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Old 03-29-2017, 02:39 PM
Marine24 Marine24 is offline
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Default S&W Model 52-1 - Need some help

I'm outside of my element, but came across a Model 52-1. No box/paperwork with only one magazine and bushing wrench.

Condition is "As New". Bluing is very consistent with no noticeable wear. Grip panels have no scratches, dents or other flaws.

Gunbroker sold auctions are limited with only four completed auctions for pistols in comparable condition. Prices range from a high of $1500 to $950. There was a fifth that sold for $681 but its condition was fair with rust, bare spots on bluing and scratches.

Seller dropped price to $950, which I believe is very fair. Unfortunately I don't have pictures to share but based on description above, something to jump on?

No practical reason for purchasing it. Just adding it to the collection.



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Old 03-29-2017, 02:43 PM
silverstateS&W silverstateS&W is offline
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Default 52-1

vary fair price.
i have one and i have to say it's my favorite handgun.
i'd suggest you buy it.
a joy to shoot.
dont let the price of ammo scare you away.
lots of wadcutters around for $20 or less.
just because the other calibers are low priced and backing up in the market should have no effect on your decicison.
wonderful wonderful gun.
extra mags ARE expensive.
Larry in Reno
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Old 03-29-2017, 02:47 PM
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Thanks Larry. The novelty and history behind the Model 52 intrigues me.

I'm stopping by there tomorrow and will post pics if it comes home with me. Very strong possibility.

Challenge is finding additional magazines. Prices are worse than when I was on the hunt for a Pre-81 Browning BLR magazine.
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Old 03-29-2017, 02:59 PM
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I would endorse this purchase. Things you -must- know before jumping in...

The 52/52-1 is perhaps a bit less "sought after" than the 52-2 because these earlier pistols use the early style long extractor that S&W changed with the 52-2. It is similar (don't know if it is exactly same?) as the old style long extractor on the Model 39 before it became the 39-2.

Legend says that it was a "weak point" and if you keep a close eye on the 52/52-1 market you may occasionally or often see an extra extractor offered with the gun for sale. Why? My educated guess is that so many bought in to fears/rumors that their extractor was a weak point way back when, and so many called up S&W and ordered a spare "back up" part and then never used or needed it.

This old style extractor would not scare me away from a 52-1 but you should know about it because you almost cannot search up 52-1 discussion without seeing reference to it.

A 52-1 is likely a pre-1970 pistol. The first 52's hit the market in 1961 or 1962 IIRC, and reportedly 3,500 of the no-dash were made. I have heard it said that the 52-1 has the finest trigger feel of all three variations. I can't comment, I own only dash-2's.

As said well in the post above mine... also understand that the market for extra magazines is going to make you soil yourself.

At $950 in the condition you describe, I think it is a fine buy and you may very well ask yourself in a week or two "why why WHY did I go this far in my life before I bought a Model 52?!"

I have said that to myself so many times that it hurts. I was 43 when I bought my first 52, and I simply don't have many regrets in my life of handgunning, but that one is my biggest, and I'm not even joking.

PLEASE report back!
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Old 03-29-2017, 03:07 PM
gmborkovic gmborkovic is offline
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Hello Mr. 24, had several 52s and 52-1s. The old long extractors can break if you do not feed the round from the magazine. I moved on to the 52-2s with the short extractor. Never had a problem with any of them. The old steel follower mags are getting pricey and hard to find. If you like it, go buy it and enjoy it. A little rust spot on the slide aint going to hurt function. Best
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Old 03-29-2017, 03:27 PM
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I pretty much agree with all the responses. Shot 52-1's for a long time and never had an extractor break, although I did buy a spare. You can buy 38 148 gr WC ammo, it's best to load your own once you find the load your particular gun likes the best. $950 is a fair price for what you described.
George
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Old 03-29-2017, 04:21 PM
Marine24 Marine24 is offline
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Thanks Gents. Based on your recommendations, I've asked my LGS to put this aside and I'll be picking it up tomorrow.

Appreciate the info on the extractor as well. I read a previous thread of the differences between the Dash 1 and Dash 2. Numrich's is sold out, but see there is an early extractor listed in GB for $50. Price had me sucking on my teeth until I saw the $150 magazine with one bid on it already.

Any recommendations on factory ammo? I see Doubletap and Buffalo Bore both have 148gr and 150gr loads averaging between 800 to 850 fps. Remington and Federal both have 148gr match versions running much slower at 680 to 710 fps. Not sure if there is a sweet spot for the velocity range that doesn't compromise reliability.

