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Old July 8, 2020, 01:01 PM   #1
Shadow9mm
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22lr rifle cleaning method

Ok so I'm headed down a rabbit trail here, fair warning. I'm getting back into shooting my 22LR, kinda getting back to the basics and just having some fun. Trying to figure out often and how deep to clean the barrel.

I have been shooting bigger calibers mainly 223, 30-06, and 9mm lately. In all 3 of these I have found that my cleaning method of 3 passes with a lightly oiled bore snake was inadequate and have had to deep clean some barrels.

I watched this video from brownells https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWkawPtf-38 which basically says you don't need to clean a 22 barrel just the action. My 22 is a bolt gun so it shouldn't really have any issues there.

I read is several forums that the bench rest 22lr guys clean all the time, a wet patch followed by dry patches then oil every couple cards. They a deep clean every 50-100rnds from what I am seeing using such things as shooters choice lead remover and kroil among other things.

Why is there such a disparity, what do you think the guns actually need? I'm torn, I never really had any issues with the bore snake method. I'm just wondering if I'm giving up something or neglecting the barrel by not cleaning deeper.
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Old July 8, 2020, 02:34 PM   #2
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I'm far from being a benchrest rimfire shooter, but I do enjoy accuracy. I'll clean my rimfire barrels only when it seems that accuracy is falling off. I only clean the chamber area, bolt, and receiver about every 3rd time out, or when the action starts to feel sluggish or gritty.
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Old July 8, 2020, 02:51 PM   #3
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There's such disparity across 22 rimfire barrel cleaning frequency and methods because of the widespread quality of human marksmanship plus the accuracy potential of the rifle and ammunition.

Cleaning 22 rimfire barrels once every 50 round box has been normal for top ranked competitive shooters for decades. That's when accuracy at 50 yards degrades to .4 MOA or .8 MOA at 100. Accuracy is defined as biggest 20 shot test group fired. Some use 50 shots.

Popular methods are a few wet patches pushed out the muzzle then a bronze brush back and forth several times in the bore. Finally a couple clean patches to push the crud out.

Rimfire barrels today last about 30,000 rounds before needing set back a couple inches or replaced if you insist on match winng accuracy.

Last edited by Bart B.; July 8, 2020 at 03:02 PM.
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Old July 8, 2020, 03:02 PM   #4
Shadow9mm
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Originally Posted by Bart B. View Post
There's such disparity across 22 rimfire barrel cleaning frequency and methods because of the widespread quality of human marksmanship plus the accuracy potential of the rifle and ammunition.

Cleaning 22 rimfire barrels once every 50 round box has been norma5 for top ranked competitive shooters for decades. That's when accuracy at 50 yards degrades to .4 MOA or .8 MOA at 100.

Popular methods are a few wet patches pushed out the muzzle then a bronze brush back and forth several times in the bore. Finally a couple clean patches to push the crud out.

Rimfire barrels today last about 30,000 rounds before needing set back a couple inches or replaced if you insist on match winng accuracy.
This brings out the other question, what is meant by "cleaning". I have been reading a lot, for competitive shooters this seems to be a couple dry patches, or a wet patch followed by a couple dry between strings. not exactly what I would consider cleaning. There just does not seem to be a straight answer anywhere
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Old July 8, 2020, 03:04 PM   #5
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Clean the same way aggregate match winners and record setters do.
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Old July 8, 2020, 03:57 PM   #6
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If you only need plinking accuracy you can go a long time. My brother once ran his 10/22 3,000 rounds before he decided to clean it. He was complaining that it was starting to pattern instead of group. Mind you that was several bricks of mixed brand and type ammo.

If you need the absolute best you do what the bench rest shooters do.

Otherwise you can go quite a ways between cleaning with one caveat. If you intend to find out the accuracy of different types of ammo you start with a clean bore and then fire 5-10 fouling shots THEN shoot for score. When you are ready to change brands to compare CLEAN it again and repeat until you are done with your comparisons. Always clean the same way between strings.
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Old July 8, 2020, 04:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow9mm
Why is there such a disparity, what do you think the guns actually need? I'm torn, I never really had any issues with the bore snake method. I'm just wondering if I'm giving up something or neglecting the barrel by not cleaning deeper.
Rimfire benchrest shooters are slightly more touched than other rimfire shooters. They shoot very small groups at very short distances with more magnification than lots of people use at 100m. It's an activity that is by its nature extreme. They shoot non-score rounds to lubricate their barrels with expensive ammunition, shoot for score, then scrub out the lubrication and relubricate. Wouldn't it be shocking if their cleaning routines weren't extreme?

I went several years without cleaning a 10/22 barrel, but I did frequently clean the chamber. It worked for practice at a 50 foot indoor range on A36 targets, but might not have been ideal for any sort of shooting from a supported position.

No one should be cleaning lead from a 22lr barrel, because the lead of a bullet should never touch the metal of your barrel. If the barrel is leading, there is some sort of problem that should be addressed. Centerfire shooters deal with copper deposits, but that's because they aren't shooting slow, lubricated bullets.

