Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

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Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 7/29/2016, 2:11 pm

First topic message reminder :

I've been unofficially shooting Bullseye for as long as I've been shooting.  Really enjoy trying to be as accurate as possible.  This started in the 1980's, and I'm now almost 73.

I know that accuracy is by far MOST dependent on the shooter, not the gun, but having a good gun helps.  I've now got a Les Baer Premiere II, and a S&W Model 41, and while I'm no expert, I like that the results continue to improve.  For reference, at 15 yards I'm typically shooting just under a 3" group with the 45, and a bit better with the 22.

One of the guns I've become very interested in, is a S&W Model 52, and what I've read about it on this forum just reinforces my desire to have one - not to "collect", but to shoot.  I can reload, so the precise ammo should be OK, and I realize buying one now means spending between $1200 and $1800.  They're findable on Gunbroker, so once I make up my mind, I'm pretty sure I could make this happen.


However, here are some things I've been thinking about.  I really wanted to get a Colt Python, but found out that there aren't that many people nowadays who are capable of working on that gun, maintaining it properly.  That, and there are so many collectors wanting one, that the price seems to be way out of line.  I'm not convinced that it would shoot any better than my S&W Model 28, especially with me shooting it.  I've read that the Model 52 is similar, in that it is a very unique gun, and if it needs work, that might become a problem.  I don't know if parts are readily available, and it might be difficult to find a gunsmith to do the work.


So, it's now 2016.  I know this gun was specifically made for target shooting, but are there other guns available that are "just as good"?  I assume that the bullets that are shot in the Model 52 will work in other guns.  The lighter recoil spring can also be replicated.  I know it's a very precise gun, with everything maxed out for performance, but is this a difference that an "average" shooter will even notice?  

To be useful for shooting, not collecting, I know that I need more than one magazine, and the special bushing wrench made for this gun.  Are there other things that are necessary, that I don't even know about yet?

(A relative of mine owns one, and I got to shoot it once.  I liked it, comparing it to my larger guns, but I don't know that it would shoot "better" than another 38 Special if I had one there to compare it to.  I also know it has now developed some kind of problem, and he's not sure how to go about getting it repaired.  As I said earlier, if I get one, it's to shoot it, not to "collect" it.)


Having said all the above, is this a gun that I should be trying to buy, or are there better choices now?
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/15/2016, 12:04 pm

Virgil Kane wrote:As far as a special bushing wrench, well, you don't need it. A 12 point 7/8 inch socket fits and works perfectly for removing/replacing the bushing. No socket driver needed and just hand tighten with the fingers and the socket.

Virgil

Just tried this - with my gun.   7/8" is too big, and 3/4" seems to fit.  
As noted, needs to be 12-point.

I also tested the shell casings as someone suggested.  Loaded a magazine with five empty "G.F.L." cases, varying in length from 1.145" long to just under 1.148" long, and manually, they all cycled through just fine, leaving the slide locked back after the last case was ejected.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/15/2016, 12:09 pm

dronning wrote:Are longer barrels more accurate

- Dave

I'm the wrong person to try to answer this, but based on what I think I know, a longer barrel has a longer sight radius, allowing the shooter to be more precise, and while I used to think a longer barrel was more precise because of the barrel length, after reading the above, maybe it's the faster rotation of the bullet, and not the length.  

Although, to exaggerate, a 14 yard barrel would put the bullet exactly where the end of the barrel was, and shooting with no barrel would send the bullet anywhere...   Once the bullet is moving in a "straight line", I don't see how any additional barrel length would make a difference.  ????

Technically, we're not talking about "more accurate"....    A better term would be "more precise".
That's why I prefer measuring the CEP rather than the "score" from a target.

CEP doesn't care where on the target the bullets are hitting, only an indication of how tight the group size is.  It also tells you how much both vertically and horizontally, the center of the group is from the middle of the bullseye.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Virgil Kane on 8/15/2016, 12:35 pm

mikemyers wrote:
Virgil Kane wrote:As far as a special bushing wrench, well, you don't need it. A 12 point 7/8 inch socket fits and works perfectly for removing/replacing the bushing. No socket driver needed and just hand tighten with the fingers and the socket.

