Bullet "lube", Is it needed and if so -- when?

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John Alexander posted this 06 October 2018

As recently stated in the recent lube purging thread. i only use lube in for my competition bullets in the tiny gap ahead of the gas check. I sometimes do well against shooters who lube their bullets from stem to stern and sometimes not so well, but it seems this vanishing amount of lube is best for my loads.

Looking at one of these bullets it is hard not to ponder that if such a tiny amount is lube does the job, does the bullet need any at all, especially at the low velocities I shoot in competition. I decided to find out. Since I didn't want to be pulling bullets out of the remaining unfired rounds after leading up the bore, I only loaded ten cases. These were from the same batch of 85 grain bullets I fired in the recent CBA nationals and loaded to duplicate the muzzle velocity of 1,430 fps although with TiteGroup instead of 4756. Otherwise the load was the same.

I shot the lubless bullets this morning. Starting from a clean bore, and not cleaning between groups, one 5 shot group was slightly under 1 MOA and one slightly over for an average of 1.12 MOA.  This is almost exactly the same as the average accuracy of these loads with lubed bullet and this load.

When cleaning the bore the first patch went through smoothly with no hitches indicating leading or hard fouling. The patch showed no signs of lead particles.

Of course two groups is far too small a sample to draw any conclusions but I plan to shoot more.

John

 

 

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Hornet posted this 07 October 2018

   I read an article in one of the gun rags a few years ago on the writer taking a tour of the CCI rimfire manufacturing area. He claimer that they powders they used were a non-commercial powder just a little faster than Green Dot for .22 LR and a powder just a little faster than Blue Dot for .22 Magnum. This was several years ago and things may have changed.

   When ELEY was revising their .22 Match ammo, they found that the priming was very critical to ensure consistent ignition. They now licence the priming technology that they invented.  IIRC, they did a design matrix with over 100 possible factors  to determine which ones actually mattered. Lots of investment and they aren't big on sharing the results.

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frnkeore posted this 07 October 2018

Regarding 22 RF ammo, all that I've seen, use lube. Some a very thin coating and some, pretty thick. Most use some method of retaining it in the bore, such as knurling.

I've been shooting smooth sided, breech seated bullets, in 22 RF since about 1988. I have never leaded a barrel and shot 48 gr bullets to 1470 fps (no match accuracy).

I've tried many fast burning powders, including Tite Group, Unique, Herco, AA#2 and many more but, B'eye has always produced the best accuracy.

I do lube the outside of the bullets, my smearing a light coat of lube in my hands and rolling the bullets, between my hands.

I finally built a dedicated rifle for BSing bullets, two years ago and have done fairly well with it, against the best 22RF match rifles and ammo in ISSA & ASSRA competition.

Frank

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Tom G posted this 11 April 2021

Hi John, 

I applaud you for your continued work in trying to evaluate the ways we gage the accuracy of our cast bullet shooting. Your last post piqued my interest in the subject again. For some reason, I recently was thinking of how we evaluate our level of precision and if we are on the right track. For reasons of competition, we measure 5 and 10 shot groups and gage the quality by measuring the two furthest shots from each other. That seems to work to a degree and is probably the best way to conduct a competition within the constraints of time etc. to have a match.  But the question arises as you have pointed out; What is the best way to measure the actual performance of our gun/load/shooter?  Should we or should we not include fliers or outliers. If so, how much weight should be give to them in establishing the overall accuracy of a load? 

In the lost paragraph of your last post, you mention ignoring or throwing out the outlier shots in some of the groups we shoot in gaging the quality or "true accuracy" of a load. You bring up a good point on what to do with the outliers  or fliers in a group. My opinion is that we need to always include them in the calculations. Using the two widest shots method of evaluating groups or average accuracy is not, in my estimation a good way to include the outlier shots. 

First, I believe that shooting 5 and 10 shot groups and then averaging them together is not the best way to evaluate the overall accuracy of a gun/load combination. i suggest that a better way is to shoot all the sample shots into the same group and increase the sample size. Increasing the sample size increases the percent of confidence of the conclusions made from analyzing the group.  

