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Old 05-25-2013, 01:48 PM   #1
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Cleaning a Bore After 40 Years

Really, I haven't cleaned it in years. This was my father's .22, a Mossberg Model B, circa 1925. As he was raised on a farm in Texas, I expect it had its share of .22 Shorts run through it. I also expect he brushed and oiled the barrel religiously. It was also likely the cheapest model available.



Here's a closer shot:



Then he gave it to me, 35 years later, in 1960. I cleaned, perhaps not as religiously, and I never brushed the bore, but I kept the rust off. I may even have oiled the barrel for a few years, but around 1964, I started using a more "modern" .22, a semi-auto. I may not have fired it since then, I certainly did not clean the bore, and today I found powder residue from its last firing.

By the mid-Seventies, I'd learned not to clean bores, having damaged the crown of a Ruger Bearcat with a cleaning rod. I didn't see much point in it, as all of the rimfire I shot were non-corrosive and outside lubricated. So, I just left it the way it was, contenting myself to wipe the outside occasionally.

Until today.

In 2005 I ran patches through it for the first time in 42 years, and here they are:



From the upper left, going right, then down.
The first, dirtiest, patch is a 1.1" commercial patch soaked in Hoppes #9. The next two are dry patches following the first.
The next row are larger, also commercial patches (except for #3, which is a thicker piece of flannel - I thought I wasn't getting enough). The first one had Otis cleaner applied. Number 4 is two patches.
The final row is Otis cleaner again, with Number 2 doubles to clean, and number 3 single, with more Otis applied to protect.

The barrel, you'll be pleased to know, looks new - shiny and clean, with no pits or dirt visible. Rifling is clear - faint, but sharp. I saw no evidence of oxidation on the patches, though I'll repeat this process in a week or so to see if anything loosened up. If any of you folks around Texas who have a borescope would like to examine this barrel in the pursuit of science, PM me.

Though this was a cheap rifle at the time, there was no other method to create rifling back then but cutting it - hammer-forging and button-rifling weren't invented yet. So, though cheap at the time, it was made in a way that we would consider expensive today. So, would I get the same results from some of today's rough barrels? I don't know, but as far as I can see right now, not cleaning this barrel for 40-plus years didn't hurt it one bit. While I won't go 40 years between cleanings on my current rifles, I expect I'll clean them only when they need it, not on a scheduled basis.

Oh, and that eightieth year might be considered the end of Phase 3 of my 100 year Intergenerational Rimfire Non-Cleaning Experiment, i.e., "Shoot and Clean," "Shoot and Don't Clean," "Don't Shoot and Don't Clean," and the upcoming phase, which logically should be "Clean and Don't Shoot," but I'll think of something more fun. I encourage others to start their own 100-year tests...

Jaywalker

Last edited by Jaywalker; 05-25-2013 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 05-25-2013, 07:23 PM   #2
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Great story. Did you look through the bore?

I'm convinced that cleaning a 22 bore is usually a waste of time. Unless it was fired with some of the old Lesmok or black powder ammo and not cleaned it should be fine.

I'm trying to remember when Kleenbore ammo came along and I'm thinking 30s but not sure.
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Old 05-26-2013, 05:24 AM   #3
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Thanks. I looked through it, but no one has volunteered a bore scope for close looks. I did this test originally back in 2005.

Of course, our theory that uncleaned 22 rimfire doesn't harm the barrel only holds if the priming compounds haven't changed, and I don't know that for sure.

I mentioned this test to Melvin Forbes (New Ultra Light Arms) a few years ago, and he thought the compounds had indeed changed. There was something about a room designed with water flowing down the walls to reduce static electricity back in the day, and it was still pretty dangerous for the women who worked with rimfires and primers. He suspected times and chemicals will have changed, but I still don't clean the barrels.
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:26 AM   #4
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That was my point. Rimfire priming compounds have been the same for a long time, but your gun dates to a time when they might have been an issue.

Modern priming mix is worked on a table with a constant flow of water and is safe to handle until it dries
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:29 PM   #5
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the wax on modern .22lr ammo is a better bore preservative than anything else you can buy and put into the rifling grooves.
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