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What is Scandium?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by powwowell, Jul 29, 2012.

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  1. powwowell

    powwowell Member

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    I've looked at a S&W M1911 E-series Scandium Bobtail. Very attractive and it has my attention.

    But, what is scandium? I assume that it is lighter than steel. Is it more durable? Rust proof? etc.?
     
  2. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    Its not a buzz word and its not aluminum. Scandium is a chemical element with symbol Sc on the periodic table and atomic number 21. A silvery-white metallic transition metal. The properties of scandium compounds are intermediate between those of aluminium and yttrium. A diagonal relationship exists between the behavior of magnesium and scandium, just as there is between beryllium and aluminium.
     
  3. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    I didn't know S&W made a scandium Sigma .380.
     
  4. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    The S&Ws are a scandium alloy and IIRC early scandium models did have issues with flame cutting. They corrected the problem by placing shield on the top strap to hold off this flame cutting.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. powwowell

    powwowell Member

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    mesinge2, thanks for the following comment:
    "Its not a buzz word and its not aluminum. Scandium is a chemical element with symbol Sc on the periodic table and atomic number 21. A silvery-white metallic transition metal. The properties of scandium compounds are intermediate between those of aluminium and yttrium. A diagonal relationship exists between the behavior of magnesium and scandium, just as there is between beryllium and aluminium."

    But, what does that mean?
     
  6. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    I'm not a metallurgist but I believe that scandium does not have the strength of aluminum. My only reasoning for this is that I have a S&W m12-2 with an aluminum frame from 1976 and it has fired fine from day one with no issues. But when they started making scandium guns they needed a shield to protect the frame. And they don't need the shield on aluminum guns. IMO, scandium is simply a lighter metal then aluminum and makes carrying the gun easier. Also it is generally more expensive than aluminum alone.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2012
  7. powwowell

    powwowell Member

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    mesinge2, your last post makes sense to me. I'll stay away from the scandium pistols.
     
  8. ku4hx

    ku4hx Member

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    It means Scandium is an element and as such occupies position 21 (it's atomic number is 21) on the periodic table of the elements.

    Elements are the smallest bit of matter that still exhibit the properties of that matter. The larger particles of the atom are Protons, Neutrons and Electrons. Only when you get into Quantum Mechanics do you get to smaller particles than these three: quarks, gluons, leptons and etc.

    Beyond that, according to some, you get to strings and 'branes (membranes) and then things get really strange.
     
  9. 56hawk

    56hawk Member

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    This extra strength from scandium is what allows Smith & Wesson to make aluminum alloy framed guns in 357 and 44 Magnum. The older non scandium aluminum guns are limited to 38 and 44 special. I have two scandium framed guns, a M&P 360 that I have put a bunch of rounds through and a 329 Nightguard that I just bought.
     
  10. Shipwreck

    Shipwreck Member

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    That old Sigma 380 had a ZINC slide... That's why it sucked and had such a finite lifespan.

    The scandium guns are actually aluminum, with a very small amount of scandium mixed into the allow - to apparently make the aluminum a LITTLE bit stronger than just a plain aluminum gun.
     
  11. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    I personally want the model 327 8-shot 357 magnum. I'd have no qualms about buying it either. If something did malfunction, S&W would take care of you.
     
  12. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    It is an aluminum alloy with a small percentage of scandium added for increased strength.

    Just like small amounts of antimony results in a harder lead aklloy for cast bullets, a small amount of scandium increases the strength of aluminum.

    The whole gun is NOT made of scandium.

    Just a couple percent is all that is needed in the alloy mix.
     
  13. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    As others have said, Scandium is a metallic element that is added in minute quantities to Aluminum to make a stronger alloy. It is very expensive by itself and even the little bit added to a lightweight aluminum gun shows up in the price.

    It allowed Smith to make guns that could handle magnum pressures using an Aluminum alloy for great weight savings. Those high pressures, though, push the flame-cutting issue to beyond what Aluminum alloys are able to resist, as the metal is still softer than steel. So they added a small stainless steel blast shield to counter that.

    (The Sigmas have NOTHING AT ALL to do with Scandium alloy. Cheap, bottom-of-the-market guns and expensive Aluminum super-alloys do not mix.)
     
  14. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    S&W had problems initially with their aluminum alloy containing scandium, long since corrected. Shipwreck is close with his post however the addition of 1% scandium to aluminum increases yield strength of the alloy nearly 3-fold.

