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I understand that a newly cleaned barrel will affect the way

a group of bullets will fire, travel and hit a target, but why.

 

In genral terms, is it down to individual barrels? Do all barrels

respond the same way? Is it down to the bullet, do all bullets

respond the same way?

 

What I am trying to ask is, is it just trial and error?

 

Do the same make and quality barrels differ or are they all

the same?

 

If I had 10 barrels and exactly the same conditions, with the

samer ammunition, would the barrels respond exactly the same

(given perfect conditions and all exactly the same)?

 

At what point doe a barrel become optimum in performance?

 

Regards

 

ozone

 

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What I am trying to ask is, is it just trial and error?

 

 

 

 

Yes! It varies by barrel / cartridge / calibre / powder and as best I can tell, the state of the moon.

 

As a general rule, the smaller the calibre, the more fouling shots are needed to 'settle down'. Very heavy, short, stiff barrels may be less affected than whippy ones.

 

If you are chronographing loads, the first shot from a clean barrel is usually lower MV than those that follow. As an example, here is the start of a 17-shot string fired last Thursday for a small primer test in .308 Win with Lapua Palma brass firing the 167 Scenar over Viht N150

 

2,784, 2,843, 2,842, 2,840 .... and so on for another 13 shots, numbers 2 to 17 within a spread of 12 fps. So, shot #1 from the clean barrel was 54 fps below the arithmetic mean value in a series that was otherwise covered by 12 fps.

 

That was the 15th SR primer tested, and all test results show the same pattern, the fouling shot obviously disregarded. In most cases, shot #2 was within the pattern, but that's not guaranteed.

 

My 223 long-range FTR rifles using 90gn VLDs need more than one fouler - in the past, it's taken from 4 to 6 shots to 'settle down' and shoot in the group, but this seems to have been substantially reduced by a move from VarGet and Re15 to reload Swiss RS52.

 

Causes? Clean barrel produces different bore-bullet friction so MVs / pressures change, also likely barrel harmonics, all changing POI. A first shot is also in a cold barrel and bore temperature affects MVs too to a greater or less extent.

 

In practice, you learn your barrel's characteristics with any given load combination and take account of it in the range or field. This is obviously less of an issue for the KD match shooter, especially in disciplines where fouling / sighting shots are allowed than it is for the field shooter or military sniper where the first cold bore shot is crucial. It also suggests that a pre-shoot sight-in is pretty important for say the deerstalker and the bore should be left fouled before the outing if it is a rifle / load known to see a large change in MV and POI between the first shot(s) and subsequent ones in a fouled barrel.

 

If you do have a rifle that shoots to POA from a cold / clean barrel, then count yourself lucky.

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Barrels tend to be individuals-even the 'same' model rifle and barrel grade/weight are seldom 'clones' in POI stability-or performance-though they might be close.

 

Custom barrels are more nearly uniform,and foul less (clean easier) but even the very best Bench Rest barrels occasionally present a 'hummer'-a barrel that just has a precision edge,at the highest level-at 100/200y (because beyond that -too many other non precisely measureable factors start to play some small roles too.

 

A barrel will reach an optimum performance generally rather early in its life-and it probably varies,including with the cartridge/calibre/possibly cleaning regimes....etc! You can only tell retrospectively,if you have kept good records over the barrels life....though any hot cf rifle is unlikely to be at it's best just before it declines-it's generally a more progressive,perhaps gently accelerating decline.....

 

Largely it has to be trial and error-check what tends to do well in rifles/ammo as similar to yours as you can find,fine tune from that reduced sample of bullets/powder etc

 

Bullets in the same box vary-the premium makes a lot less than most cheaper ones-it's quality control.

