Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Colt receiver extensions / buffer tubes: forged / impact extruded and rolled threads

  1. #1
    Old man yelling at cloud OlongJohnson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    "carbine-infested rural (and suburban) areas"

    Colt receiver extensions / buffer tubes: forged / impact extruded and rolled threads

    Got started down this path in the 20-in. AR rifle thread, but it has carbine content, too, so I pulled it out into its own topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by OlongJohnson View Post
    Trying to make sure I know what someone should know about A1/A2 receiver extensions / buffer tubes for rifles.

    I've seen comments elsewhere that mil-spec for rifle receiver extensions is 7075 with rolled threads.

    Obviously, 7075 is going to be stronger (~2x) than 6061, so I'd rule out 6061.

    Not everyone understands this, but I'm enough of a fastener geek to know that rolled threads versus cut threads is actually a yuuuge deal. If TDP specifies rolled threads, then presumably a Colt tube has them. And the aftermarket being what it is, it's extremely unlikely any other manufacturer is bothering. Which would mean no other part really comes close.

    It's been years since I looked at @rob_s' list; I don't remember it dealing with rifle stuff, but I was focused on carbines at the time.

    TLDR: If I want the best rifle-style receiver extension, I just buy a Colt tube and roll on, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by HeavyDuty View Post
    Oh, God - receiver extension thread cork sniffing...

    (Ducks)
    Quote Originally Posted by OlongJohnson View Post
    No, this is about screwing to win.
    Quote Originally Posted by OlongJohnson View Post
    Waiting for lunch to heat up, I dug through my desktop machine and found all the "chart" info I saved back in the day. (I was late to the game and only have the discussion of criteria post-2012, plus a screencap I found somewhere of an uknown version of what I assume was the actual chart.) It is only M4 specific, so no breakdown of rifle vs. carbine. For buffer tubes, it discusses only diameter. Nothing about materials or manufacturing processes.
    It turns out there's more to "mil spec" receiver extensions than diameter, but it's damned difficult to actually find detailed information. I did my deep dive on this topic back in November, when I was shopping parts for a rifle build and saw a comment on Brownell's asking if their rifle extension had rolled threads. The answer was no, but I had to pull that thread and destroy the sweater.

    It's easy enough to find that a "commercial" tube is expected to have a larger diameter, basically the major diameter of the thread form so the threads could be cut into it from the larger diameter, be made of a 6061 extrusion, and have the end be a piece of plate welded on.

    The commonly available information will tell you that a "mil spec" tube is made of 7075 and has a smaller diameter. Most discussions stop there, because that's what you need to know to buy the right butt stock for whatever tube you have. But dig long enough, and you'll find some discussion of forged or impact extruded. Dig longer, and you might find something about rolled threads.

    Most sources advertising mil spec tubes are machining them from 7075 bar stock. A few places advertise them as forged, but they are still machining or cutting the threads into them.

    Along the way, I contacted BCM and was told that the threads on all their receiver extensions are cut. Searching the web, I found discussion from 5-10 years ago that named several companies offering receiver extensions with 7075 and possibly rolled threads. The only manufacturer that appears to still be a source of receiver extensions with rolled threads is Colt.

    I'm not going to get into the whole forged vs. cast debate. That's covered ad nauseum elsewhere. In some places, you may read pedantic know-it-alls saying the TDP receiver extensions are impact extruded, not forged. That's nonsense, as impact extrusion is nothing but a particular forging process. This video shows a part similar in form to a receiver extension blank being impact extruded. Note that this process not only delivers superior material properties, it's a heck of a lot faster way to get a closed-end tube than drilling the middle out of a piece of bar stock.



    The reason it's not commonly done is that the equipment is massively expensive; even tooling for processes like this is extraordinarily expensive. Anyone not supplying receiver extensions for .mil-size contracts will never make back the capital expenditure. It's much cheaper to just run the equipment you already have for a little longer and drill the hole. But a fully-machined RE starts as a piece of bar stock, which is an extrusion. The bar stock starts and ends with the same material properties the forging blank has before it's forged. The forged part ends up with refined grain and greater overall strength, at least for equivalent dimensions and alloys.

