Compact Carry Frame; Steel vs Aluminum

Discussion in 'Beginner's Corner' started by SteveT, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. SteveT

    SteveT Member

    Feb 22, 2019
    Hi guys,

    This subject has been beat to death, I'm sure, but I'm going to ask anyway. Delete the post if you want. LOL.

    I'm trying to decide on a couple of things. Frame material and rail. I'm looking at 3 different guns, Wilson X-Tac Elite, Protector, and Ultralight Carry. All in Compact models, all in .45. I have others in 9mm, so this one will be .45. I have zero experience in .38 Super. I do reload, so maybe I could be convinced to get one.

    Major differences between them are frame material and the rail on the Protector.

    The gun will be a carry gun, not a range toy.

    Does the steel frame of the compact model lower recoil enough that it should be considered when purchasing the gun? If I ever have to use it, God forbid, I doubt I will notice the recoil, but is it enough to make me not want to take it to the range and shoot it? I plan on carrying it OWB on a good belt, so the 10oz in weight I don't think I'm considering in this decision.

    Do you need a rail on a carry gun? This will not be a nightstand gun. But I always think of gear like better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it. Is it something you would get even if you don't plan on using it right at this moment?

    So those are my two questions. Give me some opinions and experience on what you guys think on decision making?

  2. AZ Husker

    AZ Husker Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Oct 14, 2017
    The rail will greatly decrease your holster options. I prefer steel, probably just because that's what I've always had. The weight is not a carry issue for me. But it does make a difference in recoil.
    Old Sea Dragon, gps man and BigJimP like this.

  3. SteveT

    SteveT Member

    Feb 22, 2019
    Yeah, I get the holster options will be diminished, but how many do I really need? Surely someone out there makes a fine one that will work.

    The only real concern about recoil is I don't want it to dissuade me from wanting to take it to the range to shoot it.
  4. azguy1911

    azguy1911 I'm done buying guns, I'm just a bystander now

    Oct 22, 2015
    an aluminum frame makes a huge difference in recoil and follow up shots on 9mm and 38 super -- I can't even imagine in .45 ACP :eek: in my experience substantial practice and range time is needed to get follow up shots into acceptable groups, IMHO
  5. Scary Poppins

    Scary Poppins Active Member

    Feb 28, 2012
    I've had no issues with my aluminium or scandium frames. I don't feel they increase recoil at all - or not any noticeable amount. The 10oz savings doesn't seem like much until you carry it for a while. It's worth the trade off in my opinion.

    I add night sights to anything I carry. I don't feel the need to carry around a gun light. If it's so dark that you cant see your hand in front of your face, and you NEED to present, shining a bright @$$ light is going to draw attention before you pull the trigger. Also - what reason would you have to pull a gun if it's so dark that you cannot see. Also in that scenario - if someone else is shooting first - you should be able to see them but they can't see you. Add some night sights and call it a day.
    blamo likes this.
  6. BigJimP

    BigJimP Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2018
    I'm set in my ways ...and I don't want or need a rail on a gun ...light in your off hand makes more sense than on the gun in my view. Instead of Protector with rail ...go to CQB & spec it the same & it becomes a non-rail protector.

    At 6'5" and 290, even at 70 yrs old -- 10oz to me, is no issue / and in general alloy frames show a lot more wear than steel & excessive wear just because its alloy irritates me. ( I have a 4" alloy frame Kimber, I use for training grandkids -- and it shows a lot of wear)...while I thought I might carry it because of weight, I quickly realized its shootability was not nearly the same as a gun in 5" its relegated to training kids only. Go stainless or armor tuff on steel...and you'll be happier - on whatever barrel length you like, in my view.

    Do I notice 10oz in terms of recoil - yes. Would it make it more shootable if its heavier - yes. Its the reason I carry a stainless 5" gun -- an old Protector ( no rail ) 9mm for last 3 yrs .../ and for the 15 yrs before that I carried a 5" CQB in .45acp...
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2019
  7. SteveT

    SteveT Member

    Feb 22, 2019
    BigJimP, if I were going to get a steel frame compact, then I'd probably just go with the X-Tac Elite and call it good.

    I'll have to build one from like you say a CQB and see how it comes out.

    Thanks for the input everyone!
  8. InstiGator

    InstiGator Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2019
    I carry an all-steel Wilson compact because I like the heft of it in my hand. A steel slide over a lightweight frame just feels top-heavy to me since a steel frame is what I'm used to. The weight doesn't bother me when carrying.

