Pistols Made Of Polymer(Plastic)

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Rhuga, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. Rhuga

    Rhuga Member

    Oct 25, 2011
    Henderson, Nevada
    I was looking at some Conceal\Carry type autos and they have the word polymer in the description. All my life I have used nothing but wheel guns, except for a Jennings J-22 Auto and they were made mostly of metal.

    Is the frame made of polymer and some of the parts? The slide appears to be a metal alloy. Is this safe? Or are the guns that have polymer in them just a low priced gun?
  2. permafrost

    permafrost Active Member

    Feb 24, 2010
    Oklahoma, USA
    You'll have to tell us which weapon your talking about. The polymer pistols run the gamut as far as to quality, much like any other pistols. Identify it
    and pics would help give you the info you want.

  3. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR Active Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Imperial, MO
    It really does depend on the gun. Most guns with a poly frame have metal insterts embedded in the plastic for stability and strength but not all. Kahr and keltc have gotten along just fine wo any steel rails embedded.
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Calling modern polymer "plastic" is a bit like describing chrome moly alloy steel as "tin". The traditional "blue steel and walnut" folks are aesthetically offended by polymer pistols, but the cost savings and the many advantages (no rust for one) mean that more and more guns, and not only auto pistols, will be made in part of polymer.

    For looks, I vote with the steel and walnut folks, but for serious use, the polymer guns are taking over. It is pretty hard to argue against polymer after seeing FBI agents with Glocks.

  5. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2009
    Central, Ohio
    I'm one of those blue steel and walnut fellows that Jim says are aesthetically offended by the polymer guns but I carry a polymer framed Ruger LCR primarily because of the weight reduction, 13 oz. in my pocket is very nice. I and several friends have various polymer guns, Ruger, Glock, and S&W and none have had any complaints. Whether we will still be shooting those guns when they are 50 years old as we do the blue steel and walnut ones, time will tell. But for day in and day out use there are many things going for the polymer guns.
  6. Petergunn

    Petergunn Member

    Jan 17, 2011
    ohio's northcoast
    +1 only mine's an LCP it was quite a struggle for me accept an aluminum frame, plastic? no way unless in a pocket pistol.
  7. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    A plastic engineer who reported here once wrote that plastics (polymer is still a plastic) are made up of chains of molecules. They cure by the chains becoming longer and longer. The curing never stops. As the chains get longer the polymer get more and more brittle. But what is the time period until a plastic gun is no longer usable because it cracks or disintegrates? It may be many decades but it will happen eventually.

    I don't buy throwaway guns (like a Jennings or any of the plastic guns). Guns made of pot metal or plastic are not in my safes. That is because I expect generations of my family to keep and use my guns long after I am gone. If they were made of pot metal or plastic that might not be possible. I personally own guns over 100 years old that shoot today the same as if they were new. Metal, be it aluminum or steel, is virtually forever. Plastic is NOT.

    But to answer your question on polymer guns, the frame of the gun is plastic sometimes with metal inserts in high wear areas. The slide and barrel are metal. Sometimes the internals are metal and sometimes they are partially plastic. The whole reason for plastic guns is in order to keep the price for a handgun down to the less than $500. Today with all the legal problems, environmental controls, the high labor costs, the high manufacturing equipment costs, and the high yield investor expect from their investment in gun companies, it is nearly impossible to manufacturer a metal handgun in the USA for less than $500. All the better ones are closer to $1000. Keeping the prices of guns down is the way manufacturers can assure they have viable products.

    So the why of plastic guns is mostly price. What else that follows is lightness. While that sounds good if you carry a gun daily, it is not so good if you plan to shoot the gun for fun. Most centerfire guns made of plastic have significant recoil unless the cartridge used is so low in power as to not be an effect deterrent for self protection. Extremely light guns are also difficult to shoot accurately as there is not enough mass to minimize the shooter's shakes.

    But hey, this is just my opinion. Buy whatever tickles your fancy.

  8. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    I tried to do some on-line research and come up with a lot of definite maybes. One site says that the life expectancy of polymers will vary and that a polymer object exposed in the Sahara will have a different life expectancy than one in the Brazilian rain forest. Hmmm. Wouldn't the same be true of "steel and walnut"?

    My take is that polymer frame guns are made for the here-and-now, not for the ages, and that the conditions of storage have a lot to do with life expectancy. But the same things could have been said about Colt Patersons in 1836 or a wheelock in 1636.

  9. Fast Forward

    Fast Forward Member

    Jul 16, 2011
    Chaska Minn
    My carry is a PK380,,half plastic half Metal , I run about 30-40 rounds a week thru it so far no problems I don,t care much for the light gun recoil but the hand fit is comfortable but as with most Hybrids most are Nasty looking
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011
  10. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    i dont own a "plastic" or compound weapon , but dont let me stop anyone from choosing a decent one , i say decent as there are bad ones and good ( just like in the steel selection) i dont want a plastic one as i'm very rough on guns , metal if it breaks i can fix , plastic i cant , but not everyone has a desire to be able to make their own parts ..

    if its a good gun , then thats the end of the story , a good gun is just that , metal or plastic ..
  11. CHW2021

    CHW2021 Well-Known Member

    Feb 16, 2009
    To get any valid input, tell us which guns you are interested in. Glock was pretty much the pioneer in the "plastic handgun" field. As mentioned above, there is now a broad range of quality in the guns and a broad range of features to be had.
    As a general statement I have no concerns about durability or quality of the polymer/plastic guns. If they are reasonably cared for they will last a lifetime; try to drive tent pegs with it or abuse it past reasonable limits and you can (and will) screw it up, same as any other piece of equipment. The plastics make for a light weight gun and are carry friendly, yes, it IS rocket science and yes, they do work well.
  12. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    Modern polymeric plastics (moldable compounds) that are "thermo-set" - that is they react upon heating and keep that shape and molecular arrangement upon cooling - if they are compounded with Ultra Violet stabilizers (usually ZnO or MgO) will last for several thousand years under normal conditions. It is difficult to get info on the proprietary plastic compounds used by the gun makers - but I can't imagine any of them using a degradable plastic that will only last for a few decades (30 - 40 years) without becoming brittle and self destructing. If that were the case, the early Glocks would already be disintegrating in the hands or the holsters of many owners.
    The many causes of polymer degredation are UV destruction of the cross bonds, exceeding the temperature limits of the "set" or biodegredation. Modern "degradable" plastics are made of polymers that will self destruct under at least two of those conditions, to allow for land fill degradation. Modern "thermoset" polymers are inhibited from degradation by design and addition of various UV stabilizers and careful selection of non-bio active polymers. Heat ranges for these will usually stretch from -90*F to +400*F. One advantage of polymer frames that has not been mentioned is resistence to deformation (denting) or breakage/cracking and the flexing which helps absorb some of the recoil.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011
  13. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Of course, if you are selling high quality Lorcins, you tout the advantages of a metal frame as opposed to that nasty plastic that will fall apart in a year or so.

  14. pickenup

    pickenup Active Member

    It was H&K.
  15. Jon Hermann

    Jon Hermann New Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    Lighter guns do have a greater felt recoil which in turn creates a problem for comfort and accuracy. Some of this recoil and accuracy can be mde up in the design of the pistol. In the Glock for example on a normal grip the slide goes right over the top of the shooting hand which creates a very low slide to hand spacing which allows for a recoil in more of a directly back motion vs let's say a sig P226 so the muzzle flip is tamed which in turn decreases the felt recoil, increases comfort and increases accuracy.
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