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1933 Model 21 catalog included the 115,000 psi tensile strength figure for "Winchester Proof Steel", and this



7.5 long tons = 16,800 psi + 10 - 14% for modern transducer number. 16,800 + 1,680 = 18,480 psi. Modern SAAMI proof load standard is about 19,000.
5 long tons = 11,200 psi + 10 - 14%

SGJ has a good point regarding the low concentration of nickel content - it was no doubt on purpose.
4340 has .7 - .9% Cr and 1.65 - 2% Ni
4330 .4 - .6% Cr and 1.0 - 1.5% Ni

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The figure of 115K PSI ultimate yield would seem to split the difference between 4130 and 4140 and makes sense.

Was this material then used as received from the mill without further heat treat?

That would seem to be the advantage over a simple steel like 1080 which would need a good (and costly) heat treat to achieve a high tensile strength.


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The same catalog states that the frames were heat treated "to a tensile strength over 90 tons per square inch. This is far better than the usual case hardened frame." 90 long tones = 201,600 psi (possibly a bit of marketing hyperbole!)
There is no mention of heat treating the barrels

Edwin Pugsley in a letter to F.W. Olin April 11, 1932
“Both (Model 21) frames were heat treated, then one was case hardened and the other blued. The case hardened frame had a tensile strength of 94,200 psi, an elastic limit of 85,400 psi, and elongation of 2%. The blued frame had a tensile strength of 174,600 psi, an elastic limit of 160,950 psi, (and) an elongation of 12%.”

By the late 1920s AISI 1040 was fairly standard for U.S. maker's double's barrels; including Crescent. Frames were 1020.

Resulfurized AISI 1137 (“gun barrel steel”) & 1144 low alloy carbon steels are commonly used for modern shotgun barrels and are easily machined. 1144 has an industrial standard tensile strength of 108,000. Neither would have the corrosion resistance of 4140.


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Could this just be that Winchester specified 4140, and this batch of steel happened to spec a tad off from book numbers? Isn’t the tensile strength of modern 4140 under a 100K? If the batch came in and someone at the factory did quality control performance checks, wouldn’t this alloy have passed. Would it have been worth Winchester’s time and resources to demand .05% less carbon and a pinch of nickel?

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Yes Craig. The industrial standard for non-heat treated 4140 is 95,000 - 100,000 psi.
I'm only guessing but assume Winchester got pretty close to what they requested; and all the literature/ads state "Chrome Molybdenum", not 4140.

Interesting reading. "Blast Furnace and Steel Plant", July 1921
https://books.google.com/books?id=1dwfAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA426&lpg

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Drew do you have any definitive reference on exactly when the AISI nomenclature actually began?

Best I can find is a vague 'early 1940's'.

Hatcher in 'The Book of the Garand' which was written in 1948 refers to 'WD' (War Department) specified steel number codes.

He states the barrels were 4150 Modified, early receivers 3115, early bolts 3312, with a standardization after 7-42 to 8620 for both receivers and bolts.

This is interesting because the M1 started production in 1937.

Winchester made half a million or so Garand rifles under contract so at that time they were working with 4150, or a version of it close to the commercial grade.

The war department found 4150 necessary for .30-06 barrels of the period, at least those used in semi-automatic rifles. It is still used today by various barrel makers.

I wonder what Winchester settled on for the magnum calibers in their sporting rifles.


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With the 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act the American Iron and Steel Institute began publishing “Steel Products Manuals” with the “Steel Code Tables”. The Society of Automotive Engineers also published a “SAE Handbook” with a similar numbering system, and in the early 40s the tables became the SAE-AISI Code Designations.

