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"Someday that plastic gun'll flake apart"

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Snowdog, Feb 6, 2004.

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  1. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    Until today, I was convinced I'd heard just about every pro and con concerning polymer frames. However, a friend of mine brought up the likelihood of a quality polymer-frame handgun such as a Glock succumbing to age in a less-than-graceful way.

    According to him, he has heard that eventually (though certainly not in one's own lifetime) the polymer material used in firearms, among many other things, will degrade to a point that renders the firearm unserviceable, regardless of proper maintenance.
    This crazy-sounding statement involved something having to do with the gradual release of gasses from the material, ultimately affecting the structural integrity of the frame. Yes, I'm aware just how nuts that sounds but I believe I’ve actually read this (rumor?) once before, that's precisely why I'm asking.

    I'm fairly convinced most my guns will easily survive me; I would be tickled if some of my favorite handguns such as my K9 or Kimber were to find their way to the hands of an appreciative descendant.
    However, I'm curious about the feasibility of handing down a Glock several generations after hearing this crazy talk.

    I am almost certain this characteristic attributed to polymer is unfounded, but I would rather know for a fact… for academic purposes.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    According to me, steel rusts eventually. So what? I'm sure the average carry gun is replaced every few years just because something with more bells and whistles hits the market, anyway.
     
  3. Bill Hook

    Bill Hook member

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    He's likely right, but not keeping the gun in temp extremes or direct UV exposure would do wonders for longevity. Supposedly, plastic trash bags in landfills are going to last 5000 years or some such. I'd expect more from a Glock.
     
  4. MrAcheson

    MrAcheson Member

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    I used to work heavily with polymer composites. I'm pretty sure glocks have injection molded thermoplastic composite frames. Most of the outgassing I know of occurs with thermosets which are different. It could happen but I would be more worried about harsh cleaning agents, hot temperatures, and UV exposure doing damage than any outgassing.

    Nothing lasts forever. Steel can embrittle with age as well. I wouldn't lose sleep over it.
     
  5. gbelleh

    gbelleh Member

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    Well, everything in material creation is transitory, I guess.

    Enjoy your polymer pistols while you can! :D
     
  6. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    Which gun store does he own so that we can avoid him.:D
     
  7. Frohickey

    Frohickey Member

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    I want the one 1911 forged by JMB in the fires of Mount Doom. :D
     
  8. Joshua Hutchison

    Joshua Hutchison Member

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    MY PRECIOUS!!!!!!:) :D
     
  9. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    (Laughing Loudly at the opening statement)- :D

    I think that the polymer frame weapons as we know them
    will outlast us and our grandchildren without any problems!

    About the only concern I would have about Glock's, USP's
    Sig-Pro's and others would be if you were stationed in a
    very cold (sub artic conditions) part of the world such as
    the artic, Iceland, or Siberia? I would have too do my own
    testing, but I believe that if the polymer guns were ever
    dropped on a hard surface, with the weapon having been
    exposed to these conditions; that it would ultimately crack?

    Otherwise, in a normal environment I believe that
    statement would be classified as pure BS!

    Best Wishes,
    Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
     
  10. Bill Hook

    Bill Hook member

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    I remember reading something about frame flex and high ambient temp with regard to Glock, such that you could flex the heck out of it after leaving in a hot car. I'd voice this as the opposite to Ala Dan's low temp embrittlement concerns.
     
  11. Gocart

    Gocart Member

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    I expect my glocks to wear out from use, not decomposition.
     
  12. hksw

    hksw Member

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    IMO, Mr. A got it right on the head. Eventually, the carbon bonds of the polymer will be cleaved to the point to cause the plastic (and rubber) to fall or break apart. This will take a few hundred years for a quality plastic though (a bit less for rubber).

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about it but your friend is technically right. Much like the sun of our solar system eventually expanding to consume the Earth and kill everything on it....in about 2 billion years.
     
