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Old October 5, 2020, 12:15 PM   #1
Brownstone322
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Counterbored Cylinders vs. ... Not

Disclaimer: I am not a revolver guy. I've never owned one. I'm about to change that, but assume I don't know anything.

So I've been looking at certain current-production S&W revolvers (such as the Model 19 "Classic") versus their ancestors, and the new ones have lots of differences most people here probably know about already, including:

• Sleeved barrels
• Frame-mounted firing pins
• MIM trigger and hammer
• The idiotic internal lock

But one that gets me especially is that they've abandoned counterbored cylinders. I don't know if counterbored cylinders were actually "better," but the flush fit between the back of the cylinder and frame certainly looked cool. Is it entirely because of cost?

Thoughts?
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Old October 5, 2020, 12:20 PM   #2
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S&W stopped the P&R stuff around 1981.

As far as recessed cylinders being "better," I've read that they can be more tricky to reload.
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Old October 5, 2020, 01:06 PM   #3
HiBC
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Counterbores: Unless they provide a practical benefit,they just make for more machining and cost.
I personally like being able to see there are cartridges in the cylinder at a glance.
I once had a Sheriffs Model Uberti SAA clone in 45 Colt. It was not equipt with an ejector rod.
If a case did not just fall out of the cylinder,a fingernail would easily flick the rim out of the non-counterbored cylinder.

But,everyone sees it different
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Old October 5, 2020, 01:21 PM   #4
lee n. field
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brownstone322 View Post
Disclaimer: I am not a revolver guy. I've never owned one. I'm about to change that, but assume I don't know anything.

So I've been looking at certain current-production S&W revolvers (such as the Model 19 "Classic") versus their ancestors, and the new ones have lots of differences most people here probably know about already, including:

• Sleeved barrels
• Frame-mounted firing pins
• MIM trigger and hammer
• The idiotic internal lock

But one that gets me especially is that they've abandoned counterbored cylinders. I don't know if counterbored cylinders were actually "better," but the flush fit between the back of the cylinder and frame certainly looked cool. Is it entirely because of cost?

Thoughts?
Thoughts? -- don't worry about it. Any of it.

There's a Youtube video I'll try to find and link in. Old police armorer going over a new Model 19, pointing out the differences, and how the changes fix a lot of the problems he would see, back in the day.

--edit to add--

Here we go: The new S&W Model 19 Classic ~ A S&W Armorer's Review

Well worth 50 minutes of your time.
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Old October 5, 2020, 04:03 PM   #5
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I really prefer the older S&W revolvers.
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Old October 5, 2020, 06:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
I really prefer the older S&W revolvers.
I'm with you, Mannlicher. All my S&W revolvers were made prior to 1982.

Don
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Old October 5, 2020, 06:23 PM   #7
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I always liked the counter bored cylinders. It seemed to aid in reloading with speedloaders.
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Old October 5, 2020, 06:55 PM   #8
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S&W counterbored (recessed) the chambers of its rimfire revolvers as a safety measure to provide a bit of extra protection in the event of a ruptured rim.

They recessed the chambers of MAGNUM revolvers as a "sign of quality" It was a selling point. No one else did it, it was S&W "going the extra mile" to make the "best" gun. They did not recess the chambers of standard rounds. SO, a .357 had recessed chambers, but a .38 Special, did not.

Barrels were always pinned until the change in the 80s.
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Old October 5, 2020, 10:07 PM   #9
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Imo, doing away with recessed cylinder chambers, much like pinned barrels ("pinned and recessed"), regardless as to whether the features were needed and/or practical, was largely a matter of cost.
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Old October 5, 2020, 11:34 PM   #10
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Imo, doing away with recessed cylinder chambers, much like pinned barrels ("pinned and recessed"), regardless as to whether the features were needed and/or practical, was largely a matter of cost.
Cost was the reason given. They saved money making them without those "traditional" features.

