Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by TimH, Apr 30, 2003.
Forged is supposed to be better, but sometimes some castings are more consistent dimensionally.
For some things, like AR receivers, it doesn't matter. For other types of receivers and small parts like hammers, cast is a little soft.
Milling is a machining operation that can be done to both.
The Remington 700 receiver is machined from round bar stock, while all Ruger receivers/frames are cast, with the exception of the .22 autos which use either polymer (.22/45) or stamped steel grip frames and heavy wall tubular steel receivers.
Some castings may be as strong or stronger than forged parts, but Ruger revolver frames are thicker than in the equivalent areas of S&W or Colt frames. Ruger, one of the top casting producers in the world, apparently thinks the extra thickness is needed.
Any casting that I have seen that was stronger than a forging was due to the fact that is was given a higher heat treatment and made thicker. When comparing apples to apples there is no casting made that I am aware of that is anywhere near the equal of a good forging.
In industrial catalogs the same thickness and heat treated forging is rated at 2 1/2 times the strength of a casting if both are the same thickness and both have the same heat treatment.
In the past I have had nothing but nothing but trouble with castings as used in firearms. The latest scourge of the gun industry is the dreaded MIM casting that has proven to be very brittle and has an extremely high failure rate.
I have found castings often shatter when subjected to sudden impact, unlike forgings that can be made hard on the outside and softer on the inside to take a lot of pounding and stress. All the castings I have seen are the same hardness all the way through.
Extreme cold seems to make some castings even more brittle than the are by nature.
If there are top quality castings the gun industry certainly isn't using them and as I have said the latest use of the MIM castings has been a real scourge on the gun owners that get stuck with such sub-standard parts. Most throw them away and pay big bucks replacing them with custom made forged parts.
The forging can be made much thinner and lighter than the casting and still be as strong as the much thicker casting. Smith & Wesson themselves advertised this about 25 years ago when they got into a big row with Bill Ruger. Since that time of course time has marched on and now Smith seems to make nothing but castings and is reported to be the one that supplies all the MIM cast internal parts for Kimber ( which have had a very high failure rate). The frames and slides are supplied by Caspian and are reportedly made from bar stock. Most of the internal parts on Smith Revolvers are now MIM and no hand fitting or machining is done on them. I have read on the net that on the Smith & Wesson forum everyone is screeming about the poor trigger pulls of new Smith Revolvers and the pedestrian accuracy of their new revolvers compared to the older quality pieces of not so long ago.
I have had an M1a recieiver stretch that was made of a casting with only 200 rounds fired out of the weapon. I have read on the net and seen pictures of many of the new M1a's suffering a high failure rate with the internal parts that are now castings instead of the forged G.I. parts that were once supplied with their weapons.
I have had a cast op-rod break on an Iver-Johnson M1 carbine that had only 500 rounds fired through it, and when it was replaced by a G.I. forged op-rod the gun never had any further problems with cracking an op-rod.
I have seen parts like automotive bell housings crack when dropped only a few feet onto a concreate floor and in contrast I have seen forged automobile parts hit the concreate so hard they bounced 3 foot into the air an suffer no damage.
I once dropped a H&R revolver on a soft pine wooden floor and the cheap cast rear sight broke right off and in contrast I have seen revolvers and automatics with forged rear sights dropped onto concrete floors and only suffer minor scratches.
Cast parts also just plain look hideous because of their porosity (air holes).
Cast parts rust much faster than forged parts. I recently examined a cast Rossi pump .22 that had a rust hole eaten right through the reciever. I have never seen this happen with a forged reciever. As a matter of fact that day I looked at some Mauser Broomhandle pistols that came from China and were at least 85 years old and probably never had a drop of oil put on them. They had light rust but no severe damage like the rust hole in the Rossi receiver that by the way was only a few years old.
The big myth is that when Gun companies use sub-standard parts it keeps the price of the weapon down so that it is still afforadable to the consumer. Again nothing but propaganda. The real truth is that the gun compaines push the prices as high as the market will bear and by using cast parts, stamped sheet metal and plastic they make astronomically higher profits while still keeping the price as high as possible. They could very well make the same weapon of quality forgings but it would cut too much into their profits and of course any handworkmanship is defintely verbotten because it too would cut to much into their profits. For example even the gun rags are now letting the truth out. The Browning and FN High Powers which were once known for their outstanding accuracy now give 3 inch groups and larger because there is no hand fitting of the barrel to the slide anymore.
In the old days gun companies were family owned and pride in their product in regards to quality workmanship and quality materials were paramont. Today with most of the Gun companies being corporate owned the managers must show a profit to the stockholders and the quality of the product is not even considered because it is well known that all the compaines are pretty much in the same racket of making a product as cheeply as possible to maximize the profits. So there is not much competition from any other compaines that are willing to make less profit but put out a quality product.
All this is why the custom built handgun has become such a big and booming buisness. People know that when buying the factory mass produced product that they are not getting a quality product like they came to expect not so long ago.
I'll pass on anything made of castings if I can help it. And I am not fond of plastic and sheet metal either. I have owned the best of the older made weapons and I am under no illusion in regards to the quality of weapons made of castings, plastic or sheet metal.
In addition improper heat treatment can ruin an otherwise excellent forging, while proper heat treatment can improve a casting's properties.
