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Old October 7, 2009, 08:20 PM   #1
Jim March
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Ruger quality control is dropping, possibly others as well. BEWARE!

Folks,

This year's "gun rush" may have affected production quality across the board.

We're getting a lot of reports of QC issues with Ruger wheelguns of late, an area I tend to track. We have reports of the bluing salts not totally washed out and guns arriving rusty at the shop, an LCR with a .009" gap, a Redhawk with basically no muzzle crown at all, and more.

These are manufacturing flaws, not design flaws. I've been excusing Ruger's occasional recalls over minor design issues with new guns (LCP, SR9 and others). This is different, and more troubling, and it's not just in one area of manufacture. Ruger now uses an "assembly line" system and trouble appears to be happening at multiple points in the line.

The issues I'm seeing reports of cover Ruger wheelguns (including the single actions), but that's likely because that's where my personal interest lies. Follow? I don't track autopistol or S&W issues or rifles or shotguns much.

I'd be willing to bet a LOT of the gun industry has seen a quality control control drop this year as production was maxed out.

It's possible that "non-tacticool" guns were hit the least by this trend, as those weren't as big a part of the buyup - people were mostly buying the sort of stuff "Obama might ban" . So, if I'm correct, companies like Uberti or Freedom Arms or the high-end shotgun houses that are focused away from tactical stuff might have seen the least impact.

This is a bad time to buy a gun sight unseen. Do thorough inspections, pull the grip panels, check the bore, look at the crown, check everything.
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Old October 7, 2009, 08:33 PM   #2
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thanks for the heads up !

i'm a big autopistol guy and it isn't unimaginable for quality to slip as production increases so i'll check out my purchase more closely from now
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Old October 7, 2009, 08:54 PM   #3
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This has been an issue for a time period a lot longer than the current administration's occupancy of the oval office - and it is not just Ruger
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Old October 7, 2009, 09:03 PM   #4
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Well Ruger was actually doing pretty good from around 2004 to around late '08/early '09. The downswing in QC has been noticeable just tracking complaints on the various forums.

Stuff like a completely uncrowned muzzle, or the rust issues, suggests that the final QC stage is rushed at best, non-existent at worst.

That's new.
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Old October 8, 2009, 06:14 AM   #5
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This appears to be a sign of deeper issues than quality control...management has to know what is going on just like their switch to plastic and spray painted parts on the 10/22's.

Many in the 10/22 customizing fields are snubbing the new models for the older ones.

Just as Winchesters glory years were pre-1964.....Rugers may very well be pre-2008.
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Old October 8, 2009, 06:57 AM   #6
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One of the beauties of guns is that you get what you pay for. Rugers are cheap but they are building junk.

However, if Ruger did do the right thing and raise prices so they could maintain some quality (on a Ruger standard), there would be 876 threads on TFL about how Ruger is "ripping us off", "no friend of the workin' man", "I say, I say, mighty proud of them thar guns, I say, I say."

From a business standpoint, Ruger was right to drop its quality to junk status. Their target market will still buy them.
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Old October 8, 2009, 07:35 AM   #7
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When I bought my Ruger P97DC many, many years ago, I did so because it was the least expensive 45 acp I saw in the gun shop with a familiar brand name. I admit that I knew little about semi-auto guns but just wanted a 45. Yes, it was cheap compared to others being sold, but it has turned out to be the most reliable semi that I have owned. I have bought and then resold or returned Kimbers and others due to occasional but troubling FTE or FTF problems, but my old, "cheap" Ruger has never (literally NEVER) had a problem regardless of the ammo used or what magazine I inserted, etc. I think sometimes you get more than what you paid for, and in this case I am convinced of that. My newest Ruger is the little 380 LCP and while I am pleased with it, it does not have the faultless reliability that I have come to rely on with my P97.
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Old October 8, 2009, 07:44 AM   #8
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Is Ruger Sig? No

They are also not Jennings. Saying people got what they paid for with Ruger's latest problems is ignorant. There is an Acceptable Quality Level for every company that people should take into account when purchasing. Some may have a personal issue with Ruger clouding there judgement but it appears the current issues may be beyond what was normally acceptable.

The question is: Is the defect rate, as a percentage of total production, higher than before? We could just be seeing more problems because they are selling more guns. Until we know that this is all speculation.
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Old October 8, 2009, 08:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
One of the beauties of guns is that you get what you pay for. Rugers are cheap but they are building junk.

However, if Ruger did do the right thing and raise prices so they could maintain some quality (on a Ruger standard), there would be 876 threads on TFL about how Ruger is "ripping us off", "no friend of the workin' man", "I say, I say, mighty proud of them thar guns, I say, I say."

