Is a 7-shot .357 revolver more dangerous?


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KJS
March 20, 2011, 10:36 PM
When I bought my GP100 back in 2008 I looked at the competition from S&W and Taurus and saw they both offered a 7th round, while Ruger stops at 6.

I always questioned the prudence of putting an extra hole in a cylinder, leaving thinner cylinder walls, which would seem to allow for a greater risk (even if still VERY low) of a gun blowing up.

Saw this post on a Ruger forum that shows what can happen to the built-like-a-tank GP even when one is using factory ammo.

http://rugerforum.net/ruger-double-action/32992-catastrophic-failure-gp-100-s-b-ammunition.html#post354467

How many of you would avoid 7-shot revolvers on the basis that they're not as strong?

S&W even has an 8-shot .357. So is 8-shots a good idea, a bad idea, or a bit of both?

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earplug
March 20, 2011, 10:44 PM
One can't always plan for the unexpected and unexplained.
If a reputable maker sells a firearm you should remain calm and relaxed while using it.

WC145
March 20, 2011, 11:12 PM
It's only dangerous for the mope that thinks you ran out after six!

I trust my 7 shot S&W 586 L-Comp completely, I've never given the extra chamber a thought beyond having one more round if I need it.

Ala Dan
March 20, 2011, 11:22 PM
Exactly, what my friend earplug said~! ;) :)

ms6852
March 21, 2011, 12:19 AM
I would purchase the 8 round version. Metallurgy today can handle the pressure of the explosion that occurs within the cylinder. Any the walls are that much thinner, the cylinder is a lot larger than the 6 or 7 round version.

Malamute
March 21, 2011, 12:32 AM
My first comment was going to be "Of course they're more dangerous, more bullets is always more dangerous!!!"

One point not mentioned, cylinders with odd numbers of chambers have the locking bolt cut between rather than over the chamber, tho Ruger offsets theirs somewhat so that wouldn't be much of a difference either way on them. The locking bolt cuts are always where cylinders start to let go. I think the 7 shot L frames are fine for strength. The 8 shooters are on the N frame, which is larger still. I seriously doubt they would have sent them out without seeing what they would take. I've not heard of any letting go so far. They've been out for quite a while now.

WAID
March 21, 2011, 12:44 AM
If you put enough powder in any firearm it won't fare well. I wouldn't worry about 7 rd revolvers. they actually use the same cylinder diameter or is it a larger cylinder? The 8-shot revolvers are N-frames to my knowledge so they should have lots of cylinder to work with. That link seems to provide evidence for 6 rd revolvers being dangerous. Even numbers of holes leave the cylinder notches lined up with the chamber making a thin area. Odd numbers put the notches in between. I'm not sure how big of a difference that makes but S&W uses it as a selling point for the 5 shot j-frames.

winchester1886
March 21, 2011, 01:33 AM
I have a Taurus Mod.66 with a 7 shot cylinder and have had no problems.I don't feed it a steady diet of hot loads,but I do shoot 158gr XTPHP with a stout load of H-110.

General Geoff
March 21, 2011, 01:57 AM
The gunmakers will put as many chambers in the cylinder as is safely possible. The Smith 627/327 has 8 chambers because the cylinder has a larger diameter than that of smaller framed .357 wheelguns.

9mmepiphany
March 21, 2011, 02:00 AM
The 7-shot S&W L-frame is actually less likely to have a failure as the bolt notches are in a meatier portion of the cylinder. The strength of a cylinder isn't the steel between the chambers, it is the steel between the wall of a chamber and the nearest bolt notch.

The 8-shot S&W is the much larger N-frame, which is the same frame/cylinder that they use to chamber the .41 and .44 Magnum. The .357Mag N-frame is very strong indeed

pyth0n
March 21, 2011, 04:30 AM
Check this out on this Ruger forum. There is a new poster there with a GP100 with a cracked cylinder. Good thing it didn't have holes for seven. If there's enough metal like the larger S&W then there shouldn't be a problem. Using a cylinder made for a six shot med frame could be a bit touchy.
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=112524

ArchAngelCD
March 21, 2011, 07:01 AM
Saw this post on a Ruger forum that shows what can happen to the built-like-a-tank GP even when one is using factory ammo.
Just a little information on that "built like a tank" thing everyone keeps saying. Ruger revolvers are larger than S&W, Taurus and most other but not because they are tanks but because they have to be. Instead of being made from a solid piece of steel they are made buy a process called "Investment Casting." Because of this method the frame has to be that large just to equal the strength of the smaller S&W frame.

You may not like what I'm saying but it's fact, not fiction...

