Saturday, May 29, 2010

What is S&W thinking?

For years, grumpy old S&W fans clogged internet gun forums and groused at each other about how Smith didn't make any more of the guns like they wanted. All these newfangled guns were stainless steel! They had full underlugs and sometimes even unfluted cylinders! If S&W just made blue steel revolvers with skinny barrels like they used to, why, these guys would start buying Smiths again.

(This conveniently overlooked the fact that if the grousers had kept buying those blued guns when they were still for sale, they'd never have been discontinued in the first place.)

Anyhow, eventually the lone carbon steel holdout in the Smith & Wesson revolver lineup was the lowly Model 10. That's right, the original .38 Military & Police was still popular enough with the rent-a-cop market and the occasional constabulary here or there that it held on over a hundred years after its introduction.

Meanwhile, as a sop to the curmudgeonly, a trickle of "classic" models has turned into a flood: Models as diverse as the Model 17 .22 Target Masterpiece and the Model of 1917 in .45 ACP are reappearing in carbon steel, albeit with high-zoot pricetags to match. Of course, the gun forum curmudgeons point out the MIM parts and the locks and the frame-mounted firing pins and turn their noses up with disdain, giving one the feeling that a lot of these guns will be available for very reasonable prices from closeout specialist CDNN in the not-too-distant future.

Now in the 2010 catalog, the Model 10 Military & Police revolver is finally gone. However, there's a new, Classic Model 10 on offer, with an MSRP of only(!) $814...

Now, I can kinda see a Model 27 or 1917 "Classic". The originals, after all, are hard to find, pretty expensive in their own right, and are appreciating steadily. But the Model 10!?!?!

Let's see... Should I shell out more than half a thousand dollars for a copy, or should I just go to the nearest gun show and buy the real thing? I mean, they only made some umpty-million of the things over the course of a century or so, so it shouldn't be too tough to scare one up, and for considerably less th... heh... snerk... BWAH-HAH-HA!... sorry... considerably less than eight bills.

Really, this is the kind of marketing genius I'd expect from Colt, not Smith.


pdb said...

I eagerly await other takes on this strategy by other merchants 'o death:

- The Classic Gen1 Glock 22
- The Authentic Reproduction Moisin Nagant M44
- The Historical Walther P38
- The Super Classic Colt SP-1

Wait, I'd actually go out and buy that last one.

Leonidas said...

You have a great site, Tam, with lots of humor and thought-provoking stuff. I am a long-time lurker in FL.

A little while back (~2 yr), I bought one of those performance center N-frame 8 shot .357s for my brother. It felt so good in my hand, and shot so well, I got one for myself (even with the frame wart).

I hate it when a weapon glues itself to my hand...

wv: gravinun

What happened when Sally Field stepped off her balcony without the hat.

Lewis said...

Ahem! Not to mention, that ain't anywhere near the classic Model 10, or as us older farts like to curmudgeonly fashion call it, the "Military & Police." Shouldn't a classic 10 have a 4" skinny barrel? Meanwhile, if you can live with a DAO modification, and if you can live with stainless steel, J&G is still blowing out ex-NYPD (?) model 64s at about $250. Hmmmm. Increasingly, whenever I look at plastic reciprocating pistols and compare them to blued steel and walnut revolving pistols, I regard the revolvers as (Cue Obi-Wan!) a more elegant weapon, from a more civilized age. Grump. Grump. Grump.

Tam said...

"Shouldn't a classic 10 have a 4" skinny barrel?"

And a half-moon front sight, dammit!

Tam said...

(I think this is their way of leaving things tooled up for the occasional fleet order, while milking the maximum from the five civvie buyers a year.)

Lewis said...

Tam sed:

"and a half moon front sight!" If done correctly--kind of like the Clint Smith 22?---I like it. Thicker, serrated, maintains the classic profile, heck yeah.

In my enthusiasm to shake my head at S&W, I overlooked Colt. We used to wonder how anyone--ANYONE--holding "first bragging rights" to the SAA, the 1911, and the AR15, could manage to flush not one, not two, but all three of these iconic American firearms away to other makers. (Note on "iconic": yes, the word is hideously overused, and no, I don't think I'm contributing to that hideous overuse here. I think the only other American firearm that could rival the trio listed above in "iconic" status would be the Winnie 94.)

Anonymous said...

