Non-metallic handguns?


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Mark-Smith
July 18, 2011, 10:49 PM
The infamous 'Porcelain Glock 7' scene from Die Hard 2 came up in conversation today (Youtube video of scene in question (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf8sC_1deyM)) and it got me thinking.

"That punk pulled a Glock 7 on me, you know what that is? It's a porcelain gun made in Germany. It doesn't show up on your airport metal detectors and probably costs more than what you make in a month."

Ceramic and composites have been a rapidly advancing field in the last decade - I'm surprised there isn't a ceramic that could withstand the pressures found in a gun barrel.

No, not these:
http://craphound.com/images/pp-r-1_flacon.jpg

Other than some speculative but un-authenticated articles about the CIA having a 'glass gun', there doesn't seem to be anything out there.

Has anyone else seen something along these lines?

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CmpsdNoMore
July 18, 2011, 10:54 PM
That's a Walther P99.

And the weirdest firearm art I've ever seen...

Jackal1
July 19, 2011, 07:06 AM
There are some composites used in the aerospace field that would work on the slide of a firearm.... but they would make gun ownership cost prohibitive and they also exhibit brittle failure. If an overpressure round blew out the slide the shattering composite would send shrapnel into your body. With traditional metal slides the metal yields/bends as it breaks so it does not throwing (as much) shrapnel when it fails. Also, if the metal does blow out a piece of shrapnel, it would have more mass than the composite shrapnel and would thus move slower and have somewhat less likelyhood of penetrating your skin.

David Charlton
July 19, 2011, 07:39 AM
Hello,

I would like to say that, non-metallic handguns are fake guns that shoot plastic balls even though they are fake guns they can hurt and inside it has a thing that hits the ball and it fly's fast through the canal how do you know if it is an air soft well in the tip of the gun it has a white tip do not take off or it will look like a real gun.

Thanks a lot for your help!!
David Charlton
____________
Gas Guns: Evike.com

Mark-Smith
July 19, 2011, 09:56 AM
Hello,

I would like to say that, non-metallic handguns are fake guns that shoot plastic balls even though they are fake guns they can hurt and inside it has a thing that hits the ball and it fly's fast through the canal how do you know if it is an air soft well in the tip of the gun it has a white tip do not take off or it will look like a real gun.

Thanks a lot for your help!!
David Charlton
____________
Gas Guns: Evike.com

What??

jmorris
July 19, 2011, 10:25 AM
Just to get you past the "can it be done?" question. Yes, you don't even have to use fancy "space aged" materials to make a breech loading "firearm" out of UHMW "plastic." Don't intend on it lasting like a real gun but it can fire more than once, at least if you use .22lr. Other than the tremendus erosion that occurs I would bet the 2" od barrel was stronger than the lined/plastic barrel on the AR7 in the pressure it would hold.

Vern Humphrey
July 19, 2011, 12:29 PM
I have a plastic gun that I've fired over and over. It shoots a spud a good hundred yards.:neener:

NavyLCDR
July 19, 2011, 12:34 PM
Firearms that cannot be detected by airport style magnetometers are illegal by Federal law, therefore nobody will make one, right?

USAF_Vet
July 19, 2011, 01:12 PM
no one will make one legallly. I'm sure there will be backyard tinkerers who would try. The movie "In the Line of Fire" shows John Malkovich making a polymer zip gun. Granted, thats Hollyweird, but I'm sure it has inspired others to try it.

Vern Humphrey
July 19, 2011, 02:00 PM
The movie "In the Line of Fire" shows John Malkovich making a polymer zip gun. Granted, thats Hollyweird, but I'm sure it has inspired others to try it.
Yes, they will -- but such people can easily be identified -- just check for missing fingers.:D

BCRider
July 19, 2011, 04:04 PM
I don't doubt that an all ceramic and polymer gun is quite possible. But given the laws about not making such things as mentioned above first you'd need to find a company willing to produce them and then you'd need to have a NASA like budget to buy them since there would just not be much demand. I can only think that the potential customers would be some certain agencies which would not want the knowledge that such things are available to get out. The rest of the folks that could use such guns, AKA the "Bad Guys", tend to not have the NASA like budget to support such desires.

