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Are Uberti's Heirloom Quality?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Really?, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. Really?

    Really? Member

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    So the thread title is the core question, but here is a little more information.

    A couple of years ago I bought a used Heritage Rough rider. It was my first pistol and I have enjoyed it greatly. I know people have real intense opinions of that gun and if it is ever worth getting but I wanted to know if I liked shooting SAA style pistols. Turns out, I do.

    However, now that I know that I want something nicer. I want something that will last while I teach my kids to shoot with it and will still be a solid shooter when it makes its way to a grand kid. Also, quite frankly I want a gun more similar in level of quality to the Marlin Model 39 that usually goes to the range with the pistol.

    My price range basically means that the two options are Uberti' Cattleman/Stallion or a Ruger Single six. Having held both, I like the look and fit and finish to the Uberti more. However, anybody who holds the Ruger can tell that gun will last forever.

    Anyway, in my area having checked the local pawn shops and gun stores I can get a used Ruger single six with a 4 3/4" barrel (newer model with transfer bar) for $425. I can get a new Uberti Stallion with a 5 1/2" barrel for the same price. My inclination right now is toward the Uberti in part because I like the longer barrel and in part because the Uberti looks nicer.

    I have heard that the Uberti's don't retain any value once purchased, and while that would be unfortunate, I am actually more concerned with their long term reliability. Is the Uberti a gun that will be able to used by multiple generations or if that is what I want do I just need to get the Ruger?
     
  2. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    That's ridiculous. Of course they hold some value. But you will not get back what you paid for it if you want to sell it.

    Figure it this way. If you sell a gun to a gun shop, or any other type of business, they have to make a profit. Most likely they will need to mark it up 100% over what they paid for it. And there is a limit to how much they can charge for a used gun, they certainly cannot sell it for as much as a brand new one. So you can do the math, there is value there, just not as much as when it was brand new.

    'Heirloom Quality'? What the dickens does that mean?

    Is an Uberti better made than the Heritage? Yes, without a doubt, it is a better firearm.

    Will it last forever so you can hand it down? Entirely dependent on how much use it gets. Not much different than a car. If only driven to church on Sundays by a little old lady, it will probably last a long time. If on the other hand it gets shot a lot and 'put away wet', then it will probably not last as long. It is a mechanical device, and over time parts will wear.

    I can tell you that one of the great selling points of Rugers, they all use coil springs, rather than the flat, leaf type springs of a Colt, or an Uberti. Coil springs simply last longer, they seldom break. Leaf springs can break on occasion. Not gauranteed to break the first time it is shot, but leaf springs can break.

    These parts are from a 2nd Gen Colt. The part at the top is the split bolt/trigger spring. It broke in a very typical fashion. Yes, the gun was probably 40 years old before the spring broke, and I have fired it a lot. But that is a typical broken bolt/trigger spring. Not very difficult to replace. The other broken part is the bolt. Much more unusual to see one of these break. I hope because it took a lot of fitting to replace it. But that is the type of springs you get with a Colt or other Italian replica.

    brokenspringandbolt.jpg




    Here is a modern Ruger New Vaquero all taken apart. Not a flat spring to be found anywhere. Even the old Three Screw Rugers used coil springs, that was one of the innovations that Bill Ruger instituted.

    Exploded%20View%20New%20Vaquero_zpsw19ptt60.jpg




    'Heirloom quality'? Buy a brand new Colt and never shoot it. Want it to last for at least a generation, buy a Ruger. Want something that works the same way the 19th Century Colts did, buy an Uberti. Chances it will last a long time if not abused.

    Don't forget, except for the brand new Cattlemen with the retractable firing pin, traditional single action revolvers are only safe to carry with five rounds, with the hammer down on an empty chamber.

    Because of the transfer bar, you can safely carry a modern Ruger completely loaded, with a live round under the hammer.




    Old Three Screw Ruger (not made anymore). No leaf springs, but also not safe to carry fully loaded. No transfer bar.

    FlatTop44MagParts.jpg
     
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  3. DPris

    DPris Member

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    The Uberti is unlikely to last anywhere near as long, with use, as the Ruger in terms of parts not breaking and other wear.

    Uberti has a long-established practice of making the guns look nice on the outside, but that doesn't necessarily equate to the inside.

    While a Uberti will retain SOME value, depending on use & condition, in any question asking "Which should I get for longevity- Uberti or Ruger?", the answer is always Ruger.
    Most especially on a .22 single-action.

