Is the age of aluminum alloy framed handgun a thing of the past?


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AirPower
October 2, 2005, 04:08 PM
Alloy guns used to be everywhere, Sig Sauer, Beretta, Ruger but these days all new models tend to be polymer guns. Steel guns are still popular (or necessary) in certain handgun types such as 1911, HiPower. Since the advent of polymer guns, the alloy frames lacked both weight savings and flexibilty of the new material so I can see why polymer is the wave of the future.

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Old Fuff
October 2, 2005, 04:37 PM
Polymer is indeed going to be the wave .....

While the tooling to produce the frames (or whatever) is expensive, the parts themselves are dirt-cheap. The alternative materials only make economic sense if the proposed quantity of product isn't enough to justify tooling costs.

However the maker still has to satisfy the ultimate buyer, meaning you.

Somehow I can't see "plastic" cap & ball revolvers ... :neener:

KONY
October 2, 2005, 05:05 PM
Arguably, the CZ P-01 is a "new" design that is aluminum. I think I read somewhere that steel slides riding on aluminum frames leads to premature frame wear when compared to steel riding on a polymer frame.

EghtySx
October 2, 2005, 05:07 PM
I have a Colt XSE lightweight commander for a carry gun. It has an aluminum alloy frame coated in teflon.

chris in va
October 2, 2005, 05:19 PM
Not everyone likes polymer, yet we still want lighter weight. I think aluminum will be around for a while.

phantomak47
October 2, 2005, 05:47 PM
Polymer might be light weight, but it is extremely cheap to produce. While most gun makers are looking to produce a quality product, lets face it profit is the goal of any buisness. They arent making a product to break even.Polymer does have many advantages, but cost of making a pistol plays a big role. 1911 guys arent going to warm up to a polymer frame any time soon.

The cost of a polymer glock frame is around $4.00. Do the math

Zundfolge
October 2, 2005, 05:50 PM
While most gun makers are looking to produce a quality product, lets face it profit is the goal of any buisness.

True, poly is cheaper then steel or aluminum alloy but one thing that many people forget is that there are people out there who LOVE poly guns ... who buy them OVER steel ... and their numbers are a significant chunk of the market.

Even if poly was more expensive to work with then aluminum, I bet you'd still find as many guns being made out of it.

Ala Dan
October 2, 2005, 06:19 PM
as the lightweight polymer frame guns haven't been 'round long enough to
establish a good "read" on their durability. Its just been since the early 80's
that the first generation Glock's arrived here in the good ole' U.S. of A. :D

Safety First
October 2, 2005, 06:29 PM
I think S&W has the right idea. They are making light weight alloy guns stronger by adding a pinch of Scandium in the mix. So it is reported it adds tensile strength to the light weight alloy to nearly the extent of all steel. I have the S&W 1911Sc in the Commander size version, it is a very well designed gun for the money. I am just waiting on S&W to add a true CCO to the line up in a light weight version, I don't think I will be able to resist it for a carry gun..
The demand for light weight carry guns for CCW purposes will continue to grow since states are now giving us back our rights to carry, (that's another subject all together) demand will hopefully fuel the improvement for carry guns well into the future, I hope...Just my thoughts on your question.

CAnnoneer
October 2, 2005, 07:20 PM
I don't see myself buying a plastic handgun any time soon. So long as there are customers like me, the companies would continue making alloy-frame and steel-frame guns. They may be more expensive to make, but they also fetch a higher pricetag too.

My long-term prediction would be companies concentrating more and more on interchangeability of parts within their line of similar weapons and within models themselves. Then they'd keep some unassembled inventory and assemble different variants according to what the market is requesting at the moment.

TMM
October 2, 2005, 07:31 PM
i never really liked aluminum- or alloy-framed guns... polymer, though... i like that.

~TMM

KONY
October 2, 2005, 08:21 PM
TMM,

If your sig rings true about your age then I am not surprised! :neener:

Seven High
October 2, 2005, 10:37 PM
I believe that you will soon see polymer and aluminun slides on auto pistols.

JohnKSa
October 2, 2005, 11:21 PM
Probably.

The polymer frames seem to be a good deal more durable than aluminum...

AirPower
October 3, 2005, 12:12 AM
Polymer with steel inserts seem to be the best solution for light weight and durable firearms. There's always talk of 1911 steel frame cracks, Beretta alloy frame cracks, but you seldom hear about polymer frame cracks (unless due to KB).

specoperator
October 3, 2005, 12:41 AM
SIG is still making a alloy frame, and their SIGPRO series is all but done, at least that's the word from my dealers, so if you have a SIGPRO, it will be an item to keep for collectors value. I have yet to see a 1911 platform in polymer, and probably wont. I dont know of one handgun enthusiast will purchase a John Browning design if made in polymer. although H&K is probably the best at applying a polymer frame, afterall, they were the first to introduce it, not Gaston Glock, they have demonstrated that thier polymer is as good or better than most alloy when applied to the tortures of combat. SIG is still one of the better guns going with an alloy frame, and they have proven that they are not in the business of making tupperware anymore.

