This is NOT a debate by any means. However, more of a pros and cons list. I get asked this almost daily by my customers who visit me at my store, so I came up with this list.
Metal Frame Pros:
- Especially if you’re a primary reload shooter, you won’t have as much worry about loading the rounds too light accidentally, metal frames are much more forgiving here. Where my polymer guns failed to cycle reloads, my metal guns ate it up.
- This is also good for shooters who suffer with moderate to severe tendonitis of the wrists or arthritis (or anything else along those lines) as these shooters don’t always have the strongest grip. Again, a metal frame is more forgiving than a polymer frame if you shoot with a lighter grip.
- Resistant to warping since the heat has a way to exit the material
- Lower muzzle rise due to it’s weight
- Fast, accurate follow up shots
Metal Frame Cons:
- Weight. In a full size I can see why this doesn’t matter, but if you plan on conceal-carrying a metal framed pistol this could be a problem.
- HOT HOT HOT!! Those frames can get piping hot! I am a no-glove shooter and have lots of metal framed guns, my support thumb usually gets a good singe if I don’t allow for proper cool-down times after tons of rounds down range, or if I still refuse to wear gloves.
- Another thing to consider if you’re an outdoor shooter living in a hot climate – don’t leave the gun lying in direct sunlight, you’ll get a nice boiling surprise when you go to pick it up again!
- Rust/Maintenance. With a nice, smooth finish comes the scratches and loss of finish. And let’s not forget our people in the humid climates – rust.
Polymer Frame Pros:
- Lightweight, best for conceal-carrying on a daily basis
- Reduces felt-recoil. Shoot a 9mm steel frame, then shoot a 9mm polymer frame right after and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
- Immunity to rust/lower maintenance. Not much preventive upkeep involved, other than the usual cleanings and oiling of course, also a big plus for conceal-carrying since it won’t show as much wear and tear.
Polymer Frame Cons:
- Muzzle-flip. There’s not much weight to help keep the muzzle down
- Over time, warping can occur due to the heat either from the environment itself or throughout it’s life of use at the range.
- Not friendly with light-grip shooters. This can be a downfall for many who may not have the strength due to an everlasting condition or an injury. If you have a strong grip and take the time to practice and train and don’t plan on getting injured, then you can go ahead and cross this one off the list completely.
Everyone has their preferences, and both frames have their drawbacks. If you’re looking for a competition gun or just a range toy lots of people choose metal frames. Most conceal carriers usually head straight for the polymer frames. Just make sure you know what you will be using the gun exactly for and weigh your pros and cons. I’m sure I could generate a much longer list like cost and customizability, but that also really depends on the manufacturer/model.