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Old 09-27-2017, 09:40 PM
Al W. Al W. is offline
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Default Model 52 Frustrating ?

I have a shot at a Model 52 in shooter condition with 5 mags.
It seems like a great pistol from every thing I have read about it.
Makes sense to me on every level except...
Theres this fellow at the range one of several anti 52 guys that are making up a faction that says the "fifty two is a frustrating gun" , "don't bother your only going to sell it" , why not just go with a 45cal and call it quits" , "it cycles too slowly which makes follow through critical", "you can't find parts" and etc.
Comments like that :
So ? What do you guys think about the 52.
Cheer me up !
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Old 09-27-2017, 09:58 PM
Sevens Sevens is offline
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There is good news and bad news.

First, those guys are not totally out in left field-- true Bullseye shooters these days will argue (likely successfully) that a Bullseye shooter is easily handicapped with a 52 for a myriad of reasons.

If you want to COMPETE in Bullseye, a 52 is not your best choice.

However, if you love S&W and you love fine craftsmanship and you have the means AND if you have access to ammo that it likes (hint: be a handloader) and you can appreciate a serious piece of history, if you want to own true S&W "Performance Center" before the PC was even conceived...

If you want to enjoy all that makes the 52 legend AND you want to do it for roughly HALF the price tag of say, a S&W 952...

Then quit watching yourself grow older without a Model 52! I wrote up a tale of my biggest regret in handgunning-- short version was being 43 years old before buying my first 52.
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:08 PM
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Yes you must follow through, Yes the 52 does cycle slow, But if you do your job the 52 will reward you. Here is my favorite 52-1 that has many rounds through it.

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Old 09-27-2017, 10:32 PM
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Ya, you better hurry before they find out where they can get that gun! LOL

I recently acquired a fine example of a Model 52-2 with two mags, box, original tools. I like fine pieces of equipment, I like something hand made, I love this gun

I don't rapid fire anything so I am not in a hurry to do a good job. Methodical shooting will reward you, this gun will make you a better shooter, you just have to realize that all that goes off target is going to be your fault NOT the guns! These are a true masterpiece of gun building, this is NOT mass production workmanship, you are buying a hand built custom gun.

Don't pass up the opportunity to experience one of these guns, the trigger will impress you, the action of the slide when you rack it will have you appreciating quality fitting.

By the way, mags alone will go for up to $150 or more!!



My first 5 shots ever with this gun.......and it is obvious by the image above from 625smith that he is a much better shot than I


Karl

Last edited by ontargetagain; 09-27-2017 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:44 PM
Al W. Al W. is offline
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OK- I'm feeling more empowered now.
Thanks.
Yes I hand load
No barrel wrench with this one.
I like the S&W machines .
I've been shooting a Model 19
148 gr HBWC over 2.7 BE
I plan on using double ended WC for the 52, seated flush with the case mouth and a light roll crimp.
The biggest cost is the bullets as I don't plan on making my own anytime soon. Perhaps when I retire , but I have lead sensitivity, so its not a good plan. I'll just keep on affording the 10 cent fee per bullet.
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:51 PM
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The Model 52 is not a frustrating gun, but it is unforgiving. Correct follow through is required, you can't get away with poor form like you can with a 1911.


However once you get the hang of it, the pistol will astound you. It is a one hole gun and VERY soft shooting

I can not recall how long ago I got mine, but it is over 3 decades. Myself and the previous owner have put countless tens of thousands of round through it so far

You can get every part, they are just hard to find and sometimes pricey. However I have never needed a part for my Model 52. In fact 98% of the firearms I have owned since the 1970s have not needed parts either.

Buy the gun, use it and if/when it breaks then you can worry about parts.

