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Are the new Smith Classics better made?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Super Sneaky Steve, Sep 1, 2011.

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  1. Super Sneaky Steve

    Super Sneaky Steve Member

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    Lets ignore the internal lock for a moment and just look at the metal quality and manufacturing process.

    Can anyone say from experiance that the new classics offered by Smith are better or at least more duarble than ones in the past?
     
  2. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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    No!
    /Bryan
     
  3. Smith357

    Smith357 Member

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    Generally speaking the modern steels are superior to the the steels of just 50 years ago. While I believe the raw materials are better the craftsmanship and attention to detail is not what it once was. The high polish deep blue finishes are gone and due to EPA regulations they will never return. Many of the "new" features have been implemented to cut manufacturing cost not so much to improve the product.
     
  4. hawkeye10

    hawkeye10 Member

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    :) I think the new S&W revolvers are of good quality and will last a several life times. We already know the quality of the older Smiths, they have stood the test of time. I think the bluing is better looking on the older Smiths. They had to change the chemicals used because of environmental reasons. Don
     
  5. M3stuart

    M3stuart Member

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    IMHO; I would say that the new S&Ws are, along with Rugers, the best made revolvers in the world.

    Again, IMHO, I think that a new S&W is not nearly as good of a deal as a used S&W, even one 50 years old, which normally sell for half the price. The old ones lock up tighter than new ones made by the 'other' companies.

    So I would say "no"; the new S&Ws are NO BETTER than the older S&Ws, certainly no more durable (hammer forged metal ages on a geological scale), and are also not manufactured with the same level of quality and QA as the older ones.

    Ignore the lock discussion; just look at what you're getting.

    Also, FWIW; if you want to get into used S&Ws - check out the S&W forum and avoid the online sites where the prices are just nuts.
     
  6. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Member

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    In my opinion, the durability and quality of metal are the same. The old models and the new ones are built to last. I think the fit and finish of the older guns are better but all will shoot extremely well.
     
  7. valnar

    valnar Member

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    If a particular older specimen that you like is available, looks and functions fine, I would buy it used over a new Smith. If I had to rely on a new Smith to work, I'm sure it would, but the older one is still usually better.

    Old good Smith < $$ than new equivalent Smith = buy old one
    Old good Smith = $$ to new equivalent Smith = buy old one
    Old good (rare?) smith > $$ to new Smith = tough call

    I have only bought two new S&W revolvers because older equivalents did not exist. A 625-8 Performance Center and 686 Mountain Gun in .357. Neither were cheap, but their quality was nearly as good as a classic Smith just because of their "one-off" nature and attention to detail.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  8. EmGeeGeorge

    EmGeeGeorge Member

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    NOT FOR WHAT THEY WANT FOR EM... oops. caps off.
     
  9. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    If you are talking about this pre WWII S&W, well yes today's revolvers are made of better materials with better heat treatments. This one has a heat treated cylinder, according to web sources earlier serial numbers did not.

    ReducedM31serialnumber403754rightsi.jpg


    When you are talking about 80's vintage S&W's, that is a more difficult assessment.

    You could say that the machining , steels, and heat treatment of post millennium pistols are “better”, in the sense that the semiconductor revolution has improved the consistency of process controls and process technology. But these vintage pistols are not awful in any way.

    Mine shoot quite well.


    ReducedM24rightsideDSCN5073.gif

    I don't have any 50's or 60's S&W's, so I really cannot comment on them.
     
  10. sugarmaker

    sugarmaker Member

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    I used to be an S&W snob, but multiple really bad experiences with new smiths from 1984 to about 1995 made me say "never again". I guess they are better now - maybe I'll check one out.
     
  11. orionengnr

    orionengnr Member

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    I only one one S&W revolver made after 1978. I got a really good price on it and the prior owner had already removed the ILS...so I took it.

    IMHO, my older ones have nicer bluing, smoother actions and overall greater desirability.

    I can carry the new one, put some finish wear on it...and spare my older beauties the wear and abuse. We're all happy.
     
  12. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    I keep hearing this over and over. I wonder where it comes from? It sure isn't true. Alloys like 4130 & 4140 used in the 1950s, 1960s and probably beyond were the finest "ordnance steels" available then and still are today. If Smith has changed the steel they use for blued guns it is probably an alloy that is easier for their high tech machines to mill. The stainless they use was also chosen for its ease of machining, over its properties as a gun making material.

    Dave
     
  13. skidder

    skidder Member

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    I could not ignore that hole if I tried.
     
  14. JohnhenrySTL

    JohnhenrySTL Member

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    I keep asking this question hoping for a response, I am new to this and do not yet know how to start my own thread. I recently bought a .38 S&W model 442. It is very fun a to shoot and unlike my other modern sidearms; it creates a fun challenge. It is a light weight 15 ounce snub nose revolver. The frame is made out of aluminum. Will I wear it out if I shoot as often as I shoot my sigp229 or my other pistols?
     
