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Steel guide rods, good or just a feel good.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by stchman, Aug 26, 2014.

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  1. gazpacho

    gazpacho Member

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    I have a Kahr K9 Elite, PM9 and P380, all of which I upgraded to steel guide rods. In each case, I used Kahr's own optional steel guide rod. I figure if they sell it, it must be okay in their guns.

    In the case of the P380, there was a small but noticeable reduction in felt recoil. It seemed to point a little easier also.

    In the case of the PM9, I experienced similar results but to a lesser extent.

    In the case of the K9 Elite, I also installed Kahr's extended and ported barrel. I use this gun as both a range toy, and as an introductory pistol for new shooters, as the extra weight and porting make it a soft shooter for newbies. I have never actually shot this firearm in its standard configuration, so I can make no observation there.
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    A metal guide rod might very possibly cost more to produce in limited numbers for after-market replacement parts.

    However, in mass production by a firearms manufacture, I doubt there is much difference, or savings.

    Metal guide-rods can be turned out from round bar stock on an automated screw machine lathe faster then the help can pack them off in big containers to the finishing department for de-burring, polishing, bluing, or whatever.

    Plastic offers a lower cost for raw material then steel.
    But require no further be-burring or finishing.
    But, the injection mold dies to mold them may cost more then the automatic screw machine used to spit out steel ones.
    At a faster production rate.

    No cost savings for an OEM manufacture if thats what the design calls for.
    Major expense for an after-market parts manufacture making them in relatively small numbers.

    rc
     
  3. 1SOW

    1SOW Member

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    Two things I've experienced:
    The plastic (Delrin) guide rods last virtually forever and if the owner gets worried, it's $2.50 to replace it.
    In some pistols, because of the tilt Walt mentioned, the steel rod just barely tilts in when trying to remove and reinstall the bbl. The stock guide rod will flex just a skosh and make for easer install. Depending on the length of the bbl, the base of the steel rods can show metal wear/dents from riding on a very hard bbl surface.
    My CZ Shadow Custom came with the upgraded stainless full length guide rod. After 15K rounds, the base of of the rod looks hammered on the rear edges.

    I've 60K rds + on a CZ 75B with the short delrin guide rod. I did replace it with another plastic rod once (maybe 40K rds), just because I was ordering other supplies. The original rod is still fine and would run with no problem.

    The plastic isn't shiny, super strong or even pretty, but it will function just fine for a very long time.
     
  4. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    I will dispute this until I see the actual figures. If that were the case then there would be no reason for the change. A metal part requires great raw material costs, greater manufacturing costs, and greater polishing costs versus the nearly free cost of polymer and deburring. My albeit uneducated guess is that a metal guide rod costs at least 5-fold the manufacture cost over a plastic guiderod. Given that aluminum or other quality metals are expensive, the aluminum or whatever metal they use would be significantly more expensive than the polymer material, which would probably cost almost nothing per piece.

    Let's use other parts as a comparison. Some shotgun companies have switched from metal to plastic trigger guards. These are less popular, and weight savings are unimportant in this part. They are less durable. So there must be a reason - and the only reason would be a significant cost savings.

    We see these examples all across the small parts manufacturing in cars, small engines, lawn tools, etc.
     
  5. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    Unless it has problems it's a waiste of resources ($$$) to change it. Buy more practice ammo instead.
     
  6. Big Shrek

    Big Shrek Member

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    I'm going to say...NIETHER!

    Get a Laser Guide Rod :evil:

    Courtesy of Lasermax
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    Laser guide rods will work with some guns, but not with others. While many do, not all guns have an opening on the front of the slide for a full length guide rod to poke through, and it may be difficult to make them work in guns like the 1911.

    I've often wondered how to keep the laser guide rods calibrated, when they can seemingly rotate or move a bit when they act as part of the guide rod...
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  8. wally

    wally Member

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    General rule to live by: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

    If the people giving good customer support by paying return shipping to fix your broken gun say a polymer rod is OK, believe it!


    Our "free-market" system allows all manner of solutions to imaginary problems to be sold, don't fall for it.
     
  9. snooperman

    snooperman Member

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    I agree with rc model , use the guide rod that was designed for that gun. His article that he listed is good evidence for his advice. And , I might add that one should use the proper recoil spring that was designed for that gun too.
     
  10. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    My old Mustang became very unreliable with a metal guide rod . I removed and went back to factory and all reliability returned . learned my lesson
     
  11. Blue Brick

    Blue Brick Member

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    My bottom feeder doesn’t even have a guide rod.
     
  12. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    I almost always use a SS guide rod in Glocks. No idea on other polymer guns.
     
  13. flyingtiger85

    flyingtiger85 Member

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    There's some old H&R 22 revolvers that had a plastic trigger spring assembly that was made of plastic and after 20 years or so it would disintegrate and crumble in the grip handle.Plastic mixed with metal parts Fail!
    The Marlin-60 has a plastic part in the trigger spring assembly that fails after 20 years or sooner!Plastic mixed with metal parts Fail!
    And yes it's cheap on the manufactures part and makes the gun feel cheap.
    I replaced the plastic guide rod on my SR-22 the same day I brought it home.
    I just bought a CZ-75 compact and was pissed it had a plastic guide rod when I picked it up.I'll replace that one too!
     
  14. astra600

    astra600 Member

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    The Sig P250c I bought in January this year had a steel guide rod. When I ordered extra springs, they came captured on plastic rods. I bought some original springs from TopGun. Originals are round wire and replacements are flat ';wire'.

