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Old April 1, 2024, 04:51 PM   #1
Mike P. Wagner
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General question about pistol modifications

I have s pistol that does not have a lot of aftermarket support, and I recently cam across what I think to be a one man shop that does “accurizing” work that includes mechanical modifications to the trigger.

I look at aftermarket modifications to trigger mechanism pretty skeptically.

I am retired from a career in software. As a new software engineer, I was petty sure that I was the best the brightest and I was ready to tear up bad code and replace it with my brilliant work.

Funny thing happened over the years - I began to realized that there was far less bad code out there than I though - that often what looked to be bad code was in fact meeting design requirements I didn’t understand.

I have seen people throw away old bad code with bright spanking new code - and find all the bugs that the bad old code was fixing cropping up in the new code.

Those years left me a skecptic about “I’ve got a better idea” - not a cynic, but a skeptic.

My guess is that developing a new pistol requires an investment in the 10s millions of dollars - though I really don’t know. I assume that budget is spent on mechanical engineers - many of whom are very bright and well trained.

There are geniuses out there - but part of the definition of genius is rarity.

The question I ask myself when I read about someone that claims to have come up with a way to improve a factory trigger is, “If this works better than a factory trigger and still meets all of the same safety, reliability, and durability design requirements, why isn’t the factory doing this?”

The most obvious answer is cost - maybe the innovation is just too costly. That means the improvement it offers is not enough of an improvement that most people buying the pistol are willing to pay for the improvement.

And that’s fine - I understand that.

For example, it looks to me like Beretta tacitly endorses the LTT PX4 modifications - which leads me to believe that Beretta would do the LTT mods if they thought they market would support the increased price.

But when I see a modification that looks like it would cost the factor little or no more than than the OEM, I wonder why the factory wouldn’t be doing it - if it was truly a better idea.

I get the impression that gun owners are inveterate tinkerers - but is anyone else as skeptical that many of the mods offered are missing some design requirements satisfied by the original factory mechanism?
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Old April 1, 2024, 04:59 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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but is anyone else as skeptical that many of the mods offered are missing some design requirements satisfied by the original factory mechanism?
Sure they are missing something. Usually cost. Sometimes a design requirement at the factory is to account for variations in parts. Which goes back to cost.
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Old April 1, 2024, 05:03 PM   #3
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PX4 as an example is a troubled start.

LTT has had "bag of parts" PX4 stuff for a while? But Beretta has all but done nothing to update the PX4 since it first came out.

If you're talking M&P, the 2.0 made a change to the entire line to fix a failure in the 1.0 (that wasn't updated towards the end) that killed the trigger.

So there are creature updates, that tend to be good. But there are also updates that look creature like, but in fact update for the good (M&P 2.0 as an example)
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Old April 1, 2024, 05:05 PM   #4
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A fun one, Walther was working with Apex. Apex has a PPQ trigger right?

Now there is a Walther Dynamic Trigger that looks strangely like an apex design. Now apex doesn't have a PDP trigger and won't say that their triggers will work in the current PDP (they do).

There isn't a ton of stealing, but there is some
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Old April 1, 2024, 05:37 PM   #5
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General question about pistol modifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by wild cat mccane View Post
A fun one, Walther was working with Apex. Apex has a PPQ trigger right?

Now there is a Walther Dynamic Trigger that looks strangely like an apex design. Now apex doesn't have a PDP trigger and won't say that their triggers will work in the current PDP (they do).

There isn't a ton of stealing, but there is some

Wait, your claim is Apex was working with Walther, Walther stole their design, and Apex just took it laying down because…?
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Old April 1, 2024, 07:25 PM   #6
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The question I ask myself when I read about someone that claims to have come up with a way to improve a factory trigger is, “If this works better than a factory trigger and still meets all of the same safety, reliability, and durability design requirements, why isn’t the factory doing this?”
There could be numerous reasons, one of which (and a big one) is, as you surmise, cost. Another might simply be "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" or at the extreme, "our pistols are perfection!"

