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Old July 12, 2013, 03:13 PM   #1
Sevens
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"Don't make 'em like they used to..." Or do they?

What's -BETTER- now?

In a recent thread we were talking about how so many of us pine for things from our earlier days, and our memories are often glossed over & may have us believing that things were better "back in the day", at least with specific regard to manufacturing, production, materials, execution & "fitting" etc etc etc etc.

Long story short, it's common thinking that most of our prized handguns were better built in years gone by than the same handgun is made now. Obviously, many changes and "advancements" in production have altered the landscape -- many handguns come equipped with internal locks, use a lot of MIM, and are churned out in high volume with much less (or zero) hand-fitting.

But let's hear your ideas of the opposite of the common argument that the older stuff was better. Let's hear about a handgun that was made 20, 30, or more years ago, and also made today, and why you think that the newer ones are every bit as good or even better?

Let's give it a REAL attempt to stick to the ones we think are BETTER, and why, and skip past the many metric tons of handguns that so many of us believe simply are NOT near as good as they used to be. We have that in most threads already.

I'll start:
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Old July 12, 2013, 03:17 PM   #2
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I've got a Coonan Classic, which is kind of a misnomer because the "Classic" is the new production Coonan, not the Coonan that was built from the very early 80s until they finally turned the lights out in the 1990s.

I believe that my pistol is not only as good as the early Model A and the even better Model B guns, but I believe it's a much better gun. In reading many posts here and elsewhere from a gentleman who was knee-deep in the production of the earlier models and also helped out a good bit on the current generation of pistols -- it seems as though the much updated process and tolling that makes the frames and slide is a whole lot more precise. And perhaps it's either age or use, but my new production magazines simply drip with confidence, these devices are extremely well designed & built. Though it's only a magazine, it impresses me... while the older magazines simply don't seem to have the same level of quality.

I truly believe that the current production Coonan pistols are great guns, and mine has led me to that conclusion. I don't have an older Model A or B, but it's my belief that the Coonan is a specific example of something that is actually better today than it has ever been.
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Old July 12, 2013, 03:37 PM   #3
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I'm thinkin'

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Old July 12, 2013, 03:41 PM   #4
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O.K. Thought of one, the current Colt New Frontier. They do have better trigger pulls and are more nicely finished, believe Doug Turnbull is doing the case hardening.

The walnut grips leave a lot to be desired, though. Always have.

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Old July 12, 2013, 03:47 PM   #5
Super Sneaky Steve
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The new Henry Big Boy in .45 Colt I just bought shoots like a dream. Every detail is top notch. Couldn't be more happy.

It's a new design but it is in many ways better than the original Henry repeater.
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Old July 12, 2013, 04:05 PM   #6
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In general I believe modern guns benefit from advances in materials technology, tighter tolerances and manufacturing process improvements.

An example is the Colt Mustang I’ve got one from 20+ years ago which was a pretty nice gun. However, my understanding is the newer models have an improved slide and much tighter tolerances.

Also, the first semi-auto I purchased was a Colt Lightweight Commander which I really liked, but it was very finicky about ammunition. The LGS told me it needed breaking in and I will admit it did get better after several boxes of ammo, but never was fully reliable. In the last few years I’ve purchased several handguns (SIG, GLOCK, SA, HK, S&W, Ruger) and there was never a mention of “breaking in” the gun and they all have been reliable right out of the box.
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Old July 12, 2013, 04:15 PM   #7
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I'm going to generalize and say I'll take the older revolvers and the newer autos in handguns.
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Old July 12, 2013, 04:22 PM   #8
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[donning flame resistant suit]

Well, there may have been excellent examples made in the early years but it's pretty hard to argue, IMO, that the average 1911 of today isn't a better gun than the originals. One might argue, I suppose, that the improvements are such that it's not even the same gun. I wouldn't argue that but I can see it being said.