I believe that some of the infrequent cleaning lore comes from older rifles that may have had softer alloys used in the barrel that could more easily be damaged by cleaning. Now that I have surface hardened (nitrided) barrels even in my frequently used rimfire rifles, I clean without worry.

I'm not anti-bore snake; they aren't bad things to have at the range. I clean after a session with a rod or cord and a patch just on the broad principle that clean is better than dirty.
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Old July 8, 2020, 05:22 PM   #8
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For fun 22 shooters need only pull a bore snake through your barrel after every outing.
A couple of points though, some rifles will take about 15 shots to settle in after even a minor cleaning and put shots where the zero is, don't clean it the night before a squirrel hunt you may miss some longer shots.
I've personally never experienced it but have seen pictures of barrel with a lead ring ahead of the chamber that is extremely detrimental to accuracy. Look down your barrel with a scope occasionally if you know someone that has one.
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Old July 8, 2020, 07:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 2xk
I've personally never experienced it but have seen pictures of barrel with a lead ring ahead of the chamber that is extremely detrimental to accuracy.
I get one I can feel with my patch by one thousand rounds. It does reduce accuracy, and if left to grow can interfere with cycling.

It will hurt some to read this, but my remedy is a nylon brush in the chamber rotated by a drill.

Last edited by zukiphile; July 8, 2020 at 09:00 PM.
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Old July 8, 2020, 08:15 PM   #10
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That lead ring must not accumulate with target ammunition either that or routine cleanings prevent it, I don't know how many cases of ammunition I've shot over the years and have never seen it even with sporters.
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Old July 8, 2020, 09:06 PM   #11
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I don't know what the variable is for carbon rings, but my sense is that it pertains to the way the chamber and barrel are cut.

I have a Volquartsen pistol that has several cases of remington golden bullet through it, has only ever been cleaned with weedwacker cord, and has no carbon ring. Since I've started with 22lr ARs, I see it regularly. I even purchased a barrel from a fellow who couldn't get his barrel to shoot thinking I could use it in a spare upper. After having the ring removed, it shot very nicely.
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Old July 9, 2020, 06:16 AM   #12
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Good thread!

zuk, how do you clean with weedwacker cord?
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Old July 9, 2020, 06:26 AM   #13
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Quote:
zuk, how do you clean with weedwacker cord?
The simple way is to melt the end of a piece of cord to fit a 22lr barrel, cut the other end so it is sharp, put that sharp end though a patch or felt plug and pull it through. It's a homemade version of the product known as a Patchworm. http://www.champchoice.com/store/Mai...s&item=PWK2212

Some people adapt commercial cleaning rod accessories to be dragged through a barrel.

The VQ pistol that has never had a carbon ring came with a warning that running a brush through it would void the Volquartsen warranty, so I never tempted fate in that specific way.
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Old July 9, 2020, 08:08 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
The simple way is to melt the end of a piece of cord to fit a 22lr barrel, cut the other end so it is sharp, put that sharp end though a patch or felt plug and pull it through. It's a homemade version of the product known as a Patchworm. http://www.champchoice.com/store/Mai...s&item=PWK2212

Some people adapt commercial cleaning rod accessories to be dragged through a barrel.

The VQ pistol that has never had a carbon ring came with a warning that running a brush through it would void the Volquartsen warranty, so I never tempted fate in that specific way.
Very interesting, Is there any particular reason they don't like brushes? I stick to nylon brushes, couldn't be that different from the weed whacker cord.
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Old July 9, 2020, 08:34 AM   #15
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Is there any particular reason they don't like brushes? I stick to nylon brushes, couldn't be that different from the weed whacker cord.
I like brushes and use them, just not on the VQ pistol. One difference might be that a brush involves pushing or pulling a rod in the barrel. I don't consider that a problem generally.

The VQ barrel may be smoother than average; it always come clean with some solvent and patches only. I've also noticed on a Lothar Walther barrel that was lapped that not as much crud accumulates and what crud is there wipes out easily and smoothly, i.e. the patch doesn't have that start/stop, squeaky cadence, but moves smoothly.


I didn't mean to derail this into a thread about my barrels, but this might illustrate how different barrels and different accuracy requirements could reasonably dictate different cleaning methods and intervals.
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Old July 9, 2020, 10:39 AM   #16
Bart B.
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"Cleaning" means different things depending on ones objectives, conditions and standards.

