To clean or not to clean?

Texas249

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Feb 9, 2020
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San Antonio tx
Good thread, was about to ask the same question but found this and answered it. Seems like listen to your gun and clean when needed and simply take good care of your stuff is the consensus.
 

Muddyboots

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Feb 7, 2013
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505
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Michigan
The one clean or not clean issue that I have run into recently is the advent of the newer so called stable temp powders that seem to leave much more carbon than "normal" powders which I didn't realize until a high use rifle accuracy went south and I mean probably almost to Cape Horn it was so bad. I also had pressure signs that I never had before with same load that I have used forever. Bad carbon ring that took over a week of constant scrubbing to remove. I learned far too much about what cleaners claim to remove carbon versus plain old elbow grease with JB. My shelf above my cleaning bench looks like a local automotive chemical wall. Yes, I have a bench dedicated to just cleaning which helps make the job much easier. You really should be knowledgeable of the powders you are using to realize the cleaning regiment may have to be altered to address the new needs of the bore.
 

Shane Lindsey

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Jul 13, 2010
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673
I grew up cleaning rifles after use. It’s the Marine Corps way. When I went through school, I noticed after cleaning every day, that cold bore and groups were not where they were prior to cleaning. I guess that‘s why in mission planning we always allotted time for “test firing”. I guess in this case it’s for fouling shots.

I still can’t go more than about 50 rounds before cleaning.

Bore Tech Eliminator is the go to nowadays.
 

Ryan Tockstein

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Apr 28, 2019
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Location
Sandy, UT
Just a comment for those that are interested in trying something.

When at the range, shoot one round and then push a clean patch through the bore. Look at the amount of powder fouling on the patch from just one firing. Most of this fouling is carbon and it is harder than the barrel material. When a bullet is fired on top of it, It acts like an abrasive and can scratch or wear the bore reducing the barrel life. the soft jacket of the bullet gets imbedded with this fouling and pushes it down the barrel.

This is the main reason that a shoot and clean brake in procedure is used because the fouling is behind the bullet and if removed before the next shot, controlled/normal wear is the results. Longer barrel life is the results of frequent cleaning if done correctly.

Any fouling reduces barrel life and accuracy. The more frequent the cleaning regiment, the longer the barrel will perform. For hunters That may shoot less than a box of ammo a season it will probably never effect there barrel enough to matter.

Barrels that have copper fouling tend to wear in the unprotected areas where the copper does not exist, but the copper fouling does protect the areas covered from wear. this condition causes un even wear in the bore also reducing barrel life and accuracy. Many may disagree but the bore scope doesn't lie and all of my best groups were shot with new barrels with Less than (100 rounds)that had been properly broken in and cleaned.

I'm not pushing an agenda just stating what I have learned over 50+ years of shooting and working on guns. Proof of this is one of my match rifles that has over 23,000 rounds through it and is still capable of 1/2 MOA accuracy with Iron sites. It has always had a strict cleaning regiment and the only wear I can see it is the lead surfaces. (They show signs of minimum wear but not enough to set the chamber back).

Cleaning a barrel, is like a babies diaper it doesn't take long for it to get bad if left unattended.

J E CUSTOM
I'm certainly no expert, but just wanted to share my personal experience. After polling three bench-rest hall of fame shooters, every one of them told me to buy a bore scope and learn how to use it. So I did! They're not such a big investment anymore, $200-$250 for the Lyman, after a few quick classes on how and what to look for, what causes various things, and what those things meant, I was horrified at the condition of most of my barrels. Many shooters simply ruin a new barrels accuracy potential in the first 100-150 rounds by not cleaning effectively. The only way to tell if you are cleaning effectively is with a borescope! Baked on carbon is hard, harder than steel, and each time another bullet comes roaring down that barrel under pressure, and hits that carbon deposit, it's like hitting the lands and grooves with a hammer and chisel leaving a tiny dent in the steel underneath. Do this a hundred times or more, and the interior of your barrel looks like a lunar landscape, all that high-end machining and hand lapping is gone. Sure the rifle will still shoot, and send the bullet in a general direction, but the true accuracy potential 1/4 minute or better of that new custom barrel is gone forever! They all told me they clean after ever 10-20 rounds, and will never shoot more than 40 without cleaning. They have a different regimen at then end of each range session, to remove copper deposits. A tutorial on how to clean properly can be found here: http://bulletcentral.com/how-to-clean-a-rifle-tutorial/ After starting with a new barrel, and following this advice, years of frustration and not being able to shoot any better then 3/4 to 1.0 MOA ended, I'm now getting group sizes in the 0.2's to 0.3's and sometimes better! I was frustrated for decades, wasted thousands of dollars and countless hours trying different loads, hold techniques, etc.... with rifles that fowled quickly and just wouldn't shoot, because the barrels where ruined! Hope this helps somebody!
I would like to know what most people mean by "cleaning". Are they talking about removing just carbon, carbon and some copper, or carbon and all copper?

I was having very good results with my Tikka rifle cleaning after every 20 rounds. My rifle picks up a considerable amount of copper after just a few rounds. By cleaning, I mean just soaking the barrel with hoppes #9, using a bronze brush about 30 strokes, then wet patching with hoppes #9 until there was almost no more carbon on the patches. Then dry patch, then light coat of hoppes oil, which was drypatched out before shooting again.

So, it seems my rifle would shoot best with a coat of copper in the bore, but cleaning out the carbon every 20 rounds. I think the only thing everyone wants is consistent accuracy, which may be obtained in different ways depending on whether you have a smooth custom barrel or a rough factory barrel. It makes sense to me that a rough factory barrel would shoot more consistently with the copper layer to provide a smooth and consistent surface over the rough bits of the steel.

J E, what's are you thoughts on that?

I have since changed a few things and can't get my rifle to shoot consistently anymore, not knowing if it's cleaning, barrel wear, me, etc etc etc. So everyone should take my experience with a grain of salt.
 

Mram10us

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Oct 19, 2019
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Idaho
Looking for input on barrel cleaning. I typically been a traditional clean it after shooting pretty much everytime. Is there any advantage to leaving it dirty or is cleaning after each range session the way to go?
Clean when accuracy goes down or you get junk in there.
 

MachV

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May 31, 2001
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1,579
Location
Casper Wy
The old Ruger vt would go 1000 round or so between cleanings with moly 40 grainers, the Savage 204 will go about 250, the CZ 527 will demand cleaning before 300, the CZ 527 6.5Grendel hates to be clean and have not found the high count yet and its over 450. The savage 20ppc and remington 6-284 get cleaned after every use as they dont get shot often and the custom barrels dont need much fowling.
The old Colt AR dosnt seam to care but had the clean the action the other day so the barrel got a good cleaning too......what a coal/coppper mine but she's shiny now!
Like others my game hunting rifles get a good cleaning before season and not cleaned again till after.
 

J E Custom

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Jul 29, 2004
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9,955
Location
Texas
I would like to know what most people mean by "cleaning". Are they talking about removing just carbon, carbon and some copper, or carbon and all copper?

I was having very good results with my Tikka rifle cleaning after every 20 rounds. My rifle picks up a considerable amount of copper after just a few rounds. By cleaning, I mean just soaking the barrel with hoppes #9, using a bronze brush about 30 strokes, then wet patching with hoppes #9 until there was almost no more carbon on the patches. Then dry patch, then light coat of hoppes oil, which was drypatched out before shooting again.

So, it seems my rifle would shoot best with a coat of copper in the bore, but cleaning out the carbon every 20 rounds. I think the only thing everyone wants is consistent accuracy, which may be obtained in different ways depending on whether you have a smooth custom barrel or a rough factory barrel. It makes sense to me that a rough factory barrel would shoot more consistently with the copper layer to provide a smooth and consistent surface over the rough bits of the steel.

J E, what's are you thoughts on that?

I have since changed a few things and can't get my rifle to shoot consistently anymore, not knowing if it's cleaning, barrel wear, me, etc etc etc. So everyone should take my experience with a grain of salt.

