Fire lapping.........worth it or FLIM FLAM????


February 12, 2003, 10:20 PM
Hey guy and Dolls

Just found this at It sounds like it might work but as with anything (costing $50) I am skeptical, plus what about if I have a chrome lined barrel. Would it wear out the lining????.......any info would be appreciated.

Info below on the subject.....Kinda lengthy

Fire lapping is the process of using abrasive bullets to smooth out any imperfections in the bore of your SKS or AK-47 semi-auto rifle. The benefits are as follows:
Will enhance accuracy.
Will significantly decrease fouling.
Will ease bore cleaning.
Will develop a more uniform bore diameter.
Will reduce the bore's coefficient of friction.
Will not erode the rifling contour.
Will improve corrosion resistance.
Will require a small investment of time to complete correctly.

""This kit contains 50 bullets that have been pre-impregnated with 4 different grits plus 2 bullets for slugging. Full detailed instructions are provided. Includes the following bullets:

Coarse grit (#220) Qty 12
Medium grit (#400) Qty 12
Fine grit (#800) Qty 12
Polish grit (#1200) Qty 12
Slugging. Qty 2

These bullets are color coded for ease of identification. They require that you have access to reloading equipment. It is important that you either are an experienced reloader or have access to someone who is as it is critical to load these cartridges carefully with a precise amount of powder (8 grains of Alliant brand is specified)""

The instructions: Thank you for purchasing the fire lapping bullets for your 7.62x39 mm “Russian” chambered rifle. These fire lapping bullets are for rifles that shoot the Russian designed 7.62 x 39 mm cartridge (M43) as used in the SKS and AK47 and its many variants.

It is not for the 7.62 NATO cartridge or the Ruger Mini-30 A fire lapping kit is “in the works” for the mini-30 if enough people ask for it.

The first seven pages of this manual are suggestions we have found very useful. They will save you time and help you produce better results.

The following section of 13 pages is a condensed version of the NECO instructions, used with their permission that describes their system for pressure (fire) lapping.

This system is perfect for all of the inconsistencies these imported military rifles are shown for. They really help tighten up those groups by removing the variables of the imported chrome bores. We were skeptical of the claims. After much research and development we were amazed at the results.

Lets get started.

The parts in this kit are bullets. 50 of which are already impregnated by a patented process with 4 different “grits” to hone your steel barrel. The fire lapping bullets are already color coded for you. Two “slugging” bullets are included as well.

We would prefer you skip the brain crunch of “Slugging” the barrels mentioned in the NECO section that follows. Unless you “slug: a barrel you will not know what differences feel like anyway. It is difficult to force the lead slug (they are really lead cast bullets) through the bore with a ¼ inch wooden dowel, even though you must lubricate them well with oil.

For this reason, I highly recommend going back to the “fallback” procedure in the NECO section on page 10 that follows. It is the easiest and fastest way to get good results.

If you must have the “Full Monty” and can’t live without them, go ahead and try these lead slugs using the instructions written by NECO.

It is necessary for you to “Reload” your own cartridges.

Follow the safety instructions that come with your reloading equipment especially the SAFETY PRECAUTIONS ! or BETTER yet, find a friend that is competent and familiar with reloading.

The 7.62X39 fire lapping loads must only be loaded with 8 grains of “Alliant” brand, Unique powder ! Do not use any other powder or substitute other load data from some reloading manual or reloading program.

If you can get a hold of a scale for reloading it is wise to weigh each component of a cartridge. Try to use cases that weigh the same or groups of cases that weigh the same (in grains) Use check weights to be sure your scale is accurate. Double check the weights of all your components and write everything down. Once you crimp the bullets it will be too late to change the powder charges. It is a real big pain in the butt to pull them apart later on if you have made any mistakes in powder charges!

Besides Safety
Cleaning is the most important part of this procedure. So we have included a large section on just that.

