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Thread: Why is 4150 steel better?

  1. #1
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    Why is 4150 steel better?

    I come from an Aviation Maintenance background, so I understand the 41xx series of steels to a certain extent. I have heard quite a bit about the desireability of 4150 CMV has the "best" steel for AR barrels, and I'm wondering why that is.

    Some of the explanations I've heard here, and on other internet forums is not correct. While 4150 has a higher hardening potential, due to the greater content of carbon, it also has a higher "brittleness" potential, again, due to the greater content of carbon. Which means it is less "malleable" than 4140.

    So 4150 is not "tougher" than 4140, with "toughness" being the combination of hardness and malleability.

    So, what is it about 4150 that makes it a superior barrel metal, especially with a hard-chromed bore? I admit to being unfamiliar about what stresses are put on a barrel, understand that a certain need for "hardness" is necessary. (One cannot prescribe Viagra to an AR15.) In other words, how is 4150 superior to 4140 with a hard chromed bore in dealing with the stresses produced by shooting?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I'm not a mettalurgist, nor have I played one on TV or stayed in a Holiday Inn Express.

    I don't know why it's used and I'm sure there is a reason why Colt, FN and LMT and others use it, I'm sure they would use 4140 if 4140 was superior since 4140 is cheaper.

    I found this when researching the differences.

    4140

    * Carbon range: .38/.43%.
    * Otherwise there is little difference between 4140 and 4150.
    * However, 4150 is selected when slightly higher mechanical properties are required.
    * Golf club shafts, badminton racquet handles, tamping rods, tufting needles, drill-shank tubing, key sockets, electrical connectors, and hand tools are typical applications.

    4150

    * Carbon range: .48/.55%
    * Otherwise there is little difference between 4140 and 4150.
    * However, 4150 is selected when slightly higher mechanical properties are required.
    * Golf club shafts, badminton racquet handles, tamping rods, tufting needles, drill-shank tubing, key sockets, electrical connectors, and hand tools are typical applications.

    This sounds kind of interesting too:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/f7j456455466j063/

  3. #3
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    this could go on for ever,I for 1 don't have the resorces to do the testing that the G has done (who does) but they have determined it to be better for heat and durability. so they spec it ,if they are willing to spend your tax dollars on it than that's good enough for me . the prime reason the folks who use 4140 is it is cheaper .the best always cost more .the folks who will settle for less tell you it is just as good ,I often wonder how much real life testing they have done to reach that conclusion .
    WHO ME ? ---- A government big enough to
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    strong enough to take everything
    you have.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by GONIF View Post
    the prime reason the folks who use 4140 is it is cheaper .the best always cost more .the folks who will settle for less tell you it is just as good ,I often wonder how much real life testing they have done to reach that conclusion .
    I've seen the "just as good" argument, and it seems overly simplified on both sides.

    My understanding on why 4150 is preferred over 4140 for military use is that, in simplified terms, it's better for long-term, hard usage. Less prone to fatigue and failure for burst fire and full-auto fire. If my understanding is reasonably correct, 4150 would be better in a military application, and "just as good" would not be "just as good."

    However, civilian usage is highly unlikely to push the performance envelope the way military usage does. I doubt even law enforcement usage would replicate day-in, day-out military usage. Thus, for civilian usage, you would find no differences in performance between 4150 v. 4140. So does that mean 4140 would be "just as good"? Not for me. For me, a civilian, 4140 would be better not in performance terms but in cost-benefit terms. If for my usage I have a choice between two types of barrel steel, and neither one offers me any measurable benefit over the other, the best choice is the least expensive of the two.

    As for real-life testing, I think that's basically been done by years and years of real-life usage in the civilian world. I have never yet found a single instance of a barrel failure in civilian usage that was attributable to using 4140 steel rather than 4150 steel.

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    So the" I think" test is your hall mark test ? maybe someone should tell Colt,Bushmaster,and LMT they are wasteing money . the big guys pay so little for the upgraded steel it is a non issue . some folks need ,want,deserve and get the best some don't. I for one a'm not going to tell anyone what is good enough for them ,I deserve the best and that ain't good enough . life is short why settle ? Cheap scotch will get you drunk just as fast as12 year old Single Malt will ,but it won't make you smile after each sip . I realy a'm not trying to bust you chops ,but best is best and for most of the things we buy it may be a moot point an AR is in fact a weapon you may some day have to bet your life on so get the real deal proven to be superior barrel .just MHO. YMMV
    WHO ME ? ---- A government big enough to
    give you everything you want, is
    strong enough to take everything
    you have.
    -- Thomas Jefferson

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by GONIF View Post
    So the" I think" test is your hall mark test ? maybe someone should tell Colt,Bushmaster,and LMT they are wasteing money . the big guys pay so little for the upgraded steel it is a non issue . some folks need ,want,deserve and get the best some don't. I for one a'm not going to tell anyone what is good enough for them ,I deserve the best and that ain't good enough . life is short why settle ? Cheap scotch will get you drunk just as fast as12 year old Single Malt will ,but it won't make you smile after each sip . I realy a'm not trying to bust you chops ,but best is best and for most of the things we buy it may be a moot point an AR is in fact a weapon you may some day have to bet your life on so get the real deal proven to be superior barrel .just MHO. YMMV
    So, in other words, you know nothing of the properties of different steels and why they are selected based on the intended use. You just do the .mil monkey-see monkey-do.

    At least Whytep38 has thought the question through using correct information. You may disagree with him, but at least put some thought into an answer that everyone is going to see.

  7. #7
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    Anyone remember seeing the chart of analyzed barrel steel parameters between some different barrels that Paul of BCM had?

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