Don't dismiss that curmudgeon market; while I scoffed at them for years ("I had one o' them -colts,brownings,mo.12's- back in nineteen hunnerd an' __...paid two dollers fer it"), as a mid-boomer I now am one of them, and those tend to be the guys with the means to fund their wants and reminisces.

For a few years now, I've considered that the only thing that might convince me to pull an FFL and go retail again would be the specialty niche of classics. And not fake classics, but the real deal, which as you say Tam, can be had with some digging for half the price of new and inferior iterations.

Little blue cardboard boxes, long-wood rifles, some shotties with redundant barrels...yeah, I could get into that, and I think I'm not alone. Hmmm...


wv: reverse...I sh-t you now!

Anonymous said...

uh, that would be I sh-t you not...aargh.

Ed Foster said...

I used to work there, and, without mentioning any names, let's just say the new management includes some people I would not want to see running a clusterf--k.

Everybody would go home without any body contact.

Amazing company, with so many really cool people working there. Assuming we do get you back here for a tour/test whatever, you have to head up to West Springfield with me for the monthly meeting of the S&W Employees Bitching and Drinking Association.

A very Irish (Ulster Irish immigrants, smile politely at the IRA posters, these people are SERIOUS) pub with monster sandwiches for 3 or 4 bucks, and some truly wonderful fresh made soups and stews.

I forgot to mention, the pub shares a building with a neat little gun shop. A tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Bob D. told me about your slide arrangements. Piffle. That leaves me still owing you in the swap department.

Think of something else I can put on the list.

Jeffro said...

Call me a heretic, but I like the stainless guns with full underlugs and unfluted cylinders. If it has S&W on the side plate and goes bang, I'm all in.

What I don't like is not having enough funds to buy all the "want" items.

Stretch said...

Just did a quick check of 3 closest gun shops. Two of the three had used model 10s for 240-275.
S&W management must be angling for a government appointment and have to prove their incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Considering the reference to iconic firearms in a previous comment, I would add the Remington 870 as another iconic firearm. The point about Colt still stands considering that 3 of the 5 iconic firearms were produced by them and now are made by different companies due to bad decision making.

George said...

In 2008 P.B. (pre-burglary: BOLT DOWN YOUR SAFE INTO CONCRETE! 800#is not enough to stop them from taking the whole damn box!) I had a number of classic S&W revolvers: early model 60, 17,
.357 (pre-war), 28, 24 - 3"! Even though I carry a 1911 (or 442 electroless nickel, in warm weather) I truly miss the classic Smiths! Fortunately, the box was a Fort Knox, and none of the guns or credit cards have surfaced. S&W management have been, uh, idiots for years, what would make them stop now?

Firehand said...

In the last couple of years, have you ever tried to get an answer from their 'customer service'? They don't answer e-mails, they don't answer snail mails. Yeah, they'll fix something but they don't seem to want to have to actually TALK to a customer.

With clowns who run a setup like that, we're to be surprised at $800 Model 10s?

Anonymous said...

Now, if they would just start making 38/44's again I know I would be interested.

It seems to me the classics they are making are ones I would not buy.

How about some pre-23's or pre-20's with a nice polish, hammer mounted firing pin and no hole in the side? If they were to make them, I would even put up with the MIM and get some just to take the wear and tear off my originals.

Anonymous said...

Jeebus, I've got a virgin i-frame in the drawer somewhere... 1st 800 smackers gets it -- in .38-S&W cal.

Note to Lewis: "that would be the Winnie 94". Another *ahem* JM Browning creation... got one of them thar thangs, too.


PS, just noticed that my verify-word is "whiti" -- okay :)

Ed Foster said...

The lawyers don't like the hammer mounted pins.

Tam said...


"The lawyers don't like the hammer mounted pins."

Really? All this time I'd been wondering what the deal was there, and given that they went away about the time that the move to MIM was made, I just figured that the flat-nose hammer shape was more amenable to the new fabrication process, but I was just guessing...

Skip said...

I just paid that amount for a Citori Trap, new, from a dealer.
Whats wrong with this picture?

George said...

According to the S&W Parts List (of yore), there is no firing pin,
it's a 'hammer nose'.

zeeke42 said...

The dropped the 3rd gen DA/SA semi-autos from the catalog as well. I didn't think to check for the model 10, I thought they'd make that forever, since it built the company. Even if they only make occasional runs, there's some value in having it continuously cataloged since 1899.