Tiers of Quality


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Pukindog12
March 5, 2013, 09:59 PM
Tiers of Quality

When I hear or read of gun manufacturers of semi-autos in my mind I automatically lump them (maybe foolishly) into a group quality wise. I don't consider this gun snobbery as all funtioning, reliable, and safe guns is better that a stick. But, OTOH, some guns are better quality wise than others. Here is what I consider the best on down.

1st tier:
Walther
H & K
Beretta
Sig
CZ
Browning

2nd tier:
S & W (if revolvers were included this would jump one tier)
Ruger
Kahr
Bersa
Stoeger
Glock
Springfield
Makarov
Canik
Colt
Caracal
FN Herstal
Sarsilmaz
Grand Power
Boberg
Girsan
Kimber
Magnum Research
BUL
Rohrbaugh
STI
Steyr

3rd tier:
Star
Astra
Tanfoglio
Arcus
Daewoo

4th tier:
Kel Tec
SCCY
Hi Point
Diamondback
Taurus
Rock Island

5th tier:
Jennings
Lorcin
Davis
Jimenez

These are just the ones off the top of my head. I am sure I forgot some. And in my limited experience I've shot/handled about half the list which makes this list somewhat speculative. But one can get a decent idea about quality by reading or talking to people provided the sources are numerous. I am sure people will aggressively disagree with me and so be it. But this is how they stack up quality wise in my feeble little mind of which is subject to change.

How do they stack up in your lists?

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Sam1911
March 5, 2013, 10:05 PM
Well, this is likely to end in a flame fest.

I sure would stack them differently. Very differently. (None of Tier 1 would be in Tier 1, for example.) Not much point in writing that all out though -- it's all too subjective. Even "quality" is so subjective as to be of very limited value as a descriptor.

Just line them up by cost. That's at least something fairly concrete to hang your hat on. You'll get no consensus on any of the rest of it.

Bobson
March 5, 2013, 10:11 PM
I agree with Sam, particularly on rating by cost. Alternately, if doing levels like the OP, I would only have three tiers.

The first tier would include everything from "semi custom" 1911s like Ed Brown, Les Baer, and Dan Wesson, on through Glock, Ruger, Springfield, SIG, CZ, S&W, etc.

The second tier would include KelTec, Kahr, Bersa, RIA, Taurus, and the like. I wouldn't even bother with anything in this tier - not because they're all completely worthless, but because there are so many affordable guns of superb quality in the first tier.

Third tier would be guns I wouldn't recommend to anyone unless they were looking for a novelty paperweight. Everything in your tier 5, plus many from 2, 3, and 4.

NWcityguy2
March 5, 2013, 10:12 PM
The first irony is that Browning is above FN Herstal.

Sam1911
March 5, 2013, 10:13 PM
Stoeger, Bersa, Colt, Rorbaugh, STI, and Sarsilmaz don't belong in the same group together? Say it ain't so! :eek:


;)

orionengnr
March 5, 2013, 10:17 PM
Sam hit it on the head...and Bobson elaborated on it a bit.

Pukindog12
March 5, 2013, 10:28 PM
The first irony is that Browning is above FN Herstal.

Yep. I sure brainfarted on that one. :o

Stoeger, Bersa, Colt, Rorbaugh, STI, and Sarsilmaz don't belong in the same group together? Say it ain't so!

Like I stated "in my feeble little mind"! :p

bds
March 5, 2013, 10:43 PM
< Getting a big bag of popcorn >

I think this thread is gonna get interesting :D

Ankeny
March 5, 2013, 11:10 PM
I sure would stack them differently. Very differently. Me too. I certainly wouldn't put an STI Edge, Eagle, Grandmaster ... never mind.

Walt Sherrill
March 5, 2013, 11:27 PM
I'm curious -- what was the RATIONALE behind the original list? And, the definition of quality needs some 'splaining.

It doesn't seem based on experience with or ownership of the guns so ranked. I've probably owned guns from a least half of the gun makers listed, and clearly have a different appreciation of what's good and what's important.

