alloys and metals used in gun manufacture?

Discussion in 'General Handgun Discussion' started by prof-milton-fireballs, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. prof-milton-fireballs

    prof-milton-fireballs New Member

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    I would be interested to know the types of metals used in gun manufacture.

    Alloys are probably used.

    Or in the case of glock, what composite materials.

    Would anyone know the chemical composition of these alloys and composites?
     
  2. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    This would take up a sizable library to answer. The first guns were likely made of brass and bronze. Later they were made of wrought iron, then steel/iron combined as Damascus or Twist , then various steels. Steels are in themselves a whole field of study- it forms different crystals at different temperatures- research terms cementite and austentite. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different alloys (you DO realize that steel itself is an alloy?) that have different amounts of manganese, chrome, nickel,carbon, vanadium, molybdenum etc. Then you move to the field of stainless steels. There have been gun barrels made that were a combination of steel, aluminum, and synthetic fibers. There are "airweight" framed guns made of aluminum alloys (and THOSE are a field of its own), and titanium, Scandium alloys, etc.

    Various polymer framed guns are forms of plastic, combined with steel- have even seen one AR style frame made of PET (same stuff plastic soda bottles are made of) and ONE made of wood. M60 machine guns have barrels lined with Stellite, and some guns have firing pins made of berylium alloy. I have even seen one handgun made for a spy agency that was ALL plastic.

    Translation- There is between a 900 and 1000 year history in the making of guns- cannot condense into one answer.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010

  3. skullcrusher

    skullcrusher New Member

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    C3 is correct, as usual. Google the chemical compositions of different types of steel, stainless steel, titanium, aluminum and polymers. You will find out that there are more types of each than you can possibly imagine. All of each have different properties because of the composition mixture that came about because of desired usages.

    Then, start to look into what can be done with the composition after manufacture like heat treating, hardening, annealing, tempering, stress relieving and so on. :)
     
  4. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    PS- I forgot about "pot metal". This was an alloy mainly of Zinc, with some lead, copper, and whatever else you had handy to "toss in the pot". This was used to make frames for REALLY cheap firearms, mainly in the 1950s and 60s.
     
  5. tekarra

    tekarra New Member

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    You will also find several alloys in one pistol, to suit the requirement of the part.
     
  6. WDB

    WDB New Member

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    Great answer for a truly odd question:)
     
  7. prof-milton-fireballs

    prof-milton-fireballs New Member

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    given these answers, a couple of other questions arise.

    1. since metal alloys would all be softer than diamond and other minerals in the hardness scale, a sample could be scraped off. If one had a given gun of unknown composition, a sample could be taken and chemically tested tested.

    2. regarding "pot metal" this sounds like something freedom fighters might have to put together

    3. The best metal would of course be the one that withstood the explosion of powder and the movement of bullet through the barrel with least corrosion and other damage cause by heat and chemicals.

    any comments welcome
     
  8. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Why diamond? You can do the same thing with a file or sandpaper-

    Freedom fighters- careful of that term, son, it may be loaded- rarely have the ability or facility to smelt metals. Visit the history of armed resistance in the Philippines in WW II- folks fighting Japanese invaders did make their own guns, but not from pot metal. Reason for pot metal is it is CHEAP.

    Best metal- yes- when you include things like weight, availability, cost, etc. There are firearms being made today that use a Scandium alloy. Ask yourself why these were not made 50 years ago?

    Last time we talked, I suggested some reading for you. That was not a smug cut at you- it was a serious recommendation. Step away from some of the fantasies, and go read about actual manufacture of metals. Start with the history of steel.
     
  9. Snubshooter

    Snubshooter New Member

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    "Freedom Fighters" Criminal left for "TERRORIST"
     
  10. prof-milton-fireballs

    prof-milton-fireballs New Member

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    I was able to find the following within an hour searching (this guy describes the entire process of making a rifle barrel in the same article):

    "Two classes of steel are currently used in rifle barrels. Most barrels for use on hunting rifles and in military firearms are made from a high alloy Chrome Molybdenum steel of the sort used in high stress components such as truck axles, conrods and such. In the United States these steels are designated as 4140, 4150 and 4340 types. In Britain these steels are better known as EN 19 or EN 24.