If the price is reasonable, just buy it. If you do not like it, I will give you your money back for it, plus shipping
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:55 PM
Al W. Al W. is offline
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Do you folks favor HBWC or SBWC for your 52's ?
I had one guy give me a HB horror story involving a slug skirt and a
subsequent barrel bulge that impaired his accuracy.
Some guys if something happens once in history it becomes a design flaw.
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al W. View Post
Do you folks favor HBWC or SBWC for your 52's ?
I had one guy give me a HB horror story involving a slug skirt and a
subsequent barrel bulge that impaired his accuracy.
Some guys if something happens once in history it becomes a design flaw.
HBWCs are KING

Mine has only had HBWCs through it

Skirt separation occurs if your load is TOO high pressure
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Old 09-27-2017, 11:53 PM
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Yes, the HBWC is what this pistol was totally designed around and a hot-loaded HBWC will do similar damage to a revolver and indeed will wreck a Model 52.

2.7-2.8gr of Bullseye under a swaged 148gr HBWC is what I feed mine.
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:10 AM
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I was searching for a 1911 that had been converted to 38 special...I wanted a semi auto that shot 38 special...I soon discovered that a converted 1911 was either not going to happen, or if it did would be way out of my price range. Due to the kindness of a friend, I wound up with a well used 52 no dash, and I have to tell you, I have never looked back.
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al W. View Post
OK- I'm feeling more empowered now.
Thanks.
Yes I hand load
No barrel wrench with this one.
I like the S&W machines .
I've been shooting a Model 19
148 gr HBWC over 2.7 BE
I plan on using double ended WC for the 52, seated flush with the case mouth and a light roll crimp.
The biggest cost is the bullets as I don't plan on making my own anytime soon. Perhaps when I retire , but I have lead sensitivity, so its not a good plan. I'll just keep on affording the 10 cent fee per bullet.
If 148gr DEWCs will work for you then you can get them for half that price ($40 per 800) at Summers Enterprises LLC
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Old 09-28-2017, 08:30 AM
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HBWC or the DEWC will both work in the model 52 although most prefer the HBWC. I have run both through mine using 2.8 grain BE. Just be sure to seat the bullet case mouth flush. I use a taper crimp on my loads.

You really don't need the barrel wrench - more of a convenience tool than a necessity as you only need to finger tighten the barrel nut. The wrench just holds locking pin down when turning the barrel nut.
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Old 09-28-2017, 08:54 AM
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A nice 52 w 5 mags is a rare find. ( Assuming the price is reasonable.) If you don't buy it (fast) somebody else will likely decide for you.
If you buy and don't love it, you'll get all your $ back ( The mags can go for $100+ each by themselves)....
or you can be the guy sitting on the porch of your gun club in 20 years saying" I could have bought a S&W 52 once, but I bought a plastic 9mm instead. "

p.s. Mine is not for sale!
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Old 09-28-2017, 09:07 AM
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Yes, it does cycle slow; but, that just makes it more interesting to shoot. The only gun I own that is up to the M52 is the Colt Officers Model Match. They are two very interesting guns. The Colt is more flexible relative to what it will shoot. The M52 is unique and a "must have" for any handgun shooter/collector. I had to dig deep and find $800 for this one, but well worth it.
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Old 09-28-2017, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al W. View Post
No barrel wrench with this one.

