Smith & Wesson quality


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Red Cent
October 25, 2011, 08:15 PM
I am amazed at the number of responses to the Tauras post. I am also surprised with the number of posters complaining about the somewhat recent quality control of Smith & Wesson. I cannot offer anything in that regard. I have a number of Smiths including a M10 in 357, a M29 bought around 1975, two unfired commemorative M19s bought around 1973, a 39 and a 59, and some others. I have a super nice M10 PPC with a Douglas bull and a Davis rib.
As you can see, mine, I believe, came from an era of very fine workmanship from Smith & Wesson. I have never had a problem with my shooters.

Are the recent and current S&Ws plagued with quality problems?

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RNB65
October 25, 2011, 08:17 PM
http://www.chuckhawks.com/smith-wesson_dark.htm

birdhunter317
October 25, 2011, 08:26 PM
after reading that article I guess have to now sell my 586 no dash 4inch barrel that i have owned since new 1982 for some taurus or rossi quality revolver..................................not

MCgunner
October 25, 2011, 09:13 PM
I would buy a new Smith if they weren't over priced. I'd just inspect it just as I do any revolver, reject what doesn't pass inspection. Some Smiths AREN'T that high, the 642 for instance. It's pretty reasonably priced. I do prefer the older used Smiths in good shape, of course, and one can STILL find deals on K frames. I won't reject any brand that passes my inspection. Thankfully, they don't make Rohm/RG anymore. :D That is the ONE brand I would NOT consider even if it were the one in a thousand that passed inspection.

Just look it over close, measure gap, end shake, check timing, the sticky at the top about revolver inspection says it all. Don't buy sight unseen. ALWAYS inspect a purchase, no matter the brand, no matter if used or new. That's really all you need do. If you DO get something you missed, the warranty will take care of it. That's not likely if you follow the sticky above. The only revolvers I order sight unseen are Cabela's cap and ball Piettas on sale. :D I know Cabelas will back 'em under THEIR warranty if I get a bad one, but that hasn't happened so far.

Taurus has a lot of haters. Smith has a lot of fanboys. Facts are, I own both, and they both make good quality guns. I'll admit to not owning any NEW Smiths or any Taurus newer than 1996. I tend to be a Ruger fanboy when push comes to shove, but I'm not into hating brands. I dis Smith now and then in Taurus bashing threads just to P off the fanboys and to point out their QC now days is no better. Hawks points out some of that, but I think he makes it sound worse than it is.

22lr
October 25, 2011, 09:40 PM
Ive been buying new S&Ws on a regular basis for years. Never had anything but the highest of quality. Sure its not the hand crafted quality of the old days, but im also not willing to pay 2k for a revolver so I accept MIM and CNC. Fact is that they are still a much higher quality than Taurus or Charter arms.

MCgunner
October 25, 2011, 09:44 PM
Fact is that they are still a much higher quality than Taurus or Charter arms.

The only FACT there is that it's YOUR opinion.

oneounceload
October 25, 2011, 09:49 PM
Personally, WAY too many put WAY too much value in Chuck's opinions

bdb benzino
October 25, 2011, 10:32 PM
Personally, WAY too many put WAY too much value in Chuck's opinions

Could not agree more, I think that guy is full of it!

USSR
October 25, 2011, 10:49 PM
Yeah, Chuckles is not to be taken seriously.

Don

rich642z
October 25, 2011, 10:57 PM
I only own a S&W 625-8 and the rest are RUGERS in .357 mag for target and self defense.

Jim K
October 25, 2011, 11:03 PM
Some people hate Fords and swear they fall apart in 20 miles. Some say the same about Chevrolets. And Nissans. And Dodges. And Toyotas. Etc. Chuck's hatred is directed at S&W and he has gathered (or made up) every bad thing possible about an S&W product. Ranters of that type are best ignored; go by your own knowledge and experience.

Jim

BossHogg
October 25, 2011, 11:33 PM
S&W is my favorite revolver for DA. Everyone I have is just a great gun. I can't believe anyone looking for a used revolver would turn their nose up to one. Better than any thing else out there. Don't go cheap get the best.

One of my very favorite revolvers is a RG model 66 9 1/2 in barrel 22lr, I guess I got the 1 of a thousand. I also have 3 more RG's all are as good as any Taururs as I've traded off. No Taurus' but 4 RG'S what the hell.

orionengnr
October 26, 2011, 12:55 AM
Taurus has a lot of haters. Smith has a lot of fanboys.
..and the inverse is true as well.

Equally important...ChuckCawk is something less than an unbiased, credible source....and that is an understatement.

Note that I am not expressing a preference for any particular manufacturer.

MCgunner
October 26, 2011, 08:41 AM
No one is "unbiased". Just look at this thread.

One of my very favorite revolvers is a RG model 66 9 1/2 in barrel 22lr, I guess I got the 1 of a thousand. I also have 3 more RG's all are as good as any Taururs as I've traded off. No Taurus' but 4 RG'S what the hell.

