Old vs New Guns

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Having worked in the gun business for some time, I have encountered a lot of opinions especially from individuals older than myself that older firearms are categorically better.

I'm curious as to whether this is largely rooted in nostalgia or whether my peers also think older firearms were better built. I understand that in large part firearms pre-1980's were built by actual gunsmiths rather than hourly employees on a line. However today we have advanced CNC machines, better materials, and decades of design experience....

I understand there is a ton of nuance in this as a 1980's FIE made from pot metal can't compare to a NIB Ed Brown, but I'm just looking at general build quality across the board.

What say you NES, old or new and why?
 

Asaltweapon

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I have a mix but mostly older stuff from the 70's and 80's. I think they are better made but I mostly like that they were fit by a craftsman and not pulled off a CNC machine by a monkey.
 
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Having worked in the gun business for some time, I have encountered a lot of opinions especially from individuals older than myself that older firearms are categorically better.

I'm curious as to whether this is largely rooted in nostalgia or whether my peers also think older firearms were better built. I understand that in large part firearms pre-1980's were built by actual gunsmiths rather than hourly employees on a line. However today we have advanced CNC machines, better materials, and decades of design experience....

I understand there is a ton of nuance in this as a 1980's FIE made from pot metal can't compare to a NIB Ed Brown, but I'm just looking at general build quality across the board.

What say you NES, old or new and why?

I'm in my 20s, own guns old and new. I think that the disjunction in views probably has to do with the "class" of guns under discussion. Cheap and middle range guns are more consistently manufactured out of better materials with better designs now than they used to be. Middle high range guns on the other hand used to be individually crafted with an attention to detail that I think is largely missing on all except the quite expensive modern guns.

The comparison I'd make is whether you would rather carry a jennings or ruger LC9s on the cheap end.
 
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Pretty much the only gun I've had notable problems with was a Ruger SR45. My May 1990 manufacture Glock has had no problems, nor has my 1939 Tula Mosin. All that said I'd rather have a new(ish) gun.
 
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I care about the gun, not old or new.

I think newer guns are more consistent thanks to better design tools available and largely mechanized production. People wax nostalgic over old S&W revolvers, but the truth is just about every new S&W these days has the same trigger pull, they all respond to the same few tricks to lighten and smooth the pull, and most parts are much easier to replace. Some of their old guns had terrible triggers out of the box and cleaning them up was case by case and required a lot of hand fitting.

The downside of the above is actual handcrafted stuff made these days is stratospherically expensive, but older handcrafted stuff is reasonably priced.
 
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its really all tough to say....
Some stuff was just made better back then. Some with thier own faults and weakness. "guns" and aamuntion for that matter have not really improved much in 100 years.
How guns are made hs changed.

Now take a few guns, the M1 garand for instance.
there still out there shooting year after year and Mr. garand put 500,000 service life on his design. I also hear they stopped testing at the SA armory because it was costing to much in ammo!
I think we will see more "older" guns 50 years from now than the "newer" guns we see now. They have become disposable and for the most part to most just something to have and buy like any other consumer product.
I can tell you by fixing a marlin model 60 for my friend last winter that he bought new at Xmas time. They are no where made as well as my model 60s made in the late 60s in both wood and metal quality and fit ment.
 

greencobra

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i see a big difference in craftsmanship and detail work from the stuff i bought new in the early 70's until today's current production. of course all the old timers are gone, and probably the people that came after them, too. fit and finish has suffered horribly. back in the day, that stuff would never get out of the factory. different story though when you buy a custom or semi custom gun, say from ed brown or les baer. there are some nice production pieces still being offered but your usually north of $1500.
 

milktree

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there's a problem with thinking about it this way:

Old guns that were crap got thrown away or destroyed or neglected because they were crap.

Old guns that were good got preserved and maintained because they're good.


You're not really comparing "all guns that were made a long time ago" with "all guns made today", you're comparing "the best guns from a long time ago that people bothered to keep around" to "all guns that are made today."