One of finest pistols ever made. Get it while you can. You will never regret it. Also, not having the barrel wrench is a non issue as the wrench can scratch the fine blueing of a 52.
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Old 09-28-2017, 09:17 AM
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Years ago I traded a 6 inch Python for mine and never regretted it. Mine was used but I got the original box with everything. The only problem with mine was my fault. I was using double ended 148s and they bulged the case a little and wouldn't chamber. I went to hollow base 148s and no problem. I now have a .38 case checker and check each one. Love my 52.
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Old 09-28-2017, 09:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austintexas View Post
Years ago I traded a 6 inch Python for mine and never regretted it. Mine was used but I got the original box with everything. The only problem with mine was my fault. I was using double ended 148s and they bulged the case a little and wouldn't chamber. I went to hollow base 148s and no problem. I now have a .38 case checker and check each one. Love my 52.
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The detail about the case bulge is interesting . I guess that would pertain to the OD of the SB. I check cases periodically as I load.
So far so good.
I'll keep an eye on that for sure .
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Old 09-28-2017, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BC38 View Post
If 148gr DEWCs will work for you then you can get them for half that price ($40 per 800) at Summers Enterprises LLC
Thanks , didn't know about Summers Ent. I'll order some and see how that goes.
Nice to deal with a small business .
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Old 09-28-2017, 09:52 AM
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I can't add too much to what's been said, but 5 mags? That right there is enough for most of us M52 owners to be all over that deal !
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:07 AM
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I have always liked the soft swaged 148 HBWC made by Speer. I have Speer manuals 8 and 9 and both of them list loads for the Model 52 separately from other .38 loads with that bullet. As I recall the minimum load listed that will cycle a Model 52 reliably is 2.2 grains of Bullseye.
One of the best handgun shooters I have ever known shot a Model 52.
Shooters in general, and handgun shooters in particular tend to be opinionated. The key is to be just as opinionated as the next one and you tell them what they should be shooting. That will generally get them to avoid you which is seldom a bad thing.
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:33 AM
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FWIW, mine was missing the wrench too. I got one online for less than $20. It wasn't hard to find.
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:56 AM
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I have fond memories of owning a Mod 52. It was back in the days when I could still hold tight, and did shoot some really great scores with it. But, if you are not inclined to practice frequently, and hold a really tight follow through, I definitely understand the comment "frustrating". As I got into other shooting disciplines and didn't practice bullseye frequently, I couldn't shoot the 52. When I did my part the 10 or X was assured, but when I threw one just a little it would wind up in the 7 ring rather than just drifting into the 9 ring. I found out I could shoot my Gold Cup far better than I could my 52. I hated the thought of it, but I sold my 52, in the box (inc the wrench), 6 magazines, and an unopened 500 round box of Star HBWC for $850. From what I hear of the cost of the magazines recently, that package today would be closer to $1700 - $2000.
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens View Post
Yes, the HBWC is what this pistol was totally designed around and a hot-loaded HBWC will do similar damage to a revolver and indeed will wreck a Model 52.

2.7-2.8gr of Bullseye under a swaged 148gr HBWC is what I feed mine.
2.8 gr of bullseye is the same load I shoot in my 52-2 for years while competing. Never felt handicapped by it. Sold my Model 70 Gold Cup shortly after I got my 52-2. Still have it with box and all accessories.
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:14 PM
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If you are shooting 148 dewcs in a 52 this is a load that worked good in mine. I don't know the speed but it threw the brass about the same distance as 2.8 of Bullseye.
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Old 09-28-2017, 03:01 PM
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I always liken the 52 bushing wrench to an oil filter wrench for a car or motorcycle. Anyone who does their own oil changes routinely probably knows where I am headed with this analogy.

The oil filter on your car/cycle when you get it has sometimes seemingly been twisted on by that same gorilla that damages luggage at the airport. No oil filter (and no 52 barrel bushing) has EVER had ANY good reason to have even been torqued on that tightly, and it is maddening. Here, a wrench can sometimes assist. Removing it is often not fun.

Once the damn thing is loosened and you install later (filter) or re-install (bushing), you never crank it down that tight, no way, no need, just don't do it! And then you will never again need a filter (or bushing) wrench to remove it.

One valid annoyance I have with the 52 is here you have a phenomenal piece of craftsmanship worthy of display and being a absolute heirloom prize. Every facet of the pistol just drips class and detail and moving the slide on the frame is worthy of a dream sequence.

With that amazing pistol they give you a fifty-cent stamped sheet metal junk "wrench", not one little bit of it is nice, classy, well-made, good looking, detailed, crafted or quality. That wrench is junk. -YES- it can work for what it needs to do, but if you are a S&W collector, you know how nice the SAT tool they have shipped mostly with revolvers is (and it too evolved over time... eventually ending up as nothing more than a dingy little piece of stamped metal.)

I think Brownell's has tens of thousands of the original (junk) 52 wrench for sale... they run about $12.
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens View Post
I always liken the 52 bushing wrench to an oil filter wrench for a car or motorcycle. Anyone who does their own oil changes routinely probably knows where I am headed with this analogy.