  15. skidder

    skidder Member

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    johnhenry-- There is a big blue button in each category that reads "New Thread".

    The cylinder on your gun is carbon steel, and I would assume the barrel or sleeve in the barrel is steel. The only place I would worry about wear is the frame above the barrel cylinder gap ("flame cutting", but not likely). While your cleaning, inspect your gun for any abnormal wear this should be common practice for any responsible gun owner. If you stick to shooting the recommended loads that gun should give you years of enjoyment.:)
     

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  16. JohnhenrySTL

    JohnhenrySTL Member

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    Thank you for both responses. I do clean the firearm every time I shoot it. I have not noticed any wear, I would just assume that because it is lighter and built for the purpose of ccw, it would hold to thousands and thousands of rounds. However, I am wrong. Thnaks.
     
  17. Smith357

    Smith357 Member

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    It comes from the new technologies involved in furnace control, with the disappearance of basic open hearth processing, and a near complete shift to the electric arc furnace. Also the technologies to reduce impurities and ways to assess grain structures quickly and cheaply.
     
  18. oldfool

    oldfool Member

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    I took the question a bit differently than some here apparently have
    OP referred specifically to the new CLASSIC line, not all 'new' S&W revolvers in general

    better than the old classic K/L/N-frames, no, not a chance IMO

    For me the question is not are they better, but aside from the same old, same old hole and MIM and price rants, how good is the 'New Classic' line (or not) ?
    Posts by folks who have one seem about as rare as hen's teeth, but somebody must be buying them, because they keep expanding the line.

    The fit & finish looks good under glass, but is it ?
    How accurate are they ?
    How good is the DA trigger ?
    How good is the SA trigger ?

    all the yada yada aside, a gun is as good as it shoots and holds up to round count
    I am not going to be the 1st kid on my block to own one
    so... who does ?
    tell us about it !
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2011
  19. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    From what I have seen at the LGS the "classic" line of S&W is no better or worse than the regular S&W. I think we all agree the older revolvers had more of a human touch, better fit and finish.

    Well the new models last like the older ones? I'm sure they well, don't think I'll find out.

    My current favorite S&W. Born in 1917 this .32 hand ejector 5th change is like new mechanically, a few age wrinkles, like me.

    5thchange02.jpg
     
  20. Thaddeus Jones

    Thaddeus Jones Member

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    No, not better made. If you would like a second opinion, they are ugly too........AND overpriced! :)
     
  21. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    The "classic" smiths are just like the rest of the revolver line.

    MIM parts, crush-fit two-piece barrel.

    The standard smiths are overpriced...the "classics" are WAY overpriced.

    Better?...not in any way shape or form
     
  22. pendennis

    pendennis Member

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    S&W, quality-wise, was probably at it's nadir during the Bangor Punta Days (60's-70's). Bangor Punta concentrated on growth and not quality. That maybe heretical to the "pinned and recessed" aficionados, but it's true. Pinned barrels were no longer necessary after about 1955. S&W kept it up until ca. 1982. Recessed magnum cylinders were also a moot point with modern-made brass cases. Relative costs have come down.

    Materials are much better, and we probably hear more about quality problems today, than ever. It's called the world wide web. Problems can't remain hidden for long, so management tends to be more proactive. That spells better quality, or in the least, catching problems earlier.

    Modern machining holds toleranaces better than ever. That +/- .001" has now come down to +/- .0001". Tighter fitting usually means longer lasting.

    On the whole, quality is better.
     
  23. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Steel alloy composition and heat treatments were mature by the time you get into the 40's.

    However today's process controls have improved the end product.

    As an example, stainless steel knife blades. The stainless steels used in todays' knives take and keep an edge far better than the same steels from the 60's.
     
  24. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Dave brings up an excellent point. I think folks automatically assume that the "modern steel" is better. With zero details or knowledge on the alloys in question.


    If they really wanted to use the best materials for the job they would use something besides 400 series stainless and switch to the 17-4 alloy that Freedom Arms uses. But they won't, because it's harder on cutters.


    Yep!!!


    This is gets repeated all the time but is completely untrue. It has nothing to do with the bluing chemicals and everything to do with metal prep. Metal polishing, to get the results 'we' are discussing, must involve a lot of handwork and S&W wants to do everything in a tumbler.

    Here's what a proper polish job and subsequent bluing looks like when done right, on a two year old USFA:
    IMG_1138c.jpg
     
  25. sidheshooter

    sidheshooter Member

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    Q: How many S&W revolver shooters/collectors does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to talk about how well-made the old one was...

    ;)
     
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