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Old 10-10-2007, 21:24   #1
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Metal VS Polymer frames

I know that there are many old-timers out there that would never buy a "plastic" gun, but I want to get a discussion started on the Pros and Cons of metal vs polymer frame handguns now-a-days.

Sure, metal frame pistols are the tried and trued method for producing quality handguns, but lately so many reputable manufacturers are adding polymer frame handguns to their lineup that it seems to be note worthy to discuss.

I know it's easy to come up with reasons NOT to go with a "plastic" gun, but are there any of you out there that would RATHER a polymer to metal frame?

The only considerations that I've thought of or heard mentioned have been weight, production costs, and ruggedness in combat situations. Any other items to consider before I drop $700 - $1000 on a new .45 ACP pistol?
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Old 10-11-2007, 02:47   #2
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As an "old schooler" and not an old timer, I don't think there are too many really valid reasons to choose one over the other. About the only one I can think of off the top this morning is polymers resistance to moisture. Other than that, the distinction between metal and polymer does not play into my purchasing decision.

My first polymer gun was a Ruger P95 followed by a P97 when it was first introduced. Since then, I've purchsed several others which I still own ... and trust.

Polymer v metal? No big deal here.

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Old 10-11-2007, 03:57   #3
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Thanks for the input. I appreciate the fact that you are an NRA certified instructor. A buddy of mine has a P89 9mm (metal frame), another guy I know has a P90 .45 (aluminum frame), that he seems to love. I have been looking at the new Ruger P345 polymer frame 45.

Looking forward to more comments on this topic! I know there are plenty of people out there that are probably a little more gung-ho one way or the other.
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Old 10-11-2007, 04:38   #4
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im with Mbott I feel the same way. The only thing imo that stinks about polymer frames you are SOL asfar as aftermarket grips go.
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:06   #5
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All I can say is WWJBD?

What Would John Browning Do?

Not make a plastic gun!

They may be fine now but what about in 20-30 or 50 years? will they last as long as a metal? Also i don't like how light they are... If I am shooting a handgun I want to feel it in my hand. Whenever you have a metal gun in your hand you know it's time to get serious, but with a plastic it feels like play time. What about overheating and melting? I have never seen an instance of it or read about it but I am sure it is possible. What about 1,000's of round capability? Are they as reliable after 50,000 rounds as they were new?

Now two advantages I do see is weight and rust resistance.... Especially for those who must carry their gun for long periods of time or in wet/salty/humid climates.
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:31   #6
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Originally Posted by 93sr20det View Post
All I can say is WWJBD?

What Would John Browning Do?

Not make a plastic gun!

They may be fine now but what about in 20-30 or 50 years? will they last as long as a metal? Also i don't like how light they are... If I am shooting a handgun I want to feel it in my hand. Whenever you have a metal gun in your hand you know it's time to get serious, but with a plastic it feels like play time. What about overheating and melting? I have never seen an instance of it or read about it but I am sure it is possible. What about 1,000's of round capability? Are they as reliable after 50,000 rounds as they were new?

Now two advantages I do see is weight and rust resistance.... Especially for those who must carry their gun for long periods of time or in wet/salty/humid climates.

Depending on the exact polymer formula the melting points are between 559 and 900 degrees. IMO thats not to bad considering aluminum alloy depending on the formula the melting point is between 440 and 1200 degrees. then you have carbon steel which has a melting point of 2800 degree. but to be honest none of that matters because even as little as 300 to 400 degrees can warp and even change molecular structures of the steel components of a firearm enough to render the gun unsafe and useless.

Polymers over time would likely outlast the steel components of the guns since polymer is pretty much immune to elements in the air that steel and aluminum are prone to corrosion/erosion from like salts and moisture. which this also doesn't matter because the steel components on polymer frame guns are vulnerable to the same conditions as all metal guns.

as for wear and tear on polymer frame guns it would be about the same as an all metal gun. The polymer portions are mainly the grip and the outer portions of the frame. I have yet to see a polymer framed gun that doesn't have some form of a metal frame within the polymer that keeps all the moving parts and has metal rails which the slide contacts.

as for the weight concerns that sounds like a personal problem.
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Old 10-11-2007, 17:48   #7
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While I have had the though of a polymer gun melting, (maybe in an oven) I never would have guessed that some polymer compounds could out-perform some metal alloys when it comes to heat!! (sounds feasible though)

I read an article a while back about a 10,000 round endurance test performed on a Sig P220 (link below). I wonder how a polymer frame would stand up to that type of heat and abuse!
http://www.galleryofguns.com/Shootin...es.asp?ID=1230

Bring the NOMEX shooting gloves!!

