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  1. After a long wait I finally got my hands on a 929 to use in place of my custom 686 plus for ICORE Open class. I decided to give you all a detailed report. It is a lengthy write up but a review should be to include all you should know. Soooo... lets begin: I was excited about finally upgrading to an 8 shot from a 7. Also happy thinking alot of the usual tuning work to make a revolver competition ready would already be done as advertised. Specifically a smooth fitted Performance center action, chamfered charge holes, and a sharp broach cut barrel. Before I describe what I found let me say it is unrealistic to expect that even a performance center gun would be comprable to a full custom worked gun. I expected to do some little detail work. But in the great words of Jerry Reed "Brother I didn't know it was gonna that much"...After inserting some snap caps and running the action in both single and double I found it to be... well unexpectedly rough and a heavy pull. In single action the "clicks" were not define and sharp but rather dull as if there was cotton packed in the action. The pull weight to break the hammer was a bit heavier than expected but not overly horrible. In double action it was gritty and rough like dragging plastic across 80 grit with a stacking up pull. For a comparible reference my 1987 made model 36 untouched from the factory was crisper and more pleasant on the trigger finger. So after disassembling the action I found very little evidence of any fitting what so ever. The only contact surfaces between the hammer and sears that was even touched was the single action sear hook on the trigger body and the double action sear on the hammer. They were both rough ground to the spec'd angle but left unstoned and rough! All other contacting trigger to hammer surfaces were untouched. When I say untouched I mean the mating points were riding on the flash (the excess material that oozes out the mold seam in the MIM (aka cintering) process) of the hammer and trigger. Also the rebound slide surfaces were rough with uneven surfaces. The frame surfaces where the rebound slide rides was also left as a horribly rough machined surface. There were more resistance prone surfaces in this thing than any other Smith revo I have ever seen. Couple that with a grossly heavy mainspring and 18lb rebound spring you better have a strong trigger finger. So after a complete stoning with a fine india stone to break the flash followed by a hard Arkansas (white) stone to all mating surfaces and inner frame including the burrs on the side plate. Then lightening the mainspring and a replacement 12-13lb rebound spring the action was smooth, crisp, and non stacking. Now it clicks like breaking glass and cycles without bruising my finger!! On a side note, contrary to popular belief, the MIM process creates a very dense and hard part that is very durable. It is just as durable and in most cases more durable than just a color case hardening. I bobbed the hammer, smoothed & rounded the trigger. A die grinder was necessary to cut off the hammer spur as a hack saw was futile to the job whereas Ive hacksawed color case hardened hammers easily. Now onto the Cylinder. To advertise it had chamfered charge holes is not untrue but a stretch on the implied result. The only chamfering was on the extractor that emconpasses 40% of the charge hole edge. The other 60% of the charge hole is of the actual cylinder and left untouched. It was a sharp 90 degree edge that was quite sharp. Sharp enough to shear copper or lead by just dropping in a moonclip when they did drop in cleanly. During test moonclip reloads with dummy rounds the edges of the case mouths hung up on that edge more often than not despite a normal taper crimp. So a full chamfer is a must here. Forget the hand chamfer tools here. To get good results cutting titanium you need a carbide cutter run at higher spindle speeds with a constant oil bath to prevent overheating the poor heat disapating Ti. If no mill or fixtures at your disposal your sending it out for this work....HSS cutters on hand run tools are OUT!! The cylinder was also quite hard to open. The centerpin lacked a good radius on the tip and was heavily marred and marked up. The Center pin tip looked like the end of a worn out end mill. To add to that the bolt (aka cylinder catch) was short stroked and could barely push the centerpin out enough to clear the latch hole. I'm here to tell you it was a bastadrly beast to pop open. Forget popping it open with just your index finger of your strong hand for those stage start reloads off the bench. After dressing the center pin tip radius up + a polish and giving the bolt some additional forward movement it opened smoothly as it should. I have to mention this is also the first time I ever had to