You need a one piece non-aluminum cleaning rod. Slotted rod end cleaning rod adapter, 9MM bronze bore brush. 9MM plastic bore brush. (We have found the shorter 9mm brush works better than a longer “next size smaller” diameter bore brush as recommended by NECO, 200 cleaning patches 2-1/4 inch diameter (Brownells #4), a good copper bore solvent. (Bore Tech, -my personal favorite) Hoppes and Butches are all good. JB Bore Cleaning and Kroils Oils, ¼ inch wooden dowel cut 12 inches longer, than your barrel. Most of these are available from Brownells

You must clean your barrel after Fire Lapping EACH group of 5 rounds. There are 50 bullets in this fire lapping bullet kit. 40 are used in the “fallback” method and 10 are held in reserve if needed at a later date.

Do Not assume your barrel is OK and ready for Fire Lapping from your last cleaning!

Here is how we clean our barrels:

Run a wet patch of Kroils through the barrel. Do this by inserting the cleaning Rod with the eyelet type, slotted rod end, without a patch in the muzzle and push it down into the breach. Put a wet patch of Kroils on it and pull the patch back from the breach and out the muzzle. This is done to avoid bending and flexing the cleaning rod, which can damage a dry fouled barrel. (The cleaning rod tends to bend, from increased friction when pushed into a fouled barrel the first time.) Let the Kroils “sit” in the barrel a few minutes to work and loosen the fouling. The Kroils also lubricates the barrel for all the following cleaning steps.

Now mix up a “JB Paste Patch” of approximately 1/3 teaspoon of each of the following : JB Bore compound , Kroils and whatever copper bore solvent that you are using. If too thin, add more JB to thicken the “paste”. The consistency should be like pancake batter.

There is no danger in combining these ingredients. (or mixing bore cleaners) because Kroils is an oil and JB is very , very fine polish used on some of the most expensive barrels that money can buy, with great results. The copper solvent is therefore the only bore cleaner in this threesome.

Wet up a JB paste Patch and push or pull it from the breach to the muzzle (depending upon what type of action you have) Use the bronze brush for this. DO NOT come out of either end of the barrel. Move the rod back and forth 20 times in the barrel with out coming out either the chamber or the muzzle. The patch will form a slug and turn black.

A cleaning rod “stop” is sold by Sinclairs and is very handy for stopping the cleaning rod before it comes out of the barrel or the chamber. A piece of masking tape would work as well to mark the cleaning rod where you should stop.

Don’t worry, once you get the hang of it, your speed will increase.

If you are fire lapping a gas gun, you will feel the gas port hole as you go by. If you get one side of the gas port hole, and the patch won’t go past the gas port hole, no worries, just work each side of the barrel with two different JB Paste patches.

Remove the JB patched slug and continue to run clean patches one at a time through the barrel.

Remove the dirty patch each time and replace with clean patches until patches get ‘reasonably’ clean.

Next we run a patch with Copper solvent ONLY down the barrel with the plastic brush and let it sit a few minutes then continue with a dry patch on the bronze brush until the patch is clean.

On really fouled barrels, it is sometimes necessary to repeat the JB Paste Patch, a second time followed by the copper bore solvent.

A small point but worth mentioning, wipe off the end of the barrel and the chamber after running the JB Paste or solvent patches through. There will be a small amount of JB Paste or bore solvent at the end of the barrel and the chamber that will give a false reading showing black marks on your patches, spoiling what could have been a “cleaner” patch by that stage.

So make sure your muzzle and chamber are wiped clean after a wet patch of bore solvent or JB Paste is run through.

After the JB Paste slug is removed, and if you are Fire Lapping a gas operated semi-auto (SKS’s and AK-47s) clean the gas port in the barrel after the gas system has been removed. Do this before looking for really clean patches.

Also wipe your cleaning rod after each patch because again, fouling left on the cleaning rod can transfer back to the barrel giving a false reading on the next patch on its way to being clean.

A good way to judge when your barrel is REALLY CLEAN is to push and pull a clean patch back and forth through the barrel 4 to 5 times without coming out either end (just like with the JB Paste Patch) When you see a perfectly clean patch after multiple front to back passes, then and only then, is the barrel clean enough to continue fire lapping and shoot your next 5 rounds.

This system has worked well for us and is a little different than the one recommended by NECO.

Range Tips:

When you get ready to fire, do not load cartridges in the magazine! Just before chambering, load each round, individually by hand. Hold the cartridge, bullet up and tap each round on a clean towel on the shooting bench. This puts all of the powder on top of the primer. There is a whole lot of air, in that case and it makes for more consistent ignition of what precious little powder we have to work with.

