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Author Topic: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels  (Read 29196 times - 1 votes) 
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Offline QVTom

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The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« on: June 25, 2015, 02:49:32 AM »
I've heard and read so many opinions, usually stated as facts, about what to do and not do to your airgun barrel.  After shooting many thousands of rounds through several different barrels at velocities from 900 to 1050 fps over a one year period, I can say there is a lot of suspect information passed around. I've been guilty of repeating some fallacies too!

Common statements:

Never clean your barrel ever.  The lead fills the pores and is necessary.
- Well the lead may fill some pores but barrels will get dirty if you use them and they need to be cleaned on a regular schedule.  More on the schedule below.

Never clean your barrel until the accuracy falls off.
- Nothing ruins your day like a hours lost chasing poor accuracy.  I've found that the accuracy can be just fine until it's not.  The transition from good to bad happens very quickly. More importantly, once the barrel is leaded enough to ruin accuracy it will take some effort to thoroughly clean it. This is why it's best to clean your barrel at regular intervals.

Never use a nylon or bronze brush.
- This may be true for softer AG barrels from LW but any decent quality barrel will not be damaged by the reasonable use of a nylon or bronze brush.  Many times the lead is stuck so tenaciously into the corners of the grooves that a patch will not reach into the sharp corners and remove stuck lead and crud.

Only use Goo-Be-Gone.  It's friendly and doesn't harm the o-rings.
- you can scrub for hours with Goo-Be-Gone and similar friendly products using patches or brushes; these products don't remove lead.  Believe me I tried them.

Never use bore cleaners or solvents intended for firearms.  It will eat your o-rings and besides there is no powder residue in an airgun.
-Only real bore solvents will clear the lead from your barrel.  I've used friendly products with patches and brushes in relatively clean barrels until the patches come out clean.  When you look inside, there is still lead stuck to the barrel.  Use a bore solvent like Shooter's Choice and the previously clean patch will come out absolutely black.  A few strokes with a brush and a patch is all it takes to clean a badly leaded airgun barrel.  You can scrub all day with a friendly cleaner and get nowhere or use a real bore cleaner and be finished in a few strokes.  I have not seen any o-ring damage from Shooter's Choice so I can confidently say that that particular product is o-ring safe.

Airguns don't have the hot gas and they don't have the velocity to generate leading.
- maybe 12 fpe pellet shooters will not show leading with lots of use but our modern big bores certainly will and in a relatively short time.  I've found that after about 400-500 rounds the barrel on the Slayer will start to lead up and the accuracy will degrade very quickly.

A quick summary:

Determine the best interval to clean your barrel.  Don't wait until it stops performing, that just makes extra work because once the lead starts to stick it builds rapidly.

Don't be scared to use a real bore cleaner and a brush.  The combination of the two will get the job done very quickly with very few strokes.  A couple of stroke is not going to damage your barrel.

I hope you find this helpful.

Tom





« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 03:34:34 AM by QVTom »
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Offline rifle50

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2015, 03:08:54 AM »
Tom, I agree with all you say above...........My .257  really will lead up the barrel badly.........I learned from a fellow Match .22 Rimfire competitor about Shooters Choice Lead Remover...........Patch wet, soak, brass brush and can't believe the BLACK CRUD that comes out of the barrel..........Brass is softer than a quality steel barrel and as you say, anything less than a stiff brush and the grooves will NOT GET CLEAN....Good informational post.........

I have competed with COPPER 50 BMG to F-Class and ARA rimfire matches and now lead AIR RIFLES and it is a rare rifle that a couple of wet patches will wipe bore clean...............Carl
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Offline oldgoat

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2015, 05:53:23 AM »
Tom, thanks for the post and info.  I will check out the Shooters Choice solvent. 

I'm still trying to get my 30 cal Edgun Matador converted into my cast slugs .257 cal, TJ's barrel, shooting slug gun.  Things would be so much simpler for me if you would just offer your Slayer in a .257 cal!  LOL!

I talked to Mike Sayers, the owner of TJ's, and he told me that he recommended using a stainless steel brush in his barrels.  He claims that his chrome molly hammer forged barrels are far tougher than any stainless steel brush and that using a SS brush wouldn't ever hurt the barrel.

Who knew?
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Offline KnifeMaker

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2015, 07:51:51 AM »
+1 on everything Tom just said! I did lap my .257 an it helped a "LOT". But it really goes bad quickly.
when leading does appear.  Accuracy will fall  off very quickly once leading starts. The lapping changed this from 30 to 50 shots when a new barrel to well over 150 after lapped.

Now after literally thousands of shots downrange, it is getting several hundred shots before this happens. But when it does happen, it scatters from a 1/2" or slightly larger group at 100 yards to 2-3"yards instantly.

