Leaving the barrel dirty?


December 20, 2011, 06:21 PM
Is it really okay to leave the barrel of your rifle dirty? I don't really like to clean it every time I go shooting because it takes forever to clean, but I have been doing so anyway. I've heard a lot of the discussions about how a "fouled" barrel is more consistent, but I'm just not sure if it's really okay to leave the rifle dirty for an extended period since it's generally a couple weeks or maybe months at a time before I get to shoot them.

I don't really have to worry about sighting in my scope or fouling the barrel since I don't hunt--I just target shoot so it's not really a problem to do that, though it does kinda take some time. Plus, cleaning the barrel every time really blows through cleaning supplies pretty quickly... So I think leaving the barrel dirty might just have some different advantages to me in terms of cost savings.

My real wonder is how long it is okay to keep the barrel dirty for, if you should still run an oiled patch through it to prevent rusting, etc. Also though, I've heard about foam cleaner, and wonder how much quicker it makes the process.

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December 20, 2011, 06:29 PM
Cleaning all the time runs a high risk of prematurely wearing the barrel out as well. When a rifle that shot good groups has the groups start to open up, that is usually when it's time to clean.

December 20, 2011, 06:45 PM
Cleaning the Marlin 60 isn't that bad.

That said, the only firearms I clean after every shooting session are blackpowder. (And those are treated to a complete strip, warm soapy bath, oiling, and then reassembling. Easier than it sounds.) Unless you are seeing any surface rust, you shouldn't have to worry so much about cleaning a smokeless arm.

If you want to give it the "minimum" clean, bronze brush and swab the bore. (About a five minute job.) Lube the action if necessary. Clean the action when you start having fouling malfunctions.

Or don't clean it at all until it gives you problems.

Or so goes my opinion.

December 20, 2011, 06:47 PM
Clean when accuracy starts to drop off. Almost all rifles shoot better after several rounds have been sent down a clean barrel. It depends on the gun, but 150-200 rounds between cleaning is about right.

I give all my hunting rifles a thorough cleaning after hunting season. During the spring and summer I spend a lot of time experimenting with different loads and practicing. I'll give them another thorough cleaning a few weeks before hunting season. If accuracy starts to decline they may get an earlier cleaning, but I make sure to run 10-20 rounds through them to get everything right before I start hunting. I don't even think about cleaning the inside of the barrel until after the season. I will wipe down the exterior of the gun and keep crud from building up in the action, but never remove the action from the stock or run a patch down the barrel.

December 20, 2011, 06:50 PM
Many rimfires are never cleaned and still function just fine. When I shot competition, it was considered something close to sacrilegious to clean your $3,000 Anschutz during the season, and probably still pretty close to a mortal sin to do so once a year between seasons as well.

But, then, that's pretty much how we felt about the sweatshirts we wore under our shooting coats.

December 20, 2011, 07:05 PM
I had a little luck and my ticket was drawn for a Taurus semi-auto 22 fr. Forget the model number as I sold it several years ago. What was interesting was the instruction manual said it was recommended to never clean the bore. Most other rifles give cleaning recommendations. Just thought that it was a little unusual.

December 20, 2011, 07:15 PM
I don't really have to worry about sighting in my scope or fouling the barrel since I don't hunt--I just target shoot so it's not really a problem to do that

I want my hunting experience to be as good as my paper punching, or better

December 20, 2011, 08:04 PM
.22 rim fire doesn't need cleaning every time it goes out. The wax used on the bullets keep the bore from rusting. Center fire is different. Powder residue attracts moisture and it could lead to pitting in the bore. Stainless steel would take the powder residue better however.

December 20, 2011, 08:13 PM
My brother is a huge propnent of pretty much never cleaning any of his many 22s. And some have thousands of rounds downrange with no issues. His kids (my niece and nephew) also shoot for their HS rifle team. Not sure if they clean their rimfires, or how much.

December 20, 2011, 08:43 PM
I'm with ol' painless on this one. I won't sleep with a dirty gun in the house.:D

December 20, 2011, 08:56 PM
I'm not a "clean freak" but I shower once a month whether I need to or not & give my guns a light swabbing after each use with 1 or 2 swabs of a cleaner/lubricant I've been using for years & forget the name of now.

My first swab is a wet swab & the second swab is with a dry patch.

I scope the barrels periodically & if I see evidence of lead or copper fouling I'll give the barrel a good cleaning.

I recall shooting a hotter load from a .45-70 using lead bullets that were supposed to be "hard" & that I decided not to use copper gas checks with.

The resulting fouling was so bad that I had to use my electrolytic cleaning apparatus to clean the barrel to the point that it was once more usable.

December 20, 2011, 09:06 PM
My ruger 22/45 would begin to malfunction after about 500 rounds which at one time I would do in a weekend. The 10/22 would go a little longer. The problem was the chamber, breach, and bolt faces got really dirty with the ammo I was using. The 10/22 still works fine, I seem to have worn out the 22/45 ruger and no longer use it.
Semiautos often blow a lot of crud into the action, gas port and other places in .22's and will certainly need cleaning. I due to being penny pincher has not so fired my centerfires. The AK are famous for being able to fire 1,000's of times w/0 cleaning. I still clean mine when I come back from the range since I still have some corrosive ammo around.

December 20, 2011, 09:13 PM
Where i live i have to atleast get most of the powder out or really pile on the rust preventative. If i dont i get rust within a few hours and ill have pits in a day. Ive been lazy and not cleaned a rifle a couple times, both times ive had pits to show for it.

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