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Pinned barrels BETTER?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Jim NE, Apr 13, 2011.

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  1. Jim NE

    Jim NE Member

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    I know that older Smiths are thought by some people to be better quality than the newer ones. Did pinned barrels REALLY have anything to do with that?

    Once upon a time, some old Martin guitars had herringbone trim, and were worth lots more because of it. The trim had virtually no impact on the quality of the guitar...it was just a visual clue that let you know, at a glance, it was an old instrument, and therefore LIKELY higher quality.

    Is that true for older Smiths? Or was pinning the barrel actually a better way of making a gun?
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2011
  2. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    Your guitar analogy is spot on.
    Pinning is really no better than crush fit.
    It however lets a person know of what era (or at least the last possible era) a revolver is from at a glance.

    Niether Colt nor Ruger ever pinned barrels.

    That said, given a choice between two otherwise identical S&Ws, I'll pick the pinned one every time.
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    S&W thought it was.
    Colt thought it wasn't.

    Who among us can say.

    My general feeling is, the older guns were much superior in fit & finish because of the expert craftsmen making & hand-fitting every one.

    But the new guns might be more accurate overall.

    An old machinest with a worn-out milling machine could drill & ream a chamber slightly off-center occasionally.

    New CNC machines can't.

    rc
     
  4. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    The pinned barrel is better if you ever need to remove and reinstall the barrel.

    S&W seems to have a lot more QC issues with barrels since they eliminated the retaining pin. Maybe they just need to figure out how to do the crush fit properly.

    They just don't look the same without the little pin. :D
     
  5. Drail

    Drail Member

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    The presence of a pinned barrel simply indicates that the entire fitting process of all of the parts was done by skilled smiths who cared about the finished product. Those days are long gone. Try to imagine the Colt or S&W factoryies in 1930 when smiths and machinists were told to make the parts fit perfectly with no regard to how long it took or how many units per hour they could turn out. Quality came first. Production was whatever it took to achieve perfection. It really was like that back then.
     
  6. teumessian_fox

    teumessian_fox member

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    It was certainly marketed as a better gun (w/the pinned barrel). A buddy of mine who owns a gun store said that the sales pitch was that the pin kept the barrel from unscrewing, unlike Ruger and Colt.
     
  7. evan price

    evan price Member

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    It may not always indicate a better gun, but certainly for me it indicates that it might be a better gun. I like my Colts, and I like my P&R S&Ws.
     
  8. Remllez

    Remllez Member

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    I certainly think the pinned barrels on the early Smiths means better quality. Along with that pinned barrel came the recessed cylinders which to this day I still prefer over non recessed. The more a gunsmith is involved in the fitting/assembly of the revolver the better the quality. Early 1930-1960's Smith and Wesson as well as Colts are some of the finest revolvers ever made in our country.
     
  9. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

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    That's probably true, but is it BECAUSE of the pinned barrel, or just because they were made differently? I suspect the pin itself had little if anything to do with the quality.

    Ain't that the truth? :D
     
  10. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Doesn't have so much to do with the pin itself, although pinning is a much better solution than crush-fit if you ever need to remove the barrel, as it is that the pin simply indicates a gun produced at a time when they were of much higher quality than current guns. That is, they exhibited much better fit and finish, a higher degree of polish, no two-piece barrels, MIM parts or internal locks. However, we should also keep in mind that towards the end of the pinned barrel era, Bangor-Punta owned S&W. Which is nearly equal to when AMF owned Harley-Davidson.
     
  11. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    The pinned barrel is a better shooting barrel than a crush fit barrel. The newer barrels, crush fit +/or two piece, can have a constriction in the bore where the threads enter the frame. The pinned barrelled revolvers do not have this.

    Also, not all pinned barrelled revolvers have recessed chambers. The non magnum centerfire cartridges do not use a recessed chamber in the cylinder. Rimfires and Magnums were recessed.
     
  12. CHM

    CHM Member

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    I have a 29-2 with a 4 inch barrel, circa 1971 or so. The blue finish is second to none - absolutely beautiful and unique to that era. I inquired with S&W years back and asked about why the change and was told the guy who patented this died with the method to produce it. Hard to understand, but that's what I was told by the company. The attention to detail on these guns is more than I have seen in newer Smiths. The recessed cylinder is just one more nice detail where the rims are countersunk into the cylinder and not visible from the side. I'm sure pinning the barrel doesn't affect accuracy, etc, but just reflects the outstanding overall quality of the day, which we rarely see now unless it is custom work. I would say that about just about anything the US manufactures over the last 10-20 years. Now, we automate everything, CNC it or give to to China.
     
