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 C.Perkins on 8/12/2016, 6:16 pm

jglenn21 wrote:drive a slug(straight lead) through the bore and then mic it..

Not as easy on a 5 groove barrel, but there are ways to do it Smile
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/12/2016, 6:36 pm

I have no idea where to get a lead slug, nor how to drive it through the barrel.  More importantly, is there a reason why the gun was manufactured in the two different barrel sizes?  There must be some logical reason.

I've read about this before, but I've never seen any kind of explanation.

Terry said to try the ones he's sending me.  If they don't work in my M52, just use them in another gun, and he would send me a box of slightly different ones to try - I think they'd be made for the other diameter bore, 0.001 inch difference.  How many manufacturers of anything tell this to a customer?   Smile Smile Smile
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by jglenn21 on 8/12/2016, 7:19 pm

C.Perkins wrote:
jglenn21 wrote:drive a slug(straight lead) through the bore and then mic it..

Not as easy on a 5 groove barrel, but there are ways to do it Smile


true enough


gauge block helps
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by jglenn21 on 8/12/2016, 7:24 pm

the few 52s I've slugged were all .355..  an example of 3 a long time ago
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/12/2016, 8:02 pm

Maybe Terry will post something here.  He seems to fully understand what's going on.  


One of the difficult things in using forums, is there are so many conflicting opinions, based on what different people do.  I think it's counter-productive to mix too many things.  Better to pick one person that seems to know things very well, and follow that person's advice.  That's part of the reason why I went with Magnum.  Maybe I'm also a wee bit stubborn - I came here looking for advice on an S&W Model 52, and wavered a little, but then came back to my original goal.

I do want to read what as many people have to say as possible.  Maybe it's a little like Ford vs. Chevy, and there are many good answers.   ....especially when I read similar threads on The Highroad forum, and the S&W forum.  At some point you just need to make a choice, and go with it.  


(A member of this forum offered to sell me two boxes of Winchester "Super Match" ammo, which arrived today.  That should allow me to try out the gun, while I'm waiting to get my reloading going.  After sitting for 30 years or so, I figure I should clean and lube it first, so that's a project for this weekend.)
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by james r chapman on 8/12/2016, 9:39 pm

You might also try Precision Delta, Atlanta Arms factory loads.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jerry Keefer on 8/12/2016, 9:54 pm

jglenn21 wrote:the few 52s I've slugged were all .355..  an example of 3 a long time ago
True. I think they forgot to change the buttons from 9mm to 38..
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Dr.Don on 8/13/2016, 8:32 am

Jerry,  what technique do you use to measure the slug from a 5-groove barrel?
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Wobbley on 8/13/2016, 10:36 am

Starrett sells a Mike that can measure a 5 lobed part.  Other makers have attachments or anvils for micrometers that do the same thing.  You can even make your own if you know how.

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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jack H on 8/13/2016, 3:01 pm

I have an excellent 52-2 "A" serial pistol.  I'm going to Ransom it in a week or so.  One I did before made 2" groups at 50.  I am anxious to see how this one does.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by LenV on 8/13/2016, 3:14 pm

Wobbley wrote:Starrett sells a Mike that can measure a 5 lobed part.  Other makers have attachments or anvils for micrometers that do the same thing.  You can even make your own if you know how.
I see a future for "go, no go" gauges.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/13/2016, 8:42 pm

I asked about the bore size in the S&W forum, and finally someone posted this:

link:  bore sizes, M52


Added later:
The first post says if you buy a gun with a .356 bore, sell it and look for a .355 bore.
The second post says if you buy a gun with a .357 bore, instead get a .356 bore.

9mm = 0.354331 inches


Last edited by mikemyers on 8/14/2016, 7:36 am; edited 3 times in total
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by jglenn21 on 8/13/2016, 8:57 pm

I always felt that S&W had simply taken a 39 barrel and opened up the chamber.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jerry Keefer on 8/13/2016, 9:25 pm

mikemyers wrote:I asked about the bore size in the S&W forum, and finally someone posted this:

bore sizes, M52


Added later:
The first post says if you buy a gun with a .356 bore, sell it and look for a .355 bore.
The second post says if you buy a gun with a .357 bore, instead get a .356 bore.

9mm = 0.354331 inches
Sounds like elite inter net wisdom to me...
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by C.Perkins on 8/14/2016, 5:00 pm

First off, whom and how are they measuring these barrels/slugs to within 5/10,000"(.0005") ?
Next is, do you really think cast/lead bullet diameters are held to 5/10,000"(.0005") ?

Focus on the fundamentals of proper precision shooting.

In my first career life of 35 years a few thousands of an inch is a mile compared to my recent career life of holding 2-3/10,000th, it is the difference between usable and scrap.

When it comes to shooting soft lead through a barrel, it would not seem to make such a big difference to me.

When you can tell the difference between .001" of your bullet diameter or barrel groove diameter that you reload and shoot in your model 52 on the target, then you have reached Zen Smile

Seems someone might have gotten a little butt hurt from the replies on this thread.
All I have to say is when on the inter net, do not take it personally.

We are all here to help and discuss...well, that is why I am here anyway.

Gone to all iron sights; Clarence Smile
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/14/2016, 7:50 pm

Clarence, just curious.  I don't know enough about all this yet to ask serious questions about things I'm just starting to do, but here's a question to you.

Would 1/1000th of an inch in the bore diameter, which the bullet travels through for five inches, make a difference?  I think I agree with you, BUT what if that bullet was traveling 50 yards?  In that case I'm not so sure.  

I guess the same thing applies to the bullets, but Terry told me on the phone that he matches the bullet to the barrel size if needed.  


I think, as you said, this only really applies if someone can "reach Zen", but what if 20 world class shooters are in a competition, and say, 1/4 of them have already reached Zen?  At that point, it would be important.

