What is Scandium?


PDA






powwowell
July 29, 2012, 09:29 AM
I've looked at a S&W M1911 E-series Scandium Bobtail. Very attractive and it has my attention.

But, what is scandium? I assume that it is lighter than steel. Is it more durable? Rust proof? etc.?

If you enjoyed reading about "What is Scandium?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
mesinge2
July 29, 2012, 09:43 AM
Its not a buzz word and its not aluminum. Scandium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandium) is a chemical element with symbol Sc on the periodic table and atomic number 21. A silvery-white metallic transition metal. The properties of scandium compounds are intermediate between those of aluminium and yttrium. A diagonal relationship exists between the behavior of magnesium and scandium, just as there is between beryllium and aluminium.

JohnBT
July 29, 2012, 09:56 AM
I didn't know S&W made a scandium Sigma .380.

mesinge2
July 29, 2012, 09:59 AM
Okay thanks. I know it don't work in guns though. I had one J frame model 37 made from it blow up and the Sigma 380 blow up. That was enough of it for me.
The S&Ws are a scandium alloy and IIRC early scandium models did have issues with flame cutting. They corrected the problem by placing shield on the top strap to hold off this flame cutting.

http://i1210.photobucket.com/albums/cc401/mesinge2/Misc/456.jpg

powwowell
July 29, 2012, 10:01 AM
mesinge2, thanks for the following comment:
"Its not a buzz word and its not aluminum. Scandium is a chemical element with symbol Sc on the periodic table and atomic number 21. A silvery-white metallic transition metal. The properties of scandium compounds are intermediate between those of aluminium and yttrium. A diagonal relationship exists between the behavior of magnesium and scandium, just as there is between beryllium and aluminium."

But, what does that mean?

mesinge2
July 29, 2012, 10:10 AM
mesinge2, thanks for the following comment:
"Its not a buzz word and its not aluminum. Scandium is a chemical element with symbol Sc on the periodic table and atomic number 21. A silvery-white metallic transition metal. The properties of scandium compounds are intermediate between those of aluminium and yttrium. A diagonal relationship exists between the behavior of magnesium and scandium, just as there is between beryllium and aluminium."

But, what does that mean?

I'm not a metallurgist but I believe that scandium does not have the strength of aluminum. My only reasoning for this is that I have a S&W m12-2 with an aluminum frame from 1976 and it has fired fine from day one with no issues. But when they started making scandium guns they needed a shield to protect the frame. And they don't need the shield on aluminum guns. IMO, scandium is simply a lighter metal then aluminum and makes carrying the gun easier. Also it is generally more expensive than aluminum alone.

powwowell
July 29, 2012, 10:24 AM
mesinge2, your last post makes sense to me. I'll stay away from the scandium pistols.

ku4hx
July 29, 2012, 10:29 AM
But, what does that mean?
It means Scandium is an element and as such occupies position 21 (it's atomic number is 21) on the periodic table of the elements.

Elements are the smallest bit of matter that still exhibit the properties of that matter. The larger particles of the atom are Protons, Neutrons and Electrons. Only when you get into Quantum Mechanics do you get to smaller particles than these three: quarks, gluons, leptons and etc.

Beyond that, according to some, you get to strings and 'branes (membranes) and then things get really strange.

56hawk
July 29, 2012, 10:56 AM
The addition of scandium to aluminium creates nanoscale Al3Sc precipitates which limit the excessive grain growth that occurs in the heat-affected zone of welded aluminium components. This has two beneficial effects: the precipitated Al3Sc forms smaller crystals than are formed in other aluminium alloys[9] and the width of precipitate-free zones that normally exist at the grain boundaries of age-hardenenable aluminium alloys is reduced.[9] Scandium is also a potent grain refiner in cast aluminium alloys, and atom for atom, the most potent strengthener in aluminium, both as a result of grain refinement and precipitation strengthening.

This extra strength from scandium is what allows Smith & Wesson to make aluminum alloy framed guns in 357 and 44 Magnum. The older non scandium aluminum guns are limited to 38 and 44 special. I have two scandium framed guns, a M&P 360 that I have put a bunch of rounds through and a 329 Nightguard that I just bought.