    The other part of the discussion above is the rolled threads. If you really want to get into it, follow the "screwing to win" link in the quoted posts above.

    This short video illustrates the basic concept of rolled vs. cut threads very effectively.



    It should be obvious that the threads are the most highly-stressed location on a carbine receiver extension; the tube has the most leverage against that point in bending, and the tension of the castle nut against the receiver end plate is not insignificant. Anything that can be done to strengthen the threaded region is likely to be beneficial in overall robustness of the extension.

    So I ordered a Colt rifle receiver extension and a Colt six-position carbine receiver extension from Specialized Armament. Received them today.

    At the bottom of the rifle extension, on the inside, I can see the radial outward flow of the aluminum grain. I haven't found any other supplier advertising forged rifle REs.

    The carbine extension has more thorough coverage of dry lube so no grain is visible. However, the slot for the receiver end plate tang cuts through the threads, and thus provides a cross-section of the material near the thread roots. It's actually possible to see the difference in material where it's denser adjacent to the thread form than it is directly under the peak. Shows up as a difference in the appearance of the anodizing when you get the angle of the light just right.

    I thought it was pretty cool that I can actually see the evidence of these manufacturing processes and the resulting material properties in the parts.

    At least for this one part, I'm not aware of any aftermarket supplier claiming to make a piece with the "Original Recicpe" features that I am able to verify are in the Colt parts. FN presumably does on its .mil contracts, but nobody seems to know on its civilian issue rifles, and anyway I haven't seen any FN REs for sale as stand-alone parts in the market.

    I'm probably going to stick with Colt parts for future receiver extension purchases, as I believe them to be significantly better than any available alternative.
    Last edited by OlongJohnson; 01-13-2020 at 08:53 PM.
    .
    -----------------------------------------
    Not another dime.

  2. #2
    Good info. I learned something new today. Thanks!

  3. #3
    Site Supporter CCT125US's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Lane 7, behind the gun.
    That's what keeps me coming back, good stuff!
    SWYNTS

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by OlongJohnson View Post
    I'm probably going to stick with Colt parts for future receiver extension purchases, as I believe them to be significantly better than any available alternative.
    FWIW, V7 claims that their carbine receiver extension are "cold rolled forge", so they might be meeting the forging and thread rolling criteria. They also have two more exotic receiver extensions, one made from 416 SS, the other from 2055 (not sure what temper they've chosen), both of which are going to be stronger than 7075-T6, though I would take a SWAG and say that they use cut threads and not rolled on those.

  5. #5
    Old man yelling at cloud OlongJohnson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    "carbine-infested rural (and suburban) areas"
    "COLD ROLLED FORGED"

    Those words don't normally go together like that, so they'll need to provide more detail for me to begin to think I have any idea what physical processes they're describing. Since I've never heard of the company before, I'll have some discretion and say not more.
    .
    -----------------------------------------
    Not another dime.

  6. #6
    Site Supporter rob_s's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    SE FL
    FWIW, at one time I was compiling a TON of minutiae on many of the very fine details of the M4, digging far deeper into the specifications. I never published any of it, and frankly don’t know if I could even find it now. I was delving into a lot of the *why* for things like particular tool steels, and details like cut vs rolled threads were definitely in there.

    At this point I just remember that rolled were better, not exactly why.

    Of course, I also recall that most of the reason I gave up on all that was that most of it really doesn’t matter to anyone other than those chasing the minutiae. It that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s an awfully tiny market segment.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by OlongJohnson View Post
    "COLD ROLLED FORGED"

    Those words don't normally go together like that, so they'll need to provide more detail for me to begin to think I have any idea what physical processes they're describing. Since I've never heard of the company before, I'll have some discretion and say not more.
    FWIW, V7 was founded by one of the guys behind Noveske, or so the story goes. They are interesting to me since they are the only source of 2055/2099 parts, and also do a lot of Ti parts; one would think that the history and higher end market they serve, it would be safe to assume that it's just poor wording rather than active misleading, but, well, that's just an assumption.

User Tag List

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •