The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The North Corral > Black Powder and Cowboy Action Shooting

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 2, 2009, 03:04 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: February 24, 2009
Posts: 727
Is Bore Pitting Inevitable w. BP?

I'm so bummed! I ruined my Swiss-made Hammerli Virginian.

I love shooting black powder since there is no leading and cleanup is so easy- or so I thought.

I've fired my single actions several times using black powder loads, and cleaned them with no mishaps until now.

I don't know what it was that I did differently that may have caused the bore to rust at the breach end.

Maybe it was because I swabbed the bore with soapy water before I left the range. I ran a dry patch through the bore, but pulled it back out through the muzzle. Maybe I pulled some moisture back onto the bore's surface when I withdrew the patch. Maybe the bore was not sufficiently hot to drive that last bit of moisture off.

After swabbing at the range, I did not oil the bore since all I had with me was a petroleum based oil which, I am told, will gum up black powder fouling, making it very difficult to clean. Would Crisco have been a suitable temporary protectant?

Then, back at the batcave, I did the usual hot, soapy water cleaning. I ran wet patches through the bore, and had no sooner used a toothbrush to clean the frame when I saw bright orange spots in the bore near the forcing cone. That had never happened before! I rushed to rinse and dry the bore, but it was already pitted. Was it because I went wrong on the range cleaning? Maybe I grabbed a different liquid soap. Looking at the ingredients of what I may have grabbed shows that it has the same "stuff" as the Lemon Joy I usually use. One of the ingredients of both liquid soaps is "Sodium Chloride" though, i.e. SALT! So, maybe I used too much soap this time?

Now, for the first time, I'm really discouraged regarding shooting black powder in my cartridge sixguns. That Hammerli was my baby, and now there is permanent damage. Being that they are very collectable, I should have retired her to the safe long ago, or maybe limited her to smokeless loads only. What a downer. I'm so mad at myself.

Any insight appreciated.

Last edited by Model-P; July 2, 2009 at 03:59 AM.
Model-P is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 03:35 AM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: March 7, 2009
Location: South East Queensland, Australia
Posts: 1,513
From my experience

If you clean up well, they shouldn't suffer from rust too bad. I have found tho, that the forcing cone doesnt get cleaned very well from the bronze brush.... it fits & cleans the bore ok, but the forcing cone is too wide for the brush to reach. I have a special brush that I have bent slightly, so it goes down the bore but because of the angle of the head, it reaches the walls of the FC.

When I get home from the range, I take out the cylinders, I stand the guns on their muzzle in a bucket of real hot, soapy water that goes just above the forcing cone (so the trigger mechanism doesn't get full of water) & let them soak for half an hour or so, along with the removed cylinders, Then brush them as usual, including my specially bent one. Then I blow them dry with a compressor, then swab dry & finish with a medium oiled swab, making sure I coat the forcing cone with oil. (I dry swab before I shoot the next time)

I brush the cylinder holes and run a swab on a .22 rod thru the center pin hole of the cylinders, normal swabs thru the chamber holes.

I spray the whole exterior of the guns with Inox (like WD40) and wipe them down to clean them, then lightly spray them again and wrap them in their rags.... ready til next time

About once a month (or more if they get clunkey) I totally pull them to bits and clean and lube the trigger mechanisms etc.

If you are worried, you could use a Bp substitute like 777 or Goex or Pyrodex... or even trail boss is good, but lack the smoke and all that which is the fun of shootin' black
If you cant blind them with brilliance, Baffle them with BS
Be alert...... there is a shortage of LERTs
Dingoboyx is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 04:04 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: February 24, 2009
Posts: 727
Well, you just reminded me of one other thing I did differently. I didn't use a brush this time. The black powder fouling just seems to melt off when using the soapy water, so I just used tight, wet patches to swab the bore. Maybe not using a brush allowed some hardened fouling to stay behind which reacted with the water and started the spot rust. Could be. Sure happened fast.