I've got a little about vintage rifle barrels starting on p. 35 here
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dnRLZgcuHfx7uFOHvHCUGnGFiLiset-DTTEK8OtPYVA/edit

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Originally Posted By: Drew Hause
The same catalog states that the frames were heat treated "to a tensile strength over 90 tons per square inch. This is far better than the usual case hardened frame." 90 long tones = 201,600 psi (possibly a bit of marketing hyperbole!)
There is no mention of heat treating the barrels

Edwin Pugsley in a letter to F.W. Olin April 11, 1932
“Both (Model 21) frames were heat treated, then one was case hardened and the other blued. The case hardened frame had a tensile strength of 94,200 psi, an elastic limit of 85,400 psi, and elongation of 2%. The blued frame had a tensile strength of 174,600 psi, an elastic limit of 160,950 psi, (and) an elongation of 12%.”

By the late 1920s AISI 1040 was fairly standard for U.S. maker's double's barrels; including Crescent. Frames were 1020.

Resulfurized AISI 1137 (“gun barrel steel”) & 1144 low alloy carbon steels are commonly used for modern shotgun barrels and are easily machined. 1144 has an industrial standard tensile strength of 108,000. Neither would have the corrosion resistance of 4140.



Up front, I will state I know little of the science of steel, steel types, alloys, ect.
But I do find most of this thread interesting anyway.
As an engraver that has cut many Mod 21 and Mod 70's I can add this if it means anything.

The Winchester (original) 21 frames are (heat treated) so that they were as tough as most anything you would care to cut with a hammer and chisel.
They file, drill, and mill cut with little noticable difference from other steels that you run up against.
But attack it with a chisel,,and it will easily break the points with regularity over and over again.
Resharpening sometimes every minute is not uncommon.

Use of carbide gravers helps immensely, but even then they get battered and shatter the point as well. A carbide point is a bit different in the way it breaks as it can still leave you with a raggedy sharp surface. So sometimes the engraver just keeps going, but it shows.

Use of an air-assist engraving tool further prolongs the point life in the cutting of the frame alloy. The ability to adj to a much lighter 'strike' but yet rapid rate can make the work at least progress at a seemingly acceptable pace.

The toughness of some of the frames was so tough that when trying to do inlay work, the slender inlay punches would just turn over when struck. When reshaped to a stronger angle, the frame alloy wouldn't play along. Instead of under cutting by the punch, the alloy would chip off those thin edges.
Frustrating.

The trigger plate on the M21 I'm told (I don't know for a fact) is of the same alloy as the frame.
That trigger plate is as soft to cut as CRS.
Absolutely no problem in working on that part.

But the frame, toplever, forend iron,,all fight you all the way to the end.
...and they are not consistent in their toughness. Some are tougher than others and some quite noticably easier to cut.
M21 bbls are tougher than most other mfgrs bbl material. Not anywhere near what the frame is, but not as soft as the trigger plate of the 21. Nor as soft as say a set of Fox or Parker Bbls.

The M70,,the recv'r is as hard or nearly so as most M21's in the front recv'r ring back to about 1/4 to 1/2" beyond the ring itself. Then it gets noticably easier to cut.
Spot/area hardened?
Even the WP proof mark stamped in that area is usually weak on that harder surface than the one on the bbl right next to it.

...and FWIW, the M42 frame is a little tougher than the M12 as far as how it feels when you engrave it with hammer and chisel.
The Magnum rec'vr of the M61 is also that way when compared to the M61 s,l,lr. Not a big difference in each,,but noticable.
I'm guessing the same alloys used and just different HT,,but as I started out,,I'd just be guessing.

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Thanks Drew.

Hatcher has a slightly different spec for 8620.

He claims, for WD 8620:

C .18% to .25%
Mn .70% to 1.00%
Ni .20% to .40%
Cr .20% to .40%
Mo .15% to .25%
S .07% max
P Not over .04%

I knew that that with the advent of smokeless powder rifle barrels had to be toughened up to resist erosion.

So, in 1931 Winchester couldn't just ring up Midvale or Crucible and say 'send us a car of 4135', right? That would have come maybe as much as a decade later?


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Thank you Kutter

I suspect the metallurgists and chemists at Winchester specified exactly what they wanted, and got pretty close to it. This was pre-Optical Emission Spectroscopy wink
It would be very interesting to find purchase orders or invoices from the introduction of Nickel Steel (and esp. for the short lived M12 Stainless Steel) to the 1960s to find out.

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