You're looney. :D RG wouldn't make it as a cracker jacks toy. :rolleyes: Not even in the same class with REAL firearms like Taurus and Smith and Ruger or Rossi or Charter Arms or High Standard or H&R for that matter. But, hey, if you like 'em, it's YOUR gun, not mine, thankfully.

Yeah, I'm biased against RG/Rohm. Sorry.

snooperman
October 26, 2011, 09:02 AM
I prefer them over the new ones because I liked the workmanship and finish. That said, I am not sure that they will out perform the newer ones in any way. At least it has not been proven to me yet. The newer metals and SS finish has it's value too, even though I prefer the older blue guns.

Thaddeus Jones
October 26, 2011, 10:37 AM
All my S&W's have forged parts, great triggers, beautiful finishes, barrels that are not canted and not one of them cost me more than $600 or so.

Not one of them was made after 1995 either. :neener:

roaddog28
October 26, 2011, 10:41 AM
I have mixed opinions about this subject. I have several old S&W revolvers dating back to the M&P 38 special. This includes a model 19-2 and a 13-2 and my M&P 38 special. All of these revolvers are among my best shooters. Also the quality of the blueing and overall appearence as well as the double action trigger are great. I do have some later S&W revolvers. I have a 686-2, model 10-14 and a 66-4. These revolvers are all made after 1980. I compare them to the old ones I have and to me they are not as well made.
Sure they shoot fine. My 10-14 actually is a good shooter at the range. But still as good as this revolver is I still prefer my older ones. If I were to buy a new revolver today it would not be a S&W. They have priced themselfs out of the market for the average shooter like me. I would but a new Ruger instead because they are a better value.

Regards,
Howard

Old Fuff
October 26, 2011, 11:54 AM
I think most members of this forum define "older" Smith & Wesson's as being 1950 >, or even 1946 >. I define them as middle 1880's >.

In terms of functioning, today's and recent Smith & Wesson's are usually O.K. In terms of fit and finish they don't even come close. This is not because the company has failed to keep up the quality, but rather because our 21st Century manufacturing economy leaves them no choice.

I prefer older Colt's and S&W's because I want more then equality-in-functioning. But I won't find what I want in a new gun that sells at an affordable price.

Spend your money on whatever you like

MCgunner
October 26, 2011, 12:00 PM
I think most members of this forum define "older" Smith & Wesson's as being 1950 >, or even 1946 >. I define them as middle 1880's

So, have you traded in your '51 Navy Colt for one of them new fangled top break cartridge guns, yet? :D

thomis
October 26, 2011, 12:17 PM
I love both my Ruger's and my Smith's.
I own mostly Ruger's, though, because they are more my style. I did have to send a Super Blackhawk back to the factory once. Ruger graciously fixed it for free.
My favorite Smith is the 340 PD. Who else has made a .357 Mag that weighs 11.4 ounces and is so accurate and reliable??
I would like to let S&W have a chance to respond to Hawk's accusations.

Old Fuff
October 26, 2011, 01:01 PM
So, have you traded in your '51 Navy Colt for one of them new fangled top break cartridge guns, yet?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

But if you had the opportunity to take apart a reprehensive group of Smith & Wesson (as well as other) revolvers made from the Civil War to present, you would notice differences in workmanship. Quality of material is another matter; because without question today's steel and non-ferrous alloys are better.

However just for example, I have a little .38 S&W top-break that when locked has NO cylinder end-shake nor rotational movement Ė and all 5 chambers are concentric with the bore. Sideplate-to-frame fit is so tight that you can hardly see it. This little gem was made around 1884 without the benefit of CNC controlled machinery. I don't see this being duplicated today.

In a .38 Military & Police, made during wartime in 1918, the internal lockwork was highly polished before the parts were case hardened, and the quality of the blued finish is so much better then you see now there is no comparison. The smoothness of the double-action trigger pull is so good it could move you to tears.

In both cases the stocks were individually fit to the frames before they were finished (blue, nickel plate, or whatever) for a perfect fit, and then serial numbered to the particular gun.

Clearly, being driven by cost-cutting lay well into the future.

What would you think would happen if someone in Smith & Wessonís top management went to the production engineers and said that they wanted to have a second notch cut along side of each cylinder stop notch, and a hardened insert staked in place to prevent the ball on the cylinder stop (thatís the part that you see sticking up in the bottom of the cylinder window) from dinging up and battering the cylinder stop notch. And to put frosting on the cake when the operation was finished the fit was so tight it couldnít be detected without a strong magnifying glass!!! Could they do it without causing a substantial increase in the revolverís cost? Could they even do it at all?

Well the fact is they did exactly that, during the late 1890ís/early 1900ís.

