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Does cleaning a .22 rifle barrel affect accuracy?

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by CATO, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    This is interesting: Educational Zone #130 - Does Cleaning a .22 Rimfire Rifle Barrel Hurt Accuracy? - Page 1

    I felt an experiment was in order. I have a new Ruger MkIII with 5" bull barrel. From all accounts I've read on the web, Ruger MkNs are a nightmare to clean.

    I guess "nightmare" is a relative term. Was it more difficult than say, a Beretta 92F? Yes. But, I wouldn't say it required an engineering degree. Just so I would commit it to memory, I assembled/disassembled the pistol about 15 times.

    It was tougher in the beginning I guess because the springs were tighter here and there. So, initially, I had to apply some elbow grease and one or two times, I thought to myself "Oh, I hope I haven't gotten the rear sight out of zero." The first time I shot the pistol at the range, it was very accurate. I was impressed.

    So, tonight, back at the range:

    I don't think cleaning the barrel affected the accuracy at all. However, cleaning it may have moved the zero. I was dead center accurate again, but this time, the variation of shots was not all over the bulls-eye--that is, random. All of my shots were a half-moon on the bulls to the left. No shots were from noon to 6pm. Odd...I didn't notice this on my first shooting. It was as if I had drawn a line with my shots.

    Perhaps I was pulling slightly. This has picqued my curiosity, so, now I'm going to have to figure it out. But, I don't think it had to do with the barrel cleaning.
  2. Opinionated

    Opinionated Monkey+

    I could see theoretically how the first shot or few out of a very clean barrel could have a different point of impact than subsequent shots.

    Especially if your last pass through the barrel while cleaning it was with some kind of high temperature lubricant (oil?).

    But I gotta say that I'm not a good enough marksman to document the difference.

    It seems like my M1A (Iron sights) takes a couple of rounds to get back to zero after a good cleaning - shooting 100 yards or further - but to be perfectly honest I couldn't look you in the eye and say it wasn't me causing that.

    My .22's? NO WAY I shoot them consistently enough to know I mean . . . common . . if you are shooting a half inch at 100 yards . . . how could anyone really say for sure?
    FWIW - just my opinion. (y)
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    There's a reason bench rest shooters fire fouling shots. That said, I clean rifles, shotties, and handguns, but not 22 rifles. I see nothing that tells me the accuracy is degrading in the 22s.
  4. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    Define cleaning...I don't clean clean any barrel...A bronze wire brush..Then a patch with oil on it...I don't use the solvent's...
  5. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Yeah...and just to clarify, I'm not a crack shot. I was only shooting a 20 yds and I probably have bad form.

    I'm quite sure the issue was me. That's why I have to go back to see. I did use different targets this time which have a larger bulls. Normally my targets are those ones with red bulls on black that leave white splats. The bulls on those are about the size of a silver dollar.

    I was also using different ammo today. The first time I was using sub-sonic rounds. Today was standard high-velocity.

    Probably not the *best* experiment I've ever done.
  6. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    From years of shooting sporter and precision small bore- yes. We would clean our rifle once a year and it would take several days of shooting for the accuracy to level back off at "acceptable". After that, they wouldn't be cleaned again until the end of season.

    It takes more than a couple fouling shots for the accuracy to settle back down. The only reason I can come up with is this- .22 rimfire is so low in pressure that it fouls slowly. Clean bores shoot differently than fouled bores. Same applies to semi-fouled bores as well.

    It terms of cleaning bores in general- not a fan. Most of my assault rifles have SS or chrome lined bores. They only get fired with non-corrosive hand loads or factory loads. An occasional bore snake is all that's needed. I think squeaky clean barrels and barrel break in is something that barrel makers created in order to sell more barrels. More damage is caused by improperly used rods or incorrect rods than bore cleaning sparsely.

    Otis and Bore Snakes are your friends.
    BTPost likes this.
  7. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    When I run summer biathlons, I have a little different priority when it comes to cleaning. First of all, we have two classes of competition: sportsman 25-30 meters, 10 shots total: 5 prone, 5 offhand, 4 1/2" metal targets. Olympic 50 meters, 16 shots, but a clean is scored like the sportsman catagory, paper targets. I'm not into 1/2" MOA with this, I just have to hit the target and knock it down, while running 1.1 mile loops between shooting stages for a total of 5K.

    Range safety officer requires you to hold the rifle by the barrel when in the range zone. I shudder every time I think about it- then I started using a glove for my left hand Michael Jackson style. You can't leave sweat on the barrel and forget about it! My poor rifle wouldn't last a season if I didn't clean it after a competition.

    You get sweaty. The stock gets sweaty. The trigger gets sweaty. Get the picture? I clean my rifle, lube it (inside barrel too using a boresnake w/a disposable oil sheet torn into a strip and looped through the end of the snake), and break it down before putting it away to go home. I'm not worried about sub MOA accuracy loss because I swabbed the barrel.
  8. Huntinbull

    Huntinbull Monkey+

    My 22 ruger rifle (10-22) has a whole different zero in a clean cool barrel. But one or two shots fouls it enough to bring it right back to DC.
  9. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    The amount of shooting needed to foul it back to consistent accuracy varies for each rimfire rifle, but yes, I have verified this for myself. Usually, shooting a magazine through a 'clean' bore gets it back to where I like it. I am NOT a competitive shooter.
    I do clean and lube (lightly!) the action, and wipe off any fingerprint oils. If I change the brand and type of load I am shooting, I put one loose dry patch through it then shoot a magazine to 'season' it for the new load.
    On the other hand, if I am just playing around and plinking I just "load up and shoot!"
  10. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    My BR rifle would shoot high after cleaning; 3 to 5 rounds and it would return to zero.

    Some BR shooters believe the same ammunition is required for fouling and record shots and others fire form brass while shooting their fouling shots.. Go figure. ;)

    One of the reasons BR shooters clean a barrel is to remove any gilding material left from the bullets.
  11. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    OK...I've got a question about adjusting iron sights on my MkIII.

    I went back to the range this evening and used my normal targets and shot several kinds of ammo.

    I was again very precise, but not accurate. Here is a depiction of about what the bulls looked like for four different targets using 4 different brands of ammo. My groupings were always in the lower left quadrant of the bulls.

    So, I need to move the rear sight to the right a few clicks and up a few clicks. If anyone has a Ruger MkIII with the specific sights below, what do you do with the rear sight...it has 3 screws (not my gun in the pic, but the same rear sight as mine). I must have moved the rear sights somehow when cleaning/manhandling.

    I think #2 is elevation and #3 is windage. Is #1 just a release or some type of set screw?

    Also, the rear blade has a very small notch around the edge (I assume for paint). Does anyone have any favorite brand? I'm guessing you just put some on and wipe off and some will stay left behind in the notch. Gleaming white nail polish? Model paint?

    sights. ruger.
  12. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    Brownell's sells sight marking kits. Not paint, but actually an epoxy. You mix up a small quantity of resin and hardener, and then add one of the several included coloring powders. The epoxy mixes to a thick paste and you dab it into the little dimple or line in the sights. It works well, as long as you clean and prep the sight properly. You have about a half hour to play with the epoxy before it starts to harden.
    Guit_fishN likes this.
  13. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    You are correct.

    "Turning the top (elevation) sight adjustment screw clockwise lowers the impact of the shot. Turning the horizontal (windage) sight adjustment screw clockwise moves the impact of the shot to the left."
    Guit_fishN likes this.
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