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Thread: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

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    Senior Member breamfisher's Avatar
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    Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    'Splain this to me.... I thought that bronze was softer than steel. Am I wrong? How do bronze brushes scratch the bore of a barrel?

    I am hesitant to use steel brushes on a rifle or pistol, as I'm afraid that it will mess up the bore. Should I worry about using bronze in my pistols?

    If I don't use bronze and don't use steel, what kind of brushes are recommended? Or are they? Nylon? Patch and jag?

    I rarely use brushes, but I don't want to do any unnecessary damage.
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    Senior Member Teach's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Bronze is softer than steel, and can't do the bore any damage. The problem is that bronze is mostly copper with some alloys to harden it. If you're using a "copper solvent" to get the jacket material out of the bore, you need to switch to a