From a business standpoint, Ruger was right to drop its quality to junk status. Their target market will still buy them.
Very true.....too many folks want hi-end guns for under $200, and complain about the price they have to pay for every thing. Shooting can be a very expensive hobby - adjust your activities to your budget.
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Old October 8, 2009, 08:21 AM   #10
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It's a cheapening world...

... just look at the airline industry.

Web-based ticket selling created competition that brought airline tickets down from $500 to under $200 in many instances. Yet passengers complain about tighter seats, less food, and stricter baggage requirements.

Same with all the people who say they support Mom and Pop stores, but go for the savings at Wal-Mart when it's time to buy anything. Sure, they would like to buy American, but they'll buy Chinese without a second thought.

You get what you pay for, whatever the product may be.
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Old October 8, 2009, 10:16 AM   #11
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People, the POSSIBLE problem is people are NOT getting what they paid for. Ruger is not #1 out there but they have not been garbage. If there is a real problem then it is affecting people who are getting a lowe quality level than was reasonably expected of Ruger until recently. Please refrain from adding in emotional Ruger hate and try to stick to the facts.
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Old October 8, 2009, 10:22 AM   #12
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Actually my $200 SouthWest ticket gets me better on time service, more reschedule flexiblty, better customer service, leather seats and two free checked bags. Those are all things missing from the $500 American Airlines ticket. Price does not automatically equal quality.
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Old October 8, 2009, 10:33 AM   #13
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All I know is, I'm seeing an uptick in complaints.

Got this in the mail from somebody who recently bought a New Vaquero:

Quote:
I certainly agree with your remarks on Ruger quality control. When I bought my .357 New Vaquero, I went through 6 or 8 guns before I found one with properly fitting grips, gripframe, barrel/cylinder gap, and a decent polish job on the bright stainless.
Now, I don't know exactly when that was. I'll ask him. It's in stark contrast to when I bought mine, had three to pick from around middle of 2005 at one store and all three passed "the checkout" with flying colors.

I think something changed.
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Old October 8, 2009, 10:42 AM   #14
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Here's a discussion thread on recent issues:

http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=66322

The top problem about uncrowned barrels is...really bad. Total "process failure". Some of the others range from serious to comical (grip medallion off-kilter?).

I posted this same thread here on THR.us:

http://www.thehighroad.us/showthread.php?t=413183

Complaints are trickling in re: other manufacturers.
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Old October 8, 2009, 11:58 AM   #15
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Once upon a time I was working with a Swiss machnng house who took PART of Demming's teachings to heart. Business was booming and final inspection was a bottle neck so the decision was made to eliminate it. That can be good, if you have the right in process controls in place to prevent the production of bad parts in the first place. They did not but they had plenty of Swiss machinist hubris convincing them everything they make is good.

Recipe for disaster. The wheels completely came off. Shipments went up, invoices were issued and paid. Then the returns began. Every corrective action revealed how lacking the in process controls were and each one consumed time and money.

PERHAPS that is going on now at Ruger. We just don't know. They should be aware that the preception of a problem exists though and that can kill a business as quickly as a real problem.
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Old October 8, 2009, 12:20 PM   #16
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Update on post #13: the gun was purchased six months ago from a very large dealer with a high stock turnover, so the gun was most likely made in the spring of 2009, well into the "red zone".

Remember, early in the year Ruger was also ramping up production on the LCR, possibly disrupting other wheelgun assembly lines. That's in addition to any chaos caused by the "Obama sales rush".
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Old October 12, 2009, 11:21 AM   #17
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This was posted on one of the Ruger forums October 2nd:

"Decided to make a splash in the revolver world and purchased a Single Six in 22/22 and a 45colt BLackhawk. Both had to be ordered. The single six came in today and when I went to pick it up, oh boy, what a mess. The gun was so bad timed it would lock up when you tried to cock it. When you finally fiddled with the cylinder enough to get it to cock it would only fall to half cock upon release. To make it worse on the frame, opposite the loading gate the finish was gone. Solid red rust. A shame. To be honest, it makes me doubt the quality of my blackhawk that is coming on tuesday."

This was a NEW Single Six ordered from his gun store. I would be disappointed too.


And this from another post on the same forum posted on September 30th"

"This is a word to the wise.......

I have tried to order and buy two NR-9L Single Sixes in the last month. Both showed up at the dealers with severe internal rust. Both also had rust on the outside of the frame, but the worst was inside. It was obvious when the hammer was pulled back..... The same dealer had received another blue SS the week before my first one came in that also was rusted.

If you buy a new blue Single Six or Blackhawk, just beware. Check them close before you take them home."