    They've been servicing the current New Model Single-Six since 1973, and they'll probably be servicing them after you're dead & buried.

    Note that this commentary is strictly regarding the question of "heirloom" and passing a gun on down to successive generations.
    If you like the looks of the Uberti, buy it.
    Denis
     
  4. November

    November Member

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    For longevity without having to replace parts: the Ruger.
    However, the Uberti is also simple as a brick inside if/when you break a spring. Replace the flat bolt/trigger spring with a replacement wire spring from Wolff and that’ll be the end of that. If the main spring ever breaks, it’s a cinch to replace.
    They’re both fantastic guns, but not a lot of folks say “Wow, nice!” when you break out a standard Single Six. The Uberti on the other hand is like a work of art if you get a good one.
    It really depends if the people you’re leaving it to are into guns or like tinkering. You’re thinking about them looking in their hands holding “Grandpa’s old gun” someday. Are they holding a common, super reliable Single Six or are they holding a solid, well-fitted replica of an old six-gun Uberti? Tough choice, good luck.
     
  5. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    Ruger. Built like a brick you-know-what. Very easy to make pretty, lots and lots of parts out there to tune it up or repair it (will never need to unless you do something silly).
     
  6. Really?

    Really? Member

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    Obviously as long as it is functional it will retain some value. The Heritage RR I have could probably be taken in trade for either of these to cover the taxes. However, I have been hearing that the Uberti's don't fetch much at all if you have to sell them. Also, by comparison, in my area used "super six" or later style Ruger's are going for only $75 less than what new in box guns are going for. Older three screw or pre-transfer bar versions are going for more than new in box versions (500 for new single six at LGS vs. $550-675 for three screw type). Now obviously the person selling to the gunstore didn't get the sticker price, but they could easily have gotten 50% or 60% of retail and there would still be profit for the Gunstore. However, the rumor is that Uberti's resell for for only 50-66% of their original retail price ($200-$250) so that means that the reseller probably bought it for between 15-33% of original retail.


    Not trying to be oblique or anything I just meant will it be a gun that both functions when you pass it on and be something that somebody would care about if you pass it on.

    Obviously, that depends on how you treat it. For all the noted durability of the ruger, if you keep it in the bottom of a boat and let it sit in salt water all the time it will fall apart. On the other hand, my heritage RR is in very good condition even though that is basically thought of as a knock-about gun because I take care of it and honestly don't get to shoot as much as I would like. So realizing that yes, proper care and maintenance play a role, lets assume that I will take care of both guns and that they will get used but not seriously abused.

    Thank you for the pictures. I had read about this but not seen pictures. Are the leaf springs something that is fairly interchangeable between the various manufacturer's of the clones? Can you order these through Bushnell like you can firing pints for older lever actions?

    Always good info. I have known this for a while since I started looking at various SAA clones. Anyway, the idea was not to get people riled up but to seek honest help in making the decision. I am not going to buy both a Ruger and a Uberti, and since I have already purchased a "budget" SAA once I want to make sure that what I buy is what I am looking for. I like that I don't have to compromise any of the things I was looking for in the Uberti, but am concerned that is because its too cheap a gun.
     
  7. DPris

    DPris Member

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    Your choices are your own.
    In my case, among the several truly "heirloom" guns that will be passed on, there are numerous Rugers, and no Ubertis. :)
    Denis
     
  8. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    They're heirloom quality if that's what you can afford.

    I think they make some damn nice lever actions.
     
  9. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    I have no idea where you are getting your information.

    I stand by what I said. The economics of gun sales are that a dealer has to charge 100% of what he pays for a used gun to stay in business. That does not mean 100% profit, the 100% mark up covers his fixed costs of rent, fuel, and everything else. Very little of that is pure profit.

    I just took a quick look at what a couple of used Uberti revolvers are going for locally. $390. That means the owner got paid about $195 for them, give or take a little. If that is not much at all, then so be it. I can tell you the last time I traded in a Uberti revolver was quite a few years ago. No, I do not recall what I got for it, but it was enough to put down a hefty down payment on a brand new Ruger Vaquero. Yes, I had to add some more money, but I seem to recall I owed a bit less than half for the brand new Ruger.

    If the local shop is getting $390 for a couple of used Ubertis, that means I could too if I wanted to sell them directly myself. Unfortunately, there are more than a few laws involved in doing that.

