Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

A place to share your projects, technical advice. and tutorials
User avatar
pmh
Site Admin
Posts: 1809
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:07 pm

Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by pmh » Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:39 pm

First appearing in Airgun World 2013, this is an extract from an article by Graham Freeman.

BORE’N’ AGAIN AIRGUN!

Bench rest champion, Graham Freeman, on barrel cleaning.

To clean, or not to clean ... that is the question. Some people say don’t clean the airgun barrel, let it lead Up; others say keep it clean, it shoots better - so what do you do for the best? Well, I hope I can put your mind at rest. There is no right or wrong way, it’s just a matter of knowing when to clean the barrel, and this is different for each airgun.

When you shoot a pellet down the barrel, the blast of air forces the skirt of the pellet into the gun’s rifling. The pellet runs down the rifling and out of the gun, and every time, it leaves behind it a small deposit of lead. Over time, the lead starts to fill up the rifling and the smooth, leaded barrel then starts to form peaks and lumps. This becomes evident when you shoot at a target in five-pellet groups.

Four pellets take out the bull’s-eye, and one drops. Sometimes, people put this down to a bad pellet, but trust me, it is not; it is due to particles in the rifling. This is when the barrel should be cleaned, and it should be cleaned correctly.

THE CORRECT WAY TO CLEAN

Some people say that all you need to do is to brush the barrel out with a wire-brush cleaning kit, and that’s fine if you’re shooting garage doors, but if you’re a target shooter, this is a definite no-no.

Many shooters use felt cleaning pellets to clean their barrels and this is fine if your barrel is smooth and not badly leaded, and may work to some degree, but if there are irregularities in the rifling, this method of cleaning isn’t good enough and it would take a lifetime to clean away the lead build-up.

Then there are the “solvent people”, and each to their own, but personally, I wouldn’t recommend pouring solvent down your barrel. Yes, this will dissolve the lead, but if you’re not careful with how you use it, it can also dissolve the seals inside your airgun.

To clean your barrel properly you will require a few things:

Solvent, Gun oil, Pull-through, Pull-through string, Some time.

METHOD:

1) Take a small quantity of solvent and place it on the pull-through string - just a little, it must be damp, not wet. You don’t want to get solvent into your transfer port, or damage air seals.

2) Feed the pull-through line down the barrel from the trigger end and slowly pull the solvent through the barrel. This will remove lead from the rifling. This process will have to be repeated up to ten times depending on the amount of lead build-up. A clean pull-through string each time tells you if it’s clean.

3) Once the lead has been cleaned out, the next step is to oil the barrel. Take a small quantity of the gun oil and place it on the pull-through string and draw it through the barrel, as previously described. Just one pass through will be enough, and again, the string must be damp, not wet with solvent.

4) The final step is to pull five clean strings through your gun barrel, but only use the string once. It might take 20- 30 shots to settle down, but it will make a lot of difference to
the accuracy of your gun.
M0KPH
I now have so many airguns I've had to make a list, which is >>HERE<<
>>North Manchester Target Club<<

zooma
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Posts: 646
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by zooma » Thu Nov 07, 2013 7:40 am

What type of "solvent" do you use to dissolve the lead ?

What type of gun oil does the author use to lube the barrel?

Are there any pictures to show the type of "string" used or can you advise what it is and where to get it from?
Feinwerkbau P40 Tricolour wanted.........still !
http://www.bobsairguns .com - proud to host the RMTC site since April 2011.

User avatar
pmh
Site Admin
Posts: 1809
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:07 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by pmh » Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:08 pm

Alas, there were no details of solvents used, or accompanying pictures that would help.

I suppose the solvents and oils are the ones generally available from Airgun suppliers, but names were left out for advertising purposes.

I suppose this now opens the thread up to suggestions and recommendations.

Kind regards,



Phil
M0KPH
I now have so many airguns I've had to make a list, which is >>HERE<<
>>North Manchester Target Club<<

zooma
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Posts: 646
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by zooma » Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:09 pm

pmh wrote:Alas, there were no details of solvents used, or accompanying pictures that would help.

I suppose the solvents and oils are the ones generally available from Airgun suppliers, but names were left out for advertising purposes.

I suppose this now opens the thread up to suggestions and recommendations.

Kind regards,



Phil
Lets hope so - I still want to know what solvent to use :(
Feinwerkbau P40 Tricolour wanted.........still !
http://www.bobsairguns .com - proud to host the RMTC site since April 2011.

User avatar
pmh
Site Admin
Posts: 1809
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:07 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by pmh » Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:11 pm

I have an aerosol solvent called "Solv-it Gun Cleaner", which was recommended to me for shot guns.

