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Old July 21, 2016, 11:13 PM   #1
SHOOT1SAM
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School me on "Pinned & Recessed"

I have recently acquired a Pinned & Recessed S&W 57.

I kinda know the advantages/desirability of a P&R'd revolver...but if I had to explain them to someone, I don't think I could.

Can you please school me on this?

Thanks in advance,

Sam
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Old July 21, 2016, 11:18 PM   #2
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That reference is for the barrel and cylinder charge holes. The barrel is pinned and the charge holes are recessed so that the case fit flush. Neither are used any longer because they cost time and money. I feel they make the revolver better and more durable.
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Old July 21, 2016, 11:42 PM   #3
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ArchAngelCD,

I guess I understood that about the cylinder (I probably need to look at it alongside a non-recessed cylinder for it to really sink in), and I know the firing pin is on the hammer itself, but what is the advantage to pinning the barrel?

Do these no-longer-used features really make for a better gun, or are they maybe, equally as much, a longing for the way they used to be made? Does one actually have a somewhat lesser gun, for lack of a better term, if they have a "dash" model?

I mean, I know I have something really good...I just can't quite articulate the "why" of it.

Sam
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Old July 22, 2016, 12:30 AM   #4
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The advantage of pinning is it can't rotate out of position, and (ostensibly) is representative of a higher level of craftsmanship over a simply threaded or pressed-in barrel. In actual usage probably no real advantage if other barrels are installed properly.
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Old July 22, 2016, 12:38 AM   #5
Jim Watson
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The S&W older revolver barrel is only moderately tight and the pin is a retainer.
Later guns have the barrels torqued in tight. I have not seen the reports of constriction from over-torqueing Smiths as I have Rugers, but it may happen.

Recessed chambers on a centerfire as recent as the first Magnum ever made are purely cosmetic. You might be concerned about a rim rupture in a .22 or one of the old bigbore rimfires or the very old folded head centerfires. But it just isn't going to happen with solid head cases, even the early type now called "balloon head."

So a "P&R" S&W is just a Good Old Days advertisement.
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Old July 22, 2016, 04:26 AM   #6
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A recessed cylinder from about 1979.



Pinned barrel from the same gun.



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Old July 22, 2016, 05:33 AM   #7
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Never cared for the recessed chambers.

They tend to collect a bit of crud pretty fast which keeps the cartridge from fully seating.

That's why I always preferred the Model 19-5 (post 1982) for use in such things as IDPA, Action Pistol Shooting.

From a practical point of view with magnums, they are not needed.
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Old July 22, 2016, 07:21 AM   #8
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To me it's just a way to get a quick idea of when a gun was made. If it has a barrel pin and/or recessed cylinders, it was made before they stopped doing it (late 70's..early 80's?). If it doesn't, it was after. The fact that I don't know the exact time period tells you how important I think those things are. I have both and can't tell a dimes worth of difference.

I admit that I like the older P&R guns better, but that's only because they are older...so am I. Faced with a choice of two guns, one P&R, the other not... condition, condition, condition.
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Old July 22, 2016, 07:35 AM   #9
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I'd always assumed P&R was discernably "better" somehow, just because of all the positive press they get. But just recently someone posted a very insighteful comment on pinning and recessing, that changed my perspective. They pointed out that the recessing was because older ammo had rims that were much less consistent, and guns needed the extra space to compensate to ensure free cylinder rotation.
And, modern production techiniques have since made the barrel pinning redundant and un-necessary.
So the primary appeal of P&R is simply the fact that it was more complicated and expensive to do, and was representative of an earlier era and their typically higher degree of effort,expense, and craftsmanship put into the product.
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Old July 22, 2016, 07:56 AM   #10
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I also have looked at P&R guns as having more "craftsmanship" probably due more to the era than the effort.
I will say that I've seen quite a few post P&R barrels that were not aligned with the frame in one way or another but can't think of a single pinned barrel that wasn't true. Probably due to the extra time spent on alignment prior to pinning.

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Old July 22, 2016, 08:16 AM   #11
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Jim is right about the recessed rim revolvers doing a better job
and the lack of torque needed to replace pinned barrels (i.e. gunsmith friendly).

However JW, I was shooting a .41 Colt SAA - no rim recess - with balloon head cases (all I had at the time)
that had suffered from the mercuric primers prior to my re-loading them with 3F.
About every third case would separate at the rim.
Several bounced over and kicked open the loading gate.

Needless to say, I made sure no one was standing next to me after that started
and clearing that cylinder got old in a hurry.

JT
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Old July 22, 2016, 09:06 AM   #12
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All of my Smiths, with the exception of one, have a pinned barrel. Only one of them has recessed chambers though. Aesthetically, I think they look much better, there is a smaller gap between the frame and rear of the cylinder. However, my only complaint is that you cant just glance at the gun and see if its loaded. When the chambers are not recessed, its easy to see that shiny brass in there letting you know that the gun is loaded. If they are recessed, you cant see anything.

