One of the fallacies that a person can get into when it comes to this gun stuff is that somehow guns were better in the past than they are today. That’s hogwash. They actually weren’t. In fact, today’s gun owner is spoiled rotten when it comes to not only quality but choice and price.
There are a couple of exceptions, of course, which we’ll get into.
You can get a darn decent gun for not a whole heck of a lot; there are a number of pistols you can pick up from your local FFL for less than $300 that are accurate, reliable and aren’t a Hi-Point.
There are some very decent shotguns that can be had for about that same amount. For around $400, you can even get a bolt-action rifle AND a scope in most gun stores. Almost every single one of them is more accurate and more reliable than the old stuff from the 1950s were.
Today, you’d expect any bolt gun (a category that was preceded by single-shot rifles from makes like Remington, Sharps, and Browning and chambered in large black-powder cartridges for big game) to group 1 MOA or better at any price point. That wasn’t so much the case in previous decades. Even the much-ballyhooed Winchester Model 70 hunting rifle wasn’t perfect. To get the utmost in accuracy, you often had to spend for a custom gun or some extensive smithing. Lever-action rifles definitely worked, but weren’t terribly accurate at long range unless in expert hands. These days, CNC machining has improved the accuracy on many rifles.
Handguns were even worse. American-made Smith & Wessons and Colts were pretty good, but you had to take it easy on magnum loads. The cylinders were known to wear out on S&Ws and a fair number of Colts had timing problems.
There were only a few semi-autos on the market up until the 1980s. Most common were Colt 1911 pistols, which were either military surplus (worked well, but had more slop than most lift kits) or factory guns that usually needed a lot of smithing to improve rifling and get truly accurate and reliable. Browning Hi Powers and S&W Model 39 and 59 autos were out there too, but those – along with 1911 pistols – all had the foible of only feeding ball ammo well.
Why do you think there are so many 1911 custom shops? Bill Wilson, Les Baer, Ed Brown and so on have jobs because they knew how to take a Colt factory gun and make it really good. They built on the craftsmanship from earlier gunsmiths such as Frank Pachmayr, Armand Swenson and others.
You could buy cheaper guns for pocket carry, but the thing about those old Saturday Night Specials is that they were cheap for a reason.
But a lot of those old guns had one thing in common. They were beautiful. It’s hard to look at a long gun with blue steel and walnut and not appreciate it. And pre-World War II Smith & Wesson revolvers are a sight to behold.
The same thing could be said of other things. Lots of muscle cars, for instance, looked amazing, but fuel economy and reliability weren’t their strong suit. A new car, like a stock Honda Prelude, could out-corner most Mustangs and the Corvettes both of which used the same rear suspension as a truck.
There were, of course, exceptions. The Ruger Blackhawk has always been a tank. Maybe not the most accurate, maybe not even the prettiest, but you can always count on it to go “bang.” Then you had the Remington Nylon 66, long held to be one of the toughest guns ever invented.
Today? You can walk into any Cabela’s (or any other gun shop for that matter) and pick up new rifles, like a Savage Axis combo, that will shoot rings around plenty of Pre-64 Model 70s. You can get a GLOCK 19 that puts many an older handgun to shame. IMO, modern guns, like a Ruger Blackhawk, is still built like a tank! Now to just talk Remington into making the ’66 again…
What about your favorite guns though? Do you think older guns were better than modern firearms? Or do you think new guns just look better?
More from The Truth About Guns:
Are Guns from the Past Better Than Today’s
An Old Warhorse Rides Again: Faithfully Restoring a K98k Mauser
Marlin Lever Action Ka-Boom (NSFW)
90-Year-Old Marine Reunited With His WWII M1 Garand Military Rifle 73 Years Later
Vintage Gun Review: Savage Enfield No.4 MK1*
The Company K Colt 4th Cavalry Single Action Army
Gun Review: Colt 1911 Government Series 80 .45 ACP
12 Insanely Expensive Guns We All Wish We Could Buy – Pre-1964 Winchester Model 70, Howdah Pistol, Titanium Gold Desert Eagle, Barrett M82A1, Krieghoff Trumph Drilling (with one shotgun barrel, one rimfire barrel, and one centerfire barrel), Sharps Model 1874 Creedmore, Pederson Self-Loading Rifle, 1903 Springfield, Chapuis Savana Double Rifle, Winchester 1886, Beretta Imperiale Montecarlo Shotgun (skeet gun), Holland & Holland “Royal” Deluxe Double Rifle
Depends on the guns you are talking about and upon your definition of “better”. One thing I do know is that 25 years ago my eyes were better.
And something a bit lower. 😉
A lot of the issues the older guns had with reliability had nothing to do with the guns. It was the ammo. 50 years ago I expected duds in factory fresh ammo. Amongst other defects.
Semi autos, especially pistols, would have stayed second fiddle to manual weapons if not for the vast improvement in ammo quality.
