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Titanium Cylinders

This is a discussion on Titanium Cylinders within the Pistols & Revolvers forums, part of the Pistol & Revolver Forum category; I know their are quite a few S&W owners on this forum. I ask this question only because I'm not a member on the S&W ...


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Old March 26th, 2017, 05:29 PM   #1
 
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Titanium Cylinders

I know their are quite a few S&W owners on this forum. I ask this question only because I'm not a member on the S&W forum, so here goes.
Can someone explain to me why S&W puts titanium cylinders on some of their stainless steel revolvers? Is their some wonderful advantage titanium has over stainless steel that I'm missing? I hear use of any gun cleaning solution containing ammonia on a titanium cylinder will actually remove the protective coating on the cylinder. I will was going to purchase one of S&W's Pro Series .9mm stainless revolvers ( I prefer the longer barrel length), but they all have gray ugly titanium cylinders.
So, am I nuts to say I would rather have a real stainless steel cylinder mated to a real stainless steel gun?



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Old March 26th, 2017, 05:52 PM   #2
 
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Weight.
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Old March 26th, 2017, 06:52 PM   #3
 
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Yep. It reduces the weight of the revolver by up to 60% less and makes it a little easier to carry. S&W normally uses the titanium cylinders with their scandium frame. There is a downside though, the front side of these cylinders have been known to erode with bullet weights of less than 125gr.
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Old March 26th, 2017, 08:07 PM   #4
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There are many different titanium alloys .... pure titanium is rarely used for anything. The titanium alloy used for cylinders is 40% lighter than steel and about 8~10% weaker .... assuming the same thickness. Scandium frames are mostly a scam .... only about 2% of the aluminum alloy is scandium, which does improve strength but manufacturers would lead you to believe the entire frame is 100% scandium. Who would buy a gun if the specs said .... "Frame contains a mere 2% scandium"?
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Old March 27th, 2017, 07:31 AM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
...Scandium frames are mostly a scam .... only about 2% of the aluminum alloy is scandium, which does improve strength but manufacturers would lead you to believe the entire frame is 100% scandium. Who would buy a gun if the specs said .... "Frame contains a mere 2% scandium"?
Not really. Scandium is an alloying agent that strengthens aluminum, it only takes a few percent for the effect. Calling an alloyed metal by it's alloying agent is common, for example; chrome-moly steel is over 98% iron.
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Old March 27th, 2017, 07:35 AM   #6
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After owning two new 357 Smiths with titanium cylinders and having them both suffer from flame cutting, even after following the proper cleaning protocol and using proper ammo recommend by Smith, no more titanium cylinders for me. Those cylinders are coated with a polymer to prevent flame cutting and erosion - titanium if not coated, easily etches - and should that coating be damaged in any way, either from using the wrong solvents or getting too aggressive on cleaning the cylinder face, it doesn't take long to start the erosion into the titanium. To Smith's credit, when they offered to replace the cylinders under warranty, I requested they substitute a stainless cylinder and they did that for me. For me, the extra couple of ounces added by switching to stainless cylinders was well worth it for the standpoint of durability and ease of maintenance.

As for their "scandium" frames, I guarantee they do an outstanding job of transferring all the recoil a 357 can produce right to your hand. In that respect, I think polymer is a more effective way to reduce weight. Anymore, I now shoot only steel guns and am more than willing to put up with a bit more weight for the sake of shooting comfort.

My experience. Others may be different.

Last edited by North country gal; March 27th, 2017 at 07:38 AM.
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Old March 27th, 2017, 02:44 PM   #7
 
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Thanks for the replies. I think I'll pass on the titanium cylinder revolver. It's an "L" frame with a 5 inch barrel. Who the hell cares if it weighs a couple more ounces???? I guess S&W has heard of the old saying " If it's not broken, then fix it until it is".
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Old June 17th, 2017, 03:31 AM   #8
 
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I have a scandium 357 k frame SW. I have only put 800 rounds through it but no erosion so far.

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Old June 17th, 2017, 05:45 AM   #9
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The Smith M&P 340 has appeal to me for carry. A 357 Mag at 13.8 oz. It is the scandium alloy frame with a stainless cylinder. I have a Smith 642 which is 38 Spl so hard to justify stepping up to the M&P for a savings of 1.2 oz in weight and a 357 mag.

I have heard about the issues with the titanium cylinders from multiple sources so they don't interest me.
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Old June 17th, 2017, 05:47 AM   #10
 
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As has been pointed out, the advantage of titanium is weight reduction.

Like everything in life, there's a compromise involved. Titanium is lightweight compared to steel. It is almost as strong as steel and it doesn't rust. However, it isn't quite as strong as steel, it's a bear to machine and it's expensive as a raw material. So the engineers and the marketing bean counters go to battle. Sometimes the engineers win and sometimes the bean counters win.

Aluminum alloys, including aluminum alloys containing scandium, are lightweight and rust proof. However, aluminum alloys are not always strong enough to make revolver cylinders. [Both Colt and S&W even tried this with the old Aircrewman /M-13 revolvers].
So, in the quest for super lightweight guns we end up with things like aluminum alloy frames, titanium cylinders and stainless steel barrel liners. And the cost for that super lightweight amalgamation of exotic materials is expense and decreased durability. Like I said, everything in life is a compromise.


Just a quick historical note here: Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States had limited access to titanium resources. What little we did have was allocated to critical uses. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, titanium became far more available and significantly less expenses. One of the reasons we see more titanium in use is because it is now far more available to the Western powers.
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Old June 20th, 2017, 05:38 PM   #11
 
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The lightness of the cylinder is also thought to speed up "lock" time in DA shooting since their is less mass of the cylinder to get moving.
FWIW, I own a S&W 360PD and a 986 with Titanium cylinders. While I would prefer a steel cyl in each, I have had no issues with finish wear or erosion.
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Old June 20th, 2017, 06:07 PM   #12
 
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Titanium is good for strength to weight. so it is used but is more expensive,
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Old June 22nd, 2017, 06:30 AM   #13
 
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As others have noted, titanium is lighter than steel and very corrosion-resistant - so much so that it was used by the USSR for piping and valves in the reactors of their nuclear subs. It's also - as has been noted - a bear to cast and machine. It also is prone to become brittle under certain conditions (radiation-induced embrittlement was a problem in the subs) or if not cast properly.

But none of that can reduce the "cool" factor of titanium, which - to my mind - is the main reason it was used. Just as with the "scandium" frames (aluminum-scandium alloy), it evokes a "wow" factor that far surpasses any mere engineering advantage (or disadvantage).



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