If you can test your 22 rimfire stuff at 50 yards getting no groups bigger than a quarter inch, you'll enjoy good cleaning tools and techniques every 50 shots. Whatever cleaning stuff you use to do that is good.
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Old July 9, 2020, 11:06 AM   #17
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I don't use metal brushes ever including bronze ones, I believe they rough up the metal surface just enough to cause increased fouling and wear.
If you clean with nylon brushes and chemical bore cleaners barrels become polished and are much easier to clean, this is especially true with ones that only get lead bullets shot through them. There's not much you can do about the carbon that settles in the bottom third of a 22 barrel that causes pitting other than shoot clean burning ammunition and avoid shooting alot on cold days.
Even though boresnakes have a bronze brush in them I still use them when I don't have time for a proper cleaning, half a dozen times a year shouldn't hurt anything.
Btw I'm a reformed obsessive compulsive barrel scrubber.
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Old July 9, 2020, 01:26 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Shadow9mm View Post
Ok so I'm headed down a rabbit trail here, fair warning. I'm getting back into shooting my 22LR, kinda getting back to the basics and just having some fun. Trying to figure out often and how deep to clean the barrel.

I have been shooting bigger calibers mainly 223, 30-06, and 9mm lately. In all 3 of these I have found that my cleaning method of 3 passes with a lightly oiled bore snake was inadequate and have had to deep clean some barrels.

I watched this video from brownells https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWkawPtf-38 which basically says you don't need to clean a 22 barrel just the action. My 22 is a bolt gun so it shouldn't really have any issues there.

I read is several forums that the bench rest 22lr guys clean all the time, a wet patch followed by dry patches then oil every couple cards. They a deep clean every 50-100rnds from what I am seeing using such things as shooters choice lead remover and kroil among other things.

Why is there such a disparity, what do you think the guns actually need? I'm torn, I never really had any issues with the bore snake method. I'm just wondering if I'm giving up something or neglecting the barrel by not cleaning deeper.
Jeff Cooper said that the lube residue left by quality .22RF ammo is a better preservative than oils, lubes , etc. applied after shooting.

This subject has been bandied about here and on other forums countless times. I rarely clean a .22 bore, whether rifle or handgun. That said "rarely" means once in a blue moon. I do wipe exterior and clean as much as I can leaving the bore alone

Some of my .22s will shoot slightly erratic after a bore scrub and some shoot the same as before a bore scrub...incorrect or over zealous cleaning of any firearm's bore can do more harm than good, I think this is a well known fact..
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Old July 9, 2020, 02:45 PM   #19
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Lots of 22 ammunition is lubricated with wax which probably adheres to the interior of the bore longer than regular bore products, the colonel being correct once again. I never met him but a friend did and said he was really awesome in person.
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Old July 9, 2020, 05:07 PM   #20
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I clean after every range trip . Old reliable , Hoppes #9 bore solvent followed by Ballistol.
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Old July 9, 2020, 06:01 PM   #21
Bart B.
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Originally Posted by Double K View Post
For fun 22 shooters need only pull a bore snake through your barrel after every outing.
A couple of points though, some rifles will take about 15 shots to settle in after even a minor cleaning and put shots where the zero is, don't clean it the night before a squirrel hunt you may miss some longer shots.
I've personally never experienced it but have seen pictures of barrel with a lead ring ahead of the chamber that is extremely detrimental to accuracy. Look down your barrel with a scope occasionally if you know someone that has one.
That lead ring you mention reminds me of the decades old standard 22 rimfire position shooters have used to indicate a barrel is at the end of its life.

The throat of a new barrel will appear shiny bright all the way around a clock face. As the abrasive glass frit in the primer tends to settle in the bore at its bottom mostly at 6 o'clock, every successive shot adds to it. When about 10,000 rounds are shot, enough frit has roughed up the lands and grooves in the throat that it appears dark from 5 o'clock clockwise to 7 o'clock. Around 20,000 rounds, it's dark from 4 to 8 o'clock. When it's dark from 3 to 9 at 30,000 or so rounds, the bore bottom half is dark for a half inch or more down the barrel.

Shots at 50 yards are going a little off call. At 100 yards, more off call. Time to rebarrel or set it back an inch or more. Then its like a new barrel.

Last edited by Bart B.; July 9, 2020 at 07:00 PM.
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Old July 9, 2020, 06:07 PM   #22
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I had the barrel on a 541-T set back twice before the damage went 2-3" forward, the action was getting pretty loose at that point as well. I lived in the country then and shot a couple boxes every day the weather permitted at silhouettes.
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Old July 9, 2020, 08:44 PM   #23
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Jut clean lightly-couple wet o nes and same w/ dry. BUT watch for the donut juist ahead of the bullet in 22LR. How do you know?? I dont?? Use a good brass or bistle brush on the first 4" whn doing the above and you will be good.

How often-on my 22 BR gun(s) after about 500-600 rounds. How do I know-I dont..
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Old July 9, 2020, 09:54 PM   #24
Bart B.
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22 rimfire match ammo made after 1980 is not nearly as accurate as it was earlier.

All of the 100 yard prone scoped open records shot before then still stand.

Same for most of the 50 yard ones.

Last edited by Bart B.; July 10, 2020 at 06:21 AM.
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Old July 10, 2020, 07:04 AM   #25
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22 rimfire match ammo made after 1980 is not nearly as accurate as it was earlier.

All of the 100 yard prone scoped open records shot before then still stand.

Same for most of the 50 yard ones.
I did not know that, very interesting!
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