Occasionally whole batches of bullets/ammo are slightly worse -they are made by the hundreds of thousands on dies which actually wear out-some over the course of a production shift,and they may go into a vast 'tub' and get boxed randomly....the better bullets (think eg Berger) are bettter designed,but also better controlled in manufacture). It is still so,particularly for sub custom precision rifles,that there is an interaction between a particular barrel and particular bullets-so try a few makes-you would be unlucky if no bullet(s) performed well,and it might then be the rifle-factory barrels can be modest occasionally......

 

The first shot from a cleaned barrel is travelling along a bore surface that will be difffernt from subsequent bullets (the bore is clean,then gets variably fouled and cpper coated etc)-that can affect POI,and rifles can heat up and so that's another change for later rounds-in a nutshell,seach shot is really fired in a barrel that is different from earlier,and less so later,shots-the effect tends to be much smaller in heavy/custom grade barrels-they foul up less,for one reason-chamber/barrel/powder temoperature also affect velocity,and threfore POI-so ten shots rapid esp from a light barrel,is more likely to increase shot dispersion than 10 shots slow allowing cooling to a more constant temperature range.Heavy barrels tend to do better-less heat,faster cooling. Try and see!

 

The general principles (physics!) remain constant,the fine detail of individual rifle/bullet/conditions varies-variably,and so therefore does POI ( no-one gets zero group dispersion,some sub .1s may well be genuinely due to near clone equipment performance-for those 5 shots-why not all....well,sometimes a shooter error cancels an equipment variation...and it's a tiny group-repetition of such luck is increasingly improbable,hence aggregates matter. As Vince puts it 'the wind can blow them in,as well as out. "

 

Knowing your combo will considerably increase consistency though,leaving the shooter as potential weak link. :-) Stalkers eg need to know reliably where any cold first shot goes...targeteers usually get sighters...

 

Check out the thread on 22rf ammo-it can be eye opening to see the variation in shot dispersion in different ammo.Especially well reloaded ammo in cf tends to be much more uniform-trial and error being intrinsic to the relaoding process (as well as excellent quality control to maximise consistency).

 

gbal

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If you are chronographing loads, the first shot from a clean barrel is usually lower MV than those that follow. As an example, here is the start of a 17-shot string fired last Thursday for a small primer test in .308 Win with Lapua Palma brass firing the 167 Scenar over Viht N150

 

2,784, 2,843, 2,842, 2,840 .... and so on for another 13 shots, numbers 2 to 17 within a spread of 12 fps. So, shot #1 from the clean barrel was 54 fps below the arithmetic mean value in a series that was otherwise covered by 12 fps.

 

 

 

 

Interesting note here, and something I had a look at this morning.

 

I've got a Pacnor Supermatch on my .260rem I've now got 480 rounds down through it. Prior to Thursday the rifle had seen 220 rounds from cleaning. It required absolutely no effort to clean it, the first wet patch came out a little grey, following dry patches clean. Another wet patch followed by dry, all spotless, no signs of copper, carbon, or anything. Ran a patch wet with neat alcohol down it to leave it perfectly free of anything.

 

The rifle is usually happy after one round fired from clean, and it'll sing from then on. The first round fired is usually only a bullet width's away at 100 yards.

 

Over the chrono this morning, the first five shots were; 3170, 3167, 3167, 3177, 3180

 

So evidently every barrel is a little different.

 

It does make sense that a spotlessly clean barrel will create more friction, with having no copper fouling to fill any microscopic imperfections in the bore, and no carbon residue and moisture to act as a lubricant.

 

My barrel and loads appear to run very clean, and perhaps this is why I see little difference, where a barrel that's seen lots more use, or is perhaps not as 'smooth' along its bore, may need a little run in?

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If I may slightly digress from the OP to ask who totally strips there barrel back to as best as they can to "factory" clean ie.. copper and carbon etc. And who just strips out the carbon etc. Without worrying about pulling all the copper.

