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Thread: To clean or not to clean..... That is my question.

  1. #1

    To clean or not to clean..... That is my question.

    Hi guys

    so my time is nearly here to test my new rifle and loads but....

    When testing loads do I need to clean it after each 3 shot group (by clean I mean quick wet patch through, wait a few mins for barrel to cool and then 1/2 patch out before next 3 shot group)

    After 3 or 4 3 shot groups etc

    or once I have done?

    Will it make much difference if I clean it or not.

    My thinking behind it is when most of us go out stalking we do so with a clean rifle. Some of us might shoot 1 or 2 rounds to test zero and then 1 - 3 rounds stalking (3 or more if lucky)

    So most of us will shoot with a clean rifle. I just looking for the best result and as I have to book (and pay) for range time I would hate to find out my rifle likes 44gr of powder (that being about 20 shots in) only to find if I clean it and shoot it again it might not like 44gr etc

    I come from rimfire / shotgun back ground were the rimfire is only cleaned (barrel) every 200 or so rounds and shotgun at the end of the day (weather I have fired 1 or 200 carts)

    Iím trying not to over complicate things but I want to get the best results etc.


  2. #2
    I personaly dont clean my gun whilst zeroing , no mater how much you run a clean cloth through , you never no if your 1st shot was a fouler , just make sure you have plenty of time , a good shooting platform and allow it to cool down , these are in my opinion more important than running patches through every new group , by the way , unless mine has got wet or its not grouping well i leave well alone , good luck and enjoy !
    Last edited by arron; 21-02-2014 at 09:30.

  3. #3
    I clean when I'm done. Typically I will fire a fouling shot, test a load, then practice. Cleaning the rifle when I get home. The one point I would make is that once I have a load developed, I will check it again with a cold clean barrel. I'm very keen that the clean cold bore shot and the two shots fired immediately after it are all in a 0.5 MOA group or better at 100yds with a Point of Impact that is 1 inch high. Sometimes my load tests are inconclusive, so I will perform the test again.

    I find my practice has evolved over the 20+ years I have been zeroing my own rifles, but not a lot from when I first zeroed in the late '60's. The key thing is whatever you do, to do the same thing each time. As in many activities, consistency is one of the secrets of success.


    Last edited by jcampbellsmith; 21-02-2014 at 09:57.

  4. #4
    If you're going to clean your rifle every time don't zero on just one day - fire a shot, adjust it to where it should be (work out the right number of clicks, don't just guess). Fire another shot to see if it's in the right area, then go home and clean it as you normally would... then repeat the next day, and the next until you're happy with it.

    The idea is that for a stalking rifle you want your rifle to be zeroed for where the shot lands when you have a cold & clean barrel.

    Your zero will also change from day to day due to stress (of the body and mind), temperature, etc - so you're better off doing this as many times as possible to see where they land and make sure they don't stray too far off the black. If you don't have a zeroing facility you can re-visit easily then just take a flask of tea and have a cup between shots, and clean between each shot.

    I realise that 99.9% of people on here shoot .25" groups at 300yds consistently but for us mere mortals who shoot once or twice a week the reality is your group size and zero are going to vary - probably about 2-3" average group size at 100yds in reality. If you were to use the same target and shoot at it twice a week for 3 months you would see the truth in this.

    I've found factory ammo to be relatively inconsistent - I can get the tiny groups with home loads but never with factory stuff.

    Personally I don't bother to clean mine every time I shoot - about every 50 shots, or when the rifle's got wet, or when I know I won't be shooting for a while. I check zero about every 3 months (one shot when the rifle's cold).

    A good tip to retain zero is to clean your barrel with a patch that has methylated spirit on it after you finish with your bore solvent. Then put dry patches through until they no longer smell of meth - this removes the residue that most bore solvents leave. This should negate the need for a fouling shot before your rifle settles down...

    Or just leave it fouled in a dry place and don't worry about it - I keep mine clean at the moment cos of the weather but come summer it will just be every 50 shots.

  5. #5
    I suppose my biggest problem is time. The only range (suitable for .308) I have access to is 35 miles from my house and cost £10 per hour. So to keep going back and forth is not really an option.

    I think I’m looking at two sessions anyway. I’m there in the morning for two hours in which time I’m hoping to zero my rifle with some known working loads and then to test my new loads (depending on out come up to 30 rounds)

    So my thinking is I’m going to fire about 5 shots to foul and scope in (only roughly as I will change it) and then its 3 shot groups working up in half grains with about 5 mins in between to cool (is 5 mins about right or will it need more)

    Now this is where I was hoping to have about 30 mins left in which time I will load some rounds there an then of the best load (all prep work done at home, so just add powder and seat bullet)

    And re test and zero rifle.

    Then it would be a second trip to re-confirm load and zero before my next stalk in March.

    So what I’m thinking is do the zero and testing without cleaning. Then once load is found clean and let it cool as much as possible before re-confirming load and zero. Then full clean at home ready for next session.

    Now if there is anyone in the Nottinghamshire area with access to a range or suitable field and is willing to let me on there to zero and test for the day that would be great and don’t mind paying a little if need be.


  6. #6
    What is this fetish for cleaning?? Zero the scope and shoot it until you are done. My T-3 shows no ill effects from shooting long strings of three shot groups. Accuracy is the same from one end of the session to the other. I generally fire 30 to 40 rounds, firing three, three shot groups (and the occasional 5-shot group when I think I have a bragger group going) before I walk down range to change targets. That's all the cooling the rifle gets and I never clean it at the range, ever.When I'm home I put a patch through it with a scant amount of Break Free CLP, then a few dry patches. I clean the bolt and bolt rails and put it up.

    You may find that the zero wanders when the barrel gets warm but if it has the tendency to do so, it will be a good time to find out. You may find that, like my T-3 in 7-08, it doesn't. And that would be good to know as well.~Muir

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