Is quality going downhill? All Manufacturers.

This is a discussion on Is quality going downhill? All Manufacturers. within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Is it just me, or has the quality of new firearms gone down? I am referring to ALL manufacturers, not just any particular manufacturer. I ...

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    Is quality going downhill? All Manufacturers.

    Is it just me, or has the quality of new firearms gone down? I am referring to ALL manufacturers, not just any particular manufacturer. I have many new guns "pass through" my possession during my 50+ years of firearm ownership. Up until the past 5 years or so, I can only remember having an issue with one gun, a 700 Remington BDL. The aluminum floor plate latch snapped off. Remington had the gun back to me in less than a week with a 2 page letter of apology. Hand signed by a Remington corporate VP.

    The last three "new" handguns, 1 plastic and 2 metal, that I purchased, had issues. These guns were of different manufacturers. One had a gritty, hard trigger pull. Another had factory magazine issues, all factory magazines. The other was just plagued with problems. Other than 2 faulty parts, all these issues were resolved with a little detailed home gunsmith work and some aftermarket mags. Yes, the manufacturers had ample chances to resolve these issues, but chose not to because these issues were considered, by them, to be “normal”.
    With information being so readily available today, it seems that more people are having issues with firearms manufactured in the last 5 or so years. I understand that "times have changed" and some folks want the latest and greatest. But "Dang" what happened to the days when you purchased a gun and "KNEW" that it was of good quality and would perform without issues, other than those caused by sub-standard ammo or damage.

    Is seems that, during the latest "Crunch", manufacturers are rushing through the process of providing their products the purchaser.
    Advancement in technology is wonderful thing. Then again, the only thing technology does is provide for faster production of parts and a faster assembly process. Tooling still has to be changed to provide that accurate clean cut in metals. Dull mills, dull reamers and dull lathe bits do not provide the good tolerances for a quality firearm. Good visual inspection of parts is required before and after the assembly process. Proper QC needs to be done to ensure, dependable, operation. As an example, to get a decent trigger pull, on one particular model, rear sight removal is necessary. “Difficult” is not the word to describe the process needed to remove the sight. I have actually broken, high end, sight pushers trying to remove the rear sight. The manufacture of a custom sight removal tool was necessary. This being a piece of 101 Nylon rod, machined to fit the contour of the rear sight, installed into a piece of 1” diameter steel, forming a soft punch. Bashing the living “S—t” out of the sight with the tool and 3 lb. shop hammer does the trick. On other identical models, the sight falls out after removal of the setscrew. The dovetails, for the rear sight, are not of identical dimensions, probably due to worn dovetail cutters used in the slide machining process. The sight, itself, is MIM with no machining except for the setscrew threads. The sight has 2 small ridges or “bosses” that bear against the dovetail to hold the sight in place. These small ridges appear to be “shaved off” while pressing the sight in during factory installation, ensuring a tight fit, or not. This example would have been considered “unacceptable” in past years, but has become accepted in today’s market. Why do manufacturers do things like this? Easy answer, less machining, infrequent tooling costs and faster assembly = more profit.

    The new, coating finishes, are good looking, fairly tough and less susceptible to rust and corrosion. These new finishes have become the “Industry Standard”. What is the real purpose behind the new finishes? The new finishes cost less and cover machining marks much better than bluing. Again, less assemble steps = more profit.

    I have nothing against companies making a profit. How much profit they make does not concern me either. What concerns me is paying good money for a product the does not perform well.

    Do the manufacturers not give a crap anymore? Have they come to realize that John Q. Public will buy anything? What happened to the days of corporate competition, where one manufacturer actually felt the need to produce a better quality product than the other manufacturers?
    A wise man once said: "Bugout bag?..What's that? Is that all the junk you sidewalk commandos plan on humping when the SHTF...I'll grab a Nylon 66, a box of 22s and a poncho liner and in less than a week I will have all of your stuff and everything else that I need for the duration."

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    Senior Member Array CDW4ME's Avatar
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    Multiple potential variables:
    High demand
    New models released before the bugs are worked out
    People that are new to guns, first time buyers, potentially willing to accept minimal quality
    MIM small parts instead of tool steel or cast
    People that want to buy a pistol based on price rather than quality
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    No internal lock or magazine disconnect on my pistols!

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    New materials (ie, plastics/composites/MIM), new processes, recession era, continually striving to reduce costs ... yeah, that can impinge upon quality, if a manufacturer isn't careful. If they're true to their engineered requirements, and true to the highest possible quality values they've previously had, then the ought to be able to find a way to introduce these new things without harming quality. But, it's always a struggle, even for the greatest of companies. Toss in high demand, and people's willingness to go for lower-priced product instead of higher quality, and you can really exacerbate the problem.

