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Should I clean my rifle barrel regularly or allow it to "season" to improve accuracy? I've been told a clean barrel is not as a

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  • Should I clean my rifle barrel regularly or allow it to "season" to improve accuracy? I've been told a clean barrel is not as a

    Should I clean my rifle barrel regularly or allow it to "season" to improve accuracy? I've been told a clean barrel is not as accurate as a slightly fouled barrel.

  • #2
    Send that question in to Gun Nuts. I'm sure you'll get in Petzal's column and receive a prize. It's a good one.

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    • #3
      Clean the barrel between firing sessions. We strive for uniformity and consistency in rifles capable of excellent accuracy, so I may firing a fouling shot when varminting or benchrest shooting my rifles, but most hunting rifles will fire the (hopefully) decisive shot from a clean barrel. When being stored, awaiting the next trip to the range, or during an extended firing session, I prefer to clean the barrel.

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      • #4
        I have found a Fouled and Cold Bbl to be best on open day of Big Game Season it stay on Target.~JMO

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        • #5
          My goal in a hunting rifle is consistency with every shot. When sighting in, I start with a clean barrel and fire a couple of 3 shot groups. Assuming the gun in on, I let it cool, clean it, and shoot another 3 shot group to verify zero and then clean it again.

          I rarely make it through a season without hunting a day in rain or snow so I usually end up cleaning the barrel mid season.

          All that said, I don't see a major change in any of my rifles shot clean or fouled with a couple of shots. The guys that shoot competitively might say I'm wrong. I have seen some degraded groups after firing 20 rounds or more out of rifles but not enough to worry about a typical Whitetail hunting distances. (I also admit the shooter (me) doesn't shoot as well his 20th shot off the bench as he does his first couple of rounds).

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          • #6
            Very good question and the answer is yes. Yes you should clean your rifle barrel regularly (I do after every use) and yes a slightly fouled barrel is more accurate. Competitive bench rest shooters clean their barrels quite a bit but fire foulers before record shots to get rid of potential fliers.

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            • #7
              For hunting, I leave the barrel fouled and put saran wrap over the muzzle. Best first shot accuracy potential from a cold barrel.
              After hunting or after a session at the range and when going into storage, I give them a preliminary cleaning and then after a week or so, clean them again.
              After several months in storage I give them all another light cleaning.
              To 'season' a barrel as you called it, is to lap the lands and groves of the barrel to make them as smooth as possible. There are a couple of ways to do this, the easiest being with a bore snake and JB non-embedding bore cleaner. I use this to break in a new barrel. Another is to use special bullets that have a compound embedded in them that laps the barrel when fired.
              When lapped as much as possible a patch should travel the length of the bore with no indications of a catch or tight spot. A perfectly smooth barrel gives top accuracy potential and least amount of fouling. Some top barrel steel like Bofors from Sako and Krupp seem to come from the factory in excellent condition that requires little additional lapping.
              Lead fouling requires only a one time cleaning.

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              • #8
                I clean mine after shooting them but I shoot a fouling shot before hunting season and hunt with it like that until I shoot at something. I do tape my barrel to avoid an accident caused by an obstructed barrel. I rarely go after the copper fouling with special solvents unless it starts shooting poorly. I try to get anything that might attract moisture.
                Scrubbing away only to have to replace the copper with fouling shots doesn't make much sense to me.

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                • #9
                  I have heard that a fouled barrel is more accurate because something about the round makes better contact and so spins faster and/or tighter? I do not know how much stock I put in that.

                  I clean my rifles after each shooting session. The first shot from a clean barrel is what I try to replicate and is typical of a hunting situation.
                  I zero my rifles before each hunting season. Typically 3 shots is all that is necessary to be sure I am still on target. The first is from a squeaky clean barrel. the 2nd and 3rd, obviously from a fouled barrel. All three touch at 100 yards. So I do not see a difference.

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                  • #10
                    Hey fhgg, I Google your question and found this link below. Your question was asked on the Field and Stream website in the year 2009. There were forty six answers. Some are pretty good. Check it out.

                    www.fieldandstream.com/forums/guns/rifles/how-often-do-you-clean-your-guns

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                    • #11
                      If you clean your barrel free of all fouling and remove all traces of oil and solvent residue it should shoot to the same spot. A clean barrel with one or two fouling shots followed by a dry patch or bore snake should produce the same result as the last group you fired at the range. We're all your sight in and practice shots fired with a clean bore?

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                      • #12
                        Thanks everyone for your responses, I read every one. The jury is still out for me on this subject. I normally clean my rifle barrel after each shooting session. Once, I even built a reverse electrolysis device to remove copper fouling in the barrel (search youtube for an example of this.) Some fellas on another rifle blog gave me grief for doing that. Then the big debate started about a cleaned barrel vs fouled barrel accuracy. I asked the same question here on F & S blog to get a consensus and they are just as varied as the other blog. I even sent the question to Petzal. If he answers my question, I will take his sage advice and follow it. I figured he has enough rifle experience to render a judgement that will be similar to a Supreme Court decision. LOL. Have a great day fellow hunters/riflemen.

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                        • #13
                          fishhuntgolfgeek,
                          I have the original Outers electronic cleaning system and like it a lot for heavily plated barrels. They have a electrolyte specific for copper and one for lead.
                          The system does a great job and saves a lot of elbow grease. Also, less chance of damaging the barrel with a cleaning rod. I will have to check out the one on youtube.

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