KONY
October 3, 2005, 01:02 AM
I dont know of one handgun enthusiast will purchase a John Browning design if made in polymer.

I'd be willing to bet that once you learned that such a person bought a JMB design polymer handgun, you'd probably start doubting whether he was an "enthusiast" in the first place. ;)

I said this jokingly but I think its true. Myself? I really like the idea of polymer. I like the weight savings, durability, etc. Heck, they even look ok to me. Only reason I don't own more is because I just haven't found any that I shoot as well as my wheelguns yet. The new Smith M&P will be the next candidate. :cool:

hnm201
October 3, 2005, 07:04 AM
I love polymer (go glock or go home) but you can't put wood grips on a poly frame. However, you can put sexy wood on a aluminum frame. A Colt XSE lightweight commander is the way to go.

Yet, I am very curious about that S-n-W M&P. Could be a glock killer for sure.

otomik
October 3, 2005, 07:50 AM
look at the Browning BDM, all steel and very lightweight.

Eugene Stoner came into firearms design as an outsider using aluminum materials from the aerospace industry, similarly the outsider Gaston Glock did the same thing with polymer. I'm not sure what the next big thing is, "scandium" is mostly marketing, not much scandium in the mix and there isn't any gun that's "total titanium", all are alloys. What i think is interesting right now is Beretta's PX4, Cx4 and 9000S which all have fiberglass reinforced thermoplastics (like on the F35 JSF). Kel-Tec also impresses me in how they make guns with polymer grips/body, aluminum frame and steel slide. One also have to keep in mind that at a certain point weight saving are detremental to performance (smith and wesson .357 scandium snubbies, carbon-15 rifles uncomfortable to shoot with even a "poodleshooter" round). Perhaps with modern design steel can catch up to offer enough weight savings at a good price. All and all it's quiet possible that the Browning BDM is the wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future. ;)

MrAcheson
October 3, 2005, 11:43 AM
but you seldom hear about polymer frame cracksPerhaps you aren't listening hard enough. Taurus Millenium Pistols had a real problem with frame cracking not too long ago.

45auto
October 3, 2005, 01:01 PM
Sig seems to be the only non-plastic gun that you read about getting large contracts. There are exceptions of course.

I don't think the vast majority of people shoot enough rounds through one gun to crack an aluminum or plastic frames. Often those cracks are cosmetic and not a functional problem, depending on the gun. The "other" parts of the gun are the ones that can give you trouble...no plastic or aluminum slides for me. ;)

RON in PA
October 3, 2005, 01:44 PM
Polymer frame Browning design: Israeli Bul version of 1911.

Rexrider
October 3, 2005, 04:10 PM
Personally, I don't care what they make it out of as long as it works everytime I pull the trigger.

Steel, aluminum alloy, polymer, I like them all (and I own at least one of each). I am more concerned with the design then the materials.

otomik
October 3, 2005, 04:16 PM
Polymer-frame Browning design: South African SMB version of Hi-Power.
http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Polymer%20Frame.htm

dsk
October 4, 2005, 03:37 AM
If I have to choose between polymer and aluminum I'll take the plastic any day of the week. And this is coming from a die-hard all-steel 1911 man! Aluminum is a pain in the butt, because black anodizing nicks easily yet can't be easily repaired, I always seem to find fine aluminum shavings when I clean the firearm, and because I flat don't trust the material to be durable. I've seen too many alloy 1911 frames with boogered feed ramps, and more than a few guns with press-fit through pins that began to walk once the holes began to enlarge. And I won't even begin to mention the issues with frame cracking. While it is of course entirely possible to screw up a polymer frame (such as the issues with Taurus mentioned earlier), if the design is properly thought-out the problems are minimal.

dustind
October 4, 2005, 06:41 AM
All and all it's quiet possible that the Browning BDM is the wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future. Maybe the Browning BDM is the wave of the future, but first could you show me the blue prints? I want you to show me the blue prints. Show me the blue prints, show me the blue prints, show me the blue prints... :D That was a great movie.

I personally like composite frames for their weight savings.

I think a lot of frame cracking has to due with poor designs and a lack of understanding about fatigue and finite element analysis(FEA).

rsilvers
July 6, 2008, 09:19 PM
I think S&W has the right idea. They are making light weight alloy guns stronger by adding a pinch of Scandium in the mix. So it is reported it adds tensile strength to the light weight alloy to nearly the extent of all steel.

