Ruger Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
No doubt this is a dumb question, but I'm used to S&W revolvers, and know that the locking parts are casehardened such that if you file or polish too much you can get into the soft metal.

Are the internal parts of a Security Six the same, i.e. a hard surface with softer metal underneath? Or is it hard all the way through?

Thanks
 

·
Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
Joined
·
16,495 Posts
Good question Mr. Smith. The older forged and machined S&W parts were indeed case hardened and were very wear resistant. The newer S&W MIM parts are also case hardened but inside that shell lies a fairly soft material. MIM parts aren't nearly as wear resistant.

It would be safe to say the older S&W forged and machined case hardened hammers and triggers were superior to Ruger parts but that doesn't define the design issues. A S&W revolver has very tight tolerances ... some down to .0005". If a part wears much at all, it will affect timing, or some other critical function of the gun.

Rugers have very hard parts but not as hard as S&W. However, Ruger designed their revolvers with a lot more allowable wear. Example: a pawl can wear a full .005" on a Ruger GP-100 and still maintain proper cylinder timing. A S&W will have dangerously retarded timing if the hand were to wear a mere .002". Think of Ruger's robust design as tread on a tire. More tread ... more miles.

The conclusion ... you just can't compare two brands of guns and say one has better, harder, stronger, parts without seeing the whole picture. Fact is, there's not a single model of S&W revolver that will outlast it's Ruger counter part even if their parts are harder.

Ruger's Security-Six was designed to compete with S&W's K-frame Mod 19/66. If you don't believe the above ... just grab some full power 357s and see which gun gives up first. Try the test again with 38s. The S&W will fare better with 38s but still won't come close to the life expectancy of a Security-Six.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, Iowegan!

I guess I'm still a bit confused. Are the Ruger parts hard all the way through (just not as hard as an older S&W part)? I'm concerned that if I polish or file too much I'll screw up the Ruger part. Or is this not really a concern on the Ruger?

I've certainly seen plenty of S&Ws with timing issues and replaced my share of hands and added end-shake washers to several Smiths. In fact, I tend to baby my S&W K-frames precisely because I think they need that kind of treatment. It's why I feel a bit guilty whenever I actually shoot Magnums out of my K-frames.

Hence my new interest in the Ruger product.

Do you have a sense of how many rounds of .357 Magnum (158 grain @ 1200 fps) a Security Six would digest before needing work for endshake or timing? I suspect a Smith K frame would need some attention after 3000 -5000 such rounds.
 

·
Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
Joined
·
16,495 Posts
Mr. Smith, Yes, Ruger hammers, triggers, and other internal parts are the same hardness all the way through (not case hardened). Ruger uses stainless steel for nearly all internal parts, even in blued models. Indeed you can go too far when smoothing any parts from any gun. I use a muslin buffing wheel and polish parts rather than stone them. Polishing removes way less material and leaves the part much smoother.

I own a bunch of S&W revolvers ... all are pre-mim and are either low dash numbers or no dash numbers (some with no model numbers). Very fine revolvers .... not comparable with the current crop of crap S&W sells today. With exception of my GKGP-141, there's not a Ruger made that will compare with the fit, finish, and feel of a forged & machined K or L frame.

My Rugers have all been worked to a point where the actions are smooth as glass with triggers to match. On the range, I don't think there is a lick of difference in accuracy or function with the competing S&W. After the Ruger actions have been smoothed and tuned, wear is almost non-existent. I have over 50K rounds through one of my KGP-100s ... other than the initial fluff and buff and routine cleaning after each shooting session, it has never had a bit of maintenance. Still tight as a mouse's ear, timing is still plenty early, and the gun looks like it has never been fired. My 4" blue Security-Six is the same. A very accurate gun ... still looks like new and is very tight. I don't know exactly how many rounds have been fired through it because it was used when I bought it. I'm estimating 20K or more ... mostly 38s but a good many magnums since I have owned it.

You hit on two of the most critical issues in a S&W ... timing and endshake. These are rarely an issue in Ruger revolvers because the bearing surface between the cylinder and crane (AKA yoke) is much larger than the skinny little yoke tube on a Smith. Additionally, on a S&W, the frame window and thickness of the hand is absolutely critical to proper timing. Ruger uses the tip of the hand to fully rotate the cylinder whereas S&W uses the tip to start then uses the width of the hand for the last few degrees of rotation. Here's where .0005" makes the difference between workie and no-workie .... a Ruger Security-Six pawl could wear .005" and still be in time.