Many years ago, I'm almost 79 now, I was working for Ford Motor Company as a Quality Control Analyst. Part of my job was to evaluate the quality levels of production operations for compliance with the established dimensional tolerances of the component parts and completed assemblies. I routinely had a person go out into the factory and take a sample of a part or assembly and gage all of them and record the data. I would then take the data and run it in a computer program that broke down the distribution of the recorded dimensions and basically put them into a bell shaped curve and predicted with a certain level of confidence what the larger population of parts would fall under as far as how many percent fell within the tolerances allowed on the design drawings. 

We were dealing with a stack up of tolerances when we started assembling a bunch of parts into, let's say, an engine distributor,  We knew that over 99% of the parts would likely fall into an acceptable range and work well when mated to other engine parts. We also anticipated getting the occasional "outlier" that due to a stack up of too many max dimension parts would end up too big or the opposite, too small. The sample size was in the range of 250 samples and that yielded a percent of confidence that was in the very high 99 % range. In other words, the result of analyzing the data could be expressed as " I am 99.6 % confident that 98,2% of the parts will fall within the design limits". Or something like that. I'm pretty sure that now, 50 years later, they probably do it a little different.    

With that in mind, I feel that what we are trying to accomplish is much the same in measuring the accuracy of a load on paper. In the above example, we measured every part. We didn't throw out any part that was outside the core group of dimensions. In measuring the quality of a group, we need to include all the fliers or outliers in the group as part of the group. As you mentioned, we could throw out some percentage of outliers as unexplained fliers and grade the group without them. But that would be ignoring science in my humble opinion and distorting the actual data that we collected. Let's face it, they were part of the group and we need to find a way to include them in the calculations for the quality of the group. 

If we look at extreme spread of a group, we find that including the outliers in it really distorts the level of quality of the group excessively and that's not acceptable. 

I'm thinking that a better way of evaluating the group size is to shoot all the shots into one group. Use a sample size of say 25 shots instead of 5 five shot groups. Include all shots in the analysis and not throw out any fliers. Find a way to establish a reference point in the group and then measure the distance each shot is from the reference point. Add up all the distances and divide by the number shots shot. The result would be an average distance from the reference point. Use that as the quality level of the group. 

If we could find a way to establish the average center of the group, that would probably be the best way to establish the reference point from which all shots are compared. That way, an outlier shot would have no more effect on the final calculated quality level of the group than any other shot would have. 

I've seen similar methods like this for evaluating groups in the past. Keep in mind that this method is just giving us a level of dispersion from a central location, not how well the shots fell in relation to an intended point of aim. In other words we could say we are looking at the consistency of the rifle/load to put a certain number of shots together in one spot. I think this method or one similar to it would allow us to include outliers in the calculations as they should be without giving them more weight than they deserve.  It seems to me that a method such as this would tell us with more certainty how well a certain load is doing in relation to other loads. 

Just my $ 0.02 worth.  

Tom  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eutectic posted this 07 October 2018

I did some experiments with smooth sided bullets, nothing would make them shoot. Smearing lube on the exposed nose did nothing,

The same style bullet with grooves but no lube could be shot with a very light 900 - 1000 fps load with red dot and accuracy was OK. Best accuracy was fully lubed, and then the velocity could be increased. 

I think with cast bullets the grooves give the metal displaced by the rifling a place to go so the bullet does not distort. Just a theory but some jacketed bullets now have grooves, so there might be something to it. 

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John Alexander posted this 24 October 2018

Ross,

Thanks for the additional info.  Your load and alloy doesn't seem to be a good candidate for no lube bullets. Thanks for giving it a try. We have learned a bit.  My load at 1,430fps and with 25 to 1 alloy seemed to work fine. Even that may be dependent on bullet fit. My Monday's results was the same load and alloy but with a slightly smaller bullet nose and didn't shoot as well and though I didn't get the kind of leading you reported I did get more on the patches than before.  I plan to try another lot of bullets and if that works will try at higher velocities.

My hope is to find a match grade combination that will maintain good accuracy (steady bore condition) longer than the load I took to the Nationals this year.

John 

 

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John Alexander posted this 28 January 2019

Finally got back on this project. Yesterday and today I fired 5 pairs of matched 5 shot groups same load, rifle and scope as earlier groups.