9mmepiphany
March 21, 2011, 07:10 AM
Check this out on this Ruger forum. There is a new poster there with a GP100 with a cracked cylinder. Good thing it didn't have holes for seven. If there's enough metal like the larger S&W then there shouldn't be a problem. Using a cylinder made for a six shot med frame could be a bit touchy.
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=112524

Is there something that you are trying to point out, in the link you posted, that isn't in the OP's link...after all, they are the same pictures

Stainz
March 21, 2011, 09:53 AM
If you compare the S&W 4" 6-shot 686 with the Ruger 4" GP100, you'll find less than an ounce difference in mass. The cast steel Ruger vs the hammer-forged and heat-treated S&W. Sure, the Ruger has a solid frame and a relatively easily removed trigger group - any more service there, and it had best be in a ziplock bag. S&W's have a removable sideplate - and similar internal construction in all sizes - even the X-frame (.500 Magnum) - it works. Both will exhibit a long life with SAAMI spec'd ammo - or less. Some go overboard with Rugers - tempting fate, if you ask me. If you need more than a standardized and accepted load, you need a different caliber revolver.

My favorite example is meeting 'major' classification for competition - a PF of 165 (PF is the product of bullet mass in grains and the muzzle velocity in thousands of fps.). A 125gr bullet must go over 1320 fps - a 158gr must make over 1,045 fps. Both are loud, flashy, and generally, produce a bit snappy recoil. Now, let's get a smaller/lighter revolver - a 3" 696 - and load it with some 'cute' .44 Russians, made up of a 240gr LSWC over 3.5 gr Titegroup. That 'poof' load will make a good muffled boom - little push - yet make a whopping 692 fps - for a PF of 166 - and it's an all day shooting combo. Larger caliber - bigger/heavier bullet moving slower - less chamber pressur - longer lasting revolver. Pegs the 'fun-o-meter', too. Go to the .45 Colt or higher pressure ACP - even more fun - and you can get .45 ACPs reasonably anywhere.

Now, a properly made and rated 7-shot S&W - or, as I prefer, a larger framed 8-shooter, is totally 'safe' to the user - and will exhibit no more wear than a six shooter at 10k, 20k, etc rounds. Just stay within SAAMI spec's! Or, in my case, shoot your own loads - .38 Special level in .357 Magnum cases = even longer life!

Stainz

mes227
March 21, 2011, 05:28 PM
Check this out on this Ruger forum. There is a new poster there with a GP100 with a cracked cylinder. Good thing it didn't have holes for seven. If there's enough metal like the larger S&W then there shouldn't be a problem. Using a cylinder made for a six shot med frame could be a bit touchy.
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=112524

Everything made by humans has flaws and statistically are prone to failure. There's no evidence that the 7- or 8-shot revolvers are failing at a higher rate than the 6-shots and there is evidence to the contrary. Any of us can find examples of failures of any handgun configuration - and that's mostly irrelevant in the question of "which is safer."

pyth0n
March 21, 2011, 09:40 PM
Is there something that you are trying to point out, in the link you posted, that isn't in the OP's link...after all, they are the same pictures
Nothing in particular. When I clicked on the op's link I got nothing. But i did see those pics in both forums.

W.E.G.
March 21, 2011, 09:52 PM
Very dangerous.

Makes you question the adequacy of your 6-shot guns, and causes you to spend more money on guns.

zoom6zoom
March 21, 2011, 10:24 PM
You insensitive b*stards. My five shot 642 is sitting in the corner crying. Gonna have to go reassure her now.

340PD
March 22, 2011, 10:49 AM
Wonderful firearm. 586-Lcomp 7 shot

http://i163.photobucket.com/albums/t320/gnystrom_photos/586Lcomp.jpg

PabloJ
March 22, 2011, 01:21 PM
No, if you avoid using certain brands of ammo that are loaded for LOCO performance. If I was was to buy new centerfire combat revolver it would have EIGHT chambers.

NG VI
March 22, 2011, 01:35 PM
340PD I am feeling pretty envious over here, that Lcomp looks great! Don't even mind that dumb lock. I've never heard of one unintentionally engaging, though they are still ugly.

The 586 is gorgeous though.

DPris
March 22, 2011, 02:03 PM
I have the relatively rare .357 S&W Mountain Gun. Seven round L-Frame.
I'm more concerned with longterm wear & relative (I said RELATIVE!) fragility on the reduced size ratchet teeth than I am about the cylinder strength. :)
Denis

LensWork
March 22, 2011, 04:28 PM
It's only dangerous for the mope that thinks you ran out after six!

+1 :D

BCRider
March 22, 2011, 06:11 PM
As for that blown up Ruger I'd say it was either a pre-existing weak spot due to some other load or he found a rare double charged factory cartridge. Or potentially he had a squib on the shot previous and didn't notice it and pulled the trigger again.

Remo223
March 22, 2011, 06:16 PM
Smith&wesson offers titanium cylinders. Since titanium is not as strong as carbon steel, that should be proof enough to you that the steel cylinders are more than strong enough.

rogertc1
March 22, 2011, 06:36 PM
8 shot...

http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c248/rogertc1/firearms/SW627Pref.jpg

KJS
March 22, 2011, 07:51 PM
Even numbers of holes leave the cylinder notches lined up with the chamber making a thin area.

True for S&W. Not true for Ruger where the notches are between chambers even with even numbers like 6.