It seems that Scandium is a marketing gimmick, tricking people who are not familiar with alloy selection. Scandium alloys were designed to give the strength of 7075 while still being weldable. In other words, Scandium is the strongest weldable aluminum alloy, but not stronger than 7075 or 7068. Having the cool name seems to have worked though. Nothing on the Smith is welded so there seems to be no advantage over 7075.

If anyone makes a 7068 alloy 1911 frame, I am interested.

SureThing
July 6, 2008, 09:56 PM
I agree, it took me a while to warm up to poly frames, but now I have no problem with them, as long as they have steel inserts. There are some poly framed guns where the slide rides on the poly frame with no inserts.

I think the Poly Rami CZ, and Ruger P series polys do.

That is why I have never liked the XD, the rear frame is poly, with a chunky steel fram insert around where the trigger is.

GearHead_1
July 6, 2008, 10:21 PM
The cost of a polymer glock frame is around $4.00.I don't necessarily disagree but this piece of trivia came from where?

grendelbane
July 6, 2008, 11:10 PM
Since I am seriously considering purchasing a new Colt LW Commander, my opinion would have to be that it is not over.

I have fired a few polymer frame pistols. I am not against them, but except for the USG, I have not really been impressed either. FN's new pistols look pretty good, so far. I can't get into Glocks, not because of their construction, but because I just can't seem to get used to their triggers.

Maybe some day I will meet a nice polymer frame pistol I want to take home, it just hasn't happened yet.

coda323
July 6, 2008, 11:39 PM
the kz-45 is polymer...I have read only positive comments about it.

phantomak47
July 7, 2008, 12:56 AM
I have a family member that is an expert in plastics and certain metals, he has his PHD in materials science, sort of like a chemist.

neviander
July 7, 2008, 01:04 AM
the lightweight polymer frame guns haven't been 'round long enough to
establish a good "read" on their durability.

I'm no expert, but I've heard tell of people putting 150k rounds through their Glocks with nary a problem. Are we talking strictly length of time here? That polymer will probably outlast quite a few steel framed autos out there, if that's the case.

there isn't any gun that's "total titanium"
What mixture are Taurus' titanium selections?

klover
July 7, 2008, 01:31 AM
guns are really made of.

Polymer guns might creep over time? That is, their dimensional stability is in
doubt in my mind.

I be a through and through metal guy, whatever the alloy.
Who cares about a few little flakes of metal now and again. Just burnish the burrs and put some Breakfree on it, and it will last forever. Not to mention
hardened steel parts wearing against other hardened steel parts.

Give me a break! Look at some of the tools in tool and die shops that have google hours of hard use on them. Look at the plastics injection molds that have cranked millions of parts!

No plastic here.:p

wristtwister
July 7, 2008, 01:38 AM
I suspect that there will always be a market for all kinds of gun frames and all types of materials. Just like autoloaders were supposed to be the "wave of the future", there are still plenty of wheel guns manufactured... and if I remember from my last trip to the gun store, they're still manufacturing black powder guns as well... and there's a good market.

Just like I have a preference for certain manufacturers, I have preferences in the kind of guns I have for specific purposes. I don't think they'll be selling me any scaled down "sissie pistols" in polymer, but I might take a polymer framed gun if it had the right characteristics... or pick up an aluminum framed one... or even a steel or stainless one. "Shooting needs" can drive what you buy or trade for, and I've got quite an assortment... some of each, in fact... so I don't think that the days of aluminum frames is gone... The manufacturers might quit using them, but they'll be traded and exchanged for some time to come.

What I find interesting is that while the price of the materials have dropped significantly with polymer guns, the prices are going higher... a la "high profit", and I certainly have no problem with a company making money... just deliver a product that will last if you're going to build it with cheaper materials than I'm used to and make me pay through the snoot for it. The history isn't complete on polymer guns yet, but the current data looks good... however, it's hard to make one look as good as a good looking brushed chrome job on a steel pistol, so I think that somebody will keep on making "old stuff" for quite some time. Same for aluminum framed...

WT

lechiffre
July 7, 2008, 03:27 AM
yep. it's all over for aluminum framed semi-autos. has been for 10 years. the browning bdm was the last steel frame auto introduced.

lechiffre
July 7, 2008, 03:28 AM
double post

borntwice
July 11, 2008, 03:09 AM
I don't like polymer/plastic guns - they just don't feel "right" to me. That is why I purchased a CZ 75 P-01. A plastic gun is meant for children to play with (ie: a "cap gun"). A real gun should be all metal, in my opinion. I know LEO's carry plastic guns all day long, but that still doesn't change my opinion. I like metal - even heavy metal.