The oil filter on your car/cycle when you get it has sometimes seemingly been twisted on by that same gorilla that damages luggage at the airport. No oil filter (and no 52 barrel bushing) has EVER had ANY good reason to have even been torqued on that tightly, and it is maddening. Here, a wrench can sometimes assist. Removing it is often not fun.

Once the damn thing is loosened and you install later (filter) or re-install (bushing), you never crank it down that tight, no way, no need, just don't do it! And then you will never again need a filter (or bushing) wrench to remove it.

One valid annoyance I have with the 52 is here you have a phenomenal piece of craftsmanship worthy of display and being a absolute heirloom prize. Every facet of the pistol just drips class and detail and moving the slide on the frame is worthy of a dream sequence.

With that amazing pistol they give you a fifty-cent stamped sheet metal junk "wrench", not one little bit of it is nice, classy, well-made, good looking, detailed, crafted or quality. That wrench is junk. -YES- it can work for what it needs to do, but if you are a S&W collector, you know how nice the SAT tool they have shipped mostly with revolvers is (and it too evolved over time... eventually ending up as nothing more than a dingy little piece of stamped metal.)

I think Brownell's has tens of thousands of the original (junk) 52 wrench for sale... they run about $12.
The bushing does not need to be tight just snug. When I built these, if I had to remove the bushing I would remove recoil guide and spring (slide off frame) once it's loose using the wrench, you don't need to use it to fully remove the bushing. push in plunger and once started, swing bushing plate over the plunger then unscrew. When reassembling do the opposite and snug up and turn plate to let the plunger pop up.
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Old 09-28-2017, 07:53 PM
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Here in the S&W forum, we tend to LOVE the Model 52. I certainly do.

If you visit a true competition Bullseye forum, you will find many that certainly respect the history and the craftsmanship of a Model 52 and you will even find a few folks that actively shoot them. But the hard core, long established and accomplished Bullseye competitors won't choose a 52 for many reasons, including but not limited to:

52's are notorious for being feed/eject finicky at times

52's are sometimes known for having two DIFFERENT bore diameters... similar but different, making some shoot better than others

I have to agree that a 52 is seriously unforgiving on paper -- I shoot some inspiring groups with mine and then immediately follow them up with gut-wrenching and embarrassing efforts. I have other elite target handguns that are incredibly consistent in comparison to what I can accomplish with my 52's. 52 is equally capable of making you look brilliant and horrendous. I don't know another gun that does this like a 52

Many argue that S&W made a bad choice in the twist rate of the rifling and they say that a 148gr HBWC yaws because of this twist rate, resulting in capable 25 yard groups but disappointing 50 yard groups

Also because of twist rate, Clark Custom has been reportedly working on an aftermarket 52 barrel -- shocking when you consider the gun has been OOP since 1993!

Competitors like custom guns built by elite gunsmiths and 99% of those 'smiths build 1911 pistols, they don't tweak fantastic collector guns OOP since 1993

Competitors also see the advantage in the larger .45-cal hole in the target

Competitors also often use a rimfire top-end on a 1911 for the .22cal portion of their event which allows them to be trained one basically one style of pistol in their hand... this also gives a large edge to the 1911

1911 parts are absolutely everywhere, made by everyone. 52 parts are old stock and far less available. Ditto for grip/stocks, sights/mounts, etc

I may have forgotten some reasons why a 52 isn't a typical choice in Bullseye today even if it was a force back in the late 1960's or thereabouts, and the guys at the club who tell you to avoid a 52 may be seeing it from that angle. While I fully believe all that I wrote above -- I am not a competitor, I'm an enthusiast and I just love my 52's!
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Old 09-28-2017, 08:46 PM
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The model 52 is unique.
Interesting comment about the bore diameters.
That may prove to complicate bullet choice.
Being OOP is a bother , no doubt about it.
I already own 2 target pistols that are obsolete .
Great guns but from the past so to speak.
The twist rate data you mention is a detail I hadn't heard before .
Don't know if I like that . I may pretend that I never heard that ...
Still looking forward to being frustrated. Just ran off 100 rounds of flush mount HBWC.
Looks like I'll get a crack at it next week.
We'll see.
Thanks to all...
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Old 09-28-2017, 09:48 PM
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Boy are the guys right when they say that the Model 52 requires careful follow through when firing. I had wanted one forever and when I finally bought this one and fired it for the first time, the sensation was like firing one of the compensated .45 autos with super light loads. The triggers on them are outstanding and they were always a flagship pistol for S&W along with the Model 41.
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Old 09-29-2017, 05:55 AM
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25 yards, off a rest, HBWC:




Yes, they are that accurate.
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Old 09-29-2017, 04:24 PM
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Thanks , didn't know about Summers Ent. I'll order some and see how that goes.
Nice to deal with a small business .
Yeah, he's great to deal with and does a really impressive job for such a small operation. Usually ships in a couple of days.
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:18 PM
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I shot in a local NRA Bullseye League we shot twice a week , A fellow who was in the Army Marksmanship Unit would come and practice whenever he was in town. He had a model 52 , used it in competitions and let me shoot it on several different occasions . I think the trigger had been worked over by someone who knew what they were doing,
it was a sweetheart , get one if you can.
His experience was the HBWC ammo from Speer , was ever so slightly more accurate at 50 feet than his own carefully cast (Lyman 358091) solid base WC's . Not by much but a little, so he would practice with cast but compete in AMU matches with Speer HBWC.
I believe the Army furnished them loaded Speer target ammo , but even with his cast WC's and reloads we couldn't come close to his scores.
Gary

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Old 09-29-2017, 06:34 PM
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I think the trigger had been worked over by someone who knew what they were doing,
it was a sweetheart , get one if you can.
Gary
Don't bet on that trigger having been worked on by anyone. They come that way from the factory.
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:50 PM
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I have a picture but no easy way to post it at the moment (but it is real, it does exist and I have the target on my wall)

The best paper target I have managed with a 52 was my late production TZT-prefix 52-2, old manufacture Star swaged 148 HBWC over 2.8gr Bullseye. It doesn't look nearly as impressive as the targets already posted in this discussion but it still tickles me!

Outdoors, two-hand hold, standing, 25 yards, 10 shots (two magazines) and edge to edge measurement with my dial caliper is 2.175".

I actually shot the first five rounds, couldn't tell how I did, but hoped it was decent. I then shot a couple different handguns at steel plates we had arranged. A good 25 minutes after that five shot target, we walked down range to see and I was very happy with what was showing, so I snapped a picture, went back to the firing line and sent another magazine at it.

The group size opened up but just barely, a quarter-inch maybe, but now 10 shots. I had to keep that target and now it's in my reloading room.

Real Bullseye shooters do that. They do it most or all of the time, at twice the distance... one-handed! I sit in awe of their abilities.
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Old 09-29-2017, 08:35 PM
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Used to have one(52 no dash);listened to them,sold it,now regret it.
Qc
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Old 09-29-2017, 09:00 PM
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Yeah, he's great to deal with and does a really impressive job for such a small operation. Usually ships in a couple of days.
I ordered day before yesterday and its already shipped. He's on it.
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Old 09-30-2017, 07:06 AM
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Used to have one(52 no dash);listened to them,sold it,now regret it.
Qc
Long ago advice from my Daddy, " Son, don't ever sell a gun you like, chances are you going to regret it ."
The old man was a lot smarter than this then 17 year old gave him credit.
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Old 09-30-2017, 07:38 AM
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BY what I am reading here you should grab that gun real quick if it is priced decently. Let the guys at the range club talk their smack. LOL When they ask to shoot it because how accurate you shoot with it just tell them no, they really don't want to shoot a 52. It isn't the gun....I have just gotten to be a better shooter. LOL
I have to say I never sold a gun I really liked. All the ones I sold I never had second thoughts about.
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Old 09-30-2017, 12:17 PM
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About the only thing I find frustrating about the model 52 is that I don't have one. Someday I will fix that problem. In all seriousness for me I only get to the range about 3 times a month and I find that I shoot better if I only shoot a couple of guns so I tend to shoot my model 41 and a 1911 that is tuned for bulleye shooting. If I shoot something else it takes a lot of work to dial in my shooting skills to match the new pistol.
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Old 09-30-2017, 12:29 PM
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Easy solution to a simple problem. Leave the 41 and 1911 at home and treat yourself to a 52. You will not look back. Life is to short. Mike
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Old 10-03-2017, 08:25 AM
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About the only thing I find frustrating about the model 52 is that I don't have one. Someday I will fix that problem. In all seriousness for me I only get to the range about 3 times a month and I find that I shoot better if I only shoot a couple of guns so I tend to shoot my model 41 and a 1911 that is tuned for bulleye shooting. If I shoot something else it takes a lot of work to dial in my shooting skills to match the new pistol.
Lately I've been trying to practice using 3 guns. Rifle , 22 lr and 38 revolver. The 38 is the most challenging so thats the one I spend the most time on. If I pick up this 52 I suppose I'll add that to the list. It sure is hard to find time to do it all.
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Old 10-03-2017, 05:49 PM
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You know, there is something darn special about this gun 52-2. It rewards you for your efforts You don't have to push it hard at all for it to perform at the top of its game.
A gun like this will show you how good you are, or how much you need to improve. It will make you a better shooter, it will make you a more meticulous reloader. It will prove to you that someone special took the time at S&W at that time long ago to make a darn near perfect gun, trigger and keepsake.

