There has been a lot of discussion here from time to time on the advantages of buying high-quality firearms from top-notch manufacturers, instead of investing in cheaper, lower-end weapons from "take-a-chance" firms to save a few pennys. I've had two experiences recently that really highlight the truth of this advice.
In the first incident, I damaged the finish of my S&W 637 when a couple of drops of acid were accidentally dropped on the weapon while it lay on my workbench. This was entirely my own fault, and while it did not impair the operation of the weapon in any way, it bothered me nonetheless. As shooters, you all understand why. I contacted S&W about the problem via e-mail, described the problem, and also made it clear that the damage was entirely my fault. They instructed me to send the weapon in for evaluation, and even paid for the cost to ship it. Three weeks later, the weapon was returned to me, and in pristine condition! S&W had completely refinished the revolver, thoroughly tested it to make certain it was up to S&W standards, and returned it to me, shipping pre-paid. Cost for everything, exactly $0 to me. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is customer service!
On the other side of the coin, however, was a recent incident involving a Charter 2000 Undercover revolver. I bought this revolver about a year ago for use primarily as a back up weapon to carry in my truck, and to have it available to my wife should she need it on one of her out-of-town business trips (she doesn't have a CCW, but carrying a loaded weapon in a vehicle is legal here in Colorado). I didn't want to use one of my more expensive revolvers for this purpose because of the greater exposure to theft while in a vehicle. Anyway, the revolver never worked quite right from the time I bought it new in the box. It tended to misfire about one round in ten, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why (I replaced the main spring, but that didn't help). I finally contacted Charter and they said send it in and they would fix it. I got the revolver back about three weeks later, allegedly "fixed." According to the report which accompanied the revolver on return, the misfire problem was apparently due to incorrect headspacing. Charter replaced the frame of the weapon to fix the problem, and while it seemed a bit tight, I thought the repair was successful. After testing the revolver on the range shortly thereafter, I concluded that the problem was indeed solved (it didn't misfire), that is, until I got it home and began to clean it. The first time I put a correctly-sized bronze cleaning brush through a cartridge chamber on the cylinder, the entire cylinder assembly pulled rearward along the ejector rod, and no matter what I did, it refused to return to its proper position so the cylinder would close into the frame. I recontacted Charter by e-mail concerning this new problem about three weeks ago, but thus far, my inquiry had been totally ignored. So much for Charter 2000's "customer service!" At this point, I think I will simply remove the firing pin from the revolver and relegate it to a more appropriate use . . . as a doorstop!
What are some of the experiences you folks have had with the various firearm manufactuers? Information like that is very valuable indeed when we spend our hard-earned money for a new firearm.
Last edited by Pistolenschutze; 11-14-2005 at 10:33 AM..
Three of the guns I bought were used and didn't come with a manual. I contacted the companies (Sig, S&W, and Kimber) and was sent a printed manual free of charge, no questions asked. In fact Kimber included 2 takedown rods with the manual.
I will be testing Kimber in a couple of weeks again as I need some work done on my pistol. (Why would someone swap out a metal trigger for plastic????)
While I never used them while I had one their pistols, a friend of mine needed some small parts for this Ruger, again sent to him free of charge.
Over the years I have dealt with Marlin, needing manuals, several small parts and needing work on a couple rifles. They always are prompt in answering questions, sending items and pay for shipping both ways on the rifles, completing work on them in approximately 2½ to 3 weeks. I have had more dealings with Marlin as our cabinet has always had at least four and sometimes more of their guns in use.
I have had the same kind of dealings with Springfield Armory and Ruger, involving a variety of situations as with Marlin. They, too, have been prompt, curtious and helpful. Work has been extremely good.
On the whole, all have been helpful. I have had no dealings other than questions and manuals with Winchester and Browning, prior to the merger of US Repeating Arms and Browning. Took longer with a pistol to come back from Browning as it went to Belgium for repair, but the work was superb. That was also before the merger.
Don't know about service now but have had experience with both advertising an item, new, and not having it available for a year or more. My elder son and son-in-law have complained to me about current service being slow but good quality.
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All my contact directly with the manufacturers has been very good.
I can not say that about the Browning Service Center (local gunsmith organization who Browning claims to be qualified to work on their guns). My 7mm Mag BAR missed a finish reaming of the chamber leaving an abrupt step between the end of the chamber and the bore. It showed itself when on occassion the bolt would not fully seat and the rifle would fail to fire. Removal of the cartridge then became problematical as the bullet was jambed into the rifling. I was thinking at first it was a mechanical problem that would not allow the bolt to open and not allow, on occasion, the gun to fire. The service station was perplexed and said nothing was wrong after I left them the gun to fire test. I finally discovered the missing reaming step in the chamber while contemplating the problem at home. I returned to the service station but the service station tech (I hesitate to call him a gunsmith!) was unable to even understand what I was talking about. I returned still again but with made up extra short and normal length dummy cartridges to demonstrate. They still did not believe me even though with a bright light you could see the step in the chamber. They reluctantly agreed to send it back to Browning where I might add it was fixed correctly and swiftly. This "gunsmith" organization also failed on a couple of other jobs I sent to them. It seems good gunsmiths are hard to find. Trial and error discovery of them seems wrong but the only way (??). Too bad Browning and S&W (also the S&W Service Center) put any faith in this outfit.
Had an ejector housing fall off a SBH. called ruger and gave an explation. had a new retaining screw free in a bout 3 days. There's a reason I won't buy the likes of Charter and Hipoint. 1. I want a manufacturer that's got a long proven track record and 2. a manufacturer that'll stand behind thier products years down the road.
It seems good gunsmiths are hard to find. Trial and error discovery of them seems wrong but the only way (??).
Yeah, LD, they sure are! Gunsmithing is, alas, a dying art these days. Even here in Colorado, where firearms are common, it's hard to find someone who is truly competent to work on them when repair is needed. When you hand over one of your "pieces" to be "operated on," it's kinda like telling the doc to go ahead and operate on your kid! That's why I have a tendency to send mine to the "Mayo Clinic" for repairs, that is, the factory, instead of some local hack.
You mentioned Charter. I believe that I have read that Charter has folded it's doors(again). In fact, I've been told that the parent company of HiPoint Firearms has bought them out. That would explain why you haven't heard anything. I've started seeing Charters at gun stores around here, going price is $149. That means that the store only gave someone $50-75 for it.
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Thanks for that info, Lead. I was wondering if they had dropped off the face of the earth, and it seems they have indeed. No great loss to the shooting world, I must say. If true, this would be the third time it's happened.
I bought one of the first HiPoint C9s and had a problem with the magazine floor plates. I talked to the factory 'smith a couple of times and was very happy with the response and service. I designed a different method of retaining the floor plate, they put it into production and sent me more magazines than I could use in two pistols. I was very pleased.