It's not a reasonable comparison.

You could say the same thing about music: Was jazz from the '40s better than jazz today? Hard to tell, but fore sure the jazz from the '40s that people still listen to is better than a random cross-section of modern jazz. (some modern jazz is really good, too, but it's a small percentage of the total, so it looks like there's not much of it.)


I used to think that toasters from the '50s were freakin' awesome and modern ones sucked. But really, toasters from the '50s that are still around and *still work* were the good ones that last, all the rest of of the '50s toasters were crap and we don't see them anymore.
 

Rob Boudrie

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It depends. An old Python is an object d'art. On the other hand, a new 1911 from a premium manufacturer (STI, SVI, Wilson, etc.) is much higher in quality and metallurgy than an old 1911, so the only reason an old one could be preferable is provenance, not quality of build, accuracy or durability.
 

Rockrivr1

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I think Milktree is correct in this. I have two S&Ws in the exact same configuration with the exception that one is an early model pre-lock and one is post-lock. Yes there are some minor difference, but over they are the same. They both shoot the same, are both accurate and the fit and finish is pretty much a match. The only real difference is that the post-lock has MIM parts, the hammer doesn't have the firing pin and there is a trigger lock. Yes, those locks had problems when they first came out, but overall that has been worked out. Problem is that left a bad impression with many and as such the post-lock models are looked at as inferior. From my experience I would not agree with that. In my example both are perfectly good firearms.
 

snax

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there's a problem with thinking about it this way:

Old guns that were crap got thrown away or destroyed or neglected because they were crap.

Old guns that were good got preserved and maintained because they're good.


You're not really comparing "all guns that were made a long time ago" with "all guns made today", you're comparing "the best guns from a long time ago that people bothered to keep around" to "all guns that are made today."

It's not a reasonable comparison.

You could say the same thing about music: Was jazz from the '40s better than jazz today? Hard to tell, but fore sure the jazz from the '40s that people still listen to is better than a random cross-section of modern jazz. (some modern jazz is really good, too, but it's a small percentage of the total, so it looks like there's not much of it.)


I used to think that toasters from the '50s were freakin' awesome and modern ones sucked. But really, toasters from the '50s that are still around and *still work* were the good ones that last, all the rest of of the '50s toasters were crap and we don't see them anymore.
I agree.
Same goes for cars. When is the last time you saw a Ford Probe cruising the steets like they were in the 90's? What about a Dodge Avenger? Not many. Even though they were everywhete 20 years ago. They sucked. How many 90's Toyota Camrys are still hanging in there? A ton.
Go back to the 60's or 70's. Only the finest desireables have made it.
 

Rob Boudrie

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Another difference is CNC has created greater parts interchangeability. The ejector row on older S&Ws is considered married to the cylinder, and cannot be separately replaced. No such limitation of newer production guns.
 

Cuz

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I prefer newer. I am not interested in guns that are older than I am.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

bfm

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For functionality, hard to beat the new stuff, in general. For beauty and elegance hard to beat the old stuff, when it was quality in the first place.

A lot of century old bolt actions are still glass smooth and a lot of century old cheap pocket pistols are not worth their weight in tin.

A Glock will go bang every time, but I will not disassemble and reassemble it just to see how finely machined and fitted it is.

Of course you can still get a new H&H and not know over a century has gone by, except for the increase in price.
 
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I just want a Colt Anaconda but they are ridiculously pricey these days.

Most guns are an uninspiring polymer mess these days. The gun world could benefit from a Giorgetto Giugiaro in order to improve aesthetics. There are some polymer jobs I wouldn't mind, but the lack of polymer jobs with CZ-75 levels of comfort is a bummer.
 
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I'll add that my Ruger Super Blackhawk Bisley 454 is on part with some of the mid 70's Smith Model 29's Ive had through the shop in terms of build quality, fit, and trigger. I know we're taking Apples and Clementines here but 2016 vs 1970s...

