American Rifleman - November 2019 - 73

SHOP TALK

So, you have a rifle that simply isn't accurate anymore. What do
you do? The answer may lie in cleaning the barrel like you've
never cleaned it before.
BY BRYCE M. TOWSLEY
can't tell you how many times a fouled bore has proven to be the source of
accuracy problems. I also can't tell you how many times the gun owner has
denied it. Almost without fail, they insist to the point of confrontation that
they "already cleaned it and it still won't shoot!"
The key here is to clean it correctly.
I had a precision rifle in the shop recently that had stopped shooting tiny
groups. The guy was convinced it needed a new barrel. While the barrel was
getting a little shot out, I managed to bring the gun around again, lending it at
least another season of competition.
It had a few other problems, including some bedding issues introduced by
the guy trying to make it shoot, but the root cause of the problem was fouling.
I ran a couple of wet patches through the barrel to get out the carbon fouling, and then used one of the new Lyman Borecam Digital Borescopes to look
at the bore. The inside of the rifle bore looked like it was copper-plated-the
entire thing was coated. Yet the guy insisted he had cleaned the rifle. I am
certain that he had, but cleaning doesn't mean it's clean.
Lately I am seeing "experts" on the Internet claiming that a rifle bore must
be fouled to shoot well. They claim that a clean rifle will not shoot accurately.
I have tested hundreds, perhaps thousands, of rifles over my career as a gun
writer and have shot countless groups with those rifles. There is one simple
truth I have learned: Clean barrels shoot better than fouled barrels.
Some of the Internet experts are bragging about shooting thousands of
rounds without cleaning and then insisting that you must shoot dozens of
rounds after cleaning before the gun shoots well again. This is total bunk.
I have seen some guns that shoot well for a long time between cleanings.
Usually, but not always, they are rifles with high-end, hand-lapped barrels that
don't foul badly anyway. But I have never seen a rifle where accuracy failed
to deteriorate as copper fouling increased. A rough bore fouls faster than a
polished and lapped bore, but they all foul sooner or later, and when they do,
accuracy decays.
Let me say again, just to make sure the point is clear-when a good rifle
suddenly goes bad, more often than not, bore fouling is the reason. It's first on
the checklist.
Many shooters run a few patches through the bore and maybe make a pass or
two with a brush and assume that they have cleaned the rifle. That's the equivalent of running your car through a puddle and claiming you washed it. Even if
they have scrubbed for days, it doesn't ensure the rifle is clean. Scrubbing with
the wrong solvent accomplishes nothing, and, even with the correct solvent,
sometimes guns are so badly fouled it takes a while to hit the bottom.
I once spent a week cleaning a badly fouled .17 Rem. rifle, and I was starting
to think it was physically impossible for that much copper to be trapped in so
small a bore. Another time, I had a .338 Win. Mag. that was fouled so much it
looked like a smooth bore. It took days to get all the copper out of the rifle
mentioned earlier that my long-range-competition-shooting friend brought to
my shop. I am not saying I stood at the bench all that time, but I worked on
those rifles a few times every day.

AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG

NOVEMBER 2019

73


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American Rifleman - November 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - November 2019

Contents
American Rifleman - November 2019 - Cover1
American Rifleman - November 2019 - Cover2
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 1
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 2
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 3
American Rifleman - November 2019 - Contents
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 5
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 6
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 7
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 8
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 9
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 10
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 11
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 12
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 13
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 14
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 15
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 16
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 17
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 18
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 19
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 20
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 21
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 22
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 23
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 24
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 25
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 26
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 27
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 28
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 29
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 30
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 31
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 32
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 33
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 34
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 35
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 36
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 37
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 38
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 39
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 40
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 41
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 42
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 43
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 44
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 45
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 46
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 47
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 48
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 49
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 50
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 51
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 52
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 53
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 54
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 55
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 56
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 57
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 58
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 59
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 60
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 61
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 62
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 63
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 64
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 65
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 66
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 67
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 68
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 69
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 70
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 71
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 72
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 73
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 74
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 75
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 76
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 77
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 78
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 79
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American Rifleman - November 2019 - 81
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American Rifleman - November 2019 - 88
American Rifleman - November 2019 - 89
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American Rifleman - November 2019 - Cover3
American Rifleman - November 2019 - Cover4
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