Pencil barrels and aesthetics


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Dr_2_B
September 23, 2012, 10:44 PM
I remarked recently that manufacturers make revolvers with wider (thicker/broader) barrels these days based mostly on aesthetics. I.e. buyers generally find the looks of the thicker barrels more appealing than the looks of the older-style pencil barrels... so that's what the manufactures build. I went on to note that the pencil barrels would work just as well and might theoretically be a little less expensive to manufacture because they would require a little less material.

But this was merely supposition on my part. Some of you guys with more experience with revolvers correct me if I was wrong. Was I off-base?

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Radagast
September 23, 2012, 11:01 PM
Heavy barrels are useful for absorbing recoil on magnum loads, so have a purpose. Tapered barrels will be more complex to machine. My guesstimate is that tapered barrels were dumped because it was simpler to keep one cheaper to manufacture profile in stock.

newfalguy101
September 23, 2012, 11:20 PM
Less material equals more machine time, machine time equals money.

Besides, I am in the camp that thinks heavy barrels look better!!

Brian Williams
September 24, 2012, 08:23 AM
I like the "Standard" barrel and have converted a S&W 65 3" HB to a 4" standard barrel.
here it is with my 3" 13
http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii24/perfessr/blueandss.jpg

bannockburn
September 24, 2012, 09:48 AM
I have always liked the heavy barrels for better balance. Just feels nice to have a bit more weight at the muzzle end. I also prefer the looks of a heavy barrel compared to the pencil shape model.

whtsmoke
September 24, 2012, 10:42 AM
nothing sexier than a ruger 6 7/8 inch bbl on a MK111 target, long slim and tapered. glad i got mine before they quit making them.

firesky101
September 25, 2012, 07:17 PM
I am in the heavy barrel camp, they do indeed look better IMO.

Iggy
September 25, 2012, 07:36 PM
I like them long and sleek.

http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p246/Iggy25/005.jpg

351 WINCHESTER
September 25, 2012, 07:41 PM
I'll take a hb over a pencil any day of the week. That is my opinion. If I were a street cop I would probably go with the pencil.

unspellable
September 25, 2012, 07:50 PM
Recoil aside and going purely for looks, I like the heavy barrels on the S&Ws with counter bored chambers and the pencil barrels on the S&Ws with non-counter bored chambers.

Dr_2_B
September 25, 2012, 08:36 PM
I like them long and sleek.



Ooh VERY nice.

Still, the first thing I thought of when I saw them was Jack Nicholson as the Joker and his big ole loooong revolver.

788Ham
September 25, 2012, 08:41 PM
I'm with you Iggy, those are some nice revolvers. Now, I'll draw the line on my Python, no skinny there!

hariph creek
September 25, 2012, 10:14 PM
Tapered or "pencil" barrel for me.
Really don't care for the looks of a full underlug, either.

Jaymo
September 25, 2012, 11:02 PM
It all depends on the gun, for me. An old Model 10 looks best with high polish blue and a 4 inch tapered barrel, in my eyes.
A 3" Model 65 bull barrel looks great to me.
Underlug looks great on a Python, GP100, or 686.
N frame Smith looks plain SECKSY with a tapered barrel.
Charter Bulldog looks great to me with the 3" tapered barrel, or the 2.75" (scarce) bull barrel.
The Colt Police Positive Special looks best, to me with the old tapered barrel, though I do like the 1990s vintage redo with the heavy barrel.
In other words, it all depends on the gun.

waidmann
September 25, 2012, 11:22 PM
^+1 more for classic tapered. And with a nod to Radagast, its all HB's and RB's cause we have determined one size fits all.

W.

S&Wfan
September 26, 2012, 12:42 AM
Personally, I like 'em ALL . . .

The tapered barrels are more sleek and beautiful, IMHO.

Here's a couple of my tapered barrel revolvers . . .

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8317/8025532571_fa644a0f94_c.jpg

. . . and a 1970 S&W Model 27-2 with the sexy 3 1/2 tapered barrel and original magna stocks. It doesn't get any better than THIS, IMHO . . .
http://www.moviephotoforums.com/photopost/data/500/medium/S_W_27-2_1165ps_IMG_1165ps.jpg

BCRider
September 26, 2012, 12:48 AM
On the fixed sight guns I far and away prefer the tapered pencil barrel. When it's got a tall rear adjustable I like a half lug straight barrel with a full length top rib. Sadly my Model 19 doesn't have a full length rib. But I like it anyway... :D

Coal Dragger
September 26, 2012, 06:07 AM
For a hard kicking caliber, obviously from a use standpoint the heavier contour is the way to go. Otherwise I prefer the tapered barrels.

CajunBass
September 26, 2012, 08:19 AM
There was a time when I didn't like the tapered barrel. I thought they looked "quaint and old fashioned."

Nowdays, I like them because they DO look "quaint and old fashioned."

24-3 (44 Special)

http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b292/CajunBass/handguns/100_0459.jpg

But there is a time and a place for the heavy barrel. A little extra weight in front helps with recoil with heavy recoiling calibers like the 44 magnum, in this 29-2.

http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b292/CajunBass/handguns/100_0392.jpg

StrawHat
September 26, 2012, 11:28 AM
When I was shooting competition I used revolvers with heavy barrels to help get me back on target faster, it worked. I no longer compete so I get to use what I like or what I think is better looking. For that, I prefer the pencil barrel. And like others have said, they just look better.

beag_nut
September 26, 2012, 05:20 PM
As a machinist/engineer in the past, the LEAST expensive aspect of a part is, with rare exceptions, the amount of stainless/carbon steel used. The MOST expensive part is the set-up time for machining. Those oversize and, for some, ugly (not me) full-lugged barrels are easier to fixture in the machining center. They have much more "meat" to grab in the fixture, have fewer angles to accomodate, and are far less affected by temp rise during fabrication.
And those are not opinions, but facts.
But aesthetics are often far from having anything to do with practicallity. Buy what you like, but be prepared to pay for it, if necessary.

lowercase
September 27, 2012, 03:00 PM
I like the standard barrel revolvers, too.

Model 10-5

http://imageshack.us/a/img19/554/105standard4inch.jpg

Dr_2_B
September 27, 2012, 04:34 PM
Interesting, beag_nut. I was wrong at least on that point.

skidder
September 27, 2012, 05:45 PM
Yes, it seems strange how they woke up one morning and said, "Let's start making heavy barrels". These two are 1 year apart, 357 left 1979, and 38 right 1980. Strange how the 38 has the heavy barrel :confused:.

I could be wrong, but I think the heavy barrel was introduced to the Sixes in 79'.


http://i1212.photobucket.com/albums/cc456/exlogger/ruger/ServiceSecurity.jpg

CraigC
September 28, 2012, 12:06 PM
There was a time when I didn't like the tapered barrel. I thought they looked "quaint and old fashioned."

Nowdays, I like them because they DO look "quaint and old fashioned."
That's where I'm at with it. IMHO, plain few things in this world are more beautiful than an N-frame with the tapered barrel. Bull barrels like on the model 29 are okay and I find the red insert front sights to be more offensive than the barrel contour ever could. For the most part, I despise full lugs and think they are a product of more shooters shooting at the range and fewer actually carrying them.

http://photos.imageevent.com/newfrontier45/sixgunsiii/large/IMG_8791b.jpg

Radagast
September 28, 2012, 12:23 PM
Have to agree with you CraigC. I'm very happy with the balance and aesthetics of my new to me 1969 Model 28. The Model 617 that I traded off? Never warmed to it at all. I know that heavy barrels and full under-lugs are great for recoil control, but I find them ugly and they disturb the balance of the gun. The closer center of balance of the gun to the trigger, the more natural it feels in my hand.

Fishslayer
September 30, 2012, 01:00 AM
Not really a brand new phenomenon. A lot of shooters didn't care for the tapered barrel on the Model of 1950 Target so S&W brought out the heavier barrelled Model of 1955 Target in...Sorry, I forget the date... ;) I wasn't actually there but that is how it's been related to me by people who know S&W. My 6.5" feels really good in the hand and it's accurate enough for my purposes. ;)

http://i305.photobucket.com/albums/nn215/THE_Fishslayer/100_1109.jpg

PuddleMonkey
September 30, 2012, 02:12 AM
I have some nice older S&W half lugs but I kinda hate the look of them. I want a mammoth full underlug 8+inch stainless monstrosity!

huntershooter
September 30, 2012, 05:28 AM
Barrel profile is in part, what makes a revolver a specialized tool-for a certain purpose.

If I'm carrying a revolver for hunting deer/hogs (primary arm) in low light/timber;
I want a "skinny barrel" of 4" (weight reduction) with FO sights (I'll be lucky to shoot the thing once or twice all day):

http://i1043.photobucket.com/albums/b434/huntershooter/resized%20handguns/resize%20hog%20guns/Mountain%20Guns/HogGunsMG004.jpg

If I'm shooting metallic targets in a range/competition setting I would want a different tool; longer, heavy barrel:

http://i1043.photobucket.com/albums/b434/huntershooter/resized%20handguns/29-265.jpg

http://i1043.photobucket.com/albums/b434/huntershooter/resized%20handguns/pistol009.jpg

Quoheleth
September 30, 2012, 05:34 AM
Back in the revolver heyday, you had people like Keith, Skelton and Jordan all championing for heavy barrels. It gave you more weight out front and not only helped with recoil dampening (it makes a difference even in .357 Mag), it also helps the gun get back on target faster and track more smoothly. Revolvers were the rat's cheese for everything until the 80s, and as the formal competition and shooting games became more and more popular, the benefit of the heavier barrels was soon seen. Yeah, it was a few ounces more on the belt, but it made a difference in shooting.

I submit that if Skelton could almost single-handedly cause S&W to bring the .44 Special back into production, as a trifecta, those three men could certainly influence heavy/ier barrels on revolver production.

Q

Driftwood Johnson
September 30, 2012, 09:09 AM
Howdy

Did somebody say 'Quaint and Old Fashioned'?

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/My%20New%20Model%20Number%20Three/NewModel302.jpg

But I digress. Quaint and old fashioned is exactly why I like pencil barrels. I can't stand the modern bull barrels and full length under lugs. They are just plain ugly. I think I only own one S&W with the full length under lug, a model 617. See how ugly it is compared to the beautiful 1932 vintage K 22 at the top of the photo. Or even the 1975 vintage Model 17. Somebody please explain to me how much recoil there is to be absorbed by that ugly barrel when firing 22 rimfire.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/k22m1761701.jpg




A few more pencil barrels:


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/MPSN62123601.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/Model19051stChange-1.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/455MarkIIHandEjector2ndModel02.jpg

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


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/1917%20original%20model/1917andammo.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/K38andMPTargetModel.jpg


As for pleasant to shoot, this sweet little round butt M&P from 1938 is probably the most pleasant to shoot 38 that I own. Love the feel of the round butt.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/M%20and%20P%20Round%20Butt/MPRoundButt01.jpg


Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am not in the least interested in shooting heavy magnum loads from my revolvers. Most of my older 38s only see lightly loaded 38 Sp ammo, just because I see no need to stress the old guns. However I can shoot full powered factory 357 Magnum ammo all day long in this Model 28-2 with its pencil barrel and Magna grips and it does not hurt at all.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/Model28_02-1.jpg


However I digress. I am not interested in anything S&W has made since they started using MIM parts, putting locks inside, and putting on all those ugly full length under lugs. The last time I bought a brand, spanky new Smith was 1975, and the newest Smith in my collection, other than that ugly 617, was made in the 1980s.

Here are a few from earlier days.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/Tip%20Ups/ModelsNumberOneThirdIssueandNumberOneandOneHalfNewModel01.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/32safetyhammerless2ndmodel02.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/smith%20and%20wesson/NewFrontSight02.jpg




P.S. Regarding the ease of machining a pencil barrel vs a bull barrel. Don't forget, S&W forges their barrels to near net shape before any machining is done. I understand the point about it being more difficult to fixture up and support a thinner barrel. But S&W made up all the tooling and fixturing for their barrels many, many years ago. That will include whatever is needed to securely clamp a pencil barrel in place. All other things being equal, it should not be any more difficult, and their should not be much more metal removed machining a pencil barrel to final shape than a bull barrel with full length underlug. It is mostly related to what the customer wants.

tekarra
September 30, 2012, 02:11 PM
Some years back when the heavy barrels were first coming out, I thought they looked better; now I think the pencil barrels look more elegant.

CraigC
September 30, 2012, 02:33 PM
All other things being equal, it should not be any more difficult, and their should not be much more metal removed machining a pencil barrel to final shape than a bull barrel with full length underlug.
Yeah but these days they're just extruding them from pot metal. :p

Fishslayer
September 30, 2012, 06:20 PM
Back in the revolver heyday, you had people like Keith, Skelton and Jordan all championing for heavy barrels.

I wasn't actually there but I read that Mr. Jordan specified a shrouded extractor rod on the .357 Magnum K frame "In case some miscreant should accidently bump his head on the underside of the barrel." :D

No idea if it's true but a cool story. ;)

MCgunner
September 30, 2012, 06:59 PM
In a 4" gun, I think the HB balances better. Doesn't shoot any better.

stanmo
September 30, 2012, 09:25 PM
Another vote for the tapered barrel. This 5 inch M&P balances just right.

http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww215/MotownStan/P1020644.jpg

Old Fuff
October 1, 2012, 02:13 AM
My guesstimate is that tapered barrels were dumped because it was simpler to keep one cheaper to manufacture profile in stock.

It depends. Colt made its barrels out of round bar stock, and cut them to any length and then slot the blank for a front sight.

But Smith & Wesson made barrels out a forging, where the front sight and underlug were part of it. Thus they couldn't make custom lengths in the manner Colt did.

"REAL" revolver-men prefer the pencil barrel on both, because you can hold the front sight (which is much higher except on some target models) up and take long shots that the heavy-barrel crowd can't. Form follows function, as they say... :cool:

joneb
October 1, 2012, 02:25 AM
Here's a 10-5 w/a 4" tapered barrel.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=46463&d=1161061837

Brian Williams
October 1, 2012, 06:48 AM
Probably my favorite looking gun and one I wish I had is a S&W 10-7 round butt with a 3" tapered or intermediate barrel.
I think this is either Smithnut's or Saxonpig's
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=172768&stc=1&d=1349088478
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=172769&stc=1&d=1349088717
here are a few more of my pencil barrel S&W 65 in 357 mag

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=172770&stc=1&d=1349088815

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=172771&stc=1&d=1349088815

CraigC
October 1, 2012, 11:10 AM
Oh and a big preference for the half moon front sight like on stanmo's M&P! :D

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