    In target shooting stainless barrels have for the most part supplanted the use of Chrome Moly barrels. The steel is not a true, fully austenitic stainless such as is found in cutlery. The 416 type stainless steel used in barrels is one of a group of martensitic steels which can be hardened by heat treating like regular Carbon steels. 416 stainless is more accurately described as a "free machining, rust resistant" steel having a high Chrome content, around 10%, but with sulphur added to give it good machining qualities. It is widely considered that stainless barrels will have a longer life and are more accurate than Chrome Moly barrels. If stainless barrels are "shot in" using the prescribed procedure, the barrel aquires a burnishing which almost eliminates fouling, so making stainless barrels very easy to clean.

    Because stainless steel is more expensive than Chrome Moly steel and it is more difficult to black due to the Chrome content, high production makers of hunting and military rifles prefer to use Chrome Moly steels. But target shooters who want the best possible accuracy from their barrels are almost without exception choosing "stainless" barrels these days."

    source: The Making of a Rifled Barrel, FirearmsID.com
     
  11. prof-milton-fireballs

    prof-milton-fireballs New Member

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    notes on testing metal

    here are some notes on how to test metals:

    Each metal/alloy has its own set of procedures known to work best. First step it to dissolve the sample. How depends on the composition.


    More methods exist outside the chemistry lab. There is an instrument that creates sparks with the alloy and analyzes the spectrum, for instance.

    Depending on need, there may be problems with some elements: carbon, silicon, boron, nitrogen - these two being intentional and very active in 0.1% concentration -, phosphorous... absolutely necessary to measure in most steels.

    Normally, density (which is easily measured to 10-3 accuracy on a simple shape) gives you the main element and the main alloying element including its proportion.

    Most analysis methods are incapable of measuring some of the elements present in the alloy. Dissolving in acid won't show the nitrogen contents, probably not the phosphorus nor silicon, and so on. Sparks-and-spectrum can't properly show light elements.

    Some elements are desired in some steel, even in small amounts, like nitrogen in Duplex 2205 or boron in some turbine refractory steel.
    Other elements are very detrimental, hence not intentional, and must be measured. Phosphorus makes steel brittle even in small amounts. So does carbon, which is why it is added.
    Some alloys specify a very low guaranteed maximum of some elements, like 0.02% carbon in many stainless steels.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011
  12. opaww

    opaww New Member

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    There have been guns made of Tin, except the barrel and bolt, such as the old M3 grease gun and the WW2 liberator
     
  13. tekarra

    tekarra New Member

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    Look in the Yellow Pages for an inspection company, call and ask them if they have a Texas Nuclear Analyser, or equivalent. The TNA exposes the specimen to radiation from three radioisotopes and analyses the reflected spectrum to identify the elements present. The unit is programmed to give a direct identification for a number of AISI or ASTM specifications.

    It is not as scary as it sounds as the isotopes are low strength and the unit is portable. A test takes only a minute or so. Some preparation of the surface is required, but the surfaces of most firearms should be suitable unless they are painted, parkerized, anodized or the like. If need be, one can remove the grips, prepare a surface, test, then touch it up afterwards. The test area is small, less than the size of a dime. I do not know what a test would cost, but if you are flexible you may get it for free if you know the right person and he is doing a job. The test is non-detructive so, apart from any surface preparation, the firearm will not be damaged.
     
  14. tekarra

    tekarra New Member

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    opaww,
    Tin is too expensive and not suitable for making firearms. I believe you mean sheet steel which was use to make the M3 and Liberator. H&K used sheet steel to form parts for the G3 rifle and other firearms. Many AK 47s also are formed from sheet steel. The formed sheet is welded or rivitted to solid parts to make an assembly.