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Old 12-17-2013, 10:51 PM
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Default Steel vs aluminum??

I'm thinking about getting a S&W auto loader and would like some opinions on steel frame/all steel or aluminum framed pistols.
I'm looking at a 5906 or a 5903 as a possible addition to my collection of auto pistols.
Thanks

I have 3 S&W revolvers and a shield but think its high time to check a full size out
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:51 PM
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For some reason I like the fact my 5906 is all steel. As much as I love my alloy framed 3913 for its size and weight, I often wish S&W had made an all steel version of it.

You can't go wrong though with either a 5906 or '03, and despite what I said above, I'd like to add a 5903 to the collection someday.

Hope that helps!
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:23 AM
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I have found the alloy models more to my liking than steel. They seem to balance better and feel more grip heavy rather than muzzle heavy which translates to being easier to hold on target. Have owned both and only have the alloy frames now.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:25 AM
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It's like trying to decide between a Bud or a Bud Lite........there isn't a wrong choice
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scwv67 View Post
For some reason I like the fact my 5906 is all steel. As much as I love my alloy framed 3913 for its size and weight, I often wish S&W had made an all steel version of it.
Unless I am mistaken, isn't the 3906 the all steel version of the 3913? I have the 5906 and the 3913. I am thinking about adding a 3906 when the budget allows.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertZig View Post
Unless I am mistaken, isn't the 3906 the all steel version of the 3913? I have the 5906 and the 3913. I am thinking about adding a 3906 when the budget allows.
The 3906 was an all steel single-stack full-size pistol, though it only packed one more round than the 3913.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:59 AM
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Besides the 4516, were there any all steel compact S&W autos? Did all the PC compacts ride on alloy frames?
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:08 AM
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Thanks, guess I can't go wrong either way. I just don't know how I missed these little gems.
Saw one (5906) at the gun shop and it felt good in the hand. I don't know the history but I guess they competed with Glock for police sidearms.
If you know of a source with the history on these I would be interested in learning more.
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Old 12-18-2013, 09:35 AM
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Default I have a 5943

Alum. Frame, SS slide. DAO, no safety/decock levers. If you don't want to shoot it don't pull the trigger. I love the way it grips in my hand. The trigger takes some getting used to (especially for a revolver guy) but once familiar it's no problem.
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Old 12-21-2013, 01:18 AM
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I'd feel that the allyo would wear out faster than a stainless, even thought it would take a lot of rounds down range, but from looking at the pics of the alloy frames its easy to pick out. I love my 4506-1 no problem to shoot 200 round in one sitting some people need to grow a pair IMHO.
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Old 12-21-2013, 02:15 AM
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I've owned, handled and shot both the 5906 and 5903. I've always felt the 5906 with its steel frame is overkill for the 9mm cartridge, just too heavy and cumbersome for a 9mm. I eventually sold the 5906. On the other hand, the 5903 is a delight to handle and shoot. It is, IMHO, well balanced and quick to respond. In short, a great medium frame 9mm.

Oh yeah, it shoots pretty darn good, too.