Think about that one man shop, and what he's doing. And, I mean specificall WHAT is he doing. How much work and time does it take?? And, how much skill is involved to do it "right" and not over do it??

Lots of trigger jobs are simply putting a better polish on certain contact points than the factory does. But that involves time (which is cost) plus knowing what points to polish, and how much it do it, and not do too much.

How much time is that one man shop spending doing the work? How many man hours are involved in what he does?? 1? 4?? Also consider that even if the factory can do it faster, its still going it paying union scale, which the one man shop isn't.

Any and every change to the production is a cost. Time lost during changeover (possibly including retraining of workers), Time added (possibly) if the change is something that adds time to the process...

A one man shop can set their own prices, work hours, and pace of work, the only person to please is the boss, and the boss is he guy doing the work,

Larger companies can't run that way and compete in the marketplace.
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Old April 1, 2024, 09:45 PM   #7
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A lot people have responded that cost is often the primary motivation for the manufacturer doing something a certain way - and that’s that could very well be the case.

I think the question is, how do I know that the manufacturer was just cutting costs.

In other words, is it possible that the manufacturer dance a part a certain way due to safety, reliability, or durability concerns neither I nor the aftermarket tinkerer really understand?
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Old April 1, 2024, 10:56 PM   #8
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I get the impression that gun owners are inveterate tinkerers - but is anyone else as skeptical that many of the mods offered are missing some design requirements satisfied by the original factory mechanism?
Sure, and sometimes they are missing something important. On another forum, someone was complaining about an aftermarket trigger for Glock pistols that turned out to not be drop safe.

Think about it, SIG ended up releasing a pistol to the market that wasn't drop safe. They are a well-respected gunmaker with many decades of history, a solid design team and the finances and resources to test a design thoroughly. But they still let a non-drop-safe pistol get into buyers' hands. Ruger had to recall one of their pistols some years back and install different triggers to make them safe.

If it can happen to them, it can certainly happen to a relatively small company making aftermarket parts.

I've also seen people doing "spring kit" replacements who didn't fully understand how DA revolvers function and so didn't understand how they needed to test to insure 100% reliability. So they ended up making their revolver unreliable when shot DA.
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Old April 2, 2024, 09:29 AM   #9
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Yep. It's kinda funny because the PPQ Apex trigger does work in the PDP. Apex won't say it. They write, "NOTE: Has not been tested in the Walther PDP."

The Walther Dynamic Trigger is likely the PDP trigger. It's an interesting lovers spat to read on the Walther forum that they were in partnership with Walther asking Apex to make the Dynamic Trigger.
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Old April 2, 2024, 02:07 PM   #10
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there is also factors like submitting drawings for pattens and licensing issues with changes to design, updating saami drawings... and other legal issues. an after market part doesn't face.
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Old April 2, 2024, 05:49 PM   #11
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When I was a practicing gunsmith, I turned down modification jobs. Too much liability.

I have modified / improved quite a bit of my own guns. Sure they all worked better than the original designs. Any manufacturer would pay me for my ideas? I don't think so. Too much liability. I wouldn't sell anyway unless they waive my liabilities.

Business could buy other company's IP on condition that the other company would stop competing directly or indirectly. It may not be stealing.

-TL

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Old April 2, 2024, 06:48 PM   #12
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You are not wrong. Guns are designed to meet a balanced spec at a price point…I.e. what will grab the biggest group of buyers and leave them mostly satisfied.

So, when you go to the indoor range and you see those “average” shooters banging away at a full size silhouette(and using the whole target at 7 yards) with guns that have “staple gun” triggers…..those are the target customers. Is that you? If so, bang on!

Korth, Ed Brown, Dan Wesson and Wilson Combat also make guns. They sell much fewer. They have to recover profits at a much higher price. They are still soooo much less profitable than the $300-$700 target price folks.

