Longevity Of A Modern Single Action vs XXX Modern Automatic

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Mr. Mosin, Mar 27, 2021.

  1. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Question regarding the longevity and reliability of a modern single action (example being a Ruger Vaquero) vs any given modern automatic. Will a modern single action outlast a Beretta 92/Glock XX/1911 platform shot for shot regarding reliability and longevity; given proper maintenance ?
     
  2. defjon

    defjon Member

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    There's not a lot to go wrong on a single action, but I would still think a modern semi auto would be able to fire more continuous shots between issues (if that makes sense).

    If I remember correctly, in the 92 trials the Beretta fired something like 17k + continuous rounds between stoppages. That is pretty amazing.

    I've seen well documented torture tests of gen 3 pre mim glock 9mms going hundreds of thousands of rounds.

    I don't think any revolver could do that because the crud and gunk would slow down the action eventually. I think it would at least need wiped down or something to try to compete with the old 1911 trial, which I think managed something like 6k round and was by far the best at that time.

    If you become a glock armorer you can see how relatively easy it is to work on that platform and change parts as necessary. Truely modular and doing away with handfitting parts makes it a lot easier to keep running without factory support.

    Folks still work on their single actions but fitting a cylinder or working on timing is more involved.

    It's a bit nuanced. The Ruger is a fantastic single action. Some high power loads are Ruger specific. They are very strong, and a great hunting arm.

    The glock or the Beretta would be better for more shots down range. I just think they are different applications and hard to measure side by side because of that.

    A Ruger with proper care will likely go to your children's children's children. A glock or any semi auto should really have recoil spring replaced at intervals, may need a new extractor. A Beretta owner is wise to keep a spare locking block and trigger return spring.

    If you had infinite ammo for the single action or the modern auto loader, and we're firing until failure or until things "gum up", I'm betting on the modern auto loader.

    But if mad Max beyond thunderdome happens tomorrow, I might prefer the single action on my side. Does that make sense?
     
  3. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Yes. Yes it does.
     
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  4. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    @defjon makes some very good points.

    Guns are mechanical. Mechanical things break. The more parts involved usually mean the greater chance of breakage.

    I have put thousands of rounds through a couple of original model Ruger Vaqueros with zero issues. I had a Glock 34 that I also put thousands of rounds through that the only thing that I replaced was the recoil spring assembly. It wasn’t broken but I felt I should replace it so other parts didn’t break.

    I do think though, that if I were going to side with the gun that I would trust to last longest it would be a Vaquero. Rugged revolver with less mechanical parts.

    EDIT: I wanted to add that if the single action was a Colt or a Clone that I would be more trusting of s good quality semiauto.
     
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  5. jeff-10

    jeff-10 Member

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    There are still numerous working Colt SAA's from the 1870's and 1880's that likely haven't had any work done. The Blackhawk, newly produced SAA or even a Uberti clone is going to be that much more durable due to precision machining and modern metallurgy. Some people may view SAA's as fragile or not very durable due to how they feel in the hand compared to a modern service pistol but they are a military sidearm designed to function in the harshest of combat conditions with a very iffy supply chain. That's why there are likely so many left. Not to mention modern ammo is much better for the firearms.

    Then there are 100+ year old 1911's and P08's still functioning. I would think a modern polymer framed service pistol such as Glock 17 or Sig M17 would last even longer. Even without service.
     
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  6. Obturation
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    Obturation Contributing Member

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    A couple parts will wear on a single action (any revolver ) , trouble isn't that they'll be actually broken but will require maintenance. If a revolver goes out of time, that's an issue. I think in theory the semi auto will function longer shot for shot without maintenance (besides cleaning). The revolver however can fire cartridges many many times more powerful , which should be taken into account. Another factor is the reliability in between , the revolver will function until it does not, there are shades of gray involved with the semi. Also people's definition of maintenance will vary, a barrel is a wearable part, semis offer easy replacement, basically all parts besides the frame can be replaced and the gun will still be considered the same firearm, if the frame wears out , that's when it's all over. That being the case, the revolver will outlast any semi that doesn't have a way to replace the slide rails.
    Revolvers rule, bottom feeders drool. Or something:thumbup:
     
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  7. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    Give me a Ruger Blackhawk and a full-sized Glock in similar calibers, and unlimited ammo. Maybe even shoot them both in 9mm or 45acp so the calibers are identical?

