plastic strength vs. steel


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oldfool
February 13, 2010, 08:03 PM
not looking to woobie war here
not knocking plastic
(doesn't happen to make my my old eyes twinkle, but that's just an old guy personal preference thing, it's not a religion, you know)

gun makers love the phase "stronger than steel" (and in fine print, "pound for pound", hence true, but "pound for pound" does have relevance)
methinks gunmakers most love plastic because manufacturing costs are lower, not because it is in any way inherently "better/best"

sellers emphasize their good points, avoid statements about maybe not-so-good points, you and I would too
so.. "lighter weight" is always part of the pitch, and generally true (even if/when a tad blocky to get the total strength back up to steel total strength), and lighter can be of very real value to end-user.. sometimes, but not always
All the same can be said, I believe, of airweight alloy, just a matter of degree

I like lighter for carry, same as everybody, but I also like "shootable"
and lighter is, leastways in most cases, not always a plus for "shootable"
If/when it comes to weight vs. shootable, I tend to favor "shootable", not always, but almost always

tiny/light Ruger LCP, just too-convenient-to-carry, but not real "shootable"
(not for most folks, a 7 shot derringer, some folks do get really good with 'em like a buddy of mine, after rebuilding his KelTec once or twice per high round counts, but not me... yet I oft have the LCP on me)
Colt Goverment 380 acp, a dream to carry IWB, all steel, maybe ~23 oz, 2X weight of LCP, and 10X more shootable, and I am willing to wear it as primary and only, and oft do

I would much prefer an all steel LCP and not care the least about the small increase in weight (but would not like the up bump sales price)
I believe the Colt will outlast the LCP, round for round, 10:1
sometimes it just doesn't matter, because I am not going to wear the derringer out training to hit with it like I can with the Colt... not what LCP is for, but it beats the snot out of a traditional 2-shot SA derringer or NAA micro 22

looked at the Ruger LCR, liked trigger, liked lighter carry weight, still "feels" shootable despite plastic/weight (I do steel snubbies, too)
but do not believe it has any hope of ever holding up to the round count that my S&W model 60 can/will (in some part because the plastic ain't near blocky enough)... but it being a CCW compromise (as all CCW ultimately is), I would not wear it out... carry a lot , shoot a little, and if I had the $$$ in pocket woulda' bought it, and would shoot a "lot" of mild 38 wadcutters for practice, and load up 38 sp for carry

just making conversation here
what is your take on the plastic sales pitch ?
kindly keep it non-adversarial, just pros and cons

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The Lone Haranguer
February 13, 2010, 08:31 PM
I suppose pound for pound it is, since it is much lighter than steel. It works well for auto pistol frames because the stresses are relatively low and in one direction. You won't find a polymer revolver frame because revolver frames are subject to stretching. (The Ruger LCR is not, strictly speaking, a polymer frame; its plastic parts are only in the grip section, which only has to take the rearward recoil thrust against your hand, and the cylinder is surrounded by aluminum alloy.)

Fat Boy
February 13, 2010, 08:45 PM
I keep trying to like the polymer products, and continue to struggle getting there.

I believe they are likely (generally speaking) as strong, or will at least hold up as well as steel. I fully understand the lighter weight, etc.

I just feel more comfortable with steel- but I am and old guy :)

Big Bill
February 13, 2010, 08:51 PM
I have to disagree with you that plastic pistols aren't as shootable (durable) as all steel ones. I think Glock has proved that a lightweight polymer pistol is every bit as durable/dependable as an all steel gun.

nonseven
February 13, 2010, 09:02 PM
Plastic does have some advantages, and contrary to popular belief the equivalent volume of plastic is more expensive than many grades of steel.

However when processed, the injection molded plastic part will be less expensive than the equivalent metal part due to the costs involved in processing the metal.

Some advantages of plastic:

1. yes, some polymers are stronger than steel for their weight
2. plastic is light weight
3. plastic has better wear resistance and anti-galling properties in many applications than metal

4. plastic has shock absorbing behavior that results in lower felt recoil than metal.

5. Depending on the polymer, plastic can be extremely corrosion resistant, more so than stainless steel.

With the proper selection and application of plastics in firearms, I think you'll find the metal parts are the ones you'll find need replacing.

RETG
February 13, 2010, 09:16 PM
Well, I'm an old guy, and I have nothing against plastic frames; although I like to say polymer frame. I also have nothing against steel or aluminum. I pick my gun on how it shoots, reliability and assumed durability.

