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Old August 26, 2014, 05:31 PM   #1
stchman
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Steel guide rods, good or just a feel good.

Hello all.

I wanted to ask the forum members if replacing my plastic guide rod in my SR9 is a good thing or just a feel good thing?

I would think that if a steel guide rod was SO much better, they would have put it in there to begin with.

While a steel guide rod may look better, is it just cosmetic?

Thanks.
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Old August 26, 2014, 05:57 PM   #2
Fishbed77
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Quote:
I wanted to ask the forum members if replacing my plastic guide rod in my SR9 is a good thing or just a feel good thing?
If your pistol was designed to use a polymer guide rod, there is no good reason to replace it with a steel one:

http://www.waltherforums.com/forum/p...guide-rod.html

That example was not an SR9, but you get the gist.
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Old August 26, 2014, 06:00 PM   #3
Walt Sherrill
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As best I can tell, it's very important to some people but it's not a big deal to gun designers.

The guide rod is not a highly stressed part. The dustcover and frame of most guns constrain the recoil spring so the guide rod seems to be of most use when field stripping and reassembling the gun.

I've had guns of the same basic design with some using plastic guide rods and other using steel guide rods, and I could never tell much difference in function or performance. The guide rod material should NOT have any effect on accuracy, and probably won't have any effect on reliability or function. (I've seen Glocks function beautifuly with broken plastic guide rods...)

With certain gun designs the guide rod never really contacts the frame, and with others, the base of the guide rod may rest or push against a point on the frame (some call it the "receiver stop"). In that second case, a hard steel gruide rod base rubbing against a slightly less hard alloy frame may lead to some wear. It's not something you hear much about or see often.

In many cases, the guide rod could probably be made of bamboo and it'd still do the job.
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Old August 26, 2014, 06:12 PM   #4
fletcher
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I agree with the above. Unless there's a history of failure (e.g. bad design) for the polymer guide rod, I see no reason to replace it with a metal one.
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Old August 26, 2014, 06:18 PM   #5
Storm
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Years ago I bought a used SigPro 2340. Almost immediately the guide rod broke. Since then if Steve Bedair makes a steel guide rod for a gun that I own it goes into it. Gotten to be habit. If I had not had that one broken guide rod I never would have considered it. Necessary? No, most likely not, but it makes me happy. That said, I don't sweat it if it isn't steel.
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Old August 26, 2014, 06:23 PM   #6
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Another thing to remember is the money factor. Lets say Ruger makes 100,000 of the SR9 series pistol (just using round numbers). The polymer/plastic rod costs .10 to make and the metal one makes .50 to make. This becomes a financial decision due to profit margins.
polymer rod -$10,000
metal rod -$50,000
I have replaced all mine with metal, but they function fine with the polymer.
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Old August 26, 2014, 06:41 PM   #7
Bob M.
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Yep, the bean counters will always try to lower the costs of manufacturing. Nothing wrong with that as long as it works. I would just get 2 or 3 spare polymer rods to have on hand in case of breakage failure.
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Old August 26, 2014, 09:31 PM   #8
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Years ago I seem to remember a real problem with swapping the plastic to a steel one in aluminum framed cz pistols. I can't remember what went wrong but it was either bulged frame areas from the steel or cracks. Either way all bad.

I sure prefer steel but then again who am I to ignore the engineers who designed the pistol. Unless one is going to change the use of the pistol as it's designed I see no real reason to change it....so I dont. Too each their own though.
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Old August 26, 2014, 09:36 PM   #9
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Use what the gun was designed to use.

Heres why.

http://www.1bad69.com/keltec/guiderod.htm

While this Kel-Tec info does not apply to all designs.
It might apply to yours.