    Let's say you clean them both every few hundred rounds and let them cool off as needed.

    I have Blackhawks and Glocks. I wouldn't expect either one to "wear out" until it stopped working. I would expect some minor part, more than likely a spring, would become weak or worn until the weapon in question stopped functioning properly.

    I'm guessing the springs on the Ruger would hold out longer than the Glock springs, but that's just my guess.

    Also, I think certain things on the Ruger could fail and you could still do things like fire it by drawing the hammer back and dropping it, or turn the cylinder by hand between shots, or what have you.

    It's seems like a malfunctioning Glock would be a very slow single-shot pistol at best.

    Now, if you had trained armorers with spare springs and so forth, who examined and adjusted the two handguns every now and again and replaced minor parts as needed.... The results would be just kind of silly. Obviously the barrels and frames and so forth would wear out eventually. But if one managed to successfully fire 762,324 rounds before the barrel cracked, and the other one only made it to 612,579 before something similar happened, all that it would demonstrate would be that 99% of the population would never wear out either handgun in an entire lifetime of regular shooting.

    If it were a question of how long it would function without cleaning... I would guess that given the same propellant, the revolver might gum up before the Glock. I'd put my money on a simple blowback pistol with loose tolerances, like maybe a Makarov, to function longest of any handgun without cleaning
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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  8. Mosin77

    Mosin77 Member

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    I’m guessing a Glock would last longer shot for shot. String of fire = 17 shots vs string of fire = 6 shots. If they both last 40 years of daily shooting, the revolver is going to have notably less rounds through it, just the nature of the design. A Glock is considered to have a high (or at least notable) round count at maybe 100k. A Ruger at maybe 20k? Just because it’s a lot more work to run that many rounds through a single action revolver.

    In the real world what is going to stop either of them from doing their job is when some small part breaks and there is no longer a readily available replacement.

    Or, fast forward 100-200 years and maybe the polymer frame will crack/start to lose physical integrity, and the revolver will be rusted. Rust, broken or missing firing pins and small parts, and surface finish wear (to the point where it’s ugly enough that one feels sorry for it and grants it an honorable retirement) have ended the shooting careers of many, many more guns than has any sort of outright failure.
     
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  9. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    But functioning after extreme neglect and abuse isn't necessarily a good measure of longevity. I develop loads for cast and jacketed rounds, and shoot hundreds of them a year through a Blackhawk. I clean and maintain the revolver. I have a S&W M&P (a pre-model 10) that was built in the 20's, that's about 100 years, and still operating, and it led a hard life. I can see a Blackhawk from today, with reasonable care, significantly outlasting a k frame. Maybe 200 years? More? Can a polymer 9mm outlive that? Actually, maybe. Either way, I won't know. If my grandkids wear anything of mine out, they will have enjoyed a lot of good use.
     
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  10. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I dont think you will get a definite answer either way....too many variables.
     
  11. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    I think by the time you wore out either one from shooting--assuming good quality guns to begin with, properly maintained and using good quality standard pressure ammo--you'd have spent enough money on ammo that replacing the gun would be a pittance in comparison.
     
  12. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    My thought is that if you were to compare a Glock G21 (.45acp) to a Ruger Vaquero (.45 Colt), round for round th Glock would failure to function with reasonable reliability before the Ruger.

    However, I'm basing that on a couple things. Firstly: no spare magazines, and no replacement springs or other parts. Secondly: the gun gets a basic cleaning
    as needed.
     