KJS
March 22, 2011, 07:56 PM
Just a little information on that "built like a tank" thing everyone keeps saying. Ruger revolvers are larger than S&W, Taurus and most other but not because they are tanks but because they have to be. Instead of being made from a solid piece of steel they are made buy a process called "Investment Casting." Because of this method the frame has to be that large just to equal the strength of the smaller S&W frame.

If we trust the published weight figures, a GP100 & 686 are the same weight, within a fraction of a ounce.

Anybody have one of each and a scale to check this?

Remo223
March 22, 2011, 08:01 PM
I don't have a GP100 but I do have a speed six. The weight test will not tell you anything because a speed six has a tapered barrel and a S&W 357 will have a bull barrel. The smith is heavier in the barrel end and the speed six is heavier in the back end.

What I do know is that the type of stainless used on a Ruger frame is extremely hard...harder than the carbon steel ruger frames. The opposite is true of smith and wesson frames. The carbon steel frames are harder than the stainless ones.

wrangler5
March 22, 2011, 11:45 PM
You can pretty much guarantee that before putting their 7 and 8 shot models into production S&W ran lots of megaton proof loads through the prototypes without blowing anything up. No gun company (at least not one based in the US) is going to offer a gun that has even a remote chance of failing with anything but a vastly over-spec pressure load.

So fill that 7 or 8 shooter up with factory anything, or your own reloads made at or below the maximums set out in the reloading manuals, and shoot to your heart's content. If you shoot max loads all the time you may start to wear the gun out, but you won't blow it up.

psyshack
March 23, 2011, 08:50 PM
I'm all for trying to wear out my 686p 7 shooter with max loads. Why get a .357 and shoot wuzzy loads? Thats what a .38 thing-a-bobber is for..... I like shooting max loads through the wifes 60 Pro. It's more fun than the 686p. But with only five holes to fill the fun ends to quick.

hiker44
March 23, 2011, 11:33 PM
Only if you are on the receiving end...

BrocLuno
March 24, 2011, 08:43 PM
What about my 9 shot Hi-Standard? I would not worry about it :)

psyshack
March 24, 2011, 10:41 PM
Do folks really understand investment casting? It's basically the semi heavy duty cheap arse college boy approved version of MIM.

ghitch75
March 25, 2011, 01:50 PM
i got it used and i have ran over 2k threw it of hot loads....686-6 + 6"....the bottom 1

http://i54.tinypic.com/2vsohlz.jpg

Lucky Derby
March 25, 2011, 02:30 PM
"Is a 7-shot .357 revolver more dangerous?"

Only to the 7th bad guy.

markb5446
January 28, 2012, 03:35 PM
In Smith and Wesson Revolvers the cylinder stop slots are directly in line with the chambers causing the 6 shot cylinders to have a thin point, but not the 7 shot cylinders. That is because Smith puts the cylinder stop perpendicular to the cylinder rotation axis, unlike Ruger which is offset, and if you look closely you will see the slots in a Ruger cylinder are angled at the bottom to compensate. So for a revolver with an even number of cylinders and a stop that is perpendicular to the cylinder axis and barrel center axis, the slots have to be right where you don't want them, at the thinnest part of each chambers outside wall. With an odd number of cylinders (and cylinder stop still perpendicular to the cylinder axis of rotation and barrel), the cylinder slots move to the thickest walls of the cylinder, between the chambers.

Now just because the 6 shot cylinder has a smaller minimum value of wall thickness than a 7 shot (of same diameter), it doesn't make the 6 shot cylinder weaker either. But if the 6 shot cylinder fails, you can pretty much guess where it will crack.

I personally wish Smith had made a 7 shot 586 with a square butt frame. That's because I like carbon steel better for strength than stainless. That can come into play in the "star" on the cylinder. 7 shot revolver cylinders have more delicate stars, which can affect timing.

If you want a carbon steel square butt 357 magnum revolver, you can buy a used 586 and a stainless 7 shot cylinder for a 686 and all the internal timing parts, and pay to have them fitted. About 2000 dollars later you would have a blue-stainless mutt looking 586 7 shot Smith. Or you could pay 400 for a new 7 shot Taurus 66.

markb5446
January 28, 2012, 03:41 PM
I meant to say that in order to determine which is weaker a 6 or 7 shot cylinder, you would have to pay a University or engineering consulting firm, to do FEA (finite element analysis) to find the failure point of both cylinder types. This is exactly what S&W must have done, as they claim there is not difference in strength between the 6 and 7 shot cylinders. But for the reasons stated, you can't assume the 7 shot is weaker than a 6, due to the thin walls at the cylinder stops. It could actually be stronger, and probably is.

FIVETWOSEVEN
January 28, 2012, 03:51 PM
True for S&W. Not true for Ruger where the notches are between chambers even with even numbers like 6.

Untrue for S&W as well. Granted there was one guy posting about his revolver like that but that was a defect. S&W makes them with the correct amount of flutes unless it's a defect.

CraigC
January 28, 2012, 03:54 PM
S&W makes them with the correct amount of flutes unless it's a defect.