I appreciate the finer craftsmanship of the revolvers made during the prime years of Smith and Wesson.
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Old July 22, 2016, 09:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fireman 9731 View Post
However, my only complaint is that you cant just glance at the gun and see if its loaded. When the chambers are not recessed, its easy to see that shiny brass in there letting you know that the gun is loaded. If they are recessed, you cant see anything.
Only if you're looking perfectly perpendicular at the cylinder, and only if the rounds fit perfectly flush. Looking at the pistol from behind at the 8:00 or 4:00 position, you can still clearly and easily see loaded rounds in the cylinder.
I just did it a second ago.
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Old July 22, 2016, 10:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
However JW, I was shooting a .41 Colt SAA - no rim recess - with balloon head cases (all I had at the time)
that had suffered from the mercuric primers prior to my re-loading them with 3F.
About every third case would separate at the rim.
Several bounced over and kicked open the loading gate.
Scary. But not relevant.
I never heard of a .357 Magnum loaded with mercuric primers and I never heard of a SAA with recessed chambers. A and O.


Quote:
comment on pinning and recessing, that changed my perspective. They pointed out that the recessing was because older ammo had rims that were much less consistent, and guns needed the extra space to compensate to ensure free cylinder rotation.
Does not compute. If the .357 Magnum had rims "much less consistent" (which I doubt) and "needed the extra space to compensate to ensure free cylinder rotation" then there would have been more space available with the regular flat faced cylinder. You know, like Colt used in quite functional .357 SAA and New Service revolvers.
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Old July 22, 2016, 11:28 AM   #15
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Pinned and Recessed is very easy identify once you know what to look for. Like others have mentioned the pinned barrel helps ensure the barrel is installed correctly and doesn't shift over time. In pictures the pin looks like a little dimple right where the top strap, frame and barrel meet.

The recessed cylinder is neat and makes the gun look a little sleeker in my opinion. One thing to note is that non-magnum guns do not have the recessed cylinder. For example the model 10 or any other .38 special for that matter will have a flat cylinder, but pre-1981 models will have the pinned barrel.

While it's possible to check if there are rounds in a closed recessed cylinder, it's much easier to see them in a non-recessed cylinder.
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Old July 22, 2016, 11:50 AM   #16
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Recessed chambers offer no advantage, at least not in centerfires (in rimfires a burst rim might be a reason for a recessed chamber.)

A pinned barrel won't come unscrewed until the pin is driven out. Modern S&Ws use a crush fit to achieve the same effect -- but with two disadvantages. One is that there may be a slight constriction in the breech and the other is most gunsmiths cannot replace the barrel if needed.
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Old July 22, 2016, 12:29 PM   #17
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Howdy

It's all about reducing the cost to manufacture.

Pinning the barrel was a more expensive process. First, an assembler screwed the barrel in, making sure it was properly aligned. Then at another work station a hole was drilled so that it intersected the frame and the upper portion of the barrel threads, and then a pin was driven into the hole to lock the barrel in place.


Smith and Wesson did not always pin their barrels. This 32 Hand Ejector 1st Model shipped in 1898. This model did not have a pinned barrel.





Around 1903 S&W realized that pinning the barrel in place was a good idea. This 38 M&P from 1939 shows a typical pinned barrel.





In 1982, to save production costs, S&W eliminated pinned barrels. At this time S&W changed the barrel thread dimensions slightly so that the threads were an interference fit. The idea was when the barrel was screwed in, it would not come loose. This change eliminated several production steps, saving money making the revolvers.

I bought this Model 686 brand new last year. What we are looking at is a cylinder yoke that does not close all the way. This is a result of the barrel not being torqued in quite right, allowing it to interfere with the cylinder yoke and preventing it from closing all the way. Whether this is the fault of the compressed threads loosening, or just sloppy QC, a defect like this would never have left the factory 'in the old days'.





Quote:
They pointed out that the recessing was because older ammo had rims that were much less consistent, and guns needed the extra space to compensate to ensure free cylinder rotation.
Sorry, but that statement does not hold any water. The feature that allows rimmed cartridges to sit properly in a cylinder is the rear face of the cylinder in a non-recessed cylinder, and the bottom of the counterbores in a recessed cylinder. In either case, these dimensions are held to strict tolerances. If rims were inconsistent in thickness, it would not matter if the chambers were recessed or not. Overly thick rims would still bind on the recoil shield of the revolver.


During the 19th Century, S&W never recessed cylinders, not even with their large frame 44 and 45 caliber Top Breaks, as can be seen in this view of a New Model Number Three chambered for 44 Russian.





Other than 22 Rimfires, recessed cylinders at S&W have pretty much been restricted to the magnum calibers. Smith and Wesson began recessing cylinders in 1935 with the 357 Registered Magnum revolvers, which became known as the Model 27 in 1957 when the company changed to a model numbering system. Which is interesting in itself because the immediate predecessor of the Registered Magnums were the N frame 38/44 Outdoorsman and 38/44 Heavy Duty revolvers. These revolvers were designed to shoot a high powered 38 Special round, much more powerful than a standard 38 special, probably approaching the pressures of the 357 Magnum, yet they did not have recessed cylinders.