I do believe polymer frames have proved themselves over a course of 30+ years. Glock, H&K and other manufactures have proved they are durable and reliable.

It won't be long before this thread turns into a hate for polymer handguns, same as the caliber wars.

oldfool
February 13, 2010, 10:08 PM
I do believe polymer/plastic is "durable" (and that generic as the terms are, polymer is plastic)
I do believe Gaston Glock came up with a great innovative design
(for the 9mm cartridge of the day it was actually designed for, but will say no more about that)
cost of manufacture is not solely about per pound cost of materials used, it is total cost of manufacture (as was rightly noted)

anybody really believe that an all "steel" Glock or LCP or LCR would be cheaper to manufacture ?
anybody really believe that an all "steel" Glock or LCP or LCR would perform less well ??
(well, ok, there is no real shortage of all/mostly steel "mighty like Glock" type pistols around, by whatever other name)

galling.. yes, SS alloys generally do gall more readily than "carbon" steels
but I do not buy into the argument that polymer galls less
prone to believe than polymer guns, by necessity, are not built to as tight tolerances as the good steel stuff, even though the highest stress parts are reinforced with steel and/or steel "inserts" and/or other metal alloys... not the really good stuff, the high quality guns
(engineers, I-R-1-2, and we disagree with each other, just like all other shooters do)

durability, for me, is a very different thing than "shootability'
lots of "plastics" in landfills will still be there long after the metal stuff (including stainless) is long gone.. durable yes
too many people think "water resistant" on a watch means "waterproof"
too many people think "corrosion resistant SS" means "corrosion proof"
not even close
(I love blue steel, I love SS, and trying to fall in love with plastic for what it is, not for what it is not)
own some plastic, will not be shocking if I eventually own some more before it is all said and done

a big part of shootable is about weight, balance. muzzle flip being minimal, etc.
easy felt in hand, not so easy defined in words
I like light, but I think light AND shootable is a tough challenge for any gun maker, including the airweight alloy people
Glock probably does it better (shootable polymer) than anybody in FULL size pistols, been doing it longer

much as I do like light & small, it just might be the #1 overplayed sales pitch in firearm sales today
(other than extra fat magnum and/or bigger/badder boom magnum, and of course, bigger/badder boomer in smaller/lighter, 50 BMG in 10 oz snubbie due any day now)

but being a "mostly" revolver fanboy, ain't that much to look at, for me.. yet
Ruger LCR, if I went plastic, sure would like to see that LCR in 32 H&R mag 3" 5-shooter slightly smaller frame... unless they could get 327 done in a smaller frame variant of current model, but methinks 32 H&R mag is enuff boom-n-bang out of 3" for my personal tastes

James T Thomas
February 13, 2010, 10:11 PM
When raising my two boys through the years, I have bought them both tricycles -steel, and those low wheel things -plastic.

Now, one of those remains while the others have been destroyed by time; cracks and kids who beat the "child proof" claims. Little kids destroyed them.

The remaining ones are a little rusty, but they live on.

Guess which!

hammerklavier
February 13, 2010, 10:12 PM
I thought I read somewhere that the plastic frames allow for less material to be used volume wise, so that you can have double stack mags paired with narrower grips.

eldon519
February 13, 2010, 10:26 PM
I think sometimes Glock's shootability is credited to flexing polymer when it probably is more likely attributed to the low bore axis of a striker fired pistol. Obviously they work together, but I think the geometry is the greater actor. I think some aftermarket company made alloy frames for Glocks at one point. It would be interesting to shoot one in side-by-side testing.

mountaindrew
February 13, 2010, 10:50 PM
a. Polymer CAN allow for a slimmer grip because they do not require grip panels.
I personally like this because the grip can be textured all over, not just in certain areas.

b. Polymer is more forgivine of getting dirty, scratched, greasy, etc.
I need this beacuse as a mechanic who carries all day aound town, a gun with prety wood grips would get ruined. The ony way to avoid that is to get polymer grip panels, and then, well, here we are back.

c. Polymer is better in extreme temperature, ergonomiclly. It doesn'y burn you when you pick it up in the car on a hot day, or freeze you on a cold day.

D. Totally subjective. I just like the way it feels on the hand. Its a texture thing. Polymer is never completely smooth, and the little bit of texture it does have makes me feel a little more secure in hand.

BossHogg
February 13, 2010, 10:51 PM
Old guy here. I have a few polymer nice guns but both have a block look. What gets me going is the steel guns. To me they have some style to them. When buying guns the eye candy effect takes hold. Plus I like to add different grips to give the gun more looks.
I think the weight issue with hi cap mags are great but just can't get by the square look.I'm sure they are dependable and will last just not for me.

