Barrel shot out

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by Diamondhitch, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Well, I got some bad news today. While zeroing my .257 WBY the other day I was almost done fine tuning it at 300 yds when my group opened up to about 5". This gun normally shoots about 2.5" at 300yds with this load. The gun in question for whatever reason is one that hated a clean barrel and takes 20-30 shots to really settle in and be accurate so I clean it maybe every 500 rounds or so. I figured maybe it was fianlly fouled enough to lose accuracy so I shined it up and went back to the range.I fired 3 fouling shots and then proceeded to completely miss the target at 300 with my 4th. I dismissed it as a monkey error but my next was nowhere to be found either.

    Moving back to 100 I missed the target as well. My scope, mounts action screws were all checked and a spare scope was mounted and back to the range. I bore sighted it at 100yds like I normally do and proceeded to miss the target twice. I figured I better back off to 25 and get things started. I bore sighted at 25 and fired my first shot and moved the sight. the second shot was nowhere near where I expected so I fired another and finished off a 4" group at 25 yards.

    Flustered I called a gunsmith who told me to come right over and he would have a look at it for me. After going over everything I had already done he was still scratching his head. He next pulled out his bore scope. The front half of the barrel back from the crown looked great. We swapped ends and saw barrel armageddon! Heat stress cracking which was starting to flake. As near as we can tell the copper fouling was helping to hold the flakes together until finally 1 came loose and caused my initial OK but not great accuaracy. Then when I cleaned it a bunch more let loose and the barrel is now useless. Did I mention I leave for Africa in 3 weeks.

    The good news is I have a new Lilja barrel that can be installed right away but with shipping and installation it looks close to 3 weeks and that leaves no time for load development so it will not be done until I return. On the plus side out of desperatio I did tinkering and found that it fires the first bullet within 2 inches of center at 300 yds. The second is within 3 inches and then after that I can throw them more accurately! I will be in the Free State and Eastern Cape and was looking forward to some long range shots at wily springbok, etc. but now I dont trust the gun.

    I`m just venting here. Im more that a bit frustrated right now.
     
  2. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Just my Opinion but it sounds like it needed re-barreling from the start get yourself a new Savage its not the same old gun. he he thought I would add a little more frustration.
     
  3. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Thanks, I like my guns like I like my women...dirty. LOL
     
  4. saeng101

    saeng101 AH Veteran

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    And oiled up?

     
  5. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Definitely!!!
     
  6. BARTFRNCS

    BARTFRNCS AH Enthusiast

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    What brand of rifle was this? How many rounds did you get out of the barrel? How much is it costing to get reberalled?Usally they dont go all at once they open gradually. You got lucky imagine if it went in Africa.
     
  7. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Its hard to say for certain but the lack of care (500 rounds?!?!) may and probably did contribute to this problem. Keep a bore clean and dont let it get too hot for long periods and they last. However a 257 Weatherby is a known barrel eater due to its large overbore capacity. I would take something else as you wont trust this one and if you miss something you wont really know why and that does nothing for confidence. Start cleaning your bores regularly like after each shooting session, right down to bare metal, then oil.
     
  8. bdmd5093

    bdmd5093 AH Member

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    Diamondhitch I feel your pain. After shooting two weeks ago I noticed my wood stock browning xbolt .300 winmag was starting to crack on both sides by the bottom metal. So I call browning and there is no way they can fix it before I leave (may 17). So I bought a new composite stock from them and had it overnighted to my gunsmith. It had to be fit and then bedded and then installed. Got it home yesterday and looked great but when I tried to put a loaded magazine in, the magazine would not fit, and I could not push the bolt release lever in either. Looks like the action is bedded too deep in the stock so things are just too tight. If I loosen the screw a little in the bottom metal that goes thru the trigger housing and secures the bottom metal and chamber into the stock, then the magazine will fit and I can press the bolt release button in.. So back I go to the gunsmith tomorrow. And I leave in 12days! Bought rifle new one year ago, have put around 300rounds through it when the stock cracked. Lesson learned.
     
  9. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Its a Weatherby SBGM (old version of the ultra lightweight) I dont know how many rounds I have through it, 2500-5000, lots anyway. It is an old gun and I shot ALOT. It actually did start to open up, slightly at first, and when I cleaned it I dislodged some flakes just in front of the chamber which caused it to ballon into a shotgun like pattern. This gun had paid its dues and owes me nothing, I cant really complain.

    It looks like all said and done it should be around $1300 or so for all I have planned, Barrel, powder coat, blueprinting, etc. so about the cost of a factory Rem 700 I will have a tack driving match grade Lilja barrel on a rifle that I already love the feel of. Not a bad deal in the end just bad timing.

    If it had gone in Africa I dont think I would have noticed. Before cleaning it was throwing some fliers that were still acceptable hunting accuracy (marginally). But ya could have been a disaster.
     
  10. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Have to disagree about the lack of care. This gun is very old and has 'been there and done that' hundreds of hard days afeild sometimes in wet conditions where it could not be dried out for weeks yet it has no rust or external pitting whatsoever despite the blueing being badly worn. Short range bench rest shooters often clean after each group, long range bench rest shooters often wait 500-600 rounds before cleaning. the barrel on this gun has a very rough bore as evidenced when we bore scoped it recently which is probably why it liked to be fouled. It really didnt get great groups until it had 20-30 rounds through it and then it was quite a tack driver. (took me awhile to figure this out and made initial load development a nightmare). Either way who was I to argue with the gun about how clean it was supposed to be, it was what it was.