It wasn’t just the ammo. Getting a good magazine was a prize! And corrosion. Oh, we are so spoiled by stainless steel in everything today (stainless wasn’t as hard a metal in low cost to manufacture terms back then). I’m an engineer, the materials, coatings, and tools are so much better than 40 years ago. Or 30 years ago.
I’ve put 21,800 rounds through my favorite pistol. Back then, that would have been amazing with 1 malfunction every 2 or 3 magazines considered excellent.
You’re right, it was never about the ammo – good quality ammo didn’t have any more duds then than they do today. IIRC Winchester white box was clocked at 1 failure in 100000 rounds at the turn of the 20th century. It’s all about the magazines and manufacturing processes.
They had wwb in 1900?
@jwm – When I googled around, Winchester and Olin (eventually merged) were indeed operating in 1900. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a citation to my original assertion, it’s just something I read quite a while ago – calling it WWB may not have been completely accurate.
In the 1950’s, there were only 96 known elements on the Periodic Table, and there are 118 in 2018. So is working with Less, Better…
And all of those are synthesized in a lab setting and don’t hold together very long.
To be fair, those are elements, not alloys. While I’m sure alloy tech and research have advanced, I don’t think anybody is making anything with Fermium (or Americium)…
IIRC, most generic smoke detectors are made with Americium.
Don’t forget about Unobtanium.
Or the *lethal* MethylEthylDeath…
I believe that you are referring to ‘Dianastidethylene,’ a lethal substance found in the saliva of Liberal Progressives. Before it kills the afflicted, it first makes them mad. Sadly, there is no known antidote.
I don’t know that there’s a gun made in the 50s or 60s or 70s that I would prefer to carry over the Glock or the Ruger LCR that I carry every day. I have guns from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. While I wouldn’t particularly hesitate to carry one of them in a pinch, I carry the Glock or LCR — sometimes one on each side — because I trust them more than those older guns.
We’re luckier than hell. We have virtually unlimited choices in almost any caliber and type of gun, and we have access to endless information and reviews to help understand what we’re looking to buy. The choices, and the information, can easily be overwhelming, as well as fascinating and addictive.
As you said, for around $300, or less, you can get a reliable pistol. Look at the Ruger Security 9. I don’t have one, and the reviews — on the budsgunshop.com site, for one source — are pretty darned high. I could’ve picked one up, new from a dealer, at a gun show a few weeks ago for $300. Buds has it for $320 or somewhere in there. It’s a cool pistol. I may yet get one.
I think Taurus has a 9mm for around $215 on Bud’s site, with high user reviews. Hey, if you can’t afford $500 or $600 for a Glock or whatever, I’m all for people getting the guns they CAN afford. Be armed, and something is better than nothing.
With sites like gunbroker.com, you can search to your heart’s delight, and wallet’s pain, for whatever you might want, and discover things you never knew you wanted but now have to have.
We are lucky, indeed. The competition, as always, makes for better and better guns. Not every gun made is better than what came before. Over the long haul? Of course the quality today is far better, and the prices and availability are amazing.
Precision machining has a lot to do with the improved quality and reliability of firearms. It’s not just the plastic fantastics that are better. Traditional firearms like the 1911 are also better as well.
For some reason, I doubt Dyspeptic Gunsmith will even bother with a blistering retort… 😉
Haven’t seen him here in awhile. This post seems custom made to draw him out.
“This post seems custom made to draw him out”
I thought exactly the same thing when I saw the title. In fact I came down here to see what DG posted without even reading the article.
He, along with everybody else with knowledge, has abandoned this sinking ship of fools. Enjoy the reruns of last year’s pocket dumps and ad copy disguised as news items…
Coming Soon! Reruns of disguised ads???? Are you ready for the startling news; “Ten reasons to buy a Crimson Trace”?
You’re still here, kenneth. What does that say about you?
Lookin for love in all the wrong places…
That I’m either really persistent, or really stupid. I’ll let you guys decide which….
I have an old Belgian Browning BT-99 that will shoot circles around most modern trap guns. I also have an old Winchester Super X, Ditto. I picked them up back in the 70’s and they were used then. These are two of the exceptions to your article.
My Belgian FAL from the early seventies had their standard paint finish. When I decided to have it parkerized, the removal of the paint and filler revealed an awful lot of rough work that had been covered up. It took several weeks of spare time work to make it look decent.
Yes, I know that removing that ugly black paint ruined the collector value, but I am never going to sell it or any of my guns, so I don’t care.
Yes, quality is better, but the machinist or gunsmith or whoever has his soul in the making of the piece, now, it is just CNC piece of crap, not really the same for this collector. Get a Mauser handgun or rifle, any Czech firearm, any handmade firearm from before WWII, and you will see pride. Even the Eastern Bloc weapons have a sense of soul.
