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Discussion Starter #1
In modern handguns with the technology we have available to us today, which would you say is more durable and built to last... Steel, Aluminium, or Polymer?

I know steel and aluminum are susceptible to rust but the polymer is also susceptible to corrosion caused by heat from the sun and/or moisture.

There are a number of steel guns from the 1700s which are still safe to fire. On the other hand, I've heard a ton of reports where aluminum frames crack because of being too brittle.

I'm curious to know if we have any chemists/gunsmiths in the house who could provide some insight.
 

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No firearms are 100% of any component mentioned. Comparing apples to oranges - barrels, slides, frame etc., all have different materials for a reason. Perhaps re-describe your question?
 

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You must be asking about frames as I do not really know of a polymer slide. durability would be among one of the last items I would take under consideration. Weight is important depending upon use. Carry you might want light, large caliber you might want weight to help with recoil. fit in the hand is of top importance in choosing a pistol. Rust? a little oil and attention will take care of that. Concerned about sweat effecting the pistol? Wear a tee shirt or get a holster with a sweat guard that keeps the slide and pistol off your body.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
No firearms are 100% of any component mentioned. Comparing apples to oranges - barrels, slides, frame etc., all have different materials for a reason. Perhaps re-describe your question?
Fair enough, in terms of the frame where it is predominantly one of the 3, which will hold up better to the test of time?
 

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You must be asking about frames as I do not really know of a polymer slide. durability would be among one of the last items I would take under consideration. Weight is important depending upon use. Carry you might want light, large caliber you might want weight to help with recoil. fit in the hand is of top importance in choosing a pistol. Rust? a little oil and attention will take care of that. Concerned about sweat effecting the pistol? Wear a tee shirt or get a holster with a sweat guard that keeps the slide and pistol off your body.
Hey there thanks for the feedback! I wasn't actually looking for a solution to a problem, I was looking for insight to a general question based on science.
 

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Everything has trade-offs.

Do you want longevity but not worried about weight? Or price? Then steel frame.

Do yo want reasonable longevity with some weight savings? About the same price as steel? Then aluminum.

Do you want lightest weight? With cheaper replacement price? Then Polymer.
 

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I haven't ever had any Glocks eaten by dogs, but I do have a high dollar 1911 that has developed a tiny layer of rust in the chamber. As a result, I'm either going to have to pay someone to run a chamber reamer, or buy a new barrel - and of course, almost all steel pistols do not have drop-in barrels, they must by fitted to the gun.

My suggestion for an "eternal pistol" is to go with GRANITE.

BTW Someone will say, "Why not just buy a chamber reamer?" Ever priced a good one?
 
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Generally, steel is stronger than aluminum, which is stronger than polymer. However, one has to take into account the technical meaning of "strength." Very basically, it's how much force per unit of area (as in a cross-section) the material can be subjected to before breaking. For Nylon 66, a common polymer used in firearms, this could be around 20,000 psi; treated aircraft-grade aluminum around 40,000 psi; steels more like 100,000 psi.

So if made to the same shape, steel will definitely hold up to more force. But of course this is taken into account when designing things, and full-sized autos made from polymer are much thicker than those made from aluminum or steel. A steel handgun with a frame as thick as a Glock would be ridiculously over-built and needlessly heavy, while a polymer handgun with a frame as thick as a 1911 would probably not hold up long at all.

Durability is a more complicated question, because then there are factors of fatigue, environmental conditions and so on.
 

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I haven't ever had any Glocks eaten by dogs, but I do have a high dollar 1911 that has developed a tiny layer of rust in the chamber. As a result, I'm either going to have to pay someone to run a chamber reamer, or buy a new barrel - and of course, almost all steel pistols do not have drop-in barrels, they must by fitted to the gun.

My suggestion for an "eternal pistol" is to go with GRANITE.

BTW Someone will say, "Why not just buy a chamber reamer?" Ever priced a good one?
Just keep shooting it. You wont notice any difference.
 

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365,000 rounds says Glock polymer frame is pretty durable.
You Won't Believe How Much Abuse This Glock 17 Has Taken
Huh?

During the course of the 29 years I tried to get my Glock 17 to fail, I had taught tactical handgunning to a number of U.S. military spec-ops units, using the test gun during hundreds of demonstrations. On one occasion, knowing I would return for another class in 30 days, I tossed it into the harbor where the unit’s headquarters was located to see if it would rust. When I returned, one of the team members obligingly donned scuba gear and retrieved it for me.

Examination disclosed no rust.

So I then left it on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean for a whopping six months. When it was subsequently recovered, the only corrosion evident was on the slide stop lever, and it wiped right off. No pitting or other rust was evident. Even submerging it in mud, sand, dust and snow on multiple occasions failed to cause the gun to malfunction. I even soaked it in glutinous cow manure, but it subsequently went through 10, 17-round magazines without a hitch.
 

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Just keep shooting it. You wont notice any difference.
You don't understand. It will not fully chamber many different types of ammo. Shooting would mean the gun firing with the action open.
 

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Well there you go. One internet video and everybody is an expert. Any gun will work until it fails.

Far wiser policy to choose what you carry for yourself, and let everybody else do the same.
 
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