This is an opinion only and they are like bellybuttons. But I have been in the firearms business since 78 and own and operate my own indoor range since 88.
I have had the guns in my rental counter so can make evaluations based upon actual, heavy use by every level of experience at one time or another.
In my estimate, the mod 59 smith is the last of their good, quality semis before the Brits bought them out and let their QC go straight to hell. But is will then come down to the individual gun you are able to find and how much and what type of use it will have had. Be sure you know what to look for or take someone knowledgeable with you if and when you go to inspect one. Also be certain to take a good bore light. Although most handguns seem to stay in pretty good condition if they have had any modicum of care throughout the life of the gun. Of course the fewer owners the better also which you may want to make one of your criteria right now. One owner for example. Not more than two if possible but again, much can be appreciated when actually looking at the pieces and parts.
The Taurus company has been making very decent guns from the get -go. They originally took over the Beretta factory in Brazil and began with the PT92 series and it was actually a much better quality of semi than the Beretta right from the start. Although they do not have much marketing and their most productive is word-of-mouth, they are still IMHO making very good firearms. Those in my rental counter have tens of thousands of rounds and never see to break,
Either would be a good choice if you are limited to just those two. Personally I would choose the mod 59 as it will have and will maintain the best value. But as far as quality or longevity I would almost bet the Taurus will work harder, longer than the Smith.
Good luck and I hope this helps a little. Remember there are some very high quality guns in the caliber you want for very little more and you will never doubt when buying one of these. Look around, find a range in your area with a rental program and actually try some before you put your hard-earned money down. You may find that you can buy a quality gun, new for nearly the same as you will pay for a used one and you will have the warranty to go with it.
thanks unclefudd what other pistol would be a good choice in that price range? He is asking $325 for it and it in about 90% to me an untrained eye, dont have any expert friends or even experienced friends. the other guns i was looking at were the Bersa, Ruger, or EAA.
I agree with UncleFudd. I have 3 Taurus pistols, PT1911, 605 revolver, PT92AF. i am sold on Taurus as great value for the money.
A question for UncleFudd: My PT92 seems to have some play in the barrel at the muzzle end...Do any of your rentals show the same and has it affected the gun, i.e. accuracy or reliability?
My 59 (an early one) was horrible, so bad that I sold 1000 rounds of 9mm ammo to a guy and threw in the 59 with the understanding that it was usually a single shot pistol, and a very inaccurate one at that.
I like Taurus, but you can't beat the Ruger.
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