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To flute or not to flute a barrel.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 07:46
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I found this on the web. Makes for some interesting reading.
 
For those not wanting to read this the summary is as follows:
 

CONCLUSION ON BARREL FLUTING....

  • When comparing two barrels of equal weight, length, and material but one is solid and other is fluted, the fluted barrel will have:

    •  A larger diameter

    • Greater stiffness (depending on how the extra diameter/weight is distributed)

    • Vibrate at a higher  frequency (depending on how the extra diameter/ weight is distributed)

    • Less muzzle sag (depending on how the extra diameter/ weight is distributed)

  • Fluting a solid barrel will:

    •  Reduce its weight

    • Reduce its stiffness

    • Increase its natural frequency of vibration

    • Decrease its muzzle sag.

  • Reducing the weight of a barrel by fluting makes a stiffer barrel than reducing the weight by decreasing its diameter.

  • A shorter barrel of the same section, solid or fluted, will sag less and vibrate at a higher frequency

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 08:23
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I defer to Shilen:

What about "fluting" a barrel?
Fluting is a service we neither offer nor recommend. If you have a Shilen barrel fluted, the warranty is void. Fluting a barrel can induce unrecoverable stresses that will encourage warping when heated and can also swell the bore dimensions, causing loose spots in the bore. A solid (un-fluted) barrel is more rigid than a fluted barrel of equal diameter. A fluted barrel is more rigid than a solid barrel of equal weight. All rifle barrels flex when fired. Accuracy requires that they simply flex the same and return the same each time they are fired, hence the requirement for a pillar bedded action and free floating barrel. The unrecoverable stresses that fluting can induce will cause the barrel to flex differently or not return from the flexing without cooling down a major amount. This is usually longer than a shooter has to wait for the next shot. The claim of the flutes helping to wick heat away faster is true, but the benefit of the flutes is not recognizable in this regard until the barrel is already too hot. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 08:44
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OK, now I'm really confusedThinking
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 08:55
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Originally posted by Kickboxer Kickboxer wrote:

I defer to Shilen:

What about "fluting" a barrel?
Fluting is a service we neither offer nor recommend. If you have a Shilen barrel fluted, the warranty is void. Fluting a barrel can induce unrecoverable stresses that will encourage warping when heated and can also swell the bore dimensions, causing loose spots in the bore. A solid (un-fluted) barrel is more rigid than a fluted barrel of equal diameter. A fluted barrel is more rigid than a solid barrel of equal weight. All rifle barrels flex when fired. Accuracy requires that they simply flex the same and return the same each time they are fired, hence the requirement for a pillar bedded action and free floating barrel. The unrecoverable stresses that fluting can induce will cause the barrel to flex differently or not return from the flexing without cooling down a major amount. This is usually longer than a shooter has to wait for the next shot. The claim of the flutes helping to wick heat away faster is true, but the benefit of the flutes is not recognizable in this regard until the barrel is already too hot. 


I read that too on Shilen's web site when researching to replace a barrel on one of my rifles. I found it interesting.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 09:05
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SHILEN IS THE ONLY BARREL CO. THAT SAYS THIS IF IT WERE TRUE NOBODY WOULD BE FLUTING i HAVE HAD BARRELS FLUTED WITH ABSALUTLY NO CHANGES OR EFFECTS ON ANYTHING AND THEY LOOK GOOD AS WELL? SO .....BS
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 09:11
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Either way --It looks cool ..I have a factory fluted Weatherby MK V 300 Wby and a Rem 700 LVSF 308 ... both are shooters..The 700  is a magnum contour and the 300 Wby is a traditional sporter #2 contour
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 09:54
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problem with the model: from science perspective

doesn't measure amount of deflection when a known force is applied from the side (except gravity)

the analysis of doesn't approach from when whats called "single beam harmonics" or when an impulse is dampened out in the system
 
the finite element analysis is pretty elementary-- if your curious in this regard run the model in Matlab using their PDE toolbox.
 
the model and most discussions (on this site and other webs)  do not calculate the contribution to strength ratio inherent in "oragami"  type topographical configuration. , such technologies such as microphone and speaker membranes etc.
 
the conclusions is directed towards bench rest shooting -- on a level that should show any differences, by the elmination of many variables, when by the same token it makes the conclusion so specific its not applicable to general use.
 
usually the arguements just say that the barrel is not as stiff because of the reduction of material accross a unit of cross sectional area. --
the question that should be asked -- at what level can the dia. of the barrel be reduced , by using a fluting technique, to gain the shooting properties of a thicker heavier barrel.
 
