I bought my first Peterson in 1988, because the guy who got me into pipes had one, so it was a goal of mine to move up from drugstore pipes to a bent, smooth Pete like my smoking mentor had. Maybe such nostalgia is why my favorite pipe design is still a smooth bent Peterson with a silver ferrule and a black p-lip stem.
Another reason I like Petes - they have a long history with a plethora of traditional shapes to choose from. I have had an antique collectibles business for about twenty years, so Peterson also fits well with my collecting and my business - over fifty of my Petersons are pre-WWII.
If I didn't think they smoked great, I wouldn't acquire them. Every now and then I get a bad one (rarely with the old ones) and I simply get rid of it. But most of the poor smokers I've had were NOT Petersons.
Having said all that, I also love Castellos, Dunhills and pipes by quite a few artisans. And there are many factory pipes that I think are mostly crap, but I won't name names - why antagonize people who are happy with what they're smoking? We're all friends here, right?