REAPER4206969
February 13, 2010, 11:01 PM
Steel pistol frames are obsolete.

oldfool
February 13, 2010, 11:16 PM
ain't a real long thread here, yet
but the kind I think is very High Road
all good comments, good points, and no flame games
everything here better than what I said here

thanks, guys/gals, keep it UP !

PS
ok, so I post slow... like I do everything

oldfool
February 13, 2010, 11:38 PM
When raising my two boys through the years, I have bought them both tricycles -steel, and those low wheel things -plastic.

Now, one of those remains while the others have been destroyed by time; cracks and kids who beat the "child proof" claims. Little kids destroyed them.

The remaining ones are a little rusty, but they live on.

Guess which!
me like STEEL best of all, too
but you probably did not ever get those boys/girls a "purple thang"
a plastic Fisher-Price step stool (and it is not even "purple" so don't ask me why they all called it that)
grandsons liked that "purple thang", all three of em', when age 2 to 6
our great-grandchildren like it a lot too, all four of them, age 2-6

we have both steel and plastic wheelies on the back patio
some of 'em been there for at least 6 years (plastic)
I do not know which will outlast the others, and don't much care
but the Moms & ( six foot) Dads were all riding the latest new ALL steel one, and laughing like crazy, last XMAS

but I do not leave my guns on the back patio, sun & rain, 60 months at a time, so I dunno what that means
(except that kids are fun)

PS
every time "we" are blessed with a new baby, me go buy a new Chipmunk 22, same day or close to
every one of 'em has a STEEL barrel and a PLASTIC stock (black, blue, or pink, it depends)
call me ambivalent, I guess

StarDust1
February 13, 2010, 11:47 PM
Old guy here too, polymer may be ugly, but it's stronger then steel, particularly the polymers used in modern firearms manufacturing.
Steel bends, polymer flexes, steel oxidizes, polymer does not, steel corrodes, polymer is highly resistent to corrosion!
If we were to bury in the ground unprotected, a Glock, or a S&W M&P frame, along side a garden variety carbon steel pistol frame, leaving them there for 100yrs, 200yrs, 300yrs and so on, the advanced polymers in the Glock & M&P are going to survive virtually unscathed.
We'd be very fortunate to even find the remains of the steel frame...The polymer frames have a half life of about 500-750yrs...:)

REAPER4206969
February 14, 2010, 12:04 AM
If we were to bury in the ground unprotected
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj5Kcs4dzro

huntsman
February 14, 2010, 12:07 AM
I would much prefer an all steel LCP and not care the least about the small increase in weight (but would not like the up bump sales price)

I'd buy one but I won't buy what they're selling now.

It doesn't matter to me if plastic is stronger than steel when I buy a gun I want something I think is a good purchase and part of that is longevity and for me that's steel.

I guess I'm just an old guy with old beliefs.

Sunray
February 14, 2010, 12:32 AM
Plastics and polymers aren't the same thing. Polyurethane doesn't belong on decent wooden stocks or fine furniture either.

oldfool
February 14, 2010, 12:38 AM
Old guy here too, polymer may be ugly, but it's stronger then steel, particularly the polymers used in modern firearms manufacturing.
Steel bends, polymer flexes, steel oxidizes, polymer does not, steel corrodes, polymer is highly resistent to corrosion!
If we were to bury in the ground unprotected, a Glock, or a S&W M&P frame, along side a garden variety carbon steel pistol frame, leaving them there for 100yrs, 200yrs, 300yrs and so on, the advanced polymers in the Glock & M&P are going to survive virtually unscathed.
We'd be very fortunate to even find the remains of the steel frame...The polymer frames have a half life of about 500-750yrs...:)
If we were to bury in the ground unprotected, a Glock, or a S&W M&P frame, along side a garden variety carbon steel pistol frame, leaving them there for 100yrs, 200yrs, 300yrs and so on, the advanced polymers in the Glock & M&P are going to survive virtually unscathed.

good points, but..
do that to any wheelie left on the back patio 20 years too long (unburied, unless the dawgs get really bored), don't count on a whole lot of smiles when the great-grandchildren come to visit, be it STEEL or PLASTIC

and if/when somebody digs it up out of the unprotected ground after 20 years or 100 years from now, if there ain't NO steel in in, just how hard will they have to throw it at the bad guy to make 'em stop and go elsewhere ?

a rusty rock is at least still a rock
and plastic is still plastic, no matter how corrosion proof, it don't make a real good rock
no STEEL left in a plastic FRAME don't make a for a whole lot of boom-n-bang
neither does a rusted out SS N-frame, but it might still make for a pretty good dent-in-head if thrown with enough conviction ???

