Do special forces use stainless steel handguns?


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Gunsmoker
August 20, 2007, 01:05 AM
I never see pictures of special forces or swat teams using stainless steel guns.

Why is that?

I've heard the excuse that the silver flash would give away their position, but Swat teams aren't exactly stealthy, so why don't cops use stainless guns?

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RNB65
August 20, 2007, 01:13 AM
I believe that Special Forces units ("Green Berets") and Rangers use the standard Beretta M9. Delta boys (AKA, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) use whatever they want and I think most of them use an HK .45ACP. I'm not sure what SEAL teams use.

Why would anyone want to use a stainless steel handgun in combat? SS is just for showing off.

I'd bet that some THR members are probably current or former USSOC members, but how much they're willing to reveal is questionable.

average_shooter
August 20, 2007, 01:17 AM
What about using stainless with black coatings? Seems like stainless might be a good way for SEAL teams to go.

Ragnar Danneskjold
August 20, 2007, 01:19 AM
Well, if you're asking why not? Than you could also ask 'why'? Granted the chance the brighter surface of a stainless weapon would give them away is small, but I'm sure the chance is there in some proportion. So when faced between 2 identical weapons, and the choice is simply cosmetic, why not just go with the black and negate that albeit small chance?

Black looks cooler with all that tacticool gear as well. Now if they were playing the James Bond susperspy part, stainless would be more of an option... :P

Autolycus
August 20, 2007, 02:50 AM
I believe that Navy SEALs use P226s as a standard issue sidearm. I also believe that occasionally they use HK Mark 23 Pistols and USP CTs. I am willing to bet they just take the appropriate equipment for the job.

Old Fuff
August 20, 2007, 08:26 AM
If you look a little further you'll notice that none of the world's military forces, or at least the larger ones, use small arms made out of stainless steel. The reason is that the metallurgy of high-carbon steel alloys is better, with the possible exception of resistance to corrosion. They address this problem with various kinds of coatings or plating. After you get past the corrosion issue stainless steel as little to recommend it. Also to an increasing degree they are going toward polymer and aluminum components for everything but barrels and internal lockwork.

1 old 0311
August 20, 2007, 08:37 AM
I had a S&W 60 in Vietnam, as backup to my M-14. In swamps you want stainless. Iraq would be a bit different.

Deanimator
August 20, 2007, 08:44 AM
I seem to remember the SEALs at one time using stainless S&W .38 Special revolvers, probably Model 64s. This was back in the '80s.

I also think they may have used early stainless S&W Model 59-like 9mm autos.

Onmilo
August 20, 2007, 09:54 AM
I know the SEALS have, or at least had, some S&W Model 66 4" .357 Magnum revolvers in inventory and that the US Customs ordered several hundred or several thousand S&W 4" Model 686 round butt .357 Magnum revolvers in a blackened stainless finish and since SEAL, Customs, and DEA have been known to work together it could be deducted that those revolvers were and/or are moved around between agency inventories.

I remember seeing what looked like suppressed AMT Lightning 10/22 copies in a Special Forces arms room but I wasn't asking, and they weren't telling, as to exactly what they were.

Owen
August 20, 2007, 10:26 AM
Old Fuff,

What characteristics of Stainless alloys make them less suitable for firearms over non-stainless alloys?

DMK
August 20, 2007, 11:44 AM
I had a S&W 60 in Vietnam, as backup to my M-14. In swamps you want stainless. I've read quite a few books about SF in Vietnam. SS revolvers were quite commonly mentioned. They certainly weren't issued guns though.

copaup
August 20, 2007, 12:02 PM
We issued SW 4043s until we transitioned over to 229rs a couple of years back. The 229r is also stainless, but with a black coating. Black is tacticooler and matches better with the black BDUs that SWAT prefers.

I admit to the advantages of stainless when it comes to corrosion. I must also admit however that I hate the way it looks.

Old Fuff
August 20, 2007, 12:10 PM
What characteristics of Stainless alloys make them less suitable for firearms over non-stainless alloys?

