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Before Hunting--Clean Bore or Not?

Fairlane66Fairlane66 Member Posts: 336 ✭✭
edited October 2015 in Ask the Experts
I was having a discussion with some of the guys at work as we were planning to sight in our big game rifles in preparation for the fall hunting season. I have always sighted in my rifle and then meticulously cleaned the bore, ending the process by running a lightly oiled patch down the barrel. Some of the guys said that was foolish, since a 1st shot from a cleaned/oiled bore would produce a 1st-shot flyer that could result in a miss at long range. We'll be hunting mule deer and I feel confident shooting out to about 400 yards from a steady rest. I have noticed some of my cleaned rifles yield flyers of up to 2" from original zero out of a cold bore. Even if that's the case, I'm not convinced the deviation is worth risking field-induced bore corrosion from rain and snow. I've noticed some recent threads about putting tape/a condom/etc over the bore to protect from the environment. So, all of this has me wondering what to do as I get ready to head to the range.

What say you? Clean a rifle after sighting it in and before venturing afield or leave the bore as is after sighting in? Leave the bore as is after sighting in and put tape, etc, over the muzzle? Is there another option I haven't mentioned? I'd be interested in hearing what you experts think.

To add a little background to the thread, I'll relay this story. My brother was a gunsmith in Pennsylvania for many years. Every year, on the evening before opening day of the hallowed PA deer season, 1 or 2 guys would show up at his residence with a new rifle and scope, and ask my brother to mount the scope for them. Of course, it was already after dark and my brother would ask, "When do you plan to sight in the rifle?' Most would either reply, "Sight in, why?" or "Just bore sight it, that'll be good enough." Of course, my brother would turn them away. He and I would never think of venturing afield without a well-zeroed rifle, so I guess my concern over a potential flyer of 2" might seem frivolous to some, but I want to be sure where my rounds are going when I pull the trigger. So, again, I'd appreciate your thoughts on this subject.

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    He DogHe Dog Member Posts: 51,061 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Just took a pronghorn with a rifle I will use again in December for cow elk. I will clean it after that hunt. I do live in the desert.
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    swearengineswearengine Member Posts: 1,329 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    A 2" flyer at 100 yards extrapolates to 8" at 400. That is a miss or a poor hit. I would much rather take a chance on corrosion. You are not shooting black powder so rust does not set up overnight.
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    DEEREHARTDEEREHART Member Posts: 374 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I have observed the same "clean" bore flyer as you. That being said I always head to the field with a dirty bore and a piece of black tape over the end of the barrel.
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    PA ShootistPA Shootist Member Posts: 690 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I leave the bore fouled from sight-in session, having noted the very same clean-bore divergence that you have. This assumes the sight-in is relatively close to the actual hunt, and weather isn't terrible. If I must clean, then a dry-as-possible bore after cleaning with absolute minimum oil film.
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    CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    I have tested this many times throughout many years of hunting and shooting. A clean oiled barrel will always shoot an inch or two off point of aim at 100 yards with the first, and sometimes the second shot.
    When I take a clean hunting rifle to the range to check zero, I shoot two fouling shots, then set the rifle aside and let it cool. When it is totally cool, I shoot for zero. The objective is to be zeroed with a dead cold barrel on the first shot. With heavy magnums especially, I try to put three round from a cold barrel down range rather quickly. After three or four rounds, the barrel is hot and starts to walk shots off zero, generally speaking.
    The first shot is your best shot, weather, humidity, temperature and several other factors enter into this equation. Try to replicate as many conditions that exist where your going to hunt, when sighting in you rifle.
    W.D.
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    waltermoewaltermoe Member Posts: 2,065 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    If the rifle has been sighted in with a fouled barrel, you want to hunt with a fouled barrel. After hunting season I clean all the rifles that I used until next years hunting season. If I do not get a chance to shoot them before hunting season, I will shoot a couple rounds through them to foul the barrel. If the thought of corrosion worries you, Take a cleaning rod and patches with you.
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    MIKE WISKEYMIKE WISKEY Member, Moderator Posts: 9,987 ******
    edited November -1
    I'm with the Capt. on this. I never
    A. go to a match with a 'clean' bore.
    B. go hunting as above.
    a small piece of electrical tape over the bore works well in wet weather.
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    spiritsspirits Member Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Most of the rifles I have shot on a clean barrel that took a few shots to settle down had either bedding problems or failure of the action to return to battery in the case of auto loaders. My experience with the ones that shot the same regardless of the barrel being clean or not were:
    1. barrel was bedded at the receiver ring and barrel chamber and free floated
    2. barrel was a quality stainless steel barrel (e.g., Shilen match select) that had been Flitzed with a patch and jag
    3. during hunting season the barrel regardless if it were shot or not was cleaned with a few tightly fitted oiled patches and then wiped dry with tightly fitted clean patches
    4. I used a cover on the muzzle especially when it was dark or brushy
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    charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 6,579 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The oiled bore shoots 2" higher due to the increased pressure to push the oil out of the way. I never hunt with a cleaned bore, drop a round in the dirt before you get to your area. Most times I don't clean the bore during hunting season unless I'm out in the rain.
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    62fuelie62fuelie Member Posts: 1,069 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    For what it's worth, when time and conditions permitted my SWAT precision riflemen (PC, right?) always stopped at the quarry and fired one or two rounds for exactly these same reasons. When the stop wasn't possible we tried to make the first shot a center chest shot where a 1"-2" divergence would not matter (our average shot was under 100 yards). So, I would vote for the fouled barrel, modern primers and powder don't have the salts and other corrosion causing components so I wouldn't be worried about the possibility of corrosion setting in. The tape over the muzzle is a good precaution in went environments, the air being pushed ahead of the bullet as it moves down the barrel will blow the tape off so there will be no impact on accuracy.
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