PS
did somebody started making ZERO steel in plastic/polymer FRAME guns that shoot real ammunition whilst I was taking my nap ?
if they did... I WANT one !

oldfool
February 14, 2010, 12:58 AM
Plastics and polymers aren't the same thing. Polyurethane doesn't belong on decent wooden stocks or fine furniture either.
you might well be right on that
me just curious..

name the highest thermoset temperature and/or melting point temperature you know of for any known "polymer", and it's chemical formulation

or name any aircraft and/or spacecraft "jet" engine turbine blade made of polymer "X" absent metal alloy

base polymer, if you please, not it's fiber strand reinforcement
( and in what caliber ?)

REAPER4206969
February 14, 2010, 12:59 AM
Most polymer framed pistols have highly advanced finishes on the steel parts.

dacavasi
February 14, 2010, 01:52 AM
All I can say is that when I went to drive a wedge into my firewood and my axe was broke, my 1911 worked a whole lot better than my Glock...

oldfool
February 14, 2010, 02:30 AM
"Steel bends, polymer flexes, steel oxidizes, polymer does not"

Steel flexes
if you don't believe that, don't ever get in a jumbo jet, don't ever even get in a Piper Cub, leastways don't ever look out the window at the wing whilst in flight

and do not ever live in a high rise building, top floor, and do not look at the water level in a near full tall glass when the wind blows if you do,
but if you do.. when you see that high rise "flexing", pray it has a lot of steel in it

bent stays bent, flex do not stay bent, springs do not stay sprung unless overstressed
bent do not make for good accuracy
most anything that gets hot enough will get bent
some parts of me, parts that never were all that hot, are pretty bad all bent up

virgin pure plastic/polymer flexes more than steel alloys do
all gun barrels flex when gun is fired, some flex more than others
so do ALL gun frames

ceramics (high purity ceramics) flex less than either, "like glass"
not a great choice for airplane wings, nor high rises, nor gun parts, hollywood fictions aside

all can be made very strong, all can be made brittle (very little or no flex, little/no elasticity... and/or extreme little *plasticity*)
that which is both very strong and very brittle breaks "like glass" under stress
avoid ceramic gun barrels/frames
and avoid Damascus steel barrels
etc

leave steel on hood of car in hot sun, it will get hot, too
plastic is a better insulator, lower coefficient of thermal conductivity
but if you leave it in the hot sun long enough, it gets same temperature as steel in sun, so avoid picking it up suddenly
if you live in Death Valley, do not pick up that plastic until after the sun goes down... hot steel will blister you, but hot plastic is hard to scape off your hand
avoid dropping either into hydrofluoric acid, but if you do, do not plan on shooting it anymore, and do NOT reach in to grab it.. no matter how quick your split times really are, they ain't that quick

do NOT bury your guns for 100 years in the back yard... take them to the range and shoot them frequently, and clean them every now and then, no matter what they are made of

if you like steel, buy steel, but never pass up a good deal on a plastic "purple thang", because (trust me on this much), it's a heckuva good bargain

be well, shoot well, always be safe

"paper or plastic, sir ?"
(or steel) is a just matter of personal choice
a little bit of science here or there, but no religion is involved

PS
me, really, I do not really care if you choose to call 'em magazines or clips
just making conversation, not preaching religion (thank gawd)

REAPER4206969
February 14, 2010, 02:31 AM
All I can say is that when I went to drive a wedge into my firewood and my axe was broke, my 1911 worked a whole lot better than my Glock...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4ffaQbqlkg

oldfool
February 14, 2010, 02:54 AM
Most polymer framed pistols have highly advanced finishes on the steel parts.
yo, I got some pretty "special" finishes on me, too
and I don't look or work all that great anymore
(and I ain't even been buried for 20 years yet)

is it the steel parts , or the plastic parts ???

