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So my new Browning x-bolt always sends the first shot high and right. Then all other shots are dead on hot or cold barrel. So I assume it's the clean barrel that causes the first shot flyer. My question is how long can I leave a barrel dirty without damaging it? It's a stainless steel barrel I would like to leave it dirty for my up and coming elk hunt but don't want to ruin the rifle. A couple of weeks or a month okay?
Allen
 

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I never clean until groups start to open up. Some of my better rifles I dont clean in under 100 or so rounds. Some need frequent cleaning. All require a few fouling shots to dial back in after cleaning EXCEPT for my smokepoles. Those I want first shot = clean barrel accuracy.

My wifes new Weatherby Camilia needs 10 shots after cleaning to settle back down to tight groups. I only cleaned it more frequently due to the mythical "break-in" period, but frankly if it takes almost a dozen rounds to settle it down after cleaning, I'm done cleaning it until it opens to 2MOA. Thats probably going to be quite a few rounds down the road.

-DallanC
 

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I never clean until groups start to open up. Some of my better rifles I dont clean in under 100 or so rounds. Some need frequent cleaning. All require a few fouling shots to dial back in after cleaning EXCEPT for my smokepoles. Those I want first shot = clean barrel accuracy.

My wifes new Weatherby Camilia needs 10 shots after cleaning to settle back down to tight groups. I only cleaned it more frequently due to the mythical "break-in" period, but frankly if it takes almost a dozen rounds to settle it down after cleaning, I'm done cleaning it until it opens to 2MOA. Thats probably going to be quite a few rounds down the road.

-DallanC
What it the timeline between your cleaning.
 

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Depends on copper fouling build up, not time. I don't understand the point of repeatedly cleaning an already accurate barrel. When too much fouling affects groups, then its time to clean. If I'm shooting alot, it will be alot more frequently... some hunting rifles I might go 10 years between cleaning if I dont shoot them alot and they are holding MOA. I do run a patch of oil down the barrels before storing, but that's just to help slow down oxidation of the copper.

My rifle with the highest shot count is my heavy barrel 22-250 with approx 3,400 rounds down the tube. That one gets cleaned every couple hundred rounds. My most accurate load is still sub MOA.

-DallanC
 

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On my recent trip to Africa I shot 40 rounds through my rifle and didn't clean it until I got home.

My PH borrowed it and took a 300+ yards hot at a cull bleastbuck and dropped him like a rock with a head shot.

When I cleaned it I was surprised at how little fowleing was in the barrel. All shots through it were Barnes TTSX bullets.

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I'm with Dallan. I only clean when groups open up. And by clean, I mean clean the barrel. I still wipe it down and give the moving bits some love. I used to clean religiously until I had a Weatherby Vanguard in 25-06 I couldn't get to group. Finally got so frustrated after a long range day that I didn't clean it. Just put it back in the safe and was thinking it was time to put it up for sale. I decided to give it one more chance with a new ammo. It shot ok, but not good enough to keep IMO. So I decided to burn the rest of the ammo before I sent it down the road.
The longer I shot, the tighter the groups got. Ammo that previously was grouping around 2-3" was suddenly tightening up to 1.5" and now shoots less than 1" 5 shot groups. I won't clean that tube until they open back up. And that was probably 300 rounds ago.
 

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I'm in agreement with Dallan as well. I hate having to resight all the time. I don't shoot a whole lot like some of you guys. Other than my .243. That one I do clean a little more often. Bit, I don't go crazy about it. My guns have always worked quite well for me. I hit what I aim at.... 😎

Oh ya, and I ALWAYS take a fouling shot in my muzzleloader before hunting. Then clean it after hunt is done. But, I never shoot much during the hunt. I don't take the crazy long shots like some guys. Usually only takes a shot or two. 😁
 

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Especially with todays ammo prices. The ammo I'm going to use on my moose hunt for my 7STW, is Remington Safari-Grade Swift A-Frames. That stuff is over $150 a box now... if you could find any. They stopped making it around 2010. I had 3 unopened boxes. I'm being mighty stingy with it atm, not wasting a shell.

-DallanC
 

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Looking at a few other forums, cleaning as needed is indeed the prevailing wisdom. Learned something new today. I put 10-12 rounds through my .308 each time I'm out, so I'm probably barely breaking the barrel back in after each cleaning.
 

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What it comes down to is that you need to decided for yourself if you need to clean it after every outing or if you can wait and fire more shots through it.

As I mentioned my .340 Weatherby is good with a dirty barrel, it is also good with a clean barrel. Same with my Weatherby Vanguard 25-06, it doesn't matter clean or dirty.
 

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I never clean until groups start to open up. Some of my better rifles I dont clean in under 100 or so rounds. Some need frequent cleaning. All require a few fouling shots to dial back in after cleaning EXCEPT for my smokepoles. Those I want first shot = clean barrel accuracy.

My wifes new Weatherby Camilia needs 10 shots after cleaning to settle back down to tight groups. I only cleaned it more frequently due to the mythical "break-in" period, but frankly if it takes almost a dozen rounds to settle it down after cleaning, I'm done cleaning it until it opens to 2MOA. Thats probably going to be quite a few rounds down the road.

-DallanC
This was going to be my reply as well, if the spread gets squirrly it's time to clean!
 

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I still do the urban legend 20 shot hyper ultra mega cleaning ritual for the first box and after a sight in with the second box I call it broke in after 40 shots. I only clean my barrel when snow or dirt gets in my barrel now. If my groups start looking like turkey shot pattern then I’ll just throw the gun off a cliff yell some obscenities and blame the first person that makes me mad, $&%# !+ why not 🤷🏼‍♂️😆
 

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Do a bore sight. On a clean barrel the first shot does not count. So deliberately hold to the side and shoot one. Now you can hold on target and shoot 5 and see where the average is. Now adjust sights if needed. I like to sight in so the group is about 2.5 inches high at 100 yards. This puts it on at 200 yards and about 3.5 inches low at 300 yards. So for deer sized animals you don't need to worry about trajectory up to 300 yards. (Ya oughta not be shootin at a deer beyond those distances anyway.)
 

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Ya oughta not be shootin at a deer beyond those distances anyway.
I'm curious as to your reasoning for this? Do you have a factual reason for making that statement? I'm not trying to be aggressive, I just find it frustrating that people try to inject their own ethics onto others. Just because you don't shoot past 300 yards doesn't mean you need to tell others not to.

I shot my buck across canyon at 476 yards last year, and my elk at 640 yards. Would being closer make them more dead?
 
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