The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Art of the Rifle: General

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old August 5, 2018, 02:59 PM   #1
cdoc42
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 13, 2005
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 630
How much to clean

I'm sure cleaning your rifle has been discussed to often to count, but I'm not certain this thought has been included, so I'll throw it in for opinion.

I've read certain experts have suggested that a new rifle should be fired for a number of shots, then cleaned, etc.,etc. Some have suggested cleaning when you notice your accuracy is falling off. Others suggest firing the first shot after cleaning to "foul the bore."

My thought was, if you reach the point of greatest accuracy after a certain number of shots post-cleaning, it suggests your bore is fouled to your advantage. Then your accuracy continues until the bore becomes fouled to your disadvantage. Now you clean.

But how clean should you go? Shouldn't you just clean some of the fouling out...say 50% of what you would do normally.....just to recapture that fouled state that restores your accuracy? Why clean it it until the swabs have no hint of any dirt or copper?
cdoc42 is offline  
Old August 5, 2018, 04:35 PM   #2
Bfglowkey
Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2018
Posts: 84
Accuracy is very very noticeable in a rifle. Consistency is how marksmen hit the target more often then not. Ideally we strive for both. So cleaning and starting with a fresh clear barrel you can trust the barrel will perform the exact same based on your load and number of shots etc if you record the data properly. If you clean partially there is never a sure fire way to know exactly where or how far you went with the barrel fouling removal. For the weekend marksman who enjoys the occasional range time and a part time hunters your idea is very intriguing.
Bfglowkey is offline  
Old August 6, 2018, 07:08 AM   #3
Mobuck
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 2, 2010
Posts: 6,037
"Shouldn't you just clean some of the fouling out...say 50% of what you would do normally."

And just how would you make that determination? I'm not a "last patch completely clean" rifle bore cleaner. There may be smudges left which most likely will be loosened by the Kroil I leave in the bore for storage and removed when I patch it out before firing. Rifle bores aren't perfectly even end to end so some spots may have more or less fouling.
Mobuck is offline  
Old August 6, 2018, 08:00 AM   #4
cdoc42
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 13, 2005
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 630
Mobuck, I was thinking in terms of the number of patches you might usually use to clean your rifle to the smudge point you described. Then just use half that amount.

The whole thing struck me as I took my first .22 to the range one day. A Winchester Model 69A bolt action. Got when I was 15 years old due to companionship with a family friend slightly older than me. My father was not a shooter so I was on my own to learn how to shoot, properly and safely handle the rifle. What I did not own was a cleaning rod. It was probably 2-3 years later when I did get one but the number of times I cleaned that rifle until I was 21 you can count on one hand. In those 6 years I put a lot of rounds through that barrel, from cans to rats. Recently I tested 7 different brands of .22 LR, firing 5 rounds each at 50 yards with a 4-power scope, and the groups ranged from 0.8 inches to 2.026", with others falling into 1.15" to 1.53." Then I began to think how little I cleaned that rifle and how well it still shoots.

Now, maybe I won't see the same situation with more high-powered center-fired rifles, but it did trigger the thought for this thread.
cdoc42 is offline  
Old August 6, 2018, 09:59 AM   #5
Picher
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 14, 2004
Location: Maine
Posts: 3,474
I don't often clean bores of my .22LR rifles, compared with those that shoot copper-coated bullets. The reason is that the .22LR rounds are coated with wax, more with target ammo, but even the copper coated ones. Good bores usually stay relatively clean for many rounds and protect bores when even "barn rifles" are heavily rusted on the outside.

Working on many customers' rifles, some of which I would have thrown in the trash bin, I've never encountered a rusty or pitted .22LR bore. That's in stark contrast to relatively new Remington 742s, and 7400s that were fired the previous season and put away without cleaning. Sometimes, the chambers were so rusty that the next shot's case remained stuck in the chamber. (There's a reason why Remington included a chamber brush with the new rifle. Cleaning from the muzzle also doesn't do much to protect the chamber.)
Picher is offline  
Old August 6, 2018, 12:21 PM   #6
T. O'Heir
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2002
Location: Canada
Posts: 9,934
"...that fouled state..." Not all rifles like it. Every rifle is different. Fouling shots do not apply to every rifle.
"...a new rifle should be..." Cleaned before any shot is fired. All of 'em come with a rust preventative coating that needs to come off. And cleaning a rifle is about function. Not accuracy.
__________________
Spelling and grammar count!
T. O'Heir is offline  
Old August 6, 2018, 05:51 PM   #7
Mobuck
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 2, 2010
Posts: 6,037
"Mobuck, I was thinking in terms of the number of patches you might usually use to clean your rifle to the smudge point you described. Then just use half that amount."

I still couldn't make that determination. My rifles may have fired 5 or 50 shots since last cleaned and no way I could remember how many patches I used the last time. My normal cleaning regimen often lasts several days as I soak the bores with Hoppe's #9 and leave them sitting a few hours or days.
Mobuck is offline  
Old August 6, 2018, 07:01 PM   #8
Dufus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 2014
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,295
Did ya ever wonder what causes pitting in a barrel????



