S&W: "Pinned and Recessed"

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Matt King, May 9, 2008.

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  1. Matt King

    Matt King Member

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    What is the mechanical advantage of a pinned barrel and a recessed chamber in S&W's? I know that S&W collectors seem to place a higher value on revolvers w/ these features, so why is that?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

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    Just the craftsmanship involved basically. It is MUCH easier to replace a pinned barrel. The recessed cylinders hold the cartridges with less slop and look nicer.
     
  3. hooterjoe

    hooterjoe Member

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    these features give a general idea of the age of the gun, S&W revolvers have not been pinned and recessed since the early 70's.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2008
  4. Matt King

    Matt King Member

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    so basically the parts were of a higher quality?
     
  5. slustan83

    slustan83 Member

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    "these features give a general idea of the age of the gun, S&W revolvers have not been pinned and recessed since the early 70's."

    That's incorrect. It was the early 80's, 82 i believe to be exact.

    As far as higher quality parts, that depends. Although we have seen the introduction of mim parts and the internal lock, CNC machining has brought quality up quite a bit.
     
  6. Shootcraps

    Shootcraps Member

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    The recessed cylinders were made to enclose the case heads and give more support. With advances in the steel and heat treating it they decided this was unnecessary. It saved on machining costs.
     
  7. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    These features - especially the "recessed" cylinders - go back to a time when craftsmanship was valued over "how cheap can we make it?" cost cutting and are valuable to collectors. The recessed cylinders, BTW, were only on magnum calibers (.357, .41 and .44).
     
  8. PTK

    PTK Member

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    Does that mean that my 1940s M&P is better made than modern .38spl S&W revolvers, or just different? :confused:

    I never have bothered to do much research on revolvers, and I've been slowly selling all mine off.
     
  9. rbmcmjr

    rbmcmjr Member

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    The .22 rimfires got it too.
     
  10. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    The quick answer is "just different" and the modern one is stronger and more durable. The sights are likely better as well.

    The difference is in the attention to detail and the human labor involved. A gun made by SW or Colt from any number of decades back show an attention to detail that current revolvers lack. The trigger pull is superior, usually. The guns often come without burrs, unlike modern revolvers which often come from the factory needing to be deburred. The blueing was deep, the polishing much better than current wheelguns, etc.

    The difference is also a matter of taste. Often modern guns look like they were stamped out of a machine, and sometimes are. Your pre war 38 shows the work of human hands in it's smooth and graceful lines. Some folks lust for a Hummer some look to a 63' Mustang or a 48 Packard. Which one is "better" depends on what your aim in having it is.

    tipoc
     
  11. sparkyguy

    sparkyguy member

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    Being a Mustang aficionado, first year Mustang was '64 1/2, but who's counting? Oh, me I guess.:neener:
     
  12. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    As a general rule when comparing regular production guns the older ones do exhibit superior fit and finish. Fit and finish require time and expertise and these things cost money.

    Look at a S&W revolver in excellent original condition from the 1950s and compare the blue to a gun made in the last 20 years. Case closed.

    Specifically on the P&R issue, the recessed chambers came out on center fire caliber revolvers with the introduction of the 357 Magnum in 1935 as an added deluxe feature. It was continued on the 44 Magnum and 41 Magnum. This feature isn't necessary for good function and Colt and Ruger never used it (except on the rim fire calibers). It's loss on the Smiths is seen as a degradation in quality, not real mechanical performance.

    Only S&W used the pin barrel, too, but there are some advantages to using the pin. But they stopped to save money. See above comment about loss of quality.
     
  13. Matt King

    Matt King Member

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    thanks for all the responses.
    What exactly are the advantages?
     
  14. Virginian

    Virginian Member

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    Actually, as a definite exception, some of the Rugers I have seen lately seem to have better quality than anything I have ever seen from them before, excepting a gun that had gone back and been refinished.
     
  15. Geezer59

    Geezer59 Member

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    In 1965, the Wesson family sold the Smith & Wesson company to Bangor Punta Corp., who held it until 1984. In January of 1984, Lear Siegler Corp. of Santa Monica, California, purchased Bangor Punta Corp. and consequently, acquired Smith & Wesson. In December of 1986, Lear Siegler was purchased by Forstmann Little & Co. Forstmann Little, however, had no interest in Smith & Wesson and sold it to help finance the acquisition. Smith & Wesson was sold to Tompkins p.l.c. of London, England.