I could go on and on, but anyway, poking your nose into some of these older guns can provide an education. What they make today isnít bad by todayís standards, but they canít touch what came before. ;)

browncoatdawn
October 26, 2011, 02:03 PM
I don't know much at all about revolvers, as I am only 32, and have not really been exposed to many of the classics. What is clear to me is that the "golden age" of revolvers seems to start at about 1858 and go til about the mid 1970's.

Recently, my uncle told me his SW Model 10 Victory, with holster and extra cylinder and assorted parts that he has had for years, passed from his dad, is going to me when he gets too old to give it a proper home. I am blessed, as this is the gun I remember seeing on my grandfathers hip for years working on his salvage yard. I have no kids of my own, and likely cannot, after my accident, so my nephew is being raised right by my sister, and he already has a shotgun with his name on it waiting for his 16th birthday. The model 10 will be his. But I digress.

I am going to be looking at a friends old colt, and Smith selection, as he has been collecting for many years. He has 3 Anacondas, and 4 Pythons. He said he just can't leave one laying where he finds it if it has a price tag on it.
I would love to find myself a few of the older Smiths for a reasonable price, as they seem to be grand. Anyone looking to sell in Iowa, look me up, lol.

I have a fondness for Ruger, and found the trigger on the LCR to be quite pleasing, but not like the older Smiths I have handled.

tpelle
October 26, 2011, 02:11 PM
A friend of mine used to be a police officer, and at the time the department-issued pistol was a S&W Stainless .45 Auto (a 645 maybe?). In my friend's case, his issue pistol continuously malfunctioned to the point that he lost confidence in it. The department's armorer worked on it several times and could not get it to work. My friend finally got fed up and bought, with his own money, a brand new Glock 21 with the NY trigger (which he subsequently sold to me). He took the Glock into his Chief's office and laid it on his desk and told him that if he didn't get the Smith fixed he was going to start carrying the Glock for his duty pistol.

The Chief finally had it sent back to S&W, and they determined that it was built with a 10mm Auto slide, as well as some other random parts from other caliber pistols.

After they replaced all of the oddball parts with .45 Auto parts the pistol ran fine.

Subsequent to that the department switched over to SIG pistols.

(BTW, that NY trigger on the G21 sucked swamp water! I changed it out to a standard trigger, and now it runs as nice as you could expect from a big square chunky hunk of plastic.)

Drail
October 26, 2011, 02:20 PM
Having handled and done work on a lot of older S&W guns I can assure you that they ain't what they used to be. The new ones aren't so bad really but they are WAY overpriced. In the early days Colt and S&W would set a man down at a bench with a box of parts and tell him to assemble and fit everything until it was perfect. They didn't really care how long it took him. And after he had done it for twenty years he got pretty good at it. Almost no one in this country still builds stuff like that anymore. Imagine what a gun would cost with that many man hours in it.

Old Fuff
October 26, 2011, 04:14 PM
In the early days Colt and S&W would set a man down at a bench with a box of parts and tell him to assemble and fit everything until it was perfect. They didn't really care how long it took him. And after he had done it for twenty years he got pretty good at it. Almost no one in this country still builds stuff like that anymore. Imagine what a gun would cost with that many man hours in it.

And what if the original owner hardly used it, and now it's sitting at the local gun-gouger's shop in a used gun counter filled with polymer pistols and one lonely, almost new revolver priced at $375.00? :evil:

Thaddeus Jones
October 26, 2011, 04:36 PM
It's not languishing there any more Old Fuff. I buy them on sight. :D

357 Terms
October 26, 2011, 04:37 PM
And what if the original owner hardly used it, and now it's sitting at the local gun-gouger's shop in a used gun counter filled with polymer pistols and one lonely, almost new revolver priced at $375.00?


I wish. In my area old/used NIB Smiths are almost non-existant.
Plenty of newer models but no real gems.
Oh well; guess I have to stick with the cheaper,and more rugged Rugers.

Old Fuff
October 26, 2011, 05:27 PM
You should condider some of the better auctions (and I don't mean Gunbroker or GunsAmerica - nothing wrong with them, but the selection isn't the best.)

Try www.proxibid.com

If you are "stuck with Ruger's" I don't feel too bad...

bsms
October 26, 2011, 10:22 PM
I think we are in the Golden Age of shooting. 30 years ago, I lived in a small town. Want to buy a revolver? Haunt the pawn shops - no going to Davidsons or Buds and thinking about your choices. I have a Dan Wesson 357 from that time, and all my new, MIM'd S&Ws and Rugers are better quality.

The 3 S&Ws I've bought in the last couple of years have no real issues. The Model 29 has a small amount of creep, but I have to be very slow and careful on the trigger to feel it. DA is great, and the single action cocking a delight. The 686+ has a great SA trigger, but a bit more pull in DA than I care for.

Ruger? I've got an Alaskan. The finish sucks, but it shoots fantastic.

Off course, Ruger & S&W could put out flawless guns, but who would buy them? I already have fights enough with my wife, without wanting to buy a $2000 gun. And yes, every gun I own shoots better than me, and I can't afford the ammo to get better than them.

