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"Improvements" that spoil original designs

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Benton, Jan 13, 2003.

  1. Benton

    Benton Well-Known Member

    Changes to the original designs of handguns often seem for the worse, and the "improved" models usually have little appeal to me.

    For example:

    1) The recurved trigger guard and checkered grips of the CZ-75 B greatly alter the appearance of the original CZ-75. The current model simply isn't the same pistol. The distinctive grip pattern and classic lines of the original design set it apart. THAT was the cool East Bloc pistol many of us lusted for in the years its importation was so limited.

    2) Why does no one want to build a 1911 with the true appearance of an Army issued? Lightened hammers, beaver tails, extended safeties and release levers abound. Some companies have marketed models as basic "GI-Style" pistol, but they can't seem to avoid the temptation to add at least one modern feature such as high-profile sights, angled slide serrations, or extended triggers.

    3) S&W's revolvers defined the classic look for double actions. They were polished blue and had crisp engraving. Today it is a chore to find a revolver that isn't frosted stainless or dull blue. That laser etching and dot matrix engraving is the furthest thing from good looking. They've also ceased making square butts on any of their revolvers. This even extends to their attempt to make old-style Model 15s with the patridge sights. In short, you can no longer by a new S&W like the ones made famous by Ed McGivern, Elmer Keith, and Bill Jordan.

    4) Beretta's Model 84 was a once a beautiful pistol - attractive lines and wonderfully finished. But they then altered it with features taken from the 92F. The military finish, and recurved triggerguard seem absurdly incongruous with the role of a .380 pocket pistol. The new safety added complexity without significant benefit. Overall the 84F has a cheap look that is far from the style and careful finish of its forbear.

    I understand that new firearms designs can lead to great functioning, efficiently produced arms; I admire the Glock, Walther P99, and SIG-Sauer. Additionally, I do not oppose modifications of existing models. The new Glock finger-groove frames and addition of firing pin safeties to 1911s and Hi-Powers are examples of worthy improvements to the outsides and insides of guns. I know some alterations are made to yield lower manufacturing costs - but don't some classics merit the options of original wood grips and blue finish.

    Anyone wanting a new example of the timeless, enormously successful, and once common bright blue Chiefs Special (the one in .38 Special without Hi-Viz sights or titanium cylinder) must walk a gunshow or two to find one in new condition. Do any of you also gripe about the many changes to original benchmark designs?
  2. MoNsTeR

    MoNsTeR Well-Known Member

    It's all perspective...
    1) the old CZ-75 was fugly, the new one looks much nicer
    2) new 1911's have those features because we want them, not because gun makers want to sell them to us; do you really want "hump and a bump" sights instead of Novaks, Bomars, or even simple 3-dots like on the Springfield Mil-Spec?
    3) I like stainless. The only thing wrong with the look of new S&W revolvers is that they don't chrome the hammer and trigger anymore.

    Not that some designed haven't been ruined, just look at the Colt Series 80, Kimber Series II, and S&W frame-mounted firing pin.
  3. MacPelto

    MacPelto Well-Known Member

    It really is just perspective...I think that the Glock finger grooves suck, and now I have to stick to 2nd generation pistols. But, for thoses who like something original, they can often be had for less. Isn't variety great!
  4. Benton

    Benton Well-Known Member

    I understand that some people want the latest gadgets on their 1911s, and it's great that manufacturers offer many of them factory installed. I just wish the basic, non-customized model was available as an option.

    There seems to be a market for original styles. Otherwise, Auto-Ordnance wouldn't offer the WWII Parkerized 1911A1. They advertise, "We go back to the basics with our military parkerized version of the 1911A1 Pistol. This model features original "G.I." detailing through-out right down to the military style rollstamp, plastic grips and lanyard loop." It's a shame about its modern angled slide grooves. Springfield Armory attempts also, saying their Mil-Spec pistol "is a faithful recreation of John Browning's classic 1911-A1." Faithful if you ignore the higher, angular sights, opened ejection port, and (again) sloping slide grooves. Yes, these are features some appreciate, but for anyone seeking a pistol that looks what American Joes carried through Normandy is out of luck. Only Colt's recent recreation of the GI 1911A1 hit the mark and dealers in my area sold the ones they received right away.