Shipwreck
July 29, 2012, 10:58 AM
Okay thanks. I know it don't work in guns though. I had one J frame model 37 made from it blow up and the Sigma 380 blow up. That was enough of it for me.

That old Sigma 380 had a ZINC slide... That's why it sucked and had such a finite lifespan.

The scandium guns are actually aluminum, with a very small amount of scandium mixed into the allow - to apparently make the aluminum a LITTLE bit stronger than just a plain aluminum gun.

mesinge2
July 29, 2012, 10:58 AM
I personally want the model 327 8-shot 357 magnum. I'd have no qualms about buying it either. If something did malfunction, S&W would take care of you.

brickeyee
July 29, 2012, 12:01 PM
It is an aluminum alloy with a small percentage of scandium added for increased strength.

Just like small amounts of antimony results in a harder lead aklloy for cast bullets, a small amount of scandium increases the strength of aluminum.

The whole gun is NOT made of scandium.

Just a couple percent is all that is needed in the alloy mix.

Sam1911
July 29, 2012, 12:10 PM
As others have said, Scandium is a metallic element that is added in minute quantities to Aluminum to make a stronger alloy. It is very expensive by itself and even the little bit added to a lightweight aluminum gun shows up in the price.

It allowed Smith to make guns that could handle magnum pressures using an Aluminum alloy for great weight savings. Those high pressures, though, push the flame-cutting issue to beyond what Aluminum alloys are able to resist, as the metal is still softer than steel. So they added a small stainless steel blast shield to counter that.

(The Sigmas have NOTHING AT ALL to do with Scandium alloy. Cheap, bottom-of-the-market guns and expensive Aluminum super-alloys do not mix.)

Skylerbone
July 29, 2012, 12:19 PM
S&W had problems initially with their aluminum alloy containing scandium, long since corrected. Shipwreck is close with his post however the addition of 1% scandium to aluminum increases yield strength of the alloy nearly 3-fold.

The revolver issue was barrel over torque and improper thread dimensions which resulted in a recall. Other S&W revolvers had similar failures (as did all steel Rugers) traceable to QC or process.

As with any material be it aluminum, stainless steel, polymer or scandium there is a learning curve for application.

As for the E-Series, well I have one in stainless and I don't plan on a second. It ran without fault through the first 500 rounds or so however significant upper barrel lug wear was evident resulting in barrel replacement (on my dime). Small parts were poorly finished and fit was mediocre. I have no doubt that Smith would have repaired it when it did fail but I prefer not endangering my fingers/eyes/life by owning a firearm that was headed too quickly for failure. To be sure it had a lot going for it as the basis for a custom build with a unique style but the price commanded by the "scandium" model would surely give me pause.

bluethunder1962
July 29, 2012, 12:23 PM
I have two and love them. The 44mag is a little light for that much power.

Jim Watson
July 29, 2012, 12:23 PM
Not even a couple percent, scandium is soluble in aluminum to form a true alloy only up to .5%. Scandium is sold as 1% and 2% mixes with aluminum for easy alloying into the fractional percent range that increases the strength of the aluminum.

I recall seeing scandium priced at about $3000 a pound. That would put about $10 worth of scandium in a gun, but there is more to the cost than just the raw materials.

mesinge2
July 29, 2012, 01:35 PM
Awesome, I learned something here!!!

I am a huge revolver collector and never knew some of this stuff. It just goes to show you. No matter how much you have learned and experienced there is always something to learn. Thanks to powwowell for the thread and for everyone else for the info. Always good to learn something new.

.

Jim K
July 29, 2012, 04:38 PM
Basically, scandium hardens aluminum, sort of like carbon hardens steel. You could not make a gun out of carbon or out of scandium, but you can make a better gun when they are alloyed with steel or aluminum.

The main problem with those scandium revolvers is that the recoil in .357 is wicked, just short of a broken hand. I doubt that many owners are going to practice enough to become competent in the use of those guns, but they are easy to carry or even to forget that you are carrying at all.