He's talking about the bolt notches, not the flutes.

Driftwood Johnson
January 28, 2012, 07:22 PM
Howdy

First off, no matter whether FEA was used designing the gun or not, you can bet that during product development plenty of proof rounds were fired, and probably some rounds in excess of normal proof rounds, to be sure the guns are completely safe with SAAMI spec 357 Magnum ammo.

When the 357 Magnum cartridge was first developed by S&W in 1935, revolvers for it were only built on the N frame, the largest frame that S&W was making. This frame size was usually reserved for 44 and 45 caliber revolvers, and the cylinder was large enough for six 45 caliber holes. By boring 357 Magnum chambers in the same large diameter cylinder, the smaller holes meant there was more metal left between the chambers and the outer surface of the cylinder. The first 357 Magnum revolver was an outgrowth of the high powered 38/44 revolvers, also built on the N frame, but meant for special high velocity 38 Special ammunition that would have blown up a normal K frame 38 Sp revolver. S&W had been heat treating cylinders for some time at this point, but still, with the steel alloys available at the time only the large cylinder of the N frame revolvers was capable of taking the high pressure of the 357 Magnum cartridge.

Here is a photo of a S&W 38/44 Heavy Duty revolver, built to take the pressure of the high powered 38 Special ammo that would have probably destroyed a normal K frame 38 Special revolver.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/38%2044%20Heavy%20Duty/38-44HeavyDuty02.jpg


The first 357 Magnum revolvers were big and massive, just like the 38/44 revolvers. Here is a photo of a S&W Model 27, which is dimensionally the same as the first 357 Magnum revolvers.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/Model%2027/IMG_0222_enhanced.jpg

But the N frame 357 Magnum revolvers were big and heavy. Law enforcement officials were clamoring for a lighter weight revolver chambered for the 357 Magnum cartridge. By 1955 S&W felt that metallurgy had advanced enough that they could risk building a 357 Magnum revolver on the smaller K frame, the same size frame that had always been used for standard S&W 38 Special revolvers. This was long before anything called Finite Element Analysis existed, but there were classical material strength calculations that could be made to determine if putting the 357 Magnum cartridge in the smaller K frame was feasible. Still, S&W was not entirely sure it would work, and not until they had built some and tested them out thoroughly did they release them for sale to the public. This was the birth of the 357 Combat Magnum, later known as the Model 19.

Here is a photo comparing the overall size and cylinder diameter of a N frame Model 27 at top and a K frame Model 19 at the bottom. The difference in sizes is evident.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/Models1927.jpg

Here is another photo, comparing the two cylinders. The K frame Model 19 is on the left, the N frame Model 27 is on the right. The difference in how much steel surrounds the chambers in the two different revolvers is obvious. Prior to 1955, S&W only built the 357 Magnum on the larger frame.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/cylinders-1.jpg

The L frame is a relatively new development. It is a little bit bigger than the K frame, and a little bit smaller then the N frame. It is possible to drill seven 357 Magnum chambers in the L frame cylinder because it is a little bit bigger than the K frame cylinder.

Today, because of even better metallurgy than in the 1950s, there are even tiny J frame, 5 shot snub nosed revolvers chambered for the 357 Magnum cartridge. I have no desire to own one or shoot one, but I assure you, no matter what size the frame is and how many chambers it holds, enough proof loads were fired in these guns during development that the manufacturer is confident they are strong enough to shoot SAAMI spec 357 Magnum ammunition without blowing up.

markb5446
January 29, 2012, 10:17 AM
Yes for Ruger the notches are not at the weak points. Only problem with offsetting the notches, as Ruger does, is that the offset causes an angled contact with cylinder, and the notch is angled towards the weaker, scalloped side of the slot. I have seen Ruger Redhawks that have loose lock up after alot of hot loads because the cylinder stop develops a rounded edge. But you can always replace the cylinder stop. If Ruger had put the hand on the other side (like Colt), and the cylinder retaining pin in the frame instead of the cylinder (like Colt), that would have been the perfect arrangement, probably. But Colt had the slots in the weakest part of the cylinder also, so it wasn't ideal either.

I think the strongest design is the Taurus Raging Bull with 5 shot cylinders. The early RBs locked up bank vault tight, had huge slots, and nice front and rear lockup. In past few years the Taurus RBs don't seem as well fitted as late 90s - early 2000's. I have never heard of anyone breaking one of those.

Also, I am not sure if the 6 shot Smith cylinders are weaker than 7's, because the pressure is distributed across the entire inner surface. The weak spot is a small area, which is stiffened by the rest of the cylinder being thicker than a 7 shot. So the answer is not obvious and would require FEA analysis.

Malamute
January 29, 2012, 02:49 PM
markb5446


I personally wish Smith had made a 7 shot 586 with a square butt frame. That's because I like carbon steel better for strength than stainless. That can come into play in the "star" on the cylinder. 7 shot revolver cylinders have more delicate stars, which can affect timing.

