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What Is The Problem With Kahr ?


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#1 buzzer

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 10:28 AM

This may be naive but -

Why is it that the Kahr Semi Thompsons seem to be generally considered low quality pieces of crap ? I can't believe that with modern CNC milling machines and all the high tech tools and instrumentation available today that they can't make a product that is as good or better than what was manufactured in the early and mid 1900s.

I know there is a lot to be said for old style craftsmanship, but modern weapons are generally considered superior to anything from back then - superior materials, higher reliability etc. Why can't Kahr make a decent Thompson ?
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#2 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 10:51 AM

I'm not sure CNC machined modern weapons are more durable, or of better quality than those made 80 or 100 years ago. Since not enough time has elapsed since the development of CNC weapons, it is premature to say that they will hold up as well as the TSMG from the 1920's. It is also in doubt that the materials today are superior than what the steel and components were 80 years ago. Certainly the bluing is not as sharp.

Look at modern furniture made using the same computerized techniques as compared to antique furniture. There is no comparison in the craftsmanship and attention to detail to furniture made 100's of years ago.

Modernization does not guarantee a superior product. In fact, in many cases, the loss of the hands on artisan only makes for a functioning product, but that product loses the essential ingredient which is pride in workmanship. If modern machinery and materials were all that was needed to insure a fool proof and rapid method for production, someone would be reproducing Cords and Dusenberg's today.

Why would Kahr even be interested in producing a quality firearm when the public continues to purchase them regardless of the quality control problems?

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#3 PK.

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 11:25 AM

CNC really means that you can duplicate the same features many times, be they good or bad.

The Kahr produced guns are hands down better than the WH made semi’s. The problem is they have carried over some of the incorrect dimensions from the WH guns and continued with the mag catch that requires ‘special’ mags, most of which are not altered correctly (even from the factory) and are a main part of the problems involving feeding.

The certain aspects of the design continue to be weak and are not readily addressed. However, with some proper tuning, they can be reasonably reliable and fun for those not able to enjoy the full auto experience.

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#4 Bob B

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 12:46 PM

According to Lawrence Heiskell's article "Tweaking West Hurleys" in the April '98 issue of TCN, West Hurley Thompson receivers and frames were machined from C-12L14 lead-bearing steel and not heat treated. By contrast, the original receivers had a higher carbon content and were carburized/casehardened. While the basic Thompson design is beefy enough not to be rendered structurally deficient by use of the softer material, there's no question that the material used in the originals is far superior for firearm construction. The only reason for using a free-machining lead-bearing steel and not heat treating it was to cut production costs to a minimum at the expense of quality. Don't know this for certain, but since Kahr took over the AOC production line I assume they continued to use 12L14 steel in their product as well. This is not at all to say that guns made of 12L14 are junk by definition, just that they aren't up to original standards for durability and wear. Add to this the (relatively) sloppy production techniques and poor QC, and what you wind up with is a product that needs work to make it "right".
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#5 TSMGguy

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 02:23 PM

I recently bought a new Colt reproduction WWI "Black Army" M1911 pistol. It was well under $900. Fit and finish are perfect. There is no play in the slide at all, nor in the barrel bushing, although all parts will readily interchange with an original gun. From a rest, with match ammunition, it shoots with my Gold Cup. The real story is the inside of the gun, where the surfaces are just as smooth and well finished as the exterior. There is no evidence of hand fitting, and I'm sure that none was needed. CNC produced? Wouldn't doubt it. The inside of my nearly mint 1914 produced M1911 looks pretty sad in comparison, and milling marks abound.

The better made gun of the two? No doubt in my mind: the modern reproduction. Which would I keep, given the choice of only one? The original, of course.

Arthur, they made cheap furniture hundreds of years ago, as well. It just didn't survive. "Pride of workmanship" can be programmed into both CNC machinery (down to the ten-thousandth of an inch!) and the modern manufacturing processes of which it is a part. The 1969 Triumph Bonneville? A leaky, cantankerous POS with extreme vibration. The 2003 Triumph Bonneville? A smooth work of art with amazing fit and finish that out-performs the original at every turn. I love them both, but I ride the 2003.