I've given up two guns that I never should have, this won't be one of them until it's time for someone else to carry the torch with it.
If you can find time to slow down in this hectic world, and appreciate the long ago efforts by your custom gun builder @ S&W this will be one heck of a treat to enjoy...............Go for it!
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:26 PM
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The 52 is one of the finest target pistols S&W ever manufactured. Of the 52, 52-1 and 52-2, all are as sweet as the next but I like the 52 best for me.

Of the 52s, the only problem ever is that it is very sensitive to reloaded ammo and how reloaded. Especially the bullet type and depth. You cannot use the 148 grain Hensley & Gibb mold for the Clark (it has a mid section elevation of about 1 to 2 mm that the 52 just does NOT like) you need the flat nose, fully recessed, inside lubed, 148 grain (basically, flat at both ends)

Once you have that under control it is all good.
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:39 PM
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[QUOTE=model3sw;139767999
you need the flat nose, fully recessed, inside lubed, 148 grain (basically, flat at both ends)

Once you have that under control it is all good.[/QUOTE]

I have some Hornady HBWC 148 loaded for it and but got some flat double ended to try today. We'll see how it goes.
Seems I also have some Speer HBWC as well, I'll save that for my Model 14.

Last edited by Al W.; 10-05-2017 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 10-03-2017, 10:57 PM
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I got my M52 no dash this past summer, I have wanted one since I wass 14 I am 63 now it was worth the wait! Realy enjoy this pistol also shoot BE and HBWC,s
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Old 10-08-2017, 10:12 AM
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I had a look at that 52-2 last night . Its operational but hasn't been very well cared for. Not the factory grips and I don't think its been cleaned since it left the factory. Which is to say its filthy ! Still an accurate gun. I loaded 75 rounds of flush mount, HBWC and it cycled like a champ. Its cheap . Below a grand . Have another one to look at this wednesday that is going for a more average price but has been very well looked after. $350. bucks more but clean and original . Decisions , decisions , decisions .
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Old 10-08-2017, 11:07 AM
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I had a look at that 52-2 last night . Its operational but hasn't been very well cared for. Not the factory grips and I don't think its been cleaned since it left the factory. Which is to say its filthy ! Still an accurate gun. I loaded 75 rounds of flush mount, HBWC and it cycled like a champ. Its cheap . Below a grand . Have another one to look at this wednesday that is going for a more average price but has been very well looked after. $350. bucks more but clean and original . Decisions , decisions , decisions .
Be patient, wait for the one you really are comfortable with. I was very fortunate and got mine for almost half of what I thought it was worth
The difficult part is that you can't put your hands on most of them as they are offered in auctions or out of State sales. Do business with someone who answers your questions directly in response, find an owner that can share the guns real history.
Good luck! It will be worth the pursuit!
Karl
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