When you finally get around to pulling the trigger, you will notice very little report and smaller recoil than normal. The bullet is lobbed down range at what seems forever before hitting the dirt. This is to be expected. The sped has been slowed down a bunch to maximize these bullets ability to “polish” the bore.

With only 8 grains of powder, if you are shooting a semi auto, the slide will not cycle and will not extract the spent round. Remember that each round will have to be loaded and extracted by hand.

After firing, if your brass case is extracted, STOP! Something is very Wrong!

You are either using too much powder, or the wrong powder.

You have managed to lodge a bullet in the end of a barrel and the back pressure has operated the gas rod and ejected your brass. It should not do this.

Have a look down the bore and see if a bullet is stuck in the barrel. If it is, you probably spilled some powder in your reloading process. With only 8 grains of powder to work with, any loss of powder can reduce the velocity enough to cause a bullet to become lodged near the muzzle. Tap the bullet out with a ¼ inch wooden dowel.

If the wooden dowel isn’t up to pounding bullets down the barrel (either “slugged” ones or “stuck” ones) you will have to get some ¼ inch steel or better yet stainless steel rod to drive them out. Put a could of turns of masking tape around the rod to center it in the bore. So as not to damage the rifling, then hit it with a hammer.

Throw away the “stuck bullet”. Clean the bore again, with all the cleaning steps. You should then weigh the rest of the loaded Fire Lapping cartridges to see if there are any discrepancies from what you think they should weigh. You may consider pulling the bullets and re-weighing your powder charges, especially if it happens again. Throw away the stuck bullet and carry on, one less bullet out of 40 will not make a significant difference.

Sometimes it takes a while for a newly lapped barrel to shoot consistently. One gun took over 100 rounds to really shoot well and be broken in again. The advice we go from NECO was “keep shooting, the groups will improve”...


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February 12, 2003, 10:29 PM
You forgot to add:

Will keep barrel makers in business for a very long time.

February 12, 2003, 11:39 PM
Why go out of the way to make your barrel smaller? That SKS/AK barrel is NEVER going to be perfect -it wasn't designed to be.

Art Eatman
February 12, 2003, 11:42 PM

Search for anything by Gale McMillan. Particularly "The Wisdom of Gale McMillan".

He gave us many very useful comments about barrels.


February 12, 2003, 11:44 PM
Is it worth it?..In my opinion, no.

1. The SKS and the AK rifles aren't target rifles by any means. The chrome lining of the bores makes for slightly easier cleaning anyway. Firelapping is great for benchrest and hi power shooters who want the most accuracy out of their weapons, but for the average AK and SKS rifle owner the weapon falls in the "plinker" and "CQB" categories. For many you could firelap it numerous times and never see MOA accuracy.

2. Stick another 50 bucks with that and you can have another SKS (Yugo). And don't forget the cost of a pound of powder if you don't already have some unique on hand. Looking close to $20 more shipped to ya.

3. The 8 grains of powder kinda make me nervous. That's a lof of empty space in the casing. Pehaps if you filled it with a filler to hold the powder against the primer I would be more comfortable, but just about all reloaders have heard about the rare events where you get destructive pressures from ultra small loadings of fast powder. I'm not sure if the burn rate of Unique is that fast, but it would still make me nervous.

So...with a target gun..yes.

Good Shooting

Mike Irwin
February 13, 2003, 01:52 AM
For an AK or SKS?

No way would I spend the money. Why bother? They're not freaking target rifles.

For a commercial American rifle?

Yes, I've seen some good results with fire lapping.

Fire lapping is really no different than the old cast lead slug hand lapping.

Other than it's a lot faster.

February 13, 2003, 08:23 AM
I'm with Art on this one. I've read Gale's posts on TFL, and have concluded that anything like this, regarding "barrel break in" other than just shooting the gun, is a bunch of BS.

Save your money, save your barrel, and don't buy into this nonsense.

February 13, 2003, 10:14 PM
I firelapped the barrel on my Colt Anaconda several years ago.

It helped a bunch. It made it much easier to clean, and tightened up the 50 yard groups from around and inch and 3/4 to less than an inch...which is about as good as I can shoot with open sights.

