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Polymers used in modern guns

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by akadave, Apr 26, 2010.

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  1. akadave

    akadave Member

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    I have all manner of firearms in my "accumulation". Im not prejudiced towards one material or other, every firearm has its virtures.

    What I am wondering is this: Passing on a cherished firearm from family member to family member has been a practice done for well over a century. That said, what will be the state of say a Glock, 70 years from now when a great great grandchild takes it out of the case and contemplates fireing it? Will the plastic be too brittle and render the pistol unsafe? I know that these polymers have the half life of Plutonium but that doesnt mean they will be structurally sound.

    What are the som thoughts about this?
     
  2. highorder

    highorder Member

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    It seems to me that plastics that avoid UV exposure and oxygen seem to last much longer.

    Perhaps a Glock in it's tupperware might last indefinitely.
     
  3. gofastman

    gofastman Member

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    ^ yep, keep it away from ozone and UV and I dont see why it wouldnt last near forever
     
  4. Marshall

    Marshall Member

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    We're only good until 2012 anyway. :p
     
  5. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    IIRC, the polymer used for Glocks contains carbon blacking or something, that gives it a pretty good amount of protection against UV.
     
  6. Dnaltrop

    Dnaltrop Member

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    Really, REALLY long term...

    Museums across the country are struggling to preserve their collections of modern art made from plastics, and historical artifacts of the same Ilk.

    The agents that bind the solid particles of the plastics, eventually sweat out, and leave the main structure to crumble.

    http://www.getty.edu/conservation/science/plastics/


    I would really love to know which, if any gun materials would fall under these categories, but it's probably better to enjoy your Plastic gun today, and buy your grandkids new plastic when you get the chance.

    The Gun manufacturers won't mind one bit if you buy a few more.
     
  7. Irate Iguana

    Irate Iguana Member

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    Not all polymers are created equal. There is a huge difference between simple PVC and a chunk of PTFE. Get into co-polymers and you are looking at even more diversity. Without knowing the exact recipe used for the creation of the polymer guns it is going to be virtually impossible to say anything constructive about the structural integrity of a gun.
     
  8. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Member

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    Iguana said it. Without knowing exactly how they are made, something that is probably kept secret, there is really no way of knowing.

    That being said, I'll take the lighter weight of a polymer pistol on my hip every day now, over the distant fear it might become brittle after I'm dead.
     
  9. easyg

    easyg Member

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    I don't know the answer to the question posed.

    But my mother still has toy Lego parts from my childhood that are nearly 40 years old.
    And they look and function as if they were brand new.

    And I have some pocket knives with plastic scales that are over 50 years old.
    They also look brand new minus a small scratch or two.

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about it much.
    Besides, the grandkids would probably just pawn the guns anyway so they could afford the latest "I-Thing".
     
  10. Manco

    Manco Member

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    One hobby or field of interest that has to deal with this issue all the time is pen collecting, of which I have some knowledge. To give an example, some of the oldest surviving fountain pens are made of hard rubber, which definitely deteriorates over time, but even so there are rare examples that are in near-pristine condition while most others have become cracked or warped over the years. Celluloid became popular as structural material a bit later, and is likewise prone to aging and shrinkage as chemicals leached out and evaporated over time, although some such pens have survived more than eight decades with few signs of aging. There are also examples such as the Parker "51" Aerometric that appear to be virtually ageless. I have one that was given to me by my grandfather, and although it shows some wear from literally decades of use, the acrylic it is made of shows no sign of deterioration whatsoever, and its original vinyl ink sack is still functional as well. In fact, I keep it inked up and use it on occasion. Similar pens made later for cheaper have not fared so well--most were made of polystyrene and were prone to cracking after 20 or 30 years. It's not necessarily the chemicals used, either, but what chemicals were used together and the quality of the manufacturing process (annealing and other aspects--not all acrylics are equal, either).

    So how long will the polymers used in guns last? Only time will tell, but my point is that few generalizations can be made, and that there may be some examples, both individual and of a whole class, that survive just as long as any gun made of metal.
     
  11. MisterMike

    MisterMike Member

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    My understanding is that the polymers used in handguns differ more than a wee bit from that used in $7.95 plastic lawn chairs. The chemical formulations and methods of manufacture are vastly different. In addition, modern materials testing can replicate decades of wear and environmental degradation in a very short span of time. My guess is that many of today's polymer weapons will be around a few hundred years from now (assuming the human race survives) and will still look virtually new.
     
  12. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    Hm, one way to tell just how much your Glock may be outgassing, see if it smells at all. Most plastics have a definite plasticy smell, due to the outgassing. Celluloid has a very distinct odor. I'm fairly sure that PVC pipes can't be legally used for hot water lines, because it leeches toxic chemicals at high-ish temperatures. But the Nylon 6 derivative that Glock uses is completely odorless.
     