Could fouling (copper, lead, powder, carbon) have anything to do with it??
Dufus is offline  
Old August 6, 2018, 08:29 PM   #9
Mobuck
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 2, 2010
Posts: 6,037
"Could fouling (copper, lead, powder, carbon) have anything to do with it??"

It COULD but more likely it's due to the moisture that those catch/attract/hold .
Mobuck is offline  
Old August 6, 2018, 09:59 PM   #10
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 18,326
Quote:
Did ya ever wonder what causes pitting in a barrel????
I don't wonder, I know.

Pitting is "holes" where the metal has been eaten away. The thing that eats metal is rust.

Quote:
Could fouling (copper, lead, powder, carbon) have anything to do with it??
Copper or lead, no. Powder fouling (and primer residue) yes. Less so today with modern formulations but a big factor in the old days.

Powder (and in particular black powder) absorb moisture from the air. Likewise perchlorate salts, the residue from "corrosive" primers. They trap water against the steel, and rust results. Over time (and depending on environmental conditions maybe not very much time, rust happens, Rust eats the steel, leaving pits.

THIS is the underlying reason the military has a long obsession with cleaning firearms at every possible opportunity. Its not JUST to give the troops something to do, and its not just to ensure function, its also to preserve the weapon. Remember the cleaning obsession began when ALL powder was black powder and all primers were corrosive.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old August 7, 2018, 05:33 AM   #11
Picher
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 14, 2004
Location: Maine
Posts: 3,474
When my buddy and I hunted woodchucks, we didn't clean our bores until the end of the season, so we always had a good first shot.

Unfortunately, one season, after my wife and I had kids, the .22-250 was put in the walk-in closet and forgotten. I'd leaned it against the steel sanitary vent pipe and didn't think about it because we didn't consciously end it's use for the season, just stopped hunting.

Nearly spring, I was in the closet and decided to check the rifle. I opened and removed the bolt and looked through the bore and could barely see daylight! I tried putting a cleaning rod through it from the breech and it wouldn't go. I plugged the bore and poured some oil in from the muzzle and let it sit for a few days. It softened the rust somewhat and eventually, I got a rod through it, but the metal was badly pitted. Apparently the condensation around the sewer stack caused excessive moisture and that's what caused corrosion of the unprotected bore.

After cleaning the bore well, I loaded up some ammo and took it to the Club range. I set up a target on a large holder at the 200 yard berm, then shooting prone, fired 5 shots at it from 200 yards, expecting to see keyholing or complete misses.

Fortunately, it grouped 5/8" at 200 yards!!! Probably the best prone-without support group I've ever made! I still don't remember what load I put together to make that great group. Fortunately, a young guy wanted that rifle more than I did, so I sold it to him at a good price...fully disclosing the pits.

That's the only time I didn't clean a centerfire rifle within a couple of days of shooting it. They're usually cleaned the same day they're shot.
Picher is offline  
Old August 7, 2018, 05:36 AM   #12
Bfglowkey
Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2018
Posts: 84
I will chime in again after reading a bit more of the discussion.
Corrosion from moisture is not the only source. I am reaching back to high school science days ( soooo long ago) and I will have to look at the periodic charts...but I thought there was a type of corrosion that stemmed from 2 metal types being in contact? Now moisture may still need to be present, but I would be curious if I am remembering correctly and if copper and the steel in the bore would be a mix that is t all that good ( lead if I can recall is a very "compatible" soft metal but also plausible.

I will also argue if you are a active enthusiast and shoot regularly, your cleaning routine can be taylored. When I load develop I will usually shoot 2-3 days in a row tuning. Since it's usually the same powder and bullet and my total round count will be 30-50 for that load I will usually clean it after final DOPE testing, then DOPE a 3-5 shot clean bore with that load. The results are very enlightening in terms of POI etc.
Bfglowkey is offline  
Old August 8, 2018, 11:25 AM   #13
Picher
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 14, 2004
Location: Maine
Posts: 3,474
Firing a centerfire rifle removes the protection layer of oil/grease applied after bore cleaner. I commonly clean by using one patch with bore cleaner, then depending on the bore and expected amount of metal fouling, three passes with a bore cleaner coated bronze brush (from breech to muzzle only), then patches until just a trace of fouling is visible.

Then, one dry patch, and one patch with Break-Free.
Picher is offline  
Old August 8, 2018, 05:45 PM   #14
PlatinumCore16
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2017
Location: Colorado
Posts: 358
BFGlowkey, that is called galvanic corrosion. And it deals with the electrode potential of various metals. Usually very noticeable between combinations such as aluminum and stainless, and mild carbon steel and stainless. The metals have to be in direct contact and there needs to be an electrolyte present. That electrolyte can be as simple as sea air, but can still happen in moist environments in general, just at a slower rate. Mostly not seen too much in dry climates unless water is allowed to pool for a length of time.
PlatinumCore16 is offline  
Old August 8, 2018, 07:38 PM   #15
Bfglowkey
Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2018
Posts: 84
Nice...so I remember stuff sort of from high school..but doesn't sound like it applies to rifles so much. Carbon fouling with moisture still seems to be the worst enemy...
Bfglowkey is offline  
Old August 9, 2018, 09:32 AM   #16
Picher
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 14, 2004
Location: Maine
Posts: 3,474
Removing all the copper from a bore isn't a great idea, since it often causes erosion of steel from friction with the cleaning rod and any impurities on it. A light film of copper isn't a bad thing to the metal, as long as a preservative is present to minimize atmospheric moisture that can create an acidic condition by mixing with any remaining fouling. I like Break-Free, since it tends to displace moisture and adds a bit of lubrication for the first shot from a "clean" bore.