Results:

Unlubed bullet groups: 1.00, 1.30, .76, .92, 1.44 MOA -- Average = 1.08 MOA

Lubed bullet groups: 1.02, 1.32, .76, 1.06, 1.30, MOA -- Average = 1.09 MOA

Average of 9 pairs of groups fired so far:

Unlubed group average -- .97 MOA

Lubed group average ----- .95 MOA

Neither yesterday's results or the results so far show any inclination of a significant difference between lubed and not lubed.

I haven't fired a long enough string of either to see if one or the other will allow more groups fired before cleaning is needed which is one of my interests.  ie. will one maintain a more uniform bore condition and avoid bore cleaning.

Note that the ratios of largest to smallest group sizes are 1.9 and 1.7 pretty close to what Joe says they should average although that is just lucky for only two five 5-shot strings.

John

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John Carlson posted this 04 May 2019

I haven't shot any "lube free" bullets since last fall.  I have gone to lubing only the gap ahead of the gas check.  The size of the gap varies significantly in different bullets but it seems to work.  At least I'm shooting better than last year so, even if it isn't helping, at least it isn't hurting.

John Carlson. CBA Director of Military Competition.

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John Alexander posted this 10 April 2021

The results of the shooting reported in this thread resulted in an article in TFS #264. 

The results for the paired groups of lubed vs. bare bullets were as follows:

 

 

                                                         Lubed              Unlubed               Increase

 

Springfields (24 ten-shot groups)        1.96”               2.17”                       11 %

 

Tikka (26 five-shot groups)                 0.99”               1.00”                          1%

 

These results indicate a possible modest increase in group size for unlubed bullets for Carlson’s equipment and loads and an insignificant increase for my equipment and load. 

 

Reading this thread again to refresh my memory inspired me to pick up the subject again since the results of all these groups by several shooters hadn't answered some of the questions asked.  So more recently, I fired an additional series of paired groups in the same rifle and with the same load, except CCI pistol primers were substituted for the Winchester small rifle primers with the following results.

 

Tikka (10 five-shot groups) --- lubed bullets = 0.89”, bare bullets = 0.84”, --- 6 % smaller.

 

However, each of the string of groups had one shot that more than doubled the size of its group. It is arguable whether such shots should be disregarded as not representing the true accuracy.  But if these two are disregarded the results change a bit.

 

Tikka (10 five-shot groups) ---lubed bullets = 0.79”, bare bullets = 0.71”, --- 10 % smaller.

 

However, if all the 36 five-shots in the Tikka so far are averaged together the combined results look like this.

 

Tikka (36 five-shot groups) --- lubed bullets = 0.947”, bare bullets = 0.930", ---- 2% smaller.

 

Although the ten additional groups by themselves seemed to provide a weak indication that cast bullets may shoot better unlubed, even that weak indication disappears when all the shooting so far is considered.  On the other hand, the evidence so far that lubing cast bullets improves accuracy is equally weak and provides no no evidence to justify the extra work of lubing bullets.

 

I intend to continue shooting pairs of comparison groups of bare vs. lubed bullets to try to see if bare bullets may perhaps reduce fouling and provide a more stable bore condition. I hope other curious shooters will shoot strings of comparison groups to see what we can learn.

 

John

 

 

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ray h posted this 11 April 2021

Would firing 25  single shots groups and measuring distance from a small aiming point on each be better, Barrel temp, fouling etc, even shooter error could be factored into the overall group. ???

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Bud Hyett posted this 14 April 2021

On the subject of lube removal. Observed that I wasted too much time that could be used producing better ammunition after learning from a mistake.  After trying all of the above ways to remove lubricant in the last four decades, I've adopted this two-part rule:

  • Has a gascheck - Goes down the barrel for practice.
  • Does not have a gascheck - Back in the pot to melt  

After all, we choose a lubricant for the ability to stay on the bullet under pressure and heat. Why would it be easy to remove? 

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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John Alexander posted this 06 October 2018

A lot of good comments and questions.

I suppose it shouldn't be too surprising, lead alloys have been used for bearing material for a long time. Also we already know that bare air guns pellets and low velocity bare pistol bullets don't lead the bore.

