want to fire lap a 22 (marlin 1897) that i had a new bbl. liner installed on. there used to be a "kit " of 100 loaded rounds of various lapping compounds made. brownells used to sell it; but, not now. midway has it listed as discontinued. does anyone know if it is still available anywhere?
22 rimfire lapping kit
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- Last Post 02 March 2021
I wrote a very detailed article on fire-lapping a .22 barrel for Precision Shooting years ago, and included "before" and "after"
accuracy testing from a benchrest set up in a 50 meter indoor range. I also included photos of the bore "Before and After" taken using a Hawkeye bore scope. I fire-lapped using the Tubb "Final Finish" fire-lapping kit for .22's exactly according to his directions. He instructs users to fire all cartridges in the kit working from coarse to fine grit, He makes no provision for assessing progress during the firing sequence. Then clean the rifle thoroughly, and you're done.
I wrote the article to help readers who hear from shooting buddies about casual fire lapping "helping" rifles, but who don't get the benefit of detailed, carefully-quantified accuracy testing before/after, or the ability to actually SEE the effect of fire-lapping due to the relative expense/rarity of bore scopes, although they are now becoming more available.
The rifle I chosse was a Browning copy of the Winchester 52 sporter that gave lackluster accuracy. It did have a chamber that engraved the bullets into the lands, in match-rifle style. When I started, the origin of the lands was sharp with little wear. Afterwards, the land origins were severely worn down, looking like a sand dune that has been washed out to sea due to a high tide. Areas of micro-pitting in the barrel were smoothed out to bright, smooth metal. A couple of areas of cleaning rod damage (I bought the rifle used) showed that the damaged areas were smoothed out but not eliminated. Overall, the rifle shot worse after lapping than it had before. The Tubb kit process put a **huge** amount of "wear" on the throat in short order. The barrel was ruined, but wasn't a grievous loss. Before lapping, it was a 0.5" average (5 rds) shooter at 50 yards, with ONE type of ammo ONLY. (SK-Jagd High Velocity Hollowpoint.) It would not group this well with several excellent lots of Eley Tenex or other match ammo, or high quality US-made HV hunting or standard velocity ammo. Obviously, I would not use such a kit "blind" on a rifle that already shot well!
If I were to do any fire-lapping, I would only use the finest grits, and I would only do it if I could clean frequently (every 5 rds) and check my progress with the Hawkeye Bore Scope. By being able to check out your barrel beforehand, and approachthe needs of THAT particular barrel with a planned strategy of grits to use, you might be able to improve somewhat. However, without a Hawkeye or other good borescope, I would be very leery of doing any more than just a few rounds of fine polishing compound in hopes of smoothing the barrel if needed.
Much folklore, superstition and misinformation about cleaning rimfires abounds, chiefly erring in the direction of NOT cleaningthe barrel. Not cleaning it will shorten its life significantly, both through wear-related erosion and corrosion. Without going into long detail, I've made a serious study of cleaning practices for accurate rimfire barrel maintenance, and believe they should be cleaned after every shooting session. (More on this below.) Using a good rod/brush/solvent/patches will prevent the next session's bullets from having to plow their way through/over hardened fouling with primer grit encrusted into it, which wears away at the barrel.
I've consulted many REAL experts in the field; one example is an Olympic Gold Medalist who won Olympic Gold with a rifle with over 170,000 rounds through it! He only retired the rifle from competition after about 230,000 rounds because while it remained accurate, it became more and more picky about which lots of match ammo it would shoot really well. Throughout the barrel's life, he religiously cleaned the rifle as above, as per the barrelmaker's instructions. He usually cleaned it at intervals of no more than about 130 rounds, IIRC, to maintain peak accuracy at all times.
Everyone's accuracy frame of reference and needs are different. I come from a competitive Smallbore Rifle Silhouette background; for reference, 5-shot groups that average 0.5" at 50 yards is about the worst accuracy I can tolerate, and my match rifle averages well under 1" at 100 yards with good ammo in calm conditions. So, that's my frame of reference. Of interest, Ruger 10/22 sporters have long had a mediocre to actively bad reputation for accuracy using the factory barrels. I recently borescoped 3 Ruger 10/22 stainless-barreled sporters, and the internal finish was excellent!!! Very smooth, no tool marks, etc. Properly cut, sharp crowns and the chambers looked well cut and concentric (as far as eyeballing goes.) I have heard from the owner of one of the rifles, and he is very well pleased with the accuracy of his rifle using lower-tier match ammo at 50 yards, for an accurate small game rifle. With any luck, maybe your liner won't need any smoothing.
With a freshly-cut chamber, there may be a few sharp edges remaining from chambering. You might consider firing 1-5 shots and then cleaning with a good, straight, one-piece rod and brass or bronze core, brass bristle brushes and solvent, several times as you sight the rifle in, begin testing, etc. This gives a chance to knock off some sharp edges that might accumulate lead fouling if left unattended. Also, I would not expect the rifle to give its' peak accuracy until after it's had about 200 rounds through it.
FWIW, I did a test of a new Hoppes Bore Snake in a new Anschutz barrel, checking with the Hawkeye. With 300 rounds of fouling from match ammo, the bore was a uniform grey from powder/lube fouling, with just a couple of small bits of lead accumulatedat the throat. 1 pass with the Bore Snake, using solvent, got all the powder and lube fouling out of the barrel, but didn't touch the leading. 9 more passes with the Bore Snake had no further benefits. (So, I consider them good for quick maintenance, but not a substitute for actual cleaning with a rod, brush, patches and solvent.)