I spent nothing doing it. I used some unsized,unlubricated 245 grain SWC lead slugs and rolled them in various grits of lapping compounds finishing with a 2000 Diamond lapping cmpound.

I did it by the book and have not regretted it. Several other guns that I know of benefitted from the treatment, the biggest gain coming from a .50 caliber muzzleloader that was hard pressed to stay on a No.3 washtub at 50 yards. After it was done, the bullet loaded easier and the groups shrunk to less than 2 inches.

February 13, 2003, 10:40 PM
If your barrel is chrome lined, DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER IT!!!!

If a non-chrome lined SKS has a lightly pitted bore, it MIGHT be worthwhile. Otherwise, no way.

February 13, 2003, 11:46 PM
As stated right above, do not fire lap a chrome lined bore. It has worked very well in my Wilson stainless, but it is not meant for chrome..

You should aslo check, they have the David Tubb Final Finish kit for only $30.... Same product byt from the WOrld Champ.....

Good shooting........

February 14, 2003, 08:18 AM
You can find this product over at I used it in my Rem 700, and it performed as advertised; reduced copper fouling by about 80% and tightened average group size by 20%.

As previous posts state though, this is not for chrome-lined bores or custom barrels. Dunno anything about SKS's or AK-47's. I've never heard anyone complain about Tubb's Final Finish results when used as directed.

Art Eatman
February 14, 2003, 09:47 AM
Watchman, your success means that by Gale McMillan's standards, you started with a barrel that was either a) unfinished; or b) less than perfect. :) (It's all a rather sad comment about the Colt Anaconda and modern production procedures, of course.)

Wht I've never understood about all this is why pushing a lead bullet through a bore will do more smoothing than shooting a lead bullet. Or a jacketed bullet, for that matter. Or, why would an ultra-fine abrasive do more smoothing than shooting a jacketed bullet through the bore? Seems to me in this latter case the only difference is the time involved.


February 14, 2003, 11:06 AM
I'm usually against any sort of screwing around with barrels, BUT:

You always hear that chromed barrels are less accurate than unlined bores. If it's because the chrome leaves some extra junk sticking up, wouldn't this process even out that imperfect chroming? Especially in a somewhat crude bore?

February 14, 2003, 04:28 PM
Some gun rag did an article about firelapping last year. They began with a used barrel, ran a borescope through it, shot two starter groups and then performed the firelapping.

The bore looked night and day different under the borescope and the group size dropped by nearly 20%.

If I had a new barrel or a match barrel, I wouldn't do it to a gun, but otherwise, it seems worth the effort.

Art Eatman
February 14, 2003, 07:15 PM
Handy, folks at TFL have commented that the thickness of the plating is sometimes not uniform. Dunno why that would be, but it could indeed be a reason. I don't think that lapping such a barrel would result in an exact diameter for the full length of the barrel. As thin as such plating is, lapping could wear through it in places, with a resultant bad scene...


February 14, 2003, 07:27 PM
Ok, guys...

Just for the record, you can read it yourself. I felt it was so definitive, it deserved bookmarking.

Read it, then decide for yourselves.

Ya' payz yer money, ya' gets yer choice...

Byron Quick
February 14, 2003, 11:18 PM
It's going to take an awful lot of people producing an awful lot of data to make me go against Gale's position.

February 15, 2003, 01:00 AM
Mcmillian makes some good points about firelapping but he is doing it from a custom gunmakers perspective.

Since he uses custom barrels that have a little more tender loving care put in them than the standard factory barrel, I could see where firelapping was not needed and could be detrimental to the life of the barrel.

On the other hand, most people are shooting factory made stuff. Remingtons, Savages, Winchesters and Brownings more than likey account for MOST of the market out there.

I have seen improvements in several types of guns over the years by fire lapping, NONE of them were custom guns. I know that many people hold COLT firearms in high regard, but they suffered though several management changeouts and buyouts and in the process their QC suffered.

All of the rifle manufacturers spend as little time as possible on their firearms, they have too to make money. The major difference between a custom manufacturer and an industrial is the time that human hands spend on it.

I beleive that the standard production guns may benefit from firelapping more so than the customs which may actually be damaged by it.

Just rembember that his perspective on what is and what aint is different for many of us poor boys that shoot the factory guns .

