Author Topic: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?  (Read 1232 times)

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Offline Scarlett Pistol

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Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« on: July 15, 2017, 01:50:57 PM »
I keep hearing about the older (pre-1980) S&W revolvers being preferred over new ones. Why is that? What's the story here?
"In God I trust. All others must supply data."
"I respect that the choice of pistols is very personal. Although, if someone is devoid at least one CZ, they've chosen the wrong pistols"  - Scarlett Pistol
1) CZ 75 Compact Classic - 9mm
2) CZ SP-01 - 9mm
3) "SP-01 Compact" (CZ 75 Compact)

Offline aguila9

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2017, 02:16:22 PM »
More human involvement in building it. You can interpret that any way you want. Plus no MIM parts and extra attention to build like  pinned barrels, recessed cylinders and such.

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Offline Dave O

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2017, 02:23:00 PM »
Like pinned barrels, recessed cylinders, and properly fit forged parts. Dislike MIM (sand cast parts) and internal Clinton action locks.

Offline Scarlett Pistol

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2017, 02:54:52 PM »
This is great to know, thanks!

That got me thinking. I would assume advancements have been made in metallurgy and production  that improve quality since the early 80's. Are there companies making revolvers that have the modern tech and the touch of quality you guys like in these older S&W revolvers?
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 03:04:19 PM by Scarlett Pistol »
"In God I trust. All others must supply data."
"I respect that the choice of pistols is very personal. Although, if someone is devoid at least one CZ, they've chosen the wrong pistols"  - Scarlett Pistol
1) CZ 75 Compact Classic - 9mm
2) CZ SP-01 - 9mm
3) "SP-01 Compact" (CZ 75 Compact)

Offline M1A4ME

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2017, 03:03:00 PM »
I saw on another forum that S&W didn't start using MIM parts in their revolvers until 1997.  Anyone see anything to suggest it was 1980?
Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  So, if you see me walking the dogs with my SIG 556R, its okay.

Offline Tanners Owner

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 03:04:01 PM »
Like pinned barrels, recessed cylinders, and properly fit forged parts. Dislike MIM (sand cast parts) and internal Clinton action locks.

While all this is true, I have a 625 and 627 containing the lock and mim parts. I shoot these in IDPA and uspsa so they get plenty of exercise and haven't had a problem. That said, I do have a preference for the older smiths, just beacause ;D

What I'd tell you is with either a new smith or older one, take your time inspecting it.
Like a midget at a urinal, I'll have to keep on my toes

Offline M1A4ME

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 03:06:34 PM »
Little more info in this American Rifleman article

https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2014/10/28/pinned-and-recessed-smith-wessons/

I need to go take a look at my S&W's, just for the heck of it.
Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  So, if you see me walking the dogs with my SIG 556R, its okay.

Offline aguila9

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 03:49:38 PM »
Not to mention the finishing of the old revolvers.  You'll never find a blue like the older Smiths and Colts .

As far as the mechanicals I have no problem using a newer smith over a pre-80s Smith.

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Offline WVNed

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2017, 06:16:56 PM »
I decided to buy a 4 inch 357 Magnum. I have been lusting after a Smith and Wesson revolver for a while. One LGS has a large number of them and I looked at about 9 different models in J, K and N frames.

I came home with a Ruger GP100. This one is a 4 inch SS. I have a 6 inch blued GP100 and it has been a very good gun I shoot a lot.
With both in hand I saw no difference in quality, couldn't justify the price difference and think the lock is silly.
Someday I will come across a pre lock Smith and Wesson and buy it.
WHAHOOOoooooooooo

Offline bang bang

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2017, 06:18:58 PM »
if you have a chance to handle and try both. do so.

sometimes you dont have a choice on what you can get unless you want to save and spend more.  Many peoples wallet or SO will say not.

i prefer the older S&W guns and many other guns for that matter, but sometimes i have to settle for new production.  I have some S&W 617s that I'm going to have bobbed, and in order to find 2 with consecutive s/ns, i had to go current production.   In any case, i will have the internal locks disabled and have some work done on them at the same time.  Since they are range toys and i wont be going into battle with them for the zombie apocalypse, it doesnt mean anything to me if they have MIMs or not. 

if you can try to find some older versions and see how they compare to the newer versions.