The Registered Magnums were a very fancy revolver, with extra features such as checkering on the top strap, that did not appear on any other S&W revolvers. It is my humble opinion that S&W chose to recess the cylinders on the Registered Magnums simply to give them one more special feature to set them apart from their other revolvers. Once the recessed chamber became accepted in the 357 Magnum, it was simple enough to keep the feature with all the other Magnum revolvers.

This photo shows the recessed chambers on a Model 19-3 on the left and a Model 27 on the right.





Interestingly enough, S&W did not always recess the chambers on 22 Rimfire revolvers either. Recessed chambers first appeared on the .22/.32 Hand Ejector (Bekeart Models) in 1935. Prior to that the chambers of 22s were not recessed.

This is a photo of the rear of the cylinder of a 22/32 Heavy Frame Target revolver that shipped in 1923. Do not be mislead by the term 'Heavy Frame'. These revolvers were built on the I frame, and were considerably smaller than a K frame K-22.





This photo shows a Model 17-3 cylinder on the left, and a Model 617-6 cylinder on the right. The Model 17 was made in 1975, the Model 617 in 2003. I have not bought a new S&W 22 revolver in many years, as far as I know S&W is still recessing the chambers of their 22 Rimfire revolvers.




In 1982, the same year S&W eliminated pinned barrels, they also did away with recessed chambers on their Magnum revolvers. That Model 686 I bought last year does not have recessed chambers.
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Old July 22, 2016, 04:04 PM   #18
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S&W was the first company to produce revolvers in .357 Magnum. No other revolver round before that operated at such high pressures. Col. Douglas B. Wesson (son of the founder) worked with Phil Sharpe and Elmer Keith (as well as S&W engineers) in the development of the round and the gun for it. They worked with Remington in the development of the ammo. The ammo, and the brass, was required to do things previous ammo had not done.

The cylinders were recessed, so S&W said at the time and afterwards, to protect against case blowout (where the case head separated from the body of shell casing), and protect the case head. Given that this was a new round and with re-loaders in mind (Keith and Sharpe were a living reminder of that concern) this was a real concern. New gun, new round, new commercial brass working at higher than previous pressures as standard with re-loaders no doubt going to whack at that...so they counterbored the chamber mouths.

Useful to recall that metallurgy and heat treating, was not then what it would be in the post war period.

The 357 Magnum was a gun and round aimed at hunters and long range target shooters. S&W didn't think so many would be interested in a hand gun so powerful.

In hindsight the recessing may not have been necessary. It became a type of signature though. It was eliminated when it no longer served any practical purpose to reduce costs of production.

S&W continued to recess the cylinders on all it's Magnum handguns till the early 1980s. Long after the recessing was necessary.

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Old July 22, 2016, 04:15 PM   #19
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Thank you all!

In reading through all of the back & forth, it seems that the P&R'd revolvers...may be a better, old school revolver...or they may not be, depending on an individual's point-of-view.

At least I may be able to talk about it, like I almost know what I'm talkin' 'bout!

I do know however, that I'm loving my Model 57.

Sam
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Old July 22, 2016, 04:31 PM   #20
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P&R guns don't shoot any better. More recent guns, since the late 80s, are tougher, so far as heat treat and metallurgy goes (excepting the alloy and scandium pieces of course) then the older. The P&R are as good in moderate use as any others ever made.

The older guns are, in most folks hands and eyes more beautiful.

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Old July 22, 2016, 04:32 PM   #21
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"craftsmanship" A word forgot today in world of plastic guns and MIM parts . All my S&W are pin barrel and a real firing pin. Oh, and no Clinton lock Todays S&W are a far cry from the "craftsmanship" of older ones. Good news can still find the older guns at reasonable price if willing to look. Many spent life in a drawer and shoot very little
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Old July 22, 2016, 04:37 PM   #22
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If you want to reload a revolver in a hurry, a flat cylinder face with chamfered charge holes is best for speedloading. It is hard to get a good chamfer on a recessed rim cylinder.
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Old July 22, 2016, 04:56 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driftwood Johnson View Post



In 1982, the same year S&W eliminated pinned barrels, they also did away with recessed chambers on their Magnum revolvers. That Model 686 I bought last year does not have recessed chambers.

To the best of my knowledge "L" frame revolvers never had recessed chambers.
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Old July 22, 2016, 05:57 PM   #24
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School me on "Pinned & Recessed"

Maybe I didn't read very carefully, but one advantage to having recessed chambers is less lint and dirt can get to the cylinder star. I have been carrying some form of a revolver for several years and my old S&W 19-3 with P&R features never seems to accumulate any lint or dirt around the star because of how closely the rear of the cylinder fits the recoil shield/frame area. My S&W 686 (no P&R) has collected enough dirt in the star area to make the gun have a gritty trigger pull, not enough to make the gun fail, but enough to notice.
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Old July 22, 2016, 06:23 PM   #25
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To the best of my knowledge "L" frame revolvers never had recessed chambers.
That is correct. L frames introduced in 1980 did not have recessed chambers. I got one in 1981 and it is sans recessing. Existing magnum models continued to have recessed chambers until 1982.

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