I have recently read that care has to be taken with solvents, as these can damage seals over time if they escape from the barrel and contact other places.

I also have "Youngs 303", which I to use to clean my full bore pistols.

I am sure both would be fine if used sparingly and all excesses cleaned away.

Kind regards,



Phil
M0KPH
I now have so many airguns I've had to make a list, which is >>HERE<<
>>North Manchester Target Club<<

zooma
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Posts: 646
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by zooma » Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:48 am

Maybe there is no need for any kind of cleaning solvent in an air pistol ?

Nothing is ever discharged or burnt in the barrel like it would be with a firearm or shotgun.

Cleaning felt pellets may well be enough - although I do know that the chrome plated barrels on a Steyr need to be cleaned a little more often than any others types and this does help to keep the groups tight - strange but true - but a felt pellet now and again ( maybe after every evening of shooting) is still all that is required.

Lots of good shooting target air pistols have never seen a felt pellet or had their bores cleaned in any other way either so I do think this is an area where great debate could ensue.
Feinwerkbau P40 Tricolour wanted.........still !
http://www.bobsairguns .com - proud to host the RMTC site since April 2011.

User avatar
pmh
Site Admin
Posts: 1809
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:07 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by pmh » Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:37 pm

I'm inclined to agree.

My regime is usually:-

1 dry felt
1 lightly oiled felt
2 dry felts

and that's probably about once a year.

I probably then put 1 dry felt a month through, if I remember.

I'd also like to point out that it is not wise to use solitary felts in springers, as they do not contain enough mass to stop the piston hitting the end of the chamber. Either put one in front of a pellet or use at least 3.

Kind regards,



Phil
M0KPH
I now have so many airguns I've had to make a list, which is >>HERE<<
>>North Manchester Target Club<<

zooma
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Posts: 646
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by zooma » Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:03 pm

I think I may try your cleaning regime on a couple of my pistols and see how it goes.

You offer some good advice about the use of felts in springers ( unless they are well down on power) and this is something that I doubt many have considered.

We always stock plenty of .177 and .22 felts as they always go and need replacing sooner than expected.
Feinwerkbau P40 Tricolour wanted.........still !
http://www.bobsairguns .com - proud to host the RMTC site since April 2011.

I.J.
Marksman
Marksman
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:00 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by I.J. » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:53 am

Personally, I only clean the barrels of my Steyr pistols as I find this improves accuracy. Or is it just in the mind? :think: Whatever. I feel they benefit from a light cleaning after every couple of hundred shots. By light I mean a VFG cleaning felt on a rod done very carefully near the muzzle. The first felt is soaked in Balistol and the following half dozen felts, until they come out clean, dry. I rarely use anything abrasive and then its only VFG felts with the bronzy bits soaked in light oil.
I find this cleaning regime only works on my Steyrs and is not needed on any of my other pistols. (Benelli Kite, Ham P20 FWB65/80 etc.). I think its summat to do with the chrome bores on a Steyr - but then again I have been known to be wrong. :snooty:

HTH
Ian. :D
Sec/founder Rivington Riflemen. www.rivington-riflemen.eu

RobinC
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Posts: 111
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 9:51 am

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by RobinC » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:49 am

I would definately not use solvents at all in an air gun, firearms are different there there can be burnt powder residue and carbon particles, but even then we only clean .22rf rifles with a couple of dry felts pushed through after every shoot whilst the barrel is still warm, this is the recomendtion of Walther and our rifles have had no more in their three year life and they shoot consistent 100's. Centre fire is a different thing all to gether and I clean after every shoot with two solvents, a carbon remover, and a copper fouling remover and scrub vigoursly with a phospher bronze brush, but the bullet is a copper jacket 105 gn doing 2850 fps.
An air gun is a totaly different scenario and bares no similarities with a cartridge gun, it is a soft lead pellet weighing 7 or 8.3 gns and is exiting at 500 ish fps. The tightness of the barrels and the projectile fit is loose for an airgun compared to a firearm. Any one heard of an air gun being shot out? No and you won't! A match quality .22rf will last 50K rounds, a 6mm BR barrel lasts 2,500!!! An occasional felt is all that is necessary in an air gun.
Last September at MEC in Dortmund during a rest in a coaching session they tested my wife's air rifle. Its a typical womans rifle so had not been cleaned since? Well, she could not remember! (nice unused pack of felts in her shooting bag!) Various fun mocking of how they would test it, clean it, and then show how much it had improved took place.
Mec has the best test set up imaginable, they shoot from a rest and aim using electronics, the results are measured to a 100th of a mm (thats 1/2 a thouth in old money). There was much interest from the watchers as her rifle, a Walther LG400 special shot over 10 shots at 10 mts, using her RWS 8.3 gns 4.49 pellets straight from a tin it failed to shoot a group, it shot just one hole! Measured electronicaly to 0.01 mm as one hole with no group!!!! The comment, "hell this thing shoots, do you want to sell it?" It was cleaned with 10 dry felts and repeated the result!
Moral? If its a good barrel and you use good pellets, cleaning in an air gun makes very little difference.
Robin

I.J.
Marksman
Marksman
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:00 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by I.J. » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:25 am

Thank you for the above Robin.

