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Old June 30, 2013, 12:59 AM   #1
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Troubleshoot a K-22

In this thread:
...I talked about a Model 18 no-dash that I helped work a deal for a buddy to buy.

It's a good gun, but on it's first trip to the range, it was inaccurate. And in looking at the target -- it seemed as if it was actually key-holing. So, we shot it some more. And yeah, it was definitely key-holing. He put it down and we each shot other toys for the rest of that range session. Great day for a range trip...because it was Superbowl Sunday and most of the rest of the world is in front of a TV.

He took it home & put a lot of time in to it. However, I have no idea the specifics on how he cleaned the bore, what he did to remove (what must have been?) leading in that bore. Afterall, this was a pawn shop buy and the revolver in question is a Model 18 no-dash, made in 1958. No idea what kind of a service life it had before we rescued it from the pawn shop.

Since that early February range trip, he's brought the Model 18 out each time we've shot together. He doesn't keep a log as I do, so the round count could only be an estimate. We figure some 400-500 rounds of bulk .22LR went through this revolver SINCE he cleaned it. All of it to very good effect. Very accurate, totally enjoyable.

Last trip out, last weekend? It's key-holing. Again!

Now I've got a bevy of rimfire handguns, but I only happen to own a single .22 caliber revolver, my Model 17-6. I'm sure I've passed "400-500" between cleanings (many times) but I don't know how many. I am certain that I've blown far past 500 rounds through some of my semi-auto rimfires, and I've never had a shot keyhole from any rimfire I've ever owned.

With just this little bit of info I can offer, are there any ideas or theories as to why this revolver is acting this way? I can't specifically confirm that the barrel is leading up -- but it seems logical considering it's good & accurate...but only for a while, and then it goes out the window.

Timing is very good-- if it's shaving lead or has some kind of alignment issue, it is NOT because of the cylinder timing.

If the gun were newer, I'd vote for calling Smith & Wesson, but it seems futile to call them for a 1958 gun.

It's not mine and I'm not attempting to "solve" his problem. Instead, I'm very curious about theories or ideas behind what might be the issue.
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
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Old June 30, 2013, 01:07 AM   #2
big al hunter
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If cleaning it thoroughly fixed it once, and cleaning it again fixes it....problem was a dirty bore. Every gun is different as to how many rounds it takes to bugger up the bore.
You can't fix stupid....however ignorance can be cured through education!
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Old June 30, 2013, 02:24 AM   #3
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I vote for a cleaning issue as well.

I've only had my K22 for a couple of weeks. I don't think it keyholes but the pattern definitely opens up after about 50 rounds. It was especially noticible when I was using those subsonic 60 gr rounds. Those are the brass from a 22 short, with a long, lead bullet. Next range trip I'm going to try only copper washed bullets. See if that improves the situation.

Gotta "get the lead out" I guess.

Sgt Lumpy
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Old June 30, 2013, 06:18 AM   #4
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500 rounds of dirty ammo could be enough to gunk up the rifling of the barrel and make it much less effective which would make it act more like a smooth bore. It wouldn't be able to impart enough spin on the bullet to stabilize it. This would cause the bullet to tumble.
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Old June 30, 2013, 07:46 AM   #5
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I would try lapping the barrel. It's a long, slow, tedious process but it works wonders. It smooths the bore so that it is very easy to clean and is not liable to accumulate as fast. In fact I have done it to some guns and they rarely need cleaning in the bore.
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Old June 30, 2013, 02:36 PM   #6
Bailey Boat
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With a Smith the first thing I would check is the alignment of the cylinder with the barrel. A range rod of proper caliber will tell the tale very quickly. Use ONLY a range rod not just a piece of metal rod.
.22's will always show a definite preference for a particular brand and style of bullet. Experiment until you find what that particular gun likes and stick with it.
The gun will tell you when it wants to be cleaned. First it will deny you of the accuracy you know it can do and if you ignore it then it will refuse to stabilize the bullet. Listen to the gun..... be one with the gun.....
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Old June 30, 2013, 03:02 PM   #7
James K
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With bore leading, the best way to remove it is not to get it there in the first place. Clean the heck out of the gun, then try different ammo; some kinds/makes of ammo will lead, others won't. Price is a good indicator (more expensive is better) but that is not hard and fast, as some very inexpensive ammo will shoot clean.

Jim K
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Old July 1, 2013, 03:18 AM   #8
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Yes, I would be one step further in this process if the revolver were in my possession -- because we have no idea what it did in it's first 50-plus years, I have no idea what the bore looked like at the outset, and I have no idea how "well" my buddy was able to clean that bore. Perhaps it came to him leaded up and when he cleaned it...he removed SOME and not all of it.