I tried the Nylon brushes, but they just didn't get it done. Just a few passes with a bronze brush and the job goes quick, and accuracy returns.

Will try shooters choice. Thanks Tom!

Howdy Tedd!!!.  I miss read your email. You still want me to send the reg. to your addy.?

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2015, 08:16:21 AM »
Interesting post to this "small bore springer guy"! Even with .177 cal I do know that a dirty bore will affect accuracy and also have found that the accuracy goes from "good to bad" quickly, usually during a FT match or some other critical moment like squirrel hunting.........
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Now what I didn't know..........
1.I always thought that use of a cleaning rod with shallow airgun rifling in a choked barrel was a recipe for disaster over time due to the rod getting embedded microscopic grit and acting as a lap. I do remember years ago when the accuracy of my brother's .177 R9 "want away" and no amount of pulled patches would return the barrel to accurate shooting. Using a bore scope he found that leading had packed into the rifling just before the choke and the rifling literally disapperared from view. He then did a "one time only" Hoppes #9 and brass bore brush treatment similar to what you're suggesting and indeed the rifling was "excavated" and accuracy returned. Prior to that incident we were shooting unlubed hard lead Crosman Premier pellets so we started lubing our "springer pellets" to keep the pellet lead from "soldering itself" to the bore. While the lubing with Slick50OneLube didn't affect the velocity, fpe consistency or improve accuracy, it did make needed bore cleaning chores a simple matter of pulling through a few dry patches to restore lost accuracy. I've also taken on your "policy" of regularly pulling through a few dry patches (usually after each tin or box of pellets) rather than waiting for the accuracy to "go south".

2. Thanks for your info concerning the use of lead removing solvents in airguns. I've always kept the stiff away from my R9 bores like th e"airgun gods suggested" but it seems that you haven't experienced any "ill results" from using it. Actually, with a break barrel R9 there is little chance that any solvent will get into the "frammis" from bore cleaning but voodoo against using the stuff has indeed been persuasive!

3.I'm wondering if perhaps airgun wisdom from on high really isn't universal and such wisdom doesn't always "cross platforms" between large bore PCPs and small bore piston guns.........but I do realize that this "sand box" is for the benefit of large bore PCP shooters.

Anywhoo.......thanks for the thread!
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Offline Veprjack

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2015, 08:49:43 AM »
Velly intellesting, especially to this noob. Everything I've read says "Forget everything you know about cleaning powder burners, especially when it comes to cleaning AGs!"  So, not wanting to ruin my barrel, O rings - or taking out 3 square city blocks from an explosion ::) I have heeded the advice.

While I'm not about to give my guns a Hoppes bath or run steel brushes down my barrels anytime soon, this post makes sense. a) Do you guys remove things like TKOs before cleaning and b) What care do you take when cleaning a gun with factory baffles?  Sorry if questions are stupid, but I'm at the beginning of the learning curve.

Thanks!!
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Offline rkr

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2015, 09:05:38 AM »
This is why accuracy drops with dirty barrel, left pellet is pushed through dirty barrel - the right one through a cleaned one (.35 JSBs). The power was also down almost 20 fpe and I had to hammer that pellet through the dirty barrel using wooden stick.



Tom, what's your take on using WD40 to aid in removing the lead?
« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 09:08:15 AM by rkr »
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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2015, 09:17:37 AM »
Good information arrived at from years of testing. As with many topics, results may vary. I agree with some of the information presented but I use what I personally believe and what has proven to work for me over the many years and large stable of airguns I own. I also subscribe to the information that was presented by two of the most respected airgun tuners that ever walked the planet. :)
Their shared knowledge along with my personal experience is what I use in maintaining my herd.
and yes, some misleading or exaggerated information has and always will be presented as fact on many topics.
No disrespect or discredit intended Tom. It's well thought out and proven information.
SAFE & Happy Shooting!!!!
Dave
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Offline FredSG

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2015, 09:30:53 AM »
Hello all,

Very interesting post on barrel cleaning.  There are many different barrel cleaning procedures that air gunners use as posted on GTA.  For someone who is new to the air gun community, the many different suggested methods for cleaning your air rifle barrel can be intimidating . . . so many things need to be considered . . . barrel composition, affect on O-rings, and chemicals used, brush types, my goodness it can get confusing for someone who has only cleaned original Civil War barrels in the past!