I've yet to hear of Ruger or S&W not making good on a bad gun. I honestly think you can buy with confidence, knowing that you will either receive a very good gun, or the two top companies will make it good.

The idea that S&W is churning out pee-poor guns chaps my butt. If someone here thinks they can do better, do so. To date, no one else is beating them at their price range. Ruger equals them, but most Rugers are so different in feel from most S&Ws that it seems odd to think of them as competitors.

Update: The Model 29 is just a couple of days old. Don't know if it is a bit of dry firing, or a couple rounds of Rem Oil followed by compressed air, but the creep is gone.

mjackson
October 27, 2011, 04:15 PM
I also believe this is a great time to buy firearms. If you factor in skilled labor rates (very high today) and cheap manufacturing methods (more choices than ever), there is a firearm for every fancy today. The problem is many of these discussions turn into apples to oranges comparisons and most of the time suffer from GDS- Glock Degenerative Syndrome, where every firearm eventually gets compared to the lowest common denominator. Forgive the heresy for the sake of argument, gents.
IF I want to buy a quality car, I'll pick the brain of the most experienced mechanic that I can find, function being more important than form to me. And it is the same with firearms FOR ME. Many of the well known gunsmiths today have valuable opinions, Grant Cunningham being one. Thanks Old Fuff for the info on the older stuff.

Old Fuff
October 27, 2011, 04:36 PM
It's not languishing there any more Old Fuff. I buy them on sight.

Ah... Well... I think maybe I could do without you. :uhoh: :D

Billy Shears
October 27, 2011, 04:42 PM
I just picked up a very nice 1940s 4in bbl Smith & Wesson Military & Police .38, with the original box for $330. Cosmetically, it's not like new, as it does show some holster wear, though not all that much. But mechanically, it's in great shape. I was happy to get it.

A couple of years ago, I picked up a 6 1/2in bbl Model 29 of 1960s vintage, complete with the old "coke bottle" grips. When I picked it up, I compared it to a brand new 6 1/2in bbl Model 29 in the same shop. The 1960s Smith had a hi-polish blued finish you could see yourself in. The finish on the new one looked worse than a wartime Model 1917 I used to own.

I have no interest in new production S&W revolvers. The fit & finish just isn't as good, and they've got that damnable lock.

Old Fuff
October 27, 2011, 04:48 PM
Thanks Old Fuff for the info on the older stuff.

I just got warmed up. There are bunches of little inovations that came and went from the 1890's to 1940. They all depended on being able to assign endless time and skilled labor to something and still make money. For what should be obvious reasons; those who view firearms from a perspective of being fine machinery - as well as being something to go out and shoot, can sometimes buy examples at a fraction of what they'd cost if they were made today. :cool:

Dogguy
October 27, 2011, 05:04 PM
Current S&W revolvers are a little rough compared to the older, more refined models, it's true. But they benefit from improvements in metallurgy and alloys. Current lightweight J-frames can handle .357 Magnum ammo much better than I can in such small guns. Today we have stainless steel whereas older Smiths were beautifully blued but subject to corrosion without frequent attention. So, it's debatable as to whether or not new Smiths are worse than older ones IMO.

I've had a couple of S&W revolvers that came new with problems. The worst of them was from about 25-30 years ago. Smith fixed it and it cost me nothing. More recently, I had a new 642 with an issue in cylinder rotation. But I intended to have an action job performed on the gun when I bought it. The gunsmith resolved the problem when he did the action job.

I have my dad's old .38 M&P that he used back in the '50s as a LEO. The action is smooth as glass and the rounded and checkered walnut grip panels feel wonderful to the hand. But time has not been kind to the carbon steel, inside or out, and the blue finish is pitted and worn. I don't shoot that gun anymore, I'll just hold onto it. I carry a newer S&W 642 daily. It never started as pretty or as smooth as that old M&P but it's a practical gun for frequent use that doesn't need a great deal of attention. I guess that's the difference between modern arms and those of the past. Today, guns are built for hard use. They aren't made to be works of art and beauty. Older guns were often admired for their figured wood and deep finish as much as for their utility.

OldCavSoldier
October 27, 2011, 05:55 PM
Of the revolvers I own, I have Colts, H&Rs, Rugers, and S&Ws. Manufactured years of the revolvers varies from 1937 to 2010. There are some really good things about the old guns, and there are some not so good things about the old guns - and the same for the newer guns. I can safely claim that all my revolvers perform exactly as I want them to and I have never had one that I just had to get rid of because of "workmanship" or "materials" or "quality" or anything else. Of course, I'm a rather plebian kind of guy and have never held a patrician view of anything.

Guillermo
October 27, 2011, 06:17 PM
pssst....Old Fuff...

whisper so no one can hear us

QUIT IT!!!

if someone wants to go pay more money for a crap gun, that is less competition for the good old guns!!!

I just picked up a pre-model 10 for 185 bucks (95% finish).