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Old October 12, 2009, 12:22 PM   #18
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Musketeer, I worked for an engineering firm that employed Demming's Total Quality Management Plan.

Point 3: Cease dependence on mass inspection; require, instead, statistical evidence that quality is built in. [the bolding is mine - Bud]

In manufacturing, TQM means checking quality at each stage of the production process.

It sounds like that Swiss machining house you worked with missed a key element of Demming's 14 point plan.

It also sounds like Ruger may need some sort of inspection process integrated with their manufacturing.

What bothers me most about these accounts is the stories of rust. That would not escape the most cursory inspection. Poor blueing? Long term storage in excessive humidity? No oiling prior to shipment?
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Old October 12, 2009, 12:31 PM   #19
Jim March
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Yup. And these aren't isolated.

Look...there will ALWAYS be complaints now and again with any brand including the REALLY good stuff like Freedom Arms and STI. But it's possible to track both the frequency of complaints and the nature of them.

Complaints are climbing dramatically and it's in areas that really, no-crap should have been caught in a final QC step...like the Single Six just mentioned above, or the Redhawk that showed up at the dealer with no muzzle crown(!).

Quote:
What bothers me most about these accounts is the stories of rust. That would not escape the most cursory inspection. Poor blueing? Long term storage in excessive humidity? No oiling prior to shipment?
I think entire steps are sometimes being skipped with either individual guns or whole batches.

In this case, missing the step where bluing salts were removed would lead to rusting right after it left the factory.

The lack of muzzle crown is, again, a missed step. We have reports of a couple of LCRs floating around without a proper heat treat on the aluminum frame so the frames suffered severe erosion. Yet again: missed a step.

There's a PR video Ruger did of their "new lean process" where there's these small cells doing individual stages of the gun's build. Looks great, except there's literal gaps between each step of several feet. I think some guns are getting skipped a step, and since each multi-person "cell team" is ONLY doing QC on the step they just did, if any step gets missed it gets blindly passed along.
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Old October 12, 2009, 01:14 PM   #20
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You are right Bud. TQM is not a buffet where you take the meat ad dessert but leave the salad and vegetables.

Ruger needs to address these concerns ASAP.
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Old October 12, 2009, 06:37 PM   #21
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Interesting. I've purchased three Rugers this year; a .357 Blackhawk Anniversary, a Lipsey 44 Special Blackhawk and a GP100. All three, out of the box, have great triggers and some of the best bluing that I've seen on Rugers for years. All three have great accuracy. I own over 20 Ruger revolvers and the revolvers that I've bought lately have some of the best work from Ruger that I've seen.

Every manufacturer produces a lemon sometimes. With all the lemons showing up on this post, that must mean that there's a lot of good Rugers left for the rest of us.
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Old October 12, 2009, 06:47 PM   #22
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I've been Ruger lucky this year too I guess.

I've bought three Ruger revolvers (well four if you count yesterday, but I digress......) only two were new though. A 3" SP101 and an LCR. Both were of VERY good quality right out of the box. The SP101 has as good a trigger as I've felt on one, including my main carry gun which has had some 'smithing done. And the LCR is quickly becoming a favorite carry piece.

My other one was a circa 1994 3" GP100 and my latest acquisition (hopefully be here Thursday) is a 6" blued half lug GP100 circa 1989, unfired.

With all these reports of problems I guess I'll stick to the used market for the time being.

I hope the NIB Marlin 1894C which is in the box with the GP100 on it's way to me from PA doesn't have any "gun-rush" issues.
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Old October 12, 2009, 08:55 PM   #23
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It is not just present day, I ordered a 257 Roberts Ruger 77 @ 1974. When the gun store called and said my rifle had arrived, I arrived to pick it up. While filling out the dreaded yellow form the store owner took it out of the box and made a gasping utterance. When I looked up I saw a very sheepish looking gunshop owner. Not only was the bolt already in the rifle, usually they are removed when shipped, but on opening the bolt a live cartridge came out of the chamber.
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Old October 12, 2009, 09:19 PM   #24
Jim March
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Quote:
With all these reports of problems I guess I'll stick to the used market for the time being.
I think that's...TOO conservative a stance. There are still damned good Rugers being made.

My recommendation is against buying sight unseen when possible. Doing a personal inspection (including pulling grip panels) will spot 98% of these "birth defects" and Ruger will take care of any you miss.

Ruger's customer service policies remain excellent.
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Old October 12, 2009, 09:30 PM   #25
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Jim, that is true.

But, at present, my want list includes mostly discontinued models anyway(like the half lug 6" on the way to my FFL now). I'm building a cash stash for the next 2.25" .22LR SP101 I see floating around in cyberspace. Not likely I'll see one at the LGS.
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