I wonder if that balances the cost of losing long time multiple pistol purchasers who no longer buy new S&W revolvers BECAUSE they did away with those features (and added a lock).
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Old October 6, 2020, 08:24 AM   #11
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I own both types, counter-bored and straight, but prefer the non-counter-bored. That slight recess in the back of the cylinder, meant to accept the cartridge rim is a dirt catcher in my use, and is a bit of a PITA to clean properly, but Nanuk's reply is interesting to me, I'll have to try it out on my Smith's. I've never noticed a difference in ease of speed loader use, but frankly have never paid much attention. I own and use both HKS and Safariland brands of speed loaders. YMMv, Rod
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Old October 6, 2020, 08:52 AM   #12
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Colt never had them, nor did Ruger. They seemed like a good idea at the time, then, like the pinned barrels they became a feature of S&Ws that everybody expected.
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Old October 7, 2020, 01:34 PM   #13
Brownstone322
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lee n. field View Post
Thoughts? -- don't worry about it. Any of it.

There's a Youtube video I'll try to find and link in. Old police armorer going over a new Model 19, pointing out the differences, and how the changes fix a lot of the problems he would see, back in the day.

--edit to add--

Here we go: The new S&W Model 19 Classic ~ A S&W Armorer's Review

Well worth 50 minutes of your time.
Yes, it was well worth it. Thanks for posting that.

Gun enthusiasts are a conservative lot by nature, and I'm always wary of that. In regard to S&W's reintroduced revolvers, I've often seen these kinda comments without much to back them up ...

• Sleeved barrel ... was better the old way
• MIM parts ... was better the old way
• Frame-mounted firing pin ... was better the old way
• Different ejector-rod locking mechanism ... was better the old way

OK, says who?

But here was a guy who examined the Model 19-9 in detail and declared the new one better in almost every way (or "brought into the 21st Century," as he put it). And he had every incentive to be an old-school purist.

My one personal exception would be the internal lock, but his take on that was "I don't care about that hole." I don't care either, but when my new revolver comes in (I now have a Model 67 on order), you can be sure I'm never gonna use that lock. (Why not just throw an external lock into the box? What on earth were they thinking?)

Anyway, thanks again, great vid.
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Last edited by Brownstone322; October 7, 2020 at 08:28 PM.
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Old October 7, 2020, 02:22 PM   #14
dahermit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmady View Post
S&W stopped the P&R stuff around 1981.

As far as recessed cylinders being "better," I've read that they can be more tricky to reload.
What is "P&R"?
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Old October 7, 2020, 03:08 PM   #15
lee n. field
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dahermit View Post
What is "P&R"?
"Pinned and recessed". Pinned barrel, recessed cylinder holes.
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Old October 7, 2020, 03:09 PM   #16
lee n. field
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Originally Posted by Brownstone322 View Post
Yes, it was well worth it. Thanks for posting that.

Gun enthusiasts are a conservative lot by nature, and I'm always wary of that. In regard to S&W's reintroduced revolvers, I've often seen these kinda comments without much to back them up ...

• Sleeved barrel ... was better the old way
• MIM parts ... was better the old way
• Frame-mounted firing pin ... was better the old way
• Different ejector-rod locking mechanism ... was better the old way

OK, says who?

But here was a guy who examined the Model 19-9 in detail and declared the new one better in almost every way (or "brought into the 21st Century," as he put it). And he had every incentive to be an old-school purist.

My one personal exception would be the internal lock, but his take on that was "I don't care about that hole." I don't care either, but when my new revolver comes in (I now have a Model 67 on order), you can be sure I'm never gonna use it. (Why not just throw an external lock into the box? What on earth were they thinking?)

Anyway, thanks again, great vid.
And I'm not going to worry greatly about the lock. It's never been a problem in my lightweight 642. I really doubt a modern full size steel k-frame will have a problem either.
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Old October 7, 2020, 04:12 PM   #17
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I believe I read somewhere the reason for the recessed cylinders was because a long time ago some brass had a ballooned head or something like that, so they needed more steel around the base of the cartridge to support the added pressures of modern smokeless cartridges with this brass.
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Old October 7, 2020, 04:51 PM   #18
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I believe I read somewhere the reason for the recessed cylinders was because a long time ago some brass had a ballooned head...
Some brass still does have a balloon head. Rimfire brass.

Early centerfire cases did too. Later on the balloon head was dropped in favor of the stronger solid head brass. Can't think of any round designed after the late 1890s that had balloon head cases, and the older ones switched over to solid head cases after the turn of the century and by WWII balloon head cases were pretty much a rarity.

I understand that you can get them today in certain calibers, due to the interest in period correct cowboy stuff.
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Old October 7, 2020, 08:21 PM   #19
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The lack of counter bored cylinders doesn't matter to me. A non pinned barrel isn't an issue either. The sleeved barrel means S&W can set the barrel to cylinder gap very tight without having to unscrew the barrel repeatedly and shave the barrel to get the gap right and the sights lined up correctly.