Estimating the number of magnums you could shoot in either a S&W or Ruger would depend on a lot of factors to include how good a job the factory did when the gun was made and the care it gets from the shooter. I had a gunsmithing contract with a couple California law enforcement agencies back in the late 70s. We kept stats on each gun to include the rounds fired and all maintenance. Some Mod 19s and 66s practically dissolved after as few as 500 rounds while others lasted several thousand rounds. The Mod 10s and 15s typically lasted way over 20k before major surgery was required. Unfortunately, they didn't have any Ruger Security-Sixes for a comparison but I firmly believe, Ruger S-S's would out last the Mod 19s by a factor of 10x if 357 Mags were fired in both.

My old S&W 586 no-dash has almost 50k rounds through it and it is time for an overhaul. An oversized hand and a couple of endshake bearings will put it back in tip-top shape. This gun has only fired a few cylinders of 357 Mags so I can't blame hot loads. My GP-100 is a very comparable model ... has over 50k rounds through it ... at least a couple thousand of those were full tilt 357 mags, and it is still well within spec. I don't anticipate having to replace any parts in my life time.


Here's my Security-Six ... 26 years old and still going strong.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Iowegan:

Thanks once again for a very informative post. Interesting observation about the Smiths. One of my favorite Smiths is a Combat Magnum made in 1955, not model marked. The fit and finish are unlike anything I've seen in another gun, and the trigger feel is amazing. I've kept a log, and I have run 35,000 rounds of standard pressure .38 Specials out of that gun, with maybe 100 rounds of lead bullet Magnums. It is still perfectly tight, but then, it was exceptionally tight and well fitted when I bought it.

Problem is, I suspect this gun wouldn't take very many full bore Magnum loads, so I baby it.

Also an interesting point about the differences in the hands on the two guns. I didn't realize that the Ruger accomplished full lock up with the tip of the hand, not with the width. There is a lot to be said for a design that does not rely on such incredibly tight tolerances.
 

·
Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
Joined
·
16,495 Posts
Mr. Smith, I have this vision of Ruger engineers sitting around a conference table with a S&W Mod 19 in front of them and Mr. Bill's orders to "beef up the weak areas" and "come up with some brand new designs". The engineers took their first stab at a K-frame sized revolver with a Security-Six chambered in 357 Mag. The timing issue was solved as stated above. The next problem to attack was endshake, then cracked barrels, and finally stretched frames ... all quite common in the S&W Mod 19/66 revolvers.

As you may know, endshake is the single biggest enemy of any S&W revolver. The revolvers are designed to have a maximum of .002" endshake and if it eventually "grows" a little, in no time it will grow even more and make the gun dangerous. If the cylinder is allowed to buck back and forth, it peens the yoke tube and worse yet, it cuts a channel inside the cylinder center hole which is the bearing surface for the yoke tube and cylinder. By the time endshake gets to .005", the cylinder will unlatch when fired (very dangerous), cylinder timing will retard, and light primer hits or misfires will be experienced.

Ruger's Security-Six has a much larger bearing surface between the crane tube (yoke tube in a S&W) and cylinder. The surface area measures about 5 times that of a S&W yoke tube. So ... the larger surface area spreads out the pressure enough where peening rarely happens. The GP-100's tube has 8 times the surface area of a S&W 586/686. Ruger specs their GP-100 endshake from .002 to .005". Ruger's minimum is S&Ws maximum.

Another high failure rate issue with Mod 19/66s were the barrels liked to crack at the bottom of the forcing cone. Again, the Ruger engineers came up with a new cylinder design where the bottom rear of the barrel was full dimension whereas S&W K-frame barrels had a chunk machined out of the barrel to accommodate the yoke. Rugers have a full diameter barrel and the frame is extended. This eliminated the weak spot ... so cracked barrels are not an issue in any Ruger DA.

Last is the cylinder frame itself. Most people look at S&Ws top strap but actually it is plenty strong ... it's the puny area at the front base where the frame is cut away for the yoke. When too many magnums have been fired, the front of the frame begins to collapse just a few thousandths ... hardly noticeable .... however it changes the relationship for cylinder-to-bore alignment. Bullets will exit the cylinder and start into the forcing cone out of square. This causes gap spitting and rapid forcing cone erosion.

