August 21st, 2018

Barrel Break-In — Essential Procedure or Total Waste of Time?

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrels
Photo courtesy Sierra Bullets.

The question of barrel break-in is controversial. Some folks advocate an elaborate, lengthy cycle of shooting and brushing, repeated many times — one shot and clean, two shots and clean and so on. This, it is argued, helps barrels foul less and shoot more accurately. Others say minimal break-in, with patching and brushing after 10-15 rounds, is all you need. Still others contend that break-in procedures are a total waste of time and ammo — you should just load and shoot, and clean as you would normally.

We doubt if there will ever be real agreement among shooters concerning barrel break-in procedures. And one must remember that the appropriate break-in procedure might be quite different for a factory barrel vs. a custom hand-lapped barrel. This Editor has found that his very best custom barrels shot great right from the start, with no special break-in, other than wet patches at 5, 10, and 15 rounds. That said, I’ve seen some factory barrels that seemed to benefit from more elaborate break-in rituals.

What’s the best barrel break-in procedure? Well our friend Eric Mayer of Varminter.com decided to ask the experts. A while back Eric interviewed representatives of three leading barrel manufacturers: Krieger, Lothar-Walther, and Shilen. He recorded their responses on video. In order of appearance in the video, the three experts are:

Wade Hull, Shilen Barrels | Mike Hinrichs, Krieger Barrels | Woody Woodall, Lothar Walther

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrelsDo I Need to Break-In a New Rifle Barrel?
Eric Mayer of Varminter.com says: “That is a simple question, [but it] does not necessarily have a simple answer. Instead of me repeating my own beliefs, and practices, on breaking-in a new rifle barrel, I decided to answer this one a bit differently. While we were at the 2016 SHOT Show, we tracked down three of the biggest, and most popular, custom barrel makers in the world, and asked them what they recommend to anyone buying their barrels, and why they recommend those procedures. We asked the question, and let the camera run!” Launch the video above to hear the answers — some of which may surprise you.

Long-Term Barrel Care — More Experts Offer Opinions
Apart from the debate about barrel break-in, there is the bigger question of how should you clean and maintain a barrel during its useful life. Some folks like aggressive brushing, other shooters have had success with less invasive methods, using bore foam and wet patches for the most part. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. In reality, there may not be one solution for every barrel. Different fouling problems demand different solutions. For example, solvents that work well for copper may not be the best for hard carbon (and vice-versa).

CLICK HERE for Long Term Barrel Care Article »

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

Chip Lohman, former Editor of Shooting Sports USA Magazine, has authored an excellent article on barrel maintenance and cleaning: Let the BARREL Tell You — Match Barrel Care. In this article, Chip shares the knowledge of a dozen experts including respected barrel-makers Frank Green (Bartlein Barrels), John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), Dan Lilja (Lilja Barrels), and Tim North (Broughton Barrels).

“Why worry about a little barrel fouling when the throat is subjected to a brutal 5,600° F volcano at 55,000 PSI? To investigate these and other questions about taking care of a match barrel, we spoke with a dozen experts and share their knowledge in this first of a series of articles.

After listening to folks who shoot, build barrels or manufacture cleaning solvents for a living, we concluded that even the experts each have their own unique recommendations on how to care for a match barrel. But they all agree on one thing — the gun will tell you what it likes best. Because the life expectancy of a match barrel is about 1,500 to 2,500 rounds, the objectives of cleaning one should include: preserve accuracy, slow the erosion, and remove fouling — all without damaging the gun. This article doesn’t claim that one cleaning method is better than the next. Rather, we set out to interject a little science into the discussion and to share some lessons learned from experts in the field.” — Chip Lohman

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January 12th, 2018

New Anti-Corrosion and Bore-Cleaning Products from Otis

Otis Gun Care Bore Stick Metal Defense Bore Cleaning Foam SHOT Show

Otis will introduce a number of new products at SHOT Show 2018. We were impressed by two new products, one that cleans bores, and a second that promises to protect the inside of your barrel from corrosion. As to the latter, we’re always looking for better ways to prevent the formation of rust in barrels during long term storage. You can certainly coat the bore using patches soaked with Eezox, Corrosion-X, or other good anti-corrosion product. But is there something that could work even better?

