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What's the lifespan of a firearm?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by orpington, Aug 11, 2019.

  1. orpington

    orpington Member

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    This may seem an odd post, but a recent New York Times article posted on this forum suggested that AR 15 semiautomatic weapons are fully functional at least until 2119 or perhaps several decades after.

    I thought to myself, "that's it?".

    It seems to me that most weapons, if fired only occasionally, should last millenia, if kept dry and oiled.

    I shoot mostly 19th and early 20th Century firearms. Very few I own are less than a century in age. The wear on most of them is due to handling.

    My early percussion revolvers do not appear as though they were manufactured in the 1850's and 1860's, but they were.

    There's nothing I'm aware of, as long as stored properly, that would just cause iron, steel, brass, or wood just to decompose due to extreme age.

    Seems to me most firearms out there, If not exposed to the elements, could last forever. If we, as mankind, cease to exist, their lifespan, of course, would be limited by the decay or natural destruction of the structures and safes they are stored within.

    Of course, there's no reason why function would cease, if only occasionally fired.

    Comments?
     
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  2. Trey Veston

    Trey Veston Member

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    The article was just angling to endorse confiscation of assault weapons by illustrating how long they last.

    Facts are meaningless.
     
  3. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    I doubt the plastic/polymer parts of an AR will still be viably strong in 2119. An AK on the other hand........
    Of course, a halfway skilled village carpenter could probably duplicate AR stocks in wood. Such things are available now, though rare.

    Ammunition is always far more perishable than the gun. We may have a 100 years supply of guns, but few of us stock more than a few thousand rounds of ammunition, and that has a finite shelf life.

    The smartest (though still evil and self serving) antigun activists will push for quantity limits, ridiculously high taxes, and backround checks on on ammo purchases, making it onerous and financially crippling to get new shooters into gun ownership and sports- all while claiming that this does not limit your ability for self defense and avoiding contentious and potentially expensive gun buy backs and confiscation.

    Dont forget that the military will likely switch away from the 5.56mm round as well in the next 100 years. This will affect the economy of scale that helps keep current ammo prices down as well. Good luck getting ammo for your 1898 Krag now, even though there are tens of thousands of perfectly functional Krag rifles still floating around.

    Indeed, military technology may leave conventional ammunition in the dust totally, as warfare shifts towards Drone swarms, AI killbots, EMP, and directed energy weapons.

    In 2119, there may not be anything for an AR to shoot.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  4. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

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    What other weapons have survived over time? Knives...swords....battle axes.....even 16th century firearms could still be used provided powder charges were not excessive. The B52 bombers are still flying and may yet reach the century mark. I suspect the author was speculating on the necessity of the second amendment.
     
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  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    These are a couple of thousand years old, at the least: Greek swords in a Cretan museum.

    IMG_9598.jpg

    All equipment, designed by professionals, is designed to a lifetime. I would say firearms are designed to a finite number of firing cycles, which for rifles is typically 5000 rounds. The typical barrel is toast around 5000 rounds. You can find on the web a thread where posters were asked how many rounds their AR's went through before the bolt cracked, and a good starting average was around 10,000 rounds. I have been told that some bolts made of more expensive materials and shot peening are expected to last 30,000 rounds before lugs crack. These bolts are failing through fatigue failure. A designer looks at the maximum load, and looks at the maximum stresses on the part, examines fatigue lifetime charts, and makes sure that the fatigue lifetime of the bolt is within lifetime requirements. If loads are increased above maximum design levels the bolt will crack sooner. Bridges are falling all around us. They were designed for a maximum truck weight, which used to be around 40,000 lbs, in the 1980's semi's were allowed to tow 80,000 lb, with some 100,000 lbs. Also, the number of vehicles passing over each day was assumed to be in the thousands. Today, hundreds of thousands of vehicles are passing over those same bridges and at a much greater weight than they were ever designed, so the bridges eventually fatigue fracture and fall down. Oops!: This was in Genoa Italy. I recommend, never live under a bridge.

    genoabridgecollapse1508a.jpg



    The US Army standard for endurance testing of small arms is 6000 rounds and at the end of that, the weapon is sent back to depot where any if not all parts can be replaced in a rebuild. A bud who worked on a rebuild line told me that rebuilt M16's/M4's routinely completed a 6000 round endurance test without failures, which shows the maturity of the design. Something that developed more energy, such as 308 Win mechanism, in the M14, a Watertown Arsenal report made the claim that receivers and bolts were failing around 5000 rounds. I have seen M1a receivers that went through multiple barrels, more than three, memory is not working, and the receiver had a crack on the left, under the elevation knob. I have a M1a with a new receiver, its receiver cracked first barrel.

    A shooting bud, who worked on Naval five inch cannons, claimed the life expectancy of a 5 inch barrel was 700-800 rounds. The tube was tossed after that. I was told everything, carriage, locking mechanism, tube, on a 155mm was tossed after 15,000 rounds.