Some of the gun makers cited aren't gun makers but importers, and quality there varies over the years. (Gun Test Magazine used to downgrade guns if they weren't beautifully finished internally, even though some of the areas cited had nothing to do with the gun's functionality. I gave up on that magazine years ago.)

Zerodefect
March 6, 2013, 01:19 AM
You really have to qualify what "quality" means to you.

I'd put Glock into the higher tier 1. Sure my G23 feels terrible, but it's a gun, not a sofa. And it is one of my most reliable, fastest, and accurate pistols. (Custom sights) For whatever reason, the compact Glocks (G23,G19) and fullsize Target Glocks (G34, G35, G21 longslide) work so darn well for me that they get bumped to a higher grade. No matter how much I hate it, if my G23 is hitting a Gatoraide bottle at 30yards as well as my custom $2k+ 1911's, that's a good, good feeling.

I thought Tiers were an obsolete term because everyone has a different idea of "quality". Collector quality differs greatly from a soldiers type of quality. "Look it's pretty" vs. "I'm alive, they're not." Anytime I shoot a IDPA course better with my G23 than my 1911, I notice. Gun could be a complete junk pile, but if it's winning trophys........

My take (I'm only going to list pistols I often recommend):

Tier 0:
Ed Brown
Wilson
Dan Wesson

Tier 1:
Colt
Glock
Walther
H&K P7, P9

Tier 2:
S&W M&P
Kahr
Springfield
Ruger
H&K USP
Sig (old models)

Tier 3:
Cheaper 1911's: Kimber, Springfield, Rock, Rem, SIG, STI Spartan etc. etc.
Beretta
Sig (late models)


Anything less, Tier 4, isn't worth mentioning IMO.

9mmepiphany
March 6, 2013, 03:41 AM
And in my limited experience I've shot/handled about half the list which makes this list somewhat speculative.
That is the major flaw in the list...that you would try to rank any gun you haven't personally shot, much less handled. Ideally you would have shot the gun in excess of 500 rounds to form an opinion.

It is pretty funny that you would rank a Browning and FN differently..and also to have the Rock Island 2 tiers too low

Of the ones you have in tier one, the only one that might belong would be the H&K...and that is just based on function as opposed to price

ku4hx
March 6, 2013, 05:55 AM
Impossible to assess the list without understanding you objective acceptance criteria for each tier. I own a number in several of your chosen examples: Browning, Ruger, Glock and etc.

What I've decided over the years is that if you shoot them all, they'll all eventually end up in the same functional tier. The ones that immediately shoot well seem to stay that way and those that don't are worked on in various fashions to achieve fully functional status.

Then there are the "show pieces" ... the collectibles. These few are to look at only.

With that in mind, my guns fall into only two tiers: the shooters and the lookers.

bannockburn
March 6, 2013, 07:48 AM
After looking at the "Tiers" I'm too confused as to even venture into the rationale behind those rankings. I just know what I like in terms of the quality I have experienced with different manufacturers, as well as their price point, and pretty much go with that as my measure of quality.

jmr40
March 6, 2013, 08:28 AM
S&W, Glock, Colt, Makarov and Kimber need to be oved up to 1st teir, CZ down to 2nd teir.

That would leave Ruger, CZ, Springfield, Bersa and FN in the 2nd teir, everything else drops down. Anything below 2nd teir doesn't matter.

OilyPablo
March 6, 2013, 08:35 AM
It's just a gut feel list. Some input from owning some and mostly from reading the internets. Most gun owners I've encountered have a list in their own mind. Maybe these gun owners would never write it down in such a manner, but we all have our own experience and bias. It's the OP's opinion as he clearly states. My "list" is different, but neither would be wrong nor worth arguing about.

I do agree "gun manufacturers" is a misnomer. Maybe separate lists for designers and manufacturers. Importers change so much, a list of those guys is kinda nutty. :D

beatledog7
March 6, 2013, 09:11 AM
I'm surprised jmr40 let CZ stay as high as tier 2.

