29 April 2017


Palmetto went with a cast steel bolt carrier instead of the preferred forging the Soviets pioneered decades ago.

The whole cast vs forged debate on guns goes way back.

Forged was a non-negotiable and essential process to achieve the strengths required with the steels of their day at one time.

For a given formulation, forged is stronger than a casting.

But like so many things, metallurgy did not stand still.

There are steel formulations where the casting is stronger than a forging of the same finished shape.

Forged or cast doesn't make a bit of difference if surface hardening is required and it was either not applied or it didn't take.

Having said all that, it's near impossible to find out if the casting material being used is a grade of steel that's as strong as the original's forging.

Small arms makers for the militaries of the world tend to be kind of cagey about revealing their proprietary secrets in metallurgy.  That leaves destructive testing to determine the mechanical properties of the material, even if it doesn't tell you much about its composition.

Since you're destroying a part anyways, you can use the fragments to figure out the composition too.

Then you're left with trial and error on processes to recreate that composition.

Another constant in firearms is to overbuild them.  There's more than a couple examples where a casting is sufficient, but a forging was used.  This wasn't for the mechanical properties of the materials it was because castings of that day were far more likely to be contaminated with small, strength robbing, inclusions.  Inclusions that become irrelevant to the needed strength once the same material is subjected to the forging process.

The state of the art with cast steel has gotten a lot better and has more quality controls than even 50 years ago.

Assuming the gun maker avails themselves of these new processes, you've nothing to worry about.

Forging is a process, not a goal.  Don't get hung up on how something is manufactured, ask instead after the properties of the finished part.

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