Virgil

Just tried this - with my gun.   7/8" is too big, and 3/4" seems to fit.  
As noted, needs to be 12-point.



You are correct it's 3/4. I tried to do that off the top of my head without looking. As a matter of fact I never look at the dedicated 12 point socket I use for a bushing wrench. I just grab it and use it. LOL. Works perfectly !

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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by dronning on 8/15/2016, 12:39 pm

Couple of points once a bullet is spinning fast enough to stabilize it spinning it any faster will not improve it's accuracy, in fact you can spin a bullet too fast and accuracy will degrade, probably not at the distances we shoot though.

From an old rifle article I had:
Always choose a bullet/barrel combination that will produce an Sg (gyroscopic stability) of at least 1.3 to 1.4 in order to provide some margin against dynamic instability (Sd) and atmospheric conditions. Going higher than that will not cause huge problems, but keep in mind that increasing spin has an adverse effect on accuracy, so there is a balance to maintain between stability and accuracy. Use the minimum twist that will stabilize the heaviest bullets you want to shoot.


- Dave

Also if you enjoy calculating CEP/SEP verses just using group size go for it, but personally to me given the precision of our sport and all the factors that cause deviation it's like measuring a 2x4 with a micrometer.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/15/2016, 2:11 pm

If I didn't enjoy math so much, and plotting things out, I don't know if I would enjoy using CEP.  Actually, it's the same thing as "group size", but it says, based on the number of shots it used for the calculation This______percentage of your shots will be included in a ______inch diameter circle.  We pick a percentage, let's say, 95%, and it calculates the diameter.  

I think it's more useful for people whose shots create a group size of six or ten inches, and not so useful for shooting a Model 52.  It was nice, long ago, to show people that they were improving, the more they practiced.  As long as the number was coming down, they were getting better.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by r_zerr on 8/15/2016, 3:18 pm

mikemyers wrote:I'm getting educated - that makes sense to me now.


Follow-up question:  The bullet starts out stationary at 0 rotations per second, and as it is fired, and continues to accelerate until it leaves the end of the barrel.  As it goes faster and faster, it will also rotate faster and faster.

The bullet accelerates and the rpm's increase accordingly. However, the "Rate of Twist," of 1 turn in 16" or 1 turn in "X" inches will mostly remain the same. Most barrels are made with a fixed twist rate.


Does that mean that a bullet from a gun with a longer/shorter barrel will be rotating faster/slower as it leaves the barrel?

The RPMs will increase by the velocity, so in general, a longer barrel will produce more velocity and thus more RPM. Again, the rate 1 tun in "X" inches will remain the constant that is associated with the barrel.

If so, wouldn't a gun with a longer barrel (such as the original Model 41 S&W) be more precise than the similar Model 41 with the shorter barrel?

No, it is not that simple. It may produce a more stable bullet, but the differences in most pistol barrel lengths and the corresponding velocity and rpm changes are usually insignificant.


Or, to exaggerate, if one were to take two identical 38 Special revolvers, one with a very short barrel and one with a very long barrel, and use a Ransom rest, would the gun with the longer barrel be more precise because of the faster bullet rotation?

(I guess this also depends on the burn rate of the powder, as any powder still burning after the bullet leaves the gun will be wasted...   I think.)


I assume the bullet will be more stable, as it will be less likely to flip end for end, just as a bicycle wheel becomes more stable the faster it spins.

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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by SW-52 on 8/15/2016, 3:26 pm

smith wesson 52's are espectacular pistols,very scarce and super accurate. the bad of this pistol is the non availability of aftermarket Match barrel and mags are super scarce and high prices. i work my barrel with lewis lead remover,kano kroil and JB Bore compound(once a year). the 52's are very special,i love my 52-2!       
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/15/2016, 4:10 pm

SW-52 wrote:smith wesson 52's are espectacular pistols,very scarce and super accurate. the bad of this pistol is the non availability of aftermarket Match barrel and mags are super scarce and high prices. i work my barrel with lewis lead remover,kano kroil and JB Bore compound(once a year). the 52's are very special,i love my 52-2!       