    The revolver issue was barrel over torque and improper thread dimensions which resulted in a recall. Other S&W revolvers had similar failures (as did all steel Rugers) traceable to QC or process.

    As with any material be it aluminum, stainless steel, polymer or scandium there is a learning curve for application.

    As for the E-Series, well I have one in stainless and I don't plan on a second. It ran without fault through the first 500 rounds or so however significant upper barrel lug wear was evident resulting in barrel replacement (on my dime). Small parts were poorly finished and fit was mediocre. I have no doubt that Smith would have repaired it when it did fail but I prefer not endangering my fingers/eyes/life by owning a firearm that was headed too quickly for failure. To be sure it had a lot going for it as the basis for a custom build with a unique style but the price commanded by the "scandium" model would surely give me pause.
     
  15. bluethunder1962

    bluethunder1962 Member

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    I have two and love them. The 44mag is a little light for that much power.
     
  16. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Not even a couple percent, scandium is soluble in aluminum to form a true alloy only up to .5%. Scandium is sold as 1% and 2% mixes with aluminum for easy alloying into the fractional percent range that increases the strength of the aluminum.

    I recall seeing scandium priced at about $3000 a pound. That would put about $10 worth of scandium in a gun, but there is more to the cost than just the raw materials.
     
  17. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    Awesome, I learned something here!!!

    I am a huge revolver collector and never knew some of this stuff. It just goes to show you. No matter how much you have learned and experienced there is always something to learn. Thanks to powwowell for the thread and for everyone else for the info. Always good to learn something new.

    .
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2012
  18. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Basically, scandium hardens aluminum, sort of like carbon hardens steel. You could not make a gun out of carbon or out of scandium, but you can make a better gun when they are alloyed with steel or aluminum.

    The main problem with those scandium revolvers is that the recoil in .357 is wicked, just short of a broken hand. I doubt that many owners are going to practice enough to become competent in the use of those guns, but they are easy to carry or even to forget that you are carrying at all.

    Jim
     
  19. boricua9mm

    boricua9mm Member

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    A great element added to Smith's aluminum alloy, it is easily more noteworthy than the POS parts they fill their guns with. Honestly, when considering plucking down $1200, better quality is within arm's reach. See if Dan Wesson has something to your liking , or SIG.
     
  20. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Oh, I know! I've been DROOLING over a new 11.4 oz Scandium-framed Dan Wesson for ever! Where can I find one of those? Or is that what SIG is making these days?
     
  21. tekarra

    tekarra Member

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    Scandium is an element added in very small amounts to aluminum to enhance the mechanical properties; that is to increase the strength. The major use of scandium is alloying aluminum in the aerospace industry.
     
  22. boricua9mm

    boricua9mm Member

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    Oh
    ..So are you absolutely falling over dying to fork over 12 Bills for a MIM-filled 1911 with a Space Age 1911 frame, or are you willing to live with a higher quality aluminum alloy frame from a company without a reputation of pi$$ing down the customers leg and telling them its raining?

    What I'm saying is, for $1400 it is easy to find a Dan Wesson Guardian that is either a "Factory Blemish" (which will pass a visual inspection to-to-toe with anything from the S&W Production Line) or slightly used, or it will land you with a SIG alloy-framed 1911 with far less MIM, or as some of us have found out the HARD WAY, fall-apart components.

    On the heavier side of the scale, once you step into $1400 you are in Les Baer territory.

    Of course, don't let any of this keep you guys from spending top dollar for less :)
     
  23. Auto426

    Auto426 Member

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    I'm pretty sure he's referring to Smith & Wesson J frame revolvers, unless you can find any 11 oz. Dan Wesson or Sig 1911's.
     
  24. 19-3Ben

    19-3Ben Member

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    It didn't have ANY. The model 37 is made with an aluminum frame. Not scandium.

    Edit to add: And the Model 19 was the "Combat Magnum." The K38/model 15 was the "combat masterpiece."
     
  25. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    That's ok Ben, he also owns a rare United Switch & Signal 1911.

    Back on topic, a few take off parts from my E-Series, much MIM indeed. The TS was poorly fitted and contacted the plunger tube (also replaced), both the TS and slide stop scratched the heck out of the frame and it rode the link hard due to over-cut lower lugs. Upper barrel lugs were visibly rounding by 500 rounds.

    [​IMG]

    and after rework:

    [​IMG]
     
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