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Old August 29, 2012, 08:07 PM   #1
Bob Wright
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Revolver Quality........

I read, and hear, a lot of talk concerning the quality of a given revolver. Certainly quality is commensurate with price, expect a very expensive revolver, or any gun for that matter, to be of higher quality. A less expensive gun, less so.

What is quality? Fit of the mating parts, where they join, should be of an almost imperceptible line, with no gaps or rollovers. Tool marks should be nonexistent, the metal polished to a mirror like surface and evenly blued. Screw slots should all line up north-south or east-west. Functioning should be perfect with positive lock-up. Wood should mate to metal with an even, thin line, and be even in finish, with no lacquer nor urethane finish. It should be filled, smooth and low sheen. That's quality, and expense.

On the other hand, lower priced guns should be as close as possible to that standard. Minor tool marks on interior surfaces that won't effect function, are permitted.

I've owned and shot many handguns, mostly revolvers, that were of less quality. But down range at the target, group sizes were identical, sometimes even better with a lesser quality handgun. Too many times many shooters overlook the fact that the ability to put the bullet where the shooter desires it, and have it do what is desired to that target, is the reason of existence for a firearm.

Very few of my guns have action jobs, yet I've been able to shoot along with the best. Some of my action jobs just came with other work done in the conversion process. Just about every revolver I've owned shot better than I could hold. And they digested every recipe I loaded in their chambers, not once but hundreds, even thousands of times. So I don't go along with the belief certain guns must undergo an action job before they become good, servicible revolvers.

That's my opinion, what's yours?

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Old August 29, 2012, 08:37 PM   #2
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Rule of thumb, the better the fit the tighter the fit the better until you get to the point that the gun can't handle dirt and crud. I guess the Python is a good example. The Python is as finely tuned as good a shooting gun out of the box as you get get. However, you have got to keep'm clean or they begin to have minor filth related problems. The old 1911 was noted for putting up with all kinds of dirt and crap but might rattle like a tambourine.
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Old August 30, 2012, 12:48 AM   #3
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Bob...

Friend of mine goes thru a couple hundred new & used pistols a year at his shop.

Every once and awhile a 'clean' 60s Colt Trooper or S&W M15, a 40s-50s Colt Official Police (the kind of revolvers you couldn't give away for $150 ten years ago) wonders into the shop. When we compare one of those to a $1500 SWPC revolver or any SWPC example...It's over. No explanation needed. Here is my money. Put the SWPC back out on the self.

If you can clear the ranch for a few days, grab ahold of a Ruger Sales Representative and see if you can do a factory walk thru. Once you see six or seven, new, identical, SA models before they're boxed up, you will know.
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Old August 30, 2012, 09:08 AM   #4
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You pay for what you get. Fit, finish, etc. You will find lower priced guns that are quite accurate. I have a 2" Rossi that is just as accurate as a S&W model 36 BUT, if you make a few pawn shops and check out used Rossi's vs S&W guns you'll find a bunch of loosey goosey Rossi's. An older S&W is nearly always tight and serviceable. If I shot the Rossi much it wouldn't last near as long as the S&W. A new S&W isn't near as nice as the old guns but they usually shoot just as well. Quality is more than just getting from point a to point b. There are Chevys and there are Caddys. There is a difference.
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Old August 30, 2012, 09:20 AM   #5
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The answer to quality revolver is Freedom Arms
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Old August 30, 2012, 09:33 AM   #6
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Your are correct. Yet a Corvette is a Chevy, not a Cadillac.

You are also correct, Mr. 693. Sometimes even military weapons have been manufactured that were "too good." Their tolerances were so close that they were unreliable under field conditions. The weapons they thought were inferior actually were more reliable.

So it boils down to what we think quality is. Most of what was mentioned in the first post describes not quality exactly but rather, a high quality finish. I've owned high quality shoes that wore out in no time, while cheap K-Mart shoes looked as if they'd last forever, though you wouldn't really want to be seen in the cheaper shoes. When it comes to firearms, however, I've rarely had the chance to closely compare something old with an almost nearly identical example made more recently and when I have, I either didn't notice it or I was more interested in some other aspect. But things do get changed, like it or not.

One can notice the changes over the years and, really, few would pick the older features over the new. I say features, not necessarily the craftsmanship, but even then, there are really only a few differences. S&W hasn't finished the stocks on the revolver for a long time. I really don't believe the finish is worse but on that point you get to pick the comparisons, since they've always offered a variety of finishes. Other aspects tend to be more fad and fashion, like barrel length and weight. But I'd say few would go find and buy a nice Model 25 for a real working gun. That model, by the way, is still offered, should that fit your bill.