Totally agree with you on the solvent and firearms being a different kettle of fish :clap: but I wonder what the results would have been like using a Steyr rifle or pistol which has the chrome bore? :think: As I think we all know - a part of your shooting 'equipment' is having confidence in your gear. After Ive (lightly) cleaned my Steyr pistols I feel I shoot better and any bad shots (and theres plenty of those :doh: ) are down to my inability and NOT the guns.

:D
Sec/founder Rivington Riflemen. www.rivington-riflemen.eu

RobinC
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Posts: 111
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 9:51 am

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by RobinC » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:27 pm

Hi Ian
I think you'll find that the Steyr barrels are stainless not chrome, and this is fairly standard practice across modern manufacturers. But I do agree that its what makes you feel confident in your equipment.
Good shooting
Robin

Adam77K
Plinker
Plinker
Posts: 69
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:14 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by Adam77K » Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:30 pm

To my knowledge Steyr barrels are internally nickel plated not chromed.

I'm sure what Robin posted is totally right... for 10M match guns at 5.5ft.lbs. However up the velocity to 800 fps and shoot at 50m and it is a different story. Barrels and pellets vary but most top FT shooters agree that most FT rigs do need a clean from time to time. The most recent Steyr barrels are incredibly accurate but seem to fall off a cliff within a few hundred shots. Early Steyr hammer-forged "barley twist" barrels on the other hand don't seem to need much at all. The HW100 I used to use for FT before I got my LG100 used to need a pull through roughly every 2 tins of pellets, and the groups would tighten up again.

I don't think anybody knows really why this happens and why it manifests itself more at 55 yards than 10, or 30, or 40. Is it that 500 fpsIt is fairly well accepted that the minor imperfections in every barrel gradually "lead up" as pellets are shot, but why should this not show up at 10M even to 0.01mm (which is a phenomenal level of accuracy and I'd love to see what that barrel would do on an FT rig. :) ) ?

I don't know but my suspicion (vague fancy, I wouldn't dignify it by the word theory) is that it is to do with pellet spin. I speculate that the twist rate of most airgun barrels is enough to spin-stabilise the pellets out to 40 yards or so, but then the drag-stabilisation starts to take over. At one point when I was having occasional flyer issues with my EV2 (roughly one pellet in 10-20) going 1/2" to 1" high at 55 yards. I did some testing indoors. At 45 yards it was almost one-holing. At 55 yards most pellets were going into a hole you could hide with a penny but the flyers were clearly keyholing the paper; entering sideways or at an angle. In this case cleaning wasn't the issue, I suspected the barrel "not liking" the batch of pellets as with a different batch the problem went away. The point of this example though is the way rifles can group beautifully at one range and suddenly give it another five yards and it all goes to pot. So, my tenuous line of thinking continues, if the barrel imperfections "upset" the pellet somehow (yes I know very scientific), the spin might compensate for this initially. But further downrange when the drag stabilisation starts to gain the upper hand, the pellet can start to wobble or in extreme cases, tumble.

I'm not convinced by the no solvents for airguns argument. I have fired felts through a barrel which have come out clean. Dry pull throughs come out clean. But soak a bit of solvent into the next pull through and the amount of black crud that suddenly comes out is unbelievable. Sometimes it will take another dozen dry pull throughs before there's no black on them. I doubt a fired felt will shift much in the rifling grooves.

zooma
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Lifetime Contributor to Shooting
Posts: 646
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by zooma » Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:37 pm

What solvent do you use Adam?
Feinwerkbau P40 Tricolour wanted.........still !
http://www.bobsairguns .com - proud to host the RMTC site since April 2011.

I.J.
Marksman
Marksman
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:00 pm

Re: Barrel Cleaning by Graham Freeman

Post by I.J. » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:22 pm

Adam77K wrote: I doubt a fired felt will shift much in the rifling grooves.
I to doubt that fired felts have the same effect as careful cleaning with a rod.
I stand corrected about the material in a Styer barrel :doh: but still maintain careful cleaning is a benefit to accuracy.

ATB
Ian
Sec/founder Rivington Riflemen. www.rivington-riflemen.eu

Post Reply