    H&K, for example, isn't a manufacturer I've seen wimp out on quality. Have seen Marlin lever-action rifles take a few steps down in quality, over the past couple of decades. Have noticed Remington introducing less-durable, lower-priced versions of some shotguns and rifles, in the past 10+ years. With the wholesale changeover from all-metal to mostly-plastics/composites, it's been a "sea change" for many makers.
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    VIP Member Array Gene83's Avatar
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    It may just be me, but I don't think you can get craftsmanship from a machine and true craftsmen are a dying breed.
    "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come." ~ Confucius

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene83 View Post
    It may just be me, but I don't think you can get craftsmanship from a machine and true craftsmen are a dying breed.
    Yup. That's certainly part of it. Old-school craftsmanship, and apprenticeships with craftsmen, doesn't seem to be a quality much in demand, these days.
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    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

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    I certainly don't know about all manufacturers, but I am a long time Ruger guy and have watched Ruger struggle with quality control issues recently. Ruger is still a very fine company and their customer service is the best there is, but the recent giant upswing in gun purchases caught them flat-footed. In an instant their manufacturing capacity was overwhelmed with new orders. I know Ruger made a major effort to increase factory output, but simply could not keep up. As a result of pushing a little too hard, quality did suffer somewhat. Ruger actually quit taking new orders for a while and some certain firearm types deliveries went way long. Ruger has also increased the variety of what they sell to meet today's different customer demands. (Polymer framed semis for example)

    Things are getting back towards normal again at Ruger. Factory output has been increased (through new equipment and more staff). The famous bullet-proof Ruger quality has returned and everybody is much happier now.
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    Increased demand, increased labor costs, inflation, better machines, better quality systems. It all adds up to fewer guns being basically "handmade" and more being mass-produced. I think the biggest factor is demand; there are just SO many guns being made that it would be effectively impossible to build them in the "old way," with significant attention being paid to each individual unit by experienced gunsmiths.

    Of course, you can still buy such guns, but due to the factors above, they cost more. For example, custom 1911's or S&W Performance Center guns. It's a fine option to have, but not everybody can afford it, and if the new manufacturing technologies weren't employed, I'd expect that EVERY gun would cost as much as these do.
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    Yes, absolutely.

    Very much a personal opinion only, but a generation of the shooting public has been "re-educated" to admire the "less is more" utility, served up as cheaply as it can be manufactured. By and large, people are so suggestible. Marketing has led folks to believe that current firearms are somehow superior and more reliable to those of a generation ago because of the changes in materials, manufacturing methods, and lack of real workmanship. They're not superior! Firearms still utilize self-contained metallic cartridges, a design that has remained now for some 150 years. It's only the "delivery systems" that have changed. Some older designs along with some older self-contained metallic cartridge designs deserved to go by the wayside. Some older designs were retired, not because they were inferior to current designs for the end user but because they became economically unsustainable to manufacture and sell. The best designs of 75-100 years ago will still serve the shooter's needs just as expediently as anything currently marketed. Remember, the cartridges we are using still share the same basic design, no matter how they're configured dimensionally or what sort of supposedly "trick, expando-matic" bullets are stuffed in them.

    The only positive in what I consider to be a much diminished overall shooting product is the fact that firearms have remained accessible to shooters. It is supposed that it should be considered to be a testament to the firearms manufacturers' abilities to be able to produce serviceable firearms at a price point that encourages wide spread ownership. I'm just very grateful that I'm not stuck with only currently marketed firearms designs.

    It's fairly common on forums to see folks employ the term "fine fit and finish" when describing their Glock, AR15, (or whatever) when they really wouldn't recognize fine fit and finish if they dropped a Colt Python on their big toe.
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    Yes Sir. Take a older Winchester Mod.94 30/30, Prior to 1964 and shake it, no rattles machined from a block of steel! Same gun today, shake it, Sounds like a bucket of bolts. JUNK. All stamped parts.

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    Some are worse than others. I've handled new Marlins and Mossbergs lately that had the "fit and finish" of a stamped Daisy BB gun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    It's fairly common on forums to see folks employ the term "fine fit and finish" when describing their Glock, AR15, (or whatever) when they really wouldn't recognize fine fit and finish if they dropped a Colt Python on their big toe.
    I was at school one day in junior high or high school. No one (no teachers) around to give me what for so I was being a goof. I was sliding a piano bench up and down my leg trying to see how far down my leg I could slide it without going too far. Everything was fine till my luck ran out. Yup you guessed it I dropped that piano bench all the way down my leg where it seemed to pickup escape velocity when it plowed into my big toe. I flung the bench off my foot and proceeded to spend the next few minutes hopping around while yelling and generally realizing what a Gomer I was. Limped home while my big toe THROBBED WITH PAIN. I don't remember what I told my Mom. Eventually she had to drill a tiny hole in my now black and blue big toe nail while I shrieked with pain. And I'm NOT a little girl. I just sounded like one that day.

