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Old 09-08-2017, 05:57 PM
SonnyJames SonnyJames is online now
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Default Steel Frame or Aluminum 3rd Gens?

Good Afternoon gents from soon to be windy Tampa. I have been a longtime owner of anything and everything steel in the 2nd and 3rd gen S&Ws and want to pose a question to the experts ( you guys ) . I am getting older and have been contemplating switching some of my daily carries ( 4516-1 etc. ) for a lighter model. Am I looking at any excess wear or performance related issues if I were to venture into the aluminum frame 3rd gens? Any to avoid? I appreciate an and all points of view as I am seriously contemplating an aluminum framed 3rd gen 45 acp purchase. Thanks again.

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Old 09-08-2017, 06:56 PM
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Make sure you replace the recoil springs, lubricate the rails and barrel lugs. Other than that, there really isn't anything special to do.
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Old 09-08-2017, 06:57 PM
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I've got an aluminum frame third gen, haven't had it long enough to speak on its longevity from a personal standpoint other than to say it's a fine performer.

However, all my research that led up to the purchase of it all said the same thing - keep it cleaned and lubricated with a quality oil, don't shoot too many hot loads (although they are perfectly capable of it) and it'll most likely outlast you. I've seen enough owners reporting 15,000, and even 30,000 round counts or more with no issues.

Naturally, aluminum is more likely to fail from fatigue than steel but with the proper care the likelyhood seems pretty low in the third gens.

Caliber choice is also a factor...don't expect a .40 to last forever in aluminum with extreme use.
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Old 09-08-2017, 07:08 PM
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It would be silly to expect that an alloy frame 2nd or 3rd Gen would ever last as long as it's steel-framed counter part when both are put through the ringer. However in the typical world with the actual volume of shooting that most folks are likely to do with one pistol, it would take some serious work (and a lot of ammo!) to wear out an alloy-framed 2nd or 3rd Gen, especially if you are smart with springs and lube.

Where you may find a noticeable annoyance is in the appearance and wear characteristics of the alloy frame. I find that they don't resist external (appearance) wear as well and frankly, many of the alloy frames appear an odd color to begin with.

Functionally, and realistic longevity, I think you give up nothing except some mass/weight which definitely comes in handy while shooting. But for a defensive role, won't be missed.
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Old 09-08-2017, 07:44 PM
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Ive changed my recoil springs every 2000 or so rounds in my aluminum framed compact 45s and every 3000 or so in my aluminum framed 9mms. I keep the rails on all of them coated with TW25b synthetic grease.

I have shot them A LOT! And not seen any excessive wear. Now steel slides on aluminum frames will cause wear. Nature of the beast. But with regular maintenance it is not an issue or a worry.

Try a 4513TSW, or the less expensive 457. Great shooting compact 45s that conceal easily and carry comfortably. Good luck with the search! Regards 18DAI
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Old 09-09-2017, 06:41 AM
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I'll agree with what has been posted so far about the alloy framed 3G Smiths. Fresh recoil springs, proper lubrication, especially in the rails, and they will outlast the shooter.

I like the model 457's as they are light, compact and accurate. My main large bore carry gun has been a slightly tweaked 457 (slide and barrel work w/ Tritium Big Dots).


The second 457 is in reserve if something breaks on my primary.

Also favored is my 4040PD AirLite, the only 3G semi-auto with a Scandium alloy frame:



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Old 09-09-2017, 08:19 AM
BAM-BAM BAM-BAM is offline
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I've gone the 9mm route since about 1990 with the 39xx guns.... 3913,14 and NL. as my primary carry gun...... over the 25 years I've accumulated backups to my backups.

I used to carry a 4516 then a 4513TSW in the early 90s when I 'wanted" more than a 8+1 9mm, but switched to a Sig 245 because the 6rd TSW mags were too hard to come by pre-internet...... over the last 17 years when I want "more" I've gone to a 69xx series.... 6906/04 or PC Shorty 9. Almost the same size package as a 39xx but 12+1 with 59xx and+2 adapters available. Giving me up to 17 rounds in a spare carry mag.

IN truth these guns get carried more than they get shot....but have all held up well.

Larger but another, go to excellent Smith is the 915.......

Since the mid-80s I've also been very fond of the Beretta Compacts; 13+1 with 15.17( w/ adapters the Compact become a Centurion)...... and LOL 18,20 and 30 factory magazines available. Discontinued for about 15 years they are again being made in sizable numbers with and without rails. These can be made decocker only with a factory conversion kit ($50)


Also check out the Sig 239 and the Sig 225/P6 single stacks and the hi-cap 228/9.

A day at the range..... well more often than not it's a steel 5906 or before I knew there were only 179 made an all steel PC SD-9 (6906 size frame). Everything is the same except the weight.... and it's the only way I baby my alloy frame guns.

Last edited by BAM-BAM; 09-09-2017 at 08:21 AM.
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