How Clean?

  • Last Post 21 September 2017
.22-10-45 posted this 17 September 2017

It.s been a full week now that I have been trying to clean copper out of a .25 Ackley Krag Improved in order to shoot cast.  Been using Bore-Tech copper remover & letting soak overnight.  Have been using J-B on tight patch in between soakings..still very faint very light blue traces on patch from overnight soaking. 

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lotech posted this 17 September 2017

There are certainly some diverse opinions on the subject that probably range from factual to conventional wisdom to old wives' tales. 

If you have a firearm that shoots cast bullets accurately, it will likely shoot them to the same degree of accuracy with a moderately copper fouled bore, just as it does with jacketed bullets. I'm not referring to a severely neglected copper fouled bore. Such a bore probably won't shoot any bullet accurately.

There are always exceptions. Some  copper fouled bores may show a degradation in cast bullet accuracy. Pretty to easy to determine this if the copper is removed and accuracy improves. To make an all inclusive statement that every trace of copper fouling must be removed to obtain the best cast bullet accuracy seems wrong to me and probably to others as well. Probably won't hurt anything to remove copper, but it's likely not necessary in many instances. 


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358156hp posted this 17 September 2017

If you have been using either a bore brush, or a brass jag, you could be getting false info from either of these tools. I have a set of jags that will show traces of blue in a clean bore, and brushes are notorious for doing this. Some brass & bronze tools seem to have plenty of copper in them. Try JB bore cleaner & Kroil on a tight patch and see how things come out. You still may have some copper in your bore. Too bad the Outer "Foul-Out" is no longer made.

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.22-10-45 posted this 17 September 2017

I am using Bore-Tech Proof Positive rod & jag.  I too found out about using brass-core nylon brushes giving false readings & only nylon brush I found had steel core & I didn't like I am using JB on tight patch between soakings.  I'll try the Kroil & JB..or maybe Ed's Red & JB.

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John Alexander posted this 17 September 2017

lotech's post above is one of the few intelligent statements I have read on this issue in 70 years of reading about cast bullet shooting.  

The usual absolute statement claims that that the last atom of copper must be removed. The implication is that the poor cast bullets will be so shocked upon encountering copper that they won't know what to do and will fly in random directions. No explanation of why this should be true is ever given.

These kinds of statements, always offered with no supporting evidence, have always given me the vapors.  They seem particularly sillly since most cast bullets for rifles have little brass/copper dodads attached to the rear that are supposed to scrape the bore as they go just like jacketed bullets.

Being both lazy and skeptical I have always been pretty casual about switching to JBs and back to CBs as the spirit moved me and with only minimum cleaning in between and have never observed this horrible effect.

As lotech observed, a bore really gunked up with heavy copper fouling is not likely to shoot either CBs or JBs well.


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onondaga posted this 17 September 2017


My one time simple bore polishing method removes all copper and leaves the bore shinier than a factory finish so it resists copper and lead very well while significantly reducing the need for bore cleaning. Chemical etch or stainless brushes will destroy that shine and ruin the polish job  An easy single pull through of a clean dry Hoppe's BoreSnake  once every 5 shots will maintain match consistency of the polished bore.

The post on my polishing method has had 46,000 hits and no complaints from those that follow the instructions and make no substitutions:

Although simple, it isn't easy and takes about an hour even with a helper but is well worth it if you have coppering and/or leading now and want to stop it. If you have chatter marks in your bore or mild erosion causing the leading/coppering you will need a more aggressive method first like fire polishing with progressive grits to reduce chatter marks and the sharpness of pitting. Then, do the polishing. A recent reply to my method post shows bore scope evidence of efficacy for my method from before to after my polishing method.



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lotech posted this 18 September 2017

About thirty or so years ago, I was on a tour at Ed Shilen's barrel making shop in Ennis, TX, just south of Dallas. I don't remember how the subject came up, but Mr. Shilen gave a very brief and simple dissertation on copper fouling. I don't think he was a cast bullet guy, but he was an award-winning benchrest competitior along with being a barrel maker. I'm pretty sure he had more insight into copper fouling than the average self-proclaimed expert. 

Basically, Mr. Shilen remarked that a lot of shooters were needlessly concerned about about copper fouling in bores. He said there was never a need to remove it all and don't even worry about it unless accuracy falls off. I think he knew what he was talking about. 

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onondaga posted this 18 September 2017



I have used several of Ed Shilen's barrels, they are currently finishing at 400 grit and that is finer than most production barrels at 150-300 grit. My polished finish is finer than Ed's 400 and is about 500 grit. Copper and lead stick less to a 500 grit finish so you can improve a brand new Shilen with my polishing method. The Turtle Wax Chrome polish and Rust remover has 2 abrasives, pumice 500 grit and Kaolin Clay that is finer giving a combined grit aggregate that actually polishes to a more equilibrated surface with less scratching than a simple 500 grit surface. That is just physics, not a commercial.

Too fine a finish can cause problems too, when you get any much finer than 600 grit, you get bonded  copper smear that is so bonded it is difficult to remove without physical abrasion. Chemical etch  alternatives leave the surface with a porous etch that ruins a polished surface and makes it attract and bond copper and lead so tenaciously that cleaning solvents are useless to get under, separate and lift copper. That is why too fine is bad.

The match bench maintenance I recommend with a clean dry BoreSnake once every 5 rounds takes care of the reason Ed Shillen didn't finish his barrels with a finer grit. You need extra care for a 500 grit finish and the single pull of a clean BoreSnake method I recommend every 5 shots does it well for a 500 grit polished bore.