And despite a few MIM parts my P220 Elite Stainless in 10MM just can't shake its position as my favorite gun in terms of finish, quality, reliability, and accuracy.
 

Machines

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I get the feeling that overall functional quality is down, just because companies seem much quicker to push things out the door without checking to make sure they really work. Today's "quality" in most manufacturing businesses seem to focus more on the warranty than the quality control of the outgoing product. I don't think in the 1950s you'd see large-scale runs of premium guns with canted sites or bad rifling.

As far manufacturing techniques, advances in investment casting and MIM have made it possible to make guns that work fine but don't look as well finished as a properly forged and machined product. Like even a vintage Ruger Redhawk will look pretty bad because of the cast frame compared to a Smith, but it shoots fine.
 

additionalmc

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Guns are like small cars. Nothing beats a fine classic car, a pleasure to look at/drive/own/etc., but the technology is somewhat dated and may not be 100% reliable. A new car doesn't have the character or class of an old car, but if i were on a cross-country trip, I'd want the new car. So for everyday carry, I'd rather carry a newer gun, that doesn't mean that I wouldn't want to own older guns also. I guess it's all personal preference, I'm glad we have the choice
 

ccm75

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I find older guns much more aesthetically pleasing.

I have gone out of my way over the years to find and buy some NIB 1970's and 80's shotguns and revolvers.
Mostly Ithaca and Ruger on the long guns...I find the finish, wood and actions to be much better than most modern guns.
Some I hunt with or shoot trap and some don't see the light of day unfortunately...

I have several beaters that have racked up lots of deer and birds and hours in the truck and stand.
And then some guns that are just too damn pretty to take to the field...
 
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Imo, and its not just limited to guns, older tends to be better due in large part to the fact that governments have ruined their currencies. Back in the day, a company would make a quality product and then charge accordingly. To make that same product today with the same materials, methods and level of workmanship would be cost prohibitive. I think today they start with a msrp in mind and then build to meet that. The result is a ton of plastic, mim, overall flimsy feel and lack of quality and longevity.

As far as guns, I cant really say that I own any old pistols or revolvers, but comparing an M1 Garand or a K31 to an AR or an M1A with a synthetic stock, its hard to deny that the former beat out the latter at least as far as character goes. I like the heft, the wood, the overall solid feel. With that said, the newer rifles I own haven't given me many problems either. Pros and cons to both. (weight, parts availability, ammo cost...)

Im not a gunsmith or a metallurgist, so I cant really say for certain whether old or new is actually better, but to me the older just feel like theyre more "crafted" rather than "manufactured". Definitely subjective on my part, but thats how it is.
 

Mountain

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I think the difference today is the number of choices. You want cheap, mass produced? You got it, courtesy of injection molding and quick and easy CNC, MIM, and/or investment casting. You want high end perfection? You got it, via selecting the best materials and high precision CNC machining of billet and/or forgings plus final fit and polish. Seems like the average Joe could afford something nicer back in the day- maybe buying power was better and extra attention to fit and finish was more affordable.
 
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Nostalgia for me. Being close to 35, I have seen those "sliver looking guns" called S&W 3913 and 5906s on police shows and in the holsters of my grandfather who was a police officer and my local police town growing up. It's hard to compare a DA/SA metal gun of the 1990s that for discussion purposes was no longer produced by 2000 to my M&P 45C with Apex Trigger job. All i can I can think about for some reason when I hold the M&P 45C is "plastic power tool grip" then I think plastic cordless power tools are just as good as corded old school metal drills.

I can fully understand why a police officer or civilian would want to carry a striker fired M&P series gun. To me I can't stand carrying it. My M&P sits unloaded in the safe. I can fully understand how someone younger then me would like a glock or M&P as a edc.

Personally I prefer da/sa or DAO. Just what I feel comfortable about.

To be more on track I also own a Sig P226 rail model.. I love that handgun. It's not really old it's new based on an older design.
 
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