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Structure, Glue and Engine

By Paul Evancoe

There are three essential elements in all firearms that determine the reliability and operational life expectancy. They are: 1) the metallurgical composition of the firearm’s critical working components, 2) the screws that hold the component parts of a firearm together and 3) the springs that store and discharge energy in order for the firearm to operate properly.

First, a brief explanation of some of the metallurgy involved. Metal alloys are assigned a formulation reference number that delineates the unique qualities of that particular metal. These unique formulation recipes are assigned numbers by ASM International, formerly known as the American Society for Metals.

ASM is a professional organization for materials scientists and engineers. ASM provides several information resources, including the ASM Handbooks; a series of reference books that provide data on various types of metals. These handbooks are recognized as a standard reference in the field of materials science.

Steels that contain carbon as the primary alloying element are referred to as carbon steels; generalized as high, medium and low carbon steel. They also contain small percentages of silicon and manganese. Additional elements such as molybdenum, chromium, nickel, copper, and aluminum are formulated into the alloy to achieve the exact metal characteristics desired for a particular purpose. So, as a basis for alloy formula that determines the metal’s hardness, wear resistance, ductility, machinability performance, the alloy is assigned a numerical figure recognized as an ASM number.

For example, ASM 1144 “Stressproof” metal and ASM 1144 “Fatigueproof” metal used in quality gun screws, are trademark versions of the 1144 formula. The patented formula and trademark name simply guarantees the 1144’s minimum qualities by the manufacturer. Whereas 1144 CD (cold drawn) metal, for example, while entirely acceptable for use in precision screws, does not have guaranteed characteristics and requires a more involved machining process. This translates to more material waste and more machining time required to reach the finished product.

1144 Fatigueproof steel is the choice of alloys for precision screws, but very few high quality screw manufacturers use it because it costs a bit more than generic 1144.

But few understand that there...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N5 (June 2017)
and was posted online on April 21, 2017

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