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  #1  
Old 02-01-2020, 04:15 PM
Bantry Bantry is offline
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Experiences with aluminum frames?

The addiction continues as I am planning another 1911 build from an 80% frame. Will it ever end???

I have always used steel 80% frames but am interested in trying one from aluminum.

While milling aluminum is much easier than steel, I'm concerned that a steel slide will wear out an aluminum frame pretty fast.

Am I worrying needlessly? Do any of you have issues with aluminum frames?

Thanks for your inputs and thoughts.
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  #2  
Old 02-01-2020, 04:29 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is online now
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My aluminum factory guns are holding up well. SA based MixMaster A is an IDPA match gun, so it has been shot a lot.

Will you anodize your frame?
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  #3  
Old 02-01-2020, 05:00 PM
AlchemyCustom AlchemyCustom is online now
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Definitely if you anodize your frame you will be very happy with it's durability. Choose a lesser "coating" and disappointment will follow.
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  #4  
Old 02-01-2020, 05:14 PM
Shorikid Shorikid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlchemyCustom View Post
Definitely if you anodize your frame you will be very happy with it's durability. Choose a lesser "coating" and disappointment will follow.
Absolutely a must.

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  #5  
Old 02-01-2020, 05:22 PM
Steve in Allentown Steve in Allentown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlchemyCustom View Post
Definitely if you anodize your frame you will be very happy with it's durability. Choose a lesser "coating" and disappointment will follow.
Take Rob's advice. As one of the premier 1911 'smiths in the country he is an authority in such things.

You might consider fitting an EGW steel feed ramp insert while you're building your new pistol. You'll never have to worry about dinging it up.

The biggest trick to anodizing is finding a shop that will guarantee a perfect anodizing job.
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  #6  
Old 02-01-2020, 06:11 PM
Bantry Bantry is offline
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Actually, I was thinking of having it (and the slide) brush chromed by Colgan Custom. https://apwcogan.com/

I have 1911's blued by them that came out absolutely beautiful.

Will Chrome do as well as anodizing?

Thanks for the info!!
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  #7  
Old 02-01-2020, 06:15 PM
DarkLord DarkLord is offline
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Aluminum frame guns are great. Yeah, if you have a steel slide on an un-treated aluminum frame, you have a problem. But type III Anodizing is harder than any slide, so while the color will often wear off on an aluminum (or steel) frame, the hardened anodizing remains, and its usually the slide that ends up on the losing end...and by losing end, I mean...not really losing much at all.
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  #8  
Old 02-01-2020, 06:24 PM
Steve in Allentown Steve in Allentown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bantry View Post
Actually, I was thinking of having it (and the slide) brush chromed by Cogan Custom.
Chrome is normally applied over a nickel layer IIRC because it doesn't stick very well to bare aluminum. Chrome is definitely hard but it's also very thin whereas anodizing is thicker. Unfortunately, I have no first hand experience with a chromed aluminum frame so cannot speak authoritatively as to whether it's as tough as or tougher than anodizing.
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  #9  
Old 02-01-2020, 06:32 PM
DarkLord DarkLord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve in Allentown View Post
Chrome is normally applied over a nickel layer IIRC because it doesn't stick very well to bare aluminum. Chrome is definitely hard but it's also very thin whereas anodizing is thicker. Unfortunately, I have no first hand experience with a chromed aluminum frame so cannot speak authoritatively as to whether it's as tough as or tougher than anodizing.
My experience with hard chrome on Aluminum has been very good. Hard chrome is IMO a VERY good finish. The last hard chrome pistol I carried went 10 years and the gun looked as good at the end as it did the first day I holstered it.
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  #10  
Old 02-01-2020, 08:06 PM
Bantry Bantry is offline
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I have put in a question to Cogan Custom about chrome on an aluminum frame. They are experts at this and I will follow their advice, and pass on to all.

Thanks for the inputs from all you guys who are so smart about this kind of thing.
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  #11  
Old 02-01-2020, 08:19 PM
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A buddy of mine had an aluminum-framed Commander chromed, and it peeled in a couple of places.
He sent it back for a do-over, but don't know how that turned out.
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  #12  
Old 02-01-2020, 09:22 PM
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My experience with aluminum frames:

Federal Ordnance - bad.

Caspian - Awesome.

Beyond that, I haven't tried it and I don't know.
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  #13  
Old 02-01-2020, 09:44 PM
Shorikid Shorikid is offline
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Nighthawk anodized my JEM frame, and it is an excellent, dark, and even finish.

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  #14  
Old 02-01-2020, 09:55 PM
frogfurr frogfurr is offline
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Aluminum framed Kimber Pro ll 15k+ and still accurate.