    I don't feel the need for a rail on a carry gun, personally, but I can see why others might disagree.
    River Rat and razorbacker like this.
  9. Yellowsupersport

    Yellowsupersport Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2015
    I’ll be the odd one out when it comes to rails - bad things generally happen when the sun goes down, so IMHO all carry weapons should have a light attached. I don’t have the skills / training to do the “gun in one hand, light in the other” technique, so I stay within my limitations and go with the light on rails. I’ve also not had issues getting holsters for this combination (OWB or IWB).

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  10. SteveT

    SteveT Member

    Feb 22, 2019
    There he is! I knew someone would say it! Thanks YellowSS! LOL!

    Who else carries a gun w/ a light?
  11. SteveT

    SteveT Member

    Feb 22, 2019
    Thank you for that insight. I don't think durability was in question. I have no illusions about that, like you said, there can be none when it's so obvious.

    At this point, I'm leaning towards a steel frame gun, because why not?
  12. joepilot

    joepilot So soon old, so late smart... Supporting Addict

    May 17, 2015
    All my carry pistols are aluminum frame. Less weight is a plus in my book. I spend a lot more time carrying the pistol than shooting it, and I've not worn out an aluminum frame yet. I'm sure if you shoot them enough the difference will finally become apparent. But not in my lifetime the way I use my pistols.

    I have one 1911 with a rail on it. It is my "nightstand" pistol and has a light mounted on it for that purpose. It happens to be an aluminum frame pistol as well, but I don't consider it a "carry" piece. My carry pistols are all without rails.

    Just one man's opinion of course. Your mileage may vary and all that. But you asked, so.... :)
  13. SteveT

    SteveT Member

    Feb 22, 2019
    Thanks Joepilot. Do you think if your carry gun was 10oz heavier, it would make a difference with you carrying it every day? Would you think to yourself, man, that things heavy, maybe I won't carry it today. Would it get to that point?
  14. Busa Dave

    Busa Dave Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2018
    My .02 on the matter. If you do go with aluminum look into a special request on your build as it 100% makes a difference in durability of the finish on the frame. I am military aerospace 33 years and have quite a bit of experience in this area. Request that the frame be sent out to a "approved" supplier that actually does the MIL-A-8625(latest version), Type III, Class 2 black, 2.0 mil coating thickness process. It will cost more.

    I have had it done on my builds and do the research and you will find that "military type" or "Hard Anodizing" is not the same in not even close in most cases. When done to the Mil Std it is pretty f--ing tough!

    My .02.
  15. Razer

    Razer On The Razers Edge Staff Member Admin Moderator Supporting Addict

    Jul 1, 2012
    IMO, dump the rail and go with the aluminum. The ounces you save make carrying much more comfortable.
  16. walleyemonster

    walleyemonster Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2017
    My .45 full size steel gun is my 80% carry gun. My 9mm full size steel is my 60/40% range gun, mixed with my all steel .45.
    My .45 Compact is aluminum and a carry gun as well. It get shot just enough to know it works 100%. My 9mm Commander is aluminum framed, and is treated the same way. Shot enough to know it works.
    When all said and done I prefer the steel full size when I can carry it covered well. The alloy framed guns are for t-shirt weather or a shoulder holster.
  17. Karsten

    Karsten Well-Known Member

    Feb 19, 2013
    I have a S&W Pro Series with a Scandiun frame( Subcompact), Colt New Agent with Alloy frame and a SA LWT Compact (Commander) and none of them bother me at the range and I am still shooting up may old IPSC loads that made Major Plus Power Factor.

    I know none of then are in the same class as the WC.

    And I agree the rail is going to be a burden on a carry pistol foe both holster and carry method. Get a flash light and practice holding it while shooting......Hopefully you wont need to reload or something will have to go.

    Fun match years ago we got to shoot indoors and someone brought a Red/Blue light bar...Walked into a dark room with the lights out, light bar went on as the buzzer went off and you had to find the targets from 2 shooting positions with the lights at your back.

    Busa Dave likes this.
  18. SteveT

    SteveT Member

    Feb 22, 2019
    I live in Phoenix. It's ALWAYS t-shirt/shorts weather here. LOL!
    Teufelhunde, blamo and walleyemonster like this.
  19. AZ Husker

    AZ Husker Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Oct 14, 2017
    I'm sitting on the deck in Phoenix right now in shorts and a t-shirt with an all steel .45 commander in a Sparks Criterion holster right now. I've been doing this for so many years I don't even know it's there.
    gps man, william adams and blamo like this.
  20. joepilot

    joepilot So soon old, so late smart... Supporting Addict

    May 17, 2015
    I suppose it's all in what you get used to. For me, my old back doesn't like to carry ANY weight anymore, so every little bit helps. I like the way they shoot, and I like the way they feel, so I'll stick to my lightweight frame pistols. My back appreciates it! :)

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