I've suspected we're seeing a couple of things happening which are sending contradictory signals.
First, many "average handgun owners" seem to be shooting more than in earlier years. I remember when it wasn't uncommon for someone to still have their original "new" box of ammunition, with rounds still remaining in it, after having owned a semiauto pistol for some years.
Nowadays casual shooters can participate in IDPA, and not have to become dedicated competitive shooters.
I remember when aluminum alloy framed pistols weren't expected to be subjected to thousands of rounds being fired through them.
I remember when a magazine article at the end of the 70's was written to put to rest potential owner concerns that an alloy Commander could last 5,000 rounds.
How about the expected frame service life of a major brand of military alloy pistol being specified at 5,000 rounds even at the end of the 80's, or the maker of another major brand of 9mm pistol at the same time saying their guns should last for 10,000 rounds? (I have a FBI report from the end of the 80's which contains both these bits of info ... as well as how a couple of major brands of alloy pistols had been observed to start exhibiting cracked frames as soon as 10,000 rounds.)
I think we've seen continual materials, design and manufacturing improvements, and longer useful service lives, from offerings from the major makers since those times.
Then we've seen the introduction of widespread use of plastic compounds for pistol frames.
Unfortunately, I also think we've been seeing some firearms products being rushed to market before all the normal teething pains have been observed, identified and addressed, too. Market demand and sales in recent years have set records.
Then, there's the not uncommon 2-edged sword of making a change to address one problem, or make an improvement, only to encounter an unexpected new problems or issue. Unintended consequences, in other words.
The ammunition companies have seemingly been pushed to their production limits, too. When you get one or another of the major makers who start running 24 hour shifts and can produce up to 1 millions rounds every 24 hours, and who are trying to meet LE/Gov orders for contracts involving 200-400+ million rounds, or millions of dollars of ammo (depending on how the bid/procurement is stated) ... well, QC might understandably take a hit at some point, right?
I've had to have my fair share of older revolvers and pistols repaired or corrected before they'd work as designed and intended. I've seen it less so in more recent years (notwithstanding the "teething pains" issue with brand new models, or significant revisions of existing designs
I think we're seeing better guns from the major makers. Or, at least those who are trying to make major sales to LE/Gov buyers.
Don't forget that the age of the internet, and anyone being able to post anything online, has created an amazing wealth of "information" that can be disseminated at the speed of light, too.
Combine this with an increase in firearms owners, and owners who are actually doing more shooting, and it's not surprising we're being exposed to all manner of "more information".
Good luck trying to vet all that info, though.
As a LE firearms armorer who has attended more than 20 armorer classes (including recerts), I'm no longer surprised and amazed at the sheer volume of dubious, dangerous, incorrect, etc info to be found online.