Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by jski, Jan 10, 2020.
Their "Pine Tree Castings" company is considered to be one of, if not the, best in the world.
set the standards in several particulars - I put them equal to the best... at least.
This is a topic that is pretty commonly discussed because Ruger is somewhat unique in their process. From what I've come to understand, I do not see a strong reason to prefer one method over another in general and would be more inclined to evaluate a product based on the total end result rather than the method. Things like the design and the quality of an individual specimen are more likely to matter.
Some common comparisons of similar products might include their cast M77 receivers versus pre-64 milled from bar stock M70's versus a modern forged M70. Another one could be their GP-100 versus the forged L-frame - that horse is pretty well beaten isn't it? How about a comparison one of their semi-automatic slides versus something comparable machined from billet?
We could compare an N Frame to a Blackhawk.
I think the reason they don't branch out more is strictly volume for a specific market. Ruger doesn't create markets, they take over and dominate them. And assembly line builds are a lot cheaper than stocking ten million little unique per model parts. Ruger does a great job with innovation for a company the size they are. In fact 7 of my top 10 most desirable new guns to purchase are Rugers, and that isn't because I am a fan, just because they offer the features I want.
Any metallurgist out there ?
This question used to come up quite a bit over a decade ago in relation to cast frames and slides for 1911's and with Ruger's guns. It faded away as a discussion as time proved there has been no issue in practice.
Rugers frames are of steel. Just cast steel rather than forged billets.
Are or were Ruger's handguns heavier and bigger than S&W's due to the casting process? Maybe in some guns and some features. But more it's the design than the fact of casting. Bill Ruger designed the guns to be stronger and simpler in design than similar guns from Colt or S&W.
No cast frames for guns are not more prone to failure. Time has proven that especially with Ruger's guns.
S&W and Colt traditionally took barstock steel and stamped into roughly the shape of a frame. This they than machined.
Ruger manufacturers a cast frame and then machines that into a finished frame. Casting with voids or other imperfections are rare with Ruger's advanced methods of casting and those are not used in the final product.
No. Forgings are only directionally stronger whereas the casting doesn't have that issue. Ruger has always over engineered their guns but it's not to compensate for weaker material. I toured the Pine Tree facility when I was researching my Ruger book and it was impressive to see the process up close and personally. By the way, Ruger also heat treats their frames.
When we start talking about "theoretical" advantages in frame strength with one method or another it becomes irrelevant because the results have already proven themselves "good enough" by any reasonable standard. Where we could conceivably apply the theoretical advantages in "strength" would only be if we were to materially change the design. Suppose we wanted to make a different design than what has been done for decades, with less material in some places or a different shape or something. Then the merits of casting versus forging might come to light. But suppose the design criteria was simply "lighter." If we simply wanted to make a "lighter" revolver, which method allows for a frame to possess sufficient strength while using less material? The answer is that neither method can even begin to compete with aluminum alloys, Titanium and polymer -- but this does not seem to deliver the advantage we might hope for. Both Ruger and S&W have achieved remarkably lightweight revolvers using these alternative materials, but these ultralight revolvers aren't very good. They're too hard to shoot well. They do have some purpose and desirability, but they just don't have the universal utility of a steel revolver. Essentially, what I'm saying is that aluminum, Titanium, and polymer have shown that even if forging or casting was "stronger," it doesn't really allow us to make the revolver a lot lighter without an undesirable consequence. So what good does it do us? Could we use it to allow the revolver to shoot loads that are far overpressure? There's just not enough of an advantage to accept the increased risk. The cylinder is the first thing that must hold the pressure and in all cases it is machined from bar stock -- not cast or forged. Could we use the superior strength of one method or another to increase the revolver's lifespan? Not practically, because the lifespan has more to do with the wear of small components like the cylinder stop, the notches and the hand, and it is limited by things like barrel face and forcing cone erosion. Those things are replaceable, but after a few replacements, we've spent more than the price of a new revolver and our ammo budget to wear out a revolver must necessarily dwarf the cost of the gun anyway. The frame strength is just not a limiting factor to lifespan. So what good does it do us if the frame is made super-duper strong, whether by some special method or a super-steel? It adds no more utility than encrusting it with jewels.
S&W struck back with what may be the most devastating media ad ever done with the infamous "Hamburger" ad.
Ruger dropped their ads and slunk off.
It's accepted that in order to have the same strength of a forged part a cast part needs to be slightly larger due to the more porous nature of cast metal.
For the average pistol, that slightly more massive part is not enough to make much difference.
BTW, I always assumed their cylinders and barrels were machined from forged steel.
I remember that ad campaign well.
We're chewing old bones here.
As long as you are shooting SAAMI-spec ammunition in the firearm for which it is designed, cast or forged won't matter. Generally there is an engineered safety margin that is generously calculated.
What it comes down to is personal preference.
Bar stock or billet is similarly made in that the metal is molten, poured into a form and allowed to harden. The big advantage of barstock is that the pour is larger and more consistent, but also has less intrusion of particles left over from burning out the shape which was in the form of wax or foam. Metals also move as they cool so there is some risk of a part twisting in a casting as it cools and cracking or getting out of dimensional tolerances. Billets can be thermally treated to get certain characteristics in large quantity, but castings similarly can be treated in batches with similar result.
Realistically either way you end up with an oversized part which must be milled and finished to given specs. If processes are well controlled then you end up with very similar products. Casting simply eliminates a lot of milling time, and wasted material. Often a cast product has a bit more material left in place just to overcome any inclusions or issues with the casting and are often just a bit heavier because of that.
The frames have more material because all parts slide in from the top or bottom.
Are they stronger than frames with cutouts for a side plate, I don't know.
But I like the idea of having more steel in the frame.
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