The entire exercise is subjective. While there's no doubt a Les Baer or Wilson Combat 1911 is a very fine firearm, many of us would rather own a much less expensive gun and a very reliable 15-tr-old pickup truck than a single handgun for the price of both.

mljdeckard
March 6, 2013, 09:40 AM
I try to keep life much more simple than this. While you do USUALLY get what you pay for, it certainly isn't guaranteed. I tend to file them into two columns: "IS" likely to do the job I need it to, or "IS NOT". I really think that this kind of ranking is overthinking it.

RBid
March 6, 2013, 11:58 AM
Being wired to value practicality above all else, I think ku4hx nailed it. If a firearm is functional and accurate enough to allow a shooter to do what he needs to do, then I don't care if it's a Bersa or a Nighthawk.

I can and do appreciate fine craftsmanship, but fit & finish mean jack & squat if it doesn't run.

Ankeny
March 6, 2013, 12:31 PM
I'm surprised jmr40 let CZ stay as high as tier 2. I think people forget there can be various models within each manufacture's line. The higher end CZ pistols have won several World IPSC Championships and they are very popular.

Claude Clay
March 6, 2013, 12:50 PM
lists such as this partly fall apart when one factors in that quality often changes over time; as machines are used too long quality may suffer during that time period...or a 'new' model is rolled out with some flaws and the entire brand is percieved in a poor light.

but we mostly agree on the very top and the very bottom tiers.

beatledog7
March 6, 2013, 01:20 PM
...we mostly agree on the very top and the very bottom tiers.

Not a guy whose life was saved by the Jiminez he was carrying.

mljdeckard
March 6, 2013, 01:25 PM
Ok but....even the guy who successfully used the Jiminez to save his life, do you think he was saying; "Yep. They laughed at me, a cheap gun is all you need."?

Because if it was ME, I would be thinking; "I was a fool for getting a cheap gun assuming I would never need to use it, and if this ever happens again, I will want something a LOT more effective and reliable." But what the heck do I know?

beatledog7
March 6, 2013, 01:45 PM
The Jiminex guy goes out and gets himself a Glock?

mlj, I agree with you. He thanks his lucky stars the thing fired, then he rethinks his strategy. But I bet he never sells that Jiminez.

mljdeckard
March 6, 2013, 04:28 PM
He can make a lucky medallion out of it. :D

mgmorden
March 6, 2013, 04:37 PM
Rather than just post an updated list, I'll post a list of what I would consider corrections to the original list posted:

CZ goes down to tier 2

Browning gets combined with FN Herstal in tier 1

Colt and Kimber go up to tier 1

Bersa, Stoeger, Makarov, Canik, Girsan go down to tier 3

Taurus, Kel-tec, and Rock Island go up to tier 3

Kiln
March 6, 2013, 05:15 PM
I think people forget there can be various models within each manufacture's line. The higher end CZ pistols have won several World IPSC Championships and they are very popular.
Yeah CZ pistols are used for competitions pretty frequently. Not as often as I see Glocks but still.

verdun59
March 6, 2013, 05:52 PM
Gee after years of reading here I thought it went like this:

Tier 1 thru infinity - any 1911.

Tier that's left - any Glock

mrvco
March 6, 2013, 06:00 PM
Based on my experience, albeit limited, with IDPA, IPSC, etc., the gents with the high-dollar 1911's seem to have the most reliability issues. Obviously there are a lot of things you can do to make a quality gun unreliable (namely not cleaning and properly lubricating it), but I did find it surprising.

el Godfather
March 7, 2013, 12:49 AM
To me the top gun would if it has Glock reliability, 10mm or .460 Rowland, 1911 slim profile, very light weight, but not plastic. May be titanium like alloy. H&K like controls. Two sets of barrels one match and other threaded. Wilson like finish. Adjustable night sights. 10 shot min cap with couple of extended mags of 15 and 20 shot cap. Accuracy at 50 yards and durability like mk23. Skeleton hammer and very light SA and DoA trigger. Ambi controls. Grip angle like even improved Sig E2. CZ auto like select fire lever that may be optional to remove. Snag free rail.

