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Do special forces use stainless steel handguns?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Gunsmoker, Aug 20, 2007.

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  1. Gunsmoker

    Gunsmoker Member

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    I never see pictures of special forces or swat teams using stainless steel guns.

    Why is that?

    I've heard the excuse that the silver flash would give away their position, but Swat teams aren't exactly stealthy, so why don't cops use stainless guns?
     
  2. RNB65

    RNB65 Member

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

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

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

    average_shooter Member

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    What about using stainless with black coatings? Seems like stainless might be a good way for SEAL teams to go.
     
  4. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Member

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

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

    Autolycus Member

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    I believe that Navy SEALs use P226s as a standard issue sidearm. I also believe that occasionally they use HK Mark 23 Pistols and USP CTs. I am willing to bet they just take the appropriate equipment for the job.
     
  6. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    If you look a little further you'll notice that none of the world's military forces, or at least the larger ones, use small arms made out of stainless steel. The reason is that the metallurgy of high-carbon steel alloys is better, with the possible exception of resistance to corrosion. They address this problem with various kinds of coatings or plating. After you get past the corrosion issue stainless steel as little to recommend it. Also to an increasing degree they are going toward polymer and aluminum components for everything but barrels and internal lockwork.
     
  7. 1 old 0311

    1 old 0311 member

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    I had a S&W 60 in Vietnam, as backup to my M-14. In swamps you want stainless. Iraq would be a bit different.
     
  8. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    I seem to remember the SEALs at one time using stainless S&W .38 Special revolvers, probably Model 64s. This was back in the '80s.

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

    Onmilo Member

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

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

    Owen Moderator Emeritus

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    Old Fuff,

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

    DMK Member

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    I've read quite a few books about SF in Vietnam. SS revolvers were quite commonly mentioned. They certainly weren't issued guns though.
     
  12. copaup

    copaup Member

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

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

    Old Fuff Member

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

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

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

    Owen Moderator Emeritus

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

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

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

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

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

    Old Fuff Member

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

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

    Owen Moderator Emeritus

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    Oh they have a reason, but i's more political than technical.

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

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

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

    CWL Member

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    Stainless .357 revolvers were the preferred handgun for SEALs specialized in ocean drilling rig tactics. I don't know if they still are.
     
  18. RichardB

    RichardB Member

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    Why stainless? The users can oil the blue guns to preclude rusting. Bright shiny stuff is just one more thing that could bring unwanted steel onto your position.
     
  19. 45shooter

    45shooter Member

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

    CWL Member

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

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

    mljdeckard Member

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

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

    Blade_Zero Member

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

    Other blackened SS handguns may be in their inventory, the fact that they are SS would likely be incidental rather than specified.
     
  23. 45auto

    45auto Member

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    I think many civilans buy stainless to prevent the "worn" look of blued guns, and they like the silver look. Neither would apply to the armed forces.

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

    Ghost Tracker Member

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

    brickeyee Member

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