Look at the work that went into these treasures – those were master craftsmen. Today everything is whored out. The reason a semi-auto Czech or German firearm is collectible is the attention to detail, even in the so-called “last ditch weapons”, they were correct where they had to be, not pieces of die cast metal and plastic. Sure these plastic fantastic weapons work, but they will never be personal projects. They will never be a supercar, but will have the same status as a Datsun B-210
I use firearms, I don’t collect them. While I appreciate the craftsmanship of older guns, it has no value to me. I think most gun owners feel the same way.
I can’t comment vis-a-vis ‘most’ gun owners because there are several hundred million and I know but a few. I can say for myself, however, that craftsmanship matters a great deal for many of my guns. I have a few guns for which their purpose is purely utilitarian. I have a carry piece, a couple of home defense guns and one or two for which the only function is to throw a bullet in roughly the direction of a target. The rest? I have those because I think they are mechanically interesting, aesthetically pleasing, historically interesting, personally significant, particularly well made or some combination of the above. I don’t know about ‘most’ gun owners but I would not be surprised if the number of reasons for owning a given gun approaches the number of people who own that gun.
LOL. Every craftsman who “had his soul” in the gun was doing it for the paycheck, just the same as now.
The finish standards were generally higher because they were able to spend more time, but that’s an issue of workers being more expensive now rather than of any craftsmanship deficit.
You have a rather dim view of the craftsmen among us.
Just saying don’t romanticize the work they do, there’s no shame in drawing a paycheck for making stuff. Quite the opposite.
Just because a craftsman doesn’t give his work away for free doesn’t mean he’s just there for a paycheck. Quite the opposite actually. It takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to become a decent craftsman, and for those without such will(and love for the craft), it makes much more sense to work in a factory or assembly plant(think “machine operator”, like a CNC, rather than “machinist”) so they can get a good paycheck right away, and not work for free(or nearly) for years until they become skilled enough to charge for what they create.
This is the best way I’ve ever heard it phrased: “A laborer works with his hands. A craftsman works with both his hands and his head(not a CNC operator, though…). An artist works with his hands, his head, and his heart.”
Not being an artist, I can’t call this some undying truth, but it seems at least close to the target, to me.
For $150 apiece, I’ll take all the NIB late ’60s Pythons you care to sell me. $130 S&W Model 19s as well.
…Where are you shopping that you can get a bolt action rifle and scope for under $400, that’s not a .22?
Savage Axis XP with Bushnell 3-9 from Buds – 350 dollars.
Kentucky Gun Company – Thomson Compass Rifles in various calibers. $275.24 with a $50 MIB for a final price of $225.24
Walmart, Academy, and many other places have inexpensive shooters these days.
Well that depends entirely on how you define better. In a certain sense, we have more choices than ever before. And in another sense, it seems like all we’re really getting these days is more slightly altered, polymer framed, striker fired 9s and what I’ve come to call YAAR (Yet Another AR-15). I can see how one could consider today’s firearms to be high quality. I could drive down to my LGS and pick up a Ruger American rifle with a passable plastic stock for $400 and shoot sub-MOA out of the box. But would I rather have that than the old SMLE? Hell no. It still goes bang every time, can hit anything it needs to, and is actually fun to shoot.
Are new guns better? Sometimes. Were old guns better looking? Sometimes. Are new guns cheaper? Sometimes.
The Nylon 66 (my first gun) cost my father the princely sum of $49.95 in 1960. That would be about $426 in 2018 dollars, which is close to twice what I would expect to pay for the little Remington new if it was made today.
And whaddaya know — my LGS has a used one for $300.00
I still have a magazine from my nylon 66 that I bought in 1977.
Had to sell in in ’79 for moving money from SoCal up here to Oregon.
At 300 bucks, I would be surely tempted. Since I’ve replaced my Ruger deer slayer I also had to sell back then.
It’s $300 for the Mohawk Brown model (the same one that I had when I was twelve) and $400 for an Apache Black model at my LGS.
I’m sorely tempted to buy the black model.
Yeah, my first firearm was a Nylon 66, Mohawk brown, that I got for Christmas when I was 13 in 1963. I think my father paid $49 for it. My apartment was broken into when I was in college and it was stolen. However, I have since located, and bought, two others. I’ve also found, and bought the box magazine version, one of which is Seneca green, and if memory serves I believe the box magazine version is called the Nylon 77. The Nylons are tough, accurate little rifles. It’d be fine with me if Remington would re-introduce them.
Guns were more expensive(relatively speaking), in the past than they are today, but cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better.
No gun(short of a custom, like a Wilson or Cabot) of today is worth a patch on my old Smith’s with the firing pins on the hammer. Those were made and finished with care, and are still perfect today, 50 years later.
Expensive? Yes! But one often gets what one pays for. They will still be going another 50 years from now, but the glock’s and hi-points… won’t. So, I guess for as long as one has a factory available to keep replacing the disposable junk, it’s just a matter of choice. So, I choose quality, function, and long term durability over cheap polymer disposables.
