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S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present All NON-PINNED Barrels, the L-Frames, and the New Era Revolvers


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Old 05-08-2016, 03:37 PM
FloridaFlier FloridaFlier is offline
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Default Fluted and Unfluted Cylinders

It seems to me that most revolvers with unfluted cylinders are at a higher price point or are Performance Center guns. Certainly not all, but usually that's an indicator of a more expensive gun.

Why?

Is there some sort of performance improvement with the unfluted cylinder? It seems to me that unfluted adds weight and possibly (?) some strength. Maybe a better platform for etching or engraving, if you're into that. I'm not.

What is the appeal of an unfluted cylinder?

With apologies to all, I know this has to have been discussed in other threads, but I couldn't find them.
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Old 05-08-2016, 03:41 PM
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A perhaps unintended benefit is the unfluted version is harder to grasp, and perhaps interrupt the function in a close-quarters struggle.
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Old 05-08-2016, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by bigwheelzip View Post
A perhaps unintended benefit is the unfluted version is harder to grasp, and perhaps interrupt the function in a close-quarters struggle.
That's a reach.
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Old 05-08-2016, 05:27 PM
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I would think that the unfluted are cheaper to manufacture. No milling flutes to add to the cost.
As to use, they are no stronger, just heavier. To me, that adds to the trigger pull weight necessary to turn the cylinder from shot to shot. I have not researched the issue enough to determine if it is even enough to worry about. There are so many factors that affect trigger weight that it might be more accurate for an engineer to calculate than to measure between different guns, or even the same gun with two cylinders.
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Old 05-08-2016, 05:43 PM
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Unfluted cylinders have no advantage, apart from appearance, for those that like that look. I do not favor unfluted cylinders. They add weight, offer no appreciable increase in strength (they do not add steel over the locking notches, which are the weak point in any cylinder), and they offer no tactile index points to assist in reloading. Too me, a revolver with an unfluted cylinder just looks like someone forgot a machining operation.

Last edited by shawn mccarver; 05-08-2016 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 05-08-2016, 05:45 PM
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I am no expert either, but it does seem that the manufacturing should be easier and should lower the cost, not make it more expensive. The only benefit I can think of, it would add weight and help to reduce recoil for heavy rounds, like .454, .460, .480 and so on.
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Old 05-08-2016, 05:45 PM
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I suspect it's a cost saver marketed in higher priced revolvers yielding greater profit.

I see no aesthetic or functional benefit.
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Old 05-08-2016, 05:52 PM
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I recall reading the cylinder flutes made manual rotation of the cylinder (think black powder fouling) easier, and the tradition just continued.

Theoretically it would be less expensive to have unfluted cylinders, except the process is performed on nearly every revolver and changing to unfluted would probably be more expensive. Think about ordering your new Chevy (Toyota, VW) without a radio or air conditioning, and see how much heartburn that causes your dealer .
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Old 05-08-2016, 06:11 PM
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The added weight may be a functional necessity,,,

My gun came with a special instruction to test ammo to insure that it was adequately crimped, so the firing of one cartridge did not cause other bullets to "pull" from the brass,,,



This puppy is light,,,,

Last edited by SweetMK; 05-08-2016 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawn mccarver View Post
Unfluted cylinders have no advantage, apart from appearance, for those that like that look. I do not favor unfluted cylinders. They add weight, offer no appreciable increase in strength (they do not add steel over the locking notches, which are the weak point in any cylinder), and they offer no tactile index points to assist in reloading. Too me, a revolver with an unfluted cylinder just looks like someone forgot a machining operation.
The above pretty much sums up my feelings. Long ago I bought a Md 657 unfluted. I never liked the look of the gun. It even came with ugly altamont laminated stocks which made it worse. I'll have mine fluted, thank you very much.
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:42 PM
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Me like flutes. IMHO they just look better.
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:57 PM
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Well, it sounds as though everybody's opinion is the same as mine was when I asked the question.

Unfluted cylinders have all the visual appeal, functionality, and desirability of the integrated lock.

I appreciate that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. No slight toward anybody or their favorite gun was intended. Somebody out there may still be waiting for the Yugo to make it's comeback.

Thanks again for the quick responses.
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Old 05-08-2016, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetMK View Post
The added weight may be a functional necessity,,,

My gun came with a special instruction to test ammo to insure that it was adequately crimped, so the firing of one cartridge did not cause other bullets to "pull" from the brass,,,



This puppy is light,,,,
I don't think you'll need to worry about crimp jump with that one. Unless you are using lightly crimped reloads. Now, if it was a 329 PD you would see some crimp jump but, that is a different animal.

Don't be nervous, with those grips the 3" 629s won't beat you up as bad as you think.
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Old 05-08-2016, 09:54 PM
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My wife purchased me a 4 inch Model 29, 44 Magnum with an unfluted cylinder. It was a gift and a Lew Horton model. I told her I loved it!! But I pretty much feel the same about unfluted cylinders as the previous participants in this thread. I will admit, that when I shot it, with full house magnums, the recoil was tamed and it is very accurate. The fact it is a square butt prevents me from carrying it more than the weight. Looks great as a BBQ gun. Be well.
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Old 05-08-2016, 10:39 PM
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Flutes were indeed developed to catch fouling on black powder revolvers to keep the cylinder from binding. IDK how well they worked

The higher prices of un-fluted S&Ws is due to their never having been produced in volume. I'm not sure there's ever been an un-fluted model that was a standard-catalog item. Pretty much all are either PC or limited production runs.


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Old 05-09-2016, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetMK View Post
The added weight may be a functional necessity,,,

My gun came with a special instruction to test ammo to insure that it was adequately crimped, so the firing of one cartridge did not cause other bullets to "pull" from the brass,,,



This puppy is light,,,,
Man that's sweet!

Hmmmm.......i wonder how a 6" non-fluted would look like.....
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Old 05-09-2016, 01:05 AM
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Unfluted cylinders are usually found in special batches ordered by Lew Horton, Cabelas, etc. I think it is intended to set them apart from standard issue without any functional purpose.

I bought a lightly used (wonder why?) 629-6 Lew Horton with a 3" barrel at a very reasonable price. I would rather have flutes for a couple of reasons - it's easier to index the cylinder when reloading, and an unfluted cylinder seems harder to draw from an holster, which was molded without flutes.

I would never suspect that the half-ounce or so extra weight reduces recoil. In fact, the recoil is right smart, and takes a few rounds to adjust the pain level to a modest degree of numbness.
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Old 05-09-2016, 01:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FloridaFlier View Post
What is the appeal of an unfluted cylinder?
They're different. Sometimes different is good.

.

686-6+ Talo, 5" bbl.


.

657-5 Classic Hunter, 7-1/2" bbl.
]

.

460XVR PC Carry, 3-1/2" bbl.


.
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Old 05-09-2016, 02:09 AM
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Kinda good question... Don't really know why. Lots of theories but nothing concrete. I have a 586 "Hunter" model. Didn't buy it because of no flutes. Bought it because it was the only 586 at my LGS that was available. Would like to have a 4" Blue 586 with fluted cylinder instead. Only reason would seem to add weight for taming recoil.
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:35 AM
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It's funny. I'm willing to accept non-fluted cylinders on some guns, but they're guns that have always, to the best of my knowledge anyway, had unfluted cylinders. Ruger's Bearcat and Super-Blackhawk come to mind. They look perfectly normal.

On other guns, like anything Smith & Wesson, they look like an unmade bed.
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Old 05-09-2016, 07:39 AM
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To me, as the owner of three unfluted S&W revolvers, all purchased for reasons other than the lack of flutes, they add some uniqueness to the gun. That's about it.

Ed
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Old 05-09-2016, 11:39 AM
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I have a Talo and a Lew Horton with unfluted cylinders. Both were bought because of other reasons and at the same cost point of similar models with flutes. Again, the reason one sees a higher price point on guns with unfluted cylinders is because they are a limited run and not produced at the same mass volume of those guns with fluted cylinders. Just a case of where less is more. Still, the unfluted cylinders make them unique and in a case full of revolvers, they stand out and are noticed more so than their fluted brethren. I happen to like the look of unfluted cylinders. I really care less what others think of the aesthetics and think that any mechanical benefit of them is moot. Neither of the guns I have with unfluted cylinders are fighting weapons, both are hunting revolvers, so speed of indexing during reloads is not a biggy. Guns are like motorcycles, folks put different grips and accessories on them to make them to make them unique and different from everyone else's. It's human nature. It's also Human nature to dis other folks tastes in firearms. Something very obvious in this thread, and the plethora of other threads like this.
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Old 05-09-2016, 12:32 PM
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If they are priced higher, it is because they are not as common. Meaning less supply. Some people like unfluted cylinders, but it sounds like most who have replied here don't. Which is ok, because it is all personal opinion. Just like I don't understand why anybody would buy a S&W made from mid '90s up. Pure personal preference.

What attracted me to my 629 unfluted was the barrel size of 3", the magna-porting, and the unfluted cylinder. It was a great package for mountain hiking and camping.

When I realized it was a 629-2E, that sealed the deal.

Flutes or no flutes, doesn't bother me. However, I think it is more unique than the standard. Mine wasn't priced at a premium either, and was actually a decent deal.

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Old 05-09-2016, 12:54 PM
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I've only got one, (that I can think of ), and bought it as it was unique, and I had a purpose for it. The 4 Position front sight for Metallic Silhouette. I also used it in some bowling pin matches and the added weight helped keep the gun on target with heavy loads.

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Old 05-09-2016, 01:02 PM
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If fluting the cylinder lowers the weight of the double action trigger pull does a seven shot fluted cylinder make the trigger pull even better?
Or if the fluting to aid cooling like on rifle barrels?
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Old 05-09-2016, 01:19 PM
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I have several unfluted guns. I just like the look of them.


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Old 05-09-2016, 01:44 PM
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It looks good on some models, not so much on others, imho.
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:56 PM
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My 629-5 Wischo "Classic Champion", 6,5".


Post Pictures of Your 1980 to the Present S&W Revolver-sam_1514-jpg


The unfluted cylinder is part of why I bought it.

No benefits to be gained at all, I just like how it looks.
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Old 05-09-2016, 09:33 PM
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There is something.... Eye-catching to it. Are they are SS? Haven't seen a blued for whatever reason.
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Old 05-09-2016, 10:13 PM
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Me like slick. Slick is cool. Me like cool.
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Old 05-10-2016, 02:12 AM
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Nobody's mentioned the 7th round yet? At least on my 686 2 1/2 inch it does.

That's a plus to me

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Old 05-10-2016, 08:43 AM
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A lot of us like our six-shooters to be, well, six-shooters.

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Old 05-10-2016, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AveragEd View Post
A lot of us like our six-shooters to be, well, six-shooters.

Ed
Well, Ed, that'd probably be the average take, however, some of us like our shooting irons to have, well, just a tad more.

(Just havin' a bit of fun. I like 'em all. )
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Old 05-10-2016, 09:34 AM
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For some reason I find it much more appealing on a satin/polished satin finish than the Bead finished SS. Greatly so.
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Old 05-10-2016, 12:20 PM
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It is all about the "Cool Factor". It had no practical value. I don't own one but have handled a few. (A 5" 29-? with a full lugged barrel and a high polish, almost black, finish comes to mind. I had lust in my heart for that gun!) It is the same thing as the fact that some are drawn to 8&3/8s barrels and some to snubs and some to 3" guns.(which I don't understand at all.) It is all about what make you get short of breath and reach for your billfold. Gun makers and especially Smith does that to us, on purpose, to sell us stuff!
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Old 05-10-2016, 12:44 PM
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I prefer fluted, especially on the N frames to minimize the rotational mass and abuse on the bolt and stops for fast DA shooting.....but I love the looks of my 3" unfluted 629-5, no getting around that. Plus it's tough enough to shoot SA most of the time.
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Old 05-10-2016, 06:40 PM
Frank V Frank V is offline
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I dislike unfluted cylinders for two reasons.
1. they make the gun heavier & for me a handgun should be portable. Extra weight decreases portability to me.
2. To me unfluted cylinders don't look as nice as fluted cylinders.

I'm probably at odds with some here, but those are my likes.
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Old 05-10-2016, 07:07 PM
stacyjames247 stacyjames247 is offline
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Here is the only un-fluted revolver I own. I think it looks pretty sweet. It's a 629-6 .44mag 7.5" barrel, Performance Center w/ weighted barrel.
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Old 05-10-2016, 08:03 PM
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As others have said, some look great with unfluted cylinders and some look better with flutes.

StacyJames, that looks tough!
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:14 PM
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Default Unfluted 29-4

I have one unfluted gun. 29-4 3 inch. I have the box, docs, and tools. I have the original Pachmayrs too - I just kinda like these Ahrends morradillo combats on it.

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Old 05-12-2016, 01:30 AM
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My S&W 25-7 Model of 1989 with both its unfluted cylinder and 5" barrel makes perfect sense to me with this .45 Colt revolver. It's a blast to shoot and the fact that there are only a few thousand in the world makes it easier to overlook any of the perceived disadvantages discussed in this thread. I certainly won't be forcing this "ugly duckling" on anyone during my lifetime.
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Old 05-12-2016, 03:08 PM
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Well, have both and like both!!
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Old 05-12-2016, 04:26 PM
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i like both kinds but that unfluted sure is sexy
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Old 09-14-2020, 01:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike from st pete View Post
If fluting the cylinder lowers the weight of the double action trigger pull does a seven shot fluted cylinder make the trigger pull even better?
Or if the fluting to aid cooling like on rifle barrels?
Maybe fluting is like comparing corrugated iron to flat sheet. One is stronger while the other flaps about. An solid iron bar is easier to bend than one that's had a hole drilled through it. Something to do with surface area. Where are all the engineers in this forum? I'm thinking, the more steel around the cylinders, the stronger it must be.

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Old 09-14-2020, 01:26 AM
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I doubt unfluted cylinders do anything the fluted cylinders do. I prefer the looks of the fluted. That said, I won't complain about the unfluted versions.
It's a bit like mag wheels on cars. All wheels turn through 360 degrees and in most cases they all perform the same job but shiny mag wheels look cool, on most vehicles. If the weight is important, get a non fluted, if you like the unfluted look, get one, there are plenty to pick from. Variety is the spice of life, enjoy it while it lasts.
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Old 09-14-2020, 08:39 AM
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A 25-7, would my so called Holy Grail gun! To me they look great, and love 45 Colt. I had a Ruger 45 Bisley. It had an unfluted cylinder. I have a 25-15, but of course it has flutes. It is all about preference. Blued guns are my favorite, but have stainless also. Bob
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Old 09-14-2020, 08:57 AM
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Fluting is purely aesthetics, anyone trying to make a case for it, or the lack of it, being any huge advantage or disadvantage is just trying to sell you on their preference. As far as the weight difference being so noticeable that it effects the carrying qualities of a gun, that's just laughable. I like unfluted cylinders, but I have no issue with fluted ones either. Any cost increase in a gun with an unfluted cylinder has nothing to do with the cost of the cylinder. My 360 has an unfluted cylinder and it was one of the things that drew me too it. Unfluted J frame models are certainly few and far between. In fact other than the 360 I can only think of the limited edition Davinci Code model 60...
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Old 09-14-2020, 08:59 AM
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I would buy an unfluted revolver if I was shopping for the caliber and length and it was a grab it quick before someone else does. A deal like that may be coming up soon.

Aesthetically I prefer the fluted.
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Old 09-14-2020, 09:07 AM
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I am in the camp that doesn't get the unfluted cylinders. But, hey if it floats your boat thats great. Choice is good.

I am also a 6 shooter guy. Don't have any 7, 8 or 9 shooters. My brain says empty at 6. Shot competition and a bunch of 6 guns. Fire six reload. I have some 5 shot revolvers, model 36, 37, 296 396 696 and of course my 500. Always kind of wondered if I got in a gunfight with a 5 shooter would I try to fire 6 times? Mental habits can be hard to break.
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Old 09-14-2020, 04:23 PM
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At first I disliked the look of the unfluted cylinder, until I saw an old "western" gun that, of course, always had them. I think in modern arms they still look strange, but I've got my own boat to float.
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