I will save this note.

Quick question - since the 1980's, I've always used Hoppe's No. 9 for cleaning, on every gun.  Is there any reason to do something different on the M52?

And while I'm asking, I use Wilson grease to lubricate the slide, and oil (sparingly) for everything else.  Any reason to do something different on the M52?

I plan to clean it tonight or tomorrow - after sitting for 30 years or so, even though it seems to be dripping with oil, that's something I think I should do on any gun I'm just starting to use.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/15/2016, 8:48 pm

Jerry Keefer wrote:
......When it comes to shooting soft lead through a barrel, it would not seem to make such a big difference.. wrote:Lead or jacketed, a projectile is still a projectile.. There are volumes written on internal ballistics.. Might be a worth while read....


I've started, but don't laugh too hard if I get things a bit discombobulated....

From the various sources on the internet, the barrel twist rate for the M52 might be 18.75 inches.  I don't trust that, unless/until someone here confirms it, but I'll use that for a start, to figure out the math.  I can change it later as needed.

This page explains the mathematics, to calculate the bullet spin rate:
http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2008/06/calculating-bullet-rpm-spin-rates-and-stability/ 

To use the formula, I need bullet speed.  Until someone here suggests otherwise, I'll use the information on page 874 from Speer Reloading Manual #14, for 38 HBWC, Bullseye, 2.8 grains powder, resulting in 741 ft/second muzzle velocity.

Muzzle Velocity   x  (12/twist rate in inches)   x   60   =   bullet RPM

741 x 12 / 18.75  x 60   =    28,454.4  

So, if I understand this correctly, 
...and if the muzzle velocity is 741 feet per second,
...and if the twist rate is 18.75
> then the bullet will initially be rotating on its axis around 28,000 RPM.


If nothing else, from the math, I can clearly see the relationship between twist rate and bullet RPM.
If the twist rate was around 10 or so, the bullet would be rotating almost twice as fast.

There were threads on the S&W forum saying that to shoot at 50 yards, a higher twist rate was needed to stabilize the bullet so it wouldn't be flipping end over end.  


There's a lot more to the calculations page, but before I go further, maybe one of you can tell me if what I've written so far is correct, or I need to make changes.


Further down on the calculation page, it also says that bullet makers provide a recommended twist rate for their bullet.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jon Eulette on 8/15/2016, 11:43 pm

As precision shooters, we strive for velocities that are accurate and have as little recoil as possible. Unfortunately most pistols have a typical barrel twist that governs how low you can go velocity wise and still get X ring groups. Jerry has mastered this with his fast twist barrels (he makes his own from a barrel blank). As you've indicated the fast twist has higher rpm. This helps stabilize the bullet at lower velocities. If you find other post on this forum you'll see that Jerry and I are advocates for minimal recoil. 99% of us shooters are not professionals shooting/training everyday. Thus we don't have the stamina to excel with higher recoiling loads without experiencing fatigue that will cost us points during the course of a 2700. So by using fast twist barrels with lightened slides minimal powder charges can be used. Jerry advocates frame mounts to take advantage of this. I'm still experimenting with frame mounts and have yet to be swayed from my like for slide mounted optics. So we are sharing our experience from being competitors and gunsmiths. Most gunsmiths were never higher level competitors and might not look at things the same way we do. So I am currently building some frame mounted 45's with lightened slides to see how low I can go and get full reliability and hold the X ring at 25 yds. For 50 yds you need some more speed to get the good groups. Unfortunately fast twist barrels are practically non existent, and the bullseye world is small, so getting companies to make them is cost prohibitive. So yep a Kart barrel can easily shoot 1.5" when fit correctly. But to some degree your stuck with hotter loads to get the accuracy and reliabilty. I can run my guns down to 3.3 gr of BE and 185 or 200 gr lswc for 25 yd line. That's pretty light shooting load. Jerry is running slower through his. So in the near future I will have a fast twist barrel to run through the wringer and see how much difference there is between old school and new!
Jon
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by SW-52 on 8/16/2016, 7:46 am

mikemyers wrote:
SW-52 wrote:smith wesson 52's are espectacular pistols,very scarce and super accurate. the bad of this pistol is the non availability of aftermarket Match barrel and mags are super scarce and high prices. i work my barrel with lewis lead remover,kano kroil and JB Bore compound(once a year). the 52's are very special,i love my 52-2!       

