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"Pinned" and "recessed" ?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by MIL-DOT, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. MIL-DOT

    MIL-DOT member

    I'm considering a used Smith 66, and asked Radagast in the "DOB" thread about it, and he told me it was a "1982, but not pinned or recessed,though ", and I got the impression these were less than ideal.
    Can anyone enlighten me on the advantages and differences in "pinned" and "recessed" , versus those without? Thanks........
  2. forindooruseonly

    forindooruseonly Well-Known Member

    Older Smiths had a pin through the barrel and frame and recessed cylinders. The recessed part refers to the bores in the cylinder being counter sunk so that the cartridge rim fits flush with the cylinder, rather than later models in which the rim of the cartridge rides outside of the cylinder. IIRC, only the magnum cartridges had recessed cylinders, while all revolvers prior to a certain date had pinned barrels.

    These features, pinned and recessed, were discontinued in 82 or 83 as a cost saving decision by Smith and Wesson. Less time and workmanship required, and therefore, collectors prefer a pinned and recessed version. Its generally considered better quality.

    I don't have any pictures, but a good video example can be found on Hickok45's youtube channel where he talks about his Model 29.


    The 4:55 mark demonstrates it pretty well.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  3. forindooruseonly

    forindooruseonly Well-Known Member

    I should add that many or most shooters who aren't concerned about the collectible aspect of the gun won't notice a difference between shooting a P&R gun made in 1979 and a non-P&R gun made in 83. For shooting purposes, they'll both be good.

    However, P&R guns are more desirable and command a premium over their non-P&R counterparts.
  4. Colt Smith

    Colt Smith Well-Known Member

    Someone will be along shortly with a better answer. "Pinned and recessed" revolvers aren't necessarily better guns. But they are vestiges of an earlier time when more care was taken and more hand-fitting was done. It is a mark of quality and craftsmanship that has since waned. The recessed chambers allow tighter seating of the case which lets less spent gasses escape. It also looks nicer and is one of those details that show time, consideration and effort went into designing and building that gun. The pinned barrel means that after the barrel is threaded into the frame, a cross pin is inserted to lock the barrel in place. The twisting force of the bullet traveling down the barrel creates an opposite twist force on the barrel (think of taking a running start off a bath mat on a hardwood floor. As you put the power down to the mat it wants to squirt off in the opposite direction you want to go). In theory and in some very few cases the barrel could un-twist a bit and throw off the front sights. This was NOT a common problem. But it was another example that spoke to the attention to detail in the fit and finish of that gun. Most modern production revolvers do not have these details. Are they better or worse than the older guns? There will be some debate over that. But certainly something has been lost.

    Whether or not the M66 you are considering is P&R or not, if it is a pre-lock version it is a superb revolver. Just do a proper inspection as per the sticky at the top of the revolver section of this site.
  5. DickM

    DickM Well-Known Member

    In addition to the magnum cartridges, cylinders for rimfire cartridges were also recessed (and I believe they still are).
  6. springfield30-06

    springfield30-06 Well-Known Member

    If it's in good condition and a good price I wouldn't hesitate to buy it just because it's not pinned or recessed.
  7. zoom6zoom

    zoom6zoom Well-Known Member

  8. forindooruseonly

    forindooruseonly Well-Known Member

    Well, excuse me for trying.
  9. Colt Smith

    Colt Smith Well-Known Member


    "Well, excuse me for trying. "

    Sorry forindooruseonly. There were no other replies when I started my lengthy response. By the time I posted it there were already other answers. Intending to be the first to respond I thought surely there would be better answers to follow. :)
  10. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Well-Known Member

    No need for feeling ignored. Colt Smith was probably typing while you were submitting. Happens all the time. :rolleyes:
  11. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Well-Known Member

    OOPS! Just happened to me! :D
  12. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    As shooters go, I actually prefer the non-recessed versions. Since a recessed chamber isn't necessary, it's a matter of KISS - just one fewer thing on the gun that might give me a headache when I least need it.

    So, what can go wrong? Without due diligence, gunk can accumulate in the recessed areas. If it gets bad enough, it can slow your reloads and/or affect the trigger pull when the rounds don't fully seat. Also, any burr on a case rim may hang up on the recess, contributing to a bobbled reload.

    I love the look and feel of a vintage P&R Smith as much as anybody. But my serious shooters are all newer than that.
  13. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    Nothing new to add regarding the chambers. Recessed chambers are not functionally better, Colt never used them and the Pythons shoot just fine.

    Not so sure on the barrel pin. Having this feature makes barrel swapping easier. Also, when S&W went to the crush fit they started having all sorts of QC problems with cracked barrels, cracked frames. crooked sights, etc. I have seen numerous examples.
  14. Iggy

    Iggy Well-Known Member

  15. MIL-DOT

    MIL-DOT member

    Many thanks to all for the volume and quality of replies. That being said, I already understood WHAT pinned and recessed meant, I just wasn't sure how important they are, but my fault for not being sufficiently clear.
    Anway, thanks again to all, this was ( as usual) highly useful info. :)
  16. CSA 357

    CSA 357 Well-Known Member

    i like the pr smiths, but the non pr guns are great too, in fact the p&r guns need to be kept clean so that powder doesnt get under the ejecter star and bind the gun up.
  17. Drail

    Drail Well-Known Member

    I have some P&R S&W revos and while I don't think there is any real advantage to them I can tell you that cleaning the crud out of the recessed chambers where the cartridge rim fits with a pick is a royal pain in the butt. But the overall quality of workmanship on those older guns is usually higher.
  18. sw282

    sw282 Well-Known Member

    Th pin equates to a lock. l dont know how the new barrrels are held on other than a friction fit. l do know frames can be easily warped and sprung on the newer models when removing the barrel improperly
  19. Radagast

    Radagast Well-Known Member

    I should have pointed out that P&R is a big factor for collectors and collectibility. For shooting not so much.
    S&W dumped P&R in 1982/83. In my opinion their quality control during the mid to late 80s was better than in 70s as they got out from under the 'management' of the Bangor Puntaconglomerate, which was not a gun company. In the seventies there were cases of guns leaving the factory without forcing cones & without rifling in the barrel. Not often, but it did happen. I've also shot a few seventies guns with laser beam accuracy from five chambers and consistent flyers from the sixth, suggesting a mis-aligned chamber.
    In other words in the seventies S&W did turn out some dogs.

    That being said, both my Model 18 & Model 66 are from the seventies and I am happy with both, I just tend to look twice & if possible request a test fire before I would buy one as a shooter. Well, except for the Model 18, its the only one I've seen in 20 years (I'm in Australia) & I had to convince the dealer to sell it to me. :)

    TL,DR: If buying it as a shooter P&R is not an issue.
  20. evan price

    evan price Well-Known Member

    Cutting the recesses in the cylinders was an extra step that cost more. It was thought necessary to better contain the case heads of the Magnum cartridges and perhaps in the old balloon head brass it was a good idea. Modern brass doesn't need it.

    A nice 66 around here will go in the $350-$400 range assuming no problems and decent grips.

    For some reason the Blue Book seems to think that a P&R 66 is cheaper than an equivalent 64.

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