I suppose I'll keep an eye on how it's doing... we always shoot together.
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
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Old July 1, 2013, 05:08 AM   #9
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+1 for James K.
I'll also add that my experience with Smith and Colt .22 revolvers has shown that - mine anyways - all shoot better and cleaner with standard velocity ammo.

Had an older friend with a .22 Colt OMM that he was having trouble keeping the shots in the scoring rings at 25yds. He was shooting bulk brand X.
The forcing cone was packed with lead. Heavy build up on the underside of the top strap as well.

After a long cleaning session, I gave him a brick of target velocity quality ammo to try. The second cylinder though it shot into 1 1/2".
Included with the brick was a short range rod I use to clean the chambers of the lubricant build up to facilitate smooth loading.
Saw the gun after he had shot up the gift brick a few months later.
Minimal fouling that came right out in a few passes with a patch and solvent.
The ammo does make a difference.

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Old July 1, 2013, 08:02 AM   #10
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I can only add two things here:

1) if cleaning worked once, cleaning should work again. I read that really dirty guns often need cleaned in layers like wet with Hoppes#9, brush, wet with copper cleaner, brush, wet wit lead remover, brush .....and repeat until you can patch out each cleaner with a clean patch. Also, throwing JB's in with it's mild abrasive seems like it would help. If this cleaning continue to be a challenge, it might be a good candadite for a bore lapping kit that you add compound to bullets and shoot them.

2) 500 rounds seems like a long cleaning interval, even for a 22.
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Old July 1, 2013, 09:35 AM   #11
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I would vote cleaning as well.

I have an SP101 in 22 and it doesn't like more than 200 or so before I need to clean it.
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Old July 1, 2013, 12:22 PM   #12
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Yes, folks, cleaning, I agree. I get it. It was never not an option. It's absolutely the best way to make it run again.

I was looking for theories as to why, perhaps, the barrel might be leading up at what (appears to be a rate much, much higher than I have ever experienced across 6-7 rimfire handguns that I've put years and thousands of rounds through.

Before we his the rimfire crisis, bulk Federal Champion was the only fodder either of us used, if we had a choice. Well, except for a 1928 First Series Woodsman that I have and love, it gets the proper spec Standard Velocity ammo as it just barely pre-dates the HV pistols.

As to the rate, my experience would not indicate that 500 rounds is too far to go without scrubbing a bore. I can tell you that I don't scrub the bore of my GSG 1911-22 at 500 rounds. That pistol flat-out shoots, and before the ammo crisis hit, my plan was to attempt to shoot it to failure/destruction before the two-year warranty was up. I got over 4,400 rounds by the end of year one before ammo went scarce. I do lube and clear scuzz out of it, but I typically don't touch the bore until it's well over a thousand. It runs a strict diet of Federal Champion, 36gr plated. The pistol runs far better than perhaps it oughta at it's price point.
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
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Old July 1, 2013, 12:50 PM   #13
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I agree 500 rounds is way too often for a necessary cleaning.

As to why the barrel's leading, the source might be the cylinder - the throats in particular. Too big or too small can lead to barrel leading, though for difference reasons. My bet would be too big - if too small, the throats would swag the bullet down too far, making them undersize for the barrel, so accuracy would be affected, even with a clean gun.

When cleaning, pay special attention to any leading or residue buildup in the throat - could be this is where you're getting the initial leading, which leads to barrel leading. Next time it's time for a cleaning, try cleaning just the chambers to see if it restores accuracy. Or clean just the chambers several times during the 500 round interval to see if it extends accuracy beyond 500 rounds. If so, you've at least removed the barrel as a source of leading, and isolated it to the chambers.
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Old July 1, 2013, 01:03 PM   #14
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Like sevens I have shot my 17-6 way past a 500rd brick without cleaning. Coupla three years ago I'm pretty sure I shot it all summer without cleaning with no loss of accuracy or noticable leading. Last summer I was shooting at targets offhand when accuracy started going south and keyholed shots were common. When it was cleaned, lead in the barrel came out in long strips and it took lotsa scrubbing with a brush wrapped in chore boy to finally clean all the lead out. The chambers were really hard to get clean.

My 617 was so leaded after a few hundred rounds I sent in to Smith to find out what was out of whack. The gunsmith report sent back with the gun a report stating everything was in spec. The gunsmith was nice enough to email me that everything was hunky and I needed to clean it more often (with an unsaid "DOOFUS").

I guess I will have to starrt packing some cleaning supplies from now on when I go out for an extended session.

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