If this gun exists- everything else is second tier or stuff I would care not to have. I would pay $10,000 for this gun.

bds
March 7, 2013, 10:19 PM
When I hear or read of gun manufacturers of semi-autos in my mind I automatically lump them (maybe foolishly) into a group quality wise. I don't consider this gun snobbery as all funtioning, reliable, and safe guns is better that a stick. But, OTOH, some guns are better quality wise than others.
Guns were meant to send bullets down range, period. If a gun cannot do that reliably with consistent accuracy, that's like having a brand new car that won't start or dies on occasion at railroad tracks. :eek:

For me over the years, my tiers of quality "evolved" to:

Tier 1 - Something I would grab without hesitation to defend my life and my family's lives with which means pistols that will go "bang" without fail (instead of ALMOST bang), even when dirty after 5000+ rounds of extensive testing and consistently produce acceptable level of accuracy.

For me, accuracy is everything and holes on target speak volumes. It does not matter what name is on the slide or how much a pistol costs if it cannot reliably produce those holes on targets! ;) It MUST FIRE reliably and PRODUCE consistent shot groups as misfires and missed shots will not save my life or my family's lives. Ask many regional/local USPSA shooters who are consistently at the top 10% what pistols they rely on for HD/SD. Most pistols we drool over often stay in the safe but some select few makes/models get the nightstand/inside the hip holster duty. ;)

In many ways, I agree with Hilton Yam's selection criteria for "Duty Use" (http://www.10-8performance.com/pages/Choosing-a-1911-for-Duty-Use.html) but my CCW criteria must also perform almost as well as service size versions at 7-15 yards (Glock 23/27-Taurus MP PT145 vs Sig R1911-M&P40/45-Glock 22).
You really need to shoot the gun for 1000-1500 rounds, to include about 500 or more rounds with duty ammunition to have a good feel for what the gun is doing.

Do not just put "200 flawless rounds" through the gun and declare that it is "completely reliable." That is not a statistically significant cycle of service. You may as well tell a race car driver that his car is good for that 500 mile race after you drive it around the parking lot once.

Tier 2 - Anything that cannot achieve what Tier 1 pistols can do shot after shot - day after day - regardless who the shooter is who lives in my house (hey, they are my backups!).

My Sig 1911 railed TacPac and a friend's RIA Tactical have well over 5000+ rounds of various factory and reloads shot through them without failures or parts breakage and STILL maintain consistent accuracy. Many of our friends and other shooters who bought "their" dream guns express frustration when they don't perform as well or experience FTF/FTE. When we let them shoot our pistols, they are often surprised at the consistent shot groups they are able to achieve and especially at RIA's price.


< grabbing another bag of popcorn and sitting down >

Ankeny
March 8, 2013, 01:11 AM
Based on my experience, albeit limited, with IDPA, IPSC, etc., the gents with the high-dollar 1911's seem to have the most reliability issues. I have observed plenty of mid-range 1911s puke in the hands of middle of the road shooters. But the high dollar 1911s in the hands of the hot rock championship shooters are some of the most reliable pistols on the planet. Just one malfunction is enough to cost a shooter a trip to the winner's podium...

primalmu
March 8, 2013, 01:25 AM
Having owned Glock, Springfield, and CZ, I would put them all in 1st tier for commercially mass produced guns. I also own a Star, and despite the fact that everyone loves to hate them, I find it to be an excellently machined pistol that matches the accuracy of my CZ75BD. As far as build quality, it is right up there with the CZ, though I might bump it down for reliability ONLY due to lack of parts availability.

NYGlock
March 8, 2013, 01:56 AM
You have not defined "quality", so you should not expect consensus.

nwilliams
March 8, 2013, 02:37 AM
Quality is all a matter of personal opinion for the most part.

I would agree that there are companies that make poor quality guns but to rank Glock above Sig or HK above Glock or Ruger above Sig, it's all a matter of one's personal opinion. On top of that how many people out there have owned enough guns from all the different companies to say from personal experience gun company a is better than gun company b.