After over 60 years of shooting, cleaning, and hobby gunsmithing, I've found my method to be excellent at maintaining bores. Before Break-Free, several of us used RIG (Rust Inhibiting Grease) which is still available.
Picher is offline  
Old August 9, 2018, 11:03 AM   #17
stagpanther
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2014
Posts: 4,868
I clean new rifles/barrels with a scheduled break-in of shots--mostly cause they often have manufacturing and "settling-in" debris/goo that are likely to accumulate in the chamber and bore in the first 25 shots or so. After that, I clean em after each shooting session. I found out sacrificing goats wasn't really necessary.
__________________
I screw things up--so you don't have to.
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!
stagpanther is offline  
Old August 9, 2018, 11:52 AM   #18
PlatinumCore16
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2017
Location: Colorado
Posts: 358
BFG, it is actually interesting you should say that because the Savage accustocks come with an aluminum bedding block and if that is in direct contact with a stainless barrel, that might be an issue for those in a salt climate.

Makes me want to send them an email and ask.

The way around that is to make sure there is a layer of *something* in between the two. In my industry, we tend to use epoxies, though anodize might work sufficiently well in this scenario.
PlatinumCore16 is offline  
Old August 9, 2018, 01:51 PM   #19
RC20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 10, 2008
Location: Alaska
Posts: 4,861
I am not good enough to tell, I have yet to see more than one fouling shot make any difference.

So I clean back to normal and that seems to work for me fine.
__________________
Science and Facts are True whether you believe it or not
RC20 is offline  
Old August 9, 2018, 05:28 PM   #20
Dufus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 2014
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,295
Quote:
Removing all the copper from a bore isn't a great idea, since it often causes erosion of steel from friction with the cleaning rod and any impurities on it. A light film of copper isn't a bad thing to the metal, as long as a preservative is present to minimize atmospheric moisture that can create an acidic condition by mixing with any remaining fouling. I like Break-Free, since it tends to displace moisture and adds a bit of lubrication for the first shot from a "clean" bore.
I will say again what I have said before: I have never witnessed a bore being ruined by cleaning properly.

I have seen bores ruined by not cleaning, or not cleaned properly.

If I am going to clean a bore, then it is clean with nothing left behind. I will not do a half assed job and leave the bore still fouled.
Dufus is offline  
Old August 9, 2018, 08:02 PM   #21
603Country
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 6, 2011
Location: Thornton, Texas
Posts: 3,462
I clean a bore when accuracy falls off. That varies with the rifle. 25ish shots with the 220 Swift. 50 or so with the 270. Over 100 with the 223. Not real sure about the 260, but it’s a big number. Usually, these days, I clean with Shooter’s Choice, which gets the carbon but doesn’t do much for copper, but my barrels don’t pick up much copper (all after market barrels). If that doesn’t give the accuracy back, then I’ll attack any copper with Boretech Eliminator.

After many many years, that’s the approach I use now. I used to clean after every range session. Not anymore.
603Country is offline  
Old August 11, 2018, 07:12 AM   #22
hooligan1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 18, 2010
Location: Independence Missouri
Posts: 4,321
Years ago when I joined this forum there were threads like this and as time went on I found my cleaning needs to be like 603Country for the most part.
Also I found that when I tested ammo, I got best results from clean bores, and let the test foul them.
I have seen a slow decrease in accuracy from a few rifles and after major cleaning accuracy was restored and I crawled back from ledge.
__________________
Thanks for coming!
hooligan1 is offline  
Old August 11, 2018, 07:29 AM   #23
stagpanther
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2014
Posts: 4,868
I do what Carlos Hathcock did. (cleaning, not shooting capability).
__________________
I screw things up--so you don't have to.
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!
stagpanther is offline  
Old August 11, 2018, 09:40 AM   #24
kenny53
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 30, 2015
Location: My back yard
Posts: 438
If you clean it, clean it till it shines. I don't clean after every outing but I clean it well when I do.
kenny53 is offline  
Old August 11, 2018, 03:31 PM   #25
RC20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 10, 2008
Location: Alaska
Posts: 4,861
Once you leave a layer of carbon in a gun, it won't come off easily.

Keep adding layers and you have a over fowled gun (new term?)

So, clean it back to new and if it takes 20 shots to get to the right state, so be it.
__________________
Science and Facts are True whether you believe it or not
RC20 is offline  
Reply

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 03:34 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.09291 seconds with 10 queries