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Old March 8, 2023, 05:01 PM   #1
cdoc42
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Another cleaning thread

I’m sure there was a thread on TFL about cleaning guns, but another discussion popped up on my computer linked to one of the free routine publications associated with various gun magazines and I can’t find it now. But I do recall the question it raised in my mind, and I wonder how fellow TFL members would interpret it.

The gist of it described two extremes- cleaning the rifle so well that you could eat a meal out of the bore, and never touching the rifle EVER. So, obviously, somewhere in the middle is the answer, and I can understand the need to get the copper out so it doesn’t fill the grooves to the point that they disappear, but the emphasis as well seemed to be to at least clean out the carbon deposits. Then the subject of fouling came about and there was a statement made that at least 3 fouling shots are required to essentially “stabilize” the bore environment.

That alone alerted me to ponder, why, then, should you clean the carbon out in the first place? Or, is it just a fact that the carbon goes when you’re really after the copper and you need to replace a certain amount of carbon for proper rifle function?
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Old March 8, 2023, 05:44 PM   #2
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To be clear, you're only talking about cleaning the bore, not the rest of the gun?
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Old March 8, 2023, 10:49 PM   #3
cdoc42
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Yes.
No bolt or attached accessories. Recognize the discussion ended up being about the need to foul the rifle after cleaning to assure the integrity of the expected accuracy.....
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Old March 9, 2023, 09:27 AM   #4
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The folks that promote squeaky clean are focused on precision. Precision shooting to them is about consistency. Since there is no way to clean to a consistent level of slightly dirty, they like to shoot from clean.

The partly dirty crowd seems to like the idea that their seems to be a first shot issue out of a clean bore, so they think of cleaning as removing layers of dirty to get back into the sweet spot between clean and dirty. I’m not sure this spot exists as the layering concept doesn’t work. Cleaning occurs where the patches and brushes rub the hardest. The corners of grooves just don’t get enough scrubbing. I think that is why “ratchet “ and 5r rifling are so popular. Less 90 degree corners in the section.

I hate brushes, but they help access these corners. So, I think they are necessary. Solvents that you see work are necessary to me. I’m experimenting with abrasives. I’m not bought in yet. I like Kroil as a pre treatment. It seems to loosen fouling. Then solvent. I like something like IPA to wash out the bore and Kroil to wash out the bore some more leaving a thin coating of preservative.
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Old March 9, 2023, 11:30 AM   #5
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I like something like IPA to wash out the bore and Kroil to wash out the bore some more leaving a thin coating of preservative.
I'm fairly sure that IPA is not "India Pale Ale", which I am most familiar with for that acronym, but have to ask as we see some very "out of the cleaning box" products used sometimes.
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Old March 9, 2023, 02:12 PM   #6
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Isopropyl Alcohol
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Old March 13, 2023, 04:04 PM   #7
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That alone alerted me to ponder, why, then, should you clean the carbon out in the first place? Or, is it just a fact that the carbon goes when you’re really after the copper and you need to replace a certain amount of carbon for proper rifle function?
it's not a matter of proper rifle function, its a matter of having the rifle shoot the best it can (normally measured by smallest groups), and this varies with the rifle, the ammo, what exactly what it is that the shooter desires.

I know of benchrest shooters who clean to bare metal (and probably disinfect) after 20 shots.

I know more than a few hunters (and I'm one of them) who don't clean a rifle barrel during hunting season (unless it falls into the water, snow, mud, etc.) We clean before the season, sight in, (which also serves as our fouling shots) and then don't touch it until after the season is over.

Rimfire rifles don't act quite like centerfire ones. many of them don't shoot their best until "well seasoned" which may be a couple hundred shots or even a bit more, and cleaning that barrel actually reduces the accuracy, until the fouling has built back up again to the point where it shoots its best.

Centerfire rifles, (jacketed bullets) usually don't work that way, and when fouling reaches a certain point, accuracy degrades and cleaning the bore "resets" things.

And, every rifle is going to be a little different about how much/what kind of fouling matters. One constant is USUALLY (enough to be considered a constant) is that the very first shot from a totally clean bore goes somewhere slightly different than following shots.

IF the rifle is shooting acceptably well for you, you don't need to clean the bore. If its not, then perhaps you should. Cleaning for long term storage or preventive maint. is a different matter.
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Old March 13, 2023, 05:17 PM   #8
Shadow9mm
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Short answer, the rifle will function with or without carbon/copper in the bore.

Guns will speed up, or gain velocity as the bore fouls due to increased pressure from the bore diameter being reduced due to fouling.

Precision shooters clean often and thoroughly. I have also heard they claim it improves barrel life due to less wear from the bullets riding over the carbon in the barrel.

carbon rings in front of the chamber can be detrimental to accuracy and increase pressure.

For me, I generally clean thoroughly after every outing. Bore tech eliminator is great stuff. Works well on carbon, and also has a mild copper remover. So I don't wind up with copper buildup over time. Follow the directions on the bottle and you will be good to go.
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Old March 13, 2023, 08:33 PM   #9
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I don't view it as "either or"--IMO it's more a question of the characteristics of the barrel; and how to make the best of them. Because of the wide variety of barrel reaming techniques, material, concentricity consistency, stress relieving etc. a barrel will "tell you" what it needs to get the best performance out of it. One thing I've noticed is that top tier barrels don't generally foul up as fast or much as cheaper commercial production ones, but that doesn't necessarily mean you can't get very good performance out of a cheaper barrel; but it usually does mean monitoring it's "temperment" changes as it fouls. Just my opinion. Some barrels are simply "hopeless cases" fresh from the factory. A lot of them, actually, IMO.
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Old March 13, 2023, 10:31 PM   #10
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Some barrels are simply "hopeless cases" fresh from the factory. A lot of them, actually, IMO.
Of course, and one man's "hopeless case" can be another's "works good enough for me!".

It all depends on what you think it ought to do...
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Old March 14, 2023, 02:32 AM   #11
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It all depends on what you think it ought to do...
That's true.
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Old March 14, 2023, 11:14 PM   #12
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I don't clean if there is no need to, considering I need to fire as many as 10 rounds to foul the bore after cleaning it. When I clean, I don't elbow grease with the brush. I will let the chemicals do the work. The brush is just applicator. Certain bores, milsurp rifles for instance, need extra efforts in terms of days, if not weeks, to do a proper job.

Many people don't agree. They have to clean after each use. Fortunately they have their own guns to play doctor with.

-TL

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Old March 15, 2023, 09:45 AM   #13
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Guns will speed up, or gain velocity as the bore fouls due to increased pressure from the bore diameter being reduced due to fouling.

Precision shooters clean often and thoroughly. I have also heard they claim it improves barrel life due to less wear from the bullets riding over the carbon in the barrel.

carbon rings in front of the chamber can be detrimental to accuracy and increase pressure.
Bench rest shooters do clean a lot, and it meets their needs. Precision shooters (as in PRS, NRL, CD, etc.) don't clean until the rifle tells them to. That can be after each match (150 to 200 rounds) but it is more common that it is 600 to 900 rounds. Carbon bad, copper fine. Carbon rings in the chamber, leade or start of the lands are never good. If that is happening, most will adjust their load to get rid of that.

A factory fresh barrel will take some number of rounds to settle, in terms of accuracy and velocity. That is in the range of 50 to 150 rounds. Cleaning too often won't ever let that best consistency and accuracy occur. But a good scrub, and it will still take a good number of rounds to stabilize. Clean out the big chunks, sure, you might only need a few rounds to foul and get back to consistency.

But, and here is where most folks fall off the wagon, there are grades of barrels and differences in rifling and finishing. Those benchrest barrels cost more than the rifles most folks shoot. They are highly polished at the factory and are intended, by design and process, to shoot from a clean bore and at some point, 30 to 60 rounds, their best accuracy falls off. The barrels used for custom rifles and the factory barrels suitable for precision shooting are less refined and do need some fouling and will achieve their best accuracy after that, and not need to be cleaned for several hundred rounds. Factory barrels on production rifles under about $1k, are less refined still. They are less consistent clean or dirty, but will generally need some fouling left in them for their life if one expects to get decent groups.

I've had folks, with premium barrels, cry that their barrel won't shoot. They are using a dirty powder, an inconsistent jacket hardness bullet, or even mixing bullets in the bore, or cleaning it all the time. All detractors to accuracy. I've been able to get most to a place where they are happy with the results by changing what they are doing, and how.

Also, what works for me, in Colorado, may not work if I were in Alabama, shooting the same bores and ammo. Carbon Black is hygroscopic. If you have a lot in the bore, and copper, and fire cracking, you will have a problem leaving the barrel dirty unless you put it in a safe with active moisture absorption. If the carbon absorbs enough moisture to start the oxidation of copper, you can have high pressure for a few rounds, then the pressure will drop off, and back to normal. When folks tell me they need 2 or 3 shots to foul their bore...they are really telling me they have a dirty bore, not shot often with carbon and copper. They are actually pushing out the corrosion products and smoothing out the bumps, to get back to a stable condition.
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Old March 15, 2023, 11:32 AM   #14
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I'll post my experience once again. When I was young I shot in a couple of clubs that shot smallbore rifle matches.

Note: saying 'smallbore' is soooo much cooler than saying .22LR and we shot at a distance of 50 FEET and only iron sites were allowed.

We usually shot from September to May and only cleaned the .22 rifles at the end of the year and I'm guessing we shot about 50 to 100 rounds a week.

This is not a recommendation or endorsement, it's just what we did.
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Old March 15, 2023, 05:28 PM   #15
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We usually shot from September to May and only cleaned the .22 rifles at the end of the year and I'm guessing we shot about 50 to 100 rounds a week.
Ditto, only my club it was more like 250 rounds per week, 50 per day Monday - Friday, plus more at the actual matches.
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