I will save this note.

Quick question - since the 1980's, I've always used Hoppe's No. 9 for cleaning, on every gun.  Is there any reason to do something different on the M52?

And while I'm asking, I use Wilson grease to lubricate the slide, and oil (sparingly) for everything else.  Any reason to do something different on the M52?

I plan to clean it tonight or tomorrow - after sitting for 30 years or so, even though it seems to be dripping with oil, that's something I think I should do on any gun I'm just starting to use.
Hoppes No.9 is a excellent product,but i think for clean the barrel,kano kroil is the best way for remove lead,powder of the barrel. this pistols are old and need a special care. i don't use oil in excess,onlu a little amount of fp-10 or slip 2000(rare ocassions). i clean the inside of frame with a cotton swab,for remove dirt,powder,etc. is very important buy and save parts of this pistol(ejector,extractor,springs,magazine springs,recoil springs(7lbs and factory 8lbs) and in addition,buy the weight(DJ Precision) and a Froneck aluminum bronze trigger shoe, a delicious and exotic trigger feel,highly recommended.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/16/2016, 8:33 am

I called Kano Kroil (http://www.kanolabs.com/), and spoke to Chris.  He told me that most of the shooters go for the free trial offer:
      https://websecure.cnchost.com/kanolabs.com/orders/order_kroil.shtml
This gets them an 8 oz. can (for $9.50) to use on patches, and a free aerosol can (Aerokroil).  Shipping adds a few dollars.

Unless I'm missing something, KanoKroil is for lubricating, not cleaning.  Which of their products are you using - the one Chris told me about, or one of their other products?

Are you using this instead of Hoppe's #9, or after the Hoppe's?
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Sa-tevp on 8/16/2016, 10:01 am

Kroil is a fantastic penetrating oil, not for lubrication. I've used it often in hand sprayers to soak jet engine exhaust bolts for a few hours to I can remove the bolts without breaking them. It works on firearms barrels by getting under contaminants in the barrel and making the contaminants easier to remove. Think of it as being able to get into the pores of the metal so the contaminants lose their adhesion.

Kroil is also great for de-gunking and de-rusting neglected firearms. I've done a few pound rescues (see the Crazy Cat Lady thread) of 30-40 year old pistols and revolvers that were put away dirty and the second step after disassembly is to soak everything in Kroil.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/16/2016, 11:40 am

So, I should use the Kano Kroil instead of Hoppe's, for cleaning, and then use my Wilson grease/oil to lubricate the gun.  

One more product I never heard of until I got involved in this forum.  Thanks!



Back to barrel twist rate, is the reason why S&W does not use a faster twist rate, because they want to use similar twist rate tooling for many barrels, and faster bullets might break apart if the rotational motion is too high?  Maybe I'll call Speer and Hornady, and ask what their recommended twist rate is for the bullets they sell.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by jglenn21 on 8/16/2016, 11:49 am

I use a 50/50 mix of Hoppes and Kroil for all my lead shooting pistols... work perfectly..
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jon Eulette on 8/16/2016, 12:03 pm

Years ago I shot tons of the Federal match. Probably over 50,000 rounds of it. I was getting 1.5" groups from 1:10 twist barrel. I always liked it.
Jon
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/17/2016, 3:58 pm

I've been setting up my RCBS Pro2000 for loading ammo for the M52.  Magnus Bullet Company bullets (as suggested earlier) should arrive tomorrow or the day after.  Cases are ready, and empty cases seem to cycle through my gun.

I had some questions about loading those bullets on my Pro2000, and had a long talk with Larry Meyer at RCBS.  He uses the Pro2000, and had a lot of experience with the Model 52.