  13. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    Not trying to make a plug for newer guns, but simply to clarify: S&Ws 2-piece barrels are not crush fit: They were specifically designed to reduce stress at the barrel/frame interface. Not only does it make the joint stronger, guns with 2-piece barrels have a reputation for improved inherent accuracy*.

    Many love to hammer S&W for their "cheapening" of their guns through "cost cutting" manufacturing methods; in fact, the two piece barrel construction is more expensive to produce, but it was a necessary step they initially took to produce their .500 mag.



    *yes, I'm aware of the accounts of 2-piece barrel failures, but AFAIK, these were on early run guns. And besides, how well S&W has and currently implements the design is another thread.
     
  14. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    that is a pretty good analogy.

    What would be a good example of who owns them now? The IRS?
     
  15. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Probably. ;)


    I have to cry foul. There's nothing magical about polishing and bluing. All it takes is skill, time and money. I keep hearing folks say that you can't get finishes like the old guns due to EPA regulations or some mystical pixie dust but it simply isn't true. Fact is, most folks are not willing to pay extra for that stuff any more. If you are, there are plenty available. You will not find a post-war S&W with a better finish or attention to detail than this two year old USFA 12/22. Which, by the way, costs less than a new "Classic" K-22.

    IMG_1138c.jpg
     
  16. earplug

    earplug Member

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    Ever see a bench rest rifle with a pin?

    The pin has nothing to do with quality and accuracy.
    A well fit barrel to frame is all that's needed.
    There is some argument that the pin was needed due to the direction of the rifling causing the barrel to unscrew.
    Recessed chambers are left over from old balloon head cases that were prone to blow out at the rim.
    I'd rather see a nice bevel for a fast reload with moon clips or speed loaders.
     
  17. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    I was told by S&W that in the 1980s or 1990s the EPA banned some of the chemicals that had been used for bluing and the new ones don't produce the same lustrous look.
     
  18. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    I perfer the older S&W I want a Pin Barrel and the firing pin on the hammer Oh and the great blue job. . When I find one and have the money it comes home New S&W look like crap and stay at dealer.
     
  19. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    I use the exact same solution for bluing that I used in the 1970s,'80s and '90s. The luster is directly a result of properly polished steel,not the chemicals used to blue them(though it does make SOME difference). If a hobbyist such as I can get a beautiful bluing on any(almost) brand of gun,surely MAJOR manufacturers can do it without going to their custom shops.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  20. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    I believe the rimfire guns still are.
     
  21. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    Pinning the barrel just simplifies the barrel fit. You dont' have to have the thread length perfect if you have a pin.

    With a non-pinned barrel, the barrel must reach proper torque when the front sight is straight up. That necessitates really accurate machine work and maybe some trial and error. In the modern age of uber precise machines, pinning the barrel has less benefit.

    The Dan-Wesson barrel system is even more flexible since the front sight is not even attached to the barrel...not to mention more accurate.
     
  22. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Wow. That is some pretty bluing in CraigC's post. You could jump in that and swim around.
     
  23. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Deleted....Time mixup.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  24. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    In and of itself, the pin isn't important, but it's an indicator of when S&W stopped individually fitting barrels and went to crush-fitted threads. This won't matter unless for some reason you remove the barrel for whatever reason. When you replace it it won't come up in its original position and be tight. For this reason it is generally recommended that a revolver with a crush fitted barrel (including the more recent kind with two-piece construction) be returned to the factory for any barrel work.

    As for bluing, it isn't the bluing process that's so costs so much as the work required for pre-bluing polishing. Also the market has trended toward stainless steel, or stainless combined with other metals. From the manufacturers' point of view stainless is much less expensive to finish.
     
  25. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Not true. Recessed chambers came about with magnum cartridges. Very few, if any, cylinders chambered for standard cartridges that used balloonhead cases had recessed chambers. Even the 12/22 .22LR pictured above does NOT have recessed chambers. IMHO, I'd rather never have a revolver with recessed chambers. There is little to no reason for it and you can't tell at a glance that it is loaded. Custom gunsmiths recess the chambers on the hard kickers because it better supports the loading gate.
     
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