Model-P is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 04:38 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: March 15, 2005
Location: Central Connecticut
Posts: 2,973
Moisture is what causes rust to form since even black powder residue won't promote it when the humidity is under ~30% or so.
And there are people who believe that under some circumstances cleaning with very hot water can also promote flash rusting to occur.
I may be wrong but I thought that petroleum oil causes stubborn tar to form only if it's present when the black powder is being fired along with high heat, not when it simply comes into contact with the black powder fouling residue.
Introducing the small amount of water into the barrel without using a water displacer to remove any leftover traces probably wasn't a good idea and may have started the process, and/or the hot water accelerated the flash rusting process.
One lesson might be that a BP solvent that doesn't contain water might be better to use for swabbing at the range, or one of the other commonly used products like Ballistol, mineral oil or a vegetable oil spray like Pam. Even gun oil may have been better than using any water at all since water can seep below oil and come into contact with the surface of the steel whenever they're present together.
While water does help to remove corrosive black powder salts, a sufficient quantity is needed to rinse or to physically remove them which you probably didn't accomplish with the amount of range swabbing performed. So in this narrow case, range swabbing with a BP solvent wouldn't have introduced water into the barrel which the wet patch did.
There may be better soaps to use, but there are now citrus based BP solvents on the market. So IMO moisture was the problem. Using too little of it may be worse than using none of it at all.
Using Crisco wouldn't be too bad, but being a semi-solid it may not penetrate the residue and protect as well as a liquid. A liquid lubricant would be a better idea after swabbing with a BP solvent that doesn't contain water.

Last edited by arcticap; July 2, 2009 at 02:24 PM.
arcticap is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 06:06 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: February 9, 2006
Location: Homes in Brooklyn, NY and in Pennsylvania.
Posts: 4,885

edited out. nothing to add.
“Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports ... all others are games.” Ernest Hemingway ...
NRA Life Member
darkgael is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 06:12 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: October 8, 2006
Location: Northern Michigan
Posts: 2,772
I agree with everything articap said.

The petroleum oil thing - the issue is having such material in the bore when the bp is burning. The tar residue is from combustion of oil with bp. If you had used oil as a rust preventative it would only have been necessary to be sure it was cleaned out (with a good detergent soap) before the next time the gun was shot.

The pitting may not be a serious problem. Minor pitting can often be successfully removed with a rust remover and very fine steel wool. Often what we see as pits with the naked eye are actually exfoliations that are above the surface as opposed to below and they can be removed, leaving a smooth (in the macroscopic sense) surface behind.

Wrap some 0000 steel wool around a cleaning jag, saturate it with Kroil, Liquid Wrench, etc. and scrub the area with the pits. It may take a couple hundred strokes; most of the material will be removed in the first 20 or 30 with diminishing returns after that. Good luck.
mykeal is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 07:24 AM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: June 3, 2007
Location: Wild Western Illinois
Posts: 559
It may take a couple hundred strokes;
Oh, geez. That snow must really get deep in No. Michigan if that is all you have to do there to be occupied!!!

The Doc is out now.
General McAuliffe said it best "Nuts."
DrLaw is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 08:18 AM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: February 6, 2006
Location: Hernando , Ms.
Posts: 579
Are you sure you have a case of pitting from one cleaning with water at the range ......I always clean my BP guns at the range with water and moose milk and finish at home with oils ...........I can see a little surface rust forming in the bores from the mosture before I do my oiling at home ......But never any pitting ....and my oiling always cleans out any surface rust .......

I`ve noticed more flash rusting from useing pyrodex than I see with real black powder . Has anyone else ever noticed this ? I`ve since switched to useing only real black powder in all my guns .
sundance44s is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 08:20 AM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 14,257
You didn't get pitting between the range and home.
Hawg is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 08:28 AM   #10
Big Ugly Tall Texan
Senior Member
Join Date: June 25, 2009
Location: El Paso, Texas
Posts: 174
I didn't see one important word in your post

Or at least something that I always include in my blackpowder clean-up...


I use hot, soapy water with ammonia and have never had any problems.

It's the same routine I use on the rare ocassions when I shoot surplus corrosive ammo in my 8x57.

Sorry about your pistol.
Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you! - Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita K. made the prediction. Barry O. will make it come true. - Big Ugly Tall Texan
"The 9mm Luger cartridge will simply not do for serious work." - Jeff Cooper
"Do not throw rocks at people with guns." - Hastings' Third Law
Big Ugly Tall Texan is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 08:37 AM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: September 16, 2007
Posts: 712

You can also use a fine polishing compound on a tight patch and work the entire bore area with special attention to the pitted area. I have a Hawkins that I bought used and had a rough bore with pitting. I used the polishing compound that came with an LBT firelapping kit; a fine grit in an oil base, I watched tv with a newspaper on the floor and worked the bore and switched patches about every 5 minutes. I made some bore size soft lead slugs that attach to a cleaning rod with a screw, to test the bore. The before slug was like pushing over a gravel road, after, it slides like on greased glass. The gun shoots like a target gun with 1 1/2" to 2" groups at 50 yds. I've since lapped all my guns B/p and modern. Rust usually starts where there are surface imperfections first.
robhof is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 04:34 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: February 24, 2009
Posts: 727
Thanks for the tips.