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    VIP Member Array NONAME762's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene83 View Post
    It may just be me, but I don't think you can get craftsmanship from a machine and true craftsmen are a dying breed.
    Sounds like you ain't had nothin' welded up for you lately. Or fabricated.
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    Firing a suppressed is on my Bucket List.

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    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Yes, absolutely.

    Very much a personal opinion only, but a generation of the shooting public has been "re-educated" to admire the "less is more" utility, served up as cheaply as it can be manufactured. By and large, people are so suggestible. Marketing has led folks to believe that current firearms are somehow superior and more reliable to those of a generation ago because of the changes in materials, manufacturing methods, and lack of real workmanship. They're not superior! Firearms still utilize self-contained metallic cartridges, a design that has remained now for some 150 years. It's only the "delivery systems" that have changed. Some older designs along with some older self-contained metallic cartridge designs deserved to go by the wayside. Some older designs were retired, not because they were inferior to current designs for the end user but because they became economically unsustainable to manufacture and sell. The best designs of 75-100 years ago will still serve the shooter's needs just as expediently as anything currently marketed. Remember, the cartridges we are using still share the same basic design, no matter how they're configured dimensionally or what sort of supposedly "trick, expando-matic" bullets are stuffed in them.

    The only positive in what I consider to be a much diminished overall shooting product is the fact that firearms have remained accessible to shooters. It is supposed that it should be considered to be a testament to the firearms manufacturers' abilities to be able to produce serviceable firearms at a price point that encourages wide spread ownership. I'm just very grateful that I'm not stuck with only currently marketed firearms designs.

    It's fairly common on forums to see folks employ the term "fine fit and finish" when describing their Glock, AR15, (or whatever) when they really wouldn't recognize fine fit and finish if they dropped a Colt Python on their big toe.
    To be fair, there are SOME advantages to current designs. They're certainly lighter and more snag-free, for instance. But generally speaking, you get what you pay for. I think there's a reason Special Forces types still buy Colts (with some bells and whistles like attachment rails) over polymer guns that cost 1/5 the price. One can learn by watching those for whom price and market availability are not significant factors.
    "Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of the way... The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way."

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    VIP Member Array Gene83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NONAME762 View Post
    Sounds like you ain't had nothin' welded up for you lately. Or fabricated.
    I've had some stuff welded and fabricated and you can still find people that can do that, but they are a lot harder to find than they used to be.....and everybody that owns a torch isn't a welder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Yes, absolutely.

    Very much a personal opinion only, but a generation of the shooting public has been "re-educated" to admire the "less is more" utility, served up as cheaply as it can be manufactured. By and large, people are so suggestible. Marketing has led folks to believe that current firearms are somehow superior and more reliable to those of a generation ago because of the changes in materials, manufacturing methods, and lack of real workmanship. They're not superior! Firearms still utilize self-contained metallic cartridges, a design that has remained now for some 150 years. It's only the "delivery systems" that have changed. Some older designs along with some older self-contained metallic cartridge designs deserved to go by the wayside. Some older designs were retired, not because they were inferior to current designs for the end user but because they became economically unsustainable to manufacture and sell. The best designs of 75-100 years ago will still serve the shooter's needs just as expediently as anything currently marketed. Remember, the cartridges we are using still share the same basic design, no matter how they're configured dimensionally or what sort of supposedly "trick, expando-matic" bullets are stuffed in them.

    The only positive in what I consider to be a much diminished overall shooting product is the fact that firearms have remained accessible to shooters. It is supposed that it should be considered to be a testament to the firearms manufacturers' abilities to be able to produce serviceable firearms at a price point that encourages wide spread ownership. I'm just very grateful that I'm not stuck with only currently marketed firearms designs.

    It's fairly common on forums to see folks employ the term "fine fit and finish" when describing their Glock, AR15, (or whatever) when they really wouldn't recognize fine fit and finish if they dropped a Colt Python on their big toe.
    Sir, I am in total agreement with you.

    IMHO The firearm industry has taken the "Have It Your Way" slogan an ran with it..."We have 14 different guns in 9 different flavors". Most, NOT ALL, manufacturers are marketing to the masses.They seem to be placing their focus on quantity and not quality. Truth be know, there is probably more demand for a "Super Equalizing Mufti-colored Zombie Killer" than there is in a simple, basic, dependable, firearm.
    A wise man once said: "Bugout bag?..What's that? Is that all the junk you sidewalk commandos plan on humping when the SHTF...I'll grab a Nylon 66, a box of 22s and a poncho liner and in less than a week I will have all of your stuff and everything else that I need for the duration."

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