    I also bought a steel rod for the Sig SP2022, which came with a plastic rod. It makes a 'schwing' sound when cycled. I may go back to the plastic, but wonder if the French guns came with steel or plastic. I also wonder if the spring/steel rod interface slows the slide down. I haven't tested them side by side yet.
     
  15. HKGuns

    HKGuns Member

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    All of my HK pistols have steel guide rods and I trust HK more than any other company to do the design correctly. I also assume if there were no reason to use steel they wouldn't use steel.

    Therefore if I buy another model with plastic it gets a steel replacement. Never had an issue with a steel replacement.
     
  16. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    And, if the next H&K you buy comes with a plastic guide rod from the factory, would your original logic still apply? You know -- that bit about, "I trust HK more than any other company to do the design correctly." And WHICH "design" do you means when you write "the design?" The fact that steel guide rods have been used in H&K designs suggests that H&K designers consider steel the best choice for those weapons. It does not follow that steel is best for all guns and all gun designs.

    With the alloy-framed CZ compacts mentioned earlier in this discussion, the plastic guide rods seem to be a good application -- given the shorter slide and the fact that these guns come with a FULL-LENGTH GUIDE RODS. (Only a few CZ models use full-length guide rods.) The longer (FL) guide rods in the shorter compact slide ROCK/TILT more than the guide rods used in CZs with longer slides. The base of a steel guide rod used in an alloy-framed compact has the potential to damage the alloy frame where it rests as the gun cycles. In another case addressed in this discussion, we saw a photo example of a steel guide rod DAMAGING a gun that wasn't designed to use a steel guide rod.

    It may be best to do as the gun designers intended...
     
  17. HKGuns

    HKGuns Member

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    What if the moon were really made of cream cheese? Not going to get into a straw man argument with you.

    Don't fool yourself into believing certain guns aren't built to a specific price point and that corners are cut to hit that price point.

    Plastic sights anyone?
     
  18. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The steel rod adds weight to the front end. That can be good or bad.

    Jim
     
  19. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    For those unfamiliar with the term, a "straw man" is the debate technique of attacking a different (sometimes fabricated and often unrelated) point, smashing it, and then claiming victory -- while not addressing the original point in question. It's considered a logical fallacy.

    So, you didn't like my question about what effect it would have on your logic if H&K used plastic guide rods in a future gun design. Ignore that original question, and address the other points you ignored. You declared victory and walked away, but didn't really answer the questions.

    That wasn't a Straw Man argument, by the way: it was a question based on the fact that SIG introduced plastic guide rods a few years back and SIG owners raised such a stink that SIG quickly backed off and returned to metal. It should be noted, however, that all P-series models since 2009 use plastic guide rods. SIG offers optional metal guide rods, as does GRAY GUNS, but you have to pay for them. I've never heard of a SIG guide rod failing, regardless of it's composition, probably because, as noted before, guide rods are not high-stress parts. I'd be a little skeptical if I heard of a failure. (If you read the on the SIG forums, you'll find that many SIG owners didn't really notice the change... and SIG owners can be picky.)

    You said H&K knew best -- and I agreed, when addressing H&K designs. H&K builds good guns. But other gun makers do, too. SIG immediately comes to mind. Some of these other gun makers use plastic guide rods. I don't see a logical fallacy in claiming that H&K only knows what's best for H&K designs, and not other designs.

    How about my assertion that just because H&K designers use steel guide rods, it doesn't follow that STEEL GUIDE RODS are best for all designs? You apparently think that's flawed reasoning. You ignored several cited examples of steel guide rods causing problems in guns where plastic guide rods were standard. Those weren't PRICE POINT issues -- they were matters affecting the functionality of the guns. All guns aren't created equal.

    I saw a straw man being used, but it wasn't in my reply.

    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
  20. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    One thing that may have been mentioned already: Sometimes people replace a guide rod with one of heavier material (plastic with steel, steel with tungsten) not for reliability or strength but to add some weight to the front of the gun, on the theory that it will reduce muzzle flip. Whether a heavier gun is desirable is kind of a user (and use) specific question.
     
  21. Omaha-BeenGlockin

    Omaha-BeenGlockin Member

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    The plastic rod in a Ruger or Glock wouldn't bother me one bit.

    The plastic rod in the Beretta 92 I looked over a while back is just plain wrong and would be replaced immediately had I bought the gun.
     
  22. Storm

    Storm Member

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    As Astra600 points out, SIG has used both plastic and steel with the 250. I don't recall what my now traded subcompact and compact used, but my full sized 9 and 45 uses steel. I was glad to see them.
     
  23. astra600

    astra600 Member

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    I'll bet if I handed anyone two guns, same model, one with a steel rod and one with a plastic rod , there would only be WAGs as which was heavier or lighter.
     
  24. flyingtiger85

    flyingtiger85 Member

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    If the "original" 1911 pistols had plastic guide-rods they would be broken,cracked and need replaced right now.
     
  25. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    The "original" 1911 steel was not heat treated. If the original guide rod had been made of modern plastic, the guns themselves might have cracked BEFORE the guide rod failed. But, plastic wasn't widely used until after WWII; since then the material has become much more versatile. (There's a LOT of plastic used in new cars, for example.)

    I've got a couple of guns with plastic guide rods. One has well in excess of 10K rounds through it, and the guide rod still looks like new. The plastic used in one of my compact gun wouldn't crack or break if hit by a sledge hammer -- the material is too pliable: it would simply be "squashed" by the impact, but would probably still work. Other plastic guide rods would break if given that same treatment, as would many metal guide rods.

    As I said in earlier responses, guide rods typically aren't a highly-stressed part. Metal arguably works better in some cases, plastic in others...
     
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