New Otis Metal Defense Bore Stick
Otis came up with a new idea that may hold promise. The new Otis Metal Defense Bore Stick™ is placed inside your barrel during storage. Perhaps better named the “Bore Cord”, this product has a long orange “tail” that runs down inside the barrel. The cord’s fibers release VCI, a very effective corrosion inhibitor. The top end has an orange rubber handle with a conical plug. That plug goes in the muzzle to block moisture and retain the rust-fighting VCI vapors. Available for rifles, shotguns, and pistols, Otis says this product “protects firearms from rust and corrosion for up to two years. It is inserted in the barrel of the gun, features a plug to cap the muzzle, and creates a protective barrier on the metal surface.” Single packs cost $4.99 and two-packs are $6.99.

Otis Gun Care Bore Stick Metal Defense Bore Cleaning Foam SHOT ShowNew Foaming Bore Cleaner from Otis
Count us as Foam Fans. We have used Wipe-Out Foam Bore Cleaner on our own match rifles for years. Over that time, Wipe-Out has worked very well, greatly reducing the amount of brushing required. Chemist Terry Paul, inventor of Wipe-Out, created a great product that really works. Our procedure with Wipe-Out is to first patch out the barrel with 3-4 wet patches soaked with Carb-Out or other solvent. Then we apply Wipe-Out once to the bore (with an O-ring boreguide sealing off the chamber). We wait 20-30 minutes, then apply Wipe-out foam a second time. After 3-4 hours we patch out the bore, and normally the rifle is good to go. For long-term storage we may run an oil patch down the bore as a final step.

Otis now has its own proprietary Foaming Bore Cleaner. The expanding foam is formulated to clean the bore of any rifle, pistol, or shotgun. Available in a 3 ounce aerosol can, it retails for $9.99. The can ships with a handy tube for application, with a push-button control on top. We look forward to trying the Otis foam cleaner to see how it stacks up to Wipe-Out.

The above video shows how to apply Wipe-Out or other bore-cleaning foam. We use a slightly different method. First, we use 3-4 wet patches to remove loose carbon fouling. Then we apply the foam as shown, but usually from the muzzle end (with bore guide in chamber). Here’s the important point — after 20-30 minutes, once the bubbles have dissipated, we apply the foam a second time, getting more of the active ingredients into the barrel. We then patch out, as shown, after 3-4 hours.

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October 18th, 2017

Bore Cleaning The Right Way — Top Barrel-Makers Give Advice

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

Ask 10 shooters about barrel cleaning and you’ll get 10 different opinions. This reflects that fact that different fouling problems demand different solutions. For example, solvents that work well for copper may not be the best for hard carbon (and vice-versa). To come up with the right solution, first you must understand the nature of the fouling in your barrel.

CLICK HERE to read Full Match Barrel Care Article »

Chip Lohman, former Editor of Shooting Sports USA Magazine, has authored an excellent article on barrel maintenance and cleaning. Chip’s article, Let the BARREL Tell You — Match Barrel Care, is in the Shooting Sports USA digital archives. In this article, Chip shares the knowledge of a dozen experts including respected barrel-makers Frank Green (Bartlein Barrels), John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), Dan Lilja (Lilja Barrels), and Tim North (Broughton Barrels).

John Krieger Interview with AccurateShooter at SHOT Show:

The debate about the proper care of a match barrel is a hot one, spiked with folklore and old wives’ tales, Lohman said. He and his staff set out to set the record straight: “We tried to interject some science into the discussion of cleaning a match barrel,” he explained. In his article, Lohman writes:

Why worry about a little barrel fouling when the throat is subjected to a brutal 5,600° F volcano at 55,000 PSI? To investigate these and other questions about taking care of a match barrel, we spoke with a dozen experts and share their knowledge in this first of a series of articles.

After listening to folks who shoot, build barrels or manufacture cleaning solvents for a living, we concluded that even the experts each have their own unique recommendations on how to care for a match barrel. But they all agree on one thing — the gun will tell you what it likes best. Because the life expectancy of a match barrel is about 1,500 to 2,500 rounds, the objectives of cleaning one should include: preserve accuracy, slow the erosion, and remove fouling — all without damaging the gun. This article doesn’t claim that one cleaning method is better than the next. Rather, we set out to interject a little science into the discussion and to share some lessons learned from experts in the field.

For more Shooting Sports USA articles, visit www.ssusa.org.