  13. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    And when that happens, the cockroaches that will be ruling the Earth by then will be pissed. :D
     
  14. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    Ok, well I suppose I'll have to apologize to the guy because I told him I was fairly sure he was mistaken and that it was simply a rumor. I believe I actually used the phrase "crazy talk" as well. :(

    Firearms of advanced age are still with us and in use today. I enjoy range time with my M96, made in 1918. Had we had todays polymers and designs then, would I dare to take my circa 1918 G19 to the range as well?
    It's not too uncommon for folks to wonder about the lifespan of their firearms, especially if they plan on "passing one down".

    If anyone feels confident enough in their knowledge of polymers, how about an educated guess at to the functional lifespan of polymer frames, again for academic purposes.

    Thanks for the clarification!
     
  15. 4thHorseman

    4thHorseman Member

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    edited by me:)
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2004
  16. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    Just to clarify, I'm not worried about the lifespan of my firearms in the least, just curious.

    However, if I were to earmark a particular firearm to keep in the family, I believe I would choose something steel-framed after the knowledge gleaned here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2004
  17. Feanaro

    Feanaro Member

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    The point is that sometime in the far away future, no matter what you do to preserve your polymer firearm it will turn into flakes. Steel can, when properly oiled/greased and stored, last hundreds of years. Of course, you'll be dead and fully decomposed by the time a Glock or HK turns into dust. :D
     
  18. 4thHorseman

    4thHorseman Member

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    Snowdog, I guess I came off a little strong. And for that, please accept my apology.
    I guess I should of used the word "irrelevant" instead.
    To me it is irrelevant.
    Sir, you have every right to be curious about the physical state of your weapons.:)
    Enjoy your day.:)
     
  19. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    No hard feelings at all. Just heard this statement from a buddy and it got those rusty gears spinnin' again.
     
  20. hksw

    hksw Member

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    QUOTE]If anyone feels confident enough in their knowledge of polymers, how about an educated guess at to the functional lifespan of polymer frames, again for academic purposes.[/QUOTE]

    Pretty hard to say. It would be dependent on what polymer and what additives (e.g. UV stabilizers, anti ozidants, acid acceptors, etc.) and additive amounts are used that would delay degradation. Gun companies generally like to keep those a secret or at least give out no more than the brand name of the polymer they use.

    Also, of course, the conditions the poly guns are subjected to.
     
  21. MrAcheson

    MrAcheson Member

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    hksw is right. I doubt glock would be too forth coming with the exact specs they use for their polymer frames.

    Truth be told, unless someone has really done a study on the life of that polymer its kind of up in the air at this point. Lifespan issues are things which you can only really know through experience and we don't have that yet. Its probably heavily dependent on how you keep and store the gun. Plus polymers can pick up things from the environment like moisture and chemicals so that is bound to be a factor. There are really too many variables at this point.
     
  22. Sulaco

    Sulaco Member

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    Chuck Taylor has taken his Glock 17 into really cold environments and it didn't crack. He has almost 190,000 rounds through it now and it still shoots under 2 inches at 25 meters with all original parts. If he hasn't hurt his yet, I don't think there is much that can hurt them. Besides, when your kids are our age, they won't care about a Glock. They will have plasma rifles. :neener:
     
  23. Bill Hook

    Bill Hook member

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    Chuck Taylor's Glock has cracked, from what I've read, but not in a crucial area. Probably impact related.
     
  24. Badger Arms

    Badger Arms Member

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    Considering that I've got hardened rubber grips nearly 100 years old on a few of my firearms, I figure that my guns made of much more advanced plastics will last a few times longer than the hardened rubber will. This guy is full of it.
     
  25. otomik

    otomik Member

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    polymer degrades with exposure to air and sunlight, that's why trashbags will last 5,000 years in the landfill but you see brittle and discoloured plastic bottles on the roadside. if one thinks a Glock is an heirloom quality material then you're probably a glock zealot that won't listen to anybody telling you anything less than glock perfection myths. it's true and some of the glock early adopters in the austrian and norwegian military are succumbing to this already (military pistols are often abused because of the "i don't own it" mentality, so of course your mileage may vary). so what though, even the mona lisa is falling apart.
     
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