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The fouled barrel

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Unread 08-20-2012, 01:43 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Ny State
Posts: 418
The fouled barrel

I would like to ask, why is it that a fouled barrel tends to shoot a cold bore shot more accurately whereas a clean barrel apparently throws the first one? I have always assumed that first one was just me not settling down properly before applying a good squeeze to break the shot. With this in mind, I’ve lately concentrated on taking plenty of time and executing a few dry fires before actually shooting. Briefly, here’s what took place over the last few days to get me thinking about the impact of a fouled barrel on first shot accuracy.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to shoot a few rounds in the afternoon at exactly 300y on steel. A chip shot for my 7RM. The first round is almost always 2o’clock from POA by about 1/4 minute out of a clean, cold barrel. Several more were dead on the POA; inside 1/4MOA. Satisfied and out of time, I packed up and headed home where other calamities awaited and the gun was put away without cleaning. This is something that is highly unusual for me; Benchrest mentality perhaps.

On Saturday afternoon I was able to shoot again with the dirty barrel. This time the steel ranged at 480y; same rifle and batch of ammo. Calculated the dope and this time the first round on steel was dead on as were several more rounds. We went on to reduce the woodchuck population in the farmer’s fields until the original 20 rounds were expended. Several shots were over 700y and all were dead on accurate.

Saturday’s performance was exceptional considering that I’ve had little time to practice or shoot anything this summer. Nothing has changed with my equipment, same rifle, scope, bipod and blocks, reload recipe, ECT. The only thing “mechanical” that was different was the fouled bore that I still haven’t cleaned. While I consider myself a good shot, I’m not that good.
Why does the fouled bore apparently make a difference for the better? Logically one would think the clean bore would be the most accurate and accuracy would diminish as more rounds are fired.

Of those of you who may leave your rifle ‘fouled,’ how often do you clean the bore? Is there something more to this or should I just leave it alone and fire a fouler before shooting a clean barrel?

Anyone’s thoughts are appreciated. Thank you.
How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual… as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of. ~ Suzanna Gratia Hupp ~ Texas State Representative (R), survivor of 'Luby's Massacre' where both her parents were among 23 people fatally shot and 50 others wounded
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Unread 08-20-2012, 02:45 PM
RTK RTK is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Left coast, kalifornia
Posts: 331
Re: The fouled barrel

The powder and copper fouling smooth out all the minute peaks and valleys in your bore. I have had guns that take quite a few rounds before they will even start to group well after a good cleaning..

Over the years I have learned to clean less and less. I usually will try to patch out the powder fouling with a few patches after shooting but really don't get very aggressive any more, especially for the copper fouling. If I am not going to shoot for a long time I do a thorough cleaning then patch with kroil and oil before putting her up. I know guys that only clean when accuracy drops off, and that is very rarely, maybe after a few hundred shots.
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Unread 08-23-2012, 12:19 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Helena,Mt.
Posts: 259
Re: The fouled barrel

I think you are too worried about cleaning. Most guys do not clean very often. My hot-rod 6.5 gets it after maybe 2-300 rounds. It shoots great throughout the cycle. Some (few, from what I have seen) barrels don't like to be dirty. My cousin has a Cooper in 6-284 with a 14" twist that won't shoot after about 25 rounds. My daughters' .257 like to be clean. Most of my other ones don't care that much. Keep shooting until it stops grouping, then clean. easy and a lot less work. Don't sweat the small stuff.
I think, therefore I am, conservative.

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Unread 08-23-2012, 02:43 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 56
Re: The fouled barrel

I know there are guys out there that will use a Carbon specific solvent to clean the firearm. They'll only use a copper solvent after accuracy begins to drop, or after a predetermined amount of rounds.

The theory as I understand it is the carbon is what leads to the wear and tear on the barrel, not the copper. So by doing the above they prevent the wear and tear, but maintain the fouled barrel accuracy.

I clean mine after each range day and use a carbon/copper solvent. I've zeroed my scope for a clean cold bore shot. My CCB point of impact is the same as its DCB point of impact.
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Unread 08-23-2012, 08:48 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Townsend, Montana.
Posts: 8,644
Re: The fouled barrel

My theory on this subject after some of my own testing and development of my own system is this. All my cold bore accuracy problems were caused by my old cleaning method. It included a oily patch and then a few dry ones after cleaning to protect the barrel from rust. I now believe that the oil was my main problem. My new method is using BoreTech cleaning products that protect the barrel for storage and no oil is needed. I simply dry the barrel out before shootint with 4 or 5 dry patched. My first round clean bore accuracy is as good as any shot after. I have proven this with all my custom barreled long range rigs. The 300 win and 338 LM will hold 1/2 moa accuracy from point of aim to 1400 yards. Works for me.

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Unread 08-23-2012, 09:10 AM
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Location: Central ND
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Re: The fouled barrel

Jeff could you go into detail on your cleaning methods please pm or post. I haven't gotten any boretech yet. I still use the water based/oil based ammonia and finish it off with Iosso. I know accuracy goes hand in hand with the maintance of your barrel. My goal is to clean as good as I can with as less runs/patches down the barrel.

"Amazing things can happen when preparation meet opportunity" Richard Schatz

"The will to win, compares little with the will to prepare to win" Donovan Moran
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Unread 08-23-2012, 09:12 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Boise, ID
Posts: 1,015
Re: The fouled barrel

Oil leaves a uniform film the length of the barrel. This effectively tightens up the barrel dimensions until it's pushed out and burned off. I suppose some of that oil is hanging off the front of the bullet at it leaves the barrel too. After that, the fouling inside is more or less uniform from shot to shot. In an engine, pistons/rings ride on a film of oil, not against the cylinder wall.
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