I agree with you completely. The old stuff while not as accurate out of the box was made to last. add in some quality gunsmithing and you could have the equal of todays guns that are extremely accurate out of the box, but built to last (with proper care and maintenance) and were beautiful to behold. All it takes is combining todays better materials and machining techniques with yesteryear’s pride of workmanship and you could have something truly amazing…. albeit at a rather higher price point
You haven’t a clue as to what you’re talking about. There is nothing better from yesteryear than what’s available for today’s weapons. The materials are better, the machining is better, not to take away from master gunsmiths of back in the day, but no human can be as precise as the CNC machines of today. Tolerances of the 10,000th of an inch are produced with boring regularity. Anything done by hand will have irregularities. And you think the plastic guns won’t last as long? The libtards complain about plastic bottles being in landfills for 200+ years. I thing your steel guns will be pitted and rusted long before a plastic gun degrades.
No, tolerances of a ten thou are not regular, or even common. That must be something you heard on CNN.
The standard is apx. 5 thou, good tolerance is to one thou. Nothing goes higher than that unless absolutely necessary for the part to function. Such tolerances are difficult and expensive, and what do you know, that’s mostly because they get them by turning to skilled craftsman and not to CNC. Hand lapping and polishing will go down to as little as 1/50th of a single thou. No computerized machine can even come close. But hand fitting by skilled craftsmen is very expensive, because it consumes a lot of that craftsman’s time.
THAT is the computer revolution, and it’s also called “cheap”. Just think about computers in general for a second and you cannot help but notice that before them, all the world’s records got kept on paper just fine. It’s just much easier and quicker with computers to help organize things. That is also why the ‘authorities’ keep such ridiculous amounts of records today. Because it is cheap and easy. But no, neither “cheap”, nor “easy”, mean “good”.
Would you really try to tell people that this job:
is better done by a CNC? Pull the other leg, it’s got bells on…
You might want to watch out for that technology worship. It’s never good to let one’s awe stand in the way of one’s common sense.
Just commenting to subscribe for when Dyspeptic Gunsmith chimes in
He hasn’t been heard from here in months. Perhaps he got sick or something, but my gut feeling is he left because the site sucks now.
The improvement has been most noticeable in the low-to-mid-priced handguns.
Back in the 80s,a cheap handgun was likely a low use unreliable POS.
Now you can buy a $300 handgun which works perfectly
yes, that’s a great point jean-claude van damme.
For example, the Ruger security 9 gives you a 15-rounds, reliable, adequately accurate pistol for less than even the cheapest imported Filipino 1911 brand.
Baloney. Pre- clinton hole revolvers (before around 1999) are MUCH better than post clinton hole revolvers.
There is that…there were some very good revolvers commonly available in yesteryear. Colts at prices actually meant to be carried and shot, and Smith’s without the nasty hole.
I have a small collection of S&W Model 10s from the 60s which are every bit still as good as anything currently available in a .38 Special duty size revolver. Then again, I can get them cheap expressly because there is so little call for a full size .38 revolver any more. This is mostly due to a plethora of inexpensive and extremely reliable, light weight little autos making them obsolete. For half the weight and size you can get a dead on reliable 9mm with more shots, faster reloads and plenty of accuracy with more power and cheaper than used SW model 10s.
My first carry rig included an SW mod 64 and, would you believe, speed loaders. I still have the rigs, loaders, and the gun, plus enough mod 10s now that all my old belts have pistols in the holster. They’re still good enough, and I love them for farm carry, hiking and the like, but when I go ‘out’ I put on a Glock. It holds more than twice the ammo for the same size and less weight but with more power and faster, more positive reloads and always goes bang.
I collect 64s and 10s because I like them, they’re nostalgic but still a reasonable and dependable choice. They have style and get the job done, but I don’t buy them because they’re better, because they aren’t. I buy them because I like them.
Hey I can relate…had a 1965 Mustang ca. 1974. It’s cool factor was off the charts but it ran like a POS. I have some cheap guns that run great(Taurus,Maverick) but there’s nothing classical about them. My dad’s guns were cool but looking back no big deal…
guns were NOT better “back in the day” (whatever that means).
however, shooting some 100-year-old designs that still work is fascinating. it’s amazing how good the Browning/ Colt 1911 and 1903 designs were and still are considering how far engineering tools, manufactuirng capabilities, metallurgy, etc have advanced since then. even so, no military or police force carries 1903s, and 1911s are getting rarer for professional use, because modern handguns such as Glocks are cheaper, lighter, more reliable, and have higher capacity (and are much easier to clean and repair).
on a related note, i think a large part of Colt”s problem is that they haven’t invented anything new since John Browning’s day, and they just keep recycling and tweaking old designs. Colt is living off the legends of ancient history, and that won’t last forever.
Design and materials have definitely improved, but quality of fit and finish has gone down hill. Put a vintage 870 wingmaster next to a new production 870 or a 60’s beretta 950 next to a Taurus pt-22 and tell me which ones are better made.
