Barrel cleaning ????????

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by coonass, Aug 24, 2004.

  1. coonass

    coonass New Member

    Aug 1, 2002
    South Louisiana
    LONG but worth the reading .......... Now I'm really confused........ What do ya'll think ???????????


    Barrel Cleaning

    Hi Mike, I've found all your info quite invaluable, and this question is in
    regards to your response on the forum over the weekend about damaging the
    throat, etc. with the cleaning rod with name withheld cleaning his barrel
    after every every shot for 100 shots. Please give a brief (if possible)
    description of your cleaning techniques and tips. I'm sure it would OPEN my
    eyes and maybe a lot of others as well. Thanks so much, and I am a first
    hand seer or the effectiveness of your hinge pins. Sure have helped me out.
    Thanks again,
    Jeff Bright

    Cleaning is not in itself a bad thing, but there is no bore guide I have
    seen on the market yet that actually keeps the rod off of the throat, and
    this is where the main damage occurs from cleaning. Most folks cannot, or
    do not, conceptualize what happens when the rod strokes the barrel and are
    lured into a false sense of security when they buy some gizmo rod guide that
    does absolutely nothing to keep the rod off of the lands at the throat. I
    would like to see the first such rod guide that does and would welcome
    discovering one that did.

    While a heavy build up of copper does cause problems with accuracy, my
    concern is that it has become vogue to scrub the heck out of barrels and do
    more long term damage with the cleaning rod than is helped by the cleaning.

    There are many schools of thought on maintaining barrels. One person I know
    who shoots almost every day of his life NEVER does any kind of copper
    removal. He just runs a bore snake through his many barrels to keep them
    from rusting. This fellow is routinely zapping groundhogs and coyotes at
    400 yards and beyond with his Contenders. Go figure.

    If he gets a barrel that fouls badly, he will sit and run several hundred
    rounds through it WITH NO CLEANING AT ALL!

    While I choke at the thought of it, I also cringe at the damage I see done
    by cleaning rods. Which is worse?

    No matter what the finish is inside the barrel as it arrives, with shooting
    its interior finish will stabilize at whatever finish shooting produces.
    Ie., rough barrels smooth up. Super slick barrels get rougher.

    The objective to breaking in a barrel, ultimately, is to get it roughed up
    or smoothed down inside without "coining" the inside of the barrel from
    bullets overriding clumps of copper attached inside. But no matter the
    barrel, and no matter what you do, there will be copper attached inside with
    the very first shot, and even after doing a shoot and clean regimen for a
    hundred rounds, there will still be some copper inside the barrel. So it is
    a question of degrees of coining that occurs.

    While perfection may be the goal, and one may get sterling results with
    generous cleaning, has he really gained anything measurable? And what did
    it cost him in terms of time and money that could be better spent on other
    shooting pursuits?

    Take another individual as an example, Don Bower. When Don and I put on a
    long range shooting clinic at Claremore, OK in '99, I packed up all my
    cleaning gear and figured with all the shooting for extreme accuracy at long
    range that I would be cleaning the heck out of my barrels. Wrong. In three
    days of shooting I don't recall any cleaning, at least nothing that would
    indicate any kind of regimen. Don simply SHOOTS. And, he and his students
    shoot some mighty impressive groups at extremely long ranges. For him,
    shooting does not even begin until the distance is at least 500 yards!

    Another case in point, and while it is a small case, when I shoot my .22
    K-Hornet on prairie dogs, a typical day was (it's been several years now) AT
    LEAST 250 rounds. This barrel was a "junker" that was too rough inside to
    sell, a more extreme case than most people will ever encounter. It fouled
    like the devil to start with, but with use, it rather quickly got to the
    point where you could look into the barrel at the end of the day's shooting,
    and the entire circumference at the muzzle was black with virtually no trace
    of visible copper at all. AND..... it has zapped a lot of prairie dogs at
    distances way beyond what a K-Hornet is supposed to.

    Am I recommending that you go out with a $4-500 barrel and never clean it?
    No way! I DO recommend judicious cleaning, BUT at the same time I am trying
    to temper the reasoning of perhaps thousands of people I have talked to at
    gunshows, the phone, and on the internet over the years who scrub the
    daylights out of barrels and ruin them quicker than if they did more
    shooting and about a fourth the cleaning.

    As for a cleaning regimen, pick one from one of the barrel manufacturers if
    you want, which is more like shoot one and clean for 5 or 10 rounds, then
    shoot about three for the next 50 rounds, then shoot no more than 5 or 10
    rounds for the next 100. After that, for shooting the tightest groups
    possible, perhaps clean every 20 rounds, but I would test it to see IF the
    cleaning is actually benefiting group size and by how much. If this is
    your goal, then I would also present to you that you need to apply many,
    many other benchrest techniques lest your work be an effort in futility.
    Ie., standard loading dies, presses, and chambers will only permit a certain
    level of accuracy. So, for example, you need to dive into the realm of
    tight chamber necks, turned case necks, inline size and seat dies, etc......
    we just eliminated at least 95% of the shooters who would not be bothered
    with this. But excessive cleaning is not the substitute for precision
    chambers and ammo.

    Bore scoping barrels routinely here at the shop where I shoot and clean and
    lap, shoot, and clean, I see the copper that remains in even the finest Hart
    and Shilen lapped barrels and can see what it actually takes to get it out.
    It takes an excessive amount of cleaning to actually get it out, even with
    copper removers and soaking. So what is your goal? To spend your life
    cleaning barrels or shooting? If you get that much of a kick out of
    stroking barrels, come on up here and you can clean all my barrels for me
    for free! I won't charge you a thing for it, and you won't even have any
    ammo or barrel expenses!

    What I am suggesting is to keep things in perspective and don't get
    ridiculous. That is the reason for the tongue in cheek reply I made on the

    All the best,
    Mike Bellm
  2. armedandsafe

    armedandsafe Guest

    This matches my (limited) experience over the years. Rust is the most dangerous thing to barrels, followed by too-agressive cleaning. A clean bbl with sharp lands will not experience any loss of accuracy that is noticible by a human shooter. It takes a vise bench to show the tiny difference available to be achieved by scrubbing out every last bit of bullet deposits. Elecro-chemical cleaning is the best way to get that last little bit of crud, but that has a tendency, over repeated applications, to take the edges off the lands.

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