Mark-Smith
July 19, 2011, 10:18 PM
Nothing says it has to be developed in the US!

Point4orLarger
July 20, 2011, 12:08 AM
Didn't an outfit make and sell poly or CF lowers for the AR- types? Surely there is a nerd gun-lover experimenting with poly / nylon / carbon fiber guns somewhere in the free world. Remember when an SKS-7.62 pistol was introduced and got all "metal-core" ammo banned? What the BATFU COULDN'T do by banning all ammo that could be fired in the "X-ray-invisible" pistol.

bigbomar4
July 20, 2011, 12:23 AM
Im kinda thinkin mad scientist on this on at this point in time. At some point yes it will happen but I think that will be right around the point that we will also have to be worryin about the bg havin a ccw laser or what have you. Yes I do think it could be done now but I would cost WAY to much.

Mark-Smith
July 20, 2011, 12:25 AM
Cost too much to do as a production item, sure. I imagine the market for non-metallic firearms as being a bit... On the small side. However, I'd love to see a 'one off'. What the feck ever happened to American ingenuity?

Danb1215
July 20, 2011, 01:26 AM
whats the deal with the legislation that prevents this? I know I've read the text detailing the required content but can't remember what it was part of/when it was passed?

David E
July 20, 2011, 12:55 PM
I would like to say that, non-metallic handguns are fake guns that shoot plastic balls even though they are fake guns they can hurt and inside it has a thing that hits the ball and it fly's fast through the canal how do you know if it is an air soft well in the tip of the gun it has a white tip do not take off or it will look like a real gun.
__


And some people say punctuation doesn't matter......

BCRider
July 20, 2011, 01:33 PM
Ya know? I never thought about the ammo. To be invisible to a metal detector it would also need to use non mettalic bullets and cases. So now it's not just how to make a gun with no metal at all in it but also it needs a custom developed ammo as well.

Keep in mind that we're talking about ALL parts being non metallic here. Including any small screws and springs needed to make it work. It's not enough just to make a ceramic barrel, slide and polymer frame. And now a specialty ammo on top of all this? That just kicked the level of this project firmly into the NASA moon landing sort of budget near as I can see. Likely we'd be looking at a new gun set up for the new cased telescopic rounds being developed. But far as I know no one is doing such stuff in handgun calibers yet. And it would require some sort of ceramic bullet to be done as well.

Keep in mind too that such a gun would still show up under Xray viewing. It would be strictly to avoid metal detectors. If you've ever looked over the shoulders of the airport Xray operators you'll have seen that they can clearly see all sorts of stuff in cases in an overlapping image sort of manner. Bottles, shoes thickly folded pants with zippers and other objects with sharp density outlines jump right out.

OK, without jumping into the whole illegal or secret agent thing. Can ceramic parts be used in general handgun construction to lighten up the load? Hard to say. Tough ceramics that would be needed to contain chamber pressures and that would make for good slides would not be all that light. Also one reason that even guns with polymer and aluminium frames still have steel slides is that the slide has to be a certain weight in order to tune with the recoil spring in order to hold back long enough for the bullet to leave the barrel before traveling back too far to where it allows the case to begin being extracted. So making the barrel and slide lighter becomes counter productive. And no, it's not enough to just make the recoil spring stronger. If you make it strong enough to resist the recoil force it won't allow the lighter slide to extend far enough to the rear to achieve a good ejection force. The weight of the barrel and slide and the strength of the recoil spring is a tuned system. Some fudging can be done in this regard but not a lot. And it's fair to say that the makers of lighter duty carry guns and the bigger pocket guns that shoot 9mm and bigger have already pared down the weight of the slide and barrel as much as they can consistent with keeping the gun working well.

AethelstanAegen
July 20, 2011, 01:45 PM
And some people say punctuation doesn't matter......

Yeah, I think someone's a little lost and wandered onto the wrong forum.

I could see someone being able to knock together a homemade one shot .22lr (maybe it could take a few repeated shots) deal that would service much like the .45acp "Liberator" pistols from WW2. If any other, serious/professional, research is going into creating a more durable version I doubt we'd ever hear about it.