Ruger beefed up the weak areas found in a S&W .... some to an overkill but what came out of the basic design was a revolver that would hold up to tens of thousands of 357 Mags. Later, when Ruger discontinued the Security-Six product line in favor of the GP-100, even more beef was added and the complete cylinder latching system was redesigned as was the trigger return spring.

The only major negatives with a Ruger DA are the garbanzo out-of-the-box trigger pull and the failure to clean up the frame and internal parts during the manufacturing process. It's very common to see a Ruger DA revolver with excessive machine marks, galls, sharp edges, casting marks, and rough spots. You rarely see that in a S&W ... even the crappy new ones. Ruger's answer to the functional problems caused by poor parts is to use stronger springs to overcome the extra friction. Once you get inside the gun and smooth out all the mating surfaces, it will function perfectly with much lighter springs. Now you have a gun that will compare favorably with a tuned S&W.

Mr Smith, After you get 100 posts, the Library Forum will be visible. Download the free book I wrote for the GP-100. With exception of the cylinder assembly and trigger spring, the Security-Six is very similar in design to the GP so much of my IBOK will apply.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks again.

I hope I'm not being a pest, but you have answers to a lot of questions I've had on this topic.

If I understand you correctly, a Smith--regardless of frame size--will have more problems than a Ruger when it comes to end shake and timing. In other words, if you shoot a lot of magnums in a L or N frame Smith, you may avoid problems you would encounter with the weaker forcing cone of a K frame, but you will still be dealing with a hand and a yoke that is more wear sensitive than that of a Ruger.

Your explanation of frame stretch is also interesting, i.e. that the weak point of the Smith is not the top strap but the portion below where the barrel is threaded. Just curious, is a K frame Smith vulnerable to this kind of distortion if only standard pressure .38s are used? I would guess not, since I know that target grade K38 can consume enormous quantities of light loads. But maybe you still get some stretching after 200,000 rounds or more. Any data on this?

One other question about wear points. I used to do a lot of fast double action shooting with an N-frame .357. The cylinder stops got peened up pretty quickly. I then switched to a K frame, and despite a LOT of fast double action shooting, the cylinder stops are fine. Maybe that's because the cylinder is lighter on the K, but then again, maybe it's because I got my trigger finger educated so as not to jank all the way through on the pull.

How do the Rugers compare when it comes to the strength of the cylinder slots?
 

·
Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
Joined
·
16,495 Posts
Mr. Smith,

"If I understand you correctly, a Smith--regardless of frame size--will have more problems than a Ruger when it comes to end shake and timing. In other words, if you shoot a lot of magnums in a L or N frame Smith, you may avoid problems you would encounter with the weaker forcing cone of a K frame, but you will still be dealing with a hand and a yoke that is more wear sensitive than that of a Ruger." Very true!

"Your explanation of frame stretch is also interesting, i.e. that the weak point of the Smith is not the top strap but the portion below where the barrel is threaded. Just curious, is a K frame Smith vulnerable to this kind of distortion if only standard pressure .38s are used? I would guess not, since I know that target grade K38 can consume enormous quantities of light loads. But maybe you still get some stretching after 200,000 rounds or more. Any data on this?" I have never seen fame stretching on any S&W with exception of the J and K frame chambered in 357 Mag.

Funny ... I worked on a ton of S&Ws in my day. For the pure numbers in circulation, it followed the rule of 80/20. N an J frame guns made up less than 20% of the guns sold yet caused 80% of the problems. I learned to dislike Js and Ns severely and decided they would not be on my list of guns I wanted to own.

The only Ruger DA I've seen cylinder slot problems with is the 357 Redhawk .... for the same exact reason as the S&W Mod 27/28. The cylinder is just too massive. If you cock the hammer to briskly in SA or pull the trigger to fast in DA, you beat the crap out of the cylinder latch and the slots peen wider. At least in the Ruger, the cylinder latch slot in the frame didn't get peened wider like the S&W. The GP-100s, SP-101s, and the older Security-Six family all hold up extremely well ... much better than their S&W counterparts.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top