February 15, 2003, 08:43 AM
From my perspective, the issue is what benefit will lapping offer that won't occur from the normal action of shooting the gun.

This might be a bad example, but if you think about this from the perspective of an automobile, you wouldn't add sand to your oil to help smooth out the chambers and pistons of a new motor... you just run the thing... slowly, in fact, while the engine settles itself. So, to equate this to a gun, I don't see how sanding a barrel will offer any advantages. I do see, however, how it might be a disadvantage.

Just my two cents. Read the posts from Gale, then make your own decision.

February 15, 2003, 09:44 AM
part of Gales logic was that any manufacturer with the millions
of dollars invested in the means of firearm production
would be foolish not to produce as accurate a gun as possible.

Accurate guns sell better

February 15, 2003, 01:41 PM
I have a Redhawk in 44Mag with about 1500 rounds through it. I can still see the machine marks in the barrel. How long should I wait for this gun to be broken in? Gun's plenty accurate, just a PITA to clean. After good luck with the product in the past, I ordered the Final Finish kit from Brownells for it.

Also, I find it interesting that many refrence Mr. McMillan's research panning Cryo treatments, research from 20 YEARS ago.

Have a 223 that shot pretty well out of the box. Shot great after I cryoed the barrel and ran FinalFinish through it. Haven't seen many high dollar customs that shoot like this ( (5 and 10 round groups, 100 rounds total, no cleaning, all shot in one winter morning while BSing with a couple buddies. I frequently bend the "barrel's too hot" rule with this gun, no adverse effects, but then I only have ~4K rounds down this pipe.)

February 15, 2003, 04:55 PM
About ten years ago Ross Seyfried wrote a number of articles about fire-lapping after experimenting with the original system designed by Lead Bullet Technologies.

Clearly, the practice does enhance accuracy and reduce fouling. However, those results were only apparent in SOME barrels. Mainly, very old and fouled barrels that could not be improved by any other means, and in some few new barrels that were just rough. Seyfried was mainly experimenting with bolt action rifles and large bore hunting revolvers.

I was impressed enough to buy some of the compound and I've used it with varying success on old Milsurp guns that I've picked up now and again. When it works, the results are not particularly dramatic in terms of accuracy. The group sizes shrink a bit, and the barrel becomes bright and easier to clean. I've used it on a couple of new rifles and not noticed any difference at all.

I do not think you will get any satisfactory results with an SKS, AK, etc, which aren't designed as tack-drivers in the first place. In fact, it is not a good idea to use this stuff in a rifle with a gas system anyway. The abrasive finds its way everywhere.


February 16, 2003, 03:16 PM
I have used the Wheeler Engineering kit on a .22-250 Ruger #1, which did not have an especially smooth barrel.

Prior to treatment, the thing would tease me by putting 3 shots into one hole at 100 yards, then invariably toss the next couple a half inch or so away. After treatment, it seemed to settle down.

Now it will keep 5 in 1/2 MOA, if I do my part, so it seemed to help. That's the only time I have tried fire lapping. Would I try it on a super-premium barrel? No.

Has anyone tried it to restore the bore of an older rifle, with some pitting and wear? I'd be curious to know the results.

February 16, 2003, 04:45 PM
Only rifle I've ever fire lapped was my carry weight 25-06 Ruger. I got it for a very reasonable amount of money and then sold the scope thus lowering the price even lower. It was in good condition but was certainly used quite a bit - the action was silky smooth probably from use and the bluing was thin in several areas. The trigger was rough and the bore was less than mirror-like. I ordered said kit, had a friend load them up as directed, had the trigger tweaked a bit and now it shoots like a champ.

I'm far from a benchrest shooter, best I can usually hold is about 1.5 MOA, usually a bit closer to 2 MOA so the difference was probably lost on me. But it made me feel better. The bore looks better and it cleans up very nicely though it did before as well.

I certainly wouldn't consider fire lapping snake oil or anything like that but I would go along with the above advice: if it's a super duper $300 custom barrel, I'd skip it. I also wouldn't waste my time with an SKS or AK. Not that they are junk but were never built for extreme accuracy. With the factory chamber, you'll probably never get MOA performance out of an SKS or AK and if you do, then reliability will more than likely be compromised.

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