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Old February 12, 2011, 06:50 PM   #1
ahmed
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Titanium handguns?

I am fascinated by Titanium and its alloys and have wondered why custom gun manufacturers don't use it to build guns. I cannot imagine how lightweight and reliable a Titanium 1911 might be. Any thoughts?
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Old February 12, 2011, 06:52 PM   #2
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Sphinx made em. Expensive.
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Old February 12, 2011, 07:23 PM   #3
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It appears they don't sell them in US. Interesting looking guns for sure.
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Old February 12, 2011, 07:25 PM   #4
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sphinx is being imported by TDI this year, dont know if titanium models are though.
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Old February 12, 2011, 07:48 PM   #5
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Isn't titanium brittle? If so, then it may not be the best metal for a firearm.My guess is this is the reason why some titanium firearms have carbon or SS key parts to handle the pounding.
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Old February 12, 2011, 07:52 PM   #6
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Shame on me for knowing so little about titanium. But I have seen titanium hammers for carpentry.
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Old February 12, 2011, 08:24 PM   #7
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Titanium is stronger, lighter and harder than steel...buts its too hard and when it breaks it almost breaks like glass...even tho its stronger it is not used in barrels and cylinders or sometimes slides because it can do worse than just crack.... but the frame of a gun can safely be made from titanium
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Old February 12, 2011, 09:21 PM   #8
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Titanium is not brittle, and is not prone to cracking. Near pure, non alloyed titaniam maintains the same tensle strength as mild steels at about half the weight. Even though titaniam is about 1/2 again heavier than aluminum it maintains nearly twice the tensle strength as most common alluminum alloys. The problem with using titanium is that its tough to machine as it becomes soft at fairly low temperature and tends to smear, gauld, and clogg cutting tools. It is also verry difficult to make castings from titanium because it will actually burn away in open air well before it reaches its melting point. It has to be surrounded by an inert gas sheild or processed in a vacuum to be cast. For these reasons titanium becomes expensive to form and manufacture. Contrary to popular belief, titanium is not super rare and is in fact one of the most common metal elements. It is the diffuculty in handling and machining, ect. that makes it expensive. Also strength and light weight are not the only desirable properties of titanium. It is also prized for is exeptional corrosion resistance.
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Old February 12, 2011, 09:25 PM   #9
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It's not a 1911, but Sig has the P238 Rainbow.
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Old February 12, 2011, 09:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
It's not a 1911, but Sig has the P238 Rainbow.
That's a finish treatment, not the type of metal used.
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Old February 12, 2011, 11:04 PM   #11
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Caspian has titanium 1911 frames.
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Old February 12, 2011, 11:13 PM   #12
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Motorcycles have been using titanium for exhaust systems for almost 20 years (at least in the aftermarket....more recently, the factories have been doing likewise). In the early years, cracking was not uncommon.

Not sure what they have done to address that, but I am not seeing cracks in modern Ti exhaust systems.

Given that exhaust systems experience low-grade impact force, but significant heat... I will speculate that the forces common to an exhaust system and a pistol frame would be substantially different...to the extent that I would look to someone with far more expertise in such matters than I.
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Old February 12, 2011, 11:22 PM   #13
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In the early years, cracking was not uncommon.
One of titaniums weaknesses is with high temperatures. That's why it's often not used in suppressors and if it is, it's not full auto rated.

As for guns, I have a Taurus snubnose 44 Special made with a solid titanium cylinder and frame. (Kinda weird when you have a gun that a magnet won't stick to.) Barrel is a steel liner and titanium shroud. 19.5 ounces 5-shots. Not hard to shoot with the ported barrel.
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Old February 13, 2011, 12:14 AM   #14
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Titanium has some expansion issues when heated.

Taurus does indeed use this metal on some of it's revolvers and some cylinder binding on a few of those titanium models has been noted.

By far though,the gun market is going to polymer frame everything and stainless cylinders and slides.