Reason I ask is I normally strip to as close as I can to factory but recently found a series of videos made by a yank guy who was for want of a better description teaching 4 obviously military men about long range shooting and he advocated not worrying about pulling the copper just the gunk. Can't for the life of me remember the series name sorry

Cheers

SP

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Actually, this question reminds me of an ex-club 7.62 Enfield No.4 TR rifle I owned many, many years back. The piece dated from the early post-war period when the club in question owned eight No.4 303s for SR shooting and no member owned a rifle, all competition done with the eight club guns.

 

Come 1968 and the switch to TR and 7.62 and the club had G E Fulton convert the eightsome - the basic cheapo' conversion with a heavy hammer forged Enfield Lock made 'tight' barrel and cut-down front woodwork, the awful buttstock and brass buttplate left untouched. However, members now started buying their own rifles and by the early 80s only one club owned example was left, which I bought for the grand sum of £40.

 

At 300 yards, shooting handloads with the old 146gn Norma FMJBT, this piece would shoot an 'Outer' just above the 'black' at 12 o'clock as S1, a high 'Inner' also at 12 o'clock, and all being well the first score shot went into the 'Bull'. This was in the days of the larger NRA and pre V Bull target, so it was shooting maybe 4-MOA high with S1 and 1 1/2 - 2-MOA high with S2.

 

Nobody I asked could come up with an explanation .... then I read an article in the old Target Gun (pre Blaze) mag by Geoff Kolbe on barrel cleaning and in particular the importance of getting copper out. Buying Sweets copper remover and a week of daily soakings and scrubbings saw a vast amount of jacket material removed and the rifle lose its previous habits.

 

This was an exceptional case of ultra-heavy fouling allied to mild / low-MV loads and the Number 4 action's famous 'positive compensation' that sees low MV shots hit high and high MV shots hit low. Back then we had no access to chronographs, but if we'd been able to see the MVs, the first pair must have been very low velocity and the barrel needed the carbon fouling to get velocities up.

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I was told to only clean carbon (by an ex US marine) and that worked for me. Then reading posts by competition winners here, I started totally cleaning.

 

What I've discovered is:

By just removing carbon, you get short term gains in predictable, repeatable cold bore shots.

However this is quite short lived (200ish shots in my .223) and then groups open up until you clean back to bare steel as much as possible.

 

So now, I clean carbon only for 150-200 shots then deep clean and lightly foul with 10 shots.

 

It works for me but as always in rifle cleaning techniques, each to their own and nobody is right or wrong.

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Cleanliness is next to goodliness.

 

A faith belief,probably,but not shaken by what some guy says to military shooters,whose needs etc differ from mine.

 

Anecdotal too,but I've never heard anyone claim more precision from consistently uncleaned rifle (though at one point in time I'd never heard of copper fouling either-which is not to say it was doing any good.)

 

I did hear one shooter say he never cleaned his rifle,and it made no difference.

He was probably right.

I saw his target after the first five shots,and again after about 40 shots.

Both his targets were much the same,and 'grouping' 3-4 inches at 100yards.

 

Shows something,but that's the kind of consistency I don't want to encourage.

 

gbal

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I was told to only clean carbon (by an ex US marine) and that worked for me. Then reading posts by competition winners here, I started totally cleaning.

 

What I've discovered is:

By just removing carbon, you get short term gains in predictable, repeatable cold bore shots.

However this is quite short lived (200ish shots in my .223) and then groups open up until you clean back to bare steel as much as possible.

 

Notice that every new powder released in the last couple of years incorporates anti-coppering agents. As new propellant developments are driven much more by military requirements than those of civilian recreational shooters, this suggests the guys in green pullies want to be able to shoot very large numbers of rounds with just basic carbon removal in cleaning and retain consistency.

 

Given the relatively rough bores in many mass produced barrels, this (and the previous posts on not removing copper before it becomes essential) makes a great deal of sense. It may not be the best policy though with much smoother custom made barrels for match rifles. There is a great deal of evidence there that a clean down to the metal provides the best precision, and any small amount of 'conditioning' needed through sighting / fouling shots is usually not a problem.