    I do agree that most guns do well with a nice clean bore (+ 2-3 fouling shots).

    .257 is definitely a barrel burner but I think this gun proved that even so, with proper care (I dont let my barrel heat up) they can still last more rounds than the average guy puts through his rifle in a lifetime.
     
  11. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Good luck with your rifle. I know just how frustrating it is.
     
  12. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I should have used the word cleaning instead of care. We are free to clean or not as we choose of course. I know of no one who lets 5-600 rounds down bore without cleaning and such an idea is totally foreign to me. I clean after a gun has been fired regardless how many times or what caliber including .22's. I have never been around so-called bench rest shooters but did for some years compete in NRA Highpower National Match course shooting and never saw a gun go home after a match without a wet patch going thru it first. Hope you get it all resolved before your trip! Good luck and shoot straight!
     
  13. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Thanks Im sure I will have a blast.

    Here are a couple quotes from an article on the subject. The first is definitely on the high side of the scale but 100-150 rounds before cleaning is about average for the 1000yd crowd. It is definitely a different perspective on the subject of cleaning and a Google search brings up several more articles attributing short accuracy life to over cleaning using agressive solvents an brushing. Something to think about anyway.

    David Tubb, 11-Time NRA (Camp Perry) National Champion
    "I shoot moly-coated bullets. I usually shoot 400-450 rounds with the 6XC and DTAC 115s. Then I clean the barrel thoroughly with Sweet's 7.62 and brass brush."

    I shoot moly in most every caliber if possible. I thoroughly clean or not at all. I'll use a one-caliber oversize brass brush and Sweet's 7.62. I'll brush for about 20 strokes each way, keeping the brush wet with solvent. Cleaning the barrel that thoroughly will require you to season your barrel back (this applies whether you shoot bare bullets or moly-coated bullets). I figure most never notice this since they shoot their first shots at 200 yards or less. When shooting a longer distance (1000 yards) I like to see about a dozen shots through before I go for record. To show you the importance of "re-seasoning" your barrel, here is one example of many I have encountered. In 1995 I shot a match in Baily, Colorado, starting at 600 yards early in the morning. I cleaned the rifle as described above and even shot three foulers through it on the way to the range (nobody else does this do they!?) Anyway, I shot a 100-1X for the first 10 shots (plus two sighters to start the string) then followed up with a 100-9X using a 243 with uncoated 107gr Sierras. That shows you the difference between a "squeaky clean" barrel, and one which has been seasoned.

    I usually shoot up to 400-450 rounds without cleaning the 6XC with 115s and robust loads. After that I want to clean since it is time for a few (usually three) TMS (lapping) bullets to keep the throat in order. After the last of three patches, I'll run one with either Hoppes #9 or Shooters Choice to add back a small amount of lubrication for the first shot to follow. [Editor: for info on TMS system go to DavidTubb.com.]

    CONCLUSIONS--Editor's Thoughts
    If you read through the many perspectives above, a few themes come through. First, the short-range Benchrest guys are doing a LOT of brushing, while many of the winning 600- and 1000-yard shooters are cleaning fairly infrequently, and are NOT using bronze brushes. It also appears that most barrel-makers still advocate frequent cleaning with bronze brushes. However, I'm not sure most barrel-makers have actually studied the effect of brushing on barrel life in a scientific fashion, nor have they really explored the potential benefits of brushless cleaning alternatives.

    Now, many top "point-blank" group shooters toss their barrels after 500-700 rounds, and in some cases, as little as 300 rounds. It may be that to obtain benchrest competitive accuracy, i.e. a barrel capable of shooting "zero" groups, you have to clean often and brush aggressively. However, many of the 100-200 yard score shooters, whose 30BR guns can shoot in the low ones (when tested for group) are finding that cleaning less often (and less aggressively) has NOT reduced their scores. Furthermore, these 30BR shooters are getting thousands of rounds of accurate life from their barrels. Is a 30BR THAT different from a 6PPC? Or is the short life of PPC barrels attributable, at least in part, to over-cleaning?

    The short-range PPC group shooters will laugh at you if you suggest that aggressive brushing with bronze brushes, coupled with regular use of JB, is shortening the life of their barrels. However, these same people will acknowledge that their barrels have very short "max-accuracy" life. They consider barrels to be consumables, like powders and primers.

    I doubt anything will change in the short-range group-shooting game as long as Tony Boyer and other Hall of Famers brush aggressively between groups. Right or wrong, the top dogs believe you can't shoot winning Aggs without frequent, aggressive brushing. However, the empirical evidence tells me that such aggressive cleaning procedures may also shorten barrel life. I can't prove that (until we commission a long-term barrel test), but that's my opinion. Maybe heavy brushing, over time, simply wears down the edges of the lands. Perhaps heavy brushing may rough the flat surfaces inside of the bore, which, in turn, creates more tiny edges to catch fouling, which then necessitates frequent cleaning. It may be a self-perpetuating cycle--aggressive cleaning creating a bore condition that fouls faster and so needs to be brushed (and periodica ly JB'd) throughout its life cycle. If that's the case, the PPC guys (with their frequent cleaning) may correctly be doing exactly what it takes to win--once they start down the heavy-brushing path. But the question remains, is there an alternative? Will some top PPC shooters be brave enough to try a minimalist approach?
     

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