Frankly, I don’t really begrudge either of those business strategies. They are honest. The companies that upset me are the ones that make a gradually worsening product at a gradually increasing price(S&W revolvers). ….or the worst make a basic gun for a moderate price….then sell the same basic cheap gun for up to 5 times the price with only color or minor cosmetic changes.(Kimber 1911….although I’m sure there are others!
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Old April 2, 2024, 08:44 PM   #13
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I think it's like customizing a car.
Cars are made to please a lot of people, and not necessarily the enthusiast, so you can make mods to the car that make it more powerful, faster, etc., but in the deal you have a rough ride, increased fuel consumption, shorter service life, etc.
If you pay for a trigger job, you may need to tend to the springs, the engagement surfaces, etc., when the stock gun would plug away for ten thousand rounds without maintenance.
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Old April 2, 2024, 11:52 PM   #14
Mike P. Wagner
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The car example is a good example - I know people who mod cars by dinking with the car’s CPU. I am as skeptical of that as I am of pistol modifications. :-)

I am not really trying to talk other people of of doing that - I just wondered if other people were as skeptical as I am.
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Old April 3, 2024, 01:04 AM   #15
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We don't refer to some non-functioning firearms as "Bubba specials" and suggest throwing away the Dremel for no reason.

Very often, a good trigger job requires little more than carefully polishing the mating parts. It's unfortunate that some people don't understand that.
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Old April 3, 2024, 08:32 AM   #16
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The car example is a great example.

So, you buy a Ford F150. You want a way to enclose the bed most of the time, but not always. Ford would sell you an Excursion and an F150 to solve this.

…or you could buy a bed cover or bed cap. Should I have just bought the extra Excursion??

This applies to guns too. I was shopping for a 44 mag for deer hunting, bear defense and mountain lion defense. To be best at those things, based on my experience, a gun with a stock trigger (11lb da; 3lb SA) pull would be fine. Most of my stock pre-1980 S&W revolvers are this or close. I found a used 629 for $650ish made around 2015, I would guess. I could have bought NIB for $1200 or bought a ~1980 gun for like $1100. I really don’t want to buy a 44yr old 44 magnum to shoot 300+ rounds per year practicing and load developing because replacement parts, service experts, etc are all declining. There is also a concern in 44 mag if buying a heavy use gun and having to perform brain surgery to fix the lockup and end shake.

So, I bought a newer gun. Trigger was horrible and lock up was oddly loose at the cylinder stop. So I fit a new stop to start off with a tight lock up. It worked. Why would loose stop to cylinder fit be better?

I figured the MIM trigger was a lost cause. I paid a guy who said he could smooth it up. He did that well. I replaced springs to get a bit of weight change without effecting reliability.

Do I know better than S&W about trigger pull. Yes and no. They absolutely know what they made in 1980. They went away from it for cost reduction….while incrementally increasing price. ….but I do know what trigger pull is going to make it easier to hit what I aim at.

Same with the grips. I traded S&W rubber grips for Hogues that feel better in recoil and just holding it.

So were these customization bad code or not?

If I left it alone, it would be gone. Now it meets the intended use.
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Old April 3, 2024, 02:01 PM   #17
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I don't know for sure this applies, but with the "Quality Movement" of the 1980's came ISO Standards.
Documentation of processes was audited and required.
One result is the Quality of the product cannot depend on "Old Joe the Master."

Parts come off the production process ,have a lot number assigned and go in a bin.
Part pickers send Assembly an order of parts per Work Order ##### for 25 guns. So 25 cylinders,25 frames,25 bolts, 25 hammers...

Parts are assembled as picked . The practice of stoning a surface would likely get you sent to re-education Gulag if not fired.

Problems with assembly will result in a huddle of Process engineers, product Engineers, and Quality Tecs accepting the parts or returning them to the supplier for non-conformance. Lot traceability is a big thing. It could cause a recall.
I won't mention any names, but some big name manufacturers don't even test fire.
"You cannot inspect quality into a product"

Yeah,they don't make them like they used to but thats manufacturing today.
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Old April 3, 2024, 02:19 PM   #18
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ISO9000, like Y2K, is a scheme for certain people to make money. I personally know some of them.