 

(Where it is though as in no-sighter comps such as the Diggle Egg Shoot or my past experiences with FTR 223 shooting 90s, a pre-comp trip to the range to check the zero, clean the barrel, then put half a dozen shots down was a near essential prerequisite for success - a necessary PITA.)

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I have had some experience of working within a small group in controlled circs who used identical kit 7.62 Federal factory ammo using 168gr heads (rifle factory built from a well known rifle manufacturer and nothing custom) that were all bought at the same time from the same batch of manufacture you could assume albeit that I don't know this for a fact. They all shot pretty much the same courses of fire (therefore round count and condition similar) and were cleaned post shoot with identical issued kit. Of primary concern for us was the ability to place the cold bore shot predictably and to understand the variation between cold bore and subsequent shoots (vital in both training and practical application)

 

Each shooter would keep a log of cold bore shots at 100m and all were known and qualified good shots able to play in the 1/4" grouping game consistently at 100m. One thing that surprised me was the variance between the rifles POI on the cold shot and how that varied between each rifle as well as how it varied for subsequent shots. Each gun setup was identical as was the ammunition and the range conditions the variables were only the shooter and the individual 'character' of each barrel.

 

My rifle would ALWAYS shoot low right and just nick the patch aim point on the cold bore shot and then work its way on follow up shots into the patch and group all day long. A colleagues rifle would always shoot high right by upto 1/2" most rifles in the group shot toward the right on the cold bore shoot from clean barrels. This was consistent for 5 years before new kit was provided for us. Each rifle log book was carefully maintained and we would often look for patterns etc especially generated by temperature changes. I am no longer in the role but from what I am told the cleaning / cold bore consistency issues still continue with the new rifles and each one is still different!

 

To mitigate this after a range day (50-60 rounds approx) some of us would clean our rifles using 009, patches, brushes and oil and then fire one last round down range and then put the gun away. This really helped to mitigate some of the wilder variances on the cold bore shoots and was a great aid psychologically come qualification shoots or should you deploy operationally. The armourer would always tell us that it was the burning of the oil that we had failed to patch out before shooting that caused the issues (muttering about pressure differences etc) but I know when a patch is showing clean and when its showing oil / dirt!

 

The bit of carbon / copper in the lands seemed to make the difference to each of the rifles we did this on but never fully mitigated the magic cold bore effect.This would support Laurie's comments above about the rougher barrels perhaps, albeit that these rougher barrels can still produce excellent consistent groups. Having the base level of cleanliness in the barrel also I think allowed the rifles to still down more quickly and allowed more time before you would encounter any accuracy drop off. I would deep clean for copper twice a year and that was after the sessions when I knew the rifle was off for servicing / check torquing etc and I would have to re-zero anyway, even after a good copper cleansing the cold bore and the time to settle down was consistent making me thing that it was an individual barrel phenomena.

 

As a hobby shooter I still try and be aware of the issues surrounding cleaning but I have noticed that the effect is not as pronounced on my Bartlein barrelled gun but I can't compare apples with apples so to speak as I don't have another like for like to compare to all I can go on is what we learnt in the above scenario and work towards adhering to the principles, e.g. I wouldn't clean my gun after a check zero before going on a deer stalk.

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I wonder if this (variations between apparently identical rifles' performance) and a reference to keeping notes on temperature induced changes was a feature of hammer forged barrels. The process injects huge stresses into the metal and even post-hammering destressing doesn't necessarily remove them all. It could be that even if the rifles generally shot and held their fouled bore zeros equally well, they had slightly different inbuilt stresses that created differences in how they were affected by a cold bore. Just a thought.

 

(It would also depend on when we're talking of. Looking at today's results from some factory rifles with hammered barrels and what people on this forum say about Armalon tubes - done on Parker-Hale's old machines brought back into use and completely updated with modern electronics etc - they seem to be much more consistent performers than in the 80s say, with few of the 'dogs' that used to be regularly thrown up.

