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View Full Version : What's better: Stainless or Carbon Steel


bin31z
08-09-2009, 2:23 AM
I have some knowledge about steels as far as cutlery goes. Assuming correctly heat treated, carbon steels will always be harder and more durable as far as edge retetion but are more prone to chipping. Stainless steels are more "gummy" and are usually softer than carbon steels. Besides the corrosion resistance issue, which material will stand up better to long term use in firearms?

Miltiades
08-09-2009, 5:58 AM
I presume you are speaking of handgun applications for the steel, and not knives - although you gave a knife example.

I have both carbon steel and stainless steel handguns, and have good experiences with both in terms of functioning. I will admit to a slight preference for stainless steel handguns for a few reasons:

1. Stainless doesn't seem to rust, unlike carbon steel.
2. Stainless doesn't show surface wear like blued or blackened carbon steel, so the gun always looks newer.
3. I like the color of a stainless gun.

Here is a gratuitous photo of three of my stainless guns:

http://i116.photobucket.com/albums/o25/pogo2/Three45s02-1.jpg

Bigballaizm
08-09-2009, 8:52 AM
Milt has valid points, also I have to agree that Stainless just looks better... To me!!

sholling
08-09-2009, 9:27 AM
Blued steel is beautiful but I'm a fan of stainless and some of the high tech treatments like Melonite. Both are beautiful and neither shows much surface wear.

But let's knock out a myth "stainless doesn't rust". The grades of stainless used in firearms are rust resistant and not "rust proof". If you don't take care of it then it will rust.

Melonite over stainless, the best of both worlds.
http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u197/damnfineguy/My%20Toys%20800/PC1911NS.jpg

Katana
08-09-2009, 11:32 AM
Here is a discussion about gun steel with some metallurgists weighing in-

http://yarchive.net/gun/gun_steels.html

Miltiades, what model is that ST and where did you get those checkered grips?

hawk81
08-09-2009, 2:20 PM
Carbon steel is stronger. It has a higher tensil strength.

Miltiades
08-09-2009, 2:26 PM
Miltiades, what model is that ST and where did you get those checkered grips?

The Sig is a P220ST with the "old style" rail, manufactured about 2001. The trigger, hammer and some small parts have been nickel plated by CCR in Tennessee. The grips are Hogue Extreme aluminum, checkered with the brushed black finish. Here is another shot of it:

http://i116.photobucket.com/albums/o25/pogo2/SigP220ST30.jpg

Fjold
08-09-2009, 2:46 PM
Stainless steel is more resistant to heat erosion so SS barrels last longer.

1923mack
08-09-2009, 4:36 PM
Stainless looks good. Carbon wears better. If you are going to shoot gazillion rounds thru it then steel, if low round count then stainless.

sholling
08-09-2009, 4:51 PM
Let's be realistic. A well maintained high quality stainless slide and frame are going to last as long or darn near as long as a carbon steel frame. In the hundreds of thousands of rounds. The barrel may eventually need to be replaced but there is no reason that a stainless barrel won't last several tens of thousands of rounds. The big slow moving round just doesn't put that much stress on the rifling. We aren't talking 300WM here we're talking 45acp.

I'd be more worried about the carbon steel in the cheap <$500 imports. Of course even with good steel if you don't change springs like you should and don't keep it well lubed then you can damage the weapon.

Katana
08-09-2009, 5:56 PM
The Sig is a P220ST with the "old style" rail, manufactured about 2001. The trigger, hammer and some small parts have been nickel plated by CCR in Tennessee. The grips are Hogue Extreme aluminum, checkered with the brushed black finish.
Ah, that explains it. I thought they were the old plastic grips which won't fit the new guns.

I remember when the STs first came out everyone seemed to want the new style rail. Great for mounting a light, but the old style has a nice smooth contoured dust cover, as opposed to the new blocky rail.

Also, I like the all "bright" look of your piece with the nickel plated parts.

bin31z
08-09-2009, 9:16 PM
I actually dislike the look of stainless. I would prefer stainless that is coated with something. Stainless is just too "pimp" for me. haha

tiko
08-09-2009, 10:39 PM
The definition of stainless is 13% Cr, that why the excelent D2 steel use by Bob Dozier ( 12% Cr) is classified as carbon steel, not stainless. Of course stainless is softer than carbon steel, some carbon steel like ZDP189 have Rc 68 ( as hard as Melonite), my self I like M2 tool steel to be use on guns.

bin31z
08-10-2009, 1:23 AM
The definition of stainless is 13% Cr, that why the excelent D2 steel use by Bob Dozier ( 12% Cr) is classified as carbon steel, not stainless. Of course stainless is softer than carbon steel, some carbon steel like ZDP189 have Rc 68 ( as hard as Melonite), my self I like M2 tool steel to be use on guns.

I think D2 is a tool steel.