Need to check my reloading manuals, but few loads I've seen are in the 710fps range.

Redding press is sitting in pieces as my reloading room gets moved so buying ammo initially to get to the range quicker.
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Old 03-29-2017, 05:17 PM
gmborkovic gmborkovic is offline
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Hello 24, good news to hear. You will fall into some spare magazines.
Welcome to the 52 Club. Best.
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Old 03-29-2017, 06:16 PM
Sevens Sevens is offline
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Wish I could help with factory ammo advice, but I have never fed a 52 anything but handloads. I have heard Remington's load is great-- and most recently, Remington replied to a guy that the product is no longer made. I will absolutely avoid saying REMINGTON SUCKS, oops, I will avoid it from here on.

Above where magazines were mentioned was a reference to mags with the metal follower (as opposed to later versions with a plastic follower), let me say that I definitely have both magazines and I 100% cannot find even the slightest difference in performance between them. My point is that when you find a 52 mag with a price tag that you can stomach, you buy it! Nobody ever made an "aftermarket" 52 mag and while certainly, feed lips can be buggered and you may have to learn to adjust a buggered one, there were never any "bad" magazines made.
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Old 03-29-2017, 06:20 PM
Sevens Sevens is offline
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Oops, wanted to add as you look for some factory ammo to start...

MUST be dead flush with the case mouth. Won't even fit the magazine if the load has a bullet that sits proud.

The pistol will hand-feed empty brass as long as the brass is sized and not blown "out" and while we have often joked about 3rd Gens that "hand feed even empty brass!", with a Model 52, the pistol is wholly designed specifically around feeding ammo that has exactly the same physical exterior profile as empty brass.
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Old 03-29-2017, 06:24 PM
Marine24 Marine24 is offline
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Thanks Sevens. I'll take what I can get but one magazine will do for now. I have feelers set up on E-Bay and Gunbroker, so we'll see what that triggers.

Any idea how fast your handloads are? Most of what I'm seeing for Bullseye and Red Dot are running between 750 and 800 fps.

Appreciate the info on bullet seating. I've seen some folks loading with the bullet slightly proud, others that load it slightly below the case mouth and roll crimp, while others flush. I'll stick with the latter once I get my T3 running again.
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Old 03-29-2017, 06:49 PM
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I like to shoot velocity around 775. You will need to experiment with any new M52 to see what functions well and is accurate.
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Old 03-29-2017, 06:53 PM
Marine24 Marine24 is offline
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Thanks. I'll pick up a few different manufacturers. I have a few revolvers that will work just fine with these and give me brass for reloading.
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Old 03-29-2017, 07:26 PM
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Last time I had the fun-sucker out (my nickname for my chrono... which bleeds fun out of range days...), my most often used very late model 52-2 (TZT-prefix) gave me two different results:

148gr old old stock Star swaged HBWC over 2.7gr Bullseye returned a 718 fps average for 10 shots

And...
New manufacure Precision Delta 148gr swaged HBWC over 2.8gr Bullseye gave me 750 fps average for 10 shots

NOTICE that you cannot come to a dead-firm conclusion on the one-tenth grain powder difference because I was using two different, albeit similarly designed bullets.
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Old 03-29-2017, 07:33 PM
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Okay. Numbers are in the ball park and give me a place to start.


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Old 03-29-2017, 08:22 PM
Leon Narozny Leon Narozny is offline
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Marine 24....Glad you are getting a GREAT handgun, there are fewer available every day. I feed mine 2.8 GN Bullseye, 148 GN Speer or
Hornady bullet, slight roll crimp. Super accurate. Factory ammo...
Magtech 148 GN 38 SPL, Usually available at Midway. DO NOT BUY
Fiocchi, wont cycle the gun.Magazines....see them...buy them!
You cant load the gun with a $100.00 bill, so bite down and get all you can find. I have 12, amassed over a few years. They will NEVER go
down in value. Other than shooting it yourself, the most fun you will have
at the range will be letting someone who has never shot one try that
INCREDIBLE trigger. It will make your day. Happy shooting, and ....
keep 'em in the black.
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Old 03-29-2017, 08:33 PM
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Leon, you have me beat by ONE magazine! I have eleven of them and when I take a 52 to the range, I take 10 mags and this way I can have a riot shooting through one box of ammo without taking a time out to load magazines.

