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Old April 4, 2010, 10:11 PM   #6
James K
Senior Member
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,383
Once upon a time in the West (and East, too), lead bullets worked fine in rifles. But as folks, especially the Army guys, wanted to shoot bullets faster and further, lead bullets just wouldn't "take" the rifling (remember those funny barber pole things in the barrel?) and didn't shoot for beans.

So someone thought of using a tough metal to cover the old lead bullet so it would spin instead of just pushing straight down the barrel. Sure enough, accuracy got better and ranges got longer. They tried a lot of different "jacket" material, and hit on the idea of using an alloy called cupro-nickel. As you might guess if you try, it was a mixture of copper and nickel. It was fine for bullet jackets, as it didn't rust like those steel jackets the durn fool Yuropeens were using.

Oh, but cupro-nickel had a small problem. As velocities increased, it kind of melted and a lot of it stuck to the inside of the barrel, in kind of clumps. And accuracy went to Hades again. The average hunter didn't care too much as his old Winchester 94 would still get "minute of deer" accuracy, but the army match shooters with their fancy Krags had a real problem.

How to get rid of the cupro-nickel stuff? Well, ammonia dissolves copper and with the copper out of the way, the nickel would just wash out of the barrel. And so, the ammonia bore cleaner was developed. There were a bunch of them and they worked and the folks who used them knew enough not to leave them too long in the barrel. Some of them are around today and the smell of one old mixture has been known to have an effect not unlike Viagra in old time shooters

Well, eventually, somebody came up with a jacket material called gilding metal, which was copper and zinc, and which left only a thin wash in the barrel. No lumps and clumps and when another set of chemical type geniuses came up with non-corrosive priming, there really was no need to clean barrels at all any more.

Of course some shooters, being well trained (as in almost killed) by generations of Marine Corps "old gunnies" who demanded perfection in rifle cleaning, believe that every vestige of any substance except steel has to be religiously removed from the barrel or the "gunny's curse" will get them. So they scrub and douse, and pour all sorts of noxious compounds into their rifle barrels, usually doing more harm than good.

Then they go to the range and the first thing they do is fire "fouling shots" to put back in the very fouling they so laboriously removed.

Go figure.

Jim K
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