 

I had an ex-police P-H M86 in 243 Win for some years that was a pretty good shooter on the whole. I can't say how it varied between the first cold barrel shot and those following, but there was a distinct tendency to move the POI to the right starting somewhere around shots 8-10 in a match or shooting a string, presumably as the barrel reached a particular temperature. This wasn't a massive shift but was noticeable on the standard 2-MOA 5-ring NRA target at 500/600 yards, and would be unacceptable on today's much smaller F-Class centres.)

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If I may slightly digress from the OP to ask who totally strips there barrel back to as best as they can to "factory" clean ie.. copper and carbon etc. And who just strips out the carbon etc. Without worrying about pulling all the copper.

Reason I ask is I normally strip to as close as I can to factory but recently found a series of videos made by a yank guy who was for want of a better description teaching 4 obviously military men about long range shooting and he advocated not worrying about pulling the copper just the gunk. Can't for the life of me remember the series name sorry

Cheers

SP

 

I think the guy you're referring to goes by the on-line name of Tiborasaurus Rex and the series was "Sniper 101". The clip you're referring to is within sections 40 to 45 on barrel fouling and cleaning.

 

It makes for an interesting watch (the whole thing) and many might learn something new or perhaps have alternative view points, but on the whole, the guy's gone to a lot of effort and done a great job.

 

The point is that for military applications, for LR snipers, it used to be taught that a barrel should be maintained within a certain level of fouling. Too much and POI/grouping is affected as MVs start to alter. Too little and the rate of change of POI can be too great for first shot placements with any certainty, so the ideal is meant to be within a certain plateau of copper fouling. This entails just a powder fouling clean after use for a certain number of shots, dictated by load/powder/bullet and the relationship to each particular barrel which varies. The number of shots is pre-determined from initial shooting tests but can vary as the barrel wears so a good margin of error I guess is used.

 

In my own military days, we followed a similar routine but as Laurie mentions, powders and cleaning agents have come on since then and modern powders seem to foul less than older ones so things move on. Single base Vhit powders as one example, are very clean burning.

 

The bench-rest shooter has very different requirements as the chances are that fouling shots will (always?) be used to condition a cold barrel, and most that I know clean back to bare metal after every use. Charles ("Butch") Fisher was clearly an advocate of clean down to bare metal after each use and wrote quite a useful summary of the whys and wherefores (and "how to's) for Lyman's reloading manuals.

 

Many cleaning solutions today are dual purpose, such as Wipeout, and I tend to clean after every use, be that 75 rounds down the range or 2 rounds fired in the field. The only exception is where I'm using the 223 for longer range vermin control where after a few fouling shots following each copper removal cycle (about every 75 rounds with my barrel), I'll only use powder fouling removal gunk and then put an oily patch down the bore, passing a dry patch through before next use. That seems to maintain a POI which is pretty consistent for that barrel from cold, although that technique doesn't work with my 308 which always shoots an inch and half high and to the right with the first few shots from a cold barrel irrespective of cleaning regime.

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.

 

Thanks guys.

 

Very interesting reading.

 

Not easy this shooting malarkey eh?

 

ozone

 

.

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Just a thought -

 

A barrel which has just been cleaned is not truely "clean" in that it will have traces of the cleaning fluid and/or oil.

 

Maybe its the burning off of these fluids which causes the POI shift on first shot ?

 

I read somewhere of a shooter running a patch with degreaser or white spirits through the barrel before the first shot to eliminate this ?

 

Always meant to try this but never got around to it.

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I used to run meths through my barrels after cleaning (why oil when you strip it out with meths?) but was concerned that even with a SS barrel, this practice could encourage pitting or corrosion longer term without a protective oil coating. I now just run a dry patch through (after oiling) before shooting and leave it at that. It probably does make a difference over a squeaky clean barrel cleaned with solvent, and it might sometime be interesting to measure first shot MVs with and without a solvent patch. For hunting, after a zero check, the rifle gets put away without further cleaning until after my outing so that I know first shot POI will be smack on.

