Clean your bore

I was at the range the other day with a .22 LR pistol. Things were going well for a while then, fairly rapidly, deteriorated. I checked the sights and the screws that hold the barrel in place and every other mechanical thing I could think of. Everything looked good.

I put up a fresh target at 10 yards and using two different types of ammo put some carefully aimed rounds downrange. The two targets on the right in the picture below are the result.


The result was very discouraging. I then put some rounds downrange with my .40 at the target on the top left above. Okay, so it’s not just me.

I checked the target carefully and could see some of the bullets were impacting the target sideways. But this is the same ammo that I have shot thousands of rounds with excellent accuracy and even greater range!

I took the gun home and cleaned it. I frequently just clean the slide and other moving parts and don’t clean the bore of the barrel. How many rounds had it been since I clean the bore? I just don’t know. Probably at least a couple thousand.

I went back to the range and tried the same two types of ammo.

This is the first set:


That’s better. But still not what it should be.

So I tried the second type:



And back to the first set:


That’s what I expected.

The bore needed to be cleaned, then it needed a little bit of fouling.

Good to know.


8 thoughts on “Clean your bore

  1. I have observed that it can take upwards of 20 rounds of .22LR to condition a bore after switching ammo types. People not aware of this when testing different loads are getting questionable results at best.

  2. I should already know this Joe, but I’m a failure as a stalker. What make and model .22 would this be?

    • That is not something I have mentioned on this blog nor do I intend to. Some guns are private and this is one of them. Show up at a match where I am sometime and I’ll tell you about it.

      • I can respect that. I keep trying to figure out a way to make it to Boomershoot, and I keep failing at that, too.

  3. .22s are noted for this, but centerfire guns need attention as well.

    Years ago, a good friend picked up a Remington 700 in .243 Winchester from a co-worker who was tight for cash.
    Nice specimen with a higher end scope, but it wouldn’t put a 3 shot group within 4 inches at 100 yards on well set up benchrest gear.
    After going over the rifle for all the more well know problems that affect accuracy, I decided, with by friend’s permission, to try out the Outers ‘Foul Out’ reverse electro cleaner gizmo I had just purchased.
    Eight (8!) hours of cleaning time later, the machine said the bore was ‘clean’ so I tried out the rifle again.
    That did the trick, because, with factory ammo, the rifle would shoot 3/4″ groups all day long.
    I think that a lot of people sell off their rifles, thinking that the barrel is shot out when actually, their cleaning technique is deficient and the rifle simply needs all the crud cleaned out.

  4. I had a Ruger .22/45 start throwing rounds out sideways (“keyholing”) while at the range once. This was a pistol through which I had fired many, many rounds and had found to be far more accurate than I am. I was shooting a box of Remington “Thunderbolt” for the first time, and had gotten through about 30 rounds before this started.

    I stopped shooting, cleared the pistol, and tried looking through the bore with a nice white cleaning patch at the chamber end. Couldn’t see the rifling. So I tried a section of cleaning rod, and couldn’t get it much past the muzzle. Went back to shooting .45 for the rest of the range day.

    When I got home I ended up taking it down and trying again. Using an aluminum cleaning rod (I figured that would be softer than the SST barrel) I had to clamp the barrel/receiver in a vise and POUND the rod through. I found I was extruding a tube of lead out of the barrel into the chamber end, which I broke off in sections as they came out. When I was done I could see rifling again. I used some lead solvent and a brass brush to get the last of the leading out.

    I took the remainder of the brick of “Thunderbolt” back to the store, described the leading issue and told them that I’d never, ever shoot that stuff again. Didn’t ask for a refund (that brick was so cheap I didn’t care), but I did ask them to dispose of it safely for me.

    I’m curious as to what brand of .22 ammo is was that caused your issue in the first place, and why it would kick in so quickly.

    • Thunderblolt. I’ve shot hundreds of rounds through this gun before without problems. This was something like 400 rounds of CCI Mini-Mags, 1500 rounds of Federal, then 450 rounds of Thunderbolt.

  5. You want a dirty bore story? Find anyone with a Mosin Nagant rifle. Residual traces of cosmoline make an amazing fouling compound, especially with use of corrosive milsurp ammo from old Warsaw Pact sources. The only way the bores of such guns could be worse would be to bury them in a peat bog for a few centuries.

    Having such a gun and taking the effort to get its bore clean made me a believer in strong chemicals and boiling water and elbow grease. Is rifle. Need clean. Much work.

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