Flame cutting?


December 4, 2010, 12:20 AM
I just bought a new Ruger SP-101 and I was looking stuff up on it and I came across the term " FLAME CUTTING ". What dose this mean?

If you enjoyed reading about "Flame cutting?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
December 4, 2010, 09:54 AM
It's the gas that escaped between the barrel and cylinder cutting a groove across the bottom of top strap. If you're shooting a really high pressure cartridge the gas escaping from that gap acts like a plasma cutter.

As I understand it, the cutting stops once the groove reaches a certain depth and distance from the cylinder. Larger calibers do it worse than smaller calibers because the cylinders are closer to the top strap.

I've heard that it is mostly cosmetic as it is supposed stop on its own. However, I know that revolvers have been recalled due to gas cutting. The Ruger 357 Maximum is one that comes to mind.

Ruger GP100 fan
December 4, 2010, 10:42 AM
My GP 100 has cutting on the under-side of the strap with fewer that 2K rounds. It's been mentioned on here before that it does not make the gun unsafe to use but that it may be a sign that the gun has been abused. I used to shoot a lot of 125gr bullets with Win296/H110 powder,never loaded beyond .5 gr below Winchester's recommended maximum load,and have learned that combination is perhaps the worst recipe to shoot as far as flame cutting and that heavier bullets may not contribute to cutting. Aside from the strap cutting my gun remains tight. Although I intend never to sell my GP cutting does seem to lower resale value.
But you need to get input from those with more experience than me. I'm a newbie and the GP is my first gun. I simply was taught to reload on 296/H110 and have yet to try other powders for 357 loads.

Ruger GP100 fan
December 4, 2010, 10:53 AM
Just wanted to add that early on I read a post where a seasoned reloader recommended becoming intimately familiar with a powder...knowing it's smell,it's feel,how it behaves under various bullet and charges and so forth before moving on to another. I guess it made so much sense at the time that I've held to that advice. So far I've yet to move on from Varget in my new 22-250,although I do not like it's smell and it does not throw well,making me measure each load one at a time by hand.

December 4, 2010, 11:24 AM
This is a picture of a Dan Wesson model 40 (357 SuperMag) top strap.


John Wayne
December 4, 2010, 12:10 PM
I haven't heard too many concerns about the SP101 having flame-cutting problems.

Generally speaking, it's with guys shooting very hot magnum loads over an extended period of time. While that is possible, in theory, with the SP101, it would not be a very fun test platform to use due to its short barrel and light weight.

Flame cutting is the reason S&W installs blast shields on their space-age revolver frames. In order to avoid it, shoot less powerful ammunition. Some have suggested that never cleaning the area above the forcing cone can retard strap cutting, as the built-up carbon acts as a shield.

I would not be concerned about it with an SP101. If you were buying a Ruger Blackhawk or Dan Wesson in .357 Maximum or .357 Supermag, it would be something to check for.

December 5, 2010, 12:17 AM
Flame cutting has almost nothing to do with the type of gun and everything to do with the powder and bullet combination. A very light bullet will jump across the gap and enter the barrel faster than a heavy bullet. If you use a slow burning powder that keeps generating high temperature gas after the bullet has made the jump the gases have a longer dwell time to cut the top strap. It usually is self limiting once a groove has been cut into the topstrap because the gases are now being redirecting to the sides just like in a compensator. Just avoid the light ultra fast loads and cutting will not be a problem.

If you enjoyed reading about "Flame cutting?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!