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June 5th, 2017

TECH Tip: How to Use Wipe-Out Without Making a Mess

wipeout brushless bore cleaner foam

Wipe-Out foam bore cleaner is a product we’ve used with great success on many rifles. With sufficient dwell time, it removes both carbon and copper fouling. You can combine it with Wipe-Out Accelerator or Patch-Out liquid to speed up cleaning time. Many shooters, including this editor, find that bore-brushing has been virtually eliminated with the regular use of Wipe-Out. (With some barrels however, you may still have to brush or use a bore paste if you notice stubborn carbon build-up in the throat area.)

Method One: Apply Through Muzzle
Out standard procedure with Wipe-Out is to insert an O-ring-sealed cleaning rod guide into the chamber and then squirt through the muzzle in short puffs. Put a towel or rag on the comb of your stock and watch for a little bit of foam to exit the rod guide. We usually wait 30 minutes for the bubbles to dissipate, then do a second foam application. Be sure to clean off any excess foam before it drips on your stock. It is important to keep the foam off fine wood or paint finishes.

Our actual routine normally starts with 3-4 wet patches with Carb-Out (to get the loose black stuff out), followed by the two foam cycles as explained above. Then we plug both ends of the barrel, drive home from the range and dry-patch out on arrival at the house. If the gun is going to be used again soon, that’s all we do. If there will be long-term storage we’ll run some Eezox down the bore.

Method Two: Apply Wipe-Out from Breech
You can also apply Wipe-Out from the breech. To allow breech-first application, Wipe-Out cans now come with a short plastic tube and a plastic tip that fits in your chamber. These can also be purchased separately for $2.50. However, we’ve found the plastic tip is too big for some chambers and it is not always easy to get a good, secure seal even if it does fit. Jason Baney has come up with a solution. READ Jason’s Wipe-Out Article.

Use Fitted Tubing for Breech-First Applications of Wipe-Out
You can apply Wipe-Out through the breech very effectively if you use fitted, plastic tubing. While this works well for bolt-actions, breech application is particularly handy for the Garand, M1A and other semi-autos. Jason Baney has written a short article describing this process. In a nutshell, you need one piece of tubing that fits the chamber tightly and then connects with a second, smaller diameter tube that attaches to the Wipe-Out can. This avoids any “over-spray” of foam in the action area, providing a clean, simple solution. Just squirt for a second or so, and wait for white foam to come out of the muzzle. Be sure to keep Wipe-Out off fine wood stocks.

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October 14th, 2015

Barrel Care and Maintenance — Expert Advice

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

Ask 10 shooters about barrel cleaning and you’ll get 10 different opinions. This reflects that fact that different fouling problems demand different solutions. For example, solvents that work well for copper may not be the best for hard carbon (and vice-versa). To come up with the right solution, first you must understand the nature of the fouling in your barrel.

Chip Lohman, former Editor of Shooting Sports USA Magazine, has authored an excellent article on barrel maintenance and cleaning. Chip’s article, Let the BARREL Tell You — Match Barrel Care, can be found in the Shooting Sports USA digital archives. In this article, Chip shares the knowledge of a dozen experts including barrel-makers Frank Green (Bartlein Barrels), John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), and Tim North (Broughton Barrels).

CLICK HERE to read Full Match Barrel Care Article.

The debate about the proper care of a match barrel is a hot one, spiked with folklore and old wives’ tales, Lohman said. He and his staff set out to set the record straight: “We tried to interject some science into the discussion of cleaning a match barrel,” he explained. In his article, Lohman writes:

Why worry about a little barrel fouling when the throat is subjected to a brutal 5,600° F volcano at 55,000 PSI? To investigate these and other questions about taking care of a match barrel, we spoke with a dozen experts and share their knowledge in this first of a series of articles.

After listening to folks who shoot, build barrels or manufacture cleaning solvents for a living, we concluded that even the experts each have their own unique recommendations on how to care for a match barrel. But they all agree on one thing — the gun will tell you what it likes best. Because the life expectancy of a match barrel is about 1,500 to 2,500 rounds, the objectives of cleaning one should include: preserve accuracy, slow the erosion, and remove fouling — all without damaging the gun. This article doesn’t claim that one cleaning method is better than the next. Rather, we set out to interject a little science into the discussion and to share some lessons learned from experts in the field.

For more Shooting Sports USA articles, visit www.ssusa.org.

John Krieger Interview with AccurateShooter at SHOT Show:

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April 23rd, 2015

How to Clean Your Rimfire Rifle Barrel the ELEY Way

Eley rimfire barrel cleaning with felt oilThe experts at ELEY Limited, top rimfire ammo-maker, have posted a helpful guide to cleaning rimfire barrels. We reprint highlights of the article below, but we suggest you read the full article on the Eley website: How to Clean Your Rifle the ELEY Way.