    Guns are nothing more than precision collections of internal parts, designed to cam and rotate against each other. There are no ball bearings in a revolver, or any other gun that I can think of. Every time the action is cycled, the parts literally rub against each other, and rub against the part of the frame where they are mounted. Rub parts against each other and they will wear. That is a simple fact of nature. Smooth the parts up better than the factory, add a tiny amount of oil, and you reduce the friction, so there is less wear. But eventually, parts will wear so that they no longer function properly and have to be replaced.

    I have taken apart plenty of Rugers, Colts, and Ubertis. The parts inside a Ruger, besides being of a completely different design, are simply more robust. What I mean by that is the cross sections of the parts in the areas where they rub against each other tend to be thicker. So the wear is spread out over a larger surface. Increase the wear area and you will decrease the amount of wear every time a firearm is cycled. That is why Rugers have the reputation of being built like tanks. Besides the use of coil springs, the internal parts are simply more heavily built, and will not wear as quickly rubbing against each other than similar parts in a Colt or Uberti. Ubertis are simply aping the Colt design, which was originally developed around 1851. Uberti has made no effort to 'beef up' any of the parts, they are trying to make as accurate a reproduction of the old Colts as they can. So you get more wear with that design. You can shoot it once a year, or you can shoot it every week. You will probably get the same amount of cycles out it no matter how often you shoot it, No, I have not counted cycles in a Ruger, I just know by looking at the parts that they will wear longer.

    There is always a trade off. Because Rugers use coil springs, every spring needs a plunger to apply the spring force to the part it is working against. That increases the parts count. Colts (and any other replica) are a simpler design. Leaf springs do not need a plunger, the spring bears directly against the part it is working against. Because there are fewer parts, Colts (and Ubertis) are very simple to take apart and put back together again. Because of the increased parts count, and because the design is more complicated, Rugers are easy to take apart, but they are a pain in the butt to put back together again. Not impossible, but not as simple as a Colt.

    Here is a 2nd Generation Colt completely torn apart. (An Uberti is going to be almost exactly the same.) Compare the complexity of the New Vaquero to the Colt.

    2ndGenColtExplodedView.jpg




    Here are the parts of the lockwork of a Colt. There are only four parts. The hammer, trigger, bolt, and hand. Notice the spring attached to the hand, one of the two most common springs to break in a Colt. Uberti has recently changed that spring out for a coil spring and plunger mounted in a hole in the frame, so there is one less part likely to break. Look again at the photo above of the Colt completely torn down. Notice the wire spring directly above the trigger guard. That is an after market wire spring that performs the same function as the broken spring Colt spring I pictured earlier. It is made of music wire, and I have never heard of one breaking.

    interiorparts.jpg




    Yes, after market parts are easily available for Colts and Ubertis. Brownells carries them. Another brand is Wolff. As a matter of fact that Colt has a Wolff after market hammer spring in it.



    If you want something that works just like a Colt, buy a Colt. If you cannot afford it, buy an Uberti. No, the quality of an Uberti is not as high as a Colt, there are a few things Colt still does that Uberti does not. But with an Uberti you get a traditional single action revolver that functions exactly like a Colt. If you want something that given the same amount of cycles as an Uberti, will probably outlast the Uberti, buy a Ruger. You get the transfer bar, so you can fully load it, but the mechanism is not the same as a Colt (or Uberti).
     
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  10. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    I got my used Ruger Blackhawk 357 for $299. It is an early transfer bar gun (mid 1970s). It was shot a lot before I got it, and still shoots great. It will undoubtedly still be a good shooter for my son or daughter after I am gone.

    I would be looking for a used Blackhawk. I have yet to wear one out, though I've tried pretty hard.
     
  11. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

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    I've got my fathers Sears-Roebuck 12 gauge pump. It's not worth selling as far as it's value goes (and it still looks like the day he bought it). But it was HIS. That's what makes it an "heirloom." Not how much I could get for it if I sold it.

    As for the two single-actions. Buy the one you like best. That way, if for some reason somewhere down the road, you don't like it, you have no one to blame but yourself. There will be no regret about "That guy on the internet who told me to buy........"

    They're both good guns in my experience.
     
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  12. Panzerschwein

    Panzerschwein member

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    I'd get the Ruger over the Uberti. Rugers are built Ruger-tuff, like a small tank.
     
