How clean is “Clean” for a barrel?

Discussion in 'Reloading Forum (All Calibers)' started by Ccrider, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. Ccrider

    Ccrider Gold $$ Contributor

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    I have tried some of the more popular cleaning liquids and have concluded that none of them clean all, or very much, of the residue out of your barrel without using a brass brush.

    Iosso, Butches, Hoppes, Boretech Eliminator - they all leave copper and some carbon in your barrel, even after applying them and letting them sit for 15 minutes or longer.

    A good bore brush and persistent scrubbing will remove the copper. But a pass or two with the brush, even after letting the cleaner sit for a while, will not remove all of the residue. You can see this with a borescope if you bother to look.

    Some of the carbon residue down the barrel (not just at the throat) is harder than the powder residue that comes out easily after you fire a few rounds. The patch will come back clean, but if you let the barrel soak for a while in your favorite cleaner after getting a clean patch, the next patch you run through will have significant carbon residue on it.

    This is my experience after testing on two barrels for the last week or so. I have concluded that clean barrel is absolutely a subjective term that we use to notate when our barrel is clean enough to group good. In reality, the barrel may not be clean at all, i.e. copper free and carbon free. And, I am in search of the best brushes to use as I feel that they are a must.

    Have I missed something?
     
  2. damoncali

    damoncali Gold $$ Contributor

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    I’ve found that a few patches of KG-12 almost always gets the vast majority of copper out. I’m sure it depends on the barrel and powder, but I’ve had great results without needing a metallic brush.
     
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  3. K22

    K22

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    If you clean regularly (personally for me it's about every 25 to 35 rounds) with a quality cleaner to prevent carbon and copper build up and your rifle shoots within your standards then I wouldn't look down the bore with a bore scope and get all stressed out. Performance is the key. I wonder how shooters shot so well before there were bore scopes?

    I personally like Bore Tech's C4 carbon remover w/ a bronze brush followed by dry patching and an application of their Cu+2 Copper Remover. I could be wrong but I still believe the mechanical action of a bronze brush aids in preventing carbon build up. Do you really need to clean down to bare metal to retain performance?
     
  4. mchees1

    mchees1

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    Agree with damoncali. I use KG-12 and it is excellent at removing copper. I really like carb-out from Sharp Shoot R Precision Products to remove carbon. This is not carb out from your auto supply store! It is specifically designed to dissolve carbon on contact. I use a bore scope and do not see any carbon left in the barrel. It works very well and quickly. It even does a good job on removing carbon deposits on the crowns of my barrels that I shoot suppressed. A lot of tough deposits end up there and carb-out can get it off in a short time. Might want to give it a try.
     
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  5. Webster

    Webster

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    Who made your barrel? I never had copper in my Kreiger barrels. Don't seem to have a carbon problem in the barrel. I'm sure there is some carbon build up in the throat but I don't worry about it as long as the rifle shoots small.
     
  6. MikeMcCasland

    MikeMcCasland Silver $$ Contributor

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    I don't think getting a barrel down to 'bare metal' is as ideal as it might seem. Like you, I clean with mild abrasives (JB/Iosso), as well as BoreTech products; I think they get the barrel 'clean'. That said, whenever I've stripped a barrel down to true bare metal, it's taken more rounds to foul out into it's normal state, and hasn't made follow-up cleaning any easier or more successful.

    I've just never seen a benefit to really stripping everything out.
     
  7. ballisticdaddy

    ballisticdaddy Silver $$ Contributor

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    I use Boretech eliminator, along with their nylon brush, and even after a few hundred rounds can get it clean. Also have a borescope to confirm but after a while you can "feel" if its clean or not just by running a patch down the bore. I shoot f-class and have utilized this method for both Brux and Bartlein barrels with great success. I have also found that quite a few factory barrels prefer a bit of copper fouling and do not shoot quite as well when completely cleaned. I would let the target tell you how clean it likes to be.
     
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  8. ShootDots

    ShootDots Gold $$ Contributor

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    I have a Lyman "BoreCam" I use at every cleaning. When a barrel is new to "relatively new" I clean like most people clean. BoreTech Eliminator gets ALL of the loose carbon and most of the hard carbon out and much of the copper. This kind of cleaning is fine for barrels with very little or no firecracking. Even then, I use JB about every 300 rounds or so til I see firecracking with the BoreCam. Once firecracking has really set in, I use JB upon EVERY cleaning. The firecracking is really barrel steel cracking, splitting and, for lack of better terminology, "uprooting" of the lands and grooves. This firecracking grabs carbon and copper, as the bullet passes over and embeds the carbon and copper into those crevices. The only way I know of to rid yourself of the vast majority of the copper and carbon locked in those crevices, is a GOOD SOAKING with Eliminator, followed by a good scrubbing with JB. Even then you can not get ALL of it removed. So how clean is a barrel? It's as clean as you can make it for the shooting discipline you are engaged in. If you are in BenchRest, those fellows clean very often. In F-Class and PRS, it is usually at the end of a day with MANY, MANY rounds down the bore! There will be a difference in how the barrel cleans up.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
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  9. Pawnee Bill

    Pawnee Bill

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    Copper hasn't been my problem, it's that pesky carbon between the lands that I don't like.
     
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  10. Ccrider

    Ccrider Gold $$ Contributor

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    @Webster, I have a Hart and Shillen 6ppc. After spending some time with my borecam, I was surprised at how much visible residue that was still in my barrels even though I was getting clean patches.

