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Old December 1, 2011, 11:30 AM   #1
Timeframe
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Polymer VS Steel

In the department of putting a lot of ammo down range.
Does a polymer pistol take the abuse (wear and tear)
better than a metal one?
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Old December 1, 2011, 11:43 AM   #2
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I'm pretty much Anti-Glock, but mainly cause they just don't sit in my hand right and I don't like polymer. But Glock has proven over and over that their plastic guns are durable and reliable.

I prefer steal over polymer because I just don't like the feel of plastic, but if you buy a good one like Glock, HK, Sig, Springfield, etc they hold up really well.

Do they hold up better than an all steel one? Frankly I don't know. My gut feeling is no. There are 1911's and other steel pistols that are still working after 100k rounds and a 100 years. I'm not sure a polymer gun will hold up like that. Plastic's and polymers slowly leech oils over time and get brittle. I know someone will come in here and freak out over that statement but they'll get over it. The question is how long will it take? A good quality polymer can still be viable 50 years or more from now, so chances are it'll last longer than your life time. Will it stand up to 100k rounds? No clue, but it wouldn't surprise if they could with proper care and maintenance.

Then again if you don't take care of your steel guns you could very well end up with a worthless pile of rust.
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Old December 1, 2011, 11:44 AM   #3
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I don't know about better. I think they are at least equivalent though.

The first Glocks from the 80s are still running strong. This is the only data point we can really use.
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Old December 1, 2011, 11:47 AM   #4
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There are simply too many variables to answer this question definitively.
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Old December 1, 2011, 11:52 AM   #5
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Supposedly HK has a p30 that they've been testing and they hit 91,000 rounds without failure

Todd Green tested a HK45 to 50,000 rounds and no catastrophic failures either. and some of his cleanings didnt occur for 10,000 rounds

I love HK

It doesn't really matter to me about steel or polymer. If its a good piece of engineering and its made with quality and I can shoot it well... I want it in my collection

Take care of the gun and the gun will take care of you. And if it finally fails one day... Lifetime Warranty
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Old December 1, 2011, 11:58 AM   #6
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I prefer polymer semi-autos. They weigh less & they handle recoil great. I have several Glocks & they're fantastic pistols.
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Old December 1, 2011, 12:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
In the department of putting a lot of ammo down range.
Does a polymer pistol take the abuse (wear and tear)
better than a metal one?
well it's difficult to say.
there are no 100 year old glocks or H&Ks to compare to a 1911 so we'll have to wait till our kids social security checks start coming in the mail before we'll know for certain.

right now. polymers are cheaper to build, cheaper to buy(in most cases), they have greater tolerance to extreme cold/heat, they normally have higher ammo capacity and normally operate better while dirty or without lube.

I prefer polymer just because they require less maintenance and they have a wider range of ergonomic options.
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Old December 1, 2011, 12:41 PM   #8
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Only time will tell as Polymer guns have only been around 30 years.

Lets see if any are usable when they are 75 years old. I would guess that those that use Polymer for rails and other moving parts that see friction I would say they will not survive. Those Polymer guns that have metal on those parts may well live as long as a steel gun.
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Old December 1, 2011, 12:56 PM   #9
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I don't like poly guns at all .....but durability ....they have steel inserts, steel barrels and steel or alloy slides ...so all we're talking about is the external frames ...

I don't think there is any way to tell if they'll hold up like steel or not ...or if it matters. My hunch is they'll probably be fine.
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Old December 1, 2011, 01:03 PM   #10
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When putting a lot of ammo down range I prefer the steel so I don't abuse the shooter, me. All my range guns are steel, I save the polymer for CCW use.
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Old December 1, 2011, 01:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Does a polymer pistol take the abuse (wear and tear)
better than a metal one?
The thing is, a pistol that's shooting lots of ammo appropriate to the gun's design and set-up (e.g. spring selection ) isn't experiencing much wear and tear. The wear that does occur tends to be self limiting, by altering the shape and proximity of the contact surfaces. That's why you'll find lots of examples of both steel and poly pistols w/ very high round counts. And the parts that are expected to fail are made to be replaceable. It's going to take something like a cracked frame or sheared lug to really take a quality pistol out of service. That's where steel pistols have an advantage. They can be welded up, and reshaped (e.g. re-tightening the slide ).
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Old December 1, 2011, 01:48 PM   #12
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I tend to prefer steel, though I doubt we will see a huge difference between steel vs polymer. Both have an established record of lasting for longer then what the average shooter would put down range in 2 life times.

As far as the very high round count shooters that claim to shoot 25k-100K a year, I would say that beyond normal small parts and spring replacements, the gun should last fine for between 100k-200k rounds. Keep in mind these shooters are not that common and would wear out a gun in time. Its not that uncommon though to see high round count glock's and 1911's that have tons of rounds downrange without a problem at all. To me it would be more of a preference to what the shooter him/herself prefers.

I generally shoot 2500-5000 a year, mostly reloads, but still I dont forsee being able to "wear-out" a good quality gun. Colt steel or Glock plastic. I feel either would be just fine.

The only upside to steel is it can be refinished. If you can refinish the polymer it is new to me.
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Old December 1, 2011, 01:48 PM   #13
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Just remember when you are discussing Glock - The Polymer frame holds some very hard and tough steel parts on which the all steel slide rides back and forth. So, the moral of the story is that substantial amounts of steel is necessary in most common firearms - how much is used and where it is placed are the distinguishing factors.
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Old December 1, 2011, 03:08 PM   #14
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Short term, how many people put even 5k through their guns? I may reach that but I doubt I ever will hit 10k (Sig SP2022)

Mid term, lost of 50-100k and with Glock 500k and holding up well.

Will they disintegrate and degree when the polymer is 100 years old and all those chemicals and UV rays and global warming work their way with it, maybe.

So, if you are going to upward of in the next 15 years, you are good to go (you will replace slides, barrels and action metal parts). The frame will most likely hold up (its like aluminum, some will fail as Glock has but for the most part,, Glock or not they will be fine.)

If you are collecting, well, 100 years from now, not a single one of us reading this will be alive, so its irrelevant (your heir may curse you for not buying that fine metal PPK but ........
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Old December 1, 2011, 04:04 PM   #15
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Look at what the high stress components are made of in any number of plastic pistols. Ever wonder why slides and barrels ARENT made of plastic? Because when it comes to withstanding pressure and heat, plastic wont cut it. Why not have the same level of strength throughout the entire weapon?

Last edited by 10mm4ever; December 1, 2011 at 04:14 PM.
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Old December 1, 2011, 04:56 PM   #16
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no difference in durability
Glock has prooved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a POLY
gun is in destrucable .......Of course they lack charecter and style
but they are effective
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Old December 1, 2011, 05:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
Look at what the high stress components are made of in any number of plastic pistols. Ever wonder why slides and barrels ARENT made of plastic? Because when it comes to withstanding pressure and heat, plastic wont cut it. Why not have the same level of strength throughout the entire weapon?
The reason is it is not needed in every application. Polymer is lighter, cheaper, and does the job. Seems pretty simple to me.
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