Do you want to be the Beta Tester to find out?

rc
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Old August 26, 2014, 09:38 PM   #10
Walt Sherrill
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Quote:
Yep, the bean counters will always try to lower the costs of manufacturing. Nothing wrong with that as long as it works.
I'm not sure that the bean counters have that much input in gun design and material choices. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the gun designers came up with the idea to use plastic guide rods himself (or herself), because it seemed just as good, was less trouble to make, and cost less -- designers DO worry about things like cost and production processes. And cutting a cost there may have given them some ability to improve something elsewhere without raising total costs.

Way back when, somebody made that same sort of decision when they switched from wood grips to plastic, and I'm sure it offended a lot of gun owners.

With regard to potential damages:

rcmodel's response (illustrated with frightening photos) also addresses my earlier concern about using steel in SOME guns. (Although I had NOT thought about their effect on certain hybrid frames.) The Kel-Tec P40, the gun shown in the last photo, like the P11, has an aluminum frame with a polymer cover, so it's really more substantial than it looks... but the metal guide rod obviously induced a type of stress that the designers had not anticipated.)

Last edited by Walt Sherrill; August 26, 2014 at 09:57 PM.
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Old August 26, 2014, 11:40 PM   #11
Walt Sherrill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhb
Years ago I seem to remember a real problem with swapping the plastic to a steel one in aluminum framed cz pistols. I can't remember what went wrong but it was either bulged frame areas from the steel or cracks. Either way all bad.
I don't think it was bulged frames or cracks. (The bulged frames problem occurred with some polymer-framed RAMIs and the earliest P-07s. The P-07 was slightly redesigned, and they discontinued the polymer RAMI. I don't think either of those problem caused functional issues, but just didn't look right. I've only heard of ONE cracked frame with a CZ, and that was years ago, in an 85 Combat with a steel frame.)

Years back, when I was one of the moderators on the original CZ Forum, I was told by one of the senior gunsmiths at CZ-USA that using the steel guide rod with alloy-framed guns could cause "receiver stop" wear, and such wear was not covered under warranty. (They had begun to see that wear on guns sent in for warranty work, and it was a problem.) CZ-USA had always refused to sell steel guide rods to folks when they were told they were to be used in an alloy-framed gun.

The receiver stop is where the base of the guide rod rests when the slide is on the frame and the slide stop is installed.

When the slide starts to move back, the bottom of the base of the guide rod engages the frame and stays put as the barrel continues to move back and disconnects from the guide rod. (The guide rod base is positioned against the base of the barrel underlug when it is first installed in the gun.) Because the compact guns are shorter, and because their guide rods are full-length and the slides move just about as far, their guide rods tend to tilt MORE than the shorter (or full-length) guide rods in some of the fullsize and SA models. (The guide rod tilts more in a compact CZ than in a full-size CZ with a full-length guide rod.)

I no longer participate on the CZ Forum and I'm sure they'll have better info, but I've heard other responses more recently, supposedly from "official sources," that a steel guide rod in an alloy-framed gun is not a concern. If you have an alloy CZ compact, It might be good to check with CZ-USA to see if it IS or IS NOT something to be worried about. It was never a problem with the steel-framed guns.

.

Last edited by Walt Sherrill; August 27, 2014 at 10:31 AM.
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Old August 27, 2014, 10:22 AM   #12
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I prefer steel guide rods just to put some weight up front, and their durability.


-Mike
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Old August 27, 2014, 10:39 AM   #13
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Rc's link is interesting. I replaced the polymer rod with a nicely made steel rod in a little Ruger SR22. Although I rarely shoot it, I will now inspect the way the rod acts when the slide moves to the rear. I shoot it so rarely that I doubt I'd have any problem, but why tempt fate if there's a possibility of any down-side with a steel rod? I'll leave it in only if I see no chance for weird wear or the rod banging on the underside of the barrel, etc.