personally I like flutes, especially the snaky ones on the Volquartson target 22s.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 13:55
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If I were to ever contemplate a fluted barrel I would have the barrel maker do the fluting at the time of installation. My reasoning is that any lapping to final dimensions should be done by the barrel maker. Fluting a barrel after the fact (after stress relieving) runs the risk of changing the accuracy for the bad. I have never heard of a barrel being more accurate after fluting, however if the barrel is the same accuracy wise then all is good. Personally, I think flutes look cool on most rifles with the exception of a fancy wood stocked classic type bolt gun.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 15:15
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Originally posted by rifle looney rifle looney wrote:

SHILEN IS THE ONLY BARREL CO. THAT SAYS THIS IF IT WERE TRUE NOBODY WOULD BE FLUTING i HAVE HAD BARRELS FLUTED WITH ABSALUTLY NO CHANGES OR EFFECTS ON ANYTHING AND THEY LOOK GOOD AS WELL? SO .....BS



Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 17:50
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PS....that varmint Al he is a good guy.....
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 18:57
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So spiral fluting is better than straight fluting ?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 19:01
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No ,just a different look and it removes a little bit more material due to with a spiral the flute is longer.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 21:35
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Do you guys consider Shilen the same quality as Lilja and Krieger?  Was looking at an Ed Brown gun. It has Shilen barrel.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/19/2009 at 21:40
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The Select Match yes.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 02:06
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seems to work ok
 


Edited by Urimaginaryfrnd - January/20/2009 at 02:18
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 07:37
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Originally posted by rifle looney rifle looney wrote:

SHILEN IS THE ONLY BARREL CO. THAT SAYS THIS IF IT WERE TRUE NOBODY WOULD BE FLUTING i HAVE HAD BARRELS FLUTED WITH ABSALUTLY NO CHANGES OR EFFECTS ON ANYTHING AND THEY LOOK GOOD AS WELL? SO .....BS
RL,
  When you have as much metallurgical experience, have constructed as many national champion barrels as Shilen, I will take your "BS" with a grain of salt... until then Horse Poop to your comment. 
 
"IF IT WERE TRUE NOBODY WOULD BE FLUTING"...  totally disagree.  If the public finds something "cool" and it is a marketable activity with questionable result (does it or doesn't it improve or decrease accuracy...kind of like moly-coated bullets), most of the market will adopt the practice.  Shilen has done research and has taken a stance based upon that research.  Others choose not to.  I do not believe there has been a definitive research effort performed with finding in either direction, at least I have not been able to find it.  Just because you have had barrels fluted and you have not noticed any change does not qualify as definitive testing and analysis. 
Personally, I don't know.  I have not done any detailed testing or research on the matter, but the little I did do led me to go with Shilen's analysis.  I can find no real pro or con for/against fluting, other than "it looks cool" ( I happen to like the way it looks, and if it were to turn out to have no potentially detrimental effects, might like to have it done to a couple of rifles...IF).  I have one rifle with a fluted barrel and it is the most accurate rifle I have ever fired.  Does fluting have anything to do with that?... absolutely NOT.  IF I could have gotten the rifle without a fluted barrel, I would have.  That is how it was produced and its other accuracy enhancements overcame my reservations for a fluted barrel.
I test weapons and systems of weapons for a living.  The only really serious contender for a full military rifle with fluted barrel was the XM8, which was cancelled/delayed until about 2011 or so(NOT for reasons of fluting.  However, the barrel did produce such significant heat that the stock grip would melt under heavy firing... projected barrel life was around 15k rounds, which is about double current M16...fluting was not, however, the suggested reason for that, but the hexagonal rifling... have no evidence of what role fluting actually played). 
I am on the fence on this.  I LIKE the way fluting looks.  I have no real evidence for or against.  BUT, when a company like Shilen tells me there are potential detriments due to fluting, I am going to listen.  The fact they WILL NOT flute a barrel (which they could command big bucks to do) and will void the warranty on one of their barrels if it is fluted, speaks much... to me.  You don't have to listen. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 07:46
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I agree with that statement. but they are still the only people not doing it so there for I and many others believe it has very very little affect. and I appreciate your expertise and background. so if you like it do it.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 08:09
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Just for the record:
 