(sorry, just couldn't resist that, but I am going to shut up now.. missed two straight weeks range day, weather, but going to go shoot something tomorrow, even if I have to to wear a steel overcoat and plastic underwear)

oldfool
February 14, 2010, 02:56 AM
double tap

chicharrones
February 14, 2010, 12:13 PM
Quote: oldfool
"Steel flexes
if you don't believe that, don't ever get in a jumbo jet, don't ever even get in a Piper Cub, leastways don't ever look out the window at the wing whilst in flight"
------------------------

Steel does flex, but I want to see a steel 747 fly. :D (joking)

chicharrones
February 14, 2010, 12:16 PM
Oooops.

chicharrones
February 14, 2010, 12:32 PM
I'm not an old shooter, but I'm not a young one either. Just middle aged.:)

I love (and own) steel guns and alloy framed guns, too. There are metal framed pocket .380s out there as well, such as the NAA Guardian and the Micro Desert Eagle. I've got the NAA Guardian in .32 ACP. It is a dense little gun and the stainless is easy to care for.

However, I do own two poly pistols. The definitely have their place. Some blued steel guns with nice wood grips are just too pretty to treat like the tool that a CCW pistol would be used for. Many poly pistols with a tough finish on the steel like Glock's Tennifer are great guns that won't make you cry too bad if they get some cosmetic damage. It's a tool, much like a shovel or a sledge hammer. Just wipe it off and lube it, it keeps on tickin'.

As far as felt recoil, that will depend on the shooter, the grip shape, the weight, bore axis, caliber, action type, etc.

I have recently fired side by side my Glock 36 (.45 ACP single stack) vs. my friend's two Kimber UCIIs. They are 1911 Officers sized .45 ACP pistols with aluminum frames. One weighs only about 2.5 ounces more than the Glock 36 with empty magazines in place. The Kimber has more felt recoil, to me.

Shoot, my Taurus 85UL alloy framed snubby (with hard grip) firing .38 +P has more felt recoil than the Glock 36.

Anyway, I like steel, aluminum, or poly. I don't like all the poly guns and I don't like all the metal guns. Some just don't suit me. It just depends on the gun.

http://bestsmileys.com/shooting1/1.gif

chicharrones
February 14, 2010, 12:39 PM
Oh, I forgot one other thing that is a plus for a steel framed gun.

Kabooms are a bit less dramatic than they are compared to a poly framed gun.

http://bestsmileys.com/lol/17.gif

GoF150xlt
February 14, 2010, 01:24 PM
I have some plastic buckets in my garage that are a few years old and are cracked and "brittle." I have a couple of metal garbage cans that are dinged up but still solid. I just can't help but wonder about the long term aging of plastic / polymers. Will they eventually become brittle? I recently purchased a Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless built in 1918, and if that frame were plastic instead of steel I wonder how durable it would be after 92 years. I am sure polymer framed guns will last longer than me, but I want my kids and my grandkids to also enjoy my firearms. Will polymer frames last that long? I really don't know. I would love to believe they have that kind of longevity, because of the many advantages listed by others.

481
February 14, 2010, 01:56 PM
Different polymers (plastics, if you must) have different properties (UTS, Flexural strength, temperature, chemical, and impact (Izod) resistance and some are (very much) better than others for use in firearms components.

The polymer (typically ABS or polypropylene) used in your typical 5 gallon bucket is not the same polymer (typically a Polyamide, also called Nylon) that is used in polymer handgun frames/components. Entirely different animals.

Fishman777
February 14, 2010, 02:12 PM
Polymer pistols are more durable than steel until you get a KB.

I agree with what has been posted for the most part. While polymer does have some benefits, it is not unusual to see a polymer framed pistol KB (blow up). I'm not saying that a steel gun can't blow up, but I'd imagine that a steel framed gun would be a lot safer during a KB malfunction than a Glock or any of the other polymer pistols on the market.

FuzzyBunny
February 14, 2010, 03:18 PM
I remember when a LEO friend of mine got his Glock and told me I just HAD to check this out. Well he handed it to me and it just did not feel right. In fact none of the Glocks feel right to me. I think its the grip angle. I'm sure they are durable and all that other good stuff and I even kinda like the tiny Glock I saw last year. Looked like a good backup piece.

I have not picked up a part polymer firearm more than 6 or 7 times since then. I have a hard time in my mind spending 3, 4 or even $500 for a polymer pistol.

There is exceptions!

I would shell out the cash for one that was 100% polymer or had every steel piece covered in plastic. Meaning it would have to have to be 100% corrosion proof even the barrel.

Second exception is a solid state phaser made out of plastic would be ok too.

I'm getting old and forgot what the original question was.

Not to cause thread drift but is there a law or reg that says a pistol must have some metal in it?