(Not for me, not in this lifetime.....)
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jerry Keefer on 8/14/2016, 9:31 pm

C.Perkins wrote:First off, whom and how are they measuring these barrels/slugs to within 5/10,000"(.0005") ? Really??? I know quite a few with that very basic capability.

Focus on the fundamentals of proper precision shooting.
This mantra will never make up for inferior, faulty equipment..


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

Seems someone might have gotten a little butt hurt from the replies on this thread. And since you are referring to me.....I will admit, this is NOT a gun smith forum...I spoke In haste and off topic..I will suppress the urge in the future..
Now, let's do away with individual personalities, hearsay, and firing line myth, and opinions, and quote some hard researchable facts. The first 38spl 1911 hit the scene in 1949 and it quickly became appararent that fast twist barrels of 10/12 twist were required.. Jimmie Clark Sr. Advocated that in the very early 1950s and he became the king of 1911 38 spl. , this is documented, if one cares to research it.. There is much more to the internal barrel dimensions than the groove diameter. Most 52s are .355 with a .345 bore dia. Let's push / force a .360 Remington thru that barrel. Make sense??
A match 38 will have a groove dia of .357 and a bore dia of .3495 Thousands upon thousands of PPC. 38 spl. Revolvers used the match barrel dimensions and shot sub inch groups 25/30 years ago.And I built my share of them.. Nothing mysterious or secret about it.. Land to groove ratio.. Leade angles, chamber dimensions..ALL have a contributing effect on projectile performance. I said, and stand by it.. "S&W is obsessed with tight bores. Slug a 41."..





All I have to say is when on the inter net, do not take it personally. When you reference me, I do...

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Definitions requested

Post by mikemyers on 8/14/2016, 9:42 pm

......The first 38spl 1911 ........fast twist barrels of 10/12 twist were required.. .......A match 38 will have a groove dia of .357 and a bore dia of .3495 ........ Land to groove ratio.. Leade angles, chamber dimensions........


It would be helpful, at least to me, if someone can explain "fast twist barrel",  "barrel twist", "land to groove ratio", and "lead angles".
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jerry Keefer on 8/14/2016, 10:05 pm

mikemyers wrote:......The first 38spl 1911 ........fast twist barrels of 10/12 twist were required.. .......A match 38 will have a groove dia of .357 and a bore dia of .3495 ........ Land to groove ratio.. Leade angles, chamber dimensions........


It would be helpful, at least to me, if someone can explain "fast twist barrel",  "barrel twist", "land to groove ratio", and "lead angles".
Mike
It all has to do with going far beyond the norm. Ultimate mechanical performance...I should have never entered this discussion..Your new 52 will serve you well as is..
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/14/2016, 10:16 pm

No, please don't leave this discussion.  I'd like to understand as much as possible, and I'd like to know the things you mentioned, even if it won't make any difference for me.  

I've already learned far more than what I knew a month ago, just from this one discussion.  The more you say, the better.

It's one more thing I expect to be looking up on Google tomorrow (too sleepy now).  

I don't do things the way you guys describe them.  The gauge that I use to see how well I'm doing, or if I'm improving, is "CEP".  I usually don't talk about CEP any more, as nobody in the other forums seems to have any idea what I'm talking about.  Since you seem to know these things you wrote about, I'd like to understand, even if it won't directly benefit me.   ...yet.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Jon Eulette on 8/14/2016, 10:39 pm



It would be helpful, at least to me, if someone can explain "fast twist barrel",  "barrel twist", "land to groove ratio", and "lead angles".
Barrel twist is the length the bullet travels to make one full revolution. 
Fast twist barrels mean the bullet makes a complete revolution faster (shorter distance) than standard factory barrel. Kart uses 1:16 twist. Clark used 1:10 twist. So ratio for Kart is 1 turn in 16", etc.
Land to groove ratio is the individual barrels difference in width of land to width of groove.
Leade angles are the angle that the throat of chamber is cut to. Its what the bullet first engraves into when entering the rifling. Typical barrel chamberings have sharp angle and bullet quickly engraves into it. Custom reamers commonly have leade angle/throat cut for gradual entry into rifling.

All these factors contribute to whether a pistol can be shot with reduced loads or require hotter loads to stabilize bullet for good accuracy.
So that's the Reader's Digest simplistic version of answers. That's why you higher a top pistolsmith to build your BE pistol because he lnows these things Smile
Jon
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/14/2016, 10:53 pm

Readers Digest version is fine!  No sense in reading the Encyclopedia Britannica (remember that?) version until I have a basic understanding of what it's all about.

So, presumably, the "fast twist" barrel will get the bullet spinning faster on its axis, and make it more stable?   .....and the energy to accomplish that means a little bit less energy driving it forward?   Just guessing - but at least I now know what is happening.

Now I know what "land to groove ratio", and "lead angles"   are.  I'll look them up tomorrow, and maybe get an idea of what difference they might make.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by Dr.Don on 8/15/2016, 8:37 am

Mike, in simple terms, the longer a bullet is in relation to its diameter, the faster you need to spin it to give it stability in flight.  A good example is in rifles.  The .22 centerfires like the .223 or .22-250 for many years used barrels of 1:14 twist for their 50-55 grain bullets.  Now that the guys are shooting them over long ranges with 62 or even 77 grain bullets, the twist needed has gone up to 1:9 or even 1:7 to stabilize these long bullets for accuracy.  Same idea with pistols (115 gr vs. 147 gr, etc.) but over the much shorter 50yd range.
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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

Post by mikemyers on 8/15/2016, 10:33 am

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.

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


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 dronning on 8/15/2016, 10:59 am

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Re: Advice on purchasing a S&W Model 52

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