address the centerpin and bolt marriage on a smith. Additionally the cylinder turned on the yoke like a brake drume on over adjusted break shoes. After polishing out the drag marks on the yoke it was able to spin tightly and effortlesly. Now lets adress the barrel...yeah theres more! The forcing cone is cut and left rough as hell. ALmost looks like tapered pipe threads in there. I know this is a contested issue as to whether or not it is critical to the accuracy. My opinion is if its not as good as it could be it is certainly not going to help the issue. So a cleaner cut on the forcing cone is something easy to achieve and should therefore be expected from the factory. So I am contemplating dressing it up or just recut to a taylor style..TBD. Now the crown....its deplorable to say the least. The recessed 90 cut left a rough marred surface I would be ashamed of. Also the lands are left with curled in burred edges at the crown. This is indicative to a dull cutter used on the crown after the barrel was brached. Makes you wonder how long there pushing there tooling to save a buck? In an effort to reduce chattering when re-crowning I shot a cylinder worth of stiff jacketed bullets to knock them down. It sheared off and deposited enough lead and guilding metal in the crowns recess to swage a full 17 HMR projectile. So I re-cut the crown with an 11 degree cut and chamfered the bore to crown edge with a brass button and 500 grit lapping compound. Ok thats the mechanical now onto the astetics. The finish was well done and matched between all stainless parts. I have to say the chrome plating on the hammer and trigger are an ok to match the rest of the gun but become less than pleasing as they marr easily. In short order it gives the hammer and trigger a toy cap gun look actually. A stainless set bead blasted would be more astetically fitting and better matching. Of course a matte polished stainless finish to the whole gun would be a nice upgrade to its looks but that is a matter of opinion and not the end of the world here. The side plate mates well as does the yoke to the frame. But the air gap between the barrel underlug and frame was a bit hard to accept...a tighter fit would be nice. As my preference I would also like to see a relief cut to the bottom of the left side blast shield/shroud. It would eliviate any interference with a moonclip load. Very little clearance between the path to the charge hole and that shield potruding out. As far as weight and handling goes its positive there. The 929 is considerably lighter than one might think by the mass of this beast thanks in part to the Titanium cylinder. It moves quick and easily during transitions. The balance is quite good and not nose heavy as it might appear at first glance. The longer barrel is a welcomed aspect for those of you who will be using the iron sights for a forgiving sight radius. In conclusion my thoughts are that this revolver has alot going for it for competitive use. Good balance, easy to drive, and manipulate. WIth a "finally tuned action"..(yes I meant "finally" as in not having it when you expected and waiting to get it...my dig of a joke) it is as smooth and crisp as any fine worked revolver out there. The 9mm (9x19) brings distinct advantages to the table with with it's vast availability and choices, small case volume for more uniform ignition shot to shot, short case for reliable extraction and charging in speed loads, low recoil, and of course the flexibility of 8 rounds. As far as accuracy goes I have not extensively tested it yet as my attention has been on working out the variables that would hinder accuracy results. That coupled with living in the Anarctic region of the Northeast has detered me from venturing out to the range. Not easy to comfortably shoot for precision when your dressed like the younger brother from "A Christmas Story". I will report back on that when it warms up. Anyway I believe this is the most versatile and most capable revolver platform ever available for revolver run & gun to date. It unfortunately requires some work to achieve its potential out of the box. It does not by any means live up to the results expected from the performance center. To put it plainly the extra cost associated to the moniker is simply not reflected into what you get. All in all the lack of addresed detail for the pricepoint is its only downfall really. The durability and capability are there just needing to be brought out with some work. So to advertise it is "competition ready out of the box" is not the case. I would re-coin it's slogan to "the ultimate competition revolver thats almost there out of the box" Thank you for reading my detailed review and I hope this helps in getting to know this new kid on the block. I am looking forward to your comments!
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