When it comes to the 870, no comparison. My 70’s 870 has no plastic anywhere. Today’s, absolutely not the case.
What about this is materially different from Josh Wayner’s article back in August?
Cue DG’s response.
Most mass produced guns are better now, cnc and laser help a lot. I have Thompson Centre rifles guaranteed to shoot sub moa for a few hundred dollars.
Then I have my great grandfathers 12 gauge shotgun, hand made and fitted in England in 1880 that is a dream to use when I dig it out. It was his round the farm gun. Equivalent now would cost several years wages.
Your muscle car comparison is not based upon facts. I suggest you actually test ANY Honda including the at the time, top of their line NSX and a comparable year base model or Z06 Corvette or V8 Mustang for handling, acceleration, braking (performance based data) before making such statements. Yes it makes for a fantasy land story but hardly realistic. I have owned and driven a ton of import and domestic cars and ANY Honda will not beat a Vette, you pick the year and model.
A car is only as reliable as the person working on it. Keep all the belts in good repair, oil where oil is due, keep it out of the rain. etc, etc. use the right gas… Vroom vrooom.
In fact, at least on Top Gear’s track at Dunsfold, the Z06 was quicker than a Pagani Zonda or a Ferrari 430!
Pre-MIM…all were MUCH better!!
MIM sux! So for me, old(er) guns were much better.
Okay, so people constantly say that, but how so?
What’s the reasoning behind that?
Why are MIM parts seen as bad?
I want justification for the stance.
Seems as with all practices, it gets better over time. I bet CNC really sucked back in the early days, and now it’s the holy grail of making awesome stuff.
They use MIM parts in the aerospace industry for crying out loud!
Ruger firearms are a majority of cast and MIM parts, yet people hold them in high regard.
I have three consecutively bought (brand new!) Sig pistols that all experienced MIM breakage/failures in less than 500 rounds! One, broke at round 160, and another arrived at my dealer already broken! The third made it all the way (all the way…right!) to almost 500 rd before breaking.
So, for me, and to me, MIM sucks! There is absolutely no way to convince me otherwise.
All that, and SIG sucks too, for having such shitty QC.
Ah! No no no, you misunderstand, that was not meant to be hostile toward you, that was just a general question as I see “MIM sucks!” with accounts of someones cousin’s brother’s friend’s hairdresser once hearing of a part breaking.
Obviously in your situation that really sucks, and I’d be royally pissed. Seems like some really bad QC on Sig’s part. A forged or machined part obviously would not fail in that manner, numerous times.
What was it that broke in them?
I would have to disagree on the guns are better now. There’s no way an average working man could own a gun like a Parker nowadays. Plastic? Alloys? better? Hogwash and sheep dip I say!!!
Guns that still ate in production are much worse. S&W revolvers have MIM parts that can’t be smithed and Hillary holes. The fit, finish, reliability on Remington 700 and 870 is worse, and most anyone would prefer one from 30 years ago or more. 1911s are probably an exception.
For many years, I have volunteered to work as a Range Officer during my local club’s annual “Sighting in Days” fund raiser. Every year, several hundred hunters show up, many of them with brand spanking new Savages, Rugers, Winchesters and Remingtons. They struggle to shoot 1″ groups at 25 yards. The ones who manage 6″ groups at 100 yards are inordinately proud of their marksmanship and their factory fresh .300 Winchester magnums. The only riflemen I see shooting 1″ groups at 100 yards are people who inherited their rifles from their fathers or grandfathers.
I suspect this has less to do with the inherent accuracy of the rifle than the skill and training of the shooter. “Back in the day” kids learned to shoot with single-shot .22s or by single loading a bolt action rim-fire. Once they had mastered the fundamentals of marksmanship they graduated to fully loading their 5 round magazine. Today, we hand new shooters a Ruger 10/22 with a 25 round magazine or a Glock with a 33 round magazine and teach them to spray the country-side with lead.
Back in the 70’s I bought a West German made Sauer 200 in .308, guaranteed by the factory to shoot minute of angle. I would not trade it for a truck load of new production, synthetic stocked “wonder” rifles.
I think you’re generally right. But older Smiths were better. Older Remingtons were better. But as far as semi auto pistols oh yes the good tomes are now
All downhill since 1949
One of the posters said “guns were more expensive back then”. It proves he did not live through those times. Guns were much less expensive back then and the cost of living was much lower as well. It took me 4 weeks to save enough money to buy a Browning High Power for the princely sum of $100 pus $4 tax. Today that same gun is unaffordable to me as the gun can easily cost 10 times that amount of money ($1,000 or more) and people today do not make 10 times what they made back then and the cost of living is so much higher (22 cts a gallon for gas back then and we have paid as high as $4.00 a gallon today just as one example of the cost of living gone wild.
