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Ah the good old days at Smith and Wesson

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Master Blaster, Aug 1, 2008.

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  1. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    Ah the good old days before MIM, and sideplate locks, when there were real craftsman and real Quality control. Or maybe not so good.

    My latest aquisition was a 629 no dash pinned and recessed. In recent years used Smith revolvers have become increasingly desirable, becuase there is a perception that S&W was perfect way back when. Well owning many older Smiths I can tell you that this is simply not true.

    I discovered my 629 at a local shop along with half a box of ammo from 1980, the original owner probably fired 10 rounds from this gun before it sat in a drawer for 28 years. The gun was perfect, no wear at all, perfect topstrap, not a spec of the errosion that usually starts to happen after 50 rounds or so.
    So last saturday I took the gun out to the range. 160.jpg

    So I am shooting and the accuracy is excellent, but I notice that the trigger pull is hard on a couple cylinders. Now this gun has a tight barrel cylinder gap which I noticed in the shop.
    A tight gap is a good thing usually. IN this case the cylinder is rubbing on the back of the barrel.

    The gun has end shake bad enough that the cylinder is touching the barrel. This is how the gun left the factory in 1980, the yoke barrel is a hair too short. There is absolutely no signs that this gun has any wear from firing, and the yoke is a perfect fit to the frame with no play at all. I can push the cylinder back enough that the BC gap appears normal, significant rearward movement.
    I have ordered .002 cylinder endshake bearings and it may take two of them to fix it.

    So you see Smiths weren't perfect even in the good old days.
     
  2. Shear_stress

    Shear_stress Member

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    Your point is well taken, but I don't think many people would agree that 1980 was "the good old days" for S&W.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2008
  3. Virginian

    Virginian Member

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    I think those were the good old days for America, not just Smith.
     
  4. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    I've gotten a couple of examples of little used S&Ws that were pretty grim.

    The two most notable examples were 'Nam era Bangor Puntas which folks more knowledgeable than I (Old Fuff) noted had a higher than average percentage of stinkers shipped. But most of what I've seen, even from the Dark Times, were pretty good.

    You can't tell beforehand if one is going to be good based on what year it was made. Good ones and stinkers were made at all points.
     
  5. mtngunr

    mtngunr Member

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    The late-60's into the early-80's were a low-point for many American manufacturers....captive audience led to many arrogant shoddy goods, whether cars, bikes, or guns....it wasn't the good old days....it was turkey season...turkeys made by and for turkeys...
     
  6. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    I got a perfectly horrible Gold Cup around 1980. I thought it was a statistical anamoly but I'm beginning to wonder twenty-five years after the fact. I've heard a number of similar complaints around the same time period compliments of the intertubes.

    Sometimes when I see the "revolvers are orders of magnitude more reliable than semi-autos" posts I wonder if it wasn't my specific Gold Cup that the poster was using as a basis of comparison.

    'Course I heard that H-D was making motorcycles out of bowling ball parts in those days but that's only what I hear.

    All this reminiscing is making me want to hit Ebay motors to see if I can land a pristine '82 Cadillac Cimarron.
     
  7. 10X

    10X Member

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    You have to look at each gun to determine if it is a good one or a bad one.

    The 70s and 80s were hit and miss for S&W.

    I can tell you about warped barrels, triggers that went out more than once on a new gun, warped and bent frames, hammer struts shearing off on a 27-2 within 150 rounds of new, revolvers that shot 12" low, inaccurate guns.

    At the same time others were just the best.
     
  8. Shear_stress

    Shear_stress Member

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    So you see Smiths weren't perfect even in the good old days.

    Absolutely. I've got a post-war transitional M&P that had an improperly made forcing cone from the factory. And that was from a time when S&W quality was just about at its best.
     
  9. Majic

    Majic Member

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    Us old farts think the good ole days were long before 1980.
     
  10. bluetopper

    bluetopper Member

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    Maybe mid 40's to mid 60's? Was that a high point for S&W quality? I've heard some say the 30's were.

    I know the 40's-60's was the heyday for High Standard .22 pistol craftsmanship.
     
  11. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    While raising my family, I couldn't afford S&Ws. When I could, their QC had started dropping - I went with another US maker - and found clunkers - that worked.

    When I returned to S&W - actually, after I retired - I found them to be of great quality - and, as I applauded the 'new' SS revolvers when that 60 came out, almost all of their then current revolvers in SS made sense to me. Oddly, the other, more clunky brand, started needing too much TLC to just work - their QC had dropped significantly!

    I've owned S&Ws from the 70's & 80's - they've all had 'problems' - perhaps why, users or safe-queens, they were sold. Often, buying used is simply getting someone else's problems. All of my S&Ws now are 2001 or later - save one - a '96 - my only real 'used' gun purchased/traded for - with the hammer mounted fp & CCH hammer & trigger. I even have eight with the IL. No matter - I prefer current production. These are, to me, 'the good old days'. Besides, you have to applaud S&W for their new goodies - 8-shot .357s, .500 Magnums, super lite weight pocket cannon, etc. Make mine new.

    Stainz
     
  12. SAWBONES

    SAWBONES Member

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    The Bangor-Punta years were pretty grim.
    Before that, Smith's QC was generally much better.

