Re: flutes or no flutes
Fact: Standard fluting practices do not induce 'stress' onto or into a barrel. Cutting metal away does not induce stress.
Fact: Of the 2 barrels of equal length and of equal contour, the un-fluted barrel will be more rigid.
Fact: A fluted barrel will dissipate heat more so than an un-fluted barrel but NOT at a substantial rate.
If done in a concentric and consistent manner, accuracy potential should be the same as an un-fluted barrel.
Shilens are button barrels. Buttons displace metal while forming grooves. Metal is NOT removed or cut in any way. It is simply displaced. If the barrel is not stress relieved, then any modifications to the outside of the barrel can cause changes inside the barrel (IE turning the barrel can cause the inside diameter to grow, fluting can allter the dimensions of the bore etc...). Maybe they dont stress relieve their barrels who knows.
Any cut rifled barrel should be able to be fluted at any time during its life without problems or stress. A button pulled/pushed barrel should be able to be done after stress relief without any trouble. I could be wrong on that. According to Mike Degerness, the inventor of ABS barrels stated to me that once a button barrel has been stress relieved, turning and fluting are no longer an issue.
I like fluted barrels for hunting rifles simply to save some weight. I like certain contours and at this point need certain contours to fit my stocks and fluting affords some weight savings while mantaining those contours.
The downside I have found to flutes is they collect water and snow, which when fired, gets launched onto your scope's objective lense when fired.
As far as accuracy, I have yet to be able to see any difference one way or the other. I have had 1/4MOA guns without flutes and 1/4MOA guns with flutes. Done properly, are not an issue.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (where the shot goes, how big the group is, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.