What Effect does a Fluted Barrel Have on a Rifle?

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The debate of having a fluted barrel or not attracts so much controversy there is no telling, which is the better option.  Like most, you must be wondering, ‘what effect does a fluted barrel have on a rifle?’ Depending on the person you ask, a fluted barrel can either be the solution to all your rifle woes or be the opposite and turn out to be a total waste of your money.

However, only a handful of people will deny the aesthetic appeal of a fluted barrel. On the other hand, a purely aesthetic improvement is hardly a substantial reason, and most would find it hard to justify. The reason many people buy aftermarket barrels is that sometimes a fluted barrel may possess some risks. 

Improper fluting may lead to uneven heating. And if one flute is more profound than the others, it can reduce its accuracy and cause the barrel to crack or warp. In some cases, when too much material is taken off, the barrel fails. On the positive side, three main benefits pop up anywhere barrel fluting is discussed. They include improved barrel rigidity, weight savings, and better heat dissipation. 

At first glance, these three claims make a certain amount of sense. However, a much closer examination will reveal a more realistic picture.

Barrel Fluting and Tapering

What is Barrel Fluting

Barrel fluting is a popular process, and it refers to the removal of material from a cylindrical surface. The result is that it usually creates grooves.

The primary purpose of barrel fluting is to remove weight, and to some extent, increase its rigidity. The rigidity for a given total weight or the increased surface area will make the barrels less susceptible to overheating. But when you factor the diameter, a non-fluted barrel will be stiffer and therefore be able to absorb a more considerable amount of heat at the expense of the additional total weight. 

There is a lot of misinformation on barrel fluting, and some are based on assumptions. One example of common misinformation is that a fluted barrel will be stiffer than a non-fluted barrel. It is in error, and it defies physics. A fluted barrel of, perhaps, four numbers of contours on it will be stiffer than a barrel of the same weight but has only three numbers of contours.

If the one with four contours is not fluted, then it will be stiffer than one with four contours that have been fluted. It is a case of mass effect, and the more mass you have around the bore of the barrel, the stiffer it will be.

When ordering your barrel with fluting, consider the distance from the muzzle that you would like the fluting to end. The standard measurement should be 1-inch from the muzzle as it will allow enough length forward. It will be vital for threading the muzzle of your barrel should you desire at a later time.