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What should I look for in an aftermarket slide?

Posted by Chris @ Norsso on Jan 22nd 2019

Not all slides are created equal. Fortunately, we can help you look for important features when shopping for an aftermarket slide.

The material used when manufacturing a slide is of utmost importance and plays a significant role in slide longevity.

You will see two common materials, 17-4 stainless steel and 416 stainless steel. Which one is better suited for a pistol slide?

The answer is 17-4. 

When hardened, 17-4 has better mechanical properties than 416 across the board, including its overall strength, but one crucial property stands out, its resilience. The measurement of resilience in a material is its ability to absorb energy.

Fun fact: 17-4 has more than 4 times the resilience of 416.

This means that 17-4 is 4 times more resistant to cracking than 416. Are these numbers meaningful for a slide? Absolutely. A slide is subjected to impact forces especially from the firing pin on the breech face and the barrel hood lock up.

There exist a significant number of cases showing cracks on the breech face and barrel hood lock up of slides made with 416 stainless. Such occurrences have not been reported with 17-4 stainless.

We personally experienced a total failure after shooting as little as 500 rounds through a 416 stainless slide, when the barrel hood lockup cracked and took the barrel with it. 

This was an eye opener and confirmed the superiority of 17-4, with which we have as many as 30,000 rounds through one slide with no reported failures and signs of cracking.

Perhaps a less crucial but significant metric is the cost of 416 vs 17-4, which is 15-20% cheaper on average. This might be of consideration when making your final decision.