I have seen plenty of failures in modern guns as well. I have seen cracked polymer frames, cracked slides, and cracked frames on modern guns. We have had so many recalls even on famous brand guns like Glock I have begun to lose track of them all including the barrels cracking off on Glock factory ported barrels. There have been many other recalls on other brands of plastic pistols as well. Too many to go into here.
In days gone buy most gun companies were family owned and they tested new models for up to a year or more before releasing them to the public because they did not want to destroy their reputation. Today new models are rushed into production, given no testing of any kind and then dumped on the public for them to test. Remington’s entry into the small handgun market was a nightmare marketing fiasco but they are not alone as it seems like every one just dumps their latest untested model on to the public and it usually takes them at least 2 years or more to straighten the mess out after endless recalls from an angry public that got stiffed buying their latest and greatest junkers.
If you want to see what the majority of people “really think” about today’s guns just go to a gun show and watch them walk right past tables full of modern plastic weapons while the tables with the “real guns” of the old days usually have so many people fighting to pick them up and look at the old quality guns you sometimes cannot get near the table to even see them.
As far as reliability many of the old auto pistols were never designed for modern hollow point or soft point bullets but not always. The FN 1910 and FN 1922 would and can today feed anything you put into them with their straight in line feed and throated barrels and there were other brands and models that often did the same. Even the older guns like the original 1911 guns and the Browning FN High Powers often only needed a minor throat job one could do at home to get them to feed expanding bullets and Colt came out with improved magazines as far back as the 1960’s for the 1911 which greatly improved feeding even without a throating job.
Today we pay more for the low quality plastic guns than we did for the high end quality guns of years ago. I bought Pythons for the princely sum of $260. and as mentioned a High power for $100 and a Colt 1911 for $150.00, that same gun today can rock you as a collectors item for well over $1,000 and believe me saving a $100 in 1975 was a lot easier than saving $1,0000 today. Today most working people can never save $1,000 for a new handgun unless they charge it and go into debt.
So are there any advantages of the newer made low quality plastic stuff? One could say that plastic frames do not rust, but older made guns could be had in Nickle plate and hard chrome and even with only minimal care they lasted for years. Low grade modern plastic guns are lighter than even older aluminum framed guns and most modern guns come throated for modern expanding ammo.
All in all if it were up to me I would throw every modern gun I could right into the ocean and not miss any of them as they are to me no better in any way than the older high quality guns that are now today prestige weapons that never fail to bring “oohs and ahhs by adoring crowds of people, the plastic guns make the older generation vomit every time they have to look at such trash because sadly only they know the difference between old fashioned high quality and the junk that is being vomited out today by greed driven firearms manufactures today.
I think if you would reread that post you would find that it actually said: “Guns were more expensive(relatively speaking), in the past than they are today”.
The words in the parenthesis() are there for a reason. It was to signify that inflation has, indeed, drastically reduced the value of our money, and that must be compensated for to arrive at a real value, which after having done so, the guns of yesteryear were still more expensive than the average today.
Many pistols today go for <400 FRNs. In terms of 1964 money that's about $27.00. In 1964, a S&W M10(the most basic model) retailed for $65.00. That means that by this metric, the average pistol then was over twice the cost of the average pistol today.
BUT, as I said before, "cheaper" is not necessarily the same as "better".
You are totally ignoring the fact that the reality is that people could afford high quality guns back then because even though they made less money the cost of living was so low and today because of inflation and stagnating wages over the last 40 years they cannot even afford a lot of plastic guns. H&K guns can cost you 700 or 800 dollars.
The point I was making is that it was much better for gun buyers back then both in terms of the quality you got and the ability to be able to afford to buy them. Today, we have no quality workmanship, no quality materials and many people with the low wages they earn because all the high paying jobs were sent overseas cannot even afford to buy plastic guns even some of the $400 budget guns.
I forgot to mention that it was mentioned in the article that we have more choices today. Again that is not always true therefore the statement is a myth as well . I have old time collector books that show pages and pages of say .25 auto pistols and today we have only a few left being made today in the U.S. Yes we could have more if had it not been for the 1968 gun ban law because Europe has a lot of small pistols not importable into the U.S. and our so called Republican friends have never even tried to overturn that part of the 1968 gun ban law which made no sense then or now. That is way less of a choice than we had back then. And ditto for other auto pistols. There were pages of .32 and .380 auto pistols as well. The choices in that category dwarf what is available today in that class of pistols.
The cost of living versus wages calculations take that into account, and the 65.00 S&W M10 in 1964 was about the same as spending a thousand dollars today. You can get a LOT of pistol for a grand! Now, exactly as then, some could afford many of them, and some could afford not even one.
I would agree that the average man then had more wealth(again, relatively speaking) than they do today. But that is not because of gun tech, but because the wealth has been so concentrated in the hands of the upper .001% of the people(esp. since 2008), not only by moving everything overseas, as you noted, but also because of the gigantic financial scams pulled by the banksters since 2008.
So, for the growing US under class, its a Hi-point(or perhaps a plastic fantastic) or nothing at all. And even at half the price of 1964(again, relatively), many still have trouble affording even that. A Hi-point at 200.00 today, is about the same as spending 13.00 in 1964. Then, that could’ve gotten one a used, surplus, military rifle(Mosin, Enfield, etc.), but not much else. But this isn’t a gun issue, its an economic one.
So far as choice, we have many more calibers now, and probably more firearms as well, but many of what are presented today as competitors are largely identical.
Is a Smith Sigma really not a Glock? Well the Smith’s trigger is DAO instead of Glock’s UN”safe action”, but yes, they are 95% identical. No real choice there. Only the illusion of choice.
Eh, some of it has some merit. Certain guns and gun companies have gone downhill or disappeared. People have mentioned the 870 and I’ll throw in pretty much all lever actions outside of Henry. However there has never been a better time to get a quality AR, 1911, and any carry gun other than now. Personally I miss the mass soviet surplus days.
To Jeff O, I cannot directly reply to your last question.
There is no “Reply” link for me to click on.
But, to answer your question, the three were a P226 Legion, SAO, on which the extractor shattered at 160 rd. Second, was a P220 Super Match, SAO, the locking block (IIRC, the part that works with, or connects/interacts with the take down lever) was fractured, not allowing the take down lever to move fully to the take down position. It arrived broken. Actually, a little more detailed than that, brief explanation. Third, a P229 SAS in 9mm, trigger bar broke at approx. 500 rd.
All were brand new and of recent production. Two, were at $1k or more! JUNK!! I will never spend another dime on any new Sig product! Nothing made in the last 10 years or so, anyway.
Fine shotguns might be the exception
Yes you are correct. I have often thought about this as well. Some of the European and Japanese made guns are still quality guns but you can pay big bucks to buy one as well , way over what they used to cost both in terms of price and today’s affordability.
I too shoot, and do not “collect”. There are no safe queens in my possession. I have probably come later to the party than many here and have a older neighbor who constantly shows me listings for wheel guns at the nearby Poulin Auction house. I shrug and say no thanks I’m happy with all my Tupperware.
I had a 1962 Fuel Injection Corvette (the last of the Corvettes with a solid rear axle “truck suspension”). I put wider wheels and tires on it and it cornered REAL well! Obviously the limits would be far lower with the stock 5.5″ wide wheels and narrow tires but the basic platform was good. It was light weight with a wide track, low center of gravity and good weight distribution. This combined with a well calibrated suspension meant enabled it to corner very flat and with the right wheels and tires at very high lateral g rates.
There’s not much that looks better than a classic double-action revolver, whether it be a S&W (any Model K, L, or N frame), Colt (Trooper and, yes, the Python). Heck, even the old Security Six has some charm. I prefer the classics in blued, but it’s hard to beat nickle plate polished up to a mirror sheen.
i agree they look nice but i am not keen on guns that are quite reflective. if i was to get stainless it would be a blasted finish on the stainless and even then i would do other things to stop reflections off it
Your post reminded me of those wonderful guns Smith used to make and the garbage they are making today. They have done away with the super accurate 1 piece barrel and went over to a two piece barrel that is crappy on accuracy for two reasons. One since its two piece its not as heavy and you will faint dead away when you find out how they install them. They put a splined tool into the end of the muzzle and then crank the round barrel into the frame which easily damages the rifling. And the rifling is total garbage as it is made by an edm machine which in essence burns the rifling into the barrel. What a piece of crap.
The Remington 870 certainly isn’t better.
A good wheelgun now costs so much as to make the used ones more expensive than new.
Sure plastic pistols are great, I have a few, but a quality all steel gun is expensive to make.
Most ARs are overpriced considering the materials and manufacturing is assembly line stuff.
My ruger super redhawk is an example of a well made pistol machined well and built to last
I’ve already mentioned the revolvers of the pre polymer handgun period being superior in general to modern revolvers at the same (adjusted) price points.
The mention of ARs got my attention though. I bought my first AR in 1995. The choices were few. DPMS made them, but were known for questionable builds and quality at the time, at least in the circles I ran in. Colt made them, sure, and a princely sum they wanted. I wanted a carbine as short as the law would allow without a stamp. I got a Colt Short Light Matchgrade than cost over $1000 in mid 90s money. The car I was driving as I picked it up was a very nice used 86 grand prix that I’d paid only $2600 for 3 years before for some perspective. The carbine had a legal 16 inch barrel, fixed stock and non removable carry handle/rear sight that was just about the only available configuration at the time. I’ll allow that the 94 AWB was in full swing, but telescoping stocks were rare and expensive then, and nothing could really be done about that carry handle…but I did have a very light, very accurate and very reliable carbine, 30 round mags were still readily available (pre ban manufacture) and for years I had the only AR in my circle of gun nuts, preppers, para military enthusiasts and the like. AKs, tons of SKSs, Ruger minis and the like we’re common, but ARs just weren’t seen. You could buy two MAKs, 15, 30 round mags and have money left for a canned ham of surplus 7.62×39 for the price of that Colt AR.
Now days ARs are common as flies and every conceivable configuration, part, mod, upgrade and accessory is readily available, at multiple price points, to suit everyone’s needs. SKS, MAKs, and AKs, with their low cost, availability of rifles and accessories and especially the extremely cheap, ubiquitous Soviet surplus ammunition for them made them the go to gun of the 90s. Now it’s the AR, which is altogether a better gun for most people in most circumstances. Also, the average AR is a match rifle next to the average AK of the 90s, which is driving shooters to actually work marksmanship, which is a good thing.
These are surely the glory days of the AR platform, and the AR is a glorious platform.
When I look back at pictures of myself and friends in our battle rattle in the 90s; SKSs, MAKs, lots of 1911s and Tokereves, plenty of .38s, Mini14s…with armor consisting of Kevlar under flack vests, and LBE being mostly surplus US ALICE equipment, with some Chinese or Soviet canvas web gear thrown in, and compare with today’s highly tricked ARs, Glocks, Springfields, and SIGS in Kydex, MOLLE and PALS webbing on AR500 plate carriers and all the optics and thermal imagers and a smart phone on everyone…maps and comms and oh what they can do!
We’ve come a long way, and the individual militiamen of the 20teens is way, way ahead of his counterpart from the 1990s. He has lighter, better everything. Its all water proof and flame retardant and tough and adjustable and on and on. Rifle plates may as well have not existed then, now they are common. Smart phones didn’t exist then, and are now ubiquitous and so massively useful. All of the gear got lighter and tougher, both easier to use and more comfortable while getting smarter and more useful. These aren’t just the glory days of guns, but of gear as well.
A final thought;
25 years ago, if you’d told me there would come a day where my primary weapon would need batteries for its sights and need to be plugged in to charge it’s accessories, I’d have laughed at you. Now my home carbine leans here against the wall, mounted flashlight plugged in to charge.
The lesson I’ve learned is this; if someone told me today that in 25 years my primary weapon would run on a battery and I’d need to attach its solar cell and leave it exposed to the sun to charge or I couldn’t continue to shoot with it, I wouldn’t laugh, not any more.
I am guessing that the author has never handled or fired a Smith & Wesson K-22 Masterpiece, a Parker shotgun, a L.C. Smith shotgun, a 1890’s Mauser rifle, or a pre-war Luger or any Swiss firearms made before 1980. I have a couple of “modern” 12 ga pump shotguns in my rack, but I’m currently searching local auctions for any 75 plus year old double barrel shotguns in the hopes I can find a nice Parker of L.C. Smith on the cheap.
Before 1960 the Dollar was worth about 55 cents because they were paying off on the WWII inflation. The New Frontier and the Great Society caused some slight increase in inflation meaning the dollar lost value.
But in 1974 Congress passed the Budget Reform Act and inflation went nuts. Inflation rates were some of the first fake news. But the price of gold on the spot market is a good guide to inflation.
Gold was $20 an ounce back in 1930 and the “official price” stayed there for many years. In 1975 and all later years there was no control on spending and Nixon’s change in the official price of gold in 1972 soon was outpaced. The market price became $300, $400 and up every year. Now about $1,300 an ounce and the dollar is worth less [worthless?] at about 2 cents compared to a WWII, and Vietnam dollar circa.
A $15 an hour wage is 30 cents in real money. A $500 gun is $10 or 1/2 an ounce of gold.
How, exactly, does a revolver cylinder ‘wear out’?
I would rather carry (and do) my old Walther ppks, my Colt detective specials, and my stainless steel S&W m60, m640 , m649 m65 since these had stainless steel hammers, triggers and such, unlike today where they are carbon steel, and can have sweat and moisture get inside them. ( and I bought my Taurus stainless steel snubs for that reason as well). ok yes, metal alloys have improved, I know, but my m19, m66s are still going strong. ok, I have a s&w m327 that is very good, and holds 8 instead of 6 and I am not against new tech, but the older k frames where not so weak as they would have you believe, j frames were actually smaller and lighter, and with todays ammo, you really don’t need +ps . and mine are still going strong as well. and as far as ruger goes, I wish they would bring back the security six, service six and the speed six. I much rather have them than the gp100. and as time went on manufacturers were throating chambers, polishing feed ramps and so on. just remember hollow points were not that popular and still were unreliable. but the guns caught up as they came to be used more.
I think people tend to remember the good parts about the “good old days” but they forget about the parts that weren’t so good. They remember the great looks of the old guns but don’t remember the tinkering, modifications and adjustments that were done to make them perform well. They would not put up with it these days where people expect things to perform perfectly out of the box and complain when they don’t. Guns are actually cheaper now than they have ever been because the cost is determined by how long you have to work to pay for one and not the price. I remember when my Dad paid $28 for a new shotgun but he had one of the better union jobs in town and brought home $45 per week.