Clean Barrel POI with Cast Bullets - Part 1

  • Last Post 07 April 2024
Wilderness posted this 06 April 2024


This year I will be hunting exclusively with cast bullets. I expect to be firing some hunting shots from a clean barrel. It will be useful to know the likely clean barrel POI as well as the “fouled” POI of my rifle.

A check of 18 five shot 100 metre groups for my Savage 99 .30-30 reveals six with the fouling shot within the group, six with fouler on the same elevation but a little left or right, and six with fouler above the edge of the group by a half to two minutes. This was across five different lubes, and two powders, with no standouts. There was no consistent pattern of fouler MV being above or below group average.

Larry Gibson’s big high velocity lube test (14 lubes) revealed two that threw the first shot – one by 9” at 100 yards and one right off the paper. This would completely invalidate those lubes for my hunting application. Conversely, two other lubes in Larry’s test put the first shot to group.

My bullet is #U321297HP 175 gns sized to .312”, about 11% non-lead and a little harder than #2, lubed with Lyman Orange Magic. Load is 33 gns 748, velocity 2180 fps. The last five shot group with this load went 1.99” at 100 m, with the fouler in the group.

This morning I put the clean barrel story to the test. The plan was to fire one fouler, shoot a five shot group, then another five shot group cleaning before each shot. Cleaning comprises two up and down passes with a phosphor-bronze brush and Ed’s Red, then patch dry.

As it happened, the fouler of the day was from a barrel that had been cleaned, wiped dry, and not fired for almost three months. That shot went nearly 5” high of aim, and over 3” high of the subsequent group centre. This is at odds with the fouler POIs from previous recorded groups.

The group itself was an unspectacular 3.46”, POI 1.6” high, velocity 2184 fps SD 15.

Then came the “clean” shots, each from a barrel freshly cleaned and wiped “dry” with two patches. Group was a very interesting 1.67” (1.5 minutes), and POI high 0.6”, a little lower than the main group.  Velocity was 2173 fps and SD 16.

Every part of this result was useful information.

For the initial shot, I can speculate that the barrel was well and truly dry after sitting unused for three months. At any other time of the year I would be using the rifle more or less continuously, so my other groups may not have encountered this situation. This might explain the high shot this time being "out of character".

Lesson #1 is to freshen up the bore (Ed’s Red) before going afield.

Lesson #2 is that from a freshly cleaned barrel I can perhaps now expect reliable POI for the first shot.

Lesson #3 was that I had expected the group of “foulers” to be larger than the regular group, but the reverse was true. How come? I wonder what a sniff of ATF in the lube might achieve?

I would be interested to hear of others’ experiences in managing clean barrel POI for hunting. Or do you have a lube or a bore process that reliably sends the clean barrel shot to group?




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Spindrift posted this 06 April 2024

Interesting post!

My rifles are served a mixed diet of lubed/cast, coated/cast, copper-washed, jacketed lead-core and monolithic copper and brass bullets.

When I plan to shoot lubed/cast, I run a patch of Ed's red through the bore, this contains the same ATF that is used in my lubesizer lube. Then a couple of dry patches. Finally, a couple of passes with a patch with my tumble lube (that I always use as a top coat on my lubed bullets, in addition to the lube added with lubesizer). With this preconditioning, the cold/clean bore shot is typically within the group.

Disclaimer: I'm not a competitive target shooter. Whenever I get 1,5MOA or better at 100m with my hunting rifles, scrap alloy and pick-up brass, I usually call it a day.

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Glenn R. Latham posted this 06 April 2024

I worked on this "first shot" issue quite a bit when I was hunting with cast bullets.  The bullet lube was set, LBT Blue, because I didn't find another lube that would handle the high velocities I was shooting (up to 2800 f.p.s.).  (According to Veral's web site (, he's working on getting his lube business back up.)  I found that the barrel cleaned with Shooter's Choice wouldn't throw the first shot, whether wet right after patching or left wet and shot some days later.  Mine doesn't have the "MC-7" on the label, don't know if it's different than the current stuff.

Yes, I leave my bore wet after cleaning (usually with just patches) for added "lube" for the first shot.  Don't know if it matters or not, doesn't seem to hurt.  I use a mix of beeswax and ATF for my target loads, and the first shot after cleaning is either in or very near the group.


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Wilderness posted this 06 April 2024

Spindrift & Glenn

This is valuable information - thank you.

Leaving the bore at least a little wet after cleaning seems to be the way to go.

I may rerun this test with 2500+ and a mix of scraps (about half LBT) that I still have to use up.

The intriguing bit now is how to capture the "good group" effect of cleaning between shots (if it is real) without actually having to do the cleaning, i.e. maybe by lube choice.

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muley posted this 07 April 2024

from a clean barrel, one shot and move your scope to that point, clean and fire another first shot from cold barrel, shot should go center where you are aiming. you only need the first shot when hunting.

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TRKakaCatWhisperer posted this 07 April 2024

Over the years I've met a fellow at the range that fires ONE shot every 15 or 20 minutes - allowing the barrel to cool.  FWIW  He was looking for that "first shot" accuracy.

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