    Perspective is a factor with your preference in grips. I don't oppose the variety. It does seem a shame that you nor anyone else will ever again have the chance to order a new non-finger grooved Glock. That is harder to correct than unwanted sights. When I wanted a new Browning Hi-Power, I had to pay a lot of money to have the gun restored to the appearance of the classic 1935. The clothes snatching, new-style sights had to be replaced with original variety and the ambidexterous safety replaced as well. But that is what is now required to obtain a new Hi-Power that looks like the ones that served in armies around the world for decades.

    I agree that stainless is wonderful for revolvers. Most of mine are stainless. I was happy to take the opportunity to buy a blue taper barrelled, square butted Model 10, however, when I wanted one that looked like the Military & Police that served lawmen for the better part of the 20th century. But when nostalgia and aesthetics are not considerations, I am pleased to have my heavy barrelled Model 64 with Pachmayers.

    By the way, I totally agree about the S&W frame-mounted firing pin. I don't know a thing about its practical ups or downs, but it just don't look right. Some people complain of the complication and trigger pull detriment of the Series 80 safety. I must say that I wish I had something like it on my first Hi-Power 20 years ago. The hammer slipped from a loose and malformed sear while it was cocked and locked. It about scared me to death when it went off as I was walking with it. First I thought I'd absentmindededly fired it, but the empty case in the chamber and the thumb safety still applied suggested otherwise. Inspection of the inside confirmed the mechanical defect. I think an internal firing pin safety would have prevented that discharge.... A bit off topic, but its my number one cautionary tale and I always feel obliged to tell it.
  5. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Well-Known Member

    Lowered and/or flared ejection ports and higher-profile sights are objective improvements to the function of the 1911-pattern pistol. They improve reliability and usability respectively... original fixed sights flat-out SUCKED. Long or short triggers and arched or flat mainspring housings were variations on 1911 and 1911A1 military guns, and angled cocking serrations date back to Colts untold decades ago... hardly recent acts of desecrating the design for trendiness. ;)

    Spur hammers are groovy if they don't bite you, otherwise modifying the hammer and/or grip safety doesn't "spoil" anything but your tendency to bleed when you shoot.

    If you are a purist, then buy an old one, or get a Colt G.I. replica gun. For most people, function trumps form most of the time, and some changes ARE real, objective improvements.
  6. Benton

    Benton Well-Known Member

    Thank you for reiterating that the new style features confer benefits for some people. They wouldn't make any new products that didn't represent improved performance or style to potential buyers (Let's forget about the Colt Double Eagle). Some people are happy with the original design because it is pleasing to their eye, or it is evocative of a firearm's established history in the traditional configuration. But there can be practical reasons too.

    For example, I prefer the original sights on 1911s and 1935s because they never rake my hand and they are easily inserted and draw from my pockets. With the Hi-Power the new ambidextrous safety gets inadvertantly reapplied, sneaking back upward through its contact with the top of my hand on the side opposite my thumb. Admittedly, this isn't an issue for most, but I wish there were the option of the traditional design. New guns in original configuration are also desirable for anyone that doesn't want to erode the value of a vintage model by shooting it.

    In the case of 1911s, it's difficult to find the new original configuration Colts. Finding used ones can be difficult, too.

    Perhaps it's just me that gets frustrated walking the guncases for basic, unmodified models. It seems like much of the new production is all of the "custom" or tactical-ized sort. Standard Model Rugers are absent from shelves full of slab-sided, adjustable sighted, bull barrel combinations. No basic S&W six shooters are available, only revolvers with mixtures of 7-shot cylinders, Scandium frames, compensated barrels, and unfluted cylinders.

    I'm glad this stuff is available, but it's gotten so you can't remember what the things started as. It's like going to Pizza Hut and you can't get a cheese pizza - only Meat Lover's, Super Supreme, Veggie Lover's, etc..
  7. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    One of the worst cases of "improving" a design into oblivion, was the Mauser HSc.

    The HSc, along with the Walther PP series, and the Sauer 38H, set the standard for small pocket autos, that still stands today.