At the very least, the best of the best are certainly finer examples of craftmanship than the original "mil-spec" gun. Again, one might argue that the original "loose" tolerances served well for purposes of reliability in adverse/dirty conditions but it's certainly a "better gun" by fit and function under modern standards.
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Old July 12, 2013, 04:46 PM   #9
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"Don't make 'em like they used to.." Ruger is a good example of how use of modern manufacturing rechniques-investment casting-combined with modern design produces top quality firearms. The jury is still out on MIM, stainless steel seems to have taken over in handguns. S&W continues with its "traditional" revolver action, Colt discontinued theirs in favor of the Mark III action in 1969. Then there's the pre-64 Winchester controversy. I will say that Colts and S&Ws from the 1930s, seem to have a better, deeper bluing than their modern counterparts, and there is the cachet that comes from sonething made in "The Good Old Days".
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Old July 12, 2013, 04:46 PM   #10
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Modern materials and tooling are much better than the old stuff. More care and actual "personal attention" went into the individual guns of yesteryear. My conclusion is that modern weapons are better made but not as finely finished as the old stuff. I'll take the new stuff, although I wish some of the old models were still around. The high end custom guys combine these two things, modern materials and manufacturing techniques combined with personal attention and top notch finishes.
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Old July 12, 2013, 04:47 PM   #11
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Plenty of new good guns and plenty of great improvments on old designs.

Methinks if you can't find something impressive about any new guns on the market, you're just not trying.
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Old July 12, 2013, 05:14 PM   #12
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The QUALITY guns of today are much better than the guns of yesteryear. There was a real reason for being hand-fitted - because they could not replicate the same parts over and over and over again.

The CHEAP guns of today,which are made to compete with cheap imports from Asia, are built only because they have to address the cheap folks who want a 1000 yard tackdriver for $100.......... Back in "the good old days" the only cheap imports they had to compete with were military surplus, so even regular guns were better built at the lower/middle price points. Guns were also better built because except for some limited target shooting, most guns were for hunting/survival on the frontier
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Old July 12, 2013, 06:01 PM   #13
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The target sights on my Colt New Frontier made in 1961 are better than the target sights on my Bisley Target from 1906. When Smith & Wesson changed the direction of the extractor thread, it stopped the extractor from backing out and tying up the action in recoil. You have to be careful to keep the extractor threaded tight in any early Smith & Wesson. With the new ones you don't have to think about it. When Colt in 1908 changed the flat bolt spring to a coil on their New Service Model, it improved the reliability of the action. I could go on, but I suspect that I may have missed the spirit of your thread.

In general engineering improvements have been made. The quality of the hand fitting in actions has gone down since the mid-1880's in the guns that I am familiar with.

If someone wants to tell me that the new synthetic guns of today are superior to anything I knew from years past, I can't really argue because I don't know enough about these new products to offer an experienced based comparison.
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Old July 12, 2013, 06:18 PM   #14
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In some cases they make them better, top pick for top pick. In other cases they don't.

Keep in mind folks back in the 1880s the flimsy top break .32s were popular and they didn't make alot of them very well.

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Old July 12, 2013, 07:54 PM   #15
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.40-82 said:
Quote:
The target sights on my Colt New Frontier made in 1961 are better than the target sights on my Bisley Target from 1906.
And the Eliason sights on my 2012 New Frontier are better yet.

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Old July 12, 2013, 07:57 PM   #16
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As to the Coonan Classi, it can't be better than when "it used to be." Because it didn't "used to be made" in the classic period. It's a Johnny come lately.