Someone absolutely needs to newly manufacture these mags.
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Old 03-29-2017, 09:18 PM
Marine24 Marine24 is offline
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Sounds like Model 52 magazines are part of your retirement plans.

I was impressed by the 52's trigger. I'm accustomed to a 1911 trigger and fortunate to own a couple Wilson Combats and same number of Volkmann's.

Right or wrong, that is the litmus test I use for triggers and the 52 measured up well. Not sure what the trigger geometry is like compared to the 1911 but it was very good.


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Old 03-29-2017, 09:50 PM
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It is a pivoting trigger, which many hardcore 1911 fans will not care for. For my buck, I would -so much- rather it not be wide and serrated, I much prefer the shaped, glossy, silky trigger of my PC Limited target guns, but I would not call my comments "complaints."

I have found that different 52's vary quite a bit in trigger feel across them. In my little group of guys we have a total of six 52's, all of which are dash-2 variants. They run the gamut from A1xxxx if I recall all the way to my TXTxxxx which is so late in the production run that S&W didn't even groove the frame or cut a divot for the counterweight set screw, since the weight was long out of production.

Across these six pistols are six different "feel" in a trigger. I want to guess that real craftsmen made them, and that's why each has it's own feel.

Most claim the 52-1 trigger is BETTER.
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Old 03-29-2017, 10:45 PM
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Probably the best of that style I've used. I'm familiar with the Sig SAO trigger in the 226 Legion and Browning Hi-Power.

Definitely comparable to the Sig trigger. Very slight take up and break is very clean.


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Old 03-30-2017, 01:48 AM
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The pre-travel and over-travel are both adjustable on all 52's.
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:40 PM
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It is home. Quick pics from the gun shop,






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Old 03-30-2017, 03:02 PM
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I knew it! Haha, I should have predicted before pictures but the slide has a "lazy ampersand" between Smith & Wesson.

Yes, we always associate the lazy ampersand with older guns but in the case of Model 52's, it has been my experience that many or most 52 no-dash pistols don't have the lazy ampersand while many/most 52-1's do.

That's a beauty!
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Old 03-30-2017, 03:03 PM
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Hello Mr. 24, congrats on your score. Glad you got it.
You have an interesting 52. It may have started out life as a 52 and stamped later as a 52-1. I have never seen a 52-1 without the dash between the 52 and the 1. Very interesting transitional piece. These guns
are an interesting study and things can get foggy. Best
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Old 03-30-2017, 03:06 PM
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Thanks Gents. You all must have calibrated eyeballs or at least better ones than mine that know what to look for.

Hopefully a range trip is in store tomorrow if I can scrounge up some ammo for the local stores.
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Old 03-30-2017, 04:09 PM
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Well, I am certain that gmborkovic has been working with 52's far longer than I have and he's got a far better understanding of the serial numbers and associated dates.

I will say in this case however that I have seen a-plenty of the 52-1 models both with and without the dash in the model name. And in case it isn't quickly obvious, you also can see a varying size or style of type font.

I'm no expert, not even close, but MANY S&W 52's pass through the pages of Gunbroker and I am kind of ummmm watching them almost daily. I also have a buddy who has been drawn in to them as I have, and we often send each other a "heads up" on interesting bits that we see.

Here is another tiny detail for 52 afficianados to look for: on the hammer block thumb safety lever, notice that some have the the cut grooves in the thumb piece that wrap all around even the muzzle-end front of the level where as some do not.

What does that mean? No idea! Probably just (yet another) part production anomaly, but still some fun details to look for. And I mentioned that on the latest production 52 I have (TZT-prefix) my pistol is a rare bird as it is NOT grooved or equipped to accept the old school counterweight. This is a detail that I simply never see but will have to assume was found on more that simply my one pistol.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:20 PM
gmborkovic gmborkovic is offline
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Sevens, I said I have never seen one with no dash. Of course they exist, it is a S&W. And, I agree the font on the 1 does look different.
Lets see what the range report turns out. If it shoots like a bandit, money well spent.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:33 PM
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Yup yup, all I was saying was that I have seen a number of them done exactly that way, that's all I meant. It is odd -- I wouldn't say that it is a particularly rare occurrence to be missing the actual stamped dash.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:47 PM
gmborkovic gmborkovic is offline
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Never mentioned the word rare. Stated all the ones I have had do have a dash. Best
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:03 PM
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Marine 24,

You did well with your purchase and I hope you enjoy it. I looked for one for about a year that I could buy locally. The only one that I found for sale the owner wanted more than I was willing to pay. I did end up finding a 1958 manufactured Colt Government Model that started life as a .38 Super. It was rechambered as a .38 Special. We believe a gunsmith by the name Giles made it. It shoots like a champ. Hopefully your does too. Good find.