 I am not a self proclaimed marksmanship know it all capitalist. I developed the method and donated it to this forum for you. Shilen barrel finish stinks compared to what you can do to a factory barrel with my polishing method.


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JSH posted this 18 September 2017

Wipe out will save a lot of work.

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Eutectic posted this 18 September 2017

In pistols and revolvers with moderate loads (45 ACP and 38 Special) I was not able to detect a difference in Ransom Rest testing except for the usual "fouling" shots to stabilize the bore condition. The 357 magnum top end cast loads showed a preference for a clean bore in some revolvers with some loads. My 30-30 does not seem to care if I switch off several times in an afternoon, but I don't expect 1 inch groups either. An old 30.06 would not shoot cast worth beans until I gave it a thorough cleaning with Sweet's.

So it seems sometimes it makes a difference, sometimes not. Blanket statements are dangerous in any field of endeavor.

Thanks John for pointing out the gas check fallacy. If jacket fouling is a big no-no we should all be using plain base bullets. 

I was going to put in a plug for aluminum gas checks, but I realized the Winchester Silver Tip (aluminum jacket) pistol bullets have a lube groove and lubricant because the soft aluminum fouls badly.



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Starmetal posted this 18 September 2017

In most of my firearms I have seen no difference in cast accuracy after shooting jacketed bullets throught the barrel first.  What I think about gas checks is that you have lube in the bore and it would be very difficult for the gas check to deposit any fouling on it.  Now as far as aluminum gas checks I can't tell you how many years and how many thousands of them I have use and I see absolutely not negative effects on the bore. 

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RicinYakima posted this 18 September 2017

I was an early believer in scrub the bore back when we only had Hoppe#9 and Sweets. And that was on 50 to 75 year old Springfields at that. They shot better, but I don't know how much was copper, iron in carbon fouling or a combination of both. Now on commercial rifles I just clean until the bore feels smooth and start cast bullet shooting.

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Scearcy posted this 19 September 2017

Same here.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 19 September 2017

at least at my plinker's level of grouping ( 2 to 3 moa acceptable ) i find that even with rifles with 200 rounds of mj ( but no hunks of copper fouling ) ... about 3 or 5 passes of a brass brush with 4x steel wool wrapped around it ... and soaked in light oil ( h9, kroil, ER ) ...followed by a couple oil patches .... get me back to cast plinking accuracy .  more cleaning has never shown more better groups .   yes, copper will still show on a ammonia patch, but doesn't seem to hurt my plinking loads .   for the groundhog shoot i pre-wooled several mj guns and they all then shot plain-base cast bullets into under 2 moa for the shoot .  ha my ground hog offhand loads shot better than my rare more serious attempts ... not uncommon .

and after shooting a few hundred rounds of cast, i have found no improvement from using the steel wool ... but then i haven't run across cast bullets that lead yet , probably will someday though .

ken, the man of steel ( wool )

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Westhoff posted this 19 September 2017

To stay on the subject of cleaning things, I stumbled on an excellent way to REALLY clean my brass without going to the expense of changing my old standard method/equipment of dumping the cases in a vibrating tumbler along with walnut shell and/or ground corn cob grit.  I've been in the habit of adding a couple or three 3/4 X 2 inch (approx.) strips cut from fabric softener sheets - which I swiped from my wife's stash in the laundry room. They helped keep the walnut / corn cob grit cleaner and lasting longer.

One day I mistakenly grabbed a sheet of something called "SHOUT' color catcher.  According to the label, it allows you to wash colored fabric along with whites without colors affecting the whites.  I proceeded to cut some strips and tossed them in with the brass and grits.  When I came back in an hour or so to turn off the tumbler and retrieve the brass, I couldn't believe how bright and shiny they all were.  Looked like brand new brass!

Give it a try.  You won't believe how pretty your brass comes out!



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R. Dupraz posted this 19 September 2017

Years ago I used to throw some fabric softener strips in my brass vibrator after seeing the idea on some gun forum. It did work but one day I found a small piece lodged inside of a fired case after the cases where taken out of the media.. After that, I suspended adding anything other than polishing media to the mix. Figured that there enough ways to get into trouble when reloading without intentionally introducing any more.

Since then, the best media that I have found for polishing brass in a vibrating polisher-cleaner is simply to mix a corn cob media with a walnut shell media. The result is that you end up with a course (corn Cob), cleaner and a polisher, (walnut shell) in one. Cleans and polishes at the same time. 

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.22-10-45 posted this 20 September 2017

Yesterday afternoon I pushed clean patch thru bore & no blue!  10 days of JB treatment & soaking overnight with Bore Tech coppper remover!  I just wanted to see how long it would take for complete clean up.  I look forward to playing with cast and alot easier bore cleaning!

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Westhoff posted this 21 September 2017

R Dupraz:

I used to throw strips of paper towel in with my brass and media and eventually had the same problem - a chunk of paper towel down in the bottom of an otherwise clean '06 hull.  Even had an article in the Fouling Shot about it.  This "SHOUT Color Catcher" product seems to be made of something which doesn't semi-disintegrate in the vibrating cleaner.  Just the other day I put a load in the vibrator and promptly forgot about it (when you get my age that happens pretty often) and left the fool thing running for a little over 5 hours.  The 3 strips of "Shout" came out just like they had gone in, except they were even blacker than usual.  Don't think you'd have to worry about this product worming its way into a shell.  It survives in a wet, soapy load of laundry in the washing machine.


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