    I found from a cannon book, that the average life expectancy of a Civil War Parrot gun was 300 rounds. Around shot 300 the barrel would blow and kill the entire crew, and anyone around.

    Not a Parrot gun:

    B4ujlG7.jpg

    vVdJM2b.jpg

    During the siege of Mobil, Farragut lost more men to Parrot gun explosions on his ships, than he lost to Confederate counter-battery fire.

    I believe more firearms are rusted out than fired out. Steel is the primary material used in locking mechanisms, if steel is not protected from oxygen, it will rust. I have seen ferric materials deteriorate in a matter of weeks, to rusted uselessness, in a matter of months, in a coastal salt air environment. Similarly, we see all the time old cap and ball weapons picked up in desert environments in relic condition. The things must have been on the ground for a century. Plastic, which is common, deteriorates and AR15's typically have lots of plastic. I have no idea of the shelf life of modern plastics. I think the lifetime of plastics would be determined by heat, sunlight, and whatever nasty chemicals were not removed in the polymerization process.

    Springs will take a set, I have replaced almost all of my mainsprings in vintage WW1 and WW2 era bolt action rifles. These are under continual stress being compressed and over time, loose their strength.

    This M46 recoil spring was the original 1968 spring and I only replaced it a few years ago

    LV7Wg0a.jpg

    The shooting community expects to live forever and therefore expects its firearms and ammunition to also last forever. If weapons are kept from rusting, are not fired to the point of fatigue failure, there is no reason they should not out last their owners.

    Lets start a rumor that the next Democratic President will pass a law that makes primers dud out within five years. It has been 20 years since the Clinton primer scare, surely we need to revive it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  6. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    IMO "lifespan" would depend on use and care.
    Buy new AR15 run a couple hundered rounds to determine reliability and then just wipe it with oil occasionally seems lifespan would be indefinite.
    Same probably apply to a 1911 or a Glock, shot some initially then put in storage with occasional care probably last many human lifetimes.

    Have a couple spare recoil, striker, mag springs and shoot pistol occasionally ... arbitrary 200 rounds a year
    (? representative of how much an "average" shooter might shoot ?)
    Lets assume 2,000 rounds on a recoil spring (No CWD4ME, 1,500 rounds, whatever its just an example) in Glock 19 or full size 1911 - with couple spare springs on hand - thats 6,000 rounds, it would take many years to shoot 6,000 rounds (200 rounds a year) and the pistol would still have lots of life left.
     
  7. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    Come 2119, thanks to the desire to have more efficient killing machines by the world's militaries, odds are there will be firearms with much more potential than any AR or AK ever dreamed of. They will likely just become the lever actions of the 22nd century. Once anti's realize that confiscation is not going to happen, I believe their next agenda will be to prevent the access of this new technology to civilians.
     
  8. Flintshooter

    Flintshooter Member

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    Depends on the firearm and use.
    Bench shooters rebarrel after what most of us would consider very few rounds. Casually used hunting rifles fired 100 rounds or less a year could last several lifetimes. I owned and shot regularly an original cut down 1795 flintlock musket. A lot of it has to do if whether or not they were rode hard and put up wet.
     
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  9. scaatylobo

    scaatylobo Member

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    Related,or not ?

    A few years back I found a 1911 that was made in 1918,and loaded then.

    I fired it with the same rounds it came with = worked perfectly !.
     
  10. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    You got lucky. Nitrocellulose powders break down and become unstable. This can result in explosive burn rate and dangerous pressure spikes. WW1 contractor ammo was notoriously poor quality as well.
     
  11. entropy

    entropy Member

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    There is still .45-70 ammo made to original specs for Trapdoors. .30-40 Krag. .30-06, .45 Colt, .45 ACP, all over 100 years old, with original guns still being shot. I had a Mosin Nagant M91 made in 1899 that I shot with both surplus and commercial 7.62x54R.

    Like Nightlord40K, a friend of mine got some FA18 M1911 Ball with the M1911 he bought, and fired one mag of it before I told him to quit that and sell the rest to collectors.Not because it was unsafe, it was fine, but becuase they go for good money.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  12. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Except those new things probably won't be firearms at all. Either directed energy (lasers and such) or personal rail guns.

    The politicians are wringing their hands over combustible-based weaponry, but the electric car of guns is coming soon.
     
  13. entropy

    entropy Member

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  14. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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  15. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    Why oh why would anyone give credence to something written in any newspaper without corroborating evidence from another source?

    On the other hand a well made firearm usually has a life expectancy that far exceeds whoever owns it at the moment - if it's cared for properly.... Neglect one and it might not be usable and fully functioning tomorrow...
     