If you want a carbon steel square butt 357 magnum revolver, you can buy a used 586 and a stainless 7 shot cylinder for a 686 and all the internal timing parts, and pay to have them fitted. About 2000 dollars later you would have a blue-stainless mutt looking 586 7 shot Smith. Or you could pay 400 for a new 7 shot Taurus 66.


I've never cared for the round butt Smiths (or stainless guns). I had a rb 7 shooter 686, but couldn't warm up to the round butt. I called Smith to see what it would cost to get a square butt gun made into a 7 shooter at the factory, it wasn't that bad, all things considered, (I think it as around $300-$400, some was parts, some labor) nowhere near $2000. Fitting Smith parts isn't that hard in any event, even a "custom" gunsmith shouldn't charge anywhere near that amount. I think a complete cylinder and hand are the main parts that are required, and different than the standard 6 shooter parts. The cylinder locking bolt may also be different, I don't recall. The Smith technician I talked to told me what was required.

And didn't Smith make some blued 7 shooter L's in the 520 model fairly recently? I wouldnt mind getting a cylinder from one to fit to my 586.



Nice pictures Driftwood. I've always liked the lines of the N framed 357's, with their tapered barrels. I regret selling the several I've had. I'd really like to have the 5" one back. Had a 6" 27 that had a factory action job, it was pretty nice also.

A blued 7 shooter mountain gun with a square butt could be about perfect as a woods or carry gun when larger bears weren't expected. I like the tapered barrels they used on the mountains, too bad they didnt do any in blue.

Fishslayer
January 29, 2012, 04:02 PM
Yes for Ruger the notches are not at the weak points

In that particular case it looks like the crack does indeed go to the notch. Any time you have a sharp machined edge there is a chance for a crack to start.

S&B is known for being loaded hot. 99.999% of the time a GP100 or an L frame S&W won't even break a sweat.

This time tho....:uhoh: I'm guessing a freak flaw in the casting + the hot ammo. Pretty sure Ruger sent the guy a new gun. I've dealt with their customer service and it is top notch (pardon the expression. ;))

The argument about cast vs forged etc has been going on almost as long as the caliber wars...:rolleyes:

Mike1234567
January 29, 2012, 04:19 PM
Yes, IMHO they definitely are more dangerous.

7-shot = 16.67% more dangerous...
8-shot = 33.33% more dangerous...
9-shot = 50.00% more dangerous...

...to the bad guys.

9mmepiphany
January 29, 2012, 08:58 PM
And didn't Smith make some blued 7 shooter L's in the 520 model fairly recently? I wouldnt mind getting a cylinder from one to fit to my 586.
Were those the ones with the Ti cylinders?

Driftwood Johnson
January 29, 2012, 09:07 PM
Howdy

A few comments.

I read Iowegan's description of how Ruger cylinders are made with great interest. S&W still machines their cylinders from bar stock. I saw this when I toured the S&W factory a couple of years ago. Ruger uses the Investment Casting process to make many of their parts, including frames and many internal parts. However the castings that Ruger makes for frames are cast to near net shape and have only minor secondary machining done to complete the parts. According to Iowegan's description, after the cylinders are cast into blanks, all the subsequent features such as the center hole, the chambers, flutes, ratchet teeth, and bolt stops are machined onto the part, no different than if the part starts out as bar stock. This is much different than casting a frame that pops out of the mold in an almost completed condition.

I have seen evidence for both cases of cylinders bursting starting at the bolt stop cuts, and starting at the thinnest cross section between chambers. Which way a failure begins depends on the particular cylinder and the particular geometry. I used to shoot with a guy who was a line engineer on the Ruger revolver line in New Hampshire. He conducted some tests at one point to see how much over pressure a Vaquero cylinder could take and what the failure mode would be. They kept feeding the revolver overloads that were more and more powerful until the cylinder let go. They caught the rupture on high speed video. My friend told me that in slow motion they clearly saw the rupture start at the bolt cut, then it progressed forward and back along the length of the cylinder. His specific comment was that it looked like a zipper opening up. When the crack reached the ends of the cylinder, the walls of the adjoining chambers folded like hinges, then ruptured, causing the cylinder to burst open. The bolt cuts clearly behaved as stress risers, which are a very common cause of failure in machined parts.

But I have also heard examples of cylinders that burst when the walls between chambers were breached. It is entirely dependent on the specific configuration of the cylinder.

The photos in this case clearly show the bolt cuts acted as stress risers, Iowegan calls them 'fault lines' and the failure began right at the square corners of the cut, which is a typical place for stress risers to form.

Do folks really understand investment casting? It's basically the semi heavy duty cheap arse college boy approved version of MIM.

I have to disagree with this statement. Investment casting has been around far longer than MIM. MIM has only been around since the 1970s. Investment casting goes back about 5000 years when it was known as Lost Wax casting. Ruger was one of the pioneers in adapting the Investment Casting process to firearm manufacturing in the 1950s, mostly by using modern alloys that could be cast and then heat treated to be much stronger than had been typical with conventional casting techniques. Investment Casting involves forming ceramic molds around wax masters, pouring molten metal into the ceramic mold which melts the wax and replaces it with metal, allowing the metal to cool, breaking away the mold, then heat treating the cast parts. MIM involves injecting a feedstock of powdered metal and binders into a mold. When the green parts are removed from the mold the binder is removed with solvents and heat. But the parts are never molten. The parts are brought near the melting point so that the powdered metal particles fuse, but molten metal is never achieved.

Regardless of how the ruptured cylinder was fabricated, I agree with Iowegan's assessment that this particular cylinder was probably not heat treated properly. The same thing can happen with cylinders that are machined from bar stock. I have a S&W Model 624 that was part of a run that were recalled because the bar stock they were made from was found to be faulty. Mine was sent back to S&W for testing and found to be OK, but some had to be replaced.

Regarding FEA, it is great stuff, but stress testing has been done for hundreds of years before FEA existed. Most modern production line firearms are designed today using 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design). I used to design parts on 3D CAD for a living. When parts are designed using 3D CAD, modern factories integrate the 3D model created in the computer directly with the manufacturing process. CNC programs today are usually created directly from the 3D CAD model. The computer file for the 3D model is down loaded into the CNC machine and the CNC program is created directly from the model. With parts that will be subjected to high stresses, like a revolver cylinder, FEA (Finite Element Analysis) of the part is routine. The same 3D CAD model is used to do the analysis. FEA has its roots in the late 1940s and was first used in airframe and structural analysis in the 1950s. But it was not until reasonably powerful desk top computers became available that FEA became a practical tool for ordinary engineers in ordinary manufacturing. I used to give my 3D CAD files to an engineer in a nearby cubicle in the 1980s. He would start the FEA program running as he left the office to go home at night. He would leave a note on his computer that it was running a program and not to disturb it. The computer crunched numbers all night long and when my friend came to work the next morning, the program was done. The same model would probably just take a few minutes to run on current computers.

But in the old days, if you wanted to know which of two cylinders was stronger, all you did was keep testing them both with similar loads. You kept upping the pressure of the test loads, and the cylinder that burst first was the weaker cylinder. Simple. Easy to do long before computers existed.

CraigC
January 29, 2012, 09:16 PM
Cylinders aren't cast anyway. They are cut and machined from barstock.

Driftwood Johnson
January 29, 2012, 09:23 PM
Well Craig, I agree with you about 99.9% of the time, but in the book Ruger and His Guns, one of the designers who worked on the Old Army says the cylinders were cast.

Then again, I do not know if this only involved casting a blank and then machining all the features in, or if similar to a frame the casting was near net shape when it was cast.

mes227
January 30, 2012, 11:04 AM
According to Iowegan's description, after the cylinders are cast into blanks, all the subsequent features such as the center hole, the chambers, flutes, ratchet teeth, and bolt stops are machined onto the part, no different than if the part starts out as bar stock.

There is a difference between casting a cylinder then machining the fine details, and starting from whole bar stock. The bar stock was not cast, it was most likely hot rolled, a very different process and one that is used for most structural steel applications. It's less likely to create defects and leaves the steel more elastic than any casting. I'm not dissin' Ruger, they make fine firearms, just speaking to the metallurgy.

CraigC
January 30, 2012, 11:24 AM
Well Craig, I agree with you about 99.9% of the time, but in the book Ruger and His Guns, one of the designers who worked on the Old Army says the cylinders were cast.

Yes but that's the Old Army. What is it designed to operate at, 10,000psi? We have had several reports from folks who have toured the Ruger factory and seen them being cut from barstock. Hell, even Heritage cuts Rough Rider cylinders from barstock. It's the cheapest grade of steel you'll ever see in firearms manufacture but.....

Driftwood Johnson
January 30, 2012, 12:47 PM
Yes but that's the Old Army. What is it designed to operate at, 10,000psi? We have had several reports from folks who have toured the Ruger factory and seen them being cut from barstock. Hell, even Heritage cuts Rough Rider cylinders from barstock. It's the cheapest grade of steel you'll ever see in firearms manufacture but.....

Actually, if you read this particular book, they tested it with Bullseye. At least according to that book. But you did not hear it from me and I of course do not recommend shooting any C&B cylinder with Smokeless powder.

I too have always believed that Ruger makes their cylinders from barstock, but Iowegan seems to have some different information.

I really need to get ahold of my old shooting friend who worked for Ruger and get to the bottom of this. Unfortunately, he moved down south someplace and I don't remember where.

I would love to tour the Ruger factory, it is not far from where I live, but last I heard they are not giving any tours.

CraigC
January 30, 2012, 01:10 PM
If I remember right it was one of the Quinn brothers who toured the factory and posted something about it on Ruger Forum.

Stainz
January 30, 2012, 01:35 PM
This is first hand experience. Some years back, a friend and I each ordered a new SS 5.5" SS Redhawk in .45 Colt. Mine had a machined cylinder face with obvious casting flaws between the chamber bores. That likely won't be found in bar stock - but such irregularly burst bubbles in cast steel do occur. It went back to Ruger - got another new cylinder, pawl, hammer, and trigger - and supposedly was 'tweaked' for my patience with their warranty service. It joined my favorite .45 Colt DA-capable revolver - a 625MG. I sold the RH and bought another S&W 625MG - and I am much happier. No jams while ejecting, no ftf's with Fed primers, tighter groups, and just a whole lot nicer revolver.

Oh - the friend's similar Redhawk wouldn't fire a cylinderful of cowboy loads without a hard jam - it went back. The frame was warped - they replaced the revolver. He quickly traded the RH.

As a rule of thumb, I'd say my S&W 627's, all 8-shooters, are potentially more dangerous than my one 686P 7-shooter - and it is more dangerous than my one 6-shot 66. Then there is my one 5-shot 60... As others have said, more rounds increases the 'dangerous' capability... modern steels make them safe. Common sense, ie, staying within standard SAAMI specifications, helps as well.

Stainz

skt239
January 30, 2012, 06:07 PM
Nothing wrong with it as long as its done right. I had a 7 shot Taurus that always made me wonder but that's because it was a Taurus. I'm confident enough in S&W to not even give it a second thought. The Taurus? Not so much.

markb5446
January 30, 2012, 07:25 PM
Looking at the pic you can see that the crack happened at the cylinder slots Ruger improved the Smith 6 shot by offsetting the slot so it wasn't at the thinnest point of the outer wall....But it still broke there! The crack wandered at an angle right to the slot.

So based on a sample of 1, it says put the slot in between the cylinder holes, which is what a Smith or Taurus 7 shot does. If Ruger had went for 7 with their offset cylinder stop and angled cylinder slots, they would not get the strength payoff that a Smith or Taurus did, as the 7 shot cylinder puts the slots in the thickest part of the outer wall of the cylinder.

But Rugers are generally designed for strength by quite a margin (normally), so I would say that whatever broke this Ruger would have probably broken a Smith, Taurus or Colt too. But the 7 shot Smith/Taurus could have an advantage for this sort of failure...maybe.

It is also possible that this was a fluke due to a material flaw in that cylinder. Cool pics, and note that this gun probably did not injure the shooter as it didn't "grenade".

Confederate
January 30, 2012, 07:47 PM
Although most of you seem to think the ammo was bad and that the Ruger's strength kept it from being worse than it was. The problem is, Ruger uses investment casting for its frame and many of its parts. Before I'd criticize the ammo manufacturer, I'd want to check out the heat treat of the cylinder. It's not uncommon for investment cast parts to fail. That's not a slam against investment casting; indeed, investment casting can offer incredible strength when done properly. But what if someone wasn't watching the heat treat that day and time? It could be the cylinder which is at fault.

Years ago, I was shooting a stainless Virginia Dragoon. It was unloaded, but when I dry fired it, the hammer shattered like glass. It was an investment cast part and easily repaired. But unless investment cast parts are done very carefully, they can and will fail.

That said, there's nothing wrong with 7-shot magnums. S&W also has to watch its metallurgy and they've been known to have parts fail. Back in the 80s, there were two cops in Western Kentucky who noticed that the front sights on their 681s were virtually rubbing off from holster wear! When tested, the armorer noted that the lands and grooves from the rifling also had worn down to practically nothing. The culprit was poor heat treat. So it doesn't matter whether or not it's investment casting or not, or whether it's guns or knives.

The problem here might be bad ammo or poor heat treat on Ruger's part. And as strong as Ruger's guns are, six or seven shots have nothing to do with this particular failure. I'm also unaware of any trend of catastrophic failures with 7-shot magnum pistols, be they S&W or Taurus. I know that Sellier and Bellot ammunition doesn't have a reputation of producing bad ammo and most ammo manufacturers weigh each round before packing them.

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh198/jriler/SW_Ruger_1.jpg

Regardless of manufacture, parts must be heat treated to avoid
catastrophic failure.

Driftwood Johnson
January 30, 2012, 08:02 PM
.........and most ammo manufacturers weigh each round before packing them.

Curious where you learned that. With most modern ammo, the difference of .5 grains or more from bullet to bullet can easily mask any variation in powder charges. I have always advised novice reloaders that weighing finished rounds is not a reliable way to determine if the powder charge is correct.

SharpsDressedMan
January 30, 2012, 10:08 PM
This may be dumb to some, but I had one (S&W Mountain gun), then got rid of it because I was so used to a revolver being six rounds. That extra round was going to catch me off guard one day, and I'd do something stupid and put #7 in the wrong place, thinking the gun was empty. To each their own. I'm happy with six. Call me mopid.

Confederate
January 30, 2012, 10:46 PM
Curious where you learned that. With most modern ammo, the difference of .5 grains or more from bullet to bullet can easily mask any variation in powder charges. I have always advised novice reloaders that weighing finished rounds is not a reliable way to determine if the powder charge is correct.
I was told that, and it seemed reasonable; however, with today's electronic powder measurers that may not be necessary. I find it difficult to think that with today's safety features (the chief of which is not loading ammunition to the heaviest loadings), that .5 grains can mask a variation in powder charge that would decimate a Ruger GP-100. Few magnum rounds would be charged with such fast burning powder that it would make that much of a difference. With a moderate loading, one that would be safe in any gun chambered for .357, even a .5 grain overcharge with Bullseye would not be enough to do the damage I saw.