Last edited by motogp24/7; 10-11-2007 at 17:49. Reason: Typo
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Old 10-11-2007, 20:29   #8
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Me, too ...either one

SIG tested at 10,000 rds? How about the Glock 21 tested at 150,000 rds in ways that make a sensitive guy like me weep? Well, anyway, I’m both an old Marine and a later-in-life LEO. I grew up on the great Browning designs in steel, stainless, and alloy …HiPower and many variations of the 1911. I still have my favorite Springer .45ACP in blue steel. Having said that, law enforcement introduced me to the Glock design, specifically G22 in .40 S&W. Despite some initial skepticism, my CCW is now a G27 .40 S&W and my belt pistol is a G21 .45ACP. In no particular order these “polymers” deliver an amazing combination of reliability, accuracy, durability, simplicity, capacity, and price. You’ll be well dressed with either metal or polymer.
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Old 10-12-2007, 08:29   #9
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John Browning--bless his saintly soul--was not alive when the type of technologies existed for making high impact polymers that we have today. It's hard to say what he would have done, but he was a forward thinking man in his day, and I doubt he would have completely ignored advancements in materials that would have helped to improve on his designs. Steel is great--I have 3 all-steel heavy semiauto pistols myself. But I do NOT think steel is superior to polymer in a pistol frame, all things considered. Any torture or long-term testing I've seen indicates polymer will hold up just as well if not better over the long haul, with one possible exception: the fit of slide to frame MAY POSSIBLY have a greater tendency to worsen over extended heavy usage in a polymer gun, IF the polymer warps or deforms in any way. But that is just a research issue right now, not a proven fact.

The choice between steel and polymer is now mostly personal preference. Do you want the heavier weight, and the feel of steel in your hand? Or do you value the lighter weight, the freedom from concerns about corrosion, etc., that you have with polymer? Take your pick, both are good!
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Old 10-12-2007, 15:46   #10
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Hahaha I thought this was funny...


John Browning's Commandments:
http://perfectunion.com/vb/showthread.php?t=48467
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Old 10-13-2007, 01:11   #11
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Originally Posted by 93sr20det View Post
Hahaha I thought this was funny...


John Browning's Commandments:
http://perfectunion.com/vb/showthread.php?t=48467
HAHA, very funny!

But on a serious note... I've got a plastic 9mm. I'm SURELY going to ( B )!

Last edited by motogp24/7; 10-13-2007 at 01:13.
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Old 10-13-2007, 01:45   #12
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Originally Posted by motogp24/7 View Post
While I have had the though of a polymer gun melting, (maybe in an oven) I never would have guessed that some polymer compounds could out-perform some metal alloys when it comes to heat!! (sounds feasible though)

I read an article a while back about a 10,000 round endurance test performed on a Sig P220 (link below). I wonder how a polymer frame would stand up to that type of heat and abuse!
http://www.galleryofguns.com/Shootin...es.asp?ID=1230

Bring the NOMEX shooting gloves!!

10,000 rounds continuously in that sig? probably not... heres an article from guns & Ammo where a polymer framed pistol endured 10,000 rounds flawlessly you are gonna poop your panties too when you see what brand of pistol it is.

link to article - http://www.gunsandammomag.com/ga_han...07/index1.html
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Old 10-13-2007, 03:39   #13
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Originally Posted by HighDesertWolf View Post
10,000 rounds continuously in that sig? probably not...
I would have to re-read the article, so don't quote me on the specifics... but I believe the procedure was 1,000 rounds continuously, followed by a cool-down and cleaning. Then a 10 round accuracy test before the next 1,000. I believe they striped the gun and gave it a more thorough cleaning at the 5,000 round mid-point of the test.

There were 5 or 6 guys, so they all just kept loading mags with one of them firing as long as he could, then they would rotate to the next guy.
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Old 10-14-2007, 06:38   #14
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This is the article that prompted me to buy my SIG.

http://www.galleryofguns.com/Shootin...es.asp?ID=1230
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Old 10-14-2007, 17:38   #15
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Originally Posted by 93sr20det View Post
This is the article that prompted me to buy my SIG.

http://www.galleryofguns.com/Shootin...es.asp?ID=1230
The SIG goes 10,000 rounds. The Glock goes 150,000. Ruger's P95 goes 20,000 rounds of +P during development. All and all, pretty much tells me that the polymer v metal debate is a waste of time and energy.

