Did overall quality of firearm manufacturing deteriorated over the years?

Something I’ve been noticing, being that I like to tinker… Ignoring everything in synthetic stock and metal chassis systems. My preference for hunting is synthetic, I don’t see that changing any time soon. And coolness is of course the metal chassis… However, specifically I am talking about wood and steel.

Comparing new, modern rifles to some of the old 22s and milsurps, I notice that they are just not the same. I’d expect them to be better and improved. I am finding the opposite. Older guns seem to have this feel about them… More solid, better fit. Some bluing is long gone, but what’s left looks way better than what I see on guns now.

I can compare modern guns to older guns, and say that high end stuff from Browning, for example, still have that quality, bit these are far and few inbetween and start at an exorbitant amount of money.

Then there’s little things that you don’t notice, until you take the whole thing apart. I noticed that even though a rear sight on my Win '06 is dovetailed, windage is adjusted with a screwdriver. K11 and 31, sights, totally unique design for easier adjustment. Modern stiff, just involves a punch and a hammer. Few other engineering odds and ends that are missing now.

Just feels like older guns had a bit of manufacturing pride in them and built for use. Use that took into consideration that people will tweak the gun and made it easier to do so. Not so much with modern classic wood and steel guns.


I think a lot of the problem is supply and demand.
Now days they are pumping them out of the factories as quick as they can with little or no regard to quality and fitment of parts. Unless you are buying a higher end brand you are stuck with a massed produced item.

It’s simply modern manafacturing being swayed by bean counters.
The market dictates price points. If a manafacturer wants to enter a certain price point, corners have to be cut. Milsurps were built to a standard. As the war dragged on they did exactly the same thing, corners were cut on fit and finish. The man(people?) hours required to fit and finish a rifle that extra 10% can add hundreds of dollars to the bottom line.
The old thing that a modern produced Milsurp built to pre-war standards would cost several thousand dollars. CNC machines have also diluted the skills of the people who make guns. Now they just put a billet in the machine and it spits out a completed receiver. They assemble guns now, the don’t craft them.

I think this is what I was trying to say.

This link https://www.marlinowners.com/forum/marlin-rant-forum/573725-marlin-real-truth.html applies specifically to the current Remlin debacle, but the “bean counters” have a lot to answer for.
If you read Tomrays post ( he had been a Marlin employee for many years before the takeover) the downward spiral, as a result of corporate thinking, is exposed.
Not saying that that is the reason for all quality lapses, but I think it figures in there, somewhere.

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I think partly what your seeing is the old guns that survived, there are stacks of crap old guns that wouldn’t live up to your winny 06’s standards.
Go and watch a bunch of “forgotten weapons” and you’ll see 100’s if not thousands of dud guns that didn’t work, fell apart or were so cheaply made that none have survived.
There have always been budget guns, but then there are plenty of quality guns that have stood the test of time.

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What @gundmc said!.
Add to that most modern shit be it firearms cars washing machines etc are made to be replaced. .the more the consumer replaces them the.more dollars are made for the company and shareholders. :beers:

Yeah, maybe. Maybe I just have a good taste in toys :slight_smile:

The marketplace is ruthless, in 1964 Winchester, facing increasing inroads to their sales moved to reduce the cost of rifles by changing from forged parts to sintered parts wherever possible. The amount of hand finishing also changed. You can see this now in pricing of pre-64 Winchesters, and it is very obvious if you place a post-64 Model 94 next to my 1959 Model 94. This trend in manufacturing went through not just the firearms industry, but all metal manufacturing and led directly to the '70’s debacle of “scrap the Inspection Dept, we will do production line QC instead, it’s cheaper”. The list of cars during that decade with major faults is eye opening, Cheers.

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Yeah it’s terrible in archery equipment too. Every major manufacturer brings out complete new line up of bows every year despite advances in technology only occurring about every five years. Hence compound bows are massively overpriced because of all the money that needs to be sunk into RnD plus retooling and marketing every year. A wild stab in the dark would suggest bows might be half the price and twice as well made if they stopped trying to get you to believe you needed to invest in a new bow every year. Oh hang on, that’s not going to make much money is it…

Absolutely no doubt about it. There is just a huge part of every gun makers range that are built to a price point. They have all been racing each other to the bottom $ and quality. Like you say you feel the difference as soon as you touch them. Plastic parts where there should never be any all to save just cents.

What do you have against wood. I have been thinking about the comment over the last few days and while you could keep the polymer underwater in the shallows longer. (Wood preserves pretty well down deep) Wood doesn’t suffer from the rain, it will take a dunking you could drop it in water for an hour and I doubt it would be affected.

The scratch or knock resistance some Polymer would be tougher than wood. They often put on a textured paint surface on the polymers to make you think it has not been scratched cammo dint.

There are some very bad plastics out there without good UV stabilizers. A lot of the Rubber textured ones in 5-10 years the rubber will go spongy and soft to the point of a total melt down. The time frame is a lot less in some parts of the world. I had good Australian gear Motorbike boots, Helmet and Blundstones all go tits up in 3-4 years in Asia. FYI all the items were not kept in the sun quite the opposite most of the time in the dark stairwell. Ozone I think was the big killer.

I have nothing against wood, I just don’t like it for anything that gets banged around, it’s not durable enough to resist dents and scartches. I quite like wood and steel guns. Just biased to polymer for field use.

Along the same lines, laminated timber can take a lot more punishment weather wise than the standard timber.
Also with dents in the timber you can always sweat theme out with a damp towel and an iron.

But the main thing is timber looks better unless it is an ultra modern military firearm. :+1::grinning:

Undesirable, blued steel and timber looks good. But tactical metal milled chassis look awesome too.

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Not so sure I agree with you here. Most of the laminated stocks have a black layer in them. I have found this layer to actually be charred wood and very soft for a better word. I think again it is more of making a stock to a price. They use much cheaper types of wood.

A well made laminated stock from true structural laminated type wood would be stiffer. However stiffer is not always better. i think there is a sweet spot between the stiffness of thick metal and soft plastic.

Yep I agree with the making a stock to a price and I probably should have put it differently as I was thinking about higher end stocks when I was typing.

It could also be linked to normal wood stocks, comparing a cheap rifle to an expensive one. As they say you get what you pay for.

Mate, it’s matter of preference. 1. I like polymer more for fieldwork. 2. Modern polymers are undeniably better, stronger and more durable than wood. This is not even a debate. Some people prefer wood, some don’t, I like both for various reasons/uses. But to argue that wood is better, is like making a faster horse when everyone else drives cars.

Laminates are (should be) made by reversing the grain structure of each laminate layer. This creates a product that has all the same properties as natural timber in regards to stiffness and weight (might be marginally heavier with glue lay ups) but is more “stable” in adverse atmospheric conditions; making them less prone to movement and warping/returning due to the ingress and egress of moisture from humidity fluctuations. This is achieved as each layer works against the other and equalises the movement. This means that timber that has not been “seasoned” can be made into a stable stock, there by reducing cost as correctly seasoning and sealing natural timber is a long and tedious process.

I think that’s how the Roman army made their shields.