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Polymer guns and the descent of steel

Camelot43Camelot43 Member Posts: 118 ✭✭
edited January 2012 in Ask the Experts
It dawned on me yesterday that we are watching the fall of the steel firearm. While at a local gun shop it is easily noticed that almost every handgun is being made of polymer in some way, shape or form. Less and less firearms are being made of steel any part they can make of polymer they do.

It seemed like a trend at first but now it seems like its a trend they are sticking with.

So I ask your thoughts

pros - cons
Will steel except in barrels someday all disappear?
Will the value of steel guns rise in the coming years?
Will we eventually see carbon fiber make an entrance?
Other ideas or thoughts are welcome

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    llamallama Member Posts: 2,637 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    1) Yes, and maybe even barrels. Lots of potential with ceramics and other stuff.

    2) Yes, just like other collectibles

    3) CF is already around - there are a few 10/22 barrels made of it, some AR lowers, etc.
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    tsr1965tsr1965 Member Posts: 8,682 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Camelot43,

    To answer some of your questions...

    quote:Will steel except in barrels someday all disappear?

    Well, we are gaining ground on that situation. I believe there will always have to be some sort of steel in the firearm, but polymer is actively replacing a lot of steel. Why is it replacing steel??? Several reasons, of which economic reasons come to mind, as does weight savings. Economic savings are not only in the form of polymer cost less than steel, as that is not true. What is true, is that polymer you machine only once, or maybe twice, depending on how many molds you want. There might be a trimming operation to trim the excess flash from the molded work piece, but for the most part, the molded parts are done out of the mold...no more machining required. From here on in, you are going to see less steel, and more plastomer's, elastomer's, and composites.

    quote:Will the value of steel guns rise in the coming years?


    The value of steel firearms is already on the rise. Don't believe it, go to Gunbroker.com auctions, and look for metal framed S&W's. Then when you find them look at the price's...this goes for pistols, and revolver's.

    Also remember, that as long as there are the Winchester, and Colt names are around, there will be escalating prices...doesn't matter what they are made of...wood, steel, stainless, composite, polymer, or cow cookies, those two names will always have creedance. All other quality made steel firearms will follow suit.

    quote:Will we eventually see carbon fiber make an entrance?


    As has been stated, this technology has been in place in the firearms industry for over a decade. Professional Ordnamce with their Carbon 15, and Christensen Arms, with their carbon fiber overwrap. I expect to see in the near future, total composite recievers on large bolt action rifles. I am almost sure I have seen some similar technology, where to bolt lugs mate right into the barrel, or barrel extension, rather than the reciever....ooops...that's right...the AR platforms...

    So there you have my take on your questions.

    Best
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    geeguygeeguy Member Posts: 1,047
    edited November -1
    As a plastic molder I can confirm TSR's comments. We can make a 28 oz. metal pistol weigh 13 oz.'s, with quite a bit fewer "parts". Each, metal and plastic, have their place in the industry. I make plastic gun parts but would not use them for my "fine" target guns, but wouldn't use anything else other then plastic for my CCW gun.

    Carbon Fibre will be replaced with high temp plastics and Nano-clay additives in the near future. The molds cost quite a pretty penny, but once made, you get a consistent product at about 20% the cost of a "good" metal gun.

    Enjoy both for what they are.
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    charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 6,579 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I guess I'm just old school. I don't really like aluminium on my guns let alone plastic. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wonder if someguy left the antioxident outa that batch of plastic. I have seen battle tested weapons that are 200 years old and still up for the job and they are metal and wood. When I can have a plasma rifle in the 5 megawatt range plastic might be just the ticket but in the mean time I'll enjoy the grain of real wood and deep blue of steel.
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    geeguygeeguy Member Posts: 1,047
    edited November -1
    Charlie: Yes there are 200 year old metal guns that still look good, but not many, that's why they are collector items. And maybe someone did forget to use UV additives in the plastic as well as some mfg'rs using low quality steel. You and I won't be here, but a well kept plastic gun (out of the UV sunlight) is going to outlast steel and wood. Give me a call in 200 years and we'll see who's right. (said with a smile)

    That's why Mfg'rs make wood and steel and plastic and steel. It's your money, get what you like.
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    beantownshootahbeantownshootah Member Posts: 12,776 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Will steel except in barrels someday all disappear?
    Probably not. For all its drawbacks (cost, difficulty machining, weight) steel is a good material for making gun parts. Cartridge-firing arms still need springs and firing pins, and steel is probably as good a substance for those other parts as any.

    Note that mass has its own advantages. . .super lightweight guns can have harsh recoil, and even function issues because of lower inertia during recoil.

    quote:Will the value of steel guns rise in the coming years?
    Of course. The value of steel guns rises all the time.

    I think the "real" question is, "will the value of steel guns rise FASTER THAN THE RATE OF INFLATION".

    In other words, "Are steel guns a good investment"?

    The answer is, like anything else, if you select the better models, and keep them in good condition, then yes. In some cases yesterday's junk is tomorrows treasure, but in most cases yesterday's junk is tomorrows junk. IE, steel or no steel, I don't think a Lorcin pistol is ever going to be that valuable. But a quality Colt or Smith and Wesson? Yeah, those things will appreciate.
    quote:Will we eventually see carbon fiber make an entrance?
    There is no "eventually" about it. Carbon fiber is already being used in guns.

    My AR-15 has carbon fiber free-float handguards.

    The Rohrbaugh 9mm pistol uses carbon fiber grip panels. Admittedly a bit gimmicky, they save a fraction of an ounce of weight.

    The "Carbon-15" is an AR-15 rifle using a carbon fiber receiver and other parts. These have been around for at least 10 years already, and Bushmaster sells them now.

    Other ideas or thoughts are welcome
    Well, if I remember right, there are legal limits to the minimum amount of metal a handgun can have, just so that it can be detected via conventional magnetic scanning.

    So even if you "could" build a gun entirely out of ceramic and plastic with no metal whatsoever, or only minimal amounts, (and I think you can), it isn't currently legal to do so.

    In general, I don't think you need to "fear" the manufacture of guns with non-metal and non-wood parts. Polymer is used because it offers many advantages, including water and corrosion resistance, light weight, and ease of manufacture (ie lower cost).

    So long as there is SOME benefit to all steel guns, people will want them, and the demand will create a supply.
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    wpagewpage Member Posts: 10,204 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    No doubt plastics will be used more with time and proof tests. Barrels and receivers, springs, & firing pins will need properties of metals that currently do not exist in polymers.

    Certain magnums and high performance rounds produce pressures that only metal can take without fracture.
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    jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
    edited November -1
    There are a lot of people who, for aesthetic reasons, do not want polymer pistols.

    Last I saw, anyone making a 1911 and many revolver companies were doing quite well with metal.

    I don't see them going away anytime soon, so long as there is a demand for them.

    There is also a crowd who likes plastic guns. To each his own; I don't see them going away soon either.
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    v35v35 Member Posts: 12,710 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    We can't compare apples to oranges.
    Lightweight firearms have to incorporate lightweight materials if weight is a criterion. And it is, in concealed carry handguns and
    in the field where a lot of hiking or climbing is involved or in bird shooting. That is not to excuse substitution of inferior materials
    where failure would disable the firearm.
    An example of this is the cheap Zamak zink die cast hammers in some Stevens and Savage-Fox shotguns.
    Plastic 1911 hammer spring housings could be argued for on lightweight
    pocket models.
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