Next, I tried 1 cleaning rod stroke with a patch and solvent, followed by one dry patch, and checked with the borescope. About 1/3 of the (very small amount) of leading was gone. I then added 1 stroke with a solvent-wet brush, back and forth. I then ran 1 dry patch through the bore,checked and all the leading was gone! So, my cleaning regimen involves just a couple of strokes, ending with a wet patch and dry patch to leave a little solvent in the bore to protect it. No need for lengthy cleaning rod sessions, which lowers the chance of doing any damage with the cleaning rod and shortens cleaning dramatically, with evidence-based, proven-superb results. Naturally, should the internal condition of the bore change and require more cleaning, periodic checks with the Hawkeye will let me adjust accordingly.
Finally, I have improved the accuracy of several barrels (both rimfire and centerfire) as follows: Take a work bronze brush, and pack "Flitz" creme polish into it, between the bristles. Then put a thick-ish coat of Flitz on a cotton patch and roll it around the brush. I start with a corner of the square patch in the center of the brush and roll it around, sticking the end down with loose Flitz as needed. This gives a tapered "mop" that fits tightly into the bore, but doesn't resist cleaning too hard. After about 10 strokes back and forth with the Flitz patch in even a clean barrel, examining it will probably show it to look quite black. I believe part of that is due to the breakdown of the Flitz itself, not just fouling. I do this several times at a session, starting with a clean barrel. Depending on how your barrel is, you might need more or less sessions like this, but sometimes the accuracy improvements have been dramatic, and I have not seen any damage occur from this method.
I hope this helps as you consider your options for your new barrel!
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First, you mentioned writing for "Precision Shooting", that was one of the finest magazines really miss that.
My cleaning with the .22 goes along with yours. Instead of the Fitz I use Brownells "Bore Bright" and get the same results in cleaning. Thanks for taking time to post.
Thank you for your time and effort on this subject. Great advice. Years ago i came into possesion of a Springfield M2 rifle. It is my favorite .22. The previous owner who was a target shooter gave me very similar cleaning instructions. He also told me not to use copper plated rounds, only plain lead bullets. I have always followed his advice. Is there any truth in the copper plated rounds affecting wear or accuracy?
WOW! very interesting and thorough. the reason that i decided to fire lap is: after getting the rifle back from the liner work; i fired a few shots. cleaned and finished with a dry patch. i could see bits of "fuzz" in the bore. therefore i am guessing that it is a little rough. this rifle is a ongoing project. i purchased it ($35.00) it had no wood , no forend cap or butt plate. i have everything now. just need to get the ambition to finish the work.
I too own a M# Springfield, this rifle is a prized possession. I shoot it at 100 yards for the challenge, my local range does not allow .22 LR beyond 100 yards or I'd shoot it to 200 yards.
The copper plate is very thin and very soft itself on top of .22 LR alloy that is soft. The copper will press down and ride the alloy out the bore. If you examine a retrieved bullet closely, you will see where the copper plate is mostly retained on the surface. I think the copper plate worn off is mixed in the lube and powder residue rather than sticking to the lands and grooves.
The lube (grease) from previous rounds will act to keep the copper alloy from sticking to the bore. When you clean the bore as above and check with a borescope, the bore is bright. There is no evidence of copper contamination.
When I traded for it, I ran J&B through it for 25 strokes, refreshing after each 5 strokes. Since then, I use Ed's Red as above. It shoots well with standard velocity ammunition,
Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest
My Model 1922 M1 is a parts gun put together from well used parts. The barrel has two bulges in it, one 1" and one 2 1/2" in front of the chamber. This was the first training rifle for the scouts in our area for 75 years and they would stick bullets trying to shoot shorts in it, and then fired another behind it. However, with a good cleaning and polish with JB paste, it will shoot WW Super-X HP's into 3/4" at fifty yards. It will not shoot the soft target ammo any more, but works fine for close in sage rats. Since it seldom gets fired more than 50 rounds between outings, a wet and dry patch with Ed's Red keeps it going.
Thanks, and glad I can be of help! GWarden, thanks, and I sure miss PS Magazine too! It was a real shame
how it came to an end. If you remember Dick Wright, who was our benchrest specialist and who
wrote of Michigan and the "Jackpine Savages," he was doing well until fairly recently, and then passed
away. So, another good one gone. Porthos: Wow!!! Sure sounds from what you say like that liner could
benefit from some Flitz or similar fine polishing compound. Let us know how it goes!!
That was a good read.
I'm a little late to say thank you, but ....Thanks for putting the time into sharing a well written description of your findings.
I am a frequent cleaner of my 22rf's. But now I wonder if I should clean them much more often. ???
Based on this, I think I will.
Extending the life of an accurate rifle sounds like a good plan.
Careful cleaning, that is. :-) No careless rod usage if I can help it.
talcum powder. very interesting. can you or anyone else expand on that?
Tanangagua from another forum "taught" a bore polishing technique
that i have used on some centerfire new barrels;
use a Bore Snake with Turtle Wax Chrome polish.
Draw thru the bore 10 times, re-anoint with the Turtle Wax polish,
draw it thru 10 more times, etc
until you have drawn it thru 100 times.
It really slicks up the bore, less resulting fouling of the bore during shooting.
The accuracy is very good after this polishing
Bore scope exam shows bright bore w/o rough machine marks
I have done a few barrels of various calibers always use cast bullets and just roll them in the powder most centre fire I roll then seat it does a fantastic job 20-30 rounds makes a big difference
I was taught this by a old bloke years ago I have been laughed at then they have bitten there tongue when they see the results
Do you remember all the articles Bill Calfee had in PS over the years. I was fortunate to save all those on the .22R he wrote, ended up with 184 pages of material. Calfee was a real experimenter. Were a lot of other folks that wrote invaluable info on the .22RF
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