The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: The Revolver Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old January 20, 2009, 09:09 PM   #1
bp78
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 9, 2004
Posts: 166
What is a recessed cylinder?

S&W fans go on and on about "Pinned and recessed". The pinned barrel part is easy enough to see and understand, pin just behind the barrel thru the frame to prevent it from unscrewing.

But what exactly is a recessed cylinder, why is it so desirable, and how do you distinguish the feature from current production?

Only a S&W 640 owner but thinking of adding something in .357 to the safe.
bp78 is offline  
Old January 20, 2009, 09:35 PM   #2
FlyFish
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 20, 2009
Location: Overlooking the Baker River Valley
Posts: 1,482
"Recessed" refers to counterboring on each of the chambers in the cylinder such that the cartridge rims were flush with the back of the cylinder rather than projecting by the width of the rim. S&W only ever did it for rimfires and magnums, and it was discontinued in the early 1980s. Arguably, there was some advantage in this design for rimfires, but there really was none for centerfire cartridges.

So-called "P&R" Smiths are considered more desirable (by some) because they are reminiscent of a day characterized by craftsmanship rather than mass production, but there is no compelling reason to believe that those characteristics themselves made the guns any better.
FlyFish is offline  
Old January 20, 2009, 09:37 PM   #3
bp78
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 9, 2004
Posts: 166
Thank you, I spent 20mins searching this forum and google for a crisp description on what recessed meant.
bp78 is offline  
Old January 20, 2009, 09:45 PM   #4
12GaugeShuggoth
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 6, 2008
Location: Virginia
Posts: 534
Hmm, learn something new every day. Like the OP said, thanks for the bit of info.
__________________
---Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.---

---Enlightenment is the ability to take infinite pains---
MOLON LABE
12GaugeShuggoth is offline  
Old January 20, 2009, 11:03 PM   #5
Gun 4 Fun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 3, 2008
Posts: 956
Flyfish answered the question beautifully. With this one exception.

The recessed chambers started back in a time when ballon-head cases were the norm. They are also referred to as folded head cases, because if you cross section them, they look like folded brass in the rim/head area. The brass was actually folded to form the rim. The primer pocket was punched into the brass at the rear, and was nothing more than a recessed section of brass that the primer fit in.

They are thinner and weaker in the critical head/rim area, so chambers were originally recessed to encompass the rim for support/strength.

Todays brass is not made that way and hasn't been for around 70-80 years. It is much thicker in the head area, and rims are solid as well as the web where the primer pocket is. Therefore recessed chambers are superfluous.
Gun 4 Fun is offline  
Old January 20, 2009, 11:08 PM   #6
Webleymkv
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 20, 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 9,841
Many say that P&R S&W's had smoother actions than later guns and are therefore more desireable. Personally, I have both and can't tell the difference.
__________________
Smith, and Wesson, and Me. -H. Callahan
Well waddaya know, one buwwet weft! -E. Fudd
All bad precedents begin as justifiable measures. -J. Caesar
Webleymkv is offline  
Old January 20, 2009, 11:12 PM   #7
csmsss
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 24, 2008
Location: Orange, TX
Posts: 2,979
Honestly? I think recessed cylinders is just another way for a revolver to go wrong. Instead of only having to check that the cylinder face is square to the length of the cylinder, now the manufacturer also has to make sure that easy cylinder is counterbored to a nearly perfect consistency times 6 (or however many chambers are in the cylinder). Then, the manufacturer has to make sure that the star is seated perfectly with respect to each individual chamber. And to what benefit? None, really, that I'm aware of, other than cosmetics.
csmsss is offline  
Old January 21, 2009, 12:29 AM   #8
CraigC
Junior member
 
Join Date: November 28, 2001
Location: West Tennessee
Posts: 4,300
FlyFish nailed it and Guns 4 Fun backed him up perfectly. Nothing more to be added.

Personally, I don't prefer it, strictly speaking as a functional aspect. Without recessed case heads, one can easily glance at a revolver from the side and see whether or not it is loaded. Some modern gunsmiths do recess case heads on their custom cylindered guns but it's not an option I would pay extra for. Not with modern solid head brass.
CraigC is offline  
Old January 21, 2009, 12:44 AM   #9
BillCA
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 28, 2004
Location: Silicon Valley, Ca
Posts: 7,087
A picture is worth a thousand words



The recesses show up here as a ring around each chamber. This recessed area is where the rim of the cartridge case rests so that in a loaded cylinder, the cases are flush with the rear surface of the cylinder.

This feature was found only on .22LR and magnum caliber revolvers.

For the .22LR it was deemed necessary for safety, to prevent powder gases from burning your hand in the event the hollow-head of the .22 rimfire case ruptured. In magnum cartridges, the recessing existed from 1935 until approximately 1981. It was discontinued as unnecessary and as a cost-saving change.
__________________
BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)

Last edited by BillCA; January 21, 2009 at 12:52 AM.
BillCA is offline  
Old January 21, 2009, 01:09 AM   #10
CraigC
Junior member
 
Join Date: November 28, 2001
Location: West Tennessee
Posts: 4,300
You need to send that old rusted thing to me so I can properly dispose of it!
CraigC is offline  
Old January 22, 2009, 02:11 PM   #11
BillCA
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 28, 2004
Location: Silicon Valley, Ca
Posts: 7,087
csmsss,

While the recessed cylinder did complicate manufacturing, it never seemed to cause a problem in actual use. And recessed guns were built in the heyday of the police revolver.. from 1935 until 1980. If they can do it right for 45 years in a row then it's not something to go wrong. And there was a theoretical reason for it - not cosmetics. It was there to contain gas pressures in the event of a head rupture with "high pressure" rounds like the .44 Mag.
__________________
BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)
BillCA is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:34 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.07841 seconds with 7 queries