He asked me about my bullet seating plug, which is the standard one that came in my new set of RCBS dies.  Larry told me that for best results, it needed a modification.  He did the machining and sent it to me - arrived a few minutes ago.  

With the standard bullet seating plug, the plug is in the way when you want to do a small roll crimp.  The metal needs to be moved inwards, but the seating plug is in the way.  Here's a photo of what Larry made; it should be obvious what he did, and why:




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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by LenV on 8/17/2016, 5:36 pm

You know that you don't need to do that if you only seat with that die. Another good reason to seat and crimp with different dies. And that plug would still limit you to a small roll. You will know when the crimp is too much. You won't be able to remove die. Smile


FYI. That modification is what I was trying to explain on your "help with 550" post.
  "I also have an extra die to do the roll crimp separately. I forgot to mention I use a swaged bullet also. I had to make a seating die by modifying a smaller caliber round nose insert into my 38 special die. I made it flat and capable of fitting inside case mouth without touching case. Someone can probably tell you where to find that part from Dillon but I have a lot of extra parts here to play with. "
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/17/2016, 9:38 pm

It seems to me, it's all a compromise, no matter what I do.

If I use one die for seating, and another for crimping, that means I don't use the Lockout Die, which is probably acceptable since I always look inside every shell to see the powder level before I put a bullet on top.  

On the other hand, on the RCBS Pro2000, it's very easy for me to see the powder level when the casing is at station #5, and extremely difficult to see this in station #4.  Maybe it's different with another press.  I can't do that, if I use a separate crimping die.

I may not really need to use the RCBS Lockout Die, since I do check all the shells visually, but as I see it, it's added insurance.  The Lockout Die works beautifully with 45 ACP, and 5.2 grains of powder.  I have no idea how well it will work with 38 Special and 2.8 grains.

If I ever get anywhere close to being able to shoot as well as you guys, maybe something like this will be more important to me.  Right now, I just want a good, reliable way of loading bullets, that will hopefully leave only "me" as the weak link in the chain.    Shocked


For better or worse, I'll post my target, once I get out there using my M52.
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Magnus Bullets

Post by mikemyers on 8/19/2016, 2:33 pm

OldMaster66 wrote:Mike, These are what I use. They are in stock. Great bullet. Just scroll down to the 38's. I use the 514
http://saas.shopsite.com/magnusbullets/store/page11.html

They just arrived.

Price was quite a bit lower than on that page - Terry gives a discount to members of this forum.  The shipping also was less than expected.

I'm a photographer - couldn't resist taking a close up photo.  Without using a flash, the image isn't all that spectacular, but with a little more light, it's like shooting with a magnifying glass:



The bullets look great in my hand - with my camera, I can see detail that wasn't visible to my eye.  All the texture on the surface of the bullet is "invisible" when I hold the bullet up in front of me.  In my hands, the bullet is just a silver colored cylinder, with two dark colored bands around the outside.

What are the two dark-colored bands that go around the bullet?


Thanks again for posting - had you not done so, I never would have known about these bullets.  You, and this forum, have been incredible!   bounce
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jon Eulette on 8/19/2016, 3:08 pm

Buulet has 2 grooves for lubricant. The dark line is lube!
Jon
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/19/2016, 3:51 pm

Thanks.  I understand.

Is this something Hornady and Speer don't do, but Magnus includes?   On the Midway site, looking over bullets, the Hornady and Speer seem to just be all lead, no grooves with lubricant.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by jglenn21 on 8/19/2016, 5:35 pm

the speer and hornaday have a liquid  lube that is tumbled onto the bullet.. similar to Lee liquid Alox lube or variations of it.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/19/2016, 8:03 pm

Is one method preferable to the other?  Tumbling the lube onto the bullets sounds much easier than what Magnus does.  Is there an advantage to having the lube in the two "rings", as is done by Magnus?   I'm just wondering.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jon Eulette on 8/19/2016, 8:31 pm

As long as bore doesn't foul it doesn't matter. Basically your barrel likes them or not; accuracy and fouling.
Jon
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

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