Skinsanity
February 14, 2010, 04:04 PM
I cant say One is better than the other...Im not an engineer...what I do KNOW for a fact is...I dont like the Idea of a plastic weapon and have never owned one for that reason, I dont beleive they are faulty as I have shot them enough and know knowledgable people that swear by them, I just cant wrap my mind around the Idea that plastic is better all the way around..

StarDust1
February 14, 2010, 06:18 PM
Polymer pistols are more durable than steel until you get a KB.

I agree with what has been posted for the most part. While polymer does have some benefits, it is not unusual to see a polymer framed pistol KB (blow up). I'm not saying that a steel gun can't blow up, but I'd imagine that a steel framed gun would be a lot safer during a KB malfunction than a Glock or any of the other polymer pistols on the market.
"Uhh" steel pistols Kaboom just as frequently as do polymer ones, which is to say, not very bloody often, certainly not often enough to qualify as "USUAL!"

StarDust1
February 14, 2010, 06:32 PM
If we were to bury in the ground unprotected, a Glock, or a S&W M&P frame, along side a garden variety carbon steel pistol frame, leaving them there for 100yrs, 200yrs, 300yrs and so on, the advanced polymers in the Glock & M&P are going to survive virtually unscathed.

good points, but..
do that to any wheelie left on the back patio 20 years too long (unburied, unless the dawgs get really bored), don't count on a whole lot of smiles when the great-grandchildren come to visit, be it STEEL or PLASTIC

and if/when somebody digs it up out of the unprotected ground after 20 years or 100 years from now, if there ain't NO steel in in, just how hard will they have to throw it at the bad guy to make 'em stop and go elsewhere ?

a rusty rock is at least still a rock
and plastic is still plastic, no matter how corrosion proof, it don't make a real good rock
no STEEL left in a plastic FRAME don't make a for a whole lot of boom-n-bang
neither does a rusted out SS N-frame, but it might still make for a pretty good dent-in-head if thrown with enough conviction ???

PS
did somebody started making ZERO steel in plastic/polymer FRAME guns that shoot real ammunition whilst I was taking my nap ?
if they did... I WANT one !
The polymer frame is the component part being compared, further, steel does not flex, or at least not enough to rate when competed against polymer, the amount being so minimal before damage occurs that for all intents and purposes it's totally non-competetive with polymer!
One other item, if I were to subject steel to the abuse of open earth burial, I sure wouldn't choose to do so with my SS Combat Commander, or my 686-plus or anything else for that matter that had not been treated to the nitrocarbing acid bath process, something that cannot even be done(successfully)to SS!
If you're intent was to bury, or in some other creative way abuse such a steel, there is really only one type that would have any chance at surviving such mistreatment, that would be a Glock slide, or one identically finished...

SaMx
February 14, 2010, 06:37 PM
steel does not flex
I guess all the springs in your guns aren't made of steel then?

NetJunkie
February 14, 2010, 06:52 PM
This is a great conversation...20 years ago. Get over it people. Poly framed handguns are very tough or we'd be seeing Glocks with cracked frames everywhere. It's lighter and far easier to shape..plus cheaper. If you don't like the feel (like my wife) that's fine..but questioning strength or durability? Really?

StarDust1
February 14, 2010, 07:34 PM
I guess all the springs in your guns aren't made of steel then?
Whens the last time you fired a bullet through a spring?

481
February 14, 2010, 09:23 PM
This is a great conversation...20 years ago. Get over it people. Poly framed handguns are very tough or we'd be seeing Glocks with cracked frames everywhere. It's lighter and far easier to shape..plus cheaper. If you don't like the feel (like my wife) that's fine..but questioning strength or durability? Really?

Junkie,

Totally agree.

Like it or not (I like it very much), polymer framed pistols are here to stay. They offer more advantages than not and are every bit as durable, strong (oftentimes much more so) and functional as metal framed guns.

This debate is every bit as anachronistic as you say it is and well past its time. :)

Confederate
February 15, 2010, 12:10 AM
Steel, alloy or polymer -- each has its advantages. My favorite 9mm is a stainless S&W 5906. It's a heavy gun, and S&W can probably no longer afford to make such guns, but the weak part of autos aren't their frame material, but in their multitudes of springs -- recoil springs, mainsprings, extractor springs, magazine springs, and so forth. Revolvers can go for tens of thousands of rounds and last for years. Auto springs need judicious replacements to stay fit. If buying a used auto, one usually has no idea what condition the springs are in. (I make it a point to buy new springs for every used auto I buy...but with revolvers, no worry.)