Editor’s Comment: This is not the only way to clean a rimfire barrel. There are other procedures. This is the method recommended by ELEY based on decades of experience with the top smallbore shooters in the world, including many Olympic Gold Medalists. Some shooters have been very successful cleaning less frequently, or using different types of solvents. The ELEY method is a good starting point.

Rimfire Barrel Cleaning

1. Clean the extension tube with a 12 gauge brush and felt or tissue moistened with solvent.

ELEY-how-to-clean-your-rifle-cleaning-step-1

2. Smoothly insert a cleaning rod guide into the receiver.

ELEY-how-to-clean-your-rifle-cleaning-step-2-cleaning-rod-guide

3. Apply a dry felt to the cleaning rod adapter and push it through the barrel to the muzzle in one slow steady movement. As the felt is dry it may feel stiff.

ELEY-how-to-clean-your-rifle-cleaning-step-3-apply-dry-felt ELEY-how-to-clean-your-rifle-cleaning-step-3-apply-dry-felt-through-the-barrel

(more…)

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March 18th, 2015

USAMU Talks about Pull-Though Bore Snakes

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. Today’s “Handloading Hump Day” post covers bore-cleaning, specifically the use of pull-through style bore snakes. Visit the USAMU Facebook page each Wednesday for helpful tips.

Handloading USAMU Facebook Bore Cleaning

Today, we’ll shift from handloading to rifle bore cleaning and maintenance, with information courtesy of the USAMU’s Custom Firearms Shop. We recently had some inquiries about bore cleaning, and this seems a good opportunity to share. After all, even the best handloads won’t yield their full potential in a poorly-cleaned and maintained rifle.

1. BORE SNAKES: MIRACLE REPLACEMENT FOR THE CLEANING ROD?
The experiences of both our firearms test specialist and this writer have given no evidence that proper use of a clean bore-snake will damage a match barrel. Of course, one does not pull the bore-snake at an angle to the crown when removing it — pull it straight out, parallel to the bore’s direction, to prevent crown wear over time.

USAMU Handloading facebook page bore snake cleaningBore-snakes are very useful for some applications (primarily a hasty, interim wipe-down). In [my] experience they cannot replace a thorough cleaning with a proper rod and brushes. While the experiment cited here involves rimfire, it may help illustrate. Several years ago, the writer used his new, personal Anschutz to investigate the bore-snake issue. It had been fired ~350 rds with match ammo and had had 3 typical rod/brush cleanings.

Next, starting with a clean bore, the writer fired 300 more rounds without cleaning in order to build up a “worst-case” fouling condition. Afterwards, the writer examined the bore with a Hawkeye bore scope. There was a uniform, grey film down the entire barrel, with some small, intermittent lead build-up at and just forward of the throat.

A new bore-snake was then wet with solvent and pulled through the bore. The Hawkeye revealed that the grey fouling was gone, and much of the visible fouling at the throat was reduced. However, nine more passes with the bore-snake, checking after each with the Hawkeye, revealed no further improvement in cleaning. The writer then cleaned with two wet patches, observed, then one stroke of a new, wet bronze brush, and one wet patch to clean out residue.

USAMU Handloading facebook page bore snake cleaning

The Hawkeye showed a significant reduction in fouling at the throat; it was virtually gone. A second pass with a wet bronze brush and a wet patch removed the remaining fouling. Scrubbing the bore further, checking to see how much fouling was removed, revealed no significant improvement. The reason for this test was to learn what’s needed to get (and keep) this Anschutz clean with minimal cleaning rod use — and thus, minimal risk of bore damage/wear. Leaving fouling in the bore promotes corrosion over time.

Obviously, this applies to a nice, smooth rimfire match barrel, using good, well lubed ammo. It doesn’t apply directly to the use of copper-jacketed bullets, which leave a stubborn fouling all their own. However, it does suggest that while the bore-snake can be helpful and a useful field-expedient, to truly clean a rifle barrel one will still need a good quality rod, bronze brush and solvents. [Editor: Add a good-fitting cleaning rod bore guide

2. SO, WHAT ABOUT BORE SNAKES FOR BARREL BREAK-IN?
The goal of barrel break-in is to fire each shot through a clean barrel, preventing copper buildup and allowing the bullets their best chance at burnishing sharp edges. Thus, it seems this purpose would be best served by one’s usual rods, brushes and rod guides.

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