Firearm and Gun Forums › Firearm and Gun Forums › Firearms › Serious question that I don’t ever see discussed – Does anyone know the useful life of the plastics/polymers in modern handgun frames, and rifle components, especially after exposure to the elements/sunlight?
MemberDecember 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm
On its face, the answer would seem to be “a very long time”, but how long really can we rely on these for defensive firearms? Regardless of round count, I’d expect the material to degrade after a decade or two of carry or constant use. Will the polymer guns of today be passable to the next generations? Is there anyone in the industry that could comment? I realized today that all of my handguns are poly framed except for one, my 1911. I fully expect the 1911 to be serviceable in 100 years, but what about the others? Will the frames get brittle, or crack? What about constant temperature changes?
AnEvenHuskierCatGuestDecember 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm
>I’d expect the material to degrade after a decade or two of carry or constant use.
Polymer framed handguns have been around since the 70s. Glocks have been in circulation domestically since the 80s. Depending on your area, a first or second generation Glock might be sitting in your local gun store right now, right this second.
Enough time has already passed where a plastic fantastic could’ve made it’s way down 2 generations. I sincerely doubt you’ll have to worry about a polymer frame wearing out in 100 years.
WildSauceGuestDecember 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Polymer handguns are generally made out of a molded Nylon 66 derivative. All molded Nylon products have antioxidants added to them before molding. The primary purpose of these antioxidants is to prevent surface damage to the polymer at the high temperature interface between the polymer and the metallic mold. However excess antioxidant is always used, so it remains in the polymer after molding. This serves a secondary purpose of preventing degradation from UV exposure.
These types of materials are regularly used in rotomolded polymer tanks for outdoor liquid storage. These tanks last decades in direct sunlight. Their life in a dark gun safe is essentially infinite. Really the lifetime of a polymer frame gun will be dictated by mechanical wear, not polymer degradation. And in that respect they are no less durable than a metal frame gun.
Thats_my_cornbreadGuestDecember 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Ever see that video of an FN handgun getting soft sitting on a table in the sunlight?
Edit: Found it.
Online discussion seems to conclude this problem was specific to FN. I don’t know any more about the subject than that.
AlabamaBlacSnakeGuestDecember 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm
There’s a giant mass of plastic living in the sun and salt water that scoffs at your hundred years.
TheGreyWatcherGuestDecember 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Commenting for visibility. I, too, wish to hear the answer to this.
BlasterBurroGuestDecember 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Polymers have been used in firearms longer than polymer framed pistols have been in the market. Bakelite magazines have been around since the 60’s and are still kicking around today. Some early uses of polymers in firearms did not hold up though like early AR-10 hand guards. I’m personally not too concerned about modern glass-filled nylon firearm components.
Since one of the primary sources of degradation would be excessive UV exposure or high temperatures, as long as it is stored properly it would likely last longer than you. Nylon can soften at extreme temperatures so maybe don’t store them in your car trunk during the summer.
In some applications some argue polymers may perform better than a metallic counterpart. Glass or carbon filled polymers can be break before deforming unlike steel or aluminum. For instance should a metallic magazines feed lips become deformed they may not feed ammunition properly and with a visual inspection it would not be obvious that the feed lips are the issue. Should a polymer magazine become compromised they simply break and provide an obvious and replaceable point of failure. Some may see this as a benefit, some may not.
I don’t work in the firearms industry but I do testing for oilfield materials and equipment, mainly pertaining to polymers. In my experience polymers, particularly elastomers, are more prone to variation from manufacturer to manufacturer and lot to lot than metals. Some manufacturers do have their shit together though and are very consistent.
LostViking85GuestDecember 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Everything I can find on it indicates that polymer isn’t particularly different in terms of reliability – it will matter much more how the gun is cared for. This makes sense to me. Any material that is regularly abused, or exposed to the elements, and is not properly maintained, will degrade.
Vash712GuestDecember 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm
UV stabilized(maybe the use a different word) zytel which most poly frames are made of will last between 5000 and 10000 years regular non uv protected or whatever zytel can get brittle pretty quick but no one uses that shit