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  13. TRX

    TRX Member

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    Single action revolvers: 1836

    Automatics: 1896-1911-ish

    "Modern" automatics: mid-1980s

    We're closing in on two centuries of proven service for single action revolvers vs. four decades or so for what I'd consider "modern" automatics.

    Get back to me when the autos have another century or so of service...
     
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  14. NeroM

    NeroM Member

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    Returning home from WWII, my father had an Ithaca 1911 and a Smith and Wesson Victory.
    He used both until around ago 90, carried the 1911 when we were in the woods in a tanker holster. However Seemed to shoot the Victory more. perhaps that was because I shot the Victory more while growing up, than 1911. He also had a Colt Woodsman from the latter 1920s. 1911 and Victory were both made during wartime rush 1943/44, no great detail to finish - however both were well fitted.
    1911, Victory, and Woodsman (too) now have emeritus status - could bring them out, load them up and fire away - just as if it was 1945. In the 75+ years since their production and on-going use, hard to say anyone has better longevity- than another?
     
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  15. Ru4real

    Ru4real Member

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    We’ve got some pretty good data regarding round counts before failure for modern Glocks, Berettas, 1911’s, etc.

    Unfortunately, to my knowledge, we don’t have test data for SAA, Ruger SA, etc. I have a Ruger SA that I shoot quite a bit, but still I only have about 7k rounds through it in 25 years. Cowboy action shooters could provide antidotal data, perhaps, and that would be a start.

    Any cowboy action shooters with high round counts care to share?
     
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  16. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    It is a little bit disingenuous to state that revolvers go back to 1836. Yes, that is when Sam Colt introduced the Paterson Model, but it was a far cry from the later Cap & Ball revolvers that followed it, and a further cry from the Single Action Army which made its debut in 1873.

    Anyway, this is the part that breaks most often in a Single Action Army. The split trigger/bolt spring. This one broke in one of my 2nd Generation Colts quite a few years ago. I bought the gun used around 2000, it shipped from the factory in 1968, so I have no idea how many rounds were put through it in that time. I have probably put a few thousand rounds through it over the years, but certainly not an astronomical amount. I can tell you that I have had occasion to replace a few of these springs for friends over the years.

    plkxze0xj.jpg




    These are the parts of the lockwork of a Colt. The parts in most Italian replicas are pretty much the same. They may not be a drop in fit, but they are pretty much the same. The next most common breakage in a SAA is the hand spring. The hand is the part to the right of the hammer. The spring is peened into a slot in the hand, and it most commonly breaks right at the sharp curve where it emerges from the slot. The tight curve puts the most stress on the part. I have replaced a few of these over the years, once I replaced one for a friend at a CAS match during the lunch break. In a pinch, this spring can be replaced with a bobby-pin.

    poqUVs9Jj.jpg




    I have a few 1st Gen Colts. None go back to 1873, but they are all over 100 years old. These are the parts to the lockwork of one of my 1st Gens, this one happens to be a Bisley Model. This one left the factory in 1909. Again, no idea how many rounds have been fired through it over the years, but everything still works fine, knock on wood.

    pn3ynXZBj.jpg




    But the OP's question was not about the SAA or its Italian replicas, he asked about the longevity of "a modern single action (example being a Ruger Vaquero)".



    Way back when Ruger introduced his first Single Action Revolver, the Single Six, around 1954 if memory serves, the biggest change he made was replacing the old 'leaf' type flat springs with coil springs. Because of their geometry, leaf springs are more prone to failure than coil springs. It's not that coil springs are indestructable, but the total amount of compression of a coil spring is divided by the number of coils, so each coil deflects far less than the 'bendy part' of a leaf spring. That's why coil springs are almost indestructable.




