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Does fluting affect barrel accuracy?

 
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  #1  
Old 06-18-2012, 09:27 PM
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Does fluting affect barrel accuracy?

Im talking to a smith to build a rifle. Im wanting a fluted barrel but hes trying to talk me out if it saying they are less accurate? Is there any truth to this? Ive seen many fluted barrels on this site that shoot amazing. And i have a vtr in 308 that shoots very well too.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:06 PM
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Re: Does fluting affect barrel accuracy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboy717 View Post
Im talking to a smith to build a rifle. Im wanting a fluted barrel but hes trying to talk me out if it saying they are less accurate? Is there any truth to this? Ive seen many fluted barrels on this site that shoot amazing. And i have a vtr in 308 that shoots very well too.
According to Shilen...yes.
They won't do it from the shop and it will void the warranty if you have your smith do it. I'm not an expert and have no equipment/funds to verify anything like this...but I'll take their word for it.
In fact, I am having my .243WSSM AR rebarreled with a Shilen Select Match, AND I bought 2 more for bolt guns...that I planned to flute, and have since decided not to.

I'm young and tough and could care less about weight, I was doing it more for the look, and I don't care enough about the look to risk messing with the accuracy.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:55 PM
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Re: Does fluting affect barrel accuracy?

Copied from FAQ on Lilja's web site

Quote:
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.
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Joe
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:14 AM
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Re: Does fluting affect barrel accuracy?

Guys on here have guns that shoot half MOA past 1k and their barrels are fluted. I don't think it's an issue.
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:59 AM
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Re: Does fluting affect barrel accuracy?

Phewww I was worried there for a second...
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  #6  
Old 06-19-2012, 08:17 AM
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Re: Does fluting affect barrel accuracy?

It is like the lottery.

It can and does occasionally effect accuracy.

Two major barrel makers have statements to that affect. One is more specific that the actual fluting does not cause it but the relieving of stresses can eventually result in warping etc...

So it really comes down to whether you are a risk taker or risk averse.

Make an informed decision and be willing to accept what you get.

As noted, there are many who have accurate fluted barrels.

I have a rifle that is indicative of the Lilja explanation.

I really like the look of fluting more than I care about the minimal weight reduction. i am particularly fond of the interupted fluting. I may even choose to go this way in the future.

However if I do, there is a real risk, albeit perhaps not a significant one, that I will end up with another dog. In the end, I am out the cost of the barrel and the smith work along with the time without the rifle. As such, that is the information I have to weigh should I want to go the route of interupted fluting in the future.

In short, the mere fact that there are those that have accurate fluted barrels does not wholly negate the information from Shilen and Lilja.
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  #7  
Old 06-19-2012, 09:47 AM
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Re: Does fluting affect barrel accuracy?

This is an interesting topic. One which much folklore & hypermythology has been created (I just made that word up).

The major differences you will see in whether or not fluting will effect a barrel is (in my sheltered world) a direct reflection of what type of rifling the barrel wears.

I have several Shilen barrels & they shoot awesome. Shilen (among others) are button rifled barrel. The material is displaced by the button, not removed like a cut rifled barrel. So imagine a few spiral pressure ridges (for lack of a better term) running down your barrel. Now, start to remove material from the other side of the barrel... See how that COULD create a problem? Think about the barrel density as the flutes (straight) pass over the area where the button has displaced the material during the creation of the rifling. Inconsistencies abound! At least from a plausability stand point.... Now there is going to be the gent that says "Hey! My Savage barrel is button rifled & fluted too! So phuey on you!"... take a a long hard look at your fluted Savage barrel (I have 2 & both shoot well). the barrel diameter is larger than a sporter & the flutes are FAR shallower than an aftermarket fluted bbl. I would imagine (I do that often lol) there is a very good reason for that procedure.


A cut rifled barrel having the material removed rather than displaced should not incur these issues as there is very little material "compaction" from the rifling process.

Clear as mud?

Fluting a barrel seems to be the modern version of Truth or Dare....

Button Rifled Barrels:
Can you? Of course
Will is hurt it? Plausable.

Cut Rifled Barrels:
Can you? Of Course
Will it hurt? Probably not.

PS- This is solely my opinion & a good bit of experience with Gunsmiths & use of both barrel types. This is not an end all for the discussion, merely my .002 - Enjoy

Last edited by Outlaw6.0; 06-19-2012 at 09:51 AM. Reason: PS-
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