Parts count on popular guns and importance?


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PaladinX13
September 28, 2005, 11:33 AM
Anyone that's listened to Glock's marketing know that they say that their handguns are made up of only 33 parts (50% than most).

What are the advantages of a low parts count? How important is it?
And what are the parts count of some other pistols you trust with your life?
Any (good ones) lower than Glock?

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dk-corriveau
September 28, 2005, 12:04 PM
Number of parts comes into play with the likelihood of failure. Simply put, the fewer parts you have the lower the chance of having a part failure. Furthermore, the number of parts also comes into play with the simplicity of design. The simpler the design, the fewer number of moving parts, and the more reliable the machine, generally speaking. However, if two operations can be performed by one part, but the failure rate of the part or of the operation is high enough, one may be better off with two parts. Bottom line is, there is no clear black a white answer and Glock's claim that their guns are better because they have fewer parts is a bit of a stretch.

I would happily trust my life to my 1911. A basic Series 80 Colt has 58 total parts. But what is more importatn is the number of moving parts. For example, ten of those 58 parts are the grips, grip screws, and grips screw bushings. All of which are important parts, but play very little into the reliability of the 1911 from a mechanical design point of view. That being said, I am not sure how many of the 58 parts has a significant impact on the design reliability of the 1911. And by way of comparison, the Springfield XD has 47 parts.

VG
September 28, 2005, 12:28 PM
Parts count is sometimes used to predict reliability of a system. The stress a part is under and the quality of the parts are more important in most devices, though. A Yugo has fewer parts than most cars, as one example.

If you are in the early design stage you may not know the final shape of the part or assembly; the material; or the manufacturing tolerances. So parts count may be your only choice. And in general, as the parts count go up the reliability of a system goes down. This general information is no more informative than the information that we will all die someday.

Firearms made of molded or cast parts can have fewer parts because those technologies allow more complex geometry and consolidation of function than machined or forged parts.

One reason why firearms companies have been investing in 3D design and analysis tools is that it allows the engineer to evaluate more choices in less time before production. FEA (Finite Element Analysis) tools are often used today to learn if a design is strong enough and if the stress on the part is low enough for it to last the design life of the product. Several articles appeared about both Smith & Wesson and Walther using SolidWorks (a popular solid modeling product) to design new products. The solid model is an electronic representation of the part, and material properties can be applied which can then be analyzed.

Parts count is simple for consumers to understand and so firearm marketers would logically emphasize it. Most firearm manufacturers don't market their use of sophisticated engineering tools because they don't want to educate competitors about their methods. CAD/CAM/CAE use in the industry ranges from state of the art down to "Wha?"

ABBOBERG
September 28, 2005, 01:08 PM
Cars and commercial jets have tens of thousands of parts and peoples lives depend on them every day. What counts is the engineering that goes into each part.

Most gunnies seem to agree that revolvers are more reliable that autos, but have part counts in the 80's.

I think that the Glock part count is inaccurate. Looking in my "exploded view" book at a Glock-provided drawing, a sub-assembly is shown as being "one" part. I'd say there are at least half a dozen parts in the sub assembly.

45auto
September 28, 2005, 01:44 PM
There's a lot of "assemblies" on the 1911 that I don't take apart when detailing the gun.

I happen to have a series 80 apart on the bench for a cleaning and I count 27 seperate parts, grips are still on. Take them off and add 6 parts.

For example, the mainspring housing is listed as 4 parts, on the bench it's 1.
Frame is 1 on the bench because I don't remove the 4 bushings, ejector or plunger tube...7 listed parts.

Barrel is 1 on the bench, 3 listed parts, etc, etc.

No real point to the above, just an observation. ;)

Shear_stress
September 28, 2005, 03:02 PM
And in general, as the parts count go up the reliability of a system goes down. This general information is no more informative than the information that we will all die someday.

Great point. It is difficult to compare the effects of parts count because there are so many other factors that determine reliablility. The only way parts count would tell you much is if all other factors had been normalized between guns. Then you would be able to draw some correlation between reliability and additional parts count. In reality it is pretty hard to do this, so a better method to determine reliabilty is to look at failures between a statistically meaningful sample of each model of gun. Even that can get pretty complicated because of ammunition choices, differences in maintenance, etc.

We need an industrial engineer to chime in here.

dk-corriveau
September 28, 2005, 03:49 PM
And in general, as the parts count go up the reliability of a system goes down. This general information is no more informative than the information that we will all die someday.
VG,

I agree, that is why I said in GENERAL. I certainly did not say that parts count was the sole determining factor in reliability, however it is a factor to be considered. Bottom line is that with an increase in the number of parts you will have a more complex machine and more opportunities for a failure to occur. Overall reliability, however, is a function of part count, the failure rate for each part, the effect of each failure, and what you mean when you speak of reliability.

For example, taking an airplane from one to two identical engines increases the likelihood of an engine failure. From a reliability standpoint, you are now looking at a greater anticipated repair and maintenance expense due to failure. However, the reliability of the airframe from a safety point of view is greater (assuming you only need one engine from the get go). I know this is a silly and simple example, but it does illustrate

Anyway, as I said, there is no clear black and white answer (in other words part count is not the be all and end all) and Glock's claim that their guns are better (or more reliable) because they have fewer parts is a bit of a stretch!

Shear_stress
September 28, 2005, 05:44 PM
Glock's claim is silly also because a many of the reliability problems people experience with semi-auto pistols have nothing to do with part failure (which would be a function of the number of parts), but are determined by the quality or design of the parts themselves. In fact, semi-auto reliability can be heavily influenced by a handful of parts shared by a wide range of guns, no matter how complex they may otherwise be.

Take 1911 internal extractors, for example. Though a single part, the reliability can vary considerably across brands of 1911 pistol. So, we have a situation where a large number of pistols share a single part of common basic design, but do not share the same degree of extraction reliability. Why? Well, identical-looking extractors can be made to different tolerances, made from different materials, fitted to different standards, and can be tuned to different spring rates. However, all these various versions of the 1911 share the same parts count.

JohnKSa
September 28, 2005, 11:59 PM
I see a low parts count as one measure of the ingenuity and talent of the designer/design team.

As already pointed out, there are a lot of other factors that go into durability and reliability. However, if you want a good gun, you need a good design and a good implementation. A low parts count might be seen as evidence that the design is decent.

More to the point, an unnecessarily HIGH parts count is probably a sign that things could have been done better...

NIB
September 29, 2005, 05:07 PM
Glocks parts count is totally inaccurate.

Their trigger and trigger bar thingy whatever it's called is counted as 1 part but it's actually made of 6 parts if I remember. They also count front and rear sights as 1 part. The captured recoil spring and guide rod is consisdered 1 part but in reality is 3 parts.

Dr.Rob
September 29, 2005, 06:52 PM
HK VP70 was sold as having 'only 4 moving parts' --it's marketing.

Moonclip
September 29, 2005, 08:21 PM
I think the "low tech" Makarov actually has a smaller parts count than a Glock. Don't Germanic weapons generally have a high parts count?

JohnKSa
September 29, 2005, 10:37 PM
Don't Germanic weapons generally have a high parts count?I've seen this listed as one of their disadvantages in WWII. Their stuff usually worked better than ours, but when it broke or was damaged, it was down for the count--it was generally too complicated for the grunts to fix.

Our stuff wasn't as good, on average, but when it broke or was damaged, it was relatively easy to fix.

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