    This is a Three Screw Ruger Blackhawk that left the factory in 1958. This was before Ruger began putting Transfer Bars into his revolver. Not a leaf spring in sight, nothing but coil springs. Using coil springs upped the parts count from the SAA, in the SAA each leaf spring was formed to directly interact with the part it was moving. Coil springs required a separate plunger for each spring, to impart the spring force to the parts. But coil springs made these revolvers pretty indestructable.

    poM8zo27j.jpg




    Here is a modern Blackhawk disassembled. I actually bought this revolver back in 1975, but the internals of modern Ruger Single Action revolvers have not changed in all that time. Again, no leaf springs, nothing but coil springs. About the only thing I ever hear about failing in a modern Ruger is the Transfer Bar (the long, thin, vertical part attached to the trigger) can break. This usually only happens to CAS shooters who have put thousands of rounds through their revolvers before the Transfer Bar breaks, it is relatively unusual, but not super rare for one to break. In addtion to this Blackhawk, I have several Vaqueros, both 'original models' and New Vaqueros. It is often said they are built like tanks, which is true. None of mine have ever had any problems.

    poh9BJORj.jpg





    Anyway, I have no experience with Glocks, or the Beretta mentioned, so I cannot comment on them. I do have a few 1911s, one was made in 1916 yes, 1916. So far it is still going strong, knock on wood.

    But that is what I can tell you about the longevity of some of the most common types of single action revolvers.
     
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  17. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    IIRC it is Chuck Taylor who has an early model Glock that has 250,000 rounds through it with just a couple of small parts replaced. Here is an older article and it says 250,000 at the time it was written. Will a single action last that long? Who knows. It would depend to some degree the round being fired. A Black Hawk fired with 38 Specials should outlast the same gun fired with buffalo Bore 357 loads. Either way my wallet will wear out before the gun does.

    https://www.ballisticmag.com/2018/05/23/glock-17-torture-test-ocean/
     
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  18. Mosin Bubba

    Mosin Bubba Member

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    Keep both guns clean and they'll still be running in 50 years no question. 100 is likely.
     
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  19. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Thank you for your help- always informative.
     
  20. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Your Ruger is dependent on a couple surprisingly small coil springs I'd expect to fail first.

    Exactly right. The failure modes are different, but both actions will fail, and in my experience a revolver will usually require slightly more extensive corrective action than a semi, and require it sooner.
     
  21. Buckeye63

    Buckeye63 Member

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    Semi-automatic are only as good as the magazine.. and they can picky about ammo ...

    My Glocks always functioned as they should.. I don’t feed them steel cased ammo ...
     
  22. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    If I was limited to one handgun going forward, it would probably be a Ruger Blackhawk Stainless in .45 Colt with the 5.5" barrel.
     
  23. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    In my small sample size, I have had two revolvers fail and three semi-autos fail.

    I had the hammer spring go soft in an S&W M642 causing light primer strikes and I cracked the forcing cone on an S&W M19.

    The slide on my Beretta M84 crashes into the frame on recoil, peening the frame material over and the gun eventually will not function due to the interference of the slide and the peened over frame. I had a Springfield 40 S&W P9C Compact that would batter the slide stop pin until it failed. (Happened three times, I bought spares). Finally, the collet bushing on one of my Colt M1911s failed sending the recoil spring down range.

    All the failures put the gun out of action. The M19 forcing cone was the most catastrophic. The Springfield could be kept servicable with parts and the Beretta could be managed with a bit of dressing on the frame from time to time. I've replaced the Colt's collet bushing with a solid one and it has not failed since. But, I'm sure it could.
     
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  24. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    I thought springs were wear items and part of maintenence.
     
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  25. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Please explain which of these springs you would expect to fail. Please document how many times you have actually heard of them failing. Please explain why Uberti should not have gone to a coil spring like this to push the hand forward rather than the traditional leaf spring. Perhaps you missed my explanation about why coil springs are much less likely to fail than leaf springs.

    poMpe98jj.jpg
     
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