In general, I imagine it would be cost prohibitive to create a non-metalic pistol. As I understand it, the only reason to do so would be to get through metal detectors, but then again you still clearly have a gun shaped object, so it wouldn't fool any closer inspection. I'd say the more popular research would go into disguising firearms as non-firearms (ie the "pen" firearms of WW2 and the Cold War). I would think developers wouldn't see the point in creating, say, a plastic pistol which wouldn't give you greater functionality over a disguised firearm which would prove significantly cheaper.

Furthermore, any pistol you'd have would have to fire bullets (as long as we're still talking about firearms and not weapons such as the air pressure powered "umbrella gun" used by the Soviets in the Cold War). Even the military's latest developments in plastic cased cartridges (http://www.military.com/news/article/army-news/soldiers-may-soon-have-lighter-machine-gun.html?ESRC=army.nl) still use metal bullets, which I'm pretty certain would still set off a metal detector. I think we're clearly seeing another example of hollywood fantasy.

RedAlert
July 20, 2011, 04:50 PM
Most of the discussion here seems to revolve around making a common pistol design out of ceramics. The modern pistol's shape has largely been determined by function and material.
So why assume the ceramic pistol would look like a steel/poly pistol; just made out of ceramics?
I'd think that the shape of a ceramic pistol would be very different from a steel/poly one due to the strengths and weaknesses of ceramics. Perhaps the best design would be a single shot pistol that uses a rubber band as the firing pin spring...carbon fiber barrel and tension components rather than a revolver design or auto loader, having a rolling block or falling block breech would be more practical.
Aren't there Ruger 10/22 barrels made with CF wrapping the metallic barrel liner. I bet if you weren't interested in shooting multiple rounds you could skip the liner.
I'm certain in my belief (no proof mind you) that such firearms have been made. Its too neat a concept to be ignored by the "Alphabet Agencies!"

Vern Humphrey
July 20, 2011, 04:55 PM
Most of the discussion here seems to revolve around making a common pistol design out of ceramics. The modern pistol's shape has largely been determined by function and material.
More by function than by material. A pistol, regardless of what material you use needs a barrel, a grip and some method of firing it.

There have been odd guns -- walking stick guns, the infamous Nazi belt buckle gun, and so on, but anything designed to used like a pistol is going to look like a pistol.

fletcher
July 20, 2011, 06:10 PM
For ceramics, the raw strength is there, but being brittle limits their usefulness as an engineering material in an application like firearms. Things that are necessary for being in a firearm environment like fracture toughness and impact resistance just aren't there in a ceramic. This also makes them very notch sensitive; any flaws (which includes holes, grooves, etc.) will result in much more pronounced loss of properties than with a metal. There are very expensive ceramics such as PSZ (partially stabilized zirconia), which have high toughness for ceramics, but still only attain 10-20% that of 4340 steel. While I don't doubt great advances will be made in the future, they're just not ready for use in an application like this.

As for polymers, there are probably a few components which aren't highly stressed that could use some sort of polymer/plastic piece short-term. Metals just offer the required properties that the environment of a firearm needs.

JustinJ
July 20, 2011, 06:33 PM
I don't think it would be hard to create a single shot gun and bullet that lacked metal with the ability to kill but lower pressures than standard rounds. I think a gun that could repeatedly fire would be the tricky part. Ecspecially if one expected it to be semi-automatic. The inability to use a spring would also be challenging.

Iramo94
July 20, 2011, 07:19 PM
To be invisible to a metal detector it would also need to use non mettalic bullets and cases. ~BCRider
No illegal intent ---> Would the bullets really need to be non-metal? That depends on what technology is used to see them. A "metal detector" only finds magnetic material if I understand correctly. That means no iron (steel), copper, lanthinides, or organic materials cooled to near absolute zero (but who in his right mind would make a gun out of neodymium, diamond, or sugar?). In that case, I think lead would be okay. However, if it is being X-rayed, they would just check the signature that came off of it and see that, yea, it weighs seven ounces per mole, so it's lead. I would think that it is only in that situation that you would need non-metallic, or at least not heavy metallic, bullets. Try zinc or aluminum...

