Custom Barrel Care at 17X By Jim See

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Barrel break-in could be the most debated subject of barrel care. The two schools of thought are, just shoot it, or shoot and clean for x number of rounds. I have tried both and from my experience the proper way to go is the shoot and clean. This is why:
It is a well known fact that a barrel, even a custom lapped barrel, will attract more copper fouling to the bore on the first few bullets down the tube. The single most important reason to shoot one round and clean out that copper fouling is to prevent a build-up which will be MORE difficult to remove if multiple bullets are fired down the virgin bore. Yes, we may clean it five times with 5 bullets fired, but you will notice that the fifth cleaning was much easier than the first. On the other hand, if we fire 5 bullets in succession we will have multiple layers of copper laid down, which will require more cleaning to remove. My opinion is that the 5 cleanings will leave your bore in better condition than the single cleaning after 5 shots. I have shot, bore scoped, and cleaned a couple of barrels during the break in, and the visual bore inspection was quite enlightening. Read More...
This is a thread for discussion of the article, Custom Barrel Care at 17X, By Jim See. Here you can ask questions or make comments about the article.
 

jmason

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Jim-Thanks for an easy to read and understand article on such a debated topic. For the first time this procedure makes sense to me. That's a feat in itself!:D
 

Bob the nailer

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Jim, I agree with the one shot and clean method working up to a seasoned bore and I have had excellent results with a very similar process. Reading "Precision Shooting Bench Rest Primer" lead me to start useing JB bore paste and polish along with Kroil, I will only use Sweets 762 when the copper devils won't let go. It just seems wrong to not scrub out fouling between shoots when only 30 rounds are fired and a squeeky clean barrel seems to group better in the pipes I have fired ( I am sure you have put more bullets down barrels than I ever will). Can you explain further why carbon and copper build up would be benificial to accuracy vs clean as I have read from several shooters.

Your opnion is highly respected.
 

Coyboy

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Bob, I never said copper and carbon build up are benifical to accuracy, What I said was let the barrel tell you when to clean. If your accuracy falls off at 30 rounds, then you need to clean. My biggest point with this article is to stress the importance of protecting the bore from anything that will change the internal finish and thus change the frequency of fouling.

I own two guns that come to mind, that can fire upwards of 100 rounds and the accuracy is still spot on. I will shoot either one of them 50 plus shots and then bore scope them and copper fouling will be absent. Carbon will lie on the bore as just a cloudy haze with no layered black build-up. I atribute this to being properly broke in and most importantly; NEVER doing anything to change the surface finish of the bore. (one is a 223 and the other a 260)

I think some guys out there attempt to brake in a custom barrel by the shoot and clean method. BUT they try to speed it up by using an abrasive paste to get the copper out during the first few shoots when cleaning is the most difficult. That is the begining of barrel failure in my opinion. That person will never see what WAS the full potential of that barrel, in both its abillity to remain free of fouling, and it's longevity in the accuracy department.
 

MN Hunter

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Jim

Thanks for taking the time to write the artice. It was very informative. Look forward to seeing you in Janurary.
 

Bob the nailer

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Jim, now I understand your point with abrasive paste during break in. sometimes having it explained twice gets it thru lightbulb and I do agree it was a great article.
 

benchracer

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Jim:

When I bought my first centerfire rifle, I regret to say that I made pretty much every mistake in the book where barrel maintenance is concerned. My first centerfire rifle still shoots OK by normal hunting standards, but it has always had copper fouling problems (now I know why). When it comes to assessing the damage caused by my ignorance, however, I have some questions:

1. How can I determine the extent of the damage to the bore?

2. If, as seems likely, the bore is damaged, can the bore be restored?

3. Might I be better off to simply re-barrel?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
 

HUAINAMACHERO

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Jim, interesting article, learned a lot through it. Thanks for the teaching.
What is your opinion on bore snake cleaners?
 

Coyboy

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Jim:

When I bought my first centerfire rifle, I regret to say that I made pretty much every mistake in the book where barrel maintenance is concerned. My first centerfire rifle still shoots OK by normal hunting standards, but it has always had copper fouling problems (now I know why). When it comes to assessing the damage caused by my ignorance, however, I have some questions:

1. How can I determine the extent of the damage to the bore?

2. If, as seems likely, the bore is damaged, can the bore be restored?

3. Might I be better off to simply re-barrel?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
1. The best way to determine the damage is to have an experienced eye bore scope the bore. Most often crome moly barrels show some pitting due to lack of care/cleaning. If abrasive paste were used extensivly, pin gauges can measure how much the land dia. has been opened up.

