April 21, 2011, 10:47 PM
While a pinned barrel may make no difference in shooting quality, it denotes quality. A pinned barrel, to me, functions like a Shelby badge on an old Mustang. The badge doesn't do anything for the car; it just informs those who know what it means.

Old Fuff
April 22, 2011, 12:17 PM
Yup, the Old Fuff agrees - up to a point. :)

Unless a barrel change comes into the picture, the pinned barrel vs. crush-fit issue doesn't matter, but some changes made over the years to reduce manufacturing costs do. But without these changes many popular handguns would not be affordable in the general market. The key objective of most of these changes was to reduce or eliminate the handwork that S&W (and others) were famous for.

The argument between those that claim the "new-guns-are-better" and those that prefer "oldtime-quality" will go on as long as revolvers continue to be made, but the Old Fuff - who keeps track of such things - has noticed that in recent years the going price for used, but in excellent condition, or for all practical considerations - like new, have been going up much faster then similar increases for used/recent production models.

Vern Humphrey
April 22, 2011, 12:24 PM
And some, but not all, of that price increase is psychological -- people pay more because they believe the older models are better.

Old Fuff
April 22, 2011, 01:25 PM
people pay more because they believe the older models are better.

True, but sometimes what they believe is backed up with knowledge and experience... ;)

Anyway, I think that folks in both camps should be happy, because they can both buy what they want. But unfortunately I cannot steal those older gems for what I used too. :evil:

Vern Humphrey
April 22, 2011, 01:29 PM
That was my point -- part of the premium paid for old revolvers is based on the quality of those guns, part of it is psychological.

CraigC
April 22, 2011, 02:24 PM
My issue is that I see the value in the older guns. IMHO, they are worth paying a premium for. The prices S&W is asking for new guns, with all the cost-cutting measures and the silly internal lock, are nothing short of insane. They've lost their appeal and become little more than sterile, soul-less tools. I guess you're better off if you don't remember what wonderful sixgun you could buy for $400 only ten short years ago. Should've bought more when I had the chance.....boo hoo.....

Hondo 60
April 22, 2011, 10:26 PM
I have 2 S&W Model 10-5s that are pinned & a 66-2 that isn't.
I don't think the pin makes the 10s any better.
But as mentioned above by several, it shows from what era the gun hails & therefore we know (or think) that is was made to better standards than current guns.

(there! how's that for getting this conversation back on track) ;)

Guillermo
April 24, 2011, 07:41 PM
Unless you like ultra light revolvers there is no reason to buy a new Smith.

Older guns have forged parts, hand fitting and assembled by actual human beings with pride in their work.

These days Smith revolvers are made a cheaply as possible and filled with MIM parts (the metal equivalent to particle board) in addition to having the idiotic lock. There seems to be no QC. These days Taurus is building as good or better revolvers at a much better price.

The pin, in and of itself means nothing. Only that the gun was made before the wheels came off the bus.

Walking Dead
April 25, 2011, 07:47 AM
CNC machining is far superior to manual machining in every way. A fire arm that need extensive hand fitting after machining (other than polishing) only reflects that the machinist don't know what he is doing on the machine. The pinning of anything indicates the fact that Smith could not hold the tolerance back then.

x_wrench
April 25, 2011, 08:16 AM
all i know about any of this is that my 629 classic certainly does have a constriction in the barrel where it goes through the frame. to me, this makes very little sense. they are creating much higher pressures there, and forcing more of the burning powder out through the cylinder gap. thus lowereing the overall velocity of the round. i can see where a tighter fit may help with shooting lead bullets, as it would force the rifling into the lead, and keep it from "striping out" on hotter loads.

StrawHat
April 25, 2011, 08:31 AM
x_wrench ...all i know about any of this is that my 629 classic certainly does have a constriction in the barrel where it goes through the frame...

There are ways to eliminate this constriction. Check over on the S&W sites or the cast bullet sites for more information. The constriction acts as a sizing dies and makes the bullets smaller than they need to be for accurate shooting.