Steel may be structurally stronger than polymer, but strength isn't everything. How it reacts to exeme heat, cold and moisture, and whether it can continue to function after exposure to sand, dirt and debris, also are important, and it's here that most 1911s drop out of the game.

So far, polymer guns seem to do quite well. Newer design autos also tend to be more reliable out of the box than older-designed, and more expensive, autos.

wilkersk
February 15, 2010, 10:58 PM
I'll bet there's more than one engineer who's really had a hard time biting his tongue on this thread. There's really, oh, so much one could say on this topic, that in the end, just ain't worth the effort.

http://pslc.ws/macrog//mech.htm

Fremmer
February 16, 2010, 12:41 PM
It seems to me that polymer is probably used because it is lighter, easier and less expensive to manufacture, and is reinforced by steel (inserts) where necessary. It also doesn't rust due to moisture or sweat.

I don't know about the comparisons to toys, etc. that are being used here. But I know that car manufacturers have been using polymer for 30 years, probably because it is less expensive, easier to make, and doesn't rust. And rust is a big issue, especially in areas (like wheel wells) exposed to moisture and/or salt during the winter.

I'm no engineer or controller, though. Just my guess about why polymer is used instead of steel.

smoothdraw
February 16, 2010, 12:51 PM
I use all steel 1911's and love them. I can use polymer framed pistol but i choose steel. I guess the question is not strength because steel is more strong, less brittle than plastic. But a weapon realibility is not based on materials alone.

the-ghost
February 16, 2010, 02:05 PM
Whens the last time you fired a bullet through a spring?
ever see slow motion video of an ak-47 barrel going full auto? flexes all over the place... if you research sword making you get a clear picture of steel flexing. too brittle, sword breaks. too springy it bends.

for the record, to the old guys i'm almost there, HK made the first poly pistols i think 10 years before glock hit the market.

Boats
February 16, 2010, 02:07 PM
One other item, if I were to subject steel to the abuse of open earth burial, I sure wouldn't choose to do so with my SS Combat Commander, or my 686-plus or anything else for that matter that had not been treated to the nitrocarbing acid bath process, something that cannot even be done(successfully)to SS!

This is patently false. Nitrocarburizing carbon steel to be like a Glock slide is a three step process. First an initial quench in the molten bath, then a polish, and then a final quench. Part of the double quenching is to bring up the Rockwell hardness number of the carbon ordnance steel into the 70s, in part to make the slide more scratch resistant due to being harder than many of the things that might scrape off of it.

Stainless steel has chromium in it. A SS frame or slide starts out harder on the RC scale than does a carbon steel counterpart due to the presence of the chromium. Stainless steel could be QPQ'ed, but then it would be too brittle for its application as a pistol slide.

Stainless steel, already having a built in corrosion resistance and higher initial hardness that carbon steel lacks, can be nitrocarburized, but it only requires a polishing of the stainless steel part and then one quenching in the molten bath to arrive at the same RC hardness and corrosion resistance as a QPQ treated carbon steel slide. In both cases, the nitrocarburizing is going to alter the molecular surface of the part, to a few thousandths of an inch, imparting the "magical" qualities associated with this treatment. The stainless steel part is just skipping a step made unnecessary by the nature of the beginning steel.

A "PQ" stainless slide is going to be every bit the equivalent of a "QPQ" carbon steel slide.

the-ghost
February 16, 2010, 02:19 PM
It seems to me that polymer is probably used because it is lighter, easier and less expensive to manufacture, and is reinforced by steel (inserts) where necessary. It also doesn't rust due to moisture or sweat.

I don't know about the comparisons to toys, etc. that are being used here. But I know that car manufacturers have been using polymer for 30 years, probably because it is less expensive, easier to make, and doesn't rust. And rust is a big issue, especially in areas (like wheel wells) exposed to moisture and/or salt during the winter.

I'm no engineer or controller, though. Just my guess about why polymer is used instead of steel.

no doubt. thats why you see cops all over the world with plastic pistols. glocks are most notable because they're generally the cheapest quality pistol offered.

dom1104
February 16, 2010, 02:57 PM
I dont think I get the question.

There is no room for debate or axe heads or tricycles here.

Either plastic is as strong as steel or its not.

I want to know, if you take a pistol frame, and make it out of plastic, vs a pistol frame made out of steel what is "Stronger" whatever that means.

I thought we knew the answer to this question?


You know, Ar-15 lowers come in Aluminum and polymer...........

