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Flame cutting on my 686 - is this normal?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by TargetTerror, Dec 19, 2007.

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  1. TargetTerror

    TargetTerror Member

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    I was cleaning my 686 the other day and noticed some flame cutting on the top strap just above the cylinder gap. I bought the gun used, and honestly don't know if it was like that when I bought it ~1 year ago. I've shot many different loads out of it, 125 gr and 158 gr.

    My question is, is some flame cutting in this spot normal with revolvers, particularly a .357 mag or other magnum/high pressure cartridge? Is there anything I can do to mitigate any further damage? I know that the .357 maximum had issues with flame cutting, as does the 460 S&W with light weight bullets. Will I get less flame cutting with a heavier, 158 gr load that doesn't spit as much flame as a 125 gr load?
     
  2. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    Calm Down

    Flame cutting in a .357 magnum wheel gun is perfectly normal, when firing
    many rounds of the 125 grain +P .357 magnums. Be patient, as it will not
    have any adverse effect on the gun; and will cease at some point. Many
    persons have experienced this problem over the years; and now S&W has
    provided a small "flame shield" on some of their lightweight scandium guns.
     
  3. TargetTerror

    TargetTerror Member

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    Ok, I figured it was probably standard to get some. I think I'm going to switch over to 158 gr loads anyways, as I prefer shooting heavier bullets.
     
  4. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    Any .357 mag load regardless of bullet weight using slow powder will give you flame cutting, the greater the muzzle flash the more flame cutting.
     
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    +1
    Bullet weight has nothing to do with it.

    It's a direct result of chamber pressure of the load, and many 158 grain loads are loaded just as hot as the 125's.

    The 125's were made infamous for cracking forcing cones on K-frames, not for flame cutting any worse then any heavier bullet loads.

    1224.jpg
    rcmodel
     
  6. SJshooter

    SJshooter Member

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    A .357 with no flame cutting is either unshot or has used mainly .38s. It's not unlike the turn ring - you're going to get one, there's nothing you can do to prevent it, and it doesn't adversely affect the gun in any way.
     
  7. DAVIDSDIVAD

    DAVIDSDIVAD member

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    care to post pics of said flame cutting?

    I'm interested to see how it looks.
     
  8. SJshooter

    SJshooter Member

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  9. highorder

    highorder Member

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    thats a wonderful picture! what model and vintage?
     
  10. SJshooter

    SJshooter Member

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    Actually, I have no idea - it is a photo from the FAQ section of the Smith & Wesson discussion forum.
     
  11. DAVIDSDIVAD

    DAVIDSDIVAD member

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    I agree, thanks for the clear picture.
     
  12. Capstick1

    Capstick1 Member

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    I've never heard about any flame cutting problems with the .357 magnum revolvers but I do remember that in the early 80's Dan Wesson and Ruger introduced some revolvers in an unusual round called the .357 Maximum. This was a lengthened version of the .357 Magnum. This cartridge burned more powder than the magnum version. The flame cutting problems that this round had in revolvers was so severe that Ruger and Dan Wesson eventually discontinued these handguns. The .357 Maximum was better suited to singleshot pistols like the Thompson Center Contender and lever action repeating rifles.
     
  13. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Could someone please define "flame cutting"?

    What is it?
    How does one recognize it?
    What are the most common causes?
    What are potential consequences in lesser guns?

    Thnx.

    Nem
     
  14. BlackBearME

    BlackBearME Member

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    Flame cutting is what happens when the gases from the cartridge escape between the cylinder and the barrel. Over time (and we're talking 1000's of rounds here) the blast/fire from this escape can wear away at the top strap. Have a look at the pic in Post #8; the hole is the barrel, and that groove is a flame-cut right above where the cylinder gap would be. The onyl real consequence (aside from being unsightly) is the potential weakening of the topstrap. I don't believe this is an issue.

    Did I get most of that right guys?
     
  15. AStone

    AStone Member

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    A very succinct, articulate explanation, Bear.
    Thanks.
     
  16. MASTEROFMALICE

    MASTEROFMALICE member

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    Reagarding flame-cutting, would this be covered under warranty if it ever got so severe that it did pose a structural problem?

    While it could be argued that it fell under "normal wear and tear" the couter argument could be made that it results from an improper cylinder gap.

    I can't see how a gun literally tearing itself in half wouldn't be covered under warranty, but you never know.
     
  17. ViperJon

    ViperJon Member

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    I would imagine that the actual cutting into the topstrap would never get to the point of making the revolver unsafe to shoot. It would have to stop at some point or we would have heard of this type of failure. I never have.
     
  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    For some unexplained reason, it is kinda self-canceling.
    It gets so bad, then it doesn't get any worse.

    Other then the .357 Maximum mentioned, I have never heard of it causing a structural or safety problem. The whole gun will be worn out before the flame cutting gets bad enough to cause any problems other then cosmetic.

    1224.jpg
    rcmodel
     
  19. SJshooter

    SJshooter Member

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    And, actually the worse it gets the better it gets visually. The above photo shows some flame cutting - but really really serious flame cutting eventually forms that corrosion into a very straight line that doesn't appear to look as bad as the picture.

    Flame cutting will cease at a certain point, it does not affect the gun in any way and there is nothing you can do about it short of not shooting magnums from your magnum gun.
     
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