antique rifle bores

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  • Last Post 12 March 2019
loophole posted this 10 March 2019

 Went to our local knife, Nazi memorabilia, beef jerky, and plastic gunshow yesterday.  I looked at less than half a dozen guns I am interested in, and came away with a Mod '92 Winchester in 32-20 and several questions.  Why do folks show guns with such dirty bores that it is impossible to tell much about bore condition even with a bore light?  Wouldn't the gun be much more attractive to buyers if it looked like the prior owner had at least run an oily patch down the barrel after shooting it? 

I shot cast bullets for years, but almost always with modern guns with nice bores.  Except for some 22lr's I had very few guns with neglected bores.

I have started buying originals, mostly late '90's and early 20th century lever actions and single shots.  I cannot afford rifles with pristine bores but I find a lot of well cared for guns, tight actions, no pits on metal or large damage to wood, but with dark, rough and sometimes pitted bores.  Sellers often advertise these as shooters or refer to shootable bores.  I have not had enough opportunity to  shoot any of these seriously but I have a couple that seem to put 5 shots into 2-3 inches at 100 yards without much load development with tang sights, which is about as good as 72 year old eyes will let me shoot anything

I know that there are no hard and fast rules about rifle accuracy and that each gun is an individual, but how good does the bore have to be to shoot--arbitrary standard-- 5 shot groups off a good bench with iron sights consistently 3-4 inches at 100yds?  What I would call steel target accuracy.

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Wineman posted this 10 March 2019

My heirloom was a early 1900's Win 94 in 38-55. Bore looked like the black hole of Calcutta, shot like a handful of gravel with jacketed. Cleaned for weeks, same result. Found someone who wanted it more than me. It is such a pleasure to have a nice clean bore, at least you eliminate that variable. Maybe if I had shot cast for weeks and conditioned the bore things may have been different. I know Ed Harris may chime in that he has resurrected sewer pipes and they shot well. I'm of the camp that does not like that much challenge.

Dave

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onondaga posted this 10 March 2019

Iloophole,

I keep telling the tale, my polishing method works.  Many more than several fans have turned their WW1 and 2 parade drill pitted black bore rifles into 1@ 50 yard cast bullet Deer rifles following my polishing method.

First Look at the muzzle for dings and evaluate if you can fix that if it needs. Moderate pitting .001 -.002" pits will be polished clean and shiny with my polishing. If pitting is worse it will still be made as good as it can be and be bright and shiny,  pitting and all,  and be easy to clean because of the good finish. That makes a good shooter you should expect to shoot 1" @ 50 yards if your cast bullets fit well, and are cast from an alloy that fits your load level for strength. This is how good a bore needs to be to shoot good:

https://www.castbulletassoc.org/forum/thread/8364-my-bore-polish-method-to-shoot-better/

Just make no substitutions and take no shortcuts.

Gary

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RicinYakima posted this 11 March 2019

If you try Gary's method, and there are still pits, don't do anything else until you have shot 50 rounds of light cast bullet loads through it. I have a Remington RB that I converted from .32 RF to .32/20. Bore looks really bad, but will shoot 311008 with 3.0 grains of bullseye into 2 inches at 50 yards with original iron sights. You will not know until you shoot it. FWIW, Ric

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M3 Mitch posted this 11 March 2019

I have not tried Gary's polish method (but intend to) and have several rough-ish barrels in my collection.  It seems to me that the real answer is "it depends".  I have an American Eagle .30 Luger with some pitting in the grooves but the lands are mostly smooth - if I do my part a beer can at 40 yards can be hit every time with cast.  I have a Marlin 97 .22 rimfire (model before the 39) with a damn awful bore, I want to say the first 6 inches of the bore I can't even see any rifling at all - it shoots OK, not great but good enough for a plinker.  I remember buying this and had about 4 guys following me around the gun show trying to get me to sell it to them for say $50 more than I bought it for - so I knew if it didn't shoot, I could find a collector who was not interested in the bore and could sell it on for a small profit.

As to why people who are selling rough-bored gats don't clean them before the show - maybe they are hoping that the powder fouling will sort of camouflage how bad the bore is?  In my experience most people at gun shows are basically honest, although someone selling an old gun that they have not shot themselves can't answer many questions about how well it shoots or not. 

Ric is right - you don't know till you shoot it.  If it shoots really badly, if you want to spend the money, you can get the original barrel re-lined, I have read about this but have not done it or even handled a rifle that has been re-lined.  But I understand it's an option.

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loophole posted this 11 March 2019

I have ordered a couple of boresnakes  and I will try Gary's idea when they come in.  I have a couple of shotgun boresnakes from my sporting clays days, but I never used one in a rifle.  I now see that it also will be just the trick for letting me clean black powder fouling by pulling it out thru the muzzle rather than pushing it back into the action on a Winchester lever gun.

Mitch, I think a good gunsmith can reline a barrel so that it shoots as well as a new one.  A fellow named Olsen redid my '86 Winchester and relined the barrel.  Looks just as good as pictures I have seen of Turnbull's rifles (at less than half the cost), and shoots just as well as an '86 Mikoru I had (and foolishly sold).

As always, I am obliged for your advice, gents.

Steve K 

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M3 Mitch posted this 12 March 2019

I guess I feel obligated to at least try to get the original bore to shoot as well as it can, before I go to a reline job.  Like many or even most of us, I am rather frugal (well if we were rich spendthrifts we would just go buy a pallet of factory ammo and go at it, or at least would go with "store-bought" bullets, right?) so I am reluctant to spend the money to re-line a barrel, and so far most of my rough ones have shot well enough that I was satisfied to leave well enough alone.  I should try Gary's polishing technique, ain't going to hurt anything and does not cost much.

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GP Idaho posted this 12 March 2019

I did Gary's polishing trick on a 22cal. Handi rifle (new)  and I've had no leading problems and the bore cleans up easily.So, I say it sure doesn't hurt anything and with the use of powder coated bullets it takes very few patches to get a shine on the bore. I guess I should quit being lazy about it and give it a go on a couple of my rougher bores. Gp

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Wineman posted this 12 March 2019

I will be the first to admit, before the CBA, before Gary, and before my friend TTurner gave me a ton of cast bullets, my rifle hit the sales listing. With some time and elbow grease, it might have made a passable shooter and kept a family heirloom at home. Well the outside was not all that much better than the inside, so down the road it went. With my 20/20 hindsight (what I wouldn't do to have that as foresight today...) that Win 94 might still have been a deer rifle supreme.

Dave

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