Baphomet
February 16, 2010, 04:50 PM
I think before the question can answered it must first determined if we are we discussing yield strength, compressive strength, tensile strength, fatigue strength or impact strength... These are all very different material qualities and the answer to the question, "Which is stronger (steel or polymer)?" will vary depending on what exactly it is you mean when you use the word "strength".

MachIVshooter
February 16, 2010, 05:51 PM
Plastics have their place, but I prefer metal. Incidentally, all of my polymer guns are Kel-Tec, and the only problem I've ever had was the mag catch in my P3, and I believe the guns to be very durable. However, I'd much rather have a case head separation in my S&W 5906 than in my PF-9. Metal guns tend to only Ka-Boom out the top, instead of blowing apart the grip, cracking the frame, etc.

I've had multiple case separations in .40 and 10mm, in both S&W and Tanfoglio steel guns. The worst that ever happened was a bent extractor. I usually just have to remove the rest of the case.

So, yeah, polymer is OK, but I'll trust in steel.

RedLion
February 16, 2010, 08:23 PM
I think before the question can answered it must first determined if we are we discussing yield strength, compressive strength, tensile strength, fatigue strength or impact strength... These are all very different material qualities and the answer to the question, "Which is stronger (steel or polymer)?" will vary depending on what exactly it is you mean when you use the word "strength".

Then throw in all the different types of steel, and the different processes to make a frame, along with all the different polymers and their respective processes... and then your head explodes.

Glocks have been around a while, and a few other polymer guns have been tested quite extensively, so I'd say for the guns that use them, polymers are just fine.

Baphomet
February 17, 2010, 11:36 AM
... I'd say for the guns that use them, polymers are just fine.

Precisely.

The other question that comes to mind for me is this: If a material "A" can withstand, say, 20x what's required of it under the worst, most extreme conditions imaginable, and material "B" can withstand 25x what's required of it under those same circumstances, do the numbers even matter? I think about this not only when reading arguments like this one (steel v. polymer) but also when the topic is... is...

Dare I even say it? *Forged v. MIM parts.




*Lets not go there...

Skillet
February 17, 2010, 03:47 PM
I KNOW for a fact that a gun company would not risk their reputation on some newfangled plastic thing that they are not sure about in the durability region. The plastics are very reliable, because companies like GLOCK build thier reputation on that. If plastics weren't safe, gun companies would still use metal for frames on all of their guns, or go out of business. It's that simple. As far as metal vs. plastic goes, I think it is all down to the chemistry involved, which is way beyond my boundaries of education with just a high school chem. class under my belt and I'm sure things have changed alot since then.

As for me, I just like metal guns. I don't have anything against plastic ones, I just like them because I feel like I am holding something more finely crafted in my hands when it's metal. Maybe it's been bred into me as a human being over centuries of humans using metals for weapons. I guess you could say it feels more intimate, like it has a history somehow. I know that's weird but weapons have been made of metal since the bronze age. When I am holding a plastic weapon I feel like I am holding one of my nephew's many pop guns. But what is weird is I don't have an issue with plastic stocks on long rifles.
Maybe there is some sort of a psychological name for my issue-

gun-metalosis

easyg
February 17, 2010, 03:58 PM
I like guns that I can carry all day long.

Which also means that I don't like guns that are needlessly heavy.

If polymer will not work, then by all means, use steel.
But if it works with polymer, then by all means, use the polymer and reduce the weight.

NMGonzo
February 17, 2010, 06:18 PM
I shoot equally bad with both.

I prefer steel because it gives me the illusion of less muzzle rise.

huntsman
February 17, 2010, 10:51 PM
The plastics are very reliable, because companies like GLOCK build thier reputation on that.

Doesn’t Glock refurbish some of their trade-ins? I'm not familiar with what's done just that it is.

Dnaltrop
February 18, 2010, 01:58 AM
I don't claim to be any kind of expert on which plastics are in which guns today... I have fond memories as a child of pushing my finger through the crumbling antique plastic fixtures in my Father's 1950 Buick (to his great anguish)

In recent years, many collections of plastic Art, historical artifacts etc, are disintegrating even under the best of conditions. The agents binding the particles of the plastics together sweat out of the material and leave the item in question to slowly decay.

http://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications/newsletters/24_2/popart.html

I have no bias against Polymer guns, they have a very secure place in the world. I happen to prefer the weight of steel in general.

I'm curious, without an in-depth knowledge of what materials are used in each gun, how recently would plastics in these categories have been excluded in general from today's pistols?

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