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Straight answer on plastic

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by welshrabbit, Nov 28, 2008.

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  1. welshrabbit

    welshrabbit Member

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    One hears different things from different people. I am familiar with the likes of Jim Grover and Chuck Taylor using their Glocks past reasonable round counts. I have also heard stories from respectable people like ToddG of Glocks suffering catastrophic failure.
    My question is this: is plastic destined to fall apart due to exposure to air, sunlight, or moisture? Or is that an unneeded concern. I believe that Glock does possibly make the most durable pistol that one can buy, but is it still just waiting to fail? If so what causes plastic to fail? One would really prefer for one's pistol to be like Grandpa's old S&W Highway Patrolman which still seems to be just fine.
    Thanks
     
  2. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    I would call it a wash. If truly exposed to the elements for many years, a steel gun can rust into uselessness, too. I am also told that plastic does not degrade in landfills. ;)
     
  3. Japle

    Japle Member

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    No. That's the last thing I'd worry about.
     
  4. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    The frame of a Glock pistol may very well be a renowned artifact recovered from a bygone era, 5,000 years from now, by future archaeologists.
     
  5. conan

    conan Member

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    ....And those future archaeologists will have 1911's on their hips.

    Just kidding!
     
  6. jocko

    jocko Member

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    just don't

    believe everything you hear either. You won't live long enough to shoot 95% of the modern guns out PERIOD. So why worry so much about something that is not going to effect you at all.

    Buy what you want, polymer or steel, shoot it like you stole it. Lay a glock in my casket and I can assure you 100 years from now one will look like the day it was buried and the other will be dust.

    And what does that prove???ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.......
     
  7. Marcus L.

    Marcus L. Member

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    Most nylon based polymers do not have a as long of a lifespan as metal alloys. The bonding strength of steel and aluminum alloy is stronger and more resistant to molecular changes. Polymer, like all plastic derivatives acts as an insulator instead of a conductor like metal alloys. Polymer has its limitations which was discovered by H&K with the G36 in Bosnia, and was discovered FN with the early SCAR. Early designs used a polymer upper receiver which insulated the rifles and prevented heat sink escape. The receivers hand and handguards began to melt with continuous firing. IMI experienced the same problem with their Micro Galil and their new Tavor rifle uses a forged aluminum upper....just like the FN SCAR.

    That being said, the strength of molecular bonds not only determine resistance to temperature flux, but particle adhesion. Since nylon based polymers have only been around for about a half century, making a prediction of 5000years of service is a bit hasty. Most plastics(including polymers) degrade easily when small amounts of bonding agents come into contact with it and it does indeed change with exposure to heat and UV light......it just takes much longer with modern polymers. Metal alloys are far more resistant to all environmental pressures.

    Iron alloys are still the best overall material for a firearm, provided that you can prevent corrosion and deal with the additional weight.
     
  8. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    Except oxidation. Which realistically causes 99% of environmental degradation in firearms.
     
  9. welshrabbit

    welshrabbit Member

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    Oxidation

    Correct me if I am wrong but NP3 and other finishes can easily handle corrosion. It is only the exterior surface of metal that corrodes is it not, or can metal breakdown from the inside?
     
  10. janobles14

    janobles14 Member

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    we will all be long turned to dust by the time a well cared for polymer weapon degrades to that point. sometimes things just break...can be plastic or metal.
     
  11. Retro

    Retro Member

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    I have read that the polymer frame of Glocks are hydrophilic, which means they are resistant to organic solvents, and it is not stable in boiling water because water will melt the frame under high temperature. Polymer's Carbonyl-Ester bonds are prone to be broken by H2O with high activation energy. UV can provide this high activation energy to break the ester bond, and thus sun exposure will cause cracks on polymer stuff...

    In 100,000 years, when the ozone are destroyed, when ocean water hits up to 100 C or so, the Glock polymer frame will crack and disintegrate. Otherwise, the damn thing will not degrade and last another 1000 years.
     
  12. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    It depends on the plastic.

    Glock treats their frames to make them resistant to UV damage. They have done testing on their frames that demonstrates that the equivalent of 100 continuous years of exposure to sunlight will not result in any significant degradation of the mechanical properties of the frame. Has every manufacturer done the same type of testing on their particular flavor of plastic? I'd guess that at least the better ones have...

    This is an example I've used once before. My last car was 14 years old and had lived its entire life outside--no garage. In the winter it got cold, in the summer the TX sun heated the interior of the car to unliveable levels when it was parked. When I sold the car, a Honda, after about 330K miles of use the plastic dashboard still looked brand new. Not a crack anywhere. No discoloration.

