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Old March 19, 2010, 07:41 AM   #1
micksis86
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Could i be mistaking copper fouling for rust in the rifling at the muzzle of a rifle

I was cleaning my rifle i've only put about 60 to 80 rounds through this particular rifle then i cleaned it and placed it in the safe. I was later going over the rifle about 2 weeks later and noticed some orange like stuff in the rifling when looking at it from the muzzle.

I was really concerned that this was rust and when i went though the rest of my rifles I found another couple with a similar condition.

I then thought that maybe this was copper fouling. I use Sweets 7.62 and i use it rarely.
So i'm wondering is it possible that I am mistaking this copper fouling for rust?

I've heard mixed reports about Sweets maybe I will try JB bore paste.
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Old March 19, 2010, 09:06 AM   #2
the rifleer
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Its possible, but i would be safe and give the rifle a good cleaning. chances are that you haven't actually hurt the barrel enough to affect it's accuracy unless its pretty bad. get some bore solvent, some oil, and some patches and clean it.
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Old March 19, 2010, 09:45 AM   #3
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Easy enough to figure out. If a Sweets soaked patch comes out with a blue tint after a couple of passes, it's copper. If it comes out rust colored, well, it's rust.
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Old March 19, 2010, 05:11 PM   #4
micksis86
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Well I gave it a really through cleaning and used sweets the patches did come out blue. There was no rust colour at all however the colour in the rifling is still there.
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Old March 19, 2010, 06:48 PM   #5
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Keep plugging at it. You'll get it, if only a little at a time. I don't know if you can leave the Sweet's in for extended periods, but I know you can with Hoppe's #9BR. It works good too if allowed to stay in the barrel a while. Barne's CR10 and Butch's work pretty quick, but you can't leave the Barne's in very long. Don't know about Butch's....

Some JB Paste will do wonders also. Just takes some time.
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Old March 19, 2010, 06:54 PM   #6
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One more thing -

I've been told that if there is that much fouling at the muzzle, it's probably worse close to the throat. i don't know if that's so or not. I would assume that close to the muzzle is where the bullet is reaching it's top velocity, and copper wiping would be worse. But there's also less heat at the muzzle. Someone with more knowlege that me will set us strait.

My point is, when it's gone from the muzzle, there may be more still in there. Kepp pushin' those patches until you feel good about it.
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Old March 19, 2010, 07:27 PM   #7
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Old March 19, 2010, 07:59 PM   #8
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If it looks like rust, it probably is.

Rust prevention is one thing Breakfree CLP does extremely well. I use regular solvents like Hoppe's #9 for cleaning, but if a rifle is going to sit in storage for a while before I get a chance to shoot it again, I run a patch with a little CLP on it down the bore before I put it away. It works.
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Old March 19, 2010, 08:10 PM   #9
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IMO it's probably copper. Use another type of copper cleaner being careful to remove all the sweets first (mixing copper cleaners is bad). In this case I'd get it all out to put your mind at ease and know it's not rust. I've found it's easiest to get to bare steel using 2 different copper solvents since they will usually get out copper the other left behind. I've had great luck with Gunslick foaming bore cleaner, Hoppes 9 Benchrest, Sweets, Butches and Barnes CR10.


Again I'm not recommending using 2 copper solvents on a regular basis. I've just found its the quickest way to get ALL the copper out. It's usually not necessary or beneficial to remove all the copper but in this case I wouldn't sleep right til I was sure it wasn't rust.
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Old March 20, 2010, 07:14 AM   #10
micksis86
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Well my main concern was that it was rust but to be honest it doesn't look like much it's in a streak kinda patter amongst the rifling. And after the scrubbing i've given it aswell as treatment with G96 Gun treatment if it was rust it would be well and trully gone by now.

I knew of copper fouling but i'd never seen it first hand so I wanted to make sure that it was what I was looking at. I'm going to give some JB paste a go and see how it goes. I don't mind if there is a little copper fouling but I really mind if it's rust.

Anyway thanks for your suggestions. I'm just relieved that it isn't rust.
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Old March 20, 2010, 07:53 AM   #11
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Regarding copper fouling, a new barrel usually will foul much faster and much more than one that has been used for a while. This is due to minute roughness in the bore that scrapes the copper off the bullet passing through. The way to solve the problem is to clean all the copper out, then shoot the gun, then clean out the copper. Each time, you will note that it copper fouls less and takes less time to clean. with most of my rifles, that is about 200 ~ 400 rds.
Unfortunately, you will never get to the point that the bore is cleaner after you shoot than it was before you shoot. :-^ .