Pilot
July 11, 2008, 04:08 AM
I don't like polymer/plastic guns - they just don't feel "right" to me. That is why I purchased a CZ 75 P-01. A plastic gun is meant for children to play with (ie: a "cap gun"). A real gun should be all metal, in my opinion. I know LEO's carry plastic guns all day long, but that still doesn't change my opinion. I like metal - even heavy metal.

X2. I have one polymer framed gun, an HK USP Tactical .45. Great gun, but if feels like a toy compared to my other steel or alloy framed guns.

ugaarguy
July 11, 2008, 05:18 AM
It seems that Scandium is a marketing gimmick, tricking people who are not familiar with alloy selection. Scandium alloys were designed to give the strength of 7075 while still being weldable. In other words, Scandium is the strongest weldable aluminum alloy, but not stronger than 7075 or 7068. Having the cool name seems to have worked though. Nothing on the Smith is welded so there seems to be no advantage over 7075.

If this is true why isn't Taurus offering a 7075 or 7068 aluminum J Frame size .357 Mag clone? Their aluminum frame .38s of similar size are amongst their best sellers, and amongst S&W's strongest competition. Maybe it is a marketing gimmick. Then again, maybe S&W has tried and 7068 & 7075 frames don't hold up to .357 and .44 Mag recoil like the Scandium alloy frames do.

I'd love to learn more if you have time to expound.

jlh26oo
July 11, 2008, 05:58 AM
Polymer is lighter, cheaper, more flexible, and I.M.O. less prone to frame cracks. However, I still prefer alloy because while not as light as polymer, it still offers some weight savings over steel and still provides the feel I like. Probably psychological, but I hope Al alloy frames aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

RevolvingCylinder
July 11, 2008, 06:12 AM
I won't ever buy one because they're all the same. I don't want a pseudo-DA. Either give me a real DA(Walther P99 AS) or SA. I can't be the only one sick of all the Glock clones out there. I see a lot of potential in striker-fired, synthetic frame pistols but the manufacturers refuse to take advantage of it by providing real variety and original designs.

rocinante
July 11, 2008, 08:06 AM
I have a new Bersa 380cc and I am pretty certain most Bersa pistols use an aluminum alloy frame. They are older guns but my Walther P1 and S&W 915 both have aluminum alloy frames. The P1 had problems with cracks in the frame but their solution was to put a hex lug at the stress point.

Read enough here and you will find problems with poly frames too. Several Kahr owners have complained about what I believe is the slide area shaving off. They must not use a steel insert for the slide to ride on.

Why aren't slides made of poly? Is it the impact stress or would they just wear too fast? Seems like over time the only hi strength steel part irreplaceable would be the barrel but I bet at some point a better (cheaper mostly) material will be found and applied to even that.

jocko
July 11, 2008, 08:19 AM
I don't know all the poly guns out there but can you give me a few names of some which ride solely on the poly rails, as I sure want to avoid those guns. Can't believe a company wolud make such a gun. I sure can't think of any of the top gun company names that do but I don't see um all either.

Thanks,

greg531mi
July 11, 2008, 08:32 AM
I am wondering how a polymer frame will age. Are they going to be safe in 30 or 40 years? Are they going to be become brittle?

wristtwister
July 11, 2008, 10:03 AM
I suspect that all these polymer guns will have a "shelf life" problem. It's the nature of business to want to sell you something else tomorrow, and while the newest "toy" on the market is almost always "the latest technology", it will be simply the old technology dressed up in the Emperor's new clothes... a la "new materials" for construction.

Age, weather, and wear have always been considered when buying new machinery, and I don't see guns as any different in that thought process. They are simply tools to perform a specific function, and just like the move toward aluminum alloys, polymers and carbon fibers were done for "manufacturing considerations", not to actually improve the products. If a company can make $500 on a gun rather than $50 by changing the materials, you'll get a $50 gun for the same price as the expensive one... and the manufacturer will pocket the cash.

I'm sure custom shops will sell frames, slides, and parts to "build" your own gun to your own specifications, and you'll have the ability to use whatever material you want to pay for in that vein... but manufacturing will do whatever it takes to stay competetive with the industry. Right now, it's making polymer pistols and rifle stocks.

Only time will tell if they last any better than the "real guns"... I've had to ship back two of my later purchases to the factory for "rework" lately, so it ain't lookin' good...

WT

Pilot
July 11, 2008, 10:12 AM
I am wondering how a polymer frame will age. Are they going to be safe in 30 or 40 years? Are they going to be become brittle?

Only time will tell. We are dealing with the same issue in the aircraft industry. Nobody knows how time, weather, sun light etc will effect composites.

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