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#6 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 03:47 PM

TSMGGuy,

Perfection is not the hallmark of a well-crafted hand made piece of work. Whether it be a firearm, Louis XVI chair, or a motorcycle. You stress the fact that there can be found milling marks inside older receivers. Are these visible marks supposed to signify carelessness, or shoddy workmanship by your estimation? It is just the opposite. Those marks denote the human equation in the manufacturing process.

You talk about programing macro pride into 1/10,000 of an inch. Making it easier to make exact duplicates on a mass produced scale maybe the wave of the future, and even the present, but history has yet to prove whether expediency translates into long term marvel of the CNC machine's operator.

Obviously crappy furniture, or any product, has been manufactured, or crafted, since man fashioned a cutting implement from a stone. But to say that only the best crafted furniture from 100's of years ago survived out of attrition is to ignore the fact that many of these better crafted items were way more fragile and delicate than the run of the mill junk. So these examples didn't survive because they were sturdier, but because they were valued and appreciated.

As far as Triumph resurrecting the Bonneville brand, the classic British bike, along with Norton, were made at a time where problems with British labor, as well as non performing Lucas electrics, were rampant through out the industry. Do the new Triumphs keep their oil inside their cases and start up at the push of a button? Sure. Do they have 1/10,000th of the visceral appeal of their predecessors? No.

Could architects and construction companies reproduce the Empire State Building today? Maybe. But it would surly be cost ineffective; CNC or no CNC. But would it be any better than the 1931 version?

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#7 Ron A

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 04:43 PM

These guns are brought to you by the people who used to be in the airports begging for money, selling you a flower. The same people who came to your door attempting to sell Evis on velvet. The same ones who join in mass wedlock to people they have never met. People who con many children to leave or run away from home and join their flock;. What do you expect - Colt quality?

You don't get kissed or even Elvis on velvet anymore.

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#8 catnipman

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 10:11 PM

So, even if Ron is right about child slave labor being the main QC problem at Kahr, what was the excuse at AO West Hurley?
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#9 Norm

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 10:29 PM

QUOTE
What do you expect - Colt quality?


No; CULT quality! laugh.gif



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#10 Ron A

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 10:36 PM

I am not saying child labor - its the attitude of the company. Just phone or write them and try to get something done about a problem. I had a year of problems wiht 2 guns until I went somewhere else for repair at my expense.

Someone like PK can take their gun, rework them and make the problems go away. This is something Kahr could do prior to sales.

But, even with all of the help that has been offered to their company they don't change. The guns have feed problems due to way in which they alter the mag holes so they can use the full auto mag release. Little, if any effort is made to polish the feed ramp area. The spring in the mag hold open is too weak causing the bolt to be held back when a drum is used. I have seen many of the Kahrs that could work out of the box with another 1/2 hours work at the factory.

The product sells, so why change? The product is better than the WH's
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#11 Merry Ploughboy

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Posted 10 September 2004 - 07:01 AM

I ordered an accessory from Kahr in early July. My credit card was billed in early August even though the invoice states that the credit card will not be billed until ordered items are shipped. I have yet to receive the order. Their phone number and e-mail do not seem to be functional.

I will never deal with Kahr again for anything.

As for CNC machining, it works perfectly as long as the work piece is perfect. Humans can (if they have the skill and interest) adjust to the naturally occuring variations in the workpiece. I suppose very sophisticated CNC machines with highly accurate feedback measurement and adjustment technology could also. I am not familiar with the machinery Kahr uses but from all product reports, Kahr's facilities lack the level of technology to produce what a skilled human can.

MHOs.

Edited by Merry Ploughboy, 10 September 2004 - 07:01 AM.

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#12 96lt1ss

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Posted 12 September 2004 - 10:59 PM

I truly believe all their quality issuse have been clearly summed up:

"Why would Kahr even be interested in producing a quality firearm when the public continues to purchase them regardless of the quality control problems?"

I was operating CNC machines in the early 80's the technology was good to .001 of an inch or better. Todays machines can even account for wear of the tool in production manufacturing.

As for the machining marks on W/H's if the had slowed down the feed rate or increased the speed of the cutting tool they probably could have rectified the finish problems. Different factors need to be taken into account to determine what works best on the metal used, but it's simple basics.
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