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Old 03-30-2017, 08:19 PM
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You did very well. Mine is a 52-2. Loves 2.7 to 2.9g Bullseye depending on the bullet. Remington HBWC have been the best, but they are no longer made. I got lucky this week and found 2K for sale.. Magazines are out there be patient, In the last 3 month I have found three steel followers for a total of $115...
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Old 03-31-2017, 07:10 AM
BigBoy99 BigBoy99 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leon Narozny View Post
I have 12, amassed over a few years.
And people wonder why they can't find magazines and the ones they find, are expensive!
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Old 03-31-2017, 07:48 AM
Marine24 Marine24 is offline
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Word for today is "sharing"
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Old 03-31-2017, 02:58 PM
Sevens Sevens is offline
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And people wonder why they can't find magazines and the ones they find, are expensive!
His 12 magazines hold the same ammo as a 5906 with three extra mags. Shall we argue that having three extra magazines for a 5906 is excessive?

What about having too many Smith & Wessons, so that others don't have a good chance to get one for a low price?

Hmmmm...
Did they make more Model 52's or more 52 magazines?! Oh for shame, I have three Model 52's, maybe that's why these (amazing) pistols cost so much.

The guilt is crushing.
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Old 03-31-2017, 08:56 PM
Leon Narozny Leon Narozny is offline
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Couple things.....Marine 24....GREAT BUY! On having 12 mags.....some work fine, some don't. I go to the range to shoot, not load. I have 10
for my 41 and 10 for my Ruger MK III. They are easy to sell if need be.
When they are for sale, anyone can buy them. No guilt.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:25 PM
Marine24 Marine24 is offline
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All in jest folks. With only five rounds per magazine, I can understand the need for multiple.

I went to the range today with my 45 and had eight magazines all loaded.

Shooting not loading.


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Old 04-04-2017, 08:53 PM
Jean C T visser Jean C T visser is offline
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any 52 under $1000 is a good buy in any country I got 52-1 for37 years just broke an extractor which are none left so I had 25 made and its better than it ever was I shot this gun every second week end fitted a rib on it and cut the slot in the mags to take6 for service pistol (ppc)
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Old 04-04-2017, 09:20 PM
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2.8 grs. Bullseye and 148 gr LWC bullet are the classic load for the M52. Use a Lee factory crimp die. If your reloads won't load into the magazine, they won't load in the gun. Check you reloads with the plunk test, that is, dropping rounds into the chamber with the barrel removed from the gun. Enjoy. It is a wonderful pistol to shoot, but difficult to shoot well. Keep a firm grip.
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:36 AM
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Excellent purchase. You now have one of the finest target pistols ever made. Don't turn it into a 'safe queen'. Take it to the range and enjoy....
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Old 04-11-2017, 07:45 AM
Marine24 Marine24 is offline
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Just purchased five magazines thanks to the generosity of one of our forum members. This one will soon be making it out the range.
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Old 04-28-2017, 09:44 PM
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Quick range report. It is an amazing pistol. I decided to start at 15 yards and I was very impressed. Trigger is superb.

Forgot to bring more than one magazine. The one I was using may need some work. Pretty consistent FTF. Slight pull to the rear on the slide and rounds fed fine.

Magazine or recoil spring sounds like the likely culprits.
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Old 04-29-2017, 08:50 AM
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Quote:
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Quick range report. It is an amazing pistol. I decided to start at 15 yards and I was very impressed. Trigger is superb.

Forgot to bring more than one magazine. The one I was using may need some work. Pretty consistent FTF. Slight pull to the rear on the slide and rounds fed fine.

Magazine or recoil spring sounds like the likely culprits.
FTF could be a couple other things too. I tried Fiocci ammo, and it successfully turned the gun into a single shot. I even tried a lighter spring and it was a no-go. Then I read here that the Fiocci stuff was best used in revolvers. Since you have several mags, that is the logical thing to try first, but if the problem persists, try changing the ammo. I also believe that since this gun was designed to work with such a narrow range of power (mid-range wadcutters) it is probably more susceptible to the limp wrist issues known to effect some semi autos.

