Billet vs Forged
This topic is one that’s been mulled over for a while now but before we get into what the actual difference is I’ll just tell you how they are made.
How They’re Made
Billet uppers and lowers are made from one solid piece of aluminum. These are typically done in a CNC machine to whatever specs you input into it. When it comes to the grain of the metal this process is cutting through that grain to get the curves and edges that create the shape of the upper or lower.
Forgings are just that, they are beaten into a shape by a machine that has a template in it. This manipulates the grain of the metal to fit the shape needed to make the upper or lower.
The Winner Is…
Now the important part, which is better? Well, if you have ever read anything I have written you will know that isn’t a real question. As in everything in this world there is give and take with everything.
Ok dick, What’s the give and take here? Well Nathan, thanks for asking. Since you will be cutting into the grain of a billet you are weakening the metal. In the forging process you are shaping the grains, so it keeps its strength and, in some cases, makes it stronger. I’ve never actually done this test but from what I’m told forgings have a tensile strength of 85,000 PSI and billet is 40,000 PSI. So, both are plenty strong for anything you are doing. Everything else on your gun will break before you even get close to breaking either one of these.
So… it sounds like forgings are better? Give and take dude, Forging is a violent process. In that process you get a wide variety of tolerances. When you are measuring metal in thousands and even ten thousands of an inch it’s hard to get exact here. Now they won’t make a part that is unsafe but won’t have the exact tolerances you need for accuracy and reliability. A billet is a precision machining process so you can get those tolerances that are very exact. You can also get more creative in the outside design of the rifles. It will make them look cool and can add a few extra features you can’t always get with forgings.
The Choice Is Yours
In all our rifles we use biller uppers and lowers. For a few reasons. They are plenty strong for any abuse they could possibly ever get. We can get a near perfectly flat surface for the barrel seat which puts it in line perfectly with the upper. We also get to add a few design elements such as a flared mag well and ambi bolt release.
Why does the military use forgings then if billet is so neat? Well forgings are a lot cheaper and quicker to make. It takes about 20 mins to do a forging and 50 mins to do a billet. Also, like I’ve mentioned in previous articles if you’re following along. Milspec is 4 MOA in accuracy. So, it’s good enough for government work. I just hold our rifles to a much higher standard.
Remember Accuracy, durability and reliability must be there in order for it to be a Mitchell Defense Rifle