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Old May 28, 2004, 09:42 AM   #1
PaladinX13
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Why are revolver cyclinder's "ribbed"?

I don't know the technical term, but I'm wondering if there is a practical reason for having "ribbed" cyclinders. I've seen break-top and single action revolvers with smooth cyclinders... I think I remember seeing DAO hammerless revolvers with smooth cyclinders as well. Smooth would seem to be slighly better for CCW (nothing to catch, feed a sleeve, or for the attacker to gain purchase on). But ribbed is aesthetically pleasing, lets you count your shots easier, saves weight, and gives you more grip on your cyclinder I suppose....

Anyways, what's the reason? A production reason? Function reason? Style?

Thanks!
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Old May 28, 2004, 09:44 AM   #2
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Primarily the cylinder flutes are to make the revokver lighter.
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Old May 28, 2004, 10:14 AM   #3
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Flutes also add surface area to help dissapte heat.
Same principle as an air cooled engine with fins.
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Old May 28, 2004, 11:03 AM   #4
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I find flutes are also useful when manipulating the cylinder during reloading. They provide natural spots for your right fingers to keep the cylinder indexed as you bring in a speedloader.

Given a choice, I'll take flutes everytime. I happen to think they make for a more graceful looking revolver anyway.
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Old May 28, 2004, 12:11 PM   #5
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However, not all modern revolvers have fluted cylinders. Several of my N Frame Smiths -- two 627 Special Editions and my 610 -- have non-fluted cylinders. I like the look and -- although I agree re heat diffusion, that is not a problem for my wheelguns -- I suspect it might add some structural strength to revolver (more mass, more metal).
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Old May 28, 2004, 02:28 PM   #6
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These guys covered it pretty well: To lighten the cylinder and to help it cool. I also think they serve well as "finger grooves" for reasons mentioned above.
They also just look cool.
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Old May 28, 2004, 07:11 PM   #7
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I think it has more to do with tradition than anything. Fluting a cylinder for the sake of improved cooling is nonsense: I'm sure there's no discernible difference, and anyway, the barrel gets considerably hotter than the cylinder. There is some slight weight reduction, but for most guns, it's a very small difference.
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Old May 28, 2004, 08:55 PM   #8
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Fluting makes for more surface area and thus more dissapation of heat.

Also, fluting actually lightens the cylinder, while maintaining the integral strength of the cylinder, and thus you get a better weight-to-strength ratio.
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Old May 29, 2004, 01:17 AM   #9
Archie
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Flutes in cylinders....

If I'm not mistaken (and I could be, I suppose...) the old black powder revolvers were fluted to allow black powder build up to slough off, rather than tie up the cylinder.

Not to mention, black powder guns needed to be rotated manually to load.

Whatever the original reason, tradition has something to do with it.
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Old June 1, 2004, 05:45 AM   #10
Jim March
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Ya, in the Single Action days you had to line up each cylinder bore with the loading gate. Flutes let you do so by touch, in the dark, or at speed in any light.

In fact, I think a lot of the even earlier percussion guns were unfluted...Colt Patterson, Dragoons, 1851/1861 and such I seem to recall were unfluted? If so it wasn't until the need to stuff metallic cartridges in the rear that fluting became more popular, and necessary. (I'd go google pics of percussion pieces but I've been typing all night and gotta catch at least a couple hours...if I'm wrong, somebody will chime in shortly .)
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Old June 1, 2004, 06:23 AM   #11
Hal
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Quote:
Fluting a cylinder for the sake of improved cooling is nonsense:
Excuse me but I never stated they were added "for the sake of improved cooling". What I said was that flutes "add surface area to help dissapte heat".

Put a number of rounds downrage out of a BP revolver then kiss the cylinder...then tell me they don't get hot.
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Old June 1, 2004, 07:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
then kiss the cylinder

Even a good thing can be overdone, Hal. I mean, we all love our guns, but...



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Old June 1, 2004, 09:17 AM   #13
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Old June 1, 2004, 11:36 AM   #14
Archie
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Jim, you're right...

Most of the percussion guns were unfluted. Dang...

Since it's simpler to not flute the cylinders (and therefore cheaper) there must be a reason for doing it. I doubt asthetics have that much to do with it, the Ruger Super Blackhawks, for instance.

Perhaps to distinguish the "new" smokeless powder guns? No... the Colt Peacemaker puts the finish to that thought. I think your idea of manually indexing the cylinder to reload may have more to do with it.

But even with speedloaders and moon clips, I like the looks of a fluted cylinder.
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Old June 2, 2004, 12:20 AM   #15
Jim March
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Flutes also affect weight and balance.

A LOT of thought went into the SAA's handling. Fluting might have been a part of that. However, I would be willing to bet that the indexing issue was a factor.

Remember too that this was all pre-electric-light. Then as now, a whole lotta trouble happened after dark and "dark" was a heluva lot darker than today, esp. in urban areas.

Look at how many guns of the late 19th century were easy to handle in the dark. Not just revolvers - exposed hammers on shotguns (mule-eared) and rifles (just about all leverguns) were easy and safe to confirm status by touch. In a world without flashlights, streetlights, indoor lighting, etc, that MATTERED.
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Old June 2, 2004, 09:01 AM   #16
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Non fluted cheaper to manufacture and with the right pitch, will sell to some.

Fluted...for most of the aforestated reasons plus....
A little less mass decreases the loading on the lockwork when firing rapidly.
Gotta start that cylinder rotating AND stop it suddenly when indexed.

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Old June 2, 2004, 09:25 AM   #17
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Flutes were originally to lighten the cylinder, improve looks, heat dissipation, and handling. I believe they first appeared on the Colt 1860 Army, back when Sam Colt was trying to smooth the lines of his guns and pretty them up.

Lightening the cylinder can be very important if you are shooting fast because a revolver has to rotate and then stop the cylinder when it is aligned. A heavier cylinder makes this harder on the gun both ways. Eventually things will wear and you might get over-rotation or ruin the cylinder indexing. This is why dedicated fast draw guns often have very light alloy cylinders.

Update: Just did a check on Colt 1860 Army repros. None of them have fluted cylinders so maybe I'm wrong.
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Old June 2, 2004, 09:48 PM   #18
Hal
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Quote:
so maybe I'm wrong.
Partly. I recall reading somewhere that some of the Colt Army's equipped with the shoulder stock had the cylinders fluted to reduce the weight. Although it may seem like a paltry amount of savings by today's standards,back then every ounce counted for a foot soldier or a mounted soldier.

The first real production revolver with a fluted cylinder appears to be the Colt Pocket Police model of 1862.
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Old June 3, 2004, 01:56 PM   #19
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Whoever brought this up is a.....WITCH !!!

Burn him! Burn him, I say..!!!!

THIS is gonna drive me NUTS!

I ....SEMI....remember reading this once. Where? HA! That's why it's WITCHCRAFT!!!

BURN HIM !!!!

I always just used it to tell how many shots it held by just lookin at it in the case. NOW I will go crazy!

Well.....CRAZIER !!!
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Old June 5, 2004, 06:12 AM   #20
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The sidehammer 1855 Colt Root revolver as well as the side hammer revolving carbines & shotguns were fluted.

There were some Colt 1860 Army revolvers with fluted cylinders but the practice was stopped to speed up wartime production.

The 1862 Police revolvers were also fluted.
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Old June 5, 2004, 07:44 AM   #21
Brian D.
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"Ribbed" for your pleasure? (Please don't throw me out, couldn't help myself.. )
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