    I now know that getting all residue out of the barrel is not necessary or as easy as brushing and then running a few patches. Like most of you, I have concluded that getting all of the residue out is not necessary and probably not a good thing. I will shoot until the barrels settle down and then see how many shots I can fire before the groups begin to open up. At that point I will figure out how much cleaning is needed to get back to the optimal condition. By then, I am sure the barrels will be shot out and I will have to start over again.
     
  11. Texas10

    Texas10 Gold $$ Contributor

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    VFG felt pellets and some good bore polish will strip out a lot of that hardened carbon, in my experience. I use a foaming copper and residue removing cleaner and let it soak an hour or more with repeated applications to remove all the copper, and a lot of the powder residue. But if I really want to get at the carbon, the VFG aggressive pellets and bore polish will really do a good job.

    Just a patch wrapped around a good fitting bronze brush and some descent bore cleaner will also work well in most cases. I have a lot of trouble believing that a bronze brush can damage a chrome steel barrel, but opinions vary so as always, YMMV.
     
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  12. BoydAllen

    BoydAllen

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    If your results are good, then your methods are validated, but if they are not, and you are having trouble identifying the problem then a bore scope is a very good thing, as long as you understand how to interpret what you see. The tendency of the less experienced user is to assume that totally stripped of any residue is the goal. I do not believe that that is true. In my experience, barrels acquire an internal patina that does not attract fouling but rather reduces the tendency to foul. Stripping a barrel of every molecule that is not steel may in fact create problems, and cause the shooter to have to adopt a shorter cleaning cycle than would otherwise be required. Having said that, powders vary significantly in how much fouling they deposit, and the nature of that fouling. For instance, inspection by bore scope has verified that my PPC barrels can be maintained with bronze brushes, cotton patches, and Butch's Bore Shine without accumulating hard carbon. This is not the case with other powders which require periodic use (not every cleaning) of something like IOSSO.
     
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  13. D-4297

    D-4297 Silver $$ Contributor

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    Lemee see .....shot 30 rounds of load development on Thursday , 40 rounds of "confirmation" for final load choice on Saturday , and a 3 x 60 round match + sighters , ( 70 in total ) on Sunday , and cleaned on Monday . I think most F-class shooters would tell you that's about avg. , or less than average for a F barrel . I shoot with guys / gals who shoot 250 - 400 rounds before cleaning , or only when groups start to open up . Bullet , powder , barrel , and load all come into play . As others have said , let the target tell you . Borescopes are a necessary piece of equipment , but can be easily mis-interpreted .
     
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  14. Ccrider

    Ccrider Gold $$ Contributor

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    @BoydAllen, when you say “patina” are you including an acceptable amount of copper traces? Since I have started looking, I have found that this particular gun shoots good with some copper traces at the muzzle end of the barrel, and groups open up as copper traces build at the breech. The copper takes much longer to build at the breech.
     
  15. BoydAllen

    BoydAllen

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    Do what your targets tell you works best. Barrels vary in this regard. Listen to your rifle. Don't try to tell it what will work best, observe. Learn how many shots it takes for a barrel needs to settle down after cleaning, and how many it takes to stop shooting.

    The reason that I got my first lapped barrel was that I was tired of working with factory barrels that took too many shots to come in after cleaning, and would not hold accuracy after that point for very many shots. When I got that first stainless, lapped barrel, a Hart, that all changed....fewer shots to become consistent, and more shots before accuracy fell off.
     
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  16. Billy 30-06

    Billy 30-06

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    Some barrels are easier to clean than others. With my easy to clean barrels I run a patch soaked with Butch's bore shine through followed by a bronze brush wet with Butch's. I can feel when the carbon has been loosened from the barrel by the way the brushing gets smoother. Then I pass another wet patch through followed by a dry patch. Then a oily patch followed by a dry patch. I have been using 20w-50 V-Twin motor cycle oil for year as my gun oil. If I have a barrel that copper fouls I use Sweet's after removing the carbon.
    Billy
     
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  17. cw308

    cw308

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    KG-1 for carbon first then KG -12 for copper . Can also try running a few patches with Ballistol after shooting let it soak until you get home clean out with the old faithful Hoppes#9 , Both K & B work well
     
  18. Reloading Guy

    Reloading Guy

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    I guess a curious question is, how clean does your barrel have to be TO MATTER? Is spending a long time with solvents and patches better than just spraying a bore snake and running it through quickly 4x? I think the bore snake is no where near as clean, however, I will vote and say that it is equally sufficient for same results. I believe this from watching pros at matches. They do not go to lengths to remove everything, they nearly ALL run bore snakes in between rounds. Why would they do this if patches was proven to be better. They have the time to clean it better for sure. Just an observation I have noticed watching in person.
     
  19. Ccrider

    Ccrider Gold $$ Contributor

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    Never been to a match. Are you saying that most of the 100-300 us br guys use boresnakes on their ppcs at matches?
     
  20. Reloading Guy

    Reloading Guy

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    Yes, I observe mostly bore snakes. Some use patches and solvents. It could be the reason they are using more snakes is because of time, this is possible, I never asked them. Some solvents need to sit 15 minutes to work as instructions. They have more time than this between stages, so I am not confident time is a factor. I believe snakes achieve same accuracy in 1/10 the time. This needs to be tested to prove, just a theory.
     

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