Keep us informed as to what you find, as it may help the next guy out.
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Old 04-29-2017, 11:32 AM
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It's been my experience that you can usually troubleshoot the magazines at home with the safety on and a safe backstop. The feed lips definitely can be a little too snug sometimes and that will cause the failure you describe.
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Old 04-29-2017, 12:04 PM
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Gents,

Appreciate the recommendations. I'm running Magtech ammo, which seems to be reliable based on a few recommendations. Specs on the box state 710 fps. Doubletap has a target/self defense load that runs 810fps and might be a good option to at least rule out ammo.

Based on how the round gets wedged at a 45 degree angle to the bore, magazine spring is what I'm thinking but I'll get it out to the range again with the other magazines and see how they do.
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Old 04-29-2017, 08:27 PM
Leon Narozny Leon Narozny is offline
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As stated,Fiocchi won't cycle the 52. Magtech works great sometimes hard to find. Get on of those Lee single stage setups, a can of BE, some
148 GN speers or Hornadys and you dont have to wait for the Brown truck.2.8 gns is the ticket with a nice roll crimp. I can load 2-3 hundred
in an evening or two, and shooting your own ammo is THE BEST.
You can scrounge 38 spls at your local range, you only need a few hundred to get started. The only stuff I will buy is Fed,WW or REM
Match. And good luck finding that stuff. Have fun!
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:27 AM
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Got out to the range yesterday with all six magazines this time and same behavior. First round in each magazine feeds just fine, but won't cycle properly. Next round in the magazine won't feed but slight pull back on the slide and works just fine.

I'll replace the recoil spring next. I see Wolff has a recoil pak that includes the factory standard 8lb spring, plus a 9 and 10lb spring as well. My guess is the spring is either a reduced power spring or lost tension.

Their online catalog lists it for the 52-2, but I'm assuming the spring is compatible with the 52-1. If I'm making a bad assumption, please let me know.

This pistol is really a joy to shoot. I'm a 1911 trigger prude but I think I like the trigger on the 52-1 better and can't get past how accurate it is.
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:37 AM
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As an avid S&W shooter/collector/accumulator I have had the fortune of owning all three variants of the 52. Currently I own a pair of 52-2's which both have the added S&W counterweight installed and I shoot these guns on occasion at bullseye matches. FANTASTIC is the word I use to describe their accuracy. I have added adjustable target stocks to mine and you can see that in the photos.

The 52's and 52-1's that I have owned and shot have done well, no issues for me mechanically.....however I did not shoot many rounds through those two variants. NOTE: The counterweight does not work on the 52 NO DASH....only the later variants.

As for magazines, I own several of them, mostly with the metal follower which is the earlier version. Of the many I own, only one with the plastic follower has given me grief.

I am sure you will be happy with the purchase and the price of $950 is good based on the condition you describe.

I have done extensive reloading for this gun and can guide you a little if you choose to reload.

Cheers,
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marine24 View Post
Gents,

Appreciate the recommendations. I'm running Magtech ammo, which seems to be reliable based on a few recommendations. Specs on the box state 710 fps. Doubletap has a target/self defense load that runs 810fps and might be a good option to at least rule out ammo.

Based on how the round gets wedged at a 45 degree angle to the bore, magazine spring is what I'm thinking but I'll get it out to the range again with the other magazines and see how they do.
Get set up and load your own, it's worth it!!
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:54 AM
Marine24 Marine24 is offline
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Thanks Tom. I definitely have a growing appreciation for the Model 52. It is such a soft shooting and accurate pistol.

Appreciate the offer on reloading advice. For now, I'm focusing on the reliability of my pistol but will move on to working up a load for my 52-1.

Mike
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Old 05-11-2017, 04:54 PM
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To have the exact same feed issue with -six- different magazines sure makes a case that the pistol is causing the issue. Recoil spring is certainly the easiest thing to try, and the next thing to look at would have to be extractor, as a properly working extractor obviously must pull cases from the chamber but perhaps not quite as obvious -- a 100% functioning extractor is a huge part of the feed cycle of any semiauto pistol.

I do have hands-on experience in dealing with a 52-2 extractor, sorry that I don't have advice for the earlier and scarce 52-1 extractor.

But no panic -- it sure seems to run fine for the rest of the ammo in the mag, so maybe a new recoil spring is all the medicine needed.

Oh, and yes, I believe you are absolutely fine to use a recoil spring designated for a 52-2 in a 52/52-1.

Please keep the updates coming and good luck!
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