Various high carbon alloy steels can be heat treated for greater wear resistance and hardness. The stainless steel alloys usually used in firearms are relatively soft, which is not to say that they aren't strong. You can see this sometimes in holster wear burnishing on a brush finished or bead-blasted surface rubbed bright within a short time where contact is made.

Note for example, that the Glock pistol, that was specifically designed for military service, does not contain stainless steel parts. They also don't have a reputation for excessive rusting.

The Old Fuff begs to point out that stainless guns aren't necessarily inferior, at least for their intended purpose. But so far they haven't met the material standards that military services (not necessarily individual members or elite units) require.

Owen
August 20, 2007, 12:41 PM
i think if you had a burnished or brushed carbon steel gun, you'd see the same thing. A very shallow surface finish, effected by tiny little glass beads is going to end up brightly polished after being pushed into a holster a couple dozen times.

I think the real issue that most current military arms were adopted long before stainless was a viable material. S&W didn't really have stainless autos figured out until the early 80's right? I was a wee lad then, but S&W also seemed to be the first to be commercially successful with it too. Prior to that, you needed special greases to prevent galling, and all kinds of other stuff.

M-16 = 1955
M-240 = 1958
M249 = late 70's
AUG = 1970's
SA-80 = 70s
AK family = 40s

M1911 = 1911
Hipower = 1935
Glock = 80s
Sig P226 = 80s

I think you'll find that the current steel alloys are right there with the common carbon and chrome-moly steels, with a slight edge in toughness, and a big edge in erosion resistance.

Old Fuff
August 20, 2007, 12:54 PM
While many of the currently used military small arms were designed or adopted during the 20th century, there is nothing to prevent the world's military services from changing the material standards used in these weapons - and in some cases they have updated them. But so far as I know, none have gone to stainless steel components.

Maybe they do have a reason... :uhoh: :scrutiny:

Owen
August 20, 2007, 01:25 PM
Oh they have a reason, but i's more political than technical.

I'd love to expound on how broken the government purchasing system is, but this isn't the place, and I don't really wanna burn my bridges.

Just for second, envision a man. His job is to check phospate processes. It's a bit of a sinecure, the postion has existed since before WWII.

To preserve the position, every part that can be phosphated, must be phosphated.

CWL
August 20, 2007, 04:01 PM
Stainless .357 revolvers were the preferred handgun for SEALs specialized in ocean drilling rig tactics. I don't know if they still are.

RichardB
August 20, 2007, 04:11 PM
Why stainless? The users can oil the blue guns to preclude rusting. Bright shiny stuff is just one more thing that could bring unwanted steel onto your position.

45shooter
August 20, 2007, 04:42 PM
Back in the 80's I remember reading about some SEAL members using S&W Model 66 revolvers. Also, my home town paper had pics of SF guys training with Filipinos and one guy had a pic of his stainless revolver and it looked like a 4" model 66. I've seen several other SEAL pics with model 66 in holsters.

CWL
August 20, 2007, 04:49 PM
Why stainless? The users can oil the blue guns to preclude rusting. Bright shiny stuff is just one more thing that could bring unwanted steel onto your position.

See how long oil stays on a gun during extreme weather in intertidal areas. In ocean water, rusting can begin the same day that exposure begins.

Also SS revolvers are "believed to be" more reliable right out of the ocean. Sand can and has found its way into everything from slide rails, mag catches, mag wells, firing pin holes and other areas I can't imagine. FYI, Glocks were disqualified for this reason.

mljdeckard
August 21, 2007, 03:48 PM
Richard Marcinko wrote in Rogue Warrior that he acquired S&W Model 66s for his team, because at the time, they were the most durable and reliable handgun to use in a submerged marine environment. Also, in their hostage drills, they practiced one-shot accuracy, so he placed more emphasis over accuracy than capacity.

It doesn't say when he switched, if the issue was ever made official by anyone, or if half of what he wrote is BS.