Offline SI VIS PACEM PARRABELLUM

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2017, 06:55:47 PM »
Dislike MIM (sand cast parts)
MIM is not sand cast and is a totally different method altogether and done properly the method yields very sturdy parts. The engine in your car is comprised of castings that are mostly sand core cast. Many guns like old and new S&W revolvers,Ruger revolvers and old Colts to name a few have frames that are investment cast and many of the internals in those guns were investment cast as well and then case hardened. Unless your buying a HIGH end 1911 style pistol most gun frames that are aluminum or steel are still investment cast today and this tried and true method has been around a very looong time.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 07:01:47 PM by SI VIS PACEM PARRABELLUM »

Offline jameslovesjammie

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2017, 10:44:38 PM »
Many guns like old and new S&W revolvers,Ruger revolvers and old Colts to name a few have frames that are investment cast and many of the internals in those guns were investment cast as well and then case hardened.

Smith revolvers and Colt DA revolvers and 1911's are all forged frames.

I don't think there any large manufacturers NOT using MIM at some point in their line.  This isn't the 1980's anymore.  MIM technology has come a long way.  Does it take as nice of a polish as forged?  Absolutely not.  Can the average gun owner even tell the difference?  Nope.

I'm a pseudo Smith collector.  I've got Smiths dating back to at least 1914 and I've got Smiths as new as 2015.  I have zero bias towards newer production.  My favorite is a 686-5.  It's a late 90's production, with MIM hammer/trigger, frame mounted firing pin, and no Hillary-Hole. 


Are there companies making revolvers that have the modern tech and the touch of quality you guys like in these older S&W revolvers?

Korth.  Now look up the price and see if you could justify it versus a 686 or GP100.

Offline armoredman

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2017, 03:05:08 AM »
When I can afford a Ferrari I'll get a Korth as my car gun.  8)
I have had older Smith revolvers and they just...felt...better, no other way to describe it.

Offline M1A4ME

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2017, 07:01:05 AM »
Many years ago, I bought revolvers and shot revolvers.  I have S&W, Ruger and Dan Wesson's in .22, .38 special, .357 magnum and .44 magnum.

If I want smooth/slick/accurate, I pick S&W.  You don't understand smooth and slick till you handle/use a nice old M29 or M27 (don't own a M27). 

If I want accurate and really tough, I pick Ruger.  No way is a Ruger as slick/smooth as a S&W.  But if I'm going to get out in the mud/crud/cold/wet I want my Ruger.

The Dan Wesson is just big and tough and accurate.

The first weekend I had my M29 we put 650 rounds through it.  My right thumb knuckle swelled up (never sore) and took several weeks to go back down to normal.  We stopped because the little T-nut in the frame that the elevation sight screws into stripped out.  Took a week or so to find another one.  Not a single issue with it after that.  No I didn't box it up and send it back to S&W over a $0.35 piece.

Well, I did replace that grooved trigger with a smooth (combat) trigger.  The grooved trigger was eating the skin off the front of my right trigger finger.  The grooved trigger is still in the wood presentation box.
Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  So, if you see me walking the dogs with my SIG 556R, its okay.

Offline Stojanovich

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Re: Why the pre-1980 S&W revolvers?
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2017, 07:28:51 AM »


As someone who has owned both, I can assure you that there's no comparison between the older and newer S&W revolvers.  As others have already cited, the older S&W's were high-quality, precision-made guns with a high-level of quality control and factory attention-to-detail.  I have a 6" 586 built in 1982 and a 8 3/8" Model 29 built in 1984 that have had hundreds of rounds shot thru them without any problems at all. 

The new S&W's are pretty much junk.  Sorry.  You couldn't give me one.  I purchased a S&W 629 Classic in January this year.  It has spent a total of five months at S&W being repaired for an issue of binding with any .44 Magnum loads I shoot in it.  Doesn't matter: by the third shot, I can't pull the hammer back for a fourth shot no matter how hard I try.  It has now been back to the S&W factory three times for the same issue, with S&W already replacing the cylinder and ejector rod.  I have no idea what they're doing to it now?  I haven't inquired about it since the first week of June.  Whenever I do get it back, I'm sure I'll immediately go trade it for something else.  Lesson learned: they ain't what they used to be.  Not even close!     
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 09:37:40 AM by Stojanovich »