BCRider
July 20, 2011, 11:44 PM
Fletcher, ceramics these days covers so wide a variety of materials that I don't doubt that there are some out there which would work. For example, the sintered carbide inserts used in metal shaping machines is one type of ceramic that uses tungsten carbide as part of the makeup of the cutter bits.

The idea of a rifled ceramic liner with a wound carbon fiber composite jacket would also work. It's good enough for making high pressure cylinders with a thin aluminium inner bottle wound over with a high strength carbon and epoxy jacket to produce a light pressure cylinder.

And a hearty "HELL YEAH!" to the idea that a non metallic gun would not need to totally replicate any existing designs.

Iramo, the metal detectors in the airports and at other locations are simple magnetometers. They sense metal by sending out a magnetic wave and then sense how the current in the coil which you walk through is affected by metal in the region of the coil. In effect it's like a very loosely coupled electical transformer with no core. ANY metal in the area of the magnetic field produced by the coil in the loop or in the wand at the end of the "treasure finder" will react to the magnetic field by seeing an induced electrical current in the metal object. So all that is needed is that whatever metal you have must be electrically conductive. It doesn't matter if it's magnetic on its own or able to stick to a magnet. Just being able to conduct electricity is enough to be detected. Otherwise how else would the treasure finder sets find gold rings? So zinc or aluminium is detected just as easily as carrying a magnet.

It's a good thing that terrorists aren't all that smart on the whole. Other wise we'd have legions of air travel terrorists carrying bits to assemble guns such as what "The Man With The Golden Gun" used in the old James Bond movie.... :D

JustinJ
July 21, 2011, 04:05 PM
So then will a bottle of salt water set off a metal detector?

Point4orLarger
July 21, 2011, 04:23 PM
The long hinge-pin of a brief-case could be sharpened before-hand, withdrawn from the hinge in flight, and be used as an excellent pig-sticker. Or, gun-wise, several people could spread several innocent-looking "gun parts" among them -- even a single-use barrel could be given to any number of terrorist passengers, and assembled from the "ball-point pen" of each, and several very functional zip-guns would appear on board. Single-use air-guns, with enough C2 concealed in one part of a pair of gift-set instruments could be simply connected for a "silent" zip-gun. These are all things which the TSA is seeking before we can get on board.

xplag
July 21, 2011, 06:53 PM
I think the easiest way to make something of the sort would be to go along the lines of a derringer. Ceramics can be extremely tough (while no where close to metals), so if you had an oversized derringer made of ceramic I think it could fire.

As for the ammunition, something along the lines of caseless ammunition (like for the G11) where a polymer makes the "case" with bullet made of a hardened material could be used.

Now, making all of this would probably cost more than a car, but I think it could be done. The pistol would not fire more than a few rounds before becoming extremely fragile, but it seems possible.

Iramo94
July 21, 2011, 09:41 PM
Rider, thanks for the info. I am kind of interested then why my aluminum dog tag and chain and aluminum glasses don't set it off. I have actually been told by several TSA agents in airports all over the country to keep my glasses on. Apparently they would rather have to use the magic wand than pay out a few thousand dollars for a slip-and-fall or walk-into-a-door.

fletcher
July 21, 2011, 11:49 PM
For example, the sintered carbide inserts used in metal shaping machines is one type of ceramic that uses tungsten carbide as part of the makeup of the cutter bits.

Typical carbide inserts are a carbide in a cobalt or similar matrix - known as cemented carbides. The cobalt is necessary to keep it all together (amongst other things), as the carbide alone would break and wear out pretty quickly. Ceramic composites may expand the border slightly, but the options are still extremely limited. My concern with a rifled ceramic barrel would be the notch sensitivity. A smoothbore with sufficient reinforcement may work, but rifling would severely weaken it or limit the rifling.


^ The walk-through metal detectors are adjustable so that they can decide how much sets it off. Next time you have the (mis?)fortune of waiting at security for an extra early morning flight, you may see a TSA employee walking through the detector multiple times holding a block in various orientation/positions tweaking something every couple passes.


