Is all steel created equally?
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Old 12-13-2013, 08:44 PM   #1
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Default Is all steel created equally?

So I was talking with someone at a gun shop, and when I asked about one of the more expensive guns after looking at one of their cheaper ones (both metal) he suggested buying the cheaper one. He said that "steel is steel". I didn't feel like arguing with him so I left, but that's not true is it? Metal has different hardness ratings, at least I know knives and blades do and imagine guns do too. Guns don't seem like they disclose their hardness rating, but they inherently have one do they not?

I just found it amazing for someone to advocate buying the cheaper one from a far less reputable company under the basis that metal is all the same. Fit and finish, quality of the metal, hardness rating of that metal, and design to a lesser extent (Talking 1911's here, so they were similar) all seem to be factors that differ based on the price range. Again my question is more just about metal though, they're not all the same as far as quality of the metal are they?

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Old 12-13-2013, 08:59 PM   #2
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No. Not all carbon steel, stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, or pretty much any metal for that matter are created equal. Each type of each metal has its own defining characteristics which prove them better for the purposes they should be used for.

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Old 12-13-2013, 09:17 PM   #3
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Good luck researching that one…..IMHO; 2 different steels cannot be equal, because they are inherently not. They were mede to achieve different characteristics - good for one thing, but not another. There is always a trade off. So some manufacturers probably pick a less expensive alloy, even though it may not be the best one for the job. I think fit & finish is probably a bigger thing, though. The amount of cost difference between 2 pieces of tool steel probably isn't much, but the labor involved in hand fitting/polishing, grinding, etc. adds huge cost in labor.
Every piece of steel on earth has hardness, there are several different scale, the most common being the Brinnell scale. There is a special machine that measures it. I know a knife maker who has one. It just puts a little dimple in the metal, and reads onto a Brinell Scale of hardness. Apparently, each alloy has a specific hardness that it should be to do it's job. Meaning, harder is NOT better for a certain alloy.

So my humble answer to your last question is; no, quality of the metal itself is not in question, it's "Did they use the right alloy?" And in some cases, it's a manufacturing issue. Some parts can be cast. So the question is 'Is it a quality casting?" I'm not sure I would worry about it. If you think the Fit & Finish on the less expensive one is ok, buy it. JC, what were the 2 manufacturers?

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Old 12-13-2013, 09:34 PM   #4
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JC, what were the 2 manufacturers?
The cheaper one was an American Classic Commander, around $480 IIRC. The other one was a Colt Commander at around $900. I'll never quite understand sellers who advocate the cheaper products in their lineup over the expensive ones, don't they make a higher profit selling the expensive ones? Or do manufacturers like Colt have a slim margin for dealers so they don't make as much selling them as they would a different manufacturer's gun?
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:44 PM   #5
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I'm also under the impression that seller make a bigger profit off of the more expensive lines, across many different products. American Classic Commander is a brand? Never heard of it. Go check out Girsan at Bud's gun shop online. Cheaper, I think, and they have a lot of excellent reviews.

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Old 12-13-2013, 09:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
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I'm also under the impression that seller make a bigger profit off of the more expensive lines, across many different products. American Classic Commander is a brand? Never heard of it. Go check out Girsan at Bud's gun shop online. Cheaper, I think, and they have a lot of excellent reviews.
American Classic is a registered trademark. Commander merely indicates the style, it is not copywritten.

Not all steel is the same, but tracking your particular slide or frame to the actual production facility is difficult. There is a lot of undisclosed subcontracting and ghost manufacturing. Especially the 1911 which is not copywritten either.
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shintsu View Post
The cheaper one was an American Classic Commander, around $480 IIRC. The other one was a Colt Commander at around $900. I'll never quite understand sellers who advocate the cheaper products in their lineup over the expensive ones, don't they make a higher profit selling the expensive ones? Or do manufacturers like Colt have a slim margin for dealers so they don't make as much selling them as they would a different manufacturer's gun?
Not sure about the profit margin unless they are specifically a Colt preferred dealer. It would actually seem that they would have more profit margin on the cheaper guns because the wholesale on them is quite a bit lower than Colt.

As to differences, it's not even just the alloy of the steel, like carbon content and purity of the original iron, but also the manufacturing process. Colt frames and slides are forged which forms the steel with fewer flaws in the steel than what is achieved with cast steel parts. IT is rare to have pockets but they can occur in cast metal. Most of the Philippine manufactured 1911s use cast frames and extruded slides. IT is not necessarily a bad thing, because good castings are strong enough for the intended use in pistols. Caspian, a highly regarded slide and frame maker uses cast frames, and they are very high quality. But casting is indeed a cheaper manufacturing process, and part of the reason many of the recent import 1911s are as inexpensive as they are.

I had a RIA for a while. It shot fine, never had any problems, but it was less expensive than my forged 1911s.
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Old 12-14-2013, 07:06 AM   #8
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I was a custom knifemaker and voting member of the knifemakers guild.

I have a catalog of over 50 different steels ranging from a Water hardening steel that dates back to the early 1800s to Crucible Stainless Tool Steels developed for the Jet engine industry.

NO STEEL IS NOT JUST STEEL Steel is Iron with carbon added everything after that is something different.

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Old 12-14-2013, 09:36 AM   #9
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I'm also under the impression that seller make a bigger profit off of the more expensive lines, across many different products. American Classic Commander is a brand? Never heard of it. Go check out Girsan at Bud's gun shop online. Cheaper, I think, and they have a lot of excellent reviews.
Ammerican Classic is a product line 1911's made by MetroArms in the Phillipine Islands and imported into the United States. the Commander is just one of the models they make that is similiar to the Colt Commander model.

i am not sure of the steel used in making the American Classics, but they are hardly cheap pistols. they are very well made and finished and are inexpensive, not cheap.

i am on my second American Classic 1911. the first was a ACII Government model that had the blued finish. was very pleased with it and it performed quite well. my second and current one is the Commander model that has lived up to me expectations many times over. i highly recommend them to those on a budget and are looking for a 1911, or those who want a less expensive 1911 for a custom build, like i did.

here are pictures of my American Classic pistols.
misc.-005-289.jpg   ac-commander-006-001.jpg  
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Old 12-14-2013, 11:34 AM   #10
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OK, now I know. Those look like pretty nice guns. How come you got rid of the 1st one?

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