Jim

boricua9mm
July 29, 2012, 07:16 PM
A great element added to Smith's aluminum alloy, it is easily more noteworthy than the POS parts they fill their guns with. Honestly, when considering plucking down $1200, better quality is within arm's reach. See if Dan Wesson has something to your liking , or SIG.

Sam1911
July 29, 2012, 09:05 PM
Honestly, when considering plucking down $1200, better quality is within arm's reach. See if Dan Wesson has something to your liking , or SIG.

Oh, I know! I've been DROOLING over a new 11.4 oz Scandium-framed Dan Wesson for ever! Where can I find one of those? Or is that what SIG is making these days?

tekarra
July 29, 2012, 09:08 PM
Scandium is an element added in very small amounts to aluminum to enhance the mechanical properties; that is to increase the strength. The major use of scandium is alloying aluminum in the aerospace industry.

boricua9mm
July 29, 2012, 09:43 PM
Oh, I know! I've been DROOLING over a new 11.4 oz Scandium-framed Dan Wesson for ever! Where can I find one of those? Or is that what SIG is making these days?

..So are you absolutely falling over dying to fork over 12 Bills for a MIM-filled 1911 with a Space Age 1911 frame, or are you willing to live with a higher quality aluminum alloy frame from a company without a reputation of pi$$ing down the customers leg and telling them its raining?

What I'm saying is, for $1400 it is easy to find a Dan Wesson Guardian that is either a "Factory Blemish" (which will pass a visual inspection to-to-toe with anything from the S&W Production Line) or slightly used, or it will land you with a SIG alloy-framed 1911 with far less MIM, or as some of us have found out the HARD WAY, fall-apart components.

On the heavier side of the scale, once you step into $1400 you are in Les Baer territory.

Of course, don't let any of this keep you guys from spending top dollar for less :)

Auto426
July 29, 2012, 11:35 PM
.So are you absolutely falling over dying to fork over 12 Bills for a MIM-filled 1911 with a Space Age 1911 frame, or are you willing to live with a higher quality aluminum alloy frame from a company without a reputation of pi$$ing down the customers leg and telling them its raining?

What I'm saying is, for $1400 it is easy to find a Dan Wesson Guardian that is either a "Factory Blemish" (which will pass a visual inspection to-to-toe with anything from the S&W Production Line) or slightly used, or it will land you with a SIG alloy-framed 1911 with far less MIM, or as some of us have found out the HARD WAY, fall-apart components.

On the heavier side of the scale, once you step into $1400 you are in Les Baer territory.

Of course, don't let any of this keep you guys from spending top dollar for less

I'm pretty sure he's referring to Smith & Wesson J frame revolvers, unless you can find any 11 oz. Dan Wesson or Sig 1911's.

19-3Ben
July 30, 2012, 12:03 AM
So just how much Scandium does S&W put in their guns? Maybe that model 37 J frame I had that blew up did not have enough.

It didn't have ANY. The model 37 is made with an aluminum frame. Not scandium.

Edit to add: And the Model 19 was the "Combat Magnum." The K38/model 15 was the "combat masterpiece."

Skylerbone
July 30, 2012, 12:54 AM
That's ok Ben, he also owns a rare United Switch & Signal 1911.

Back on topic, a few take off parts from my E-Series, much MIM indeed. The TS was poorly fitted and contacted the plunger tube (also replaced), both the TS and slide stop scratched the heck out of the frame and it rode the link hard due to over-cut lower lugs. Upper barrel lugs were visibly rounding by 500 rounds.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=162483&d=1334017624

and after rework:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=162486&d=1334018136

WardenWolf
July 30, 2012, 01:02 AM
S&W started using Scandium in their revolver frames after +P ammo became popular. The older aluminum Airweight J-Frames had problems with frame stretching and failure when fed a steady diet of +P. Adding Scandium allows them to safely shoot +P without being damaged over time.

swinokur
July 30, 2012, 08:13 AM
Scandium is in the same family as upsidasium and unobtanium, making it hard to find and causing your gun to float in mid air.

Kahuna5
July 30, 2012, 08:24 AM
Like a few others have mentioned, Scandium is intended to increase the overall strength of the frame by as much as three fold as well as lighten the pistol. The percentage of scandium present within the frame is less than 1%.