    A friend of mine bought a new car, a Pontiac, a couple of years ago. The plastic dashboard in his vehicle already has a huge crack running through it. Clearly not all plastics are created equal.

    Manufacturers who care about quality, reliability and durability use quality materials, manufacturers who don't, don't.

    Pick your manufacturer well and stop worrying.
     
  13. CountGlockula

    CountGlockula Member

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    According to Ptooma's book on page 22:

    Hope this helped.
     
  14. hemiram

    hemiram Member

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    JohnKSa- The problem probably wasn't the plastic in your friend's Pontiac, it was probably due to your friend or a detailer using Armor All, or some other "protectant". They are known to cause dashes to crack. I have had many GM vehicles, and none of the dashes have cracked. Last one I had crack was the last one I "shined up" with AA or Son of a gun. 99% of the time, I just use a damp washcloth. Works great. If cleaner is needed, I use windex.

    A couple of friends with identical cars and trucks had their dashes crack from using the protectant stuff. One friend bought an 8 year old Chevy truck from an ad in the paper, as a truck for his two boys to drive, and the kids smeared the entire interior with Son of a Gun, and not only did the dash crack, but the door handles did too, in a few weeks.
     
  15. moooose102

    moooose102 Member

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    my dad used to be freinds with a guy (chemist) who worked in the plastics industries. he told my dad that most plastics were almost indestructible, but that most manufacturers added a chemical that would make them age, turn brittle and break in time. the length of time was in direct proportion to how much chemical additive was added. i am no where near smart enough to be a chemist, but this guy was, and i believe him. i am certain, that due to the intended purpose of "plastic pistols" that any and all of whatever this chemical(s) are, they have been left out of the mix. what firearms company wants to end up in court due to a liability issue for adding an ageing component ?
     
  16. raz-0

    raz-0 Member

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    IIRC from reading around, the first issue glocks were to some european group of guys who are out in the snow a lot. They got some 20 odd years of use out of their glocks before they started having issues due to the polymer reacting to UV exposure.

    Moving out of the arctic circle and not exposing them to UV on a daily basis, I'm sure increases the lifespan of the pistol. (and indoor/outdoor temperature shifts probably didn't help).

    I have polymer and metal guns. I don't expect anything to last forever without proper care.
     
  17. Prince Yamato

    Prince Yamato Member

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    Bakelite telephones from the 1920s are still around... so yes, plastic is plenty durable.
     
  18. 1 old 0311

    1 old 0311 member

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    Durable? Yes. Will plastic become brittle with age? YES!!!!!!!!
     
  19. Evenflo76

    Evenflo76 Member

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    Most Glocks, or other polymer pistols will be on earth long after any of us are.

    When a polymer pistol goes Kaboom, it's because of faulty ammo, just like steel pistols.
     
  20. SuperNaut

    SuperNaut Member

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    It all depends upon the quality of the polymer. I researched this pretty extensively when I decided I was going to take the polymer plunge. It has been a while since I searched, but polymer degradation is a very real and common problem. Just type "polymer degradation" into google and you'll have plenty of data (400,000+ hits). Suffice to say the folks stating with certainty that polymer pistols will be around long after we are dead and gone aren't basing this upon any real data.

    IIRC, in order for any given polymer to be resistant to say, UV, chemicals, temperature, oxidization, they must be made that way with additives. The additives and care taken with construction of said polymers rests entirely upon the whims of the manufacturer.
     
  21. 2RCO

    2RCO Member

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    The Glock will last longer than anyone here. Will it still be ugly when we are all dead yes. But it will be ugly and shootable.
     
  22. welshrabbit

    welshrabbit Member

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    Thanks for the information SuperNaut.
     
  23. welshrabbit

    welshrabbit Member

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  24. KBintheSLC

    KBintheSLC Member

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    The short answer is no. The long answer is that every mechanical instrument will fail eventually. However, the Glock is still one of the most durable guns on the planet. Just because you occasionally hear about a malfunction doesn't mean they happen regularly. There are so many Glocks in use around the world that one or two are bound to have problems. That doesn't mean that the fundamentals are bad, just that every manufacturing plant will generate a lemon from time to time. I would say that it would be extremely rare to have a problematic Glock based on the high volume of units they sell.
     
  25. meef

    meef Member

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    Ditto on the use of Armor All.

    I speak from personal experience.

    :mad:
     
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