    Mauser restarted production in the 60's and 70's then sold the rights to the Renato Gambia firm.

    Gambia made the HSc in it's original form for a few years, then changed to a hooked trigger guard, 10 round magazine form.

    The hooked trigger guard and ridiculously long, wide grip totally destroyed the gun as it's intended form as a pocket auto.

    No longer a pocket gun, and too big and low powered to be an effective belt holster gun, it soon died.

    This would be akin to Walther grossly enlarging the PPK grip into a large capacity form. It would be too large to serve it's original purpose, and would sell like charcoal in Hell.
  8. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Member In Memoriam

    Improvements are one thing. Changes are another. Engineers usually drive improvements, but marketing folks drive changes.

    Too many times, changes are made just for the sake of change, and those I loathe!

    The best relatively recent examples that come to mind are "New Coke" and the 1986 Ford Taurus. Up until the 1986 model year, Ford enjoyed having the best selling midsize sedan for several years running. Then they had some woman redesign it with an oval motif which ended up with the catfish look, and in the case of its stable mate, the Mercury Sable, the snaggle toothed catfish. The Taurus line plummeted in sales.

    Engineers usually know what they're doing, but marketers are usually just guessing....
  9. bountyhunter

    bountyhunter member

    Here's a new feature without benefits: the series 80 or Schwarz firing pin blocking hardware on some new 1911's. I swear I can her JMB shriek every time I mention it.
  10. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    I can answer this one...

    The unparalled popularity of the Colt-Browning 45 Auto is a relatively recent phenomenon. Twasn't always so...

    Speaking as a guy who remembers when a GI 1911A1 was the only commonly available .45 ... BTW, your other choice was a Colt GM for about 6 - 8X the price! (like $200 when you were making $3 an hour) :eek:

    Almost the only pistols used for serious target shooting ala Camp Perry were converted GI pistols. Most budding targeteers changed the dinky lil GI sights for bigger ones. The grip safety, trigger changes, etc. were only a matter of time.

    Besides, tell me with a straight face you want a pistol with ugly reddish brown plastic grips! ;) Std WWII GI.
  11. ajacobs

    ajacobs Well-Known Member

    Full length guide rods.

    Front cocking serations.

    Magazine disconect safteys.

    Built in locking devices.

    Magazine dimples (870)

    Are the upgrades I hate the most.
  12. faustulus

    faustulus Well-Known Member

    Guns evolve if they hang around long enough, if the design is sound and the gun performs it will hang on. Over time additions are made some good some bad. Most addtions are made to make the gun easier to use or increase function.
    The 1911 is a good example (I swear if I hear "that's not the way that John Browning made it one more time...)
    Originally the gun did not have an arched mainspring housing, it was later added when it was found to increase pointablity. Likewise the sights were upgraded to something more useful and so forth. I shoot my guns, I couldn't care less if they are historiclly correct, but that matters to some people, and there are guns out there for them. One improvement that I don't like is the solid piece stainless steel slides on the new sigs, so all my sigs are the old style. Sig figured the new slides would be stronger (and they probably are) but I don't like them.
    As you mentioned other times companies change production to cut costs (such as colt using plastic triggers) Luckily guns are like legos we can change many of the parts we don't like.
  13. Carbon_15

    Carbon_15 Well-Known Member

    BINGO...another reason I don't or won't buy new S&W revolvers
  14. Jason Demond

    Jason Demond Well-Known Member

    I hate guns with Tac rails!
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2003
  15. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

    I hate front cocking serrations!
  16. BHP9

    BHP9 member

    I share your frustration and sorrow about Smith Revolvers. I too am a traditionalist and after looking at their catalog have found that to cut costs they only produce what they can sell the most of and that seems to be the stainless models.

    As far as the 1911's go. Many of the changes were made just to sell more handguns. Many people think that the lastest is the greatest and end up with a buch of costly extras that they never needed to begin with. Most people do not enter into serious competition and if they do they usually find that even the exotic factory changes do not meet their needs so the weapon goes to the custom gun shop anyway.