The weight reduction is'nt worth the hassle if the gun has to be retuned to make it work after it's bought.
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Old February 13, 2011, 12:20 AM   #15
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I was just holding a titanium taurus 44 mag revolver at the shop... scary light, wouldnt want to deal with recoil on that one
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Old February 13, 2011, 12:21 AM   #16
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+1 on Caspian titanium frames. I don't own one (very expensive), but a friend of mine does and he even let me shoot it once (it was a plain single stack.) To me, it felt fine. Sort of like the weight of an aluminum frame with the bit of mushiness of a polymer frame. This is not from any in depth evaluation, but it seemed fine to me. Still, I don't really understand the reasoning (other than being able to shoot +p ammo) of titanium over aluminum for only weight savings. I do suppose that titanium frames would last forever as its modulus of elasticity is good and it is not prone to stress fractures.
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Old February 13, 2011, 12:32 AM   #17
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Quote:
Titanium is not brittle, and is not prone to cracking. Near pure, non alloyed titaniam maintains the same tensle strength as mild steels at about half the weight. Even though titaniam is about 1/2 again heavier than aluminum it maintains nearly twice the tensle strength as most common alluminum alloys. The problem with using titanium is that its tough to machine as it becomes soft at fairly low temperature and tends to smear, gauld, and clogg cutting tools. It is also verry difficult to make castings from titanium because it will actually burn away in open air well before it reaches its melting point. It has to be surrounded by an inert gas sheild or processed in a vacuum to be cast. For these reasons titanium becomes expensive to form and manufacture. Contrary to popular belief, titanium is not super rare and is in fact one of the most common metal elements. It is the diffuculty in handling and machining, ect. that makes it expensive. Also strength and light weight are not the only desirable properties of titanium. It is also prized for is exeptional corrosion resistance.
That pretty much sums it up. Difficult and pricey to work with.
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Old February 13, 2011, 09:30 AM   #18
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Quote:
I was just holding a titanium taurus 44 mag revolver at the shop... scary light, wouldnt want to deal with recoil on that one
44 mag or 44 Special? The 44 Special is quite manageable.
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Old February 13, 2011, 10:21 AM   #19
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The S&W 340PD has a titanium cylinder. Here it is noted in the description on the S&W website and here is a writeup from Gun Zone.
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Old February 13, 2011, 11:55 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by PSP
That's a finish treatment, not the type of metal used.
Ah, I see that now. Stainless steel slide. Thanks for the correction.
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Old February 13, 2011, 12:02 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triumph666
Titanium is stronger, lighter and harder than steel
Titanium is not simply a superior material in all ways--each has their own properties that give them some advantages and disadvantages. In a nutshell, for a given volume titanium has about the same yield strength as steel, but half the weight and half the stiffness. For example, if you needed a titanium component to be as stiff as a steel component, then it would weigh the same and be twice as thick and strong. On the other hand, if you made the titanium hard to increase its stiffness per weight and volume, then it would be brittle and less tough than a similar steel component. Don't underestimate the importance of stiffness, as in many applications it's even more important than yield strength--if you need something to be compact and rigid, then steel is the best material for the job. What I've said paints a more complete picture, but rest assured that it is still a gross oversimplification of the issues involved.

As for titanium 1911s, you can use it for the frame, certainly, although it would be expensive, as others have pointed out. You wouldn't want to use it for the slide because it needs to have a certain mass, and the slide would have to become significantly larger in thickness and size (it'd be rather strong, though). The barrel would also have to be thicker and larger, so that's probably out. None of the small parts inside of the gun would benefit from being made of titanium in any practical sense. Since aluminum (or even plastic) seems to work well enough for lightweight frames at a far lower cost, there is really no point in using titanium in handguns except perhaps for the novelty of it. Well, OK, if metal fatigue is an issue with aluminum frames, then a titanium frame likely will not fatigue, much like a steel frame--I'll give it that.

Last edited by Manco; February 13, 2011 at 01:57 PM.
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Old February 13, 2011, 12:40 PM   #22
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I know little about metallurgy other than the basic stuff. My main experience with titanium is with bicycles. I have a mountain and a road bike with Ti frames and components. Holding up well so far after years of use.

I owned a S&W 340PD for 7 years and shot a few cylinders of 357 through it. Recoil was not comfortable and sight acquisition following shots was lacking for me. I used + Ps in it when I carried it.

Still for S&W to use a titanium cylinder the strength to take the shock of a 357 magnum must be considerable. Even in the few reports of cracking on those the scandium was the problem, not the Ti.
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Old February 13, 2011, 02:03 PM   #23
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Crosshair,
it was a 44 mag... though specials out of it could be good, a mag out of that light of gun would have significant recoil and jump
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Old February 14, 2011, 11:01 AM   #24
Manco
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manco
there is really no point in using titanium in handguns except perhaps for the novelty of it.
After thinking about it some more, I realize that some folks use titanium firing pins to slightly decrease lock time, so maybe there are some uses in firearms, but it's generally not for ordinary use. Titanium's corrosion resistance would be useful as well, but not with the cost and difficulty of working with titanium.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy10mm
Still for S&W to use a titanium cylinder the strength to take the shock of a 357 magnum must be considerable.
Roughly speaking, for the same size component, titanium should be about as strong as its steel counterpart. It will flex more, though, which shouldn't be a huge problem for cylinders, although I expect that barrels will continue to be made of steel (or have steel inserts) for the foreseeable future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy10mm
Even in the few reports of cracking on those the scandium was the problem, not the Ti.
I think that S&W got a bit too aggressive in their use of aluminum-scandium alloy. Sure, the addition of a small amount of scandium toughens up the aluminum considerably, but further lightening the frame by 1.7 oz and then clearing them for .357 Magnum went too far, in my opinion. In their tests they found the frames strong enough, I'm sure, but there is little or no margin for any internal defects--the metal has to be virtually perfect or it may crack at any time. Maybe it's just a quality control issue with the alloy, but I think that a titanium frame could be made considerably stronger and more durable with only a small weight penalty (it could still be as light as a Model 642 but shoot .357 Magnum). Maybe there are a few uses for titanium in firearms after all....
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Old February 14, 2011, 11:11 AM   #25
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My backpacking carry gun is a Taurus model 617 7 shot .357.
It has a lange cushioned grip and a short ported barrel to improve handling.
(I would have preferred a longer barrel but... that's what was available)
It has a stainless barrel liner but the cylinders are not lined.

I don't shoot it much but I sure am happy about the light weight. With ammo removed it feels like a plastic squirt gun. We've travelled many, many miles together.
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