If these guys start looking for old guns the prices will skyrocket.

Or in other words SHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Old Fuff
October 27, 2011, 08:20 PM
Relax.... :cool:

There are two kinds of people here - those that already know what we know, and those that think stainless steel, MIM, and never-touched-by-human- hands construction are the best thing since sliced bread. Some of them adore a less-then-one-pound pot metal snubby chambered in .357 Magnum. If S&W made a fly-weight, J-frame .44 Magnum they'd get in line to buy one. :neener:

Next thing you know they'll be buying revolvers with plastic parts in 'um. :eek:

Why they're even people out there who vote for Democtats... :what:

Both of us will die of old age long before the supply of "real revolvers" run out. Ya' just have to know what rock to look under... :D

bsms
October 27, 2011, 08:52 PM
Well, I'm glad I've got choices. I just bought new, and am happy with it. Needs at least another coat of wax, and then shoot it tomorrow. I need to do a side by side with my Alaskan...that would be a study in contrasts.

Those who prefer to seek out the old models have my best wishes in your search!

http://img706.imageshack.us/img706/5479/img2446small.jpg

Guillermo
October 27, 2011, 09:21 PM
Ya' just have to know what rock to look under


one particular site that u recommended is going to be the financial ruin of me.

(I just got home from mailing a check and FFL form)

Derek Zeanah
October 27, 2011, 09:29 PM
This is not because the company has failed to keep up the quality, but rather because our 21st Century manufacturing economy leaves them no choice.I think this is the problem. We live in a world where most any manufacturer can manufacture at all quality levels, provided there is a profit in it. What they end up doing is manufacturing to a price point.

And we are seeing the effects of this. Craftsmanship and hand-fitting require expensive labor, whereas automation is cheap now. A century ago it was the other way 'round. The good side of it is this: firearms have never been cheaper. That revolver with amazing workmanship from a different era cost how much again? I'm not interested in the $25 price tag; I want to know how many weeks of an average worker's life that $25 represents.

Compare that to now. You can buy a pretty good gun for $450, and that's less than a week's wages. If you want quality there are folks who will sell it to you, but you are going to pay for it. An Ed Brown costs more than a Springfield (sorry - I know this is the wheel gun forum). A S&W cost less than a Colt.

The advantage today is this: do you want to pay for that high quality level, or get something 90% as good for a price that would make your ancestors jealous? Bemoan the loss of craftsmen all you want, but overall this is a positive change.

Guillermo
October 27, 2011, 09:34 PM
or get something 90% as good

You are being generous

Derek Zeanah
October 27, 2011, 09:43 PM
You are being generous
I don't own one any more, and I don't particularly like them, but it's hard to argue the value proposition of something like a Glock 17.

Guillermo
October 27, 2011, 10:03 PM
it's hard to argue the value proposition of something like a Glock 1

true

Autos have gotten cheaper and more dependable.

Such cannot be said for revolvers

bsms
October 27, 2011, 10:37 PM
In 1960, a S&W Model 29 listed for $140. According to the Internet. I wasn't of gun buying age in 1960...

Adjusted for inflation, that would be $1020 now. A Model 29 list for $969. I suspect the internet makes it much harder to SELL one for list, but the fact is that if one adjusts for inflation, the price hasn't changed much.

The gun is different. I'll assume the trigger job is worse now, as is the bluing. However, I'd bet the metal is better, and it is probably more durable. Frankly, I'd also bet most shooters aren't qualified to care.

I'm not. My shooting problems aren't caused by an imperfect trigger, and I won't shoot enough high power loads out of it to ever break it.

Since S&W charges $155 for their " Master Revolver Action Package":

Trigger Stop
Chamfer Charge Holes
Polish Rebound Spring, Hammer Stud and Yoke Barrel Bosses
Detail Lockwork Surfaces
Stone Hammer and Trigger Contact Areas
Test Fire for Function

it is obvious they COULD market a S&W Model 29, minus the Hillary hole if they chose, with the above work done for a list price under $1100 - but apparently, they don't think there is a market for it.

Some of it depends on what the shooter wants. For a collector, the older gun is obviously better. As a work of hand crafted art, the older gun is obviously better. As a shooting gun for 90+% of those who buy one, including me? The new one will be fine.

I don't see much reason to knock either. My Ruger Alaskan looks awful, but shoots great. It has a very different 'personality' than my Model 29, but it isn't a 'bad' choice.

I buy new because I don't want to spend months searching, and because I almost never see what I would be interested in when I'm in a gun shop. I like the warranty. If S&W was marketing a gun at $1500 with a super bluing job & custom trigger, I'd still buy what I did.

Now, if they made one without the hole for $150 more, I'd spring for that...

bsms
October 27, 2011, 10:39 PM
"You are being generous".

Really? For shooting, do you think the new guns will fail more than 10% more often, or miss the target by 10% more error?

How do you define 90% as good?