FredSG
« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 10:16:37 AM by FredSG »
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Offline ezman604

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2015, 09:44:18 AM »
Sorry, that would sound as if this was a debate or argument, which I will not be drawn in to. The information I use for cleaning is here on the forum. As with many subjects, there is no hard and fast rule. There's enough presented here on our forum by Tom and others for our benefit. Take all warnings and suggestions into account and use what works for you. I'm comfortable with what I use and have had no accuracy issues related to excessive leading and have had absolutely zero deteriorated seals from use of products.
But of course I will admit, I do not send thousands of rounds down my barrels in a short time either. Like I said, use what works for you and your shooting habits. I greatly appreciate Tom's thoughtful post and sharing!!!
:)

One thing I would add is no mention of an initial bore cleaning. I DO subscribe to that considering you have no idea what residue is left in a barrel from the machining process. I do a thorough initial cleaning of all my airguns.
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Offline Bwalton

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2015, 10:06:39 AM »
Lot of great info!  I keep it simple....everything that Tom stated, brass brush, solvent, and patches, every tin or tin in a half.
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Offline AHMSA

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2015, 10:24:04 AM »
Twice I cleaned the barrels of springers with Ballistol and ended up with an explosions (no harm happened to me, to anyone around me, or to my rifles).  I think I removed the excess oils with dry patches but maybe some was left in the barrel.  Is it the use of Ballistol that may have caused this explosion?  How do you prevent such explosion when you clean a barrel?
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Offline temchik

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2015, 10:39:17 AM »
Twice I cleaned the barrels of springers with Ballistol and ended up with an explosions (no harm happened to me, to anyone around me, or to my rifles).  I think I removed the excess oils with dry patches but maybe some was left in the barrel.  Is it the use of Ballistol that may have caused this explosion?  How do you prevent such explosion when you clean a barrel?

I clean mine with Ballistol and never had any detonations. But even a small amount around the breach area will detonate, so make sure not only clean the barrel dry, but also swab and dry the area around the breach. It happense when you push the wet patch into the breach and it squeezes some around

As far as cleaning goes, I clean my AGs regularly and then shoot 10 pellets to "season the bore". No schedule, just play it by ear, maybe once a week if I was actively shooting (would be about 500-1000 shots)
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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2015, 12:11:58 PM »
Always have brushed & cleaned every few 100 pellets ... will continue  ;)
Agree 100% with Toms statements  8) 8)
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Offline Nitrocrushr

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2015, 08:04:21 PM »
Great post Tom ;)  I would rather maintain my barrel than letting it get to the point where accuracy drops.  Thats why I keep track of cleaning intervals on my rifles. I decrease shot count between cleaning gradually until I find a point where I'm staying ahead of accuracy problems.

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Offline D14Jeff

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2015, 09:23:45 PM »

Tom, what's your take on using WD40 to aid in removing the lead?

i use it because MM and Mac1 uses it , i use it with a plastic brush , then come behind it with patches with rubbing alcohol .
if it's good enough for them ...............
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Offline palonej

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2015, 11:15:16 AM »
I am another that cleans on the regular.......bout every 2 tins.
I wanted to see how bad it got without cleaning regularly and this is what I found from an extremely accurate rifle.
5 targets at 30 yards.
I use a Crown Saver and Ballistol.
I don't wait anymore.
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Offline palonej

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2015, 11:26:22 AM »
Another example with a different rifle.
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Offline William

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2015, 11:57:56 AM »
I 100% agree with Tom,
No brass or nylon brush will hurt a barrel, if it does it must be made of play-doh. As far as Goo-gone goes, that is all it's for is washing off the Gooey maple pancake syrup from your sticky fingers and off the gun while you were eating.

Also a good high end barrel will foul out with lead, just not as often, but if it is nice and smooth inside it will be less likely to foul with lead as fast as a rough barrel, I think every barrel should and needs to be polished to a glass smooth finish, this way the bullet/pellet can slide down that bore like a greased sliding board.

If i think i have oil in my barrel I use a patch that has been dipped in the hottest soapy water and run it a few times and then a dry patch or two as well as a super thin coat of pure diver grease to ward off the elements until its next shooting. (you should shoot at-least one pellet just before the dry patch to blow out any excess water oil or solvent).

As well if you use a brush and you have an internal bolt probe O-ring you need to just remove it until finished cleaning just to be sure you don't cut it.

As for solvent or oil hurting O-rings, there should only be one O-ring that could possibly get anything on it and thats the bolt probe O-ring. If you manage to get oil or or solvent on any other O-rings, then you are doing something seriously wrong with your barrel cleaning!

William
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Offline ezman604

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Re: The Truth About Cleaning Air Gun Barrels
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2015, 12:14:30 PM »
HaaHaa
You mean I can't eat pancakes during my shooting sessions?
Darn...
I don't think there are O-rings in all airguns. Solvents can affect breech seals too. Careful or not.
Tom has good info here. For certain airguns and certain usages. But use what works for you and your style.
I do and am happy with the results I have always gotten.
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