    I personally do not like many of the exotic changes to the 1911 and over the years a lot of the internal changes have been found not to be as reliable or as long lasting as the original design. For example not so long ago the piston type recoil buffers were all the rage until people found that they were punching holes in the recoil plug. Full length guide rods have also been controversial. Even ambidextrious safeties and extended safeties tend to get accidentally swiped off when carrying as opposed to the traditional smaller safety.

    Some of the changes even call into question the safety of the piece such as front serrations on the slide. I think clearing a jam or checking the chamber in this way would be a good way to shoot your hand off.

    Speed hammers are lighter and lighter means less force imparted to the primer. Although not a concern for recreational shooting I would not want one on a serious carry piece.

    Extended beaver tail safeties prevent one from holding the hammer all the way down with the finger when hitting the slide release to chamber a round. Custom gunsmiths have told me that a match trigger job can be ruined by not following this procedure but you cannot do this with the wild new extended grip safeties.

    Serrated checkered front straps are fine for carry guns but for everyday recreational shooting they tend to abraid the hand and one is often way better off with the rubber style grips, so once again you are paying for something that adds a lot of cost to the gun and something that you may not even want or need. As a matter of fact I have even heard people complain that checkered front and back straps have worn holes in their clothing when carried concealed everyday.

    For my purposes the older stock guns with only the addition of a good set of adjustable sights and maybe some rubber grips were all I ever needed both for recreational shooting and for carrying. Many other people feel the need for all of the extra, expensive bells and whistles which may be necesarry for a serious competition piece but are often a big waste of money for the average weekend shooting Joe.

    I think too that traditional guns like the 1911 and Browning High Power lose a lot of their nostalgia when they are made up to look like the latest weapons out of a Star Wars movie. But all these add ons make the custom gunsmiths a lot of money and also the factories that add them on.

    Its your money but from my point of view I will pass on the exotic extras and us the spare money to buy more ammo to practice with.
  17. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

    O yeah I also hate integral locks....!!!!!:fire:
  18. another okie

    another okie Well-Known Member

    Safety on the Winchester 1894 lever action.
  19. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith Well-Known Member

    Well, I've owned a lot of 1911 pistols. My latest is a completely rebuilt Series 80 Gold Cup. I prefer a flat, checkered hammer spring housing WITH A LANYARD LOOP. What I hate is a high rise grip safety and the cut under the trigger guard. This has absolutely nothing to do with "tradition" and everything to do with these added things not fitting my small hands and for utility. A turned down grip safety makes my grip secure and allows more certain shifts to accommodate different targets. The lanyard keeps the pistol close to hand in a sleeping bag. I operate a 1911 best when it is equipped with a long, wide trigger that has a radiused finger pad. Before aftermarket triggers were available, I used a medium length commercial trigger fitted with a wide trigger shoe.
    When the first Gold Cup pistol was produced in 1957, the literature stated that the relieved extraction port was to accommodate steel cases that had a tendency to eject differently than brass cases. Today, it is cosmetic. Only Series 70 ports need to be lowered.
    Actually, the way Browning first designed the pistol (Model 1905) was a very poor fit in my hand and I never would have bought one. It was the Ordnance Corps, the Marine Corps and the Navy who gave input for the modifications that resulted in the 1911...which I prefer...and the A1, which I don't care for at all, since the hump housing makes the pistol point uphill for me. (If you have to bend your wrist, the grip frame is wrong for your physique.)
  20. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    I'm with Benton on the recurved trigger guard on the CZ-75. It had nice, clean lines and then they add a rest for the nose-picker. Heck, we've given up on that European "curse" on handguns. What's next? Vertically mounted sights on slides for "gangsta" style of shooting?

    I hate extended safeties, extended slide release and extended magazine releases. Great for competition. A mess for duty use.

    Oh, those cross-bolt safetys on lever action guns. Don't need them except to keep lawyers happy. My solution? Tort reform. Less lawsuits and it's cheaper to make the guns now (remove a production step or two) and cleaner lines. If they had to make an internal safety on a lever gun, why not a hammer block or transfer bar like on revolvers?

    Gripper grips. Good for some folks with larger hands, but some of us have smaller mits. Throws our smaller fingers off. Leave 'em smooth.

    Extended capacity aftermarket magazines. Mostly junk. Good for paperweights and for relieving you of your disposable capital.

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