I have shot the scandium E-series .45acp, and while it was a beautiful autoloader, there are numeroud 1911's that perform equally as reliable for a fraction of the cost. Just my .02

GBExpat
July 30, 2012, 08:34 AM
You might find this of interest!

http://www.chuckhawks.com/smith-wesson_dark.htm Thank you for the link, 115fmj.

I, for one, found it to be very interesting!

Quat
July 31, 2012, 01:58 PM
Did smith ever make a 38 special j frame with a 3"+ barrel or k frame out of it?
Or any other lightweight 38 spc beyond 2"-2.5"

barnbwt
July 31, 2012, 09:31 PM
The main problem with those scandium revolvers is that the recoil in .357 is wicked, just short of a broken hand.

Recoil is tame in my .357 TRR8, snappy (it is a .357 after all), but very controllable. That's because it's a 5" N-frame (just as God inteded .357's to be :D). I've never heard any good things about recoil in magnum-snubs, so I don't think alloy is the limiting factor with that. I also keep hearing about how crappy MIM is, but I've never actually read a post by someone who just broke a part. Yeah, it looks cheap (up reeeal close), but it works fine, and is here to stay.

As far as my pistol, the only issue (and a rare one) I've heard of anyone having has to do with the two-piece barrel setup not being torqued properly, ultimately causing the barrel work loose (I think I have that right). Smith supposedly addressed the problem.

The far bigger issue is finding holsters for a 5" N-frame with rails and do-dads on it...

I am interested in the alloy's utility for autoloaders. How did S&W get that to work properly, given all the sliding surfaces (very few in revolvers), and that the slide weight is crucial for proper function/durability? Did they press in steel inserts, or is the metal beared-upon directly? Are the recoil springs really heavy?

TCB

Jim Watson
July 31, 2012, 09:34 PM
Only the receiver of a "scandium" autopistol is the light alloy. The slide is steel and operation is normal. The aluminum is anodized for wear protection.

Taurus and SVI have done some titanium slide guns, but they are not common.

19-3Ben
July 31, 2012, 09:55 PM
Did smith ever make a 38 special j frame with a 3"+ barrel or k frame out of it?
Or any other lightweight 38 spc beyond 2"-2.5"

Yes. Smith made the model 36 with 3" bbl as an option. They also make a model 60 with a 3" tube. It's .357 rather than .38, but of course you can load 38's. I am not sure but I think they also made it with a 3" bbl back when the 60 was a .38 rather than .357. Both the 36 and 60 are all steel though.

I know at one point there was a Airlite .357mag with a 3" bbl that came with a FO sight. It was meant to be a kit gun.

As for K frames, yes they made them, but they are not all that common and fetch a premium. The 2", 2.5" and 4" were more popular.

The Ruger Speed Six, Service Six, and Security Six were k frame sized and made with 2.75" bbls if that's close enough to 3" for you.
Again, the K frames and Ruger Sixes that I mention are all steel. there was one aluminum K frame that I know of. The model 12. I don't know if it ever came in a 3". If it did, that would be one awesome carry gun!

mesinge2
July 31, 2012, 10:01 PM
there was one aluminum K frame that I know of. The model 12.

You mean this one below. Its one of my favorites!

http://i1210.photobucket.com/albums/cc401/mesinge2/My%20heaters/My38SPLSWmodel12-212.jpg
http://i1210.photobucket.com/albums/cc401/mesinge2/My%20heaters/My38SPLSWmodel12-25.jpg

Auto426
July 31, 2012, 11:44 PM
Did smith ever make a 38 special j frame with a 3"+ barrel or k frame out of it?
Or any other lightweight 38 spc beyond 2"-2.5"

I don't believe they ever made any K frames or J frames with 3"+ barrels with Scandium frames. There were some L frame and N frame magnums produced with scandium frames as well. The Scandium frames are usually reserved for magnum caliber guns designed to be as light as possible, such as concealable J frames for larger guns designed for backpacking. When it came down to the small .38's meant for carry, Smith went with short barrels to keep the guns as small and light as possible.

If you enjoyed reading about "What is Scandium?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!