Gun metal, also known as red brass in the United States, is a type of bronze an alloy of copper, tin, and zinc. Proportions vary but 88% copper, 8–10% tin, and 2–4% zinc is an approximation. Originally used chiefly for making guns, it has largely been replaced by steel. Gunmetal, which casts and machines well and is resistant to corrosion from steam and salt water,[1] is used to make steam and hydraulic castings, valves, gears, statues, and various small objects, such as buttons. It has a tensile strength of 221 to 310 MPa, a specific gravity of 8.7, a Brinell hardness of 65 to 74, and a melting point of around 1,000 degrees Celsius.[citation needed]

Gunmetal parts


  • Gunmetal ingot is a related alloy in which the zinc is replaced by 2% lead; this makes the alloy easier to cast but it has less strength.[2]
  • Modified gunmetal contains lead in addition to the zinc; it is typically composed of 86% copper, 9.5% tin, 2.5% lead, and 2% zinc. It is used for gears and bearings.[2]
  • U.S. government bronze specification G C90500 is composed of 88% copper, 10% tin, and 2% zinc, as is British Admiralty gunmetal.
  • G bronze (or Copper Alloy No. C90300) contains 88% copper, 8% tin, and 4% zinc.[2][3]
  • U.S. government bronze specification H is composed of 83% copper, 14% tin, 3% zinc, and 0.8% phosphorus.[4]
  • Red brass is used to produce pipes, valves, and plumbing fixtures and is considered to offer a good mixture of corrosion resistance, strength and ease of casting.[5] It typically contains 85% copper, 5% tin, 5% lead, and 5% zinc.
  • Copper Alloy C23000, which is also known as red brass, contains 84–86% copper, 0.05% each iron and lead, with the balance being zinc.[6]

Gunmetal can also mean steel treated to simulate gunmetal bronze.[7] Bushings made of this metal are used in machinery.

Other uses of gun metal

Gun money, Irish late 17th-century emergency coins, contain gunmetal, as worn and scrapped guns were used to make them; but also many other metals, in particular brass and bronze, as people donated pots and pans and other metal objects.

External doors and windows of offshore rock lighthouses are often made of gunmetal due to its corrosion resistant properties.


  1. "Gunmetal". Retrieved 2008-04-09.
  2. Brady, George Stuart; Henry R. Clauser; John A. Vaccari (2002). Materials Handbook. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 468–469. ISBN 0-07-136076-X.
  3. "C90300 Bronze Navy G - CDA 903". Anchor Bronze & Metals, Inc.
  4. "Gateway to Metals Steel & Minerals Castings [Gun Metal]". EuroAsia Softech LLP. December 14, 2015.
  5. Ammen, C.W. (2000). Metalcasting. McGraw-Hill Professional. p. 133. ISBN 0-07-134246-X.
  6. "C23000 Copper Alloys [Red Brass, C230] Material Property Data Sheet". Metal Suppliers Online.
  7. "Gunmetal". Retrieved 2008-04-09.