Blade_Zero
August 21, 2007, 05:18 PM
The only SF SS handgun that I'm aware of is the AWC amphibian, bead blasted finish. Apparently it can be fired without draining water from the barrel. Probably obsolete at this stage though.

Other blackened SS handguns may be in their inventory, the fact that they are SS would likely be incidental rather than specified.

45auto
August 21, 2007, 05:45 PM
I think many civilans buy stainless to prevent the "worn" look of blued guns, and they like the silver look. Neither would apply to the armed forces.

Stainless is more rust resistant, but it takes a long time to rust out a carbon steel gun. :)

Ghost Tracker
August 21, 2007, 05:49 PM
There's been SUBSTANTIAL improvements in the science of metalurgy in the last 15 years. Stainless steels, aluminum alloys, even metal/ceramic hybrids have made remarkable strides in achieving precisely their design intent. You can bet Granny's Iron Lung that the Weapon Designers of today have hundreds (if not thousands) of material options not available only a decade ago. The truly elite military units may be using pure unobtainium (my favorite metal) by now...we just don't know it! Think about it, y'all are talking about Navy SEALS using S&W M66 revolvers. Street cops don't (okay, barely) use them anymore! You REALLY think the SEALS haven't found a better option? Get Serious!

brickeyee
August 21, 2007, 08:00 PM
Stainless cost more $$$.
You can also always find a regular steel alloy that is stronger than a stainless alloy.
The high nickel and chromium content required to obtain corrosion resistance does not help in the strength area.

American_Pit_Bull
August 21, 2007, 09:32 PM
All of the issued SIG P226s have stainless steel slides... :scrutiny:

Jimmy Newman
August 23, 2007, 03:53 AM
Yep, in fact, all current production SIG pistols have stainless steel slides. Some have stainless frames and some have aluminum frames. As far as I know SIG does not use carbon steel for any slides or frames anymore (except I guess some of their new 1911's). Most of the stainless just has a black finish.

TimboKhan
August 23, 2007, 05:02 AM
Also, in their hostage drills, they practiced one-shot accuracy, so he placed more emphasis over accuracy than capacity.

I sort of take Marcinko with a grain of salt. I don't care how tough and awesome you are, you tell a superior to go to hell and/or sock him in the face, your gonna burn. I am not saying the guy is a liar or isn't/wasn't tough or good at what he did, and when I met him at a booksigning a few years back, he had one heck of a strong grip. I am simply saying that I think he developed a certain persona that was marketable to mall-ninjas, and that he enjoys being envisioned as the baddest dude ever to walk the plank. Hey, I'm not blaming the guy. As long as the root of what he says is true, which I think it is, I can live with the exaggerated language and claims of frequent bodily violence. He is out to make a buck, and he made a whole sack of them.

Back on topic, his book did include pictures of his team using revolvers, and he did say that they expended a huge amount of ammo training with them. That being said, I think that the whole one-shot accuracy thing is Marcinko blowing a bit of smoke, because any "operator" will tell you to shoot until the threat is over, one-shot accuracy be damned, at least to a point. I also don't know if I buy that his teams ammo training budget was quite as large as he says it was.

In any case, the fact is that they did use stainless revolvers, and I guess thats the most important thing in regards to this thread.

SlamFire1
August 23, 2007, 04:39 PM
Government procurement philosophies change, depending on which Coconuts are in the Office of Secretary of Defense. But since Bush Sr. days, 99% of what is put out for procurement bid is performance specs. That is, the Government will specific that a gun has to perform before, during and after exposure to rain, sleet, salt fog exposure. Just look at Mil Std 810 and pick the environments that you think apply.

It is now up to the contractor to decide whether to use stainless of not.

Firearms technology is very mature, very old I might say. Lots of people make good guns, you really donít have to spend any money pushing the technology envelope. Modern designs are very robust regards of the material technology. So, the manufacturers can submit a functioning model made from cheaper materials (carbon steel) with a high degree of confidence the thing will still pass the developmental tests. And, if all things are equal between competitors, they have margin to lower their bid price. Price is all important, because the Government buys from the lowest acceptable bidder.

