I AM GOING TO DO UPDATES AT LEAST WEEKLY NOW THAT I AM FOCUSING ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY ON THE 22/45 PROJECT.
This week was the week I was hoping to complete a test tube but I had a rush order I had to get out for my one "job shop" type of customer. I wouldn't mind having more job shop customers, but right now pretty much everything I make is for my own products I sell. Once this job is done, I will get back to the 22/45 since people have been kind enough to express their enthusiasm for it, which really helps to keep me focused.
Anyway, the subject here is aluminum or steel for the receiver? Let me know what you all are thinking of for your material of choice. I think I have had one person tell me they were building with aluminum tube, and another told me steel. It would be great to get a larger sample size. For me, I am going to build mime with 7075 aluminum for a few reasons. The biggest reason is it's much easier to cut. On Thursday, I tried cutting one in steel DOM tubing, basically using hand hack saws and a hand scroll saw, and it was really hard and slow going. I decided that if you want to use steel, the best way to cut it is to cut it out in the jig with an electric jig saw, since the jig is immune to being damage by the blade. I will be trying that next and post the results here.
So what are the advantages and disadvantages to both materials? Obviously steel is heavier and more durable. The weight can be viewed as an plus or a minus, depending on your preferences. The durability, at least to me, is not much of an issue. After all, Ruger uses either 7075 or possibly 6061 aluminum for their "Lite" version. A quote from their website explains: " Receiver is made of aerospace-grade aluminum and is ventilated, making the pistol extremely light. "
Below it the Pac-Lite aluminum MK from their website: " Ruger® Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, and 22/45® series pistol. Crafted from a solid piece of aircraft aluminum, the Pac-Lite provides an ultra strong and lightweight experience. " Apparently these are made from 6061, I found this quote on an article about a build using the Pac-Lite: "His choice for the upper was the lightweight PacLite unit from Tactical Solutions. The barrel & receiver are made from Aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminum. The barrel is sleeved with a 4140 button rifled steel liner featuring an 11° target crown and is threaded for 1/2" x 28 tpi (an important feature for this build).
From what I have seen, "aircraft aluminum" traditionally has been 7075, but when people don't state the grade, I think it's 6061 in some cases. No matter, I will be selling the stronger 7075 tubing in anodized and plain. If you plan to build in aluminum, I would use the anodized tube even if you are going to Cerakote because I have found with my rail cutter cars, even type 2 ano is a very hard and durable surface, and it virtually eliminates galling.
Making a total guess, I would say I could make three aluminum receivers in the time I can make one out of steel, and since the tubes are going to cost maybe $10 at most, why not just make two or three and have some backups? Not that I think you would ever be wearing one out or breaking it, but spares are nice when they can be had so cheaply.
I was very impressed with the strength of my Sig frames made in 7075, with very thin cross sections, the material is pretty amazing.
So let me know in the comments below and if you can come up with some more pros and cons to add to the discussion.
I will be doing some posts shortly on sight choices, bolt options, barrel options, grip options, and more.