Of course, I could be wrong.
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Old August 31, 2012, 09:55 AM   #7
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Note: Looseness on a revolver means out of time. This isn't the same as the rather loose slide on a 1911. Loose slide on a 1911 doesn't mean a thing if the barrel and bushing lock up tight.
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Old August 31, 2012, 03:44 PM   #8
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Quality to me means using high carbon steel and following the blueprint very closely. In the old days you also had a great many old guys working on those benches assembling the revolvers and every one of them knew every single place where they would find burrs and have a fine stone to smooth and fit it to that frame. I remember reading that the gentlemen who assembled Colt revolvers in the first half of the 20th century were given a bin full of parts and told to fit everything perfectly with little regard given to how many hours that might take. The tolerances on the parts were such that almost every part was oversized and was intended to be fit by a real gunsmith and not merely "assembled" and boxed up. I think these are the reasons people will pay current prices on fine old revolvers. Firearms like these will probably never be built again.
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Old August 31, 2012, 05:09 PM   #9
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I understand that many handcrafted handguns (and other manufactured things) are works of art. I also understand that impeccable fit and finish are wonderful things. I am not convinced that these are necessary to qualify a revolver as a quality item. Desirable-maybe; elegant, luxurious, beautiful-absolutely; required-I don't think so.

My GP100 is a quality revolver. Not very pretty; no finely fitted wood grips; has a few minor tooling marks here and there. Yet it does exactly what it is supposed to do; works every time, has a decent trigger, and is more accurate than me, and built to last a lifetime (or several). A quality handgun based on my criteria.

To go one step further, even though this a revolver forum, since all metal construction was mentioned as a requirement for quality: There are many quality polymer framed handguns, (based on the above criteria) made today by a number of manufacturers, at a variety of price points IMO. I own a polymer Ruger that is certainly a quality inexpensive handgun. I don't own a Glock for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with quality. It is a long list of quality manufacturers IMO.

My point is quality has far more to do with function than form as far as I'm concerned. That is not to say a finely built old Colt revolver is not a prized and wonderful handgun; just that artistry and quality are not necessarily the same in my humble opinion.
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Old August 31, 2012, 06:54 PM   #10
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Good - serviceable guns...no, they don't need action jobs to be very serviceable ...so I agree with you in that respect. At the same time ...as I've gotten older and been able to invest in some real nice higher end guns..I have come to appreciate their triggers and actions.

So yes, I do think there is a difference in the quality of some revolvers...and if some very well made guns have action jobs on them ...to make the triggers just the way you want them ! ...man they are a piece of true precision equipment......and I love em...!

For me, its not a hard solid line between real high end production guns ...and some of the more custom made guns ....its a fuzzy line. Are the more custom made guns with action jobs better than the production guns ...maybe, maybe not....but I sure enjoy having some really fine examples of each in my safe...and every time I touch them, I really appreciate how well they were made / regardless if they're production guns like the S&W model 27's, that I like very much, or the more custom Freedom Arms revolvers - that I also love.

All of my guns will shoot better than I can ...with or without action jobs.....but I do appreciate good craftsmanship.
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Old September 10, 2012, 10:16 PM   #11
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Quality doesn't mean custom or customized guns. The S&W model 27 was a prime example of a quality firearm in all respects. fit, finish and performance. The Python is another example. In recent times I have sent 2 S&W and 1 Browning back to the factory on warranty. Had to repair a new Kimber and a Beretta myself. All five are considered quality firearms. I think that modern mfg
has made the mfgs sloppy. The guns are assembled from a box of parts. Most will function correctly but not all. It wouldn't hurt if the Mfg. put forth a little more effort to make sure the guns function correctly. The designs are great some of the materials are much better than they were 40 years ago. None of them are as pretty as to fit and finish.
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Old September 11, 2012, 10:46 AM   #12
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I thought all guns should be functional if assembled from a box of parts. It's not a new concept but assume no one wants something where each part is hand fitted. That went out with flintlocks.

Custom guns? They have always been few and far between and most folks have never seen one, much less owned one. There used to be a British shotgun industry, if you can call it that, dedicated to supplying a few true custom firearms to a few very wealthy customers. They were custom fitted, though, not custom designed. I don't know if such a thing ever existed in this country. Perhaps in Germany, where there was a market for unusual (to us) things like drillings.

The closest thing I can think of, and it happens to be a revolver, was the pre-war S&W .357 magnum. However, it was only custom in that it was available with a variety of finishes, grips, and barrel lengths, which I think just about covers it. Other S&W revolvers, mostly N-frames from what I gather, were also sometimes available with semi-custom features, but I don't know how many were ever special ordered or delivered.