I will try to explain in a different way, If you take a perfectly flat flat piece of steel and paint it, will the paint be perfectly flat (The same dimension everywhere). It will vary in thickness even though It is a very small difference. Then you add another coat, the inconsistency in thickness gets worse
with each additional coat. Copper fouling is applied in different layers and laid down in certain areas to begin with and continually increases by different amounts in different areas.

If you intend to shoot a fouled barrel you should first foul it heavily where it is almost 100% fouled and is not changing very much. this is a consistent method of shooting good groups until the barrel fouls so bad that it has to be cleaned and then you have to start all over. loads should be worked up in this condition for best accuracy.

I prefer to shoot a clean barrel all the time as long as I don't have to shoot over 8 to 10 rounds without cleaning. This method has been the most accurate for me because the/a clean barrel is the most consistent barrel until it starts to foul and accuracy starts to degrade. I load 5 test loads of each load I want to try. after shooting the one load (5 ROUNDS) I thoroughly clean back to white metal and start over with the barrel in the same condition as it was for each test. All of my best groups have been shot in a clean barrel. Then as it starts fouling accuracy fall off badly until it reaches the 90 to 100 % fouled and then it seems to settle down and start shooting again. the accuracy is good but not as good as when the barrel was clean.

If you clean your rifle to white metal and start shooting and don't stop you will see when your barrel starts to foul and the accuracy falls off. all barrels are different and some will only shoot two or three before the group degrades. other barrels will make it to 5 or 6 shots before this happens.
normally I find that my least fouling barrels will sometimes make it past 10.

So is fouling consistent? or is bare metal more consistent?

Different rifles and the use dictates which method I use because there is no "one" best way in my opinion.

J E CUSTOM
 

GREATSCOTT!

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Jan 22, 2020
Messages
46
Location
Wetside of WA
After a few trips to the range, after a comp, or when I notice groups start to open up.

Cleaning Method

1. Wet Patch
2. Wet Nylon Brush
3. 4 Strokes
4. Wet Patch
5 Dry Patches X3

Done.
 

lefty1987

Active Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2020
Messages
27
Location
scappoose oregon
i was always taught to clean your gun every time you go shoot it growing up.... defiantly overkill in my mind after building a couple guns and not cleaning them until 150 rounds or so and they still shot just as good as the first ten.
 

milo-2

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May 1, 2011
Messages
650
Location
Gillette, Wy
The other point that you should wait to clean until accuracy falls off before cleaning is something that I don't want to happen to me. I want/need my rifles to shoot their best ALL THE TIME because I need all the help I can get, so I don't make a poor shot. Once I find the point that accuracy is effected, I avoid letting my rifles reach that point before something happens.

Everyone should shoot and clean the way that works best for them or best suits there needs and philosophies. But as everyone has stated, at some point fouling effects all firearms. I chose to control it rather than to live with it or adjust to it.

Just my opinion for what it's worth.

J E CUSTOM
Your thoughts and experiences mirror mine. Why would you make a range trip, a comp. a hunting trip etc.. to have your rifle come apart on you? I've read too many, my rifle is a 1/4 moa gun, I wait till it opens up to half moa before I clean. I imagine all testing is done at 100 yards so if your groups opened up to 1/2" at 100, I bet they look sweet downrange.
Once a barrel is broke in, you have a load, after 150-200 rds, just clean and shoot while monitoring the barrel to determine how long it can go one time is easy. It becomes the baseline, even though most barrels get better as they have more rds down them.
With todays cleaning solvents, cleaning rifle barrels is a breeze, it's no longer waiting on worthless hoppes #9 and wearing a mask with sweets.
Plus there are quite a few indicators that things are about to go sideways. Your load seems to be shooting low for some reason, the muzzle end of the barrel may be fouling bad, creating drag. Your load seems faster but still hammering, maybe your powder is laying down some extremely hard carbon just past the throat area. Either way, you are about to do some cleaning.
For the price for one the Teslong borescopes compared to what we stick into this hobby, it is borderline foolish not to own one. Less money than a box of 230gr Berger's, or any box of atips.
 

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