Cosmoline
August 23, 2007, 04:51 PM
Cost is a big issue. Modern stainless is as tough as any blued steel. It's used in the highest PSI handguns in existence--taking far more pressure than any military sidearms would ever deliver. And it can be blackened if needed. But it would all cost more. And it tends to be heavier than an alloy firearm, to the exent that's an issue.

But I think Owen ID'd the core of the problem. The military does not adopt the latest and greatest, it would simply be too expensive to do that on a vast scale. Plus, they don't know if the latest and greatest will pan out or fall apart. Consequnently hey're from 50-20 years behind the civilian market in arms technology. Even the special forces must operate within these constraints to some extent. Smaller nations can afford to stay closer to the cutting edge in some respects because they don't have to retool millions of troops to make a change.

pale horse
August 24, 2007, 12:25 AM
"Delta boys (AKA, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) use whatever they want and I think most of them use an HK .45ACP."

What are you basing this on? One more thing they are now called CAG combat applications group. I know this because one of the higher nco's was in CAG.

More often than not the us army special forces use the M9. A few units get to use the 1911, but if it is not stated on their deployment orders they "technically" dont get issued the weapon. Some guys take it and dont even worry about it.

Seals generally use the sig 226 and some 228s. Just recently they got a contract for the HK CT .45.


As a rule you dont want to have a shiny weapon when you are engaged in a covert mission. In my time in the army and marines I have never seen a SS pistol issued.

PH

Mikhail Konovalov
August 24, 2007, 07:48 AM
Ahem... I am not in the military and admittedly have next to zero experience even conversing with spec-ops personnel of any sort, but I offer my opinion, and please swat me off my soap box if I'm way off here.

Maybe black has simply become the traditional color for military weapons? Just like you don't see zippers on dress uniform jackets, perhaps the black weapon in the hands of the soldier is more imposing, and professional-looking?

Deanimator
August 24, 2007, 10:07 AM
I sort of take Marcinko with a grain of salt. I don't care how tough and awesome you are, you tell a superior to go to hell and/or sock him in the face, your gonna burn.
Not necessarily. It depends upon the situation.

The year before I got to Korea, a lieutenant in my battalion (1/31 Inf.) pulled his personally owned .44 Magnum on the battalion commander because he melted down and wouldn't send a relief force to rescue a patrol that was pinned down in the DMZ and taking fire from three sides. I had my doubts about the story until I finally escaped that freakshow and worked at G-2 as an OPFOR instructor. While researching infiltration incidents for a class, I found an account of the incident in question and it was almost EXACTLY as described. At that point, I had little reason to doubt the veracity of the part about the confrontation in the Battalion TOC.

The lieutenant colonel in question was relieved. The lieutenant was NOT.

Of course 1/31 Inf. (M) in '80-'81 was pretty much like the Do Lung Bridge scene in Apocalypse Now. No adult supervision...

Bart Noir
August 24, 2007, 02:58 PM
Owen, you may have a point:

To preserve the position, every part that can be phosphated, must be phosphated.

I guess it is a good thing that the Musket Flint and Frizzen Inspector passed away many years ago :D


Bart Noir

tank mechanic
August 24, 2007, 03:18 PM
I saw one SF guy in Iraq carrying a SS 1911 with desert tan grips. He was carrying it in a strong side kydex holster. I wanted to ask him about it but I was too busy filling sandbags at the time:banghead:

SlamFire1
August 24, 2007, 04:55 PM
"Delta boys (AKA, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) use whatever they want "

I have been told the same by a friend who works rebuilding small arms at Anniston Army Depot. The Army has takes these guys to various locations, including Hickman AFB Hawaii (take me, take me!) http://www2.hickam.af.mil/ to rebuild firearms. They were out at Fort Bliss for almost a month.

State Line , best darn sausage, ribs and Brisket I have ever eaten...
http://www.countyline.com/viewphoto.asp?id=5&nbr=1

corvato
August 24, 2007, 11:07 PM
I would think one problem with swat, or millitary other than possibly alerting the enemy... and thats there is always a chance when you are aiming the sun could actually reflect and hit the aimer in the eye... unlikely, but it could cause them to hesitate, which could mean a fraction longer before they pull the trigger

Glockster35
August 24, 2007, 11:38 PM
Swat personnel do sometimes operate in stealth, however; most situations do require dynamic entry.

I believe any weapon used by military personnel should be of a dark flat color. No shiney chrome, or stainless parts. Anything other than flat colored weapons do not have a place in military or law enforcement.

I don't even own anything flashy for personal use anymore, I once had a stainless revolver, but got rid of it because I didn't think it was tactical enough to use in a real world situation!

GRIZ22
August 25, 2007, 01:35 PM
US Customs ordered several hundred or several thousand S&W 4" Model 686 round butt .357 Magnum revolvers in a blackened stainless finish and since SEAL, Customs, and DEA have been known to work together it could be deducted that those revolvers were and/or are moved around between agency inventories.


Customs never ordered or used blackened stainless S&Ws. They did use 3 and 4" 686s that were marked CS1 instead of 686. Guns used by civilian agencies rarely if ever wind up in the military. It's usually the other way around. Customs had M3 greaseguns, M1 and M2 carbines, M14s, and m16s from the military at one time.

Owen
August 25, 2007, 01:43 PM
stainless doesn't have to be shiny.

greg700
August 25, 2007, 02:35 PM
SF uses regular run of the mil berettas. Teams might be able to justify different handguns for specialized missions, but it isn't commonplace.

5Wire
August 27, 2007, 08:48 PM
Posted by RNB65: SS is just for showing off.Nonsense.

Blade_Zero
September 10, 2007, 05:19 PM
I was just having a bit of a lurk in the NSW section of socnet and came across the below. You can lurk over there, just don't bother them with silly questions.
------------------------------------------
quote from Matchanu re: S&W 686
It's a 6 shot revolver, stainless steel, .38/.357 magnum.
For a weapon that is going to be constantly exposed to salt water, this is about as good as it gets. Sigs rust when you mention the word "salt water".

quote from armorer1 re: S&W 686
+1 on Match. I was an armorer (not a SEAL) for the Teams for nearly 10 years and the 686's are what the guys used back in the day for OTB. It's the pistol version of the AK-47 in that it's simple and won't jam up or rust. I've seen some nasty Sig's come into the armory that were exposed too long to saltwater

skinewmexico
September 10, 2007, 05:23 PM
If you talk to Walter Birdsong, he'll tell you he coats the majority of the SEAL weapons with Black T.

littlegator
September 10, 2007, 05:47 PM
Back when I was in Epsilon/Gamma Force, a name unknown to the general public until now, we used to use a modified variant of a specially made weapon that no one knows about. In fact, they gave me drugs to forget the name of the weapon once I got out. (Got shot 34 times in the chest and face with a AK-47 at arms length and went on disability). Therefore, I don't know. I remember it was cool looking though.

This message will self destruct in 10 seconds.

Delta boys (AKA, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) use whatever they want

So if that's true, what is it that they usually choose?

Geronimo45
September 10, 2007, 08:28 PM
we used to use a modified variant of a specially made weapon that no one knows about
The 22mm autoloader? I loved that thing. My group had a model based on the Mauser 712.

So if that's true, what is it that they usually choose?
Glock 7. Porcelain gun made in Germany. Invisible to x-rays and metal detectors. Cost more than you make in a month.

benEzra
September 10, 2007, 09:16 PM
How does stainless take to case hardening, particularly the carbon nitride variants?

Sylvan-Forge
September 11, 2007, 01:30 AM
Green-T on a stainless weapon and your good to go.

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