Here are some thoughts about the cleaning schedule that I am now using. I first started out using a variety of off the shelf cleaners and found that Barnes CR10 is the best cleaner that I can find. I use it to clean both the carbon and copper. It just takes it down in steps.
While reviewing the internet, I came across a suggestion for home brew cleaners. One great product is actually made by General Motors. It is their top end engine cleaner. In Canada, it is called CLEEN. It works very well for carbon fouling and only carbon fouling. Priced a lot cheaper then nitro cleaners too.
Then I use some very strong Janitorial strength Ammonia to get rid of the copper. The stuff you find in the grocery store doesn't work worth spit. This works equal or better then CR 10 which I consider the best on the market so far. This ammonia removes the toughest copper deposits even in pitted military barrels. doesn't do spit for the carbon and even leaves the moly layer intact. This stuff is so cheap an entire club could get a bottle for a about a buck.
So now I have a two part cleaning program. For barrels that have both carbon and copper fouling, I use both cleaners. For my match or super smooth barrels that don't copper foul much, I only use the CLEEN. Saves time and effort. Costs about 1/4 that of Barnes CR10 for equal volume.
For lapping or super cleaning, I will use JB as directed on the bottle. I have also started using the "red" stuff. More gritty and suitable for lapping. Good stuff.
One thing to keep in mind is that many smooth barrels really don't need to be cleaned much at all. I clean because the rifle has either been shot enough that accuracy is drifting, the rifle is going to be stored for a long time, or it has been out in the elements and rust is a risk. I also clean to a level that restores accuracy. Going to bare metal everytime may be more work and wear then necessary.
Many of my rifles require quite a bit of fouling shots to settle down. At which point, it is just as fouled as before I cleaned it. I use moly bullets (no wax) a lot and for better or worse, it seems to keep accuracy going for a large number of shots. Some barrels just don't like being cleaned.
The Kleen bore brushes are the best. Very stiff and alum shafts. Don't bother with brass shafts, just gives you more copper to clean out.
I now cut my own patches from white flannel found at Walmart. About 1/10 the cost of patches sold in the hunting stores and you can make them any size to fit.
For long term storarge, I have heard of shooters using an engine storage oil instead of oils like WD40 or light gun oils. I guess as long as it will displace moisture and not damage the bore, should work.
Cleaning is a very personal thing so I hope some of these ideas can help.
Great info. Personal for shooters and for rifles. I have a rifle that goes to hell for about a dozen shots after I have cleaned it. Cleaner it is the longer it takes to foul again. Shot exactly 500 rounds through it a while back, it was a solid 1.25 inch shooter. Cleaned hell out of it, shot three consecutive three to four inch groups then it went back to 1.25"-1.5". Factory Win. tube with a hell of a lot of rounds through it.
Had a fairly good .308 barrel once that had to be cleaned every fifteen-twenty shots or it fouled so bad you could see copper hanging inside it like bats in a cave... (I know, small bats). [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
Hmmmm... shoulda followed this thread earlier [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
Question for y'all gurus: My 700VS in .308 Win is acting 'funny' lately. When I first got it, even after breaking in the barrel, I had to clean it about every 20-25 rounds, cuz at 30 or so, group size doubled. Ended up having to go to a routine of 3-4 wet patches of Butches, a patch of JB wrapped around a bronze brush and short-stroke the snot out of the bore, and then 5-6 wet patches of Butch's to get out the residue from the JB, wait 5-10 minutes and patch out. Maybe have to run another few wet patches if the barrel was *really* fouled, but that's about it. Got to where I could clean the barrel pretty quickly this way. Anything else took multiple (like 6-10) rounds to get clean w/o the JB patch on the brush.
Had some folks elsewhere chide me for using JB too much, so I decided to try some Sweets, both straight, and w/ Hoppes #9 first for powder, and try to forego the bore paste. Got it clean in a reasonable amount of time, but it started slinging shots all over after cleaning, whereas before it put them in the exact same hole as before cleaning. Now it takes close to 10rds to settle things down again. I've been trying to go back to the Butches/JB/Butches routine again, but it doesn't seem to help any. The barrel still slings shots all over heck after cleaning. WTF? Plus, now it seems to 'like' lighter bullets(125gr BTs, 155gr J4s and SMKs), whereas before, it wouldn't shoot anything lighter than 168gr in less than a IC pattern???
Monte, Sounds like you have a real fouler on your hands. Have you checked the bedding and scope mount/bases? May as well eliminate any obvious problems.
In general, barrels get more stable over time until they are worn out. So am a little surprised that you are seeing such swings.
