To clean or not to clean?

J E Custom

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Jul 29, 2004
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10,720
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Texas
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.


👍
I hear this all the time, Wait to clean when it starts shooting bad. I do what you recommend at the beginning of barrel life cycle. I break the barrel in, work up a accurate load for hunting/shooting, once the load has been found I test the accurate number of rounds it can shoot before I see a decline in accuracy. This tells me how often I have to clean. Normally it is less than 10 rounds.

The reason I like this method is because the rifle is always shooting it's best even if I'm not. I have confidence that if I spend a lot of time and trouble getting to the point of making a shot, it will perform at it's best and a good Point of impact is achieved. (Every Time).

I don't want to go to all the trouble of planing and executing a good hunt, only to have a fouled barrel to spoil the hunt with a poor hit or a miss.

Why wait for poor accuracy to show up?

J E CUSTOM
 

soundwaves

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Feb 19, 2009
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TURKEY
target shooting and benchrest comps excluded...

the big question is do we worry too much about hunting accuracy in this day and age l wonder. you see guys changeing there barrels after a 1000 rounds saying there barrels are shot out as thay are focused on shooting the smallest groops humanly possible but in reality that barrel would still be good to go a nother 3000+ rounds for hunting out to 400 yards or more on big game.
 

J E Custom

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Joined
Jul 29, 2004
Messages
10,720
Location
Texas
target shooting and benchrest comps excluded...

the big question is do we worry too much about hunting accuracy in this day and age l wonder. you see guys changeing there barrels after a 1000 rounds saying there barrels are shot out as thay are focused on shooting the smallest groops humanly possible but in reality that barrel would still be good to go a nother 3000+ rounds for hunting out to 400 yards or more on big game.


Good question !

Those of us that live in the USA have many advantages that other shooters don't in other country's
And tent to recycle barrels more often. There are many reason that some have to/want to change barrels. Many times they actually need changing because of excessive pressure and heat using the desired load for what they want.

At other times, as soon as accuracy falls off, rather that set the shoulder back and freshen the chamber and lands up. Some elect to replace a barrel that with a little work could be brought back from the grave.

For those that are not as blessed as We Americans are, barrel life is more important and care and use has a lot more importance. Most barrels can be saved and used for many years with good accuracy. And this should always be considered if it once shot really great, and could be saved with a little work.

Replacing a barrel does not always guaranty instant accuracy, Some times the old barrel will out perform the new one with the right Smithing and loading.

J E CUSTOM
 

Kmccord

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Joined
Nov 30, 2016
Messages
1,032
Location
Reilly Springs, TX
I hear people claiming, cleaning a barrel will wear it out, I also hear using a brush will wear it out, I do not understand how. The last time I checked, nylon brush is softer than steel, same as brass jags. Is this fact or myth? I purchased a borescope and checked my 28 Nosler barrel, I expected this barrel not to have very many riflings left since I followed a regimen of cleaning it when I got it from the Custom builder. The first 50 rounds were going through half a bottle of bore tech cleaning products, now after 340 rounds with the amount of cleaning done working on new loads to verify accuracy with a fresh barrel, with some people's thoughts on wearing it out by cleaning, the bullet should be bouncing off the interior going down the barrel. The borescope showed me the barrel does have rifling, it is bright and shiny for that many rounds, the throat seems to be normal with a little fire cracking from running some hot loads. I verified my COAL touching the lands from the time of purchase till now has grown to .020. if someone could explain to me how cleaning one will damage one I would appreciate it.
 

J E Custom

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Joined
Jul 29, 2004
Messages
10,720
Location
Texas
I hear people claiming, cleaning a barrel will wear it out, I also hear using a brush will wear it out, I do not understand how. The last time I checked, nylon brush is softer than steel, same as brass jags. Is this fact or myth? I purchased a borescope and checked my 28 Nosler barrel, I expected this barrel not to have very many riflings left since I followed a regimen of cleaning it when I got it from the Custom builder. The first 50 rounds were going through half a bottle of bore tech cleaning products, now after 340 rounds with the amount of cleaning done working on new loads to verify accuracy with a fresh barrel, with some people's thoughts on wearing it out by cleaning, the bullet should be bouncing off the interior going down the barrel. The borescope showed me the barrel does have rifling, it is bright and shiny for that many rounds, the throat seems to be normal with a little fire cracking from running some hot loads. I verified my COAL touching the lands from the time of purchase till now has grown to .020. if someone could explain to me how cleaning one will damage one I would appreciate it.


There will always be a difference of opinion when it comes to cleaning and how often. Obviously I believe in cleaning often for many reasons and wear is also one of them. There are right ways and wrong ways to clean a barrel, but carbon it the worst enemy of any barrel. Removal of carbon before it builds up can greatly Improve barrel life. If possible, I would at least sweep the bore every time I shot to remove the powder fouling before I sent another bullet down the bore with carbon in it.

The carbon being harder than ether the bullet or the bore embeds in the bullet on it's way out and becomes an abrasive pill that removes barrel material. Although not as fast as bullets coated with an abrasive, they still do the same over time.

The only things that I don't use are stainless brushes because they are 'as' hard as the barrel and I avoid using strong bore solvents unless absolutely necessary and then only with caution.

Normally barrel wear is from excessive pressure, heat and velocity and occurs in the throat area.
Cleaning will have little if any effect on this type of wear, and does not fit into the equation. Using the clean as often as I can method, I have a good example of a rifle barrel with over 23,000 rounds through it that still shoots 1/2 MOA. The throat is eroded, but it has very little fire cracking and the rest of the barrel still looks good with a bore scope. It is a 308 and much easier on barrels, but still 23,000 rounds is a far cry from 4 or 500 rounds maximum for some rifle cartridges that are pushed to the extremes.

I find barrels that have been cleaned properly and often, only need the shoulder set back slightly to clean up the lead and lands to return to great accuracy, because the rest of the barrel is still very good. And for some reason in some cases, they have even shot better after this is done.

So I will keep cleaning and feeling good about the care I am taking of the heart of an accurate rifle. Clean rifles are like clean shorts, I don't want to get caught with dirty ones.:oops::)

J E CUSTOM
 
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GREATSCOTT!

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Jan 22, 2020
Messages
208
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.
I guess I should clarify: cleaning once "I notice groups start open up" is misnomer. It means I didn't clean my rifle after the last trip like I should have because I ran out of time or the equivalent. I live in 100% agreement with the above statements to not let my rifle get to the point of inaccuracy due to fouling. That has never made any sense to me.
In my experience, my Proof barrels need cleaning after 150 - 200 firings before accuracy suffers.
 
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