    It's during this period that quality started to decline, accelerating in the early 1980's to truly inferior levels on some examples. I remember a couple of my own purchases in this time frame - one had just abominable timing causing the gun to misfire regularly, the other was a 8-3/8" barrel threaded at a significant side angle to the frame. That one spit quite a lot of lead, as you can imagine.

    Thank goodness that phase of the S&W evolution is in the past - hopefully to never return. Current manufacture can't exhibit the same level of hand craftsmanship as in the "old days", but modern methods deliver consistently solid and reliable hardware. They're a better basis for customizing than most manufactured during the period mentioned above.

    Cheers!
     
  16. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    I've never seen a gun with a pinned barrel where the barrel was canted either too far to the left or right. I do see them on non pinned guns however and more frequently on guns made in the last 10 years. The pin was installed only after proper alignment of the barrel. If a new pinned barrel was installed alignment was simple. The barrel was solidly in place.

    In and of itself the pinned barrel is not needed but it is a sign of the quality of work that went into the guns. Once the pin was in place the barrel could not be tweaked left or right so they made sure, prior to pinning, that it was right.

    Back in the day there was more handfitting. There needed to be as tolerances were looser due to the manual machining involved. With CNC machining tolerances can be tighter. Combined with stronger metals the guns tend to be more durable today. The downside is that there is often less inspection of parts and fit, less deburring so that trigger pull seems rougher on new guns.

    tipoc
     
  17. DPris

    DPris Member Emeritus

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    Tip,
    In the early 80s I had a 66 with a canted barrel. That's when I found the barrel could be rotated on that one, despite it being pinned. :)
    Denis
     
  18. rainbowbob

    rainbowbob Member

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    How much do you want for the M&P?
     
  19. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    Dpris,
    I'll keep that in mind. Bangor Punta years.:)

    tipoc
     
  20. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    Matt- It makes swapping barrels easier. Without the pin a crush fit is required to keep the barrel tight and it's much harder to swap these. Also, the crush fit increases the chance of damaging the frame or barrel during assembly and I have noted a sharp increase in the reported cases of cracked forcing cones and even cracked frames on the unpinned models. Can also lead to twisted barrels and misaligned barrels. That's anecdotal evidence, of course, but there it is none the less.
     
  21. Moonclip

    Moonclip Member

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    Evauate guns on thier individual merits, not the time frame they were produced. I did have one Bangor Punta era gun with an issue but all my other ones have been excellent.
     
  22. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    1982

    is the correct year, when S&W stopped production of "pinned & recessed"
    revolvers~! :scrutiny: ;) :(
     
  23. Moonclip

    Moonclip Member

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    I've seen guns that were supposed to be P&R like a .357mag from this time frame though that are just "p" or "R" I guess they were transitional.
     
  24. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    A large number of S&Ws (especially 4" 27-2s it seems) that according to model number should be both pinned and recessed are noted to wear the unpinned barrels of the next engineering change. I suspect that as S&W ran out of pinned barrels they simply started using the new ones designated for the next models.

    I don't think I've seen or heard of a gun with a pinned barrel and an unrecessed cylinder (I think they ran out of barrels, first) although anything is possible.
     
  25. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    I only got interested in revolvers (relatively) recently. So far I've learned that, generally, generalizations don't work. Particularly those associated with "pinned and recessed".

    I've discovered that the same model of older S&Ws are more different than alike. Part of this may have something to do with manufacturing variances and some due to various qualities of previous ownership and some to a factor I've yet to discover.

    Anyhow, I wound up with three near identical model 57s. The P&R 'Nam era Bangor Punta one had major timing issues and, compared to the others, had a sorry polish - appeared very dull compared to the other two although this wasn't obvious unless cheek-to-jowl with its siblings. It also had the worst trigger. None of the 57s appeared to have seen much use before I got them.

    Out of a similar group of 686s, the one that came in the Lear Siegler box with minimal apparent use has a far smoother action than the other two which really aren't much like each other to start with. Regrettably, the really nice one is a "no dash" with "no 'M'" but is so nice I'm afraid to send it in for fear somebody will "fix" it.

    Granted, 3 of anything isn't much and I'll defer to those that have been at it longer but I'm sure not comfortable saying that "pinned and recessed" conveys anything about quality - some are nice; some are not so nice.

    I can understand why "pinned" is a good thing but I'm not clear on "recessed". It doesn't appear to have a point other than allowing crud to build up in case rim recess. Perhaps it was to contain dubious brass in the olden days? Whatever it was for, its omission on the Python from 1958 seems not to trouble Colt fans in the slightest.
     
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