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Old 05-09-2018, 04:23 PM
Doug.38PR Doug.38PR is offline
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Default What are the pros and cons of recessed cylinders?

I have a Model 28 Highway Patrolman with recessed cylinder. I have a Model 15 Combat Masterpiece and Model 10 snub with non-recessed cylinders.

In the future (soon I hope) I plan on getting a Model 19. Forgetting cost and collector's value, what are the pros and cons of a recessed cylinder? Does the recessed cylinder keep the pressure and powder burn moving forward from the case head and reduce blowback? What is the difference? Or is there?
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:32 PM
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Smith and Wesson only recessed rimfire revolvers and Magnum revolvers.

PROs
In rimfire revolvers they protect the priming compound
In Modern Center-fire revolvers they look pretty

CONs
They cost money to add
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:34 PM
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From an armorer's perspective, I'll chime in with a negative....they are a catch all for dirt and shooting debris.
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:35 PM
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The only revolvers that have ever had recessed cylinders are the magnum calibers and of course rimfires.

As I understand it the reason for the recessed cylinders is that in the "balloon head" style of ammo cases the rim is basically a "fold" in the case wall and as a result they are pretty weak for containing the pressures of the magnum loads.

The recessed cylinders were to provide extra support for the balloon head cases to prevent blowouts, and to contain the pressure if there was a blowout.

So from a practical standpoint there is no benefit of recessed cylinders for anything other than rimfires, since no other modern cases are of a balloon head construction.

Aesthetically they allow for a smaller gap between the cylinder and recoil shield. Nostalgically they harken back to a time when the revolvers were hand-fitted pieces of mechanical art.

No other real benefit that I am aware of.

Last edited by BC38; 05-09-2018 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:44 PM
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Pros: they just make for a great looking revolver...
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Old 05-09-2018, 05:15 PM
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BC38 is dead on. Your Models 15 and 10 are not chambered for Magnum cartridges hence the lack of a recessed cylinder.
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Old 05-09-2018, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armorer951 View Post
From an armorer's perspective, I'll chime in with a negative....they are a catch all for dirt and shooting debris.
Yes, this is what recessed chambers are good for.

When it comes to the Model 19, I've always preferred
the dash 5 which eliminated the recess.

Even a little, tiny bit of oily guck was enough to start
jamming a recessed chambers revolver in a quick
reload.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BC38 View Post
Nostalgically they harken back to a time when the revolvers were hand-fitted pieces of mechanical art.
This is how I see it and why I have so many.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:45 PM
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A bit more effort to clean, but the nostalgic coolness factor is worth it.
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Old 05-09-2018, 10:29 PM
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Default Recess cylinder clean up

A little denatured alcohol on a Q tip works wonders cleaning recessed cylinders and any other steel surface with grease or oil build up particularly for prepping a surface for Ren Wax. It will really eat up the grime.
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Old 05-09-2018, 10:51 PM
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My first revolver was a M19 6" with a recessed cylinder used for target shooting Bulls Eye NRA matches. A real PIA to clean.
Don't need any extra work cleaning my revolvers!
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Old 05-10-2018, 07:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armorer951 View Post
From an armorer's perspective, I'll chime in with a negative....they are a catch all for dirt and shooting debris.
Thanks. I never thought of that. Good thing to know.
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:01 AM
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As pointed out, the recessed chambers just add another facet to cleaning, and potential issues when loading rounds into the chambers. I competed in IPSC with a model 65 for years, I had to make sure the recessed cylinder was clean to ensure full seating of my cartridges during speed loads.
If the rounds failed to seat completely, it would tie up the gun when trying to close the cylinder or cause a binding issue if the rounds were not completely seated.
I also competed for years with a model 10 in PPC and never had that issue with a non recessed cylinder.
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Old 05-10-2018, 02:28 PM
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Colt never used them, nor did Ruger.
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:33 PM
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Yes, they could get dirt, powder, etc. in them. But revolvers have a lot of nooks and crannies you could say that about. What difference does one more make? (Ok, six more.) That's why armies all over the world went to autoloaders.
Follow their example if this concerns you.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Flash View Post
Yes, they could get dirt, powder, etc. in them. But revolvers have a lot of nooks and crannies you could say that about. What difference does one more make? (Ok, six more.) That's why armies all over the world went to autoloaders.
Follow their example if this concerns you.
I think you're missing the point made by
loc n load and myself.

But a personal note, I don't care what
the world's armies use or for that matter
the world's police.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colt_saa View Post
Smith and Wesson only recessed rimfire revolvers and Magnum revolvers.

PROs
In rimfire revolvers they protect the priming compound
In Modern Center-fire revolvers they look pretty

CONs
They cost money to add
I SHOOT CCI MINI MAGS, EXCLUSIVELY, IN MY .22LR FIREARMS. GIVEN MODERN RIMFIRE MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY---EXACTLY WHAT ARE THE RECESSES PROTECTING THE PRIMING COMPOUND FROM ? ? ?
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:56 PM
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one eye Joe,

I've always believed but not really sure that
the recesses in .22 revolvers accomplish
two things:

1. It insures a more positive ignition since
I guess it's possible the power of the primer
compound could be diluted if the rim was
allowed to push outward when the firing pin
hits it. (Centerfire primers are nicely
contained and help with the pressure.)

2. Though you shouldn't dry fire a rimfire
revolver, I think the recesses lessen the
chance of firing pin damage if you do a
bit of dry firing.

Probably wrong but those are my beliefs.
(I'm not much of and never have been
much of a .22 LR revolver shooter so I've
never formally looked into the matter.)
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Old 05-10-2018, 10:17 PM
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THANKS FOR YOUR REPLY, UncleEd. IT ALL MAKES SENSE, BUT I'M WONDERING WHY--IN THE HIGH END, EXPENSIVE COLT DIAMONDBACKS, THAT I SHOT FOR 40 YEARS, USING ALL QUALITY OF AMMO, FROM JUNK TO PREMIUM--THE CHAMBERS WERE NOT RECESSED, AND I NEVER HAD A PROBLEM.......
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Old 05-10-2018, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Flash View Post
Yes, they could get dirt, powder, etc. in them. But revolvers have a lot of nooks and crannies you could say that about. What difference does one more make? (Ok, six more.) That's why armies all over the world went to autoloaders.
Follow their example if this concerns you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleEd View Post
I think you're missing the point made by
loc n load and myself.

But a personal note, I don't care what
the world's armies use or for that matter
the world's police.
I re-read those posts and don't think I missed any points but I'm not here to argue, just express an opinion. I thought that's the way to have a polite discussion.

Nobody said you need to care about anything.
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Old 05-11-2018, 02:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLACKHAWKNJ View Post
Colt never used them, nor did Ruger.
A little correction, somewhat ironic, given your handle:

Ruger did actually have recessed cylinders on the old model Blackhawks in the calibers larger than .357. I don't know the time span, but I had a .41 like that for some years. (Attached picture not mine)

As far as S&W is concerned, I think the magnums got the recessed chambers mostly because it was a "sophisticated" feature befitting the guns positioned as the top of their line. By 1982 when the recessing stopped, magnums were so common that the point was moot.

Nowadays, this feature has taken on a bit of the same mythology attached to the screw count. Neither has anything to do with either functionality or craftsmanship, but there is no harm done if you believe that or if the aesthetics appeal to you. And that's just my opinion
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Old 05-11-2018, 05:15 AM
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Just picked up a 66-2, no P or R. Everything else is just like a 66-1 and the same could be said of a 19-5.
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Old 05-11-2018, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
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...
Nowadays, this feature has taken on a bit of the same mythology attached to the screw count. Neither has anything to do with either functionality or craftsmanship, but there is no harm done if you believe that or if the aesthetics appeal to you. And that's just my opinion
I can't dispute functionality, but I do think it has something to do with craftsmanship. Eliminating a screw and other manufacturing shortcuts definitely saves money, but (my opinion) at the expense of craftsmanship. A simple thing like doing away with the diamond on a set of stocks doesn't change functionality at all, but it reduces the level of craftsmanship put in to making them.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
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I can't dispute functionality, but I do think it has something to do with craftsmanship. Eliminating a screw and other manufacturing shortcuts definitely saves money, but (my opinion) at the expense of craftsmanship. A simple thing like doing away with the diamond on a set of stocks doesn't change functionality at all, but it reduces the level of craftsmanship put in to making them.
I don’t want to divert the thread too far into this more general topic, but I think one should not automatically equate more work with more craftsmanship. S&W was a large industrial facility in the 1950s as in the 1980s, and one should not assume that workers were placing five screw holes and screws more carefully and lovingly than later just three. Same with the recessed cylinders or stock decorations. It was just more steps in the process.