I wouldn't call this "flash rust", even though it happened in a flash! Flash rust is usually an even film of rust. This was definite little spots of bright orange rust- lots of them, like the measles.

I didn't realize that petroleum based oils were O.K. for cleaning BP crud. When I am done cleaning, I always coat everything with a thin film of CLP (Breakfree) for protection. Learned that in the Marines. And I am especially careful to swab the bore with a dry patch to remove the CLP when I go to shoot BP. Is swabbing sufficient? I've heard of guys saying you need to use alcohol or soapy water to get every bit of oil out. Is that really necessary?

Anyhow, I did run some rubbing compound through the bore some. It helped, but some of the pitting is still there. I hesitate to polish the bore too much with such compounds, as I don't want to round the corners of the rifling.

One guy I know was toying with the idea of adding some water-soluable protectant to the soapy water, like the stuff machinists use in their cooling fluids. You know, that milky stuff. It keeps the steel from rusting, yet is water soluable. Is that basically what "moose milk" is?
Model-P is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 04:42 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: October 8, 2006
Location: Northern Michigan
Posts: 2,772
That 'milky' stuff is cutting oil. It's essentially mineral oil. Break Free CLP, Ballistol, Butch's Bore Shine, T/C No. 17 and some other bp cleaning/lubrication solvents are mineral oil based. The caution about not using petroleum based oils in a bp bore does not apply to the mineral oil based lubricants and cleaners as it is a much higher distillate and does not contain the long hydrocarbon strings that the lower distillates do.

Adding the mineral oil to soapy water can be done with no ill effects, but it doesn't help, either. Clean with hot or warm soapy water or (ammonia if you want, but why spend the money). Rinse with warm or hot water. Dry thoroughly. You can use a water displacing fluid like alcohol or WD-40 if you want, but again, why spend the money. Lube with a mineral oil based solvent/lubricant for corrosion protection.

I would absolutely stay away from rubbing compounds. They are much too coarse for use on a rifle bore. I'd also stay away from lapping compounds; they can do the job but they're easy to overuse. Use fine steel wool saturated with a rust remover as stated above. Simple, effective, cheap and safe to use.
mykeal is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 06:10 PM   #14
Senior Member
Join Date: February 24, 2009
Posts: 727
That 'milky' stuff is cutting oil. It's essentially mineral oil..........Adding the mineral oil to soapy water can be done with no ill effects, but it doesn't help, either.
I think the stuff my frind had in mind was more of a fluid, or something added to water. I think it is mineral oil based, but has an emulsifier added in order to be able to mix with water. I'm pretty sure plain mineral oil won't mix with water? The idea is that, even though using water to do the cleaning, the emulsified oil would leave a thin, protective film, like it does on machined parts.

Thanks for pointing out the difference of "petroleum products" and "mineral oil"-based gun oils. Now I feel better about using CLP on the guns I shoot BP from. But I'm still curious to know if swabbing before firing removes enough of the CLP, or if I need to use alcohol as well.

So, what kinds of mineral-based oils are to be avoided? I understand one should not use parafin for bullet lube with BP. Is parafin not highly distilled?
Model-P is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 06:38 PM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: October 8, 2006
Location: Northern Michigan
Posts: 2,772
Pure, real paraffin can be used, although all by itself it is a poor lubricant. It's best used in a mixture with vegetable oils or mineral oils. The problem with almost all paraffins available today is that they are synthetic or contain high percentages of synthetic waxes. There is no FTC standard for calling something 'paraffin', so any given example can contain a very small amount of real paraffin without disclosing the real content.

I would certainly swab a bore coated with CLP or any other mineral oil or lube with at least two dry patches. That will prevent the lube from contaminating the powder. Too much lube can make a powder charge impotent.
mykeal is offline  
Old July 2, 2009, 07:23 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: February 24, 2009
Posts: 727
I'm not so much worried about contaminating the powder, since this is for cartridge BP loads. I was more concerned about that tar forming in the bore I keep hearing about.

Anyhow, this parafin thing reminds me of another question I had concerning BP bullet lubes. I'll start a new thread on that since now I'm really confused, I think, and so this thread can continue to address the corrosion issues of BP and cleaning.

Thanks again.

Last edited by Model-P; July 2, 2009 at 07:56 PM.
Model-P is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:29 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.08660 seconds with 9 queries