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Old 12-21-2013, 04:53 AM
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Never anything on the great sleeper....the 915. Mine is a tack shooter , feeds every round , is compact , has good sights and with the flat backed factory grips feels perfect......by far my favorite 9mm.....and you can get em for less money then all the rest...... My 4003 might be better finished but is not a better gun in any way
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Old 12-21-2013, 02:40 PM
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I don't own a steel framed 3rd gen, but have some time with a range rental 5906. If I were to go full sized 9mm, I'd find an '03, the above mentioned 915, or a 910. (The 910 is the Value Line version of the 915 and has some changes to make it less expensive, a la the 908 compared to the 3913.) The 5906 has a lot of weight to tote when shooting 9mm. If wearing a gun that heavy, I'll pack my Colt Combat Commander to kick @$$ and take names. And I haven't worn that pistol in years except for social occasions.
As far as wear goes on the aluminum framed guns, I don't worry. If I were going through thousands of rounds a month, yes, it would be a concern. However, I'm lucky to shoot a few hundred a month. In good times, maybe 500, in bad times just a couple. I discovered awhile back that as far as range practice goes, more isn't necessarily better for me. I usually shoot a max 200 rounds of 9mm and then clean the palate with about 100 or so .22s. More rounds than that, I start to lose focus and get sloppy. At this level of shooting, a well cared for alloy gun will lasted longer than I will.
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Old 12-21-2013, 03:35 PM
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When we were issued 5904s there were the stories the aluminum frame guns wouldn't hold up to our 115 gr +P+ load. One of our range officers decided to shoot his 5904 with the +P+ round until it broke just to see how long it would last and if it would be a problem. At 50,000 rds he changed barrels because he'd shot the rifling out of the old one. He replaced springs but I don't recall round count. When he retired he had documented over 80,000 rds of +P+. He bought the same gun when he retired and continued shooting it.
That's roughly 1600 boxes of +P+. If you could find a deal on +P+ at $25 a box then he would have spent $40,000 on ammo thru that 1 gun.
Not to say that all aluminum frame 5904/5903 will go 80,000 rds. Had he been issued another gun it might not have gone a fraction without breaking. But at least one randomly issued 5904 did.
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Old 12-21-2013, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robin990 View Post
Never anything on the great sleeper....the 915. Mine is a tack shooter , feeds every round , is compact , has good sights and with the flat backed factory grips feels perfect......by far my favorite 9mm.....and you can get em for less money then all the rest...... My 4003 might be better finished but is not a better gun in any way
.
I've posted on the Model 915 several times over the past couple of years. It was one of the first of the economy 3rd Gens, later tagged the Value Line. I ran across mine about five years ago. It was price nicely, came with one magazine and no box.

What I like about the 915 over the 910 is that the 915 has no plastic parts. At the time it was introduced, it was very, very close to a standard 3rd Gen. With regard to the 910, when I bought my 915 the gunshop/pistol range owner who sold it to me allowed me to field strip the 915 as well as a 910 he also had for sale. So, I was able to examine them side by side. IMHO there's really no comparison. There were far more machining shortcuts taken with the 910, not to mention all the plastic parts used in its production. Bottom line, the 910 and 915 are excellent 9mm pistols, but the 915 stands right up there along side the 5900 series pistols as a true 3rd Gen. It shoots good, too.

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Old 12-21-2013, 05:44 PM
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The difference between the 5903 and 06 is obviously the weight. Which advantages the 06 in rapid fire. Recoil is soaked up with the additional weight of the 06. Durability and appearance goes to the 06 stainless steel over the aluminum alloy of the 03.
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scwv67 View Post
Besides the 4516, were there any all steel compact S&W autos? Did all the PC compacts ride on alloy frames?
My 3566 Compact from the PC is all steel.

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Old 12-21-2013, 08:51 PM
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I own a 559 which is steel double stack, great pistol, very heavy to carry
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Old 12-21-2013, 10:35 PM
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My 3566 Compact from the PC is all steel.

That's nice! Thanks for the info.
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Old 12-22-2013, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nlmadog View Post
I own a 559 which is steel double stack, great pistol, very heavy to carry
Hey, I've got a 559 too. Great pistol.
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Old 12-22-2013, 03:12 PM
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This is such an interesting thread from a different perspective. The pistols pictured all have a slide mounted safety. I personally own 2 745s and M9 and a PX4, all have slide mounted safetys. The interesting part is how many people complain in different threads about teh slide mounted safetys...
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Old 12-22-2013, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gyrene6891 View Post
This is such an interesting thread from a different perspective. The pistols pictured all have a slide mounted safety. I personally own 2 745s and M9 and a PX4, all have slide mounted safetys. The interesting part is how many people complain in different threads about teh slide mounted safetys...
I don't complain about it, but it is my least favorite feature about S&W semi-auto's. I've changed my 3913 to a single-sided safety/decocker and will likely do the same to my 5906. One of the things I liked about my "Value Line" 457 is that it only has the single lever.

That being said, what I consider positives about my Smith's far outweigh this one negative.
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Old 12-23-2013, 02:40 PM
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I have both alloy and steel frame Smiths and like them all. Over the long haul, alloy is going to experience more wear than will steel however proper lubrication can greatly minimize even that level of wear.

The area, other than the external finish, that seems to show wear on an alloy frame is the location where the steel barrel rides in the frame. Running that area dry over a period of time will result in the sharp edges of the bottom side of the barrel under the chamber cutting into the frame.

I've had a couple of used alloy pistols over the years that showed that type of wear. It didn't keep them from functioning though and I have no idea how long it took that wear to occur.
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