You wish to learn more about how we make our parts, which procedures and techniques we apply and what some of the technical nomenclature means? Then you’ve come to the right place! While we can’t spill the beans we try to provide as much information as we can.
RS Armament slides and barrel are made from select alloy steels which are widely used for high-performance parts in challenging industries like aviation, space and motor sports. Decades of experience and research provide engineers with knowledge about every detail of such an alloy’s mechanical properties. More than a century ago, the RMS Titanic sank as a result of – most likely – the use of unsuited steel which lost it’s strength in the stingingly cold ice water. Brittle is not among the things we wan’t our slides to be during the winter, which is why we pay particular attention to every detail of each mechanical property of an alloy.
The first step in manufacturing our slides and barrels is a heat-treating process to ensure a consistently fine grain structure within the steel. By heat treating prior to machining we eliminate any warpage that would occur otherwise. A heat treat furnace is used to put the raw stock through a controlled temperature curve. After a certain temperature hold time, the red-hot glowing chunks of steel are quenched in oil. The last step is an annealing process to eliminate the shattering glass-like hardness and gain all the strength in return. Heat treating alters the mechanical properties to precisely what we want them to be. To rule out any errors that may have occured each lot is tested for hardness, notched-bar impact work, ultimate strain, ultimate tensile strength and many other properties.
Every barrel making process starts with drilling a hole trough the entire length of a piece of raw stock. The material is put in a purpose-built drilling machine and rotates around its soon-to-be bore-axis. A uniquely shaped single-edged carbide drill bit is coaxially driven into the workpiece and cuts a straight hole from one end to the other. Coolant is pumped through the hollow shaft of the tool at high pressure to flush out the chips and protect the drill from getting stuck and snapping off. Once drilling is completed, a follow-up process called reaming enhances the roundness and surface quality of the bore.
Cold Hammer Forging
Did you ever wonder how they put the rifling in a barrel?
There are three widely used methods to rifle a pre-drilled barrel blank: cut rifling, button rifling and cold hammer forging. Among the three, cold hammer forging is the most advanced method. A carbide tool with a negative of the rifling precision-ground into its circumference (called a mandrel) is placed in the center of the bore. The machine then proceeds to hammering the steel onto the mandrel from the outside which forms the lands and the grooves. This cold forming further strengthens the steel and leaves a mirror-like finish without any scratches.
After heat treating, our slide blanks are loaded into a German 5-axis CNC milling center. A robot picks up a blank and places it into a hydraulic vise within the actual machining area. Using an electronic 3-D probe, the machine then measures the exact location and size of the raw material to ensure it is of correct size and has been properly positioned. A series of different roughing cutters are then used to hog out the bulk of the material followed by finishing cutters which cut the part to its final dimensions and leave a silky smooth finish. Approximately 25 different tools are used in the production of a slide.
After machining has been completed, our slides and barrels undergo a specialized nitride treatment process to harden their surface while retaining the strength. Nitriding has seen wide-spread use in various industries for making tough and wear-resistant parts like gears and camshafts. Compared to case hardening, nitriding has many advantages such as forming a uniform and consistent hardening depth. During the process, nitrogen molecules diffuse into the surface of the part and form a thin layer of various nitrides by reacting with the steels iron and alloy elements. Given the quality of the materials we use, we could spare the whole nitriding process and still have a great product – but we don’t. We do it right.