For many years, S&W fitted their barrels rather loosely and kept them from unscrewing by using a cross pin. As you note, that was costly and they were the only revolver company to do that. But in recent years, S&W has gone to the simpler method of torquing the barrel shoulder against the frame. Yes, it is a cost cutting measure, and like other such measures has a lot of folks ranting about TEOTWAWKI since S&W quality has gone to heck in a handbasket.
But a company that can't or won't come up with innovative ideas to keep costs down will soon be remembered by another word - bankrupt.