  16. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    This is from the May-June 1931 Army Ordnance Magazine

    Hazards Safety Picatinny Arsenal

    "Smokeless powder constitutes one of the greatest hazards from a storage standpoint, due to the fact that it is subject to deterioration and at the best cannot be expected to have a life greater than about twenty years"

    This was after one of the largest non nuclear explosions which occurred in 1926 at Picatinny Arsenal. It could have been lighting, or it could have been seriously deteriorated smokeless powder that just needed a nudge to set it off. Happens all the time, why just this month, like last week, a Siberian ammunition Dump went Kaboom!





    Of course this will be blamed on saboteurs, perhaps the American CIA!. But the most likely cause is old deteriorated, nitrocellulose based, smokeless propellants. The stuff auto combusts at the end of its lifetime. In bulk. Small arms powder deteriorates like any other nitrocellulose powder, but the case provides a heat sink which keeps temperatures down. US Munitions specialists have a 5 inch rule and claim that munitions smaller than five inches won't auto combust in the case. However, a Naval Insensitive munitions expert I met, told me that was hogwash. In fact, one of the Navy explosions he wrote the investigative report, you cannot find any references on the web to it. We tried. It was a big, god awful hole in the ground according to the guy. Not as big as the Picatinny blow, better spacing and containment measures kept the blast localized.

    Before I knew that gunpowder ages and deteriorates, I pulled the bullets from some 1898 Krag ammunition. And I remember looking at the powder that came out of the case of one. It was beautiful, sparkly red ruby points of light. I took the stuff into a dark space and looked at it with a magnifying glass and what I saw looked like tiny charcoal briquets, including flames. I had no idea what that was and I put that back into the case and did not take a picture. Now I know what it was, gunpowder that had deteriorated so much it was actually burning. I do not know why the stuff did not go poof in the case, or in the spoon, and I gave most of that stuff away to a case collector friend. The few I have left, the powder is red, but not on fire. I would give my right arm to have taken a picture because I know all the skeptics believe I am a liar. But then, they believe ammunition lasts forever anyway.

    I shot lots of over pressure surplus ammunition, as the stuff ages, the pressure go up due to combustion instability.

    this is a batch of IMR from the 1970's.

    SONQaMa.jpg

    This was about ten years old

    Z03JC41.jpg

    1960's

    qmx3vQL.jpg

    1989
    Uv5MGSv.jpg

    mid 1990's

    JJsh6Tk.jpg

    and this is what happens when forty year old ammunition blows up your gun

    bKnKX9p.jpg

    The fact of the matter, you shoot enough old surplus ammunition, ammunition that was removed from military inventory because it was too dangerous to shoot, and/or too dangerous to store, one day, given enough rounds, you will blow your weapon up.

    I remember the high pressures on 8mm Mauser ammunition, stuff I was shooting in the mid 1980's. I had no idea why I was piercing primers or having sticky extraction. It was because the ammunition was old. I shot up several thousand of those rounds, and thousands of other military surplus, and never once have I blown a firearms into pieces. I was lucky. I was real damn lucky. What I was doing was stupid and I got away with it. Now that I know why the stuff was removed from inventory, and that is was inspected and determined to be bad, at least in first world countries,

    056KrAU.jpg

    I am not buying or shooting anymore of that stuff. And I have stories of guns that had case failures with pull down cases. At some level of education, you begin to realize, just how stupid you were, and just how lucky you are, because you did not kill yourself doing stupid things.
     
  17. AZAndy
    • Contributing Member

    AZAndy Contributing Member

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    I shot a revolver made in 1895 a couple of weeks ago. It worked fine, although I can't say I think much of the black powder .38 S&W round.
     
  18. 748

    748 Member

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    Buy stainless.
     
  19. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    1. During the entire Lightweight Rifle Program, which included the T25, T44, T47 and T48, and eventually yielded the M14 and M14A1, the required endurance test was 6000 rounds. Endurance tests were run on each design several times over the ten years the program ran. Further, during the production of the M14, one rifle out of 500, or one month's production, whichever was smaller, was subjected to a 6000 round endurance test, for the first 2,500 rifles from each manufacturer, after that test was reduced to 5,000 rifles, or one months production, whichever was smaller. So, around 800 rifles were shot to 6,000 rounds during production alone, and about 2 or three per year in years prior to production in development testing, and then a few more per year during rework.

    This particular M14 when through a 30,000 round endurance test.
    xj2fJN2.jpg

    2. The 5"/54 Mk 45, Mod 0 - 2 gun mount has an approximate barrel life of 8,000 rounds. There are two different types of gun tube, the Mk 19, Mod 0 and the Mk 19, Mod 2, the Mod 0 is a two-piece tube with a replaceable barrel liner, and the Mod 2 with a mono-block tube. In the case of the Mod 0, only the liner is scrap.