The two piece barrel means the front sight should be set straight every time without being canted to the right or left. The MIM parts are fine also. I worked in my dads machine shop for 14 years and we machined mostly castings. There is nothing wrong with cast parts. My truck has has 225,000+ miles on it and the engine is built around cast parts.

But the one thing I am not so sold on is the EDM or whatever its called rifling they use. My friend and gunwriter Terry Murbach said he could write his name with guns with that rifling but I prefer the deeper looking cut rifling.

I bought a used 637 snubby and after I bought it I was almost certain that it had no rifling. I haven't shot it yet so can't comment. It seems to have a one piece barrel. I also bought a new 442 no lock with two piece barrel and it has clear, easily seen rifling.

And speaking of the lock its a non issue with me. I just consider it to be some strange aberration like a wart on a nose and then ignore it.
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Old October 8, 2020, 01:14 AM   #20
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My S&W revolvers are both old and newer, but none of them has the internal lock. I have 3 28-2's, pinned and recessed, a 629-1 and a 625-3, neither pinned or recessed, and they are fine, IMHO, but if I was looking at a revolver that is currently in production, like a 686, I'm not even considering a new one. I want an old one without a lock, with a 6 round cylinder.
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Old October 8, 2020, 09:21 AM   #21
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I have both. Currently own 8 S&W revolvers, from early 1900's 32-20 Hand Ejector
to a 2015ish Mdl 627 Performance Center 8 shot.

All operate just fine, but I do tend toward the old Pinned or Pinned and Recessed
models. Not because of any real or perceived advantage conveyed by the pin or
recess, but because the guns made in that era display a level of material, craftsmanship, hand fitting and finish that is not economically feasible in current revolvers.
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Old October 8, 2020, 10:09 AM   #22
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A "thank you" goes out to dgludwig and dahermit and lee n. field for asking about "P&R" and providing a definition. I appreciate it and I suspect many other lurkers to the thread do too.
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Old October 8, 2020, 10:27 AM   #23
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I prefer the older S&W revolvers because they were better. They were finished better, the actions were better, they were usually right right out of the box. The new guns nearly always have something wrong with them. In my experience, 642, bur in the forcing cone, 617, may not even have a forcing cone, spits, 642 #2, extra heavy hammer spring, had to replace it, 686, out of time on 2 chambers, 625, extractor was bent, forcing cone looks like it has threads, back of bbl has a dip in it as if they let a Dremel tool get away from them, and has pits on bbl, 629, dished spot on bbl rib, hard to pull trigger at first of the D/A pull. Every new S&W I've bought since the MIM, frame mtd firing pin era has something wrong with it. HOW CAN ANYONE SAY THEY ARE BETTER????
None of these defects have anything to do with recessed chambers or pinned bbls or MIM parts, it's a lack of quality control. The new guns are good shooters after you repair them tho.
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Old October 9, 2020, 12:06 PM   #24
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My Dan Wessons have counter bored cylinders, but the barrels are not pinned. (Sarcasm).
Like fluted cylinders, my BP Colt and Remington repros do not have them, then they were introduced, became standard, the reasons why forgotten. But people accepted and bought them.
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Old October 11, 2020, 06:57 AM   #25
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" Can't think of any round designed after the late 1890s that had balloon head cases, and the older ones switched over to solid head cases after the turn of the century and by WWII balloon head cases were pretty much a rarity."

There are actually three types of case heads...

Balloon head
Semi-balloon head
Solid head

All three were in production at the same time right up through World War II.

Balloon head cases were used mainly for blackpowder cartridges, although some of the early semi-smokless and smokeless loads for those old rounds were also loaded in balloon head cases. Believe it or not, balloon head cases were still being loaded commercially in the US into the early 1960s for some cartridges like the .45 Colt and the .45-70.

Semi-balloon head cases were introduced around the same time as smokeless powder and were a lot stronger than the old folded head balloon head cases. Rounds like the .44 Special, .45 Auto Rim, .45 ACP, etc., loaded prior to WW II were often loaded in semi-balloon head cases. Semi-balloon head cases also survived until well after WW II.

Solid head cases didn't become universal in US production until nearly the 1970s.
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