Don't know about fouling shots yet Ken.  The ten shots before were plain base bullets using the same charge.  Will see next time. If these work, I don't think there will be any trouble with the phantom lube purging.

My Tikka's hammer forged barrel is smooth but not ultra smooth Recent hammer forged barrels from Remington and Ruger were smoother when examined with a bore scope. But don't shoot as well.

The bullets were 25:1.

i spent years lubing the bore riding noses of the NEI 72 grain I shot in competition. It seemed logical at the time when I still thought bullet lubes were to lubricate.  Then I tried it against no lube on the nose and found no difference.

The 85 grain bullet isn't too mysterious.  It is my first design after I got my hands on a 22 CF factory rifle with a 9" twist (Savage) It is sort of like the 311299 but with only one lube groove and a pointed nose. The forerunner to NOE 80 grain which which is even more pointed.  David Mos made the mold. In its present lapped and beagled condition it fits the Tikka (with 10,500 shots through it) better than the NOE 80s I have.

John

 

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shake posted this 07 October 2018

 Vihtavuori 3n37 is specified as a .22 rimfire powder.

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John Alexander posted this 08 October 2018

Eutectic,

The results of your experiments match the results of an excellent report by Dan Lynch in TFS within the last couple of years. 

His work compared grooved to none-grooved bullets in a rifle.  The results were similar to yours on pistol bullets -- the bullets wouldn't shoot well without grooves for some reason and it wasn't for lack of lube.  As I remember, like you, the only reason he could come up with was a place for displaced lead was needed.

The bare bullets I used in the test starting this thread had one normal sized lube groove in addition to the space in front of the gas check, neither with lube in them.

John

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frnkeore posted this 09 October 2018

Are you pulling the bullets (and powder?) from factory .22 RF ammo, then breech seating your own cast bullet?  Or what?

Mitch,

yes, I made a hand held, shell holder. I hold the case with it and one twist of the bullet, with a pair of pliers and it's out.

The cases are then just used as primers.

Frank

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David Reiss posted this 14 October 2018

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
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John Alexander posted this 15 October 2018

The first patch through after shooting the unlubed bullets had no detectable lead and after Ed's Read and brush still no indication of the lead that I often see in tiny flakes.

The first patch was pushed through with uniform resistance unlike when areas of hard fouling can be felt.

MTL is a bullet lube that used to be popular and is still used by Ed K. Dan Hudson, and half the mixture Larry Rickersen uses. If those guys use it it must be OK. It has been discontinued for years as far as I know but I had an old can of it.

To Ken's question about fouling shots. As an indicator, the single shot on the two left aim points were fired after a bore cleaning with Ed's Red. The unlubed one would have been in the following group and the lubed one would have almost been in the following group.

Also note that there seems to be no tendency for the groups in either string to get bigger as bore condition changes, or not, as I have seen in many other loads when the first group in a string was usually the best.

BTW the second measurement after the / above each aim point is of the four best shots -- one of my quirks.

John

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Ross Smith posted this 24 October 2018

John: Accuracy wasn't good and I don't know what else to blame it on. Also when I got home I decided the rifle needed more cleaning than what I did at the range. I ended up using steel wool to get all the linotype scraped out.

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RicinYakima posted this 05 November 2018

if my rifle shoots 3 inch groups with perfect ammo, how bad does it have to shoot with not so perfect bullets before i know there is  a difference ... do joeb's predictions hold the same for match barrels and barrels with 24 inches of varying defects ?  loose bedding ?   loose scope mounts?    wobbly bench rests ?? 

Since Joe's data was gathered from benchrest national matches, I would say that the bugs have been worked out of the rifles for the 1.91 number.

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RicinYakima posted this 12 November 2018

If it is not written down and published on paper, it is lost forever!

Write articles for The Fouling Shot. Tom Grey has done several, but folks don't seem to remember to go back and look at them. They want instant electronic access to everything and no research.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 02 December 2018

browsing that amazing facebook ( g ) i found a guy using an interesting bullet ...  NOE CE4 225 gr. naked 30 cal.  i copied a pic of the mold and posted him an invitation to come here and relate his adventures.

ken

 

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