  13. Vonderek

    Vonderek Member

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    I'm sure with the millions of Glocks out there some enterprising companies in the year 2080 will be more than happy to build replacement frames out of steel or whatever other material they will be using then for your grandkids to mount your slide assembly to should polymer degradation prove to be an issue then.
     
  14. JTH

    JTH Member

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    Will we still be here(man that is), also will the U.S. still be here in 2080 as we know it today?
     
  15. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    If left out in the elements for many years, metal will corrode away, too.
     
  16. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer member

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    Plastic isn't going to last through the generations. You can stick your Glock in a UV-proof glass case and hang it on the wall, but if your grand-kid shoots it 100 years from now, it's going to fall apart.

    Plastic guns are purely functional and utilitarian items - that may even be part of the appeal for some people!

    I have an 1896 Webley MKII revolver and I shoot it with my son. It'll be his some day and he'll shoot it with his kids. The same goes for a Remington UMC 1911, built in 1917 which is also a nice shooter.
    My plastic P22? I'll be happy if it still shoots ten years from now.
     
  17. wanderinwalker

    wanderinwalker Member

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    And with the overall construction of the P-22, I would be happy too if it lasted 10 years of regular use. :eek:

    But realistically, there are plenty of 15-20 year old Glocks out there that are still good to use. Even my own personal G-17 is 8-9 years old and I fully expect it to be shooting for another 10+. And I can imagine the S&W M&Ps, Rugers and H&Ks are at least as chemically advanced.

    Edited: Why don't we have these discussions about plastic stocked hunting and military rifles?
     
  18. highorder

    highorder Member

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    I'll take that bet. In 100 years, with proper storage, a Glock will look and shoot as new.
     
  19. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    If you scroll down to the bottom of this thread Post #14. I linked a PDF from Dupont. ( The software will not let me link it twice on the forum?) Dupont sent it to me as I was making my own formulation of synthetic gun scrubber, which I ended up with 75% Coleman Fluid and 25% 91% Isopropyl alcohol.

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=504008

    Anyway it is for Zytel which is derived from the original Nylon 66. It is what Kel Tecs and other guns are made of.

    The PDF has more info probably than anyone wants other than Rocket Scientists and Organic Chemists.

    Go to around page 80 and there is the chemical resistance and all kinds of stress tests, reaction to heat cold etc.

    The stuff is amazing and probably will hold up longer than any metals. It will be here long after we are all gone.
     
  20. Manco

    Manco Member

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    Well, strength and longevity (in terms of decades or even centuries) don't always go hand-in-hand, and even cost isn't always a factor. Speaking of plastic lawn chairs, I've had some practically crumble after a year, and others I bought for cheap 20 years ago that are still flexible and strong to this day. In fact, I'm sitting on one right now in my home office as I'm typing this (seriously). I'm no featherweight at ~220 lbs and the goofy way I sit or move or whatever tends to mangle typical office chairs within a couple of years, but not this humble lawn chair I bought for like $5 in the late 1980s--it has lasted more than a decade in its adapted role thus far and shows no sign of giving out yet.

    That said, the plastics (or polymers if you prefer) used in pistols that I've seen all appear to be pretty stable, not giving off odors and things like that. Some of them appear to be composites of plastic and glass, while others seem to use one type of polymer as a matrix and another type with long chains as reinforcement, all mixed together for ease of manufacture (also allows you to melt and re-form them). While accelerated aging can't tell us everything that real aging will do, I would guess that most polymer-frame guns will last a very long time (in usable form).
     
  21. easyg

    easyg Member

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    I think you're wrong.

    I have a Remington Nylon 66 rifle, bought some time in the 1960's, and it works just fine.
    It's already over 40 years old and it shows no brittleness or softness or any other signs of failing.
     
  22. aka108

    aka108 Member

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    I like steel. Period.
     
  23. gofastman

    gofastman Member

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    ^ Ill take plastics/ composites anyday
     
  24. nyrifleman

    nyrifleman Member

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    You mean enterprising companies like
    http://www.robarguns.com/axframes.html
    and
    http://www.ccfraceframes.com/home.php
    ? :D:neener:
     
  25. CWL

    CWL Member

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    Mine resembles that remark!

    What about the plastic furniture on Vietnam aged M16s still in service?

    Realistically, why sweat this? You'll be long-gone and Glocks are manufactured in such quantities that it'll never be a collectible like original Colt SAAs or a Bren-Ten. If it remains, it'll just be a curio from a byegone age with no great value.

    If you want value over the long run, you should invest in rare postage stamps.
     
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