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As KG and wipe out are harder to get these days has any one tried Bore Tech?

Wipeout works great in all my Dolphin Gun rifles and my 17rim but realy up set my 204&243 Ruger & Border barrels.

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As KG and wipe out are harder to get these days has any one tried Bore Tech?

Wipeout works great in all my Dolphin Gun rifles and my 17rim but realy up set my 204&243 Ruger & Border barrels.

 

Try Matt at HPS. He always seems to have stocks of Wipeout available.

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Theres wipe-out at dauntsey and butchs bore shine - both good .Never tried KG but admit iv wanted too ...

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I find this really interesting. What i have always wondered is, when people say " i don't clean my rifle , i just put it away " do you guys mean that you literally just do that and take the rifle out of bag and straight into the cabinet ? Or are you putting through a couple of dry patches to clear out any carbon crud before putting it away ?

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Anecdotal too,but I've never heard anyone claim more precision from consistently uncleaned rifle

 

gbal

 

 

Given we were having that rare thing in shooting - a data driven discussion, how does the data look on accuracy vs cleanliness?? It's not just a function of low SD is it??

 

Lots of deeply held opinions and engrained practices all over the forums from clean every five to clean every boxing day which we can repeat ad nauseam , but what does the data say about how accuracy is really affected by cleaning regime?

 

Is the corollary to your comment George, that even if I am getting accuracy that I consider 'good enough' then by altering the cleaning regime the system could deliver improvements. There is a hypothesis. I feel an experiment coming on; not sure I have the kit to deliver the required accuracy for no shooter involvement though....

 

???

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Aberdonians,and general:

Strictly,I said it was unlikely that a (good) cleaning regime would degrade accuracy. I am fairly persuaded by the Bench Resters-who really are into fine accuracy-that this is supported,but even more-failure to clean degrades the rifle's precision.

For thirty blissful,if ignorant years,I cleaned various rifles without copper remover,but always after use with conventional bore clearers,till the patches came out clean (ie not dirty grey).In 17,222 and 243 new rifles,there seemed little signs of deterioration-though after thousands of shots over maybe 30 years,groups had drifted a little-with absolutely no field significance- b about .1-.2 moa,maybe a bit more in te 243 (several K shots) and this was from around .3/.4 at their best (but basic reloading then)...really this is as likely to be just fair wear and tear than imperfect cleaning...but we can't be sure-'both' seems fair.

I also had a 7x57 which had seen use by two geneations of keeper-"yes,it's been cleaned..by another bullet",and that was still about 1moa by the time I had it (and a crack in the stock).

 

Nothing very scientific, though I try to get crud and copper out now. My best summary of experence and what others say,is that a field use rifle may very slowly lose some precision,but it may well not be detected,an indeed may not be critical to purpose.

On the other hand,where absolute precision is needed,and degrading shows PDQ,-100 y Bench Rest eg-

it would be foolish indeed not to clean and copper out quite scrupulously (as most do,after each 5shot target).I am certain this does no harm,and the data supports that overwhelmingly-I have never seen 'neglected' Bench Rest barrels being shot enough to give any counter evidence-though it is entirely possible degrading of precision might be a few thou only....but .1 is a disaster(new barrel.pronto) in that game,would not be noticed by a stalker-it's still a centre heart shot!

 

g

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Aberdonians,and general:

g

 

 

Who me ?!!

 

I suppose the question was actually, how big a difference is religious cleaning actually going to make to accuracy of the system ? Sure everything falls off eventually, but if religious cleaning is only going to find me .1 then it's not worth the effort outside a competitive arena and even then maybe it is more about covering every possible base. Not my world so I don't know which is one of the reasons I am asking.

 

2017 experiment...

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