That does not preclude any argument about changes in craftsmanship over time, but such I see tied more to speed of production, automation, and quality control, not the presence or absence of redundant features.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:32 AM
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They are like the fins on a 1957 Chevy Bel Air Sports Coupe....
They Just Look Good
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Old 05-11-2018, 02:21 PM
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Well, I don't know about "more lovingly" but it certainly took more effort. But I agree re: not diverting the thread ... I'm done.
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Old 05-13-2018, 01:19 PM
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My Ruger Security Six does not have them, I will have to look at my two Blackhawks. IIRC the original idea was to protect against blown case heads.
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Old 05-13-2018, 01:21 PM
Doug.38PR Doug.38PR is offline
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One pro for recessed cylinders is that they come with a pinned barreled gun. Use of Magnum Loads in S&W Model 19 and Other K-Frame Magnums

This article suggests that “crushed” barrel process of non pinned barrels make the cone’s structural integrity weaker and more easily prone to cracking
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Old 05-13-2018, 01:41 PM
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Default WHICH TYPE OF RECESS?

To allow the use of moon clips, YES. As a smaller preference thing, having the cylinder closer to the frame, with a smaller gap looks better to me.
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Old 05-13-2018, 01:54 PM
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One pro for recessed cylinders is that they come with a pinned barreled gun. Use of Magnum Loads in S&W Model 19 and Other K-Frame Magnums

This article suggests that “crushed” barrel process of non pinned barrels make the cone’s structural integrity weaker and more easily prone to cracking
I am not going to waste my time reading an article that claims S&W's non pinned one piece barrels crush the threads to make the barrels fit tight. S&W's barrel installation process did not change when the pins were discontinued. The trough that was cut across the threads for the pins to pass through was cut large enough for random barrels to be fit to random frames and still allow the pins to pass through. Often the pins did not contact the barrel. They could only limit rotation of a loose barrel. With or without a pin one piece barrels screw in by hand until the barrel shoulder contacts the frame. The final approx. 1/8 rotation presses the shoulder hard against the frame. The pins always were a non-functional advertising gimmick.
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Old 05-13-2018, 02:30 PM
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WOW!!

In the beginning-----1920's: Somebody (Remington?) came out with a "new and improved" 22 Long Rifle cartridge. For those of you not familiar with corporate speak, "new and improved" is thought to translate to "not yet proven to be defective".

So, here we have a "new and improved" cartridge which sends its bullet out at a higher velocity---sent out by higher pressures----which coincidentally was blowing out the cartridge rim every now and then----sending hot gas and brass particles in inconvenient directions. Panic reigned supreme!

Two different groups of folks set out to solve the problem. The first group had not been to Problem Solving School---the second group had. (As an aside, the first thing one is taught in Problem Solving School is to make sure you're working on the real problem--so as to avoid expending valuable resources treating symptoms.)

The folks at S&W went right to work developing a recessed chamber to protect their customers and innocent bystanders from hot gas and brass. They speak with great pride that the Straight Line Single Shot was the very first handgun with a recessed chamber. The folks at Remington stopped using cheap brass, and the REAL problem was solved. (In all fairness, or in an effort to avoid seeming to be chastising S&W, it was certainly possible yet another "new and improved" hot rod .22 cartridge could once again start blowing out its rims----and S&W would protect the folks.)

And that's the way it happened---in Springfield, Massachusetts and Ilion, New York---or wherever.

And recessed chambers do indeed unduly complicate the cleaning process!!

Ralph Tremaine

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Old 05-13-2018, 06:00 PM
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I only have one P&R gun, a 19-3. I like it very much. But I honestly don’t think it’s any better made than my M27-9 and M586-8 “Classic” series guns are, which are 2012 and 2016 production. The bluing might be more consistent on the 19 but it’s just as deep and maybe darker on the newer guns. Fit and finish is comparable and they all shoot great.

I like the recessed cylinder on the 19 because it’s old school. Simply that.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:21 PM
BLACKHAWKNJ BLACKHAWKNJ is offline
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My Ruger Super Blackhawk Old Model has recessed cylinders, my Ruger Blackhawk Convertible Old Model does not.
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Old 05-17-2018, 02:46 PM
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Nightowl Nightowl is offline
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What are the pros and cons of recessed cylinders? What are the pros and cons of recessed cylinders? What are the pros and cons of recessed cylinders? What are the pros and cons of recessed cylinders? What are the pros and cons of recessed cylinders?  
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I prefer the recessed chambers. I don't think it makes the gun any better, they are a bit harder to clean (but not really an issue) and chamfering the chambers is not a good idea. But, I just like them, perhaps because my first .357 Magnum that I bought in late 60s has them.

I think the overall quality of each particular gun is more important than whether it has recessed chambers.
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