Guillermo
October 27, 2011, 11:20 PM
How do you define 90% as good?

build materials and build quality

fit @ finish

lack of tool marks

recall and warranty work

take your pick

RalphS
October 27, 2011, 11:22 PM
I bought a 617-6 revolver new from Buds a couple of years ago. It had a barrel to cylinder gap of 0.012. Had to go back to S&W for a new barrel.

To be honest, probably half the firearms that I've bought new had problems with them. I doubt that any new guns get looked at by a real gunsmith before they leave the factory, just some low paid QC person, if that. Once I send them back, I think they go to a real gunsmith who goes over them and fixes every problem he finds.

The result of this is that I'm very leery of buying any more new guns.

skidder
October 28, 2011, 12:03 AM
RalphS-- Has a good point.

I've passed up many new revolvers due to them failing the revolver checkout. If they can't pass in the store how could they pass on the nightstand?

Guillermo
October 28, 2011, 12:24 AM
If they can't pass in the store how could they pass on the nightstand?

How do they get out of the factory?!?!?!

The answer is "no QC"

mjackson
October 28, 2011, 12:54 AM
I also don't believe that S&W uses better alloys today than they did in the 1950's as lack of machine marks is no judge of a steel's toughness. Maybe someone more learned can confirm this. Few are the manufactures who select their materials and construction methods based on supreme durability and longevity, but a Swiss firm and a French firm do come to mind.;)

skidder
October 28, 2011, 01:51 AM
You may gain durability with better alloys (if it's true), but poor craftsmanship cancels any boast of superior metals (perfume on a pig... it is still a pig).

I had the money for a new 66 in my local gun store. The Hillary Hole, poor finish, and sloppy cylinder sent me to the pawn shop where I purchased a Llama 38 special and a nice Security Six .357 for a grand total of $380. I gained 2 handguns and still had $200 in my wallet by passing up the so called "Smith and Wesson".

Kiln
October 28, 2011, 05:03 AM
One of my very favorite revolvers is a RG model 66 9 1/2 in barrel 22lr, I guess I got the 1 of a thousand. I also have 3 more RG's all are as good as any Taururs as I've traded off. No Taurus' but 4 RG'S what the hell.
I've got two Rohm revolvers that work fine but have also had two with problems...quality on them is hit or miss and you either get a good one or a bad one. Both of mine are RG model 23 revolvers. No they aren't pretty but they're still ticking fine and I shoot them frequently too.

I wouldn't buy an RG10 or RG14 because those ones were pretty problematic...later models are muuuuch better.

Edit: The two that I had break on me were an RG10 and an RG66 but the 66 was heavily used by two owners.

eazyrider
October 28, 2011, 07:41 AM
I am a young guy but I like revolvers better than auto's. There are not a lot of choices when it comes to wheel guns at the gun stores. Usually just three or four makers. I have seen no quality issues from any of them. Of course that is just holding them, not shooting them heavily. Personally I am a Colt fan so that sentence in Chuckhawks blog about S@W ripping off Colt for a 150 years made me smile. But in all seriousness I would have no problem buying or trusting a Smith. In fact my next handgun will probably be a 7 or 8 shot .357 made by S@W.

Old Fuff
October 28, 2011, 09:45 AM
I also don't believe that S&W uses better alloys today than they did in the 1950's

The high-carbon steel that S&W used during the 1950's is pretty well gone, because it's been replaced by stainless. Better of the same has replaced the early stainless alloys. Where big improvement can be seen is in the aluminum used in lightweight frames. During the 1950ís no one in the business even remotely considered making an aluminum/steel lightweight snubby chambered in .357 Magnum. They can and do today, but I for one donít have the slightest interest in getting one.

I am not a stainless steel fan, and Iíll point out to those that are, that the military services of the world have not gone in that direction. Since military small arms often have to stand up to harsh environments and see more ďwear through useĒ then privately owned guns thatís an interesting observation when you are discussing materials.

Tastes change, but in my view the improvements in materials havenít been enough to affect the kind of revolvers Iím interested in, to justify going to automated workmanship, all other things being equal. There is a limit to how many small/lightweight snubbies one needs to own. After that I fail to see where material advancements in revolvers really matter.

oldfool
October 28, 2011, 10:45 AM
used to be there were four big in DA revolvers
Colt, S&W, Dan Wesson, and Ruger
(other than the usual assortment of high priced small volume niche 'custom' makers, and the usual bunch of cheap Saturday nite special class players)
H&R and High Standard were pretty much sideline 2nd tier makers. Taurus was pretty much unheard of outside of South America.

Colt isn't Colt anymore
S&W isn't S&W any more
Dan Wesson isn't Dan Wesson anymore
and Bill Ruger doesn't run Ruger anymore

Holding Companies run the big firearms companies, not individuals, and they all have a lot of MBAs and accountants stacked up like cord wood, falling over one another to save on unit costs and get their little gold star next to their name. How it is.