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Old March 10, 2013, 01:08 PM   #12
LeatherneckJohn
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Sorry to resurrect an old thread, especially for my first post on this forum, but I have a good reason:

I am experiencing a very similar problem to micksis86. How did things turn out? It sounds like you had determined that the problem is copper fouling, but were not completely sure.

I have over twenty years of rifle and pistol shooting experience, and like micksis86, I have heard of copper fouling, but never seen it.

I recently purchased a gun safe for the first time. After putting my long guns in the safe for a week, and my hand guns in it for 24 hours, I was rearranging the shelving in the safe. As I was moving things around, I noticed a orange-copper color in the rifling at the muzzle of my M1903. Similar to micksis86 situation, I have only put about 100 rounds through a new barrel. After inspecting my handguns, I noticed the same thing. My shotgun and my rifles with flash hiders are not showing this.

I was concerned about the safe causing rust, but at this point believe it's copper fouling. The safe is a major brand. I have installed a cordless dehumidifier, and have a damp-rid canister in it, and have a hygrometer. The hygrometer reads "ideal". I removed my guns from the safe for several days, and put three pieces of test metal in the safe for 48 hours. The test metal did not form new rust.

What is bugging me is why haven't I noticed this before putting my guns in the safe. I clean them every time I shoot. One of the guns I've owned for over twenty years.

Sorry for the long post, but I'm hoping someone can shed some light on this.
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Old March 10, 2013, 01:38 PM   #13
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If it isn't a stainless bore it needs to have an oil patch run through after cleaning. Let the oil remain in the bore for a day or so than run a dry patch through. This will allow the oil to penetrate the pores in the metal where the rust starts.
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Old March 10, 2013, 02:16 PM   #14
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Thanks - I should have mentioned that I always run CLP through the bore when I'm done cleaning.
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Old March 10, 2013, 03:40 PM   #15
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Bore Tech Eliminator, go by the instructions, and you'll see that copper disappear.
It really has no smell and can be left in bore overnight but they say keep it out of the rest of the rifle anyway it works real nice and I tried numerous products, because I saw the very same thing you fellas did, and by the way in the scheme of things, it isn't totally necessary to remove all the copper, nor worry about build up until accuracy starts to go then deal with it.
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Old March 10, 2013, 03:52 PM   #16
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That thin gilding metal wash is not going to do any real harm. It is not like the old cupro-nickel fouling that could build up into big lumps and actually affect accuracy.

Clean it if you want, I don't bother. FWIW, a friend who is one of the top shooters at Perry used Gleem toothpaste on a bronze brush to remove that wash. I don't know what he uses now that Gleem is off the market.

Note on dehumidifiers, most of the safes have a hole through which an AC line can be run for a dehumidifier. I don't know if a regular type would be better than a cordless one or not, but you should be able to put one in.

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Old March 10, 2013, 04:05 PM   #17
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Any chance that the copper residue is caused by the bronze cleaning jag, itself?
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Old March 10, 2013, 04:26 PM   #18
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Nope, it is from the bullet jackets.

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Old March 11, 2013, 01:16 AM   #19
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I've found that the bore cleaning foams from the usual suspect are less of a pain for removing copper than the likes of Sweet's, CR-10 and Tetra. Definitely a lot less work than JB Bore paste.
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Old March 11, 2013, 08:26 PM   #20
LeatherneckJohn
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Thanks for the advice everyone. Helped put my mind at ease that I'm dealing with copper fouling and not rust.
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Old March 12, 2013, 01:14 PM   #21
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The copper solvent will eat your bronze brushes, will the resulting cotton patches coming out a copper blue color.
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Old March 30, 2013, 02:43 PM   #22
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I just went through the same thing with a .270

Took it out the other day, after not shooting it for a couple of years. Shot about 60 rounds (no Barnes bullets) and after getting home I cleaned it as usual (Hoppes #9 and a bit of nylon brushing, wipe out and light coat of oil) and stuck it in the safe. A few days later I got it out to rearrange things in my little safe and saw that "rust" colored bore, just like the OP. Long story--soaked with #9, brushed and cleaned--now the copper in the rifling is really obvious but the rest of the bore is shiny. The patches have come out really green. So it looks like this is a common problem.

If anybody is still reading this thread, does a bit of copper in the rifling mess with accuaracy? I tried some Barnes pure copper bullets about 3 years ago and after about 3-4 rounds they started shooting patterns rather than groups, as I worked up through the load developement. That pretty much wrecked the accuracy that day, as I tried a previously very accurate hunting load and it shot terrible too. Used Barnes CR 10 and pretty much got the original accuracy back, but evidently didn't get much of the copper out. So how clean do I need to get the rifling? It is a bit of a hassle to take the gun out and shoot (an hour each way to the range and back) just to try it out.
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