Typically with proper techniques and heat treatment, a cast receiver should perform as well as a forged one. SPECIALLY if the casting is done by a REPUTABLE company vs some anonymus no-name firm.
you missed two, the P95 and P97 also use a polymer frame.
also have to say, crappy is crappy. as in a crappy casting is mroe trouble than it's worth, but then again so is a crappy forging. adn lately both have bene seeing daylight WAY to often.
i have seen have jaded me towards any cast AR upper
It always kills me when i see someone talk about the fit and finish of one AR brand compared to the other and how people will fret over getting their lowers color to perfectly match the uppers...but thats just me i quess.
The fact is that comparing poor grade castings to good grade forgings yields no better results than comparing the inverse.
GOOD GRADE CASTINGS (like those used by Ruger) can be just as functional in ALL ASPECTS as those parts made by forging.
For those of you who disagree, I ask only one question:
Guess what process is used to make a fair number of highly stressed parts used in gas turbine engines? Hint: Ruger has been involved in this business.
Jeff has done his research.......
If a forging or casting fails you need to know about the properties of the forging or casting and the cause before making a judgement (most posts I've seen offer NO evidence, just broad based opinions) their are 1/2 dozen casting processes, the manufacturer must select which process and "alloy mix" he can afford or does he wish to cut corners to reduce expenses? (most often the case for "failure"). Again, their are many alloys (with special/desirable properties) available to the casting process that cannot be used in the forging process. Its a very broad statement to say one process is better than another. Needless to say the casting process is and has been a great success in the firearms industry. Casting due to its flexibility and lower costs will only continue to grow while the forging process continues decline. I must admit the cast ALUMINUM (forged would make a difference?) receiver for some of the G3 clones sold by Century Arms were a bit much. There outside diameter was very much oversized compared to any steel receiver. This doesn't seem to be the case with the cast steel receivers used in the Garands and M14's (M1A's). Don't assume because its a forging it's better and don't assume because it's a casting its inferior. Do the research and ask, "what type of alloyed steel was used and what standard was followed".
BTW they also cast the rocket tubes for space craft.
The jury is out on S&W use of MIM, but some of the stuff I have seen on the "net" seems to be, to put it bluntly, lies by those who still hate S&W for their past sins. Absurd claims that 90% of all S&W triggers break, or that MIM parts cause inaccuracy, are not worth bothering with.
Ruger designed all his guns around his manufacturing methods. Knowing he was going to cast the parts, he designed them to function well as cast parts. And, as pointed out, Ruger is an industry leader in metal casting.
The problem comes when a company decides to save money by replacing a forged part with a cast part. Maybe it works well, maybe it doesn't. If the quality of the casting isn't top-notch, that just makes the situation worse.
What I'm getting at is that using Ruger as an example that cast is just as strong as forged isn't really kosher. His designs were formulated from the ground up around the casting technology available--and being a leader in the field of investment casting, he was fully aware of the limitations of the technology and didn't exceed it. That DOESN'T mean that you can, in general, replace a forged part with a cast part and expect good results. That applies to even top-quality cast parts.
I don't know about "the gun industry" as a whole, but I'd accept that some do less than adequately in their castings. The majority, however, seem to be doing just fine. Ruger is of course the leading example in quality castings. The 77 series have done just fine for decades, and Super Blackhawks have been known to take more abuse than other pistols in .44 Maggie...
Me? I sorta prefer forged, blued steel and good walnut stocks.
Ruger's receivers are strongest around.
They use right alloys and heat treatment on #1's and 77's.
The flat side of a 77 is not any thicker than Rem.Win,whatever,
but I know it will handle more than those.I accidently put a
150,000 psi load through my 77, in the process of developing
my 458 wildcat.Ruined Brass,blewprimer, bulged chamber ahead
of reciever, barrel removed with lathe,checked,rebarreled,
and fired 900 more rounds.castings with right alloys can be made
stronger than forgings as long as heat treated right.Lot of
castings folks have trouble with are using poor alloys.Ed.
never heard they're as good as, let alone better, than top quality forged and machined parts.
As for casting, I note that today's Browning HP pistols use cast frames, which are considered to be stronger than older forged frames. Alloy and heat treatment are just as important - probably more important - than whether a part is cast or forged.
I have read this same statement many , many times and it only proves how good the Factories are in braninwashing the unsuspecting customer.
The real truth is that the new Brownings are heat treated harder than the old forged frames. Now if the old forged frames are given the same heat treatment and thicknes they are still 2 1/2 times stornger than any inferior casting could ever be.
There can be no argument in the cast v/s forged. If given the same quality heat treatment and thickness the forged beats out the cheap cast part or frame completely.
Each type has its strengths, but for most applications, cast vs. forged is a red herring. Heat treat and geometry are much more important for MOST applications. How you conclude that this means forgings are superior, however, is a mystery to me.
Important factors include the yield strength and the hardness. These are controlled by the alloying and heat treatment. You can goof on a forging as easily as a casting.
Do it right, and a forging will serve just as well as a casting, and vice versa. Do it wrong, and neither is worth a hoot.
Ruger proved castings can work just fine. So did Ford and GM and a host of others, with cast cranks, rods, rings and pistons.
BHP9-- If the alloy is not cheap, the cast and properly treated
receiver is stronger than forgings or machined from billets..They can get better. stronger alloys in precision castings, than can be put in forgings for the same receivers,
because the forging or billets with the toughest alloys are to hard to machine.But can be cast to dimensions needing only a little grinding and polishing.
So the term 'cheap casting' in Rugers case only means a lot of labor and tooling was saved.But they have the most expensive and toughest alloys.Ruger is making receivers
for others like Montana Rifle Co, one a big bore action for
600NE, 585 Nyati, T-Rex, etc.Ed.
Separate names with a comma.