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Old 10-14-2007, 18:12   #16
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Everything I found on the glocks said they were rebuilt internally almost everytime..... The Sig only had a broken trigger pin......
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Old 10-17-2007, 13:07   #17
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My personal preferance is metal, i have owned 2 plastic pistols and traded them for metal ones of the same caliber. I just felt that paying 400-600+ dollars for a pistol thats half plastic felt wrong. I think they should be cheaper. because they should be cheaper to produce right??? i.e. plastic mold vs. forging or casting and machining
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Old 10-18-2007, 16:39   #18
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I just allways wondered how polymer pistols would hold many years from now, theres still colt 1911 45 's thats all most 100 years old around an working , I wonder if the polymer pistols would Be around that long an still firing ?
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Old 10-25-2007, 00:15   #19
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I bought my wife a Glock 9mm. She hated it, because it would jam, fail to feed, stove pipe, etc at least every other round. I watched her a bit and decided that her wrist was just not strong enough to hold it rigid. It worked for me ok.

We concluded the gun was just too light for her. The dealer said he didn't think it should have done that, when we traded it in for a Ruger Blackhawk. She had none of those troubles with it.

Anyway, I got her a Taurus 45/410 and she was very happy.

I personally do not like the light weight feel of the plastic guns. Admittedly, the Glock is the only one I have shot, though.

Just my personal opinion. Somebody must like them, I see them all over the place. I think it is just a personal like or dislike.

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Old 10-25-2007, 03:52   #20
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Springfield is supposed to have an XD with over 100,000 rounds and going.

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Old 10-27-2007, 23:49   #21
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ighDesertWolf has a point with aftermarket grips and grip mods.

My question is going to be what do you do when a plastic framed gun gets scratched up? If you have a metal framed gun you can buff it out and re blue it or refinish it however you like. I just know that the plastic pannels on my Sig P220, Walther P38 and Ruger P94 get scratched up, while the metal on the gun does not. I like to know that I can replace the plastic when it scratches.

Just my opinion

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Old 10-28-2007, 05:51   #22
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Originally Posted by Leucoandro View Post
My question is going to be what do you do when a plastic framed gun gets scratched up?
I think you'll generally find that what will scratch metal will not scratch polymer. With all the polymer pistols I've owned, and they were mostly Rugers and one CZ, scratches have never been an issue I've encountered.

And I'm talking about general careless handling-type of issue, not a deliberate gouge made by the point of a nail.

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Old 10-28-2007, 21:10   #23
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Originally Posted by mbott View Post
I think you'll generally find that what will scratch metal will not scratch polymer. With all the polymer pistols I've owned, and they were mostly Rugers and one CZ, scratches have never been an issue I've encountered.

And I'm talking about general careless handling-type of issue, not a deliberate gouge made by the point of a nail.

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Maybe I should rethink getting one if they are that scratch resistant. I guess that fit is a bigger issue with Polymer pistols as you can not get different grips. I know the Glock First and Second Gen do not fit my hands very well, Maybe the Third Gen ones will. I will have to try the Walther P99 and Ruger SR9 next time I am back in the states, maybe one of them will fit my hands. I kind of like the way the Springfield XD feels in my hand.

Charlie
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Old 11-05-2007, 13:58   #24
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Originally Posted by LiquedLead View Post
Just my personal opinion. Somebody must like them, I see them all over the place. I think it is just a personal like or dislike.

Mike
I personally think it's a price and purpose issue... The polymer guns cost less to manufacture and the consumer sees that price difference at the gun shop. Also, I'd venture to guess that most of the people, (myself included) that buy polymer guns aren't planning on keeping or using the gun 50 years down the road or passing it to there children, grandchildren and so on...

If I was going to war, I'd get a Humvee... (AND A 1911)
If I just needed to get back and forth to work, shopping, etc. I may just get a Honda... (and a plastic gun...) haha

In the rare occasion that you need the gun for protection, I'm sure it will work as good as any metal gun on the market.... (just thinking aloud)

At the same time, maybe a polymer gun isn't the best for competition where it's gonna see thousands upon thousands of rounds over it's lifetime... (maybe, maybe not...??)
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Old 05-05-2014, 11:54   #25
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The only thing I know for certain

There never would have been an Apollo Program and we never would have got to the moon without plastics!

Ought to be good enough for a pistol for cripe sake. But I could be wrong as my lovely wife so often reminds me... soooooo, how's about a challenge? The first guy that wears out his poly frame 45-ACP... send pictures.

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