What type of powder are you using? One of the best for 308 is Varget. Burns very clean too. Have a look down the tube after you have shot your 20 plus rounds and see if you can any areas of heavier fouling or constriction. If that is the case you may want to consider hand lapping or fire lapping the barrel.
A 308 barrel should be able to digest over 100rds without ill effect. Of course, every barrel is different. Are you getting a lot of copper fouling? How is the throat area before you clean - any visible deposits?
I have used JB for a long time and have seen no ill effects from continued use. It is hard to imagine something like toothpaste wearing out steel in your lifetime. Try getting some "red" JB which is their lapping compound. Smoothing the barrel and throat will help with consistency of a barrel. Reduces fouling too.
Since your rifle now likes lighter bullets, I would recommend the 155gr Amax. I love this bullet and it flies so much flatter then the 165/168 from many companies.
Jerry, I'm trying to wrack my brain for anything and everything that I did to the gun around the time it started acting a little weird. I know I pulled the action out of the stock to look at something, and I'm not sure how tight I got the screws when I put them back (no torque wrench, so I settled for 'snug'). I went from Butch's/JB BorePast to Sweet's/JB to Hoppes #9/Jb to Hoppes #9/Sweets back to Butch's/JB. I had changed scopes from an SS10x42 in Leupold QRW rings to a Weaver V16 in Burris Signature rings. Had a period where the front ring was far enough forward that it was actually on the front bell about 1/16th to 1/8th inch, and was acting haywire. Got that straightened out, and the gun was shooting fine (once it was fouled). I should mention that the gun went from shooting consistent btwn cleanings, but needing cleaning every 20-25rds, to needing up to 10 shots to settle in, but then shooting indefinitely (up to 80rds, haven't pushed it more) w/ no appreciable drop-off in accuracy.
The load I was using was a 175gr SMK over 45.0 gr of Varget, Winchester cases, CCI BR2 primer. Come to think of it, most of the weird zero problems have been since I ran out of 175 SMKs. Hmmm.... I went to some custom 185gr VLDs, but I think they are too heavy for the .308 for longer ranges, so I've been testing some 155gr bullets. J4's for the moment, as that's what they have handy here. I twisted their arm, and there should be some A-Maxes on the way.
I've been playing w/ Viht N-140 lately, as it shot some really tiny groups w/ 155gr J4s. Meters nicer than Varget too. Tad more expensive, and from what I've heard, not as temperature stable, so I may end up back w/ Varget (sight, could be worse, could be 4064 or something else similarly heinous).
As far as the copper fouling, I'd have to say not as much as initially. But that's judging by the muzzle end. How do you see the copper in the throat w/o a borescope?
I've been threatening too get a Tubbs FinalFinish kit and work this sucker over, and then go to moly bullets, and just avoid the whole darn copper issue entirely. Looking at the prices on moly 155 A-Maxes, that's looking better and better [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
Monte, I think you have answered your own question. All barrels take a while to break in and you have done that. Now the normal roughness of the barrel is being experienced. The barrel shoots well once it has been fouled. Fine, just don't bother cleaning it as long as accuracy is there and there is no risk of corrosion. I mean...don't clean it ever. There is no rule if rifledom that says you have to clean your rifle.
I used to shoot a lot of smallbore silhouette and we almost never clean our barrels. The fouling got to a balance where one or two shots at the beginning of the match would settle everything down and the guns would shoot all day. Whenever these rifles were cleaned, several clips would have to be shot in order to get the barrel back on track.
Another area that you could be causing problems is twist rate of barrel. It would not surprise me that your barrel is a 1 in 12 twist or slower. That could lead to lack of stability for the 185VLD bullets and shooting patterns. That would explain why the 155 are shooting so well. They love 1 in 13 to 12 twists.
Don't over clean you gun. Just do it cause it needs to. I would suggest going to Barnes CR10 and just cleaning enough to get the accuracy back. Chances are every time you clean you are going too far thus you need all those fouling shots to settle the barrel.
I have two very accurate rifles that copper foul so bad the barrel look like copper pipes. Both will shoot sub MOA until I clean them, then they take up to a dozen shots to settle back down. At which time, the barrel looks like copper pipe again. End result is I don't clean them unless I am storing them or they get wet.
Firelapping may work but why waste time and money. Would add a lot of extra wear on the throat too.
Moly may help but it will not stop the copper fouling completely. I use moly bullets exclusively and the barrels are still copper fouling. Avoid the wax coating as I believe this can cause neg. fouling and burnt residue in the throats. I use moly simple because it is easy to apply (midway tumbling system) and costs next to nothing. Does help in very rough barrels too.