  13. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    To answer your basic question, yes, they are to me. Uberti builds an excellent gun. I wouldn't own so many if they didn't, totaling 21 guns in all. They have also been greatly improved over the last few decades and I think most of the negative that contributes to their reputation is at least that old (just like the old AMF-era crap about Harley's leaking). However, they have all the maladies inherent in the Colt design but this is quite often exaggerated. Colt style guns are not constantly breaking parts but internet lore suggests otherwise, mostly from those who never owned one who again, heard some 30yr old crap in a gun shop. My very first handgun was a Uberti Virginian .22 convertible I bought new as a 12yr old, now 31yrs ago. I shot the stew out of that sixgun until I got my first Old Model Single Six, when I relegated the Uberti to .22Mag duty. In the subsequent years, I've acquired the other 20 Uberti guns, along with nearly a dozen Pietta's, several Colt's and USFA's. As you might guess, the single action revolver is my obsession. I run them hard, I run them fast and I run them all the time. In all this time, I have had two broken parts. My best friend's rode hard and put up wet Colt Frontier Scout broke while I was shooting it. The hand spring snapped off after God knows how many thousands of rounds. It took 15mins to fix. Then I seem to recall the trigger/sear spring was broken on a new Uberti 3rd Model Dragoon. That's it. Granted, I usually stone the action and replace the springs in all my guns but in all these years and all those thousands of rounds, two easily replaced broken springs are not much to ask.

    As far as overall quality, Uberti's are excellent. Quality is on par with Ruger but fit & finish is going to be better on a Uberti. Colt builds a better SAA but they also cost four times as much. However, since this is about .22's, that really doesn't apply. For the Colt Frontier Scout and New Frontier .22 aren't as well made as their centerfire counterparts.

    As far as resale, a Uberti will hold its value like any other run-of-the-mill firearm. Just like Colt or Ruger.

    Rugers are great guns, I have a truckload of them. It all boils down to what you want. For a New Model Ruger won't scratch the Colt itch like a Uberti will but it may be a better choice if you have an aversion to the possibility of changing a spring or giving up one shot. For my purposes, I greatly prefer the Old Model Single Six over the New Model. Colt-style action but with none of the inherent weaknesses.

    Here's what I think of my favorite Uberti-made sixgun. Engraving at +75% coverage, Turnbull carbona blue and since this pic was taken, the TruIvory has been replaced with one-piece elephant ivory. I also have two other Uberti sixguns that will be the basis for full customs.

    IMG_2281b.jpg

    This Cimarron .44Spl I picked up last year just may become a favorite as well, with some sprucing up in its future.

    47A5E19F-326F-4596-B27F-230B454C99E71.jpg
     
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  14. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Driftwood, the OP wants a .22. I once read that the small frame Uberti Stallion, .22 and .32 calibers, was not up to the SAA copies. Anything to the rumor?

    Elmer Keith once reported that Ruger mounted a Single Six on a motor drive that cocked and snapped it all through an NRA convention with no breakage.
     
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  15. gnr

    gnr Member

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    If you go with the Uberti check the screws right out of the box.

    I fired my brand new Uberti made Cimarron for the first time yesterday. On the 12th round the ejector rod assembly flew off the gun landing in the snow five feet in front of me. Fortunately the screw was still with the assembly so a good cleaning and some thread locker and I was back in business.

    I love the gun. Fit and finish is excellent. It feels very smooth and solid. I am sure my nephew will be very happy to inherit it when that time comes.
     
  16. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Really?

    I think either revolver will serve you well and continue to do so as it gets passed down from generation to generation. Get the one that holds the most appeal to you now and let it's value and long term reliability be the concern of some future owner.
     
  17. OneFreeTexan

    OneFreeTexan Member

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    I think somebody has a Ruger tattoo on their butt.

    Umm, the plunger in a coil spring can break.
    Have a friend that is a supervisor in one of the largest spring manufactures in the world... He could teach you a lot.
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Mine did, too. The ejector rod screw threads directly into the barrel. Colts have a threaded bushing permanently set into a recess in the barrel.
     
  19. DPris

    DPris Member

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    Another Uberti shortcut.
    Denis
     
  20. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    There are two a simple reasons why coil springs generally do not break in a firearm.

