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In the firearms business change is a way of life and a matter of fact. That is especially true when we talk about ammunition, but it can happen with firearms too.

Just because something was true twenty years ago doesn’t mean that it is today. May be, but my money is on “maybe not.” Usually that only applies when they got it wrong the first time because most manufacturers won’t willingly screw something up. Of course sometimes they do anyhow if a change they thought would be good wasn’t.

Even though, by any measure, guns and ammo are mature technologies both continue to evolve. We don’t see great big leaps as a rule but the entire industry is built upon the concept of new products and even though the industry’s definition of NEW sometimes amounts to little more than a change in color every segment has people working every day to find something we’ll buy.

There are several types of change and some we will never know about. Those are so-called process changes where they have found a better or cheaper way to do a job that does not impact the product as you and I know it. These usually happen “on the fly” and pass without notice.

There are product changes that do not affect the basic item but are driven by efforts to increase profit margins. That isn’t all bad and very much the American way. If it can be made to appear to add value for the customer that’s even better. Some time ago I was talking with a Smith & Wesson executive and he was telling me all about the good news that they were changing the stocks on “J” frame revolvers from wood to rubber and how much the customers would like it. I think I hit a sore spot when I said, “and you’ll save $5 a gun to boot.”

Sometimes a product change can be used to justify a price increase and if the customer really does think he’s getting more for his money that’s good. The danger is if he perceives that the quality is going down.

Sometimes a product change can backfire. The best example I know is when Kimber changed from the conventional extractor on their 1911 pistols to the external type. IMO they fell victim to all the hype that circulated about the “superiority” of external extractors, but to me it was a prime example of fixing something that wasn’t broke.

I could never get a good answer from Kimber, but it seems likely that the switch actually cost them a bit. I don’t see how exchanging one part for four can be economical. But when they went back to the original the message was pretty clear. The general public didn’t like it and voted at the cash register.

In fairness I had not a moment’s trouble with the several guns I had with the external extractor and although the rumor mill reported lots of them I treated it as I do most internet rumors… with disdain.
In the last 20 years we’ve seen a quantum leap in ammunition development. Bullets that would never expand do so routinely and every ammo company has a quality product. Of course everyone wants to know which one is best but by the criteria typically used there really isn’t a good answer. Today we may test a round and find that it penetrates an inch more than the competition and expands a few hundredths more. Some will say that one is best, but if we repeat the test tomorrow we may get a different answer. I’m sure that if we tested a few hundred… or maybe thousand… rounds we might be able to arrive at a statistically significant conclusion.

The important thing with defensive ammo is that each of the big four has a bullet that does the same thing as everyone else’s they just got there by a different route. There really aren’t big differences in performance between them.

Last year at the Shot Show I ran into an engineer I’ve known for a long time. He told me that they were working to improve a bullet. I saw him again last month at the NRA show and asked how it was going. He gave me a wry grin and said something like “it isn’t as easy as we thought.”

Change in bullet design or manufacture comes in tiny increments these days and can go un-noticed unless the maker tells us. When I was really studying ammo I would sometimes notice a tiny change in a skiving pattern which suggested a tweak rather than a change. But the point is that nobody is exactly resting on their laurels because they know very well that the other guys aren’t.

This topic came to my mind because of some earlier discussion about the .458. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t own one and the chances of me doing so are in the hell freezes over category although if somebody gave me one I bet I could have a dandy plinking load using Trail Boss as soon as I could gather the components.

The problem reported was one that dated back to when the cartridge was new- back in the 50s- and I would bet a lot of money somebody has figured that out by now. So this illustrates one of shootings biggest problems: bad news never dies and if the subject is something we’re interested in it is up to us to challenge old news. The late Fin Aagard had a great way of responding to rumors and such, “And you know this how,” he would ask?
 

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Interesting Charlie! Case in point, don't know if I told this here but,it bears repeating.

Seems a dissatisfied customer called Nosler and demanded to speak to John Nosler himself. Nosler got on the phone and the guy started telling him how his famous'Partition' wasn't as good as he thought. Evidently, the Customer had shot an Elk at 300 yards with a .30caliber Partition and the animal went almost one-hundred feet before it dropped. Mr. Nosler then interrupted the customer and asked."Sir, at which point during the animal's death did the bullet fail."
 

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Charlie Petty said:
if we tested a few hundred… or maybe thousand… rounds we might be able to arrive at a statistically significant conclusion.
Which may or may not have any practical significance, even if statistically significant.

Retmsgt. said:
Mr. Nosler then interrupted the customer and asked."Sir, at which point during the animal's death did the bullet fail."
Touché!
 

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On the other hand, you have change because of perceptions and/or requests for proposal that weren't fully thought through.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to closely examine a SCAR16. I was prepared by previous fondling last year to really like the item. I discovered that the rather short fore end had been so factory festooned with rails and the rubber bumper for the folding stock, that my hand literally wouldn't fit on it. When I commented on this, the FN rep produced a bright smile and an accessory handle that clamps to one of the rails. He seemed puzzled by my lack of enthusiasm, saying something to the effect that everybody uses them.

Now that I mentioned the folding stock, it also has an height adjustable cheeekpiece and the length is also readily adjustable [that being the case, why must it fold?]. In short, it's a tinkerers delight. The cheekpiece is positioned to delight stock crawlers, the whole assembly appears spindly and unlikely to survive rough handling, much less being used as a step or impact weapon. I suspect that whoever develops a version that's less readily user adaptable will make a mint. Especially if it's a fixed stock.

I guess this is what troop trials are for, although the Garand was in service before someone noticed it didn't work in the rain without grease on the rear of the bolt, resulting in a design revision.
 

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William R. Moore said:
I guess this is what troop trials are for, although the Garand was in service before someone noticed it didn't work in the rain without grease on the rear of the bolt, resulting in a design revision.
That's why I love this board. That is a piece of history I was totally unaware of, and had never heard or read about anywhere else! :thumbsup:
 

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IrishCop said:
William R. Moore said:
I guess this is what troop trials are for, although the Garand was in service before someone noticed it didn't work in the rain without grease on the rear of the bolt, resulting in a design revision.
That's why I love this board. That is a piece of history I was totally unaware of, and had never heard or read about anywhere else! :thumbsup:
It's those troop trials that bring a weapon to maturity. The latest and greatest designs are all great, but you can say that about a lot of things; because failures are rarely failures of design. Often failures on arms come from materials, manufacturing process, and how the end user employs the weapon.

The latest craze over all the different "piston" AR's just makes me laugh. Everyone has a "better design" than the original and the buyers of those rifles are just positve they have a better weapon than the trusty ole M16. But none of those designs have had full on infantry employment in various parts of the world. Sure, by design it's supposed to be better. But most don't realize that nearly all of the "legendary" infantry weapons, just plain didn't work worth a crap their first 5 years in service, and rarely was it ever the design that was changed; it was usually materials and method of manufacture.
 

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The latest craze over all the different "piston" AR's just makes me laugh.
:thumbsup:
Just another example of unproven theory... or maybe fixing something that ain't broke.

It is surely true that the M-16 got off to a rocky start in Nam but that was over 40 years ago.
 

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Kevin said," It's those troop trials that bring a weapon to maturity. The latest and greatest designs are all great, but you can say that about a lot of things; because failures are rarely failures of design. Often failures on arms come from materials, manufacturing process, and how the end user employs the weapon. "


Sir, wait til you're part of one of those 'Troop-trials'. Ask me how far I could throw an Armalite at age 19.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
It is surely true that the M-16 got off to a rocky start in Nam but that was over 40 years ago.
And most of that was the gov't screwing around. :x
 
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