That being said, I do (and always have) used one-piece rods in all my 1911s. I just like 'em and that's that. No discussion necessary, as it's a personal thing.
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Old August 27, 2014, 10:50 AM   #14
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Thanks Walt. Good clarification on that side topic. Appreciated.
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Old August 27, 2014, 12:22 PM   #15
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So how about a company that switches from a plastic guide rod to a steel guide rod on the same model???????????????
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Old August 27, 2014, 12:28 PM   #16
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My SR9c has probably 5000 trouble free rounds through it and it still has the factory guide rod...
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Old August 27, 2014, 12:58 PM   #17
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I stick with what the manufacturer puts in my pistols. Poly is very durable and also can flex more than metal which may make a difference depending on the design.

The poly guide rod on my SP2022, which I bought brand new, is a little bit scraped up but no issues with functionality with over 3000 rounds now.

No worry about voiding warranty either with aftermarket part.

Last edited by sigarms228; August 27, 2014 at 01:05 PM.
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Old August 27, 2014, 12:59 PM   #18
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I prefere steel guide rods but I can live with plastic. Some guns born with plastic rods have been reported to become unreliable with steel rods, so think about it.
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Old August 27, 2014, 01:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
I'm not sure that the bean counters have that much input in gun design and material choices.
Bean counters will not make those decisions, but they will set cost targets that force engineering to get creative and/or make compromises. Pretty standard occurrence from my experience. Something like that could have prompted a design review, and determined that polymer was OK for a guide rod.
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Old August 27, 2014, 03:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcmodel View Post
Use what the gun was designed to use.

Heres why.

http://www.1bad69.com/keltec/guiderod.htm

While this Kel-Tec info does not apply to all designs.
It might apply to yours.

Do you want to be the Beta Tester to find out?

rc
This. I'd rather have the gun wear the rod than the rod wear the gun. OEM RSA's are generally dirt cheap and a few spares are not going to break the bank.
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Old August 27, 2014, 05:13 PM   #21
Onward Allusion
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Stick to the plastic guide rod. It gives the gun a bit more wiggle room when the slide flies back from the recoil. A metal rod can and do bind some guns made for plastic ones. First hand experience with a bunch of my Kel Tec's . . . My personal feeling is that one should stick to stock as much as possible for SD guns.
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Old August 27, 2014, 05:17 PM   #22
56hawk
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Originally Posted by Hamfisted View Post
I prefer steel guide rods just to put some weight up front, and their durability.


-Mike
Yeah, it's good if you want to add weight. Tungsten guide rods are even available for a lot of guns if you want to add even more weight out front.

http://www.glockmeister.com/Glockmei...info/G4TG19CS/

http://www.brownells.com/handgun-par...-prod5534.aspx
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Old August 27, 2014, 05:25 PM   #23
Walt Sherrill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcwit
So how about a company that switches from a plastic guide rod to a steel guide rod on the same model???????????????
I think SIG did that a number of years back, after introducing plastic guide rods with some models.

There was such a stink raised by SIG owners, that SIG just reverted to steel. I never heard or read much about problems with or failure in the plastic guide rods, but did hear/read many, many SIG owners complaining about SIG's use of plastic guide rods in a SIG weapon. They felt it cheap and inappropriate.

As I said in an earlier response, guide rods are not a part that must endure high stresses.
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Old August 27, 2014, 05:26 PM   #24
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Plastic guide rods

I think it's obviously a cost-saving measure. In normal usage the plastic probably holds up well enough. But I'd prefer real metal. That said, I have plastic guide rods in several of my semiautos and have never had any problems with them. I have metal in others and to be honest right now I can't recall for certain which are which.
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Old August 27, 2014, 07:42 PM   #25
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Too lazy to look up prices, but believe metal guide rods are much more costly than plastic.

Since they are there solely to capture the spring and keep it in line, there's very little pressure against it. Never had a problem with a plastic one. Engineers seem to think it will be fine. Cost and weight savings.

Easy to replace/repair part if there is an issue. Due to their low cost, just buy an extra plastic one to have on hand in case it breaks.

If it's free, I'd prefer metal. It's nice when a used gun comes with a metal guide rod. But if I have to spend my money to upgrade, plastic is fine for this particular part.
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