    The first is the amount of flex. A coil spring takes up the amount of compression over its entire length. So each coil only sees a fraction of the total of the compression. In other words, each coil does not flex very much.

    A leaf type spring bends over its entire length, and the amount of flex over any section tends to be much greater than with a coil spring.

    So there will be more stress on the bending portion of a leaf spring than on a coil spring. Hence, less breakage.

    Leaf springs have particular shapes that tend to create stress risers. A stress riser is any place that the stress of bending is concentrated. Sharp corners, tight radii, and other physical features cause stress risers. As the spring flexes over and over again, tiny fractures are created at these stress points. Over time, after being flexed many times, these fractures can propagate across the spring, causing it to break.

    Coil springs are made of coiled wire and the wire is usually uniform in section for its entire length. So there are no locations for stress risers to occur.

    Cases in point. Let's look at these broken springs again. The break at the base of one of the legs of the Colt trigger/bolt spring is typical of the failure of this type of spring. They almost always snap off at the base of a leg like that because of the sharp radius between the legs. A perfect stress riser. Over time, from many flexes, a microscopic fracture can happen there. Then as the spring is flexed many times, the fracture grows until it propagates completely across the leg. Sometimes a shooter will notice the bolt is not popping up as smartly as it is supposed to, but is a bit lazy. When he removes the trigger guard to inspect the spring, it may look whole, but it may fall apart as he removes it. Sometimes the spring breaks like this and the bolt or trigger ceases snapping back at all.

    The broken bolt is another classic, although much rarer example. Notice the metal snapped at the narrowest point around the hole. Another stress riser.

    brokenspringandbolt.jpg




    Here are a pair of Uberti 1873 rifle hammer springs. Notice the horizontal marks across the springs.

    ubertihammersprings_zpsd486a17e.jpg




    These are tooling marks left behind by a grinding operation. They are perfect stress risers, and I had a spring snap in half on me at a CAS match once. The spring snapped in half right across one of those tooling marks. Luckily I had a spare rifle with me that day. When I lighten a spring like this I always polish away these horizontal marks. All Uberti rifle hammer springs I have ever seen have these tooling marks across them, and frankly I am surprised that more do not snap in half.

    ubertihammerspringscloseup_zps2d44e8f1.jpg



    Colt Hand Spring. See that sharp bend where it tucks into the hand? The sharp bend causes a stress riser. When they break, they always break right there. That is why Uberti has been using a coil spring buried in the frame to operate the hand on their revolvers for quite a while now.

    hand_zps36a8a43e.jpg




    Here is the bolt spring from a Ruger Three Screw. This one happens to be a torsion spring, not a compression spring. Meaning that it twists to impart its spring force. But the idea is the same. The wire is of consistent section for it's entire length, there is no place to build stresses, except at the bends at the ends. But the way this spring works, those tabs never bend. They simply press against the operating parts. So no stress risers. In addition, this spring has six coils. So whatever the degrees of flex is, it will be divided equally between the six coils, not all concentrated in one spot as it would be in a leaf spring.

    FlatTop44MagBolt.jpg




    And that is why Bill Ruger went to coil springs in the 1950s. He understood how they worked, and that they were much, much less likely to break than a leaf spring that performed the same function.




    Here are a couple of typical coil springs. These are from Smith and Wessons. They go with the rebound slide, two different types are shown. Again, the springs are formed from wire which is consistent in section for its entire length. So no stress risers. Each of these springs has more than a dozen coils, so each coil only shares a percentage of the total flex. So much less tenancy for the spring to break.


    reboundslidesandsprings_zps73eb9077.jpg




    I guess I will have to check my butt tonight to see if it has Ruger or Smith and Wesson tattooed on it. But in an earlier life one of the things I used to do was specify springs for mechanical assemblies, so I know a little bit about them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
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  21. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Sorry, don't know anything about that.
     
  22. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I have no indication that the Stallion is in anyway inferior to the full sized SAA. I've had the precursor to the Stallion for 31yrs with nary a problem.
     
  23. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    My "heritage" firearms include a couple of 200th anniversary Rugers, a three screw Super Blackhawk, a Colt frontier scout, and a sport model Woodsman. All are worth way more than the purchase price but probably actual value is only a little more due to inflation. That said, my Navy Arms 1851 Navy (from the first batch produced) my Euro Remington and my Uberti 1860 don't quite hold their own on resale.
    My pre-64 M70, now that is heritage stuff.
     
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