Also keep in mind that most companies make many different models of guns and some models are better quality than other, again it would be subject to one's personal opinion.

bds
March 8, 2013, 02:46 AM
keep in mind that most companies make many different models of guns and some models are better quality than other, again it would be subject to one's personal opinion.
Bingo

PabloJ
March 8, 2013, 02:52 AM
Seeing top quality gun made in limited numbers near bottom of tier 2 is actually insulting.

Morgo
March 8, 2013, 08:34 AM
Its not something you can group based on just the brand. Its the individual models that should be grouped.

For example I would not put a Beretta 92fs and a Beretta 92fs Steel I in the same class or a Sig p210 and a Sig P250

ponchsox
March 8, 2013, 08:43 AM
I take it OP is a Glock hater.

OilyPablo
March 8, 2013, 09:14 AM
Odd. The only semiautomatic that I own that has NEVER jammed is not on this list.

Saiga. 7.62x39 rifle. Converted to an "AK" style. 1000's of nasty dirty hot rounds and smoking hot barrel with no stoppages. Not one ever. Quality? Not by some people's defining.

mgmorden
March 8, 2013, 12:24 PM
I take it OP is a Glock hater.

Out of FIVE tiers of quality he put them one down from the top so he "hates" them?

I have a Glock. I like my Glock, but realistically there are better guns out there if you're willing to pay for it and there are guns that are just as good that cost less. Regardless of if you're rating on overall quality or "value for the dollar" I don't see Glock coming out on top. Respectably high on the list sure, but not on top.

PabloJ
March 8, 2013, 12:36 PM
Out of FIVE tiers of quality he put them one down from the top so he "hates" them?

I have a Glock. I like my Glock, but realistically there are better guns out there if you're willing to pay for it and there are guns that are just as good that cost less. Regardless of if you're rating on overall quality or "value for the dollar" I don't see Glock coming out on top. Respectably high on the list sure, but not on top.
Anything with plastic frame should go to tier 3.

bds
March 8, 2013, 12:52 PM
H&K pistols have polymer frames and many owners would consider them tier 1 ... :uhoh:

PabloJ
March 8, 2013, 01:03 PM
My first handgun was H&K MK23 .45. I would gladly throw that into tier 3 right above Glock and XD. I would put P7 along with FN HP and Colt 1911 into tier 2.

PabloJ
March 8, 2013, 01:10 PM
H&K pistols have polymer frames and many owners would consider them tier 1 ... :uhoh:
Tier 1 is reserved for: Korth, Cabot Smith, Les Baer,......

returningfire
March 8, 2013, 01:22 PM
Did Para- Ordinance not even make the cut?

Teachu2
March 8, 2013, 02:23 PM
Tier 1 - any gun I'd choose from the entire assortment to defend my life with in stock form - load and go.

Tier 2 - any gun I enjoy shooting but know I will possibly have to work on to achieve 100% reliability.

Tier 3 - guns that just aren't worth the effort.

Ankeny
March 8, 2013, 03:33 PM
Anything with plastic frame should go to tier 3. Yeah, like the STI Grandmaster, or better yet, the Wilson Combat Spec Ops 9. Just plastic junk. :banghead:

Rembrandt
March 8, 2013, 03:53 PM
Boberg and Rohrbaugh not on the top tier?......have to shake my head. Both are right up there with Wilson Combat.

Sauer Grapes
March 8, 2013, 04:17 PM
OMG, I have to sell all my guns! They're all crap!! ;)

Hangingrock
March 8, 2013, 04:24 PM
For me it’s rather difficult to rate various manufactures if have no experience with their product. Even if I have experience it wouldn’t be extensive as I may only own one or two examples of their product line. A limited sample is what it is.

hAkron
March 8, 2013, 09:41 PM
I'm only defending this post because you listed CZ in tier 1. I would have liked to see Tanfoglio and Sarsilmaz in teir 1 also, but the base models imported to the us do feature cheap finishes and cheap looking parts, so I understand.

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