    Nothing and nobody are perfect, but QC at Smith and Colt used to be pretty good, at least back in the '50s-early '60s, and the average new-in-the-box guns were better made and better finished than now. (And yes, I'm old enough to know.)
     
  13. Bullet Bob

    Bullet Bob Member

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    "I think those were the good old days for America, not just Smith."

    Yup, nothing like a good old 18% interest on your average home loan.
     
  14. papajohn

    papajohn Member

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    I'm not so sure about the 80's-era guns, but I have yet to see a lemon from the late 50's. Maybe they've all been fixed, or maybe they just never had any issues to begin with. Either way, I'll take a 1955-1960 made gun almost sight unseen.

    PJ
     
  15. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    Nice guns.

    I've never used 'good old days' and stainless in the same sentence. :p
     
  16. plexreticle

    plexreticle Member

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    I've seen a Gold Cup lemon also and a ton of newer J frame problems.

    I've noticed that generaly the older the gun the better the workmanship. There are exceptions to every rule however.
     
  17. JNewell

    JNewell Member

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    Unfortunately, if it has a number, it probably doesn't count as being from "the good old days."

    Whenever that was, anyway... :(
     
  18. machinisttx

    machinisttx Member

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    I've got a 1965(IIRC) M17-2 with the same problem. I've finally traced it down to being a problem with the muzzle end of the cylinder--whoever was running the lathe that day must have been a new guy, because the face of the cylinder is not flat....it's cut at an angle.
     
  19. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Member

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    Jnewell,

    You create an interesting point. We call the earlier guns "pre-27's" or "Pre-28's". I have often wondered why the collector's put such emphasis on the model number guns instead of just calling them "Heavy Duty's" or "Outdoorsman's".

    To me the "good old days" is variable as it depends on the author. I consider them 1930 to 1941. Others say 1911 to 1917. This thread seems to imply it was the 70's and 80's.

    Kind of interesting perspective.
     
  20. Seafarer12

    Seafarer12 Member

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    I don't know, my 19-3 is a lot nicer than any new Smith, but they are still good guns. I own a 617 too. I would like o get a 27-2 one of these days. I might settle for a 686 to match the 617.
     
  21. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    I was reading the OP more to be stating that he got a Bangor Punta 1980 revolver with issues and that other people were considering that era to be the "good old days".

    Wasn't that <shudder> disco and polyester? Harley Davidson was making motorcycles out of bowling ball parts and Colt was having semi-perpetual labor issues and sporadically lost the receipe for a reliable 1911. Carter was in office and Billy Beer was at the local stop & rob.

    Where I got confused early on was with the fairly constant hosannas sung on the intratubes at the altar of "pinned and recessed". A fair number of P&Rs were put out during the BP Dark Times and are represented by a greater than average number of bowsers.

    When sonnets and poems were written to Pinned and Recessed when I was first (admittedly recently) getting interested in revolvers, I don't recall ever seeing anything about how great was a "pinned and recessed unless it was pinned and / or recessed during the time that Bangor Punta owned S&W and most specifically the 'Nam era thereof". No doubt because it was both too long to type and probably everybody but me already knew to add the last part.

    This results in a twisted impression of "pinned and recessed" generally in that most are decent, some are angelic and a few suck. It took me a while to cipher that not all are expected to be angelic especially if the "born on date" was within a certain range.

    My 28-2 (1977) continues to amaze me that it made it through anybody's quality control - but I needed an excuse to buy chamber polishers, bushings and break out the stones. If I ever get it so that nothing is getting scratched and scarred through normal operation I may send the trigger / hammer to Turnbull to get the CCH redone.

    I can't think of a single decade in my memory I would nominate for inclusion as a "good old day" but 70s - 80s wouldn't be toward the top of the list.
     
  22. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    I have a nickel 29-2 made c. 1975 whose cylinder now will not rotate when pulling the trigger in double action. I've had it since 2000 and only put about 70 rounds through it. (And I tried flushing and lubing - still no go. The sideplate will need to come off to see what is wrong.)
     
  23. Ed from Maine

    Ed from Maine Member

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    NIB...for a reason?

    I think it is interesting to see almost NIB pieces being listed for sale, at a premium on account of condition, without the question arising "Why didn't this piece get used more?" ...and sometimes there is a very good reason.
    I have a m.60-14 snub, with a test fire date of 7-25-07, which i purchased new before I knew better (about locks, mim, and such), and after a little over a thousand rounds of .38 special, golly, that trigger sure is nice, I can shoot that rascal all day long...which is more than I can say for a few other snubs I subsequently picked up, most of which were internet 'sight unseen' purchases. It is all a big crapshoot as far as I can see...or, to look at it another way, I am paying tuition for my (hopefully increasing) store of hands-on knowledge and experience. but I am having fun along the way...
     
  24. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Those good old days for Smith were the same good old days for Colt. Competition was pretty fierce which made for well made firearms.

    Smith quality is very good today in comparison to all other revolver manufactures (except Freedom Arms and BFR prehaps). They are head and shoulders above the rest. So these are good days too unless you are hung up on the lock or current pricing.
     
  25. btg3

    btg3 Member

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    It's a shame Smith couldn't earn the same reputation with their autoloaders.
     
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