CZ PCR #1 aluminum framed (I have two PCR's) 5k+ and still accurate.

CZ PCR #2 1.5K+ and still accurate.

Aluminum framed guns have worked out very well for me.
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  #15  
Old 02-01-2020, 10:33 PM
gts350 gts350 is offline
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The key is keep it lubricated.

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  #16  
Old 02-02-2020, 04:51 AM
Viper_29 Viper_29 is offline
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Who are the shops that we can send frames out for anodozing? I had to replace an ejector and blending that in means it needs refinished.
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  #17  
Old 02-02-2020, 07:08 AM
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Johnny handgun Johnny handgun is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viper_29 View Post
Who are the shops that we can send frames out for anodozing? I had to replace an ejector and blending that in means it needs refinished.
I have had great experiences with APW too, as mentioned above
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  #18  
Old 02-02-2020, 08:22 AM
beemer606 beemer606 is offline
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I built one with an aluminum frame and have not put any coating other than oil. I've put hundreds of rounds through this gun and no issues so far. Should I expect trouble when? After thousands of rounds? The slide is still tight on the frame as far as I can tell. The gun is just used for casual target shooting.
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  #19  
Old 02-02-2020, 09:11 AM
Descartian Descartian is offline
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I will let Rob chime in but I think you’ll have to anodize the frame first to harden the metal then you can hard chrome. I love hard chrome and I have a satin chromed gun that Coogan did. Beautiful application.
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  #20  
Old 02-02-2020, 09:20 AM
Steve in Allentown Steve in Allentown is offline
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beemer606, how many of those hundreds of rounds have been factory jacketed hollow points?

If you shoot mild reloads using swaged lead bullets and lots of lube on the rails, you probably won't out live the pistol. But, aluminum is a comparatively soft material and will wear much faster than the steel slide that bears against it.

Anodizing is not a coating. It changes the microscopic texture of the surface and the crystal structure of the metal near the surface. It actually forms a hard layer that is bonded to the aluminum. Type III anodizing is tough stuff.

Hard chrome is a coating but is very hard.

Painting over aluminum with something like Cerakote is just a cosmetic coating that is not nearly as abrasion resistant as anodizing or chrome.
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  #21  
Old 02-02-2020, 09:37 AM
beemer606 beemer606 is offline
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I'm going To look into anodizing. Hopefully I can find a local place to do it. Any idea of what this should cost? Also how do these places feel about anodizing a gun or rather a gun frame, especially one with no serial number? I mostly shoot plated mild reloads, no cast lead.

Last edited by beemer606; 02-02-2020 at 09:39 AM. Reason: Added info
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  #22  
Old 02-02-2020, 10:28 AM
Steve in Allentown Steve in Allentown is offline
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Originally Posted by beemer606 View Post
I'm going To look into anodizing. Hopefully I can find a local place to do it. Also how do these places feel about anodizing a gun frame with no serial number?
No serial number? 80% build I assume. All you can do is ask them if they'd have any heartburn working on it.

Anodizing is tricky stuff in as much as the correct amount of time the frame is left in the anodizing bath is dependent on the kind of aluminum. If it's left in the bath too long, the aluminum can be eaten though. If it's not in long enough, the anodized layer may not be thick enough. You need to know exactly what kind of aluminum was used to make the frame and pass that information along to the anodizer.

Honestly, I wouldn't use a local shop to this kind of work unless they have tons of experience doing firearm work. I'd call Nighthawk and ask them about the serial number and the cost. If they decline then I'd ask them who they'd recommend.

The professional 'smiths who post here undoubtedly have shops they work with to do anodizing. Perhaps they'll weigh in with some recommendations. However, I'd expect to have to send your frame to them and let them prep your frame and handle the coordination with whatever anodizing shop they use.
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  #23  
Old 02-02-2020, 04:02 PM
Jolly Rogers Jolly Rogers is offline
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Just a warning that some companies that do metal work or surface treatments on guns won’t do a gun with out a serial number. If they will touch such work on guns they must have a FFL.
The regs for conducting business as such require a bound book and a log entry to hold the gun overnight. I presume that a log entry without a serial will draw BATFE attention.
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  #24  
Old 02-02-2020, 09:40 PM
BBBBill BBBBill is online now
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So add the manufacturer's name (you), location, and a serial number...
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  #25  
Old 02-02-2020, 09:58 PM
beemer606 beemer606 is offline
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Yes 80% build. Was also thinking about adding a serial number but I'd have to send it out for that too. I would want it to look neat and not some chicken scratching done with one of those vibrating pens.
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