I had a 243 remington 700 in the shop that had 250 rounds fired thru it. The land dia. that should be in the .236"-.237" range allowed a .238 gauge to drop all the way thru the bore and a .239" gauge would go half way before stopping. The customer complained that when new it copper fouled and he used JB to clean the barrel. (apperantly very frequently) Well using JB never allowed the barrel to brake in properly, and the results were a high polished bore that copper fouled horrably. When I scoped that barrel the finish looked like one of those SS mirrors in the cowboy bars, that replaced the glass ones that always get broke. He made a mistake that I feel is promoted by the use of abrasive cleaners, that was an extreame case but I feel he is definatly not the only one out there to do this.

2. The bore may or may not be damaged but getting to the bottom of it would require alot more info and looking in the bore. If your groove and land dia. are where they should be, and the bore if not pitted, There is a chance that lapping the bore with a lead lap just as a custom barrel is finished lap could help it. This requires cutting a tad off the muzzle when finished and a very carefull lapper so as to not wash out the throat, or a set back may be needed. I never messed with the tubbs fire lapping system so will not comment on their ability to help a bore.

#3. Thats an easy one, yes. The possibility that that barrel will never come around is there, But you also have the perfect barrel to experiment with. So ask for some tubbs bullets from the trade or freebie forum and conduct your own experiment.

I have a new remington 308 sps barrel that I cross sectioned. When I recieved it from the wholesaler, the first thing I did was scope the rifles bore. This barrel showed some awfull tool marks in the bore and a few sections of rifling were missing. This barrel would have copper fouled thru it's whole life and likly never performed as intended. Same old story, factory tubes are somtimes a crap shoot.
 

Coyboy

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Jim, interesting article, learned a lot through it. Thanks for the teaching.
What is your opinion on bore snake cleaners?
I have never used one, so can only say this; I think the best way to start a barrel is the way I described. If the bore snake does not damage the bore, I see no reason not to use it for your regular cleaning and maintenace after brake in, when custom barrels tend to clean much easier. With that said I would be a little concerned about the snake picking up any grit dust or sand during transport, storage, and use that may damage the bore unknowingly. Nothing beats a new patch straight out of a clean zip lok bag. One other thing I do frequently is wipe off my Dewey rod with a clean rag to keep them free of debree.
 

MontanaRifleman

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Jim, that was a very good article and thanks for taking the time to write it. One good thing I learned was that the black stuff on my patch when using an abrasive cleaner might be barrel steel. I've recently used Montana Extreme Copper Clean which is a mild abrasive that I find to be a better powder remover than copper remover. I tried your experiment by putting some on a patch and rubbing the the bottom of the barrel just in front of the recoil lug and sure enough it turned the patch black. I did it a second time just in case there may have been some residue on the barrel the first time and it still turned black. Thanks for the tip.

I also use Bore Tech Eliminator and it does a great job of getting the copper out. I've heard that KG12 is a very good product so I'll be giving that a try as well. You said, that for stuborn copper you will runn a bronze brush down your bore. My question is why not a nylon brush? I've got a couple of barrels that foul a good bit and when the BTE patches start coming out light blue, I'll scrub a little with a nylon brush and let it sit for 15-20 min. The patches turn dark blue again. I use the nylon mainly because I know the BTE will eat away the bronze brush and leave a blue residue in the bore which makes it difficult to tell if your barrel is still fouled. So I was just curious why you used a bronze brush?

Thanks again for a great article.

Mark
 
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Coyboy

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Mark, I guess I still use bronze brushes on a limited basis because I feel the finer sized brissles do a better job of getting into the corners of the groove, and the brissle tips do a better job of scratching up the copper fouling. With that said I usually only do 3-5 strokes per cleaning on a custom barrel and on the ones I own that foul very little I use no brush at all just BTE on patches.

As you have stated in your last paragraph; One thing I noticed but can not really prove is that it seems like in heavily copper fouled bores, that after removing a good bit of copper it seems more difficult to remove it all, like may-be the fouling builds up a slime or coating that the bronze brush or even a nylon brush then rubs off so the BTE can be more effective on what amounts to re-exposed copper.
 

grinnergetter

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Could you elaborate more on what you mean by "reading" your patches?

Obviously I would mean something other than nothing on the patch.

Thanks, Grin
 

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