There is no question about the cooling effects of fluting...more surface area presented, more cooling.  The only questions come to the inherent effects on accuracy.   However, Shilen, again, has a point, if you need that cooling, your barrel is already HOT.  For some high rate of fire weapons, this is not that big an issue...cooling is much more important than potential inaccuracy induced by unpredictable barrel flexion.  Shallow fluting on large diameter barrels possibly has less effect on accuracy and more effect on cooling.  Those are special cases and not the "general usage" categories.  I do not believe we have been discussing carrying around that type of HEAVY barreled weapon.  For very high rate of fire, fluting can be a good thing. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 08:22
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I can't imagine how cutting metal from a barrel's surface could cause it to be more accurate.  As for cooling,  a fluted barrel will also heat up faster because it has less metal to dissipate the heat.  That being said I have chosen a fluted barrel for my new custom made rifle as it is a bit muzzle heavy because if it's length.  I am hoping that it will shoot as accurately as a non-fluted barrel but I feel that also depends on the skill of the barrel maker in his cutting and also in stress relieving the barrel.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 09:08
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Doug, I believe the metal loss is overcome by increased surface area presented to the atmosphere.  Stands to reason that with more surface area "in the open", more heat will dissipate, but that is a by product of fluting, I think.  
Your thouhts on the cutting process are probably more important than you indicate. 
Fluting is primarily for decreasing weight of larger barrels.  Smaller diameter, lighter barrels should not, probably cannot be fluted, but if you have a large diameter, heavy barrel, it can be fluted to reduce weight.  One then has to "weigh" (so to speak) what effects that may have on accuracy.  Stresses involved may all come down to how well the fluting job is performed.  In which case, getting it done properly would be time consuming and therefore very expensive. 
At this point in my life, weight reduction and cooling effects are not that important to me... not important enough to outweigh potential accuracy issues and additional cost.  I am not shooting at such a high volume to make temp an issue and the weight doesn't bother me, yet.  Someday, that may change. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 09:09
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fluting basic assumption is to make a barrel more accurate by starting with a larger diameter barrel then reducing the mass to equal that of a thinner barrel of same mass, with more rigidity while retaining the (supposed accuracy of the heavier orginal starting blank). not to make a barrel more accurate per se. the militarys (and le) needs hardly has any reality in sportsmen, target shooting, or "carry rifle". The caloric heat content of the mass of the barrel isn't an arguement as the rate of fire isn't high enough in target and sporter type guns to be an issue. while it is possible to define, measure and quantify the differences between fluting and non-fluting any correlation to each other in terms of accuracy would be difficult and costly.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 09:19
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From Lilja's website.

Q: Does fluting cause stress in a barrel?

A: We've been asked if machining flutes into a rifle barrel causes stress in the steel. The short answer is no, it does not. There are some operations in the manufacture of a rifle barrel that can cause stress to develop in the steel, but fluting is not one of them. To the contrary, fluting can and will relieve stress if it is already present. The same is true of any outside machining work performed on a barrel.

The type of stress that can exist in a barrel is called compressive stress. Under normal conditions the stress could form from two processes. When steel is manufactured, the round shape is formed through a rolling operation in the steel mill. This forming can be performed either hot or cold. Cold rolling generates a great deal of internal stress in the steel. Usually, with steel used for rifle barrels, this stress is relieved by heating the steel to just below its transformation or critical temperature. We have the steel mill that makes our steel do this as their very last operation, ensuring us that the steel is stress free when we receive it.

Secondly, stress can be formed in a rifle barrel during a cold forming operation, such as button rifling. Since no material is removed from the barrel when the rifling is formed, rather it is displaced, it causes compressive stress in the steel. If this stress is not removed, through a heat treating operation, it will remain in the steel where it can cause other problems. Any subsequent machining operations, such as turning the outside diameter of the barrel, will allow some of those stresses to come out. The result can be an opening of the inside diameter of the barrel, more so towards the muzzle where more material is machined away. It can and probably will also cause the barrel to warp. And if these aren't enough, the temporary heating and cooling of the barrel that occurs during normal firing will also let the stress come out by warping the barrel. Poor accuracy is the result.

Although a barrel would not normally be welded on, this can also cause stresses to form in steel. At times though, gunsmiths will heat barrels to sweat-on barrel bands and sites. Too much heat can cause some problems as well.

But, the fact remains that normal machining operations, such as outside turning, fluting, drilling and tapping site holes, etc. do not cause or introduce stress. They can and do allow residual stresses to come out of the steel though.

We flute about 50 rifle barrels per month and have never had a problem with our barrels related to fluting.


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 09:22
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my m700 is factory fluted, and i havent noticed any issues with it other than they allow snow to accumulate on the barrel. i kinda like the way it looks, and i do feel that it helps cool the barrel, mine shoots well so i know it doesnt effect accuracy.
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From Fulton Armory...
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/20/2009 at 10:21
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interesting note here-- while a custom barrel may be machined, and since remington hammer forges their barrels, I'm betting they pound the fluting into the barrel at the same time to cut down on cost. ---  so does machine fluting have different effects than hammered forged fluting (if this is the case) ?? who knows.
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