Talking Gun Cleaning

ruger m77 ruger bolt action ruger synthetic ruger mkII

By V. L. Fisher

Greetings from New Jersey,

First, let me say that there are quite a variety of opinions out there about barrel cleaning. I have my opinions based on roughly 33 years invested in the quest for rifle accuracy, but respect the differing opinions of a number of other knowledgeable people on the subject. They paid for their barrels and are entitled to abuse them in any way they chose (just kidding).

There seems to be no consensus out there regarding particular cleaning agents, but all agree that for gilt-edged accuracy you need a fairly clean barrel. You notice I didn’t say a completely clean barrel, there are some pretty rough factory barrels out there that won’t shoot until they get enough copper in the low spots to offer the bullet a uniform surface.

A friend had a 6mm Rem. Which had a rough barrel from the factory, and wouldn’t shoot for beans for the first ten or so shots, then two good groups, and after that the groups went south again. What was happening was the barrel irregularities were being filled with copper and then, for a short time the gun shot really well, followed by groups opening again because of increasing copper fouling choking the bore.

Vigorous cleaning would remove the copper and the very predictable process would repeat. That was, fortunately, an extreme and unusual case, today most Remington and Winchester barrels coming from the factory, particularly the heavier versions, are as good as the barrels the custom makers were putting out fifteen years ago. Of course, the custom makers are now making barrels considerably better than they were making fifteen years ago.

V. L. Fisher

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Last Modified: January 3, 2012