To me it looks like a heat treat issue. But I'm only guessing.
.
.
.

CDR_Glock
January 30, 2012, 11:57 PM
I don't have a 7 shot.

I have a 6 shot Python and 8 shot Smith 627. A 6 shot Ruger GP100 is coming this week.

I'm excited.

Anyways, what type of ammo was that which made the GP100 crack? Where was it manufactured?


iPad/Tapatalk

barnbwt
January 31, 2012, 12:37 AM
I would hazard a guess the design process at any reputable gun maker is similar to any other design-critical engineering task. There is an established limit load (read: proof load) the design is intended to withstand once, and there is rigorous internal testing to ensure designs can meet that. Repeat testing at lesser stress levels is done to ensure the design is not overly prone to fatigue failures (take heed, super-hot-loaders). The value the manufacturers choose to set for these load cases is, typically determined by trial and, unfortunately, error. A gun can only be as strong as the load it is designed to withstand. Luckily, today's manufacturers have decades (centuries?) of data to drawn upon.

As far as what happens after catastrophic failure, is extremely hard to predict and account for in any design situation, let alone for something as variable as loads in firearms can be. Once metal begins plastically deforming, it's really hard to nail down exactly how things will progress from there. Sure, some designs may have the effect of behaving more safely in a catastrophic failure, but it's not something you should count on as a safety net. In all likelihood, the failure modes are not very reliable or controlled. What little is known comes from failures in the field, unfortunately.

Logically, guns can only be designed to be safer as time goes on, and we should all be thankfull we have such niceties as 8-shot six-shooters made of Unobtanium (I know I am!)

Safe shooting to all,
TCB

CraigC
February 1, 2012, 12:17 PM
This may be dumb to some, but I had one (S&W Mountain gun), then got rid of it because I was so used to a revolver being six rounds. That extra round was going to catch me off guard one day, and I'd do something stupid and put #7 in the wrong place, thinking the gun was empty. To each their own. I'm happy with six. Call me mopid.

It's all about what you're used to. I'm primarily a traditional single action shooter so for years and years, all my single actions were five shot. While all my DA's were six shot. Fast forward and now I have a wonderful 12-shot USFA 12/22 that never seems to go empty and would love to have the new blued 4 5/8" Ruger Single Ten. Although I think it looks funny for a sixgun cylinder to have any more or less than six flutes. I'm glad Ruger went with none and USFA stuck with six.

leftymachinist
February 1, 2012, 03:42 PM
I have to throw in my 50 cents. Barstock is not a cheap material, it usually refers to round bars. It is formulated however it is required by the foundries customers. It can be as simple as straight lo-carbon steel up to all manner of alloy steels(4140 chrome-moly is one of the most versitile and strongest when properly hardened & tempered)

AABEN
February 1, 2012, 04:56 PM
When I bought my GP100 back in 2008 I looked at the competition from S&W and Taurus and saw they both offered a 7th round, while Ruger stops at 6.

I always questioned the prudence of putting an extra hole in a cylinder, leaving thinner cylinder walls, which would seem to allow for a greater risk (even if still VERY low) of a gun blowing up.

Saw this post on a Ruger forum that shows what can happen to the built-like-a-tank GP even when one is using factory ammo.

http://rugerforum.net/ruger-double-action/32992-catastrophic-failure-gp-100-s-b-ammunition.html#post354467

How many of you would avoid 7-shot revolvers on the basis that they're not as strong?

S&W even has an 8-shot .357. So is 8-shots a good idea, a bad idea, or a bit of both?


Not any more than a one shot! If they are on the heavy frames

Driftwood Johnson
February 1, 2012, 08:28 PM
I have to throw in my 50 cents. Barstock is not a cheap material, it usually refers to round bars. It is formulated however it is required by the foundries customers. It can be as simple as straight lo-carbon steel up to all manner of alloy steels(4140 chrome-moly is one of the most versitile and strongest when properly hardened & tempered)

+1.

S&W still forges it's frames from bar stock. I'm pretty sure they forge their barrels from bar stock too. When I took a tour a couple of years ago I saw bins full of forgings for the super large frames they are now making for the 50 caliber revolvers. These forgings were fresh from the hammer mills, they had not been trimmed yet, so they still had the remains of the round bar stock on each end. I seem to remember the bar stock they started with was somewhere around 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" in diameter. The bar stock was cut a bit oversize, and then the hammer mills pounded it into shape, leaving a bit of round bar stock on each end of the forging. Later process stamped the waste away from the forgings, and then they went to the CNC equipment for final shaping.

Of course, cylinders will be cut from bar stock too.

Part of the tour included a quick pass through the material storage areas. I saw nothing but round bar stock in the racks. An incredible amount.

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