EDIT: Found an experiment with a ceramic lined chamber: http://aux.ciar.org/ttk/mbt/papers/isb2007/paper.x.isb2007.IB06.5_point_56mm_ceramic_gun_barrel_thermal_analyses_with_cycled_ammunition.huang_conroy_carter.2007.pdf, and an investigation of various ceramics for possible barrel use: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA430400

BCRider
July 22, 2011, 07:17 PM
So then will a bottle of salt water set off a metal detector?

Good point. Salt water is a conductor. OK, let's get a bit more fancy. To be detected the object has to be something that will generate eddy currents in the material. These eddy currents in turn generate their own magnetic field which distorts the original field that produced the eddy currents. When the detector loop's magnetic field is disturbed it slightly alters the otherwise steady state current in the loop. And the detection circuitry is looking for any such variations from the steady state norm.

For example if you fired up and set the machine while there was a penny in a crack down by the floor it would start up just fine and not detect the penny. But if a worker saw the penny a little later and went to remove it the motion of the penny would disturb the "set" coil operating current and it would detect the removal of the penny and the light would flash a detection warning.

That's why metal detectors need to be (or at least USED to need to be) switched on with the loop well away from any metal in the area.

Salt water is a conductor but I'm not sure if smaller bottles of it will support eddy currents and the production of a magnetic field in the same manner. At some size perhaps it would. Or perhaps there's still enough resistance in the solution to prevent that.

Iramo, I've had the metal detectors get set off by the metal eyelets in my shoes. And more recently even without shoes the darn thing went off again. They had it set SOOOOO sensitive that the metal tag on my pants zipper set it off and I ended up being "wanded" I suppose I should be happy that they didn't think I might have the little 1.5 inch nail file in there that they made me snap off from my nail clippers... :D

These days with the MD's being set so sensitive I can't imagine anyone that wears metal rimed glasses as getting through with no wanding needed. Band when they set them to a reasonable level then sure, no problem. Likely why the dog tags and metal chain didn't set off any alarms. Or perhaps if you were in uniform the light did go but they chose to let you through? Do you wear your tags when in civvies?

Strykervet
July 22, 2011, 07:46 PM
To all you naysayers...

The same was said about the polymer frame VP70 and Glock 17. That it couldn't be done. It wouldn't be such a stretch to fabricate the whole system from composites.

Someone would have to want to do it bad enough though, and would it be worth the cost? For defeating metal detectors, it would be specialized for sure. For light weight, we already have the 340PD and I couldn't imagine shooting anything lighter.

For now, the specialized stuff will most likely be one offs made for spooks and mass murderers. As far as how many shots it can fire before failure? Well, how many do you think you will need to fire on an airplane at 30,000ft.? Or an assassination attempt from three feet away? Long term reliability won't be an issue.

The only reason we have the Glock is that it was cheap to make a plastic frame, plastic frames work, and we had a need for a lighter high capacity weapon. Still, a plastic frame was a huge gamble. Most companies, particularly firearm companies, aren't into gambling this day and age.

Iramo94
July 22, 2011, 09:09 PM
I am actually not in the military, and the dog tag is just from an association where it is tradition to wear it 24/7. I just forgot to take it off, then noticed when I didn't have to put it back on. Oops. And I was wearing a "More Government = Less Freedom" T-shirt no less.

Clifford
July 22, 2011, 09:33 PM
Wouldn't an x-ray detect the composites and ceramics, simply due to how dense those components would have to be to hold the pressures?

scythefwd
July 22, 2011, 10:39 PM
aluminum oxynitride? They make bullet proof covers out of it. It withstands impact very welll.... Pressure would be the gotcha. Low pressure rounds like the super coloibri could probably be done. A chamber and barrel one piece rod and the firing pin on the other, slightly larger tube. Slide em together.... Boom. Not accurate, bot would act like a round on the end of a log stick. Puch with the tip and shot at the same time as impact

BCRider
July 23, 2011, 12:48 PM
Clifford, yes it would. And if it had a classic gun shape it would jump out at the person viewing the screen.

Non metallic would only avoid detection by metal detectors.

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