    The 5"/62 Mk 45, Mod 4 gun mount is a mono-block tube and uses a little hotter ammunition and has an approximate tube life of 7,000 rounds.

    3. The Army actually no longer defines the life of artillery tubes by a set number of rounds, but by through a variety of means, that include number and type of rounds fired, actual bore measurements and measured muzzle velocity. The breech (which is not part of the tube) will be inspected with each tube replacement, and reused as condition permits. The life of the gun carriage, by design, is twenty years before requiring an full overhaul which is considerably longer than 15,000 rounds, and the carriage is inspected and repaired as necessary, not scrapped. (And, at 1.2 million a copy, I certainly hope they last longer than 15,000 rounds). However, during development of the XM777 there were problems with metal fatigue in some carriage components, but this has been corrected in the production versions.

    NO.

    You might want to re-check your source. Parrott Rifles, if they did fail, tended to blow out near the muzzle rather than the breech, which made them safer for the crew. And, the cause of these blow-outs was usually a premature explosion of the projectile (an "in-bore" in modern parlance), not ant inherent weakness of the gun. Lastly, if they only lasted 300 rounds, the Union Army at Gettysburg would have had no artillery to deal with Pickett on the third day....

    Again, NO.

    Union losses in the Battle of Mobile were 151, 94 of those were lost on the Tecumseh. You might be thinking of the USS Juniatd's 100 pounder burst while firing on Fort Fisher (Charleston) that killed five sailors and two officers. In typical sensationalist newspaper fashion, the New York Times reported that "hundreds killed by Parrot guns failure". In this particular incident, the most likely cause was premature explosion of the explosive shell.

    By 1865, of the 352 100 pounder Parrot guns delivered to the Navy alone, only 19 burst in service, and none of the 200 pounders had failed. And, many of these firing in excess of 1,500 rounds during the course of the war.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  20. Trunk Monkey

    Trunk Monkey Member

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    I remember a thread a long time ago about who has a firearm that's older than a hundred years. Somebody responded that they had a Fusil that had been made in the mid-1400s that was still operational
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
  21. fpgt72

    fpgt72 Member

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    Guns will wear out....that much is pure fact and we all know that. It does depend on its design, powder, bullets, pressures....bla bla bla.

    We all can agree that you pick up that 220 swift and run a few hundred rounds in it like you would a 22 rim fire and you will have "shot out the barrel"....or to say another way....the barrel is worn out. Talk to long range guys, they will replace what was once a great barrel with a new one....I would bet those guys take pretty darn good care of their stuff, and are not shooting like they are killing 100 cans at plinking distances.....they wear out the barrel.

    In a parts breakage.....is that wearing out.....well depends if you ask me. If it busts 50 rounds after you get a NEW gun....then bad part. If it busts 50 years later.....could it just have degraded.....or could it have been shot so much that it just wore out.

    My 1980's marlin.....pushing 30 years now....had its ejector go south.....the spring steel just went ka-put. Worked for years.....why right then.....if you know the part there are people that make a more "robust" version.....but that existing part lasted the better part of 30 years.....not bad.....but did it wear out.

    My position is that it did....the spring steel it was made of just did not spring anymore.

    It is a good question....

    I also read an article years ago that talked of barrel life (in general terms, whatever that is) is measured in minutes. That seemed pretty short to me then I thought how long does a bullet take to leave a barrel.....blink of an eye....so I guess the life could be measured in minutes thinking that way.....the rest of the parts as well....how long are they doing the job they are made to do......think that extractor...how long is it flexing.....

    Yup guns and all the moving parts will wear....duh they are moving....now how long does it take.....well for most of us it is a non issue.....if you are doing something "special" then its life span might be something to think about.
     
  22. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    The New York Times said something that makes no sense regarding firearms?

    That can’t be.

    Clean, oil, and lube your guns and they’ll out live you. Replace parts as they break. As others have stated modern plastics are good stuff but do break down over time. It’s why I have to buy a new hard hat every few years.

    Reasonable maintenance goes a long way.
     
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  23. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    This is actually one of my main practical/rational arguments against gun control and I've never heard or read of anyone even hinting at it so this is interesting. You make something illegal it doesn't evaporate. Guns last centuries. You ban them, they don't just go poof.

    There are hundreds of millions of guns in circulation.

    Therefore, psychos and bad guys will always be able to get one.

    Therefore, the only rational solution is to allow the law abiding to have them.
     
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  24. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    Sounds like a good argument to quit squirreling away lower receivers and start buying bolts and springs. Maybe a couple of gas tubes was well...and a ton of those little pins.

    It's amazing how much of the functionality of a AR depends on a couple of tiny roll pins.
     
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  25. mdThanatos

    mdThanatos Member

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    Some have stated they have shotguns with over 400,000 rounds through them and still shooting. I guess it would depend on the gun. I can imagine with small parts being replaced and taking care of them they can last quite a long time.
     
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