Now only three are "big" in revolvers - S&W, Ruger, and Taurus, and the respective players market to their chosen price points, and they all keep a real close eye on one another. When it's all said and done, all the excuses made, all the peevishness vented, all the political postured, it's really not a huge mystery.

Averaged across the brand lines, you don't always get what you pay for, but very very rarely get what you don't pay for. The price lines are what they are, because of the methods used and the time and attention spent on quality control (or not spent). No mystery as to how the big three shake out on pricing. If you really think you are getting a free ride from anybody on quality, fit, finish, accuracy, trigger, reliability... well buy more of that "Winchester branded" accessory stuff from Wallyworld and be happy.

Somebody above already pointed out what yesteryear prices translate into today, so get over it, $100 or $1000 cash just ain't what it used to be.

No, you won't get 1950 hand fitted quality out-of-the box from S&W.. or Ruger.. or Taurus. There is no Tooth Fairy. But cough up enough cash for custom work, you can get anything. I would suggest you start with a S&W or Ruger to customize, vs. Taurus, but it's your money.

Me, I own S&W, Ruger, Taurus, Rossi, High-Standard, Colt, Beretta, AMT, and INA handguns
(and would own more brands if had more money)
all of 'em made more than a couple of decades ago, except a couple of Ruger autoloaders, MKIII and LCP

The opinion of any one person (me, you, anybody) is extremely subjective, and oft driven by yesteryear loyalties, woobie factor. But my opinion is that I would not hesitate to buy a newly manufactured revolver today, leastways if I had more hands to shoot them with. I would look real close at any make/model, but I have no doubts about 'who' I still expect to offer the most models in better vs worse quality. Those price tags are what they are because all three are making their sales targets by selling them at that, each has a proven profit model that works. That just doesn't work on 'name' alone, never did.

I don't buy that Wallyworld/'Winchester' crap because of what it ain't, irrespective of name; some do I guess. But I also don't do custom guns, so when looking for best investment for my bang, mostly inclined to start at the top (S&W) and only work my way down. Mostly, not exclusively.

oldfool
October 28, 2011, 10:55 AM
If you want to get ol' Chuck cranked, just tell him S&W was the 1st in the game with 357 mag revolvers.. not those dadgum Colt copycatters :D

ol' Chuck writes a good article, but he ought stick to writing about Browning rifles...
and that article is so old it has longer whiskers on it than me

Guillermo
October 28, 2011, 11:18 AM
the improperly named Old Fool wrote a fine post in #55

Good job you old whisky drinker

bsms
October 28, 2011, 11:35 AM
If the amount of work done by hand is the measure of a gun, then S&W and Ruger are in the toilet. If shooting well is the standard, they are doing fine.

Jack O'Conner used to complain that the pre-64 Winchester wasn't being made, and about the poor checkering and lousy wood used on guns in the 70s compared to guns made before WW2. But he also had the sense to admit that the new guns worked fine for taking game.

I'm now 3 for 3 in getting good guns from S&W, ordered blind over the Internet. And I've yet to see where someone had a gun that shot poorly, where either S&W or Ruger failed to make it right. Oh golly - worst case, you may lose the use of your gun for 2 weeks while the manufacturer carefully fixes whatever was wrong.

Are the guns less reliable now? Nope. The opposite. K-frames are limited to 38 specials, and L-frames can handle 357 loads without damage. So can J-frames...

And N-frames have been tweaked to help with issues encountered BY THOSE OLDER GUNS WHEN NEW.

And if you really want a S&W with the finish of the old guns, and with ultimate triggers, you can take your $800 guns, send it to a custom gunsmith, and for what - $500 or less - get back a beautifully finished gun with a hand stoned trigger. Total cost would be $1300 for a gun with the fit and finish of a 1950 S&W.

And no one is stopping you from doing so. And honestly, no one is stopping you from haunting auctions and going thru a hundred pawn shops and gun shops to find your dream gun. If that is what you value, do so and enjoy it!

But why gripe that the news guns are dog poop? After a nearly 25 year break in shooting, I came back and found a gun world where guns are much easier to find and frankly shoot much better than the ones I bought in the late 70s. I've had my 22/32 kit gun for 35 years, and no, it doesn't perform any better than the Model 29 that I picked up a couple of days ago.

I remember the good old days. They were not that good. Hard to find guns, ammo was whatever the local store carried, guns were no better in quality in 1976 than now and maybe less, it took me 6 months and hundreds of miles of driving to find a different grip for my Dan Wesson, concealed carry was a wet dream for many...

I remember 1976. If you like shooting, 2011 is much better.

hardluk1
October 28, 2011, 01:02 PM
I have a buddy that bought a model 629 for hunting. This thang spit powder and shaveings like a chipper and cylinder gap was right at 10th's. TSW go it back and returned it to him all fixed up, gap was still 10th's but did not shave any more> it still had a real side blast out of it. he sold it and bought a ruger srh . Some of sw revolver shooter do know that the quality of fit was better some years back. Today when sw CS will tell you the production cylinder gap can be from 6 to 10ths on production revolvers and cutom shop will run 4 to 7ths . The custom shop guns fit was what the run of the mill was form years gone by. And those early mid frame 357's sure are some beautifull handguns just don't feed it a steady diet of magnum rounds. Glad I own old dan wessons.

