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Fluted vs. Unfluted Cylinders

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by OregonJohnny, Feb 9, 2009.

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  1. OregonJohnny

    OregonJohnny Member

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    I assume the main purpose of a fluted cylinder on a revolver is to reduce weight. Are there any other reasons for a fluted cylinder? Why are some .44 Magnum revolvers fluted while others aren't? For instance, Ruger New Model Blackhawks in .44 Magnum and .45 Colt are fluted, while most of the Super Blackhawks in .44 Magnum aren't. I much prefer the looks of an unfluted cylinder, especially on a single-action revolver, and I can't imagine that it would add that much weight over a fluted one. I can see the reasoning in heavily fluting the cylinder on an airweight J-frame or the new Ruger LCR as those are made to be as light as possible. But in something like a large 6-shot .357 or .44 magnum, how much difference is it going to make? How come my Ruger Single Six Convertible came with a fluted .22LR cylinder and an unfluted .22 WMR cylinder? Just so you can visually tell the difference? Why doesn't Ruger make a stainless, unfluted, 5.5" .45 Colt Blackhawk. I'd buy one in a hurry if they did! My brain is melting, help. Any ideas on the subject?
     
  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    There are two reasons for flutes:

    1. As you suspect, to reduce weight.

    2. Cosmetics - in other words, a certain look. ;)
     
  3. mgkdrgn

    mgkdrgn Member

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    reason not to:

    1) Cheaper
     
  4. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Why don't they make a stainless 5.5" .45 Colt Blackhawk at all?

    That said, I like this gun:
    [​IMG]

    Note that it has the same grip frame as a Blackhawk, in case you don't like the Dragoon grip on the 7 1/2" and larger Super Blackhawks.
     
  5. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    There is another reason for flutes, related to weight reduction, but for a more specific reason. Reducing the mass of a rotating cylinder, especially on the outer edges, reduces the effort required to rotate the cylinder and reduces wear on the mechanisms needed to start rotation (the hand) and stop rotation (the cylinder stop).

    Jim
     
  6. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Right on.

    Note that the flutes are along the perimeter, where it has the greatest impact on the polar moment of inertia of the rotating cylinder.
     
  7. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    On a totally tangential note, I notice that Freedom Arms has bumped the extra for fluting to 59.00.

    Still worth it, IMHO.
    Unfluted is OK, just looks the teensiest bit untraditional.
     
  8. RippinSVT

    RippinSVT Member

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    From what I know, it also stems from the early SA Colts and Smiths. When doing a quick reload, the flutes provide some need traction to turn the cylinder.
     
  9. Eightball

    Eightball Member

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    Amongst other things, they "make" or "break" a revolver's style. :D
     
  10. goodtime

    goodtime Member

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    I'm a big fan of unfluted cylinders. Sure, they're not traditional. I think that is why they are reserved, sometimes, for special guns, like Freedom Arms, Super Blackhawks -- not just the Blackhawk but the SUPER Blackhawk -- (see?) and others. There are relatively few models available with no flutes, and this lends to their exclusivity. I think, in addition to the other reasons mentioned above, some makers want to give a special distinction to a special revolver.

    Jim - Excellent insight; makes perfect sense. I never thought of that.
     
  11. Oro

    Oro Member

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    My experience:

    Unfluted "looks" cool and some buy based on that,

    Fluted "works" better and some care about that.

    Choose what you want - the manufacturing that cares to make a more functional design, or the "cool" one. I always will go for and pay more for the design that is for function (fluted).
     
  12. MovedWest

    MovedWest Member

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    I actually happen to know the answer to this as I'm a bit of a Ruger addict. :)

    The fluted cylinders are traditional for whatever reason. But the nonfluted cylinders of the super blackhawk are part of what makes it a super blackhawk. By design the SBH is made to be heavier to tame the recoil of the 44 mag cartridge. Just like formula one car designers look for places to shave of a few grams here and there, the SBH had the same process done in reverse. A lot of other gun makers have followed suit.

    There was an interesting test my father tried back in the day. He had a hard time managing the recoil of his blackhawk .357 mag. He swapped grip frames with a SBH (considerably larger and heavier) and the difference was astounding! He left it like that until he sold it. FYI - these were for the old 3 screw models. I don't think you can swap grip frames on the new models.

    -MW
     
  13. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    Unfluted is more traditional than fluted. You didn't start seeing fluted cylinders till the 1860's. Today, fluted is more common.
     
  14. Storm

    Storm Member

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    I admit it, I like the looks of an unfluted cylinder. My 6" 629 and 686 are both unfluted.
     
  15. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    My x25 came with a gimme Clint Smith DVD where he describes using the flutes to index the cylinder for a speedloader or clip.

    Though inapplicable to those with loading gates, we can add that to the weight / rotational inertia practical reasons for the things.
     
  16. Matt Almeda

    Matt Almeda Member

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    Hi,
    I'm not a metallurgist but I'm sure one will come aboard and either agree or disagree.

    I believe the reason is that the flutes originally made the cylinder stronger and able to withstand the greater pressures of the smokeless powders. With modern casting and alloys, the flutes were no longer necessary.

    Sounds good....but is it true?
     
  17. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    :scrutiny:

    clearly.
     
  18. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

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    Flutes are for looks and only for looks. I don't buy the weight argument at all - the amount of weight saved can only be measured in grams, not ounces. Furthermore, Blackhawks with or without the flutes, perform identically. Same with the Freedom Arms.

    Weight may have been more of an issue 100+ years ago in relation to less wear on the internal parts, and it only stuck around because that's just what people consider normal on a revolver.

    It is neither stronger nor weaker fluted or unfluted - the thinnest part of the cylinder wall always stays the same.
     
  19. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    Flutes provide a blow-out point for overcharged loads.

    I just made that up.
     
  20. Duke of Doubt

    Duke of Doubt member

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    I think unfluted cylinders look like crap, but that's not why flutes are there. It's all about polar moment of inertia, as related above.

    No, you don't have to have them. You can have a cylinder with funky little indents and bay windows, if you want. But the flutes are functional, and as a matter of design break up the monolithic cylinder. Sheriff's '62 looks like the cat's meow compared to the Army '60, and I have the Army '60.
     
  21. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

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    Do you have any idea how miniscule the weight difference really is? Like I said...for OLD revolvers...maybe helpful...but anything modern, no way.

    Would anyone happen to have a matching fluted and unfluted cylinder they could weigh?
     
  22. Gryffydd

    Gryffydd Member

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    All I know for sure is that the unfluted cylinder on my Ruger Bisley Convertible made a great place to put a rollmark. I think it looks better with the unfluted cylinder than with the fluted .45acp cylinder. I can't say I can feel a difference when cocking, firing, or handling the gun though.
     
  23. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    I do have to admit that I'm a lot faster loading full moon clips after watching the Clint Smith blurb on using the flutes. One needn't be looking at the cylinder.

    If one were carrying a full moon type defensive revolver for serious social purposes I can see where omitting the flutes could be undesirable.
     
  24. krs

    krs Member

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    An example of a modern revolver would be...?

    Didn't fluted cylinders originate with the Colt 'pocket' models? Reduced size revolvers for the style conscious and effete.

    Certainly Oscar Wilde would have prefered his....fluted.
     
  25. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

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    Anything labeled "Magnum".
     
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