Old Fuff
April 25, 2011, 12:29 PM
CNC machining is far superior to manual machining in every way.

Absolutely true! :what:

Which means each and every Smith & Wesson is perfect, because it's made with perfect parts.

But I do wonder about the threads and posts we see concerning current or recent guns that have been returned, and had cylinders, barrels, and even frames replaced because of manufacturing defects. :uhoh:

Of course not all of the older guns were without flaws, especially those made under wartime pressure (Korea, Viet Nam, etc.), but no one ever claimed they were.

What tends to happen with CNC machined parts is that if something does go wrong the machines make a lot of identical "wrong" parts before the error is discovered.

"Back when..." machines had individual operators that made frequent checks, and they were backed up with floor inspectors.

That said, I am delighted with those that actually believe the new guns are better. They keep the company in business, and that's a big plus.

Meanwhile my limited needs can be filled with older junk (hand selected of course) that can be purchased for lower prices because they represent inferior quality.

Sure they do. :evil: :cool:

CraigC
April 25, 2011, 01:39 PM
CNC machining is far superior to manual machining in every way. A fire arm that need extensive hand fitting after machining (other than polishing) only reflects that the machinist don't know what he is doing on the machine. The pinning of anything indicates the fact that Smith could not hold the tolerance back then.
Then I'm sure you will find no shortage of new S&W's to strike your fancy.

The finest firearms available in the world today are hand-fitted, not produced from finished parts right off the CNC, as they were 100yrs ago. Period. End of discussion. A "Best Grade" Bowen custom is not "Best Grade" because a CNC machined it perfectly. It is "Best Grade" because Hamilton Bowen is a master at his art and put his HANDS on it. Machines don't produce perfect guns, men do.

Guillermo
April 25, 2011, 06:05 PM
I am delighted with those that actually believe the new guns are better

me too

less competition

Walking Dead
April 25, 2011, 07:39 PM
Then I'm sure you will find no shortage of new S&W's to strike your fancy.

The finest firearms available in the world today are hand-fitted, not produced from finished parts right off the CNC, as they were 100yrs ago. Period. End of discussion. A "Best Grade" Bowen custom is not "Best Grade" because a CNC machined it perfectly. It is "Best Grade" because Hamilton Bowen is a master at his art and put his HANDS on it. Machines don't produce perfect guns, men do.
Having a custom gun builder build a single gun does not matter if it is on a manual machine or cnc. The fact that one man follows the build from start to finish and takes pride in what he is doing is the difference. With that said you will cut down the work that has to be done by hand by 95 percent when working from cnc machined components. The ability of a cnc machine is strictly dependent on the machinist. If Smith built guns to the tolerances we hold at the aerospace shop I manage they would cost 5X the price. That's what the difference is.

earlthegoat2
April 25, 2011, 07:52 PM
Hand builders use CNC machines too. The CNC machines make the parts slightly oversize so they can be hand fit the rest of the way. WHY DO THEY DO IT THIS WAY?!! Because hand fitting is superior. Otherwise, it would be insane to hand fit anything.

CNCs make MASS PRODUCTION easier. THAT is all. It is superior to the bean counters mainly. It has advantages in custom work as well and that is only because it makes parts fit closely so they can be hand fit perfectly later.

These days Taurus is building as good or better revolvers at a much better price.

Im glad I finally found someone else who thinks this too. I would gladly buy a Taurus over any new S&W. Taurus at least has an innovation department. S&W has a "What is Taurus building that we can copy" department.

bigggbbruce
April 25, 2011, 08:23 PM
My 2 cents.. Early guns (100 years and older) were made almost crudely but functioned. During the great industrial growth period (1900-about 60's) it seems that gun manufactures excelled in quality and a desire to produce fine guns..(near gunsmith custom built, S&W Colt, Browning) it is this era that I try to collect from as they represent these companies well... The price goes up because we all want the best ones at the best price... and it's that demand that keeps the prices climbing..

I don't mind... although some have gone crazy.. but in perspective my brand new 1975 Camaro was $4200 ordered from the factory... how much are they now... all relative....

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