I do own one S&W. A M&P15 sport. Guess i will see how that goes.

bsms
October 28, 2011, 01:34 PM
When I was buying guns in the late 70s & early 80s, cylinder gap was pretty variable too. I saw from 0.002 (way too small) to 0.01 on my guns, and I didn't own that many...

Thaddeus Jones
October 28, 2011, 01:40 PM
I have it on good authority that the original S&W Performance Center - in its own facility seperate from the main factory - is no more.

I'm informed the "performance center" is now simply an additional assembly line in the main plant.

This would explain the lousy triggers and other flaws on the so called "performance center" pistols that I've examined.

My K-comp, L-comp, PC full lug 4" 14-6, and PC13 are superb revolvers well worth the price tag. Evidently the current company calling itself S&W is unable to do high end guns correctly anymore. Sad.

I continue to hold out hope that with their stock continuing to tank, they will be bought out by a gun company. :)

bsms
October 28, 2011, 02:56 PM
Hmmm...

"For the quarter ending July 31, 2011, Smith & Wesson net product and services sales were up 18% ($14 million) to $91.7 million as compared to the same quarter the previous year...

...Under the operating expenses section of the report, S&W decreased overall administrative and marketing expenses by more than $1.1 million, and increased research and development by almost 50% to nearly $1.6 million."

http://www.gunsholstersandgear.com/2011/09/08/smith-wesson-quarterly-report-offers-insights/

Revolver fans need to remember that revolver sales probably don't drive profitability. It seems the sales of Walther pistols is hurting them. My guess is that no one in any boardroom is sitting around saying, "If we could buy S&W's revolver line, and increase costs with a lot of hand tuning, we could really make a profit!" :banghead: It is a business, folks.

Guillermo
October 28, 2011, 08:04 PM
It is a business

Yes...but reputation matters.

I watched a guy rip out the tile in a bathroom and start over because his helper had messed up.

He is smart enough to know that leaving the job as it was would hurt him in the future.

It appears that S&W does not understand that high quality creates return customers.

Of course maybe they figure the revolver is on its way out...why bother trying to build a decent product?

Of course the addlepated still delude themselves and belly up to the bar, Ushers Green Label at Glenmorangie Portwood prices.

But this is an untenable position.

bsms
October 28, 2011, 08:47 PM
Do you know what they call a business that demands perfection while charging mass production prices?

Bankrupt.

High end revolvers sold to people who examine the finish under bright lights is a very small part of S&W's business. If every revolver customer demanded it, they would drop that part of the business rather than go under.

Guillermo
October 28, 2011, 09:29 PM
perfection

they are SOOO far from perfection that I don't think they are capable. Certainly that is NOT what we are talking about.

The idiots can't get the barrels on straight.

S&W is Taurus quality (at BEST) at 50% more money.

Of course as long as the sheeple waddle up to the bar and order Blatz and pay microbrew price...why should they change?

jackpinesavages
October 29, 2011, 01:07 AM
No. Simple.


The "plague" is one guy who is at his time of the month as his testosterone production is now outpaced by estrogen production of old age, needs a Mansier bra for his sagging chest, and feels the need to bleet out to the interwebs world about his Customer Service problems rather than dealing maturely with CS in an adult fashion.

All too many folks today seem to believe in the "I" and "me", rather than the "we can fix this together" mentality. So your pistol won't ...*&^%#" and the guy that answered the 800 # in CS didn't want to deal with you. Research it yourself, take the pistol apart, call a friend in the gun club, do a Google search on the pistol ( Desert Eagle + drug dealers + gun value). Call CS back on another day.

Smith and Wesson rocks. Buy American when you can. Thank You.

skidder
October 29, 2011, 01:33 AM
Oldfool-- Is correct, but we don't want these young punks figuring it out. One of the reasons there is still a substantial market of old guns is due to the sales of the new. Keep your wisdom to yourself because I'm going to be pissed if this younger generation starts spending their paychecks on my guns. I know the truth and so do many others, but let them keep selling their inherited "fossils".

"You don't want that old thing". "Hey! Look at that one, it shoots 45's and 410s".:D

bshepherd
October 29, 2011, 08:21 AM
I love my numerous Smith & Wesson revolvers and Semis.

Chuckles does not know what he is talking about. He is way too full of himself.

Guillermo
October 29, 2011, 10:33 AM
The "plague" is one guy who is at his time of the month as his testosterone production is now outpaced by estrogen production of old age, needs a Mansier bra for his sagging chest, and feels the need to bleet out to the interwebs world about his Customer Service problems rather than dealing maturely with CS in an adult fashion.


That is funny stuff!!!

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