They don't make them like they used to. I'm sure people said the same thing when model T first rolled off Ford's production line. You can still retrofit/customize the product to make it perform like in the old days, but you need to pay for it.

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Old April 3, 2024, 02:44 PM   #19
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Yes,you could retrofit a Model T.

I could work with my 63 Volvo or the old Falcon or my 70 chevy pickup or the 1950 Ford F-1 or the 67 Chevelle SS 396.
Now I'm driving a 2001 Suburban 4wd. I like it. but when I need to put tires on it I will put on the OEM spec tires due to the interconnection of the autotrans and the computers and sensors .If all the feedbacks and values are not in spec on the road I don't know enough to know whether I can go up one size.

No big deal. Its a good set of wheels.(for the $2300 I paid)
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Old April 3, 2024, 03:29 PM   #20
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All ISO9000 requires is that you can put it on a document. It doesn’t care if you can make a good gun! Good is relative to. Good is not so related to are your customers happy, it is more related to are you following the same process each time.
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Old April 3, 2024, 03:56 PM   #21
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A trick here.

Custom hand fitting in gun smiting requires over sizing. There is also a truth to similar metals will mate, possibly destroying hand fitting interference.

Anything else is hand-sizing your machine's mistakes. A machine can cut better than a human can. So stoning one part of two parts means one part isn't made correct.

Hard fit vs hand fit.

A barrel REQUIRING hand fitting for example (Jarvis/whatever) is oversized on purpose.

So, a S&W revolver of ol' when they just were simply amazing?...hate to say it...just corrections of crappy machining and the outcome was probably very inconsistent specific to what people equate to them just being all better.

Precision industry in any other industry that doesn't evoke a call to "golden old times" never even considers hand tooling (aero tech/defense)
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Old April 3, 2024, 07:04 PM   #22
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So, a S&W revolver of ol' when they just were simply amazing?...hate to say it...just corrections of crappy machining and the outcome was probably very inconsistent specific to what people equate to them just being all better.
I hate to disagree, but I believe they started with parts like a long yoke, long hand, maybe a tall cylinder ratchet surface and wide cylinder stop. Then they either fit oversized or were filed lightly to get a good fit.

Today, they can control machining for tight end shake, but seem to use an easier 0.002 +/-0.001”…or even bigger.
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Old April 3, 2024, 07:53 PM   #23
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When we send out CNC machining order, for the normal +/-0.05" tolerance (+/-0.03" actual), there is no extra charge. Tighter the tolerance, higher the fees. It is a compromise among various parameters for high-volume productions, part interchangibility being an important one.

Hand fitting, or calibration, still exist. But it is to be minimized if all possible. It is just how things work. Can't expect a BMW at Hyundai pricing.

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Old April 3, 2024, 09:56 PM   #24
Mike P. Wagner
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Originally Posted by tangolima View Post
When we send out CNC machining order, for the normal +/-0.05" tolerance (+/-0.03" actual), there is no extra charge. Tighter the tolerance, higher the fees.
Here is a question from someone who knows absolutely nothing about machining. :-)

It seems to me that at some point, some kind of computer aided machining will be able to fit parts together with better than human beings - thinking here of the tolerance in nanobots, etc.

It seems like that technology is getting better every year.

Are we at the point where CNC is capable of closer fitting than human beings?

Are not there yet? Or is that technology just too expensive right now?

Or is “hand fitted” in a brochure mostly marketing hype?
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Old April 3, 2024, 10:20 PM   #25
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CNC and 3d printing have become very capable and flexible. But they are not free. Tighter tolerance come with cost. Unless they can sell products and make profits, manufacturers don't want to make the best products, just good enough.

As per my late father, who was a mechanical engineer and tool designer, CNC is not the best machine for high-volume productions. They are not as fast as dedicated template driven machines.

As per my gunsmithing instructor, who also passed away, modern machining can do better than human hands in terms of efficiency and tolerance. But it lacks the "human touch" that makes classic firearms classic. My interpretation is hand fitting can make zero tolerance, although you may not be able to swap parts with other guns. One of the kind is signature of anything classic.

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