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Old July 12, 2013, 08:07 PM   #17
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I don't have them anymore, but I had a couple of Smith & Wesson revolvers, a 21-4, and a 25-13 I think it was, 44 Special and 45 Colt, that had internal locks and MIM parts so I suppose they were manufactured fairly recently. I didn't see a thing wrong with those guns and enjoyed them just as much as I did my older ones.
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Old July 12, 2013, 09:35 PM   #18
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As a Life Member of SNM-Sons of Neanderthal Man-I wrinkle my nose at the widespread use of aluminum, polymers, etc. for handgun frames. But no one compels me to buy them. I suppose die hard S&W fans will argue the merits of 5-screws vs. 4-or 3-screws and pinned vs. non-pinned and recessed vs.non-recessed.
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Old July 12, 2013, 10:47 PM   #19
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best example of modern manufacturing sucking things up,,,,, the marlin 336.

before the big change to modern equipment, it was always a good product. even the average walnut stock looked like it was presentation grade.
now the stocks are cheap as crap, with a plastic spray paint finish that looks like the station wagon my uncle had in the 80s. wagoneer with the fake wood panelling on it.
and the fit and finish blows. so much gap between the stock and reciever its not funny. really hurt the whole legacy of marlin.

now the 1911 has become two classes of firearm. target and combat. the target ones are really nice and tight, great machining on them. however tight tolerances need alot more in the way of careful cleaning and lubrication. a true milspec isnt always the best grouping gun out of the box, but maintenance is really really easy to do. and it isnt as finicky. though a gentleman sells milspec replacement barrels that have been doing well in formal bullseye competition using the original rifling pattern.
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Old July 12, 2013, 11:28 PM   #20
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It is no doubt a true statement.

That does in no way mean they made them better before.

I would much rather have a car made today than the Model T as my main mode of transport.

Some things are much better made today and others not.
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Old July 12, 2013, 11:39 PM   #21
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Can't think of one. But what do you expect in this day of engineering and manufacturing decisions being made by bean counters and manufacturing being done by a largely disgruntled workforce?
Also the O.P. Is talking about yesterdays k-frame against todays k-frame. Not yesterdays 1911 vs. A Glock.
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Old July 12, 2013, 11:39 PM   #22
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IMHO, if the guns of today were not made with those "cheap" materials and production methods, if they were still hand fitted and filed and stoned by those old timey craftsmen (who would have to be paid at least $50 an hour to get skilled workers), none of us would be able to afford a handgun. As it is, a reasonable quality handgun will cost at least $500; made the way they were "in the old days" that figure would be $2500-3000.

The single biggest changes in handguns over the last 20-30 years has been the increased use of stainless steel and polymer. The more recent use of MIM has made some changes and kept costs down, but it has not had the overwhelming impact that the material changes have had.

Jim
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Old July 12, 2013, 11:47 PM   #23
couldbeanyone
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James K, what does the cost of production have to do with whether old or new is better? If, doing it the old way cost 3,000 a gun to make today, that still has nothing to do with whether an old k-frame or new k-frame is better.
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Old July 13, 2013, 12:03 AM   #24
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Quote:
I will say that Colts and S&Ws from the 1930s, seem to have a better, deeper bluing than their modern counterparts,
Yes, I’ve always sort of felt the same way. Does anyone know if there’s been updated safety or environmental regulations that resulted in changes to the process?
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Old July 13, 2013, 12:14 AM   #25
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I have owned a LOT of guns over the years, and shot many many more.
Rifles and handguns included.

Anschutz, Winchester, Walther, Remington, Kimber, Hamerilli, FWB, and others.

While living in Colrado Springs I belonged to the shooting club at the Olympic Training Center.
I have shot some amazingly accurate guns.

But I have never owned a true 1 hole gun (capable of putting all ounds in 1 hole) until now.

It is an old, Mossberg M44US . 22, Marked US PROPERTY. sold to army in January 1943 (according to the guy i got it from George Fram, head of the Mossberg Museum)

They hand lapped the barrels back then.

This thing after finding the right ammo, and tuning the barrel band, will stack 10 shots in one .24 caliber hole at 25 yards.

The trigger is atrocious by today's standards, but with the factory peep sights, it is amazing.

I ont know if it has been shot so much it just knows where the bullseye is, or ht.

I think they took more care in the production back then, as there was less automation.

But the craftsmanship and caring was there.

It is a parkerized big hunk of steel, in a heavy wood stock, but everyone who shoots it wants it.

10 shots 25 yards.


A.40 caliber hull shot at 25 yards


Playing card split 25 yds.
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