These days, both Colt and S&W have a sort of custom shop. I would hope that their products are of high quality to match their prices.
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Old September 11, 2012, 12:03 PM   #13
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I know a lot of Chevy's with a couple of hundred thousand miles on them, so price has nothing to do with longevity. Conversly, there are a lot of Cadilacs that wind up in the repair shop very day. I carry my Rossi 462 everyday and put as much stock in it's reliability as most do with S&W's or Rugers, and I wouldn't trade my Rossi for all of the Smiths and Rugers east of the Mississippi.
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Old September 11, 2012, 12:07 PM   #14
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This sounds like the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" i.e., quality in anything is at times hard to define.
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Old September 11, 2012, 01:04 PM   #15
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Straightshooter, I too have a Rossi that works, but trust me it ain't no S&W or Ruger. Put 50 or 100 rounds per week thru it and see how long it lasts. Look at older Rossis and most will be loose. It's a copy of an S&W and mine is nice but my son's needs a tune up. They don't hold up to heavy usage like a Ruger or S&W. Mine is well worth the 150.00 I gave for it.
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Old September 14, 2012, 09:33 AM   #16
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jmortimer already gave a part of the answer. Registered Magnums and many of the earlier S&W revolvers, older Colts, Manurhin and Korth revolvers have to be mentioned to include D/A guns of high quality.

Korth has never been a factory but a small shop and their prices reflect it.
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Old September 14, 2012, 11:45 AM   #17
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My take on this thread is, a person can't compare the quality of todays revolvers versus the revolvers made back before say 1960. Todays revolvers are mass produce and shipped as fast as the manufacturer can throw them together. If the results are a functioning handgun then that is sucessful by manufacturers today. For example: A Ruger GP100 is a mass produced handgun. Most the time the GP100 will function fine for most people. By todays standards this is considered one of the better revolvers. But a person can't compare a GP100 to a S&W model 29 or pre 29. The fit, finish and look are much better with the model 29. The Ruger is a serviceable handgun. I have one and overall I am happy with. But is it as good as far as overall fit and finish. Answer is no. I have a S&W model 19 built in 1966. Its a far better revolver in all areas of quality.
A better thread subject would be. Revolver quality on current production revolvers. Because the older production revolvers would blow away the quality of the new ones.
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Old September 14, 2012, 12:01 PM   #18
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Quality can be a relative thing. Many that droll over the old Smiths and Colts that were hand-fitted like a fine Swiss watch shudder to think about shooting too many "full power" loads out of them, if any at all. While the guy with the S.S. Ruger that came from the factory looking like it was drug down a gravel road has no qualms at all about "full power" loads. To the guy bringin' down $250,000 a year or more, there's no quality at all till you own a Korth or a Ed Brown. To the kid just graduating from college, he's proud as 'ell to own the Taurus or Hi-Point. Folks have been arguin' here and on other gun forums about which gun gives you the best quality for years and the question is still not answered. IMHO, if you're happy with the quality and reliability of your firearms, then so be it. Firearms only need to make their owners happy and the game animals and the Bad guys dead. If you want something pretty to look at, get a picture.
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Old September 14, 2012, 12:24 PM   #19
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Me, I'm not so certain. I've had older S&W revolvers that were in good shape that were no better fit and finish-wise than ones available today. After all, they were all mass produced. In fact, guns manufactured during the Civil War were mass produced. Were they of better quality? Hard to say. They may have been better finished--on the outside--and maybe not. I doubt anyone would say they were made of better materials.

Take the pre-war .357 magnums. Do you think all S&W revolvers of that period were produced to the same standard? To an extent, yes, but they certainly didn't all have an extra special finish. They weren't all hand-fitted, either. Colts, however, may be a little different. The design was that different that it may have required a certain amount of hand fitting, but you'll notice there are no Colt double action revolvers being produced but S&W still does. Does that mean S&W is better? Hardly, though there are lots of reasons why not. Were S&Ws as good as Colt, say in 1940? I don't know.
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Old September 14, 2012, 12:38 PM   #20
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I have handled and fired a fair number of Civil War era revolvers and they are not of better quality than today's guns, usually not as good. Wartime contract Colts were not especially well finished, and the material was far inferior to that of the average repro today.

The tiny S&W revolvers of the period were precision instruments, well made and finished, but of course of low power.

I think the main changes in revolvers have resulted from the need for ease of assembly, a result of the rising cost of labor. The tiny parts and almost microscopic pins and springs of a 1900 era S&W M&P would drive a modern factory assembler to insanity (and blindness). Frankly, I don't know how they did it; maybe they had special tools, but with the poor lighting common in factories of that time, it must have been difficult to install pins 1/8" long and no larger in diameter than a common pin.

Jim
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Old September 15, 2012, 06:43 AM   #21
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I'm a pretty good self-taught pistolsmith who's done many action jobs and target triggers on various revolvers and some semi-autos over the past 40 years.

Fit and finish are important to me, but more important is the interaction of well-fitted parts and excellent metallurgy, especially hardened wear surfaces within a handgun.

S&W handguns are usually very good from the factory, but need a bit of smoothing for best functioning. Stainless steel revolvers are pretty, but don't take as much shooting use as a well-hardened carbon steel revolver. Yet, I have had several and if I don't cut through the hardening layer on internal parts, they last well as a carry gun.

It does little good to the customer to have a finely-tuned revolver unless they know how to maintain them to the degree necessary. Weak springs, lack of lubrication, or backed-out strain screws can come back to bite you...at the most critical time!!! Err on the side of reliable function whenever doing work on handguns.

I refuse to work on guns that have such soft steel that they won't stay in tune. Cheap imports often wear to become dangerous to the owner. IMHO, Ruger firearms generally have some of the best metallurgy and safety margin, though smooth function isn't quite up to par with S&W "potential" in a highly-improved firearm. I've seen/owned cheap Ruger semi-auto .22s that have had hundreds of thousands of rounds through them and they still look like new inside. That's just remarkable!
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Old September 15, 2012, 04:45 PM   #22
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Before you talk about how complicated S&W M&P revolvers were in 1900, take a look at a parts diagram of a Ruger P345.
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Old September 15, 2012, 04:56 PM   #23
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quality is more about durability realy. if you have a low cost revolver that canshoot a coffee can all day long at 25 yards, that doesnt look to pretty, its quality.
if you have a 2000 revolver that cant hit a car door at 2 yards...its not quality
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Old September 15, 2012, 09:03 PM   #24
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Quote:
Straightshooter, I too have a Rossi that works, but trust me it ain't no S&W or Ruger. Put 50 or 100 rounds per week thru it and see how long it lasts. Look at older Rossis and most will be loose. It's a copy of an S&W and mine is nice but my son's needs a tune up. They don't hold up to heavy usage like a Ruger or S&W. Mine is well worth the 150.00 I gave for it.
You have opted to ignore my point altogether but that's ok. I will take my Rossi and my Chevy over your Smith and Cadillac any day...
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Old September 15, 2012, 10:11 PM   #25
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I can jump in here, coming from the manufacturing perspective.

There is Quality, Value, and Price Point. They may appear in the same product, but the expectations of the consumer may or may not be realistic.

Quality:
1. Performs as advertised
2. Exhibits reliabilty , dependability , repeatability
3. Made of good materials, as designed to the Price Point
4. Fit and finish consistent to the Process which delivers the performance of the product at that price point
5. Lasts to realistic life span given its available design, costs of material at time of production, costs of labor, skills of labor, and technology used to make product

Value:
1. The Product looks, performs true to Price paid.
2. If the craftsmanship is consistent or exceeds the Price Point, then the product exhibits exeptional value.
3. If the expectations of the consumer is achieved, given what he paid, and waht he expected, then the value increases
4. If the product benefits from the Tech, the skills available at the time of production, or a special batch of well-priced raw materials in a commodities cycle, then it offers a once-in-a-lifetime super value.

Price Point
1. Products are offered at a price to meet profit margins
2. More Labor hours or more costly materials or more finishing steps requiring more skills always raise the Price
3. At some point, there is ALWAYS diminishing returns for the Manufacturer AND the Consumer

I really like the fact mentioned above that for some poor college kid, a solid Taurus revolver, or something not glamorous, is a great value for the money he gave up to get it.

For those who can afford the SWPC, or Korth, or collector grade Colts, they stand to benefit more from the higher prices paid for that finished product.

I am so fortunate to own good Smiths, Colts, and Freedom Arms. The close tolerances, the accuracy, the movement of the action, the bluing, the balance, are all wonderful to appreciate.

I also own 4 Taurus revolvers which have been accurate, solid, not loose, and looks good enough launching lead and copper. Their resale values are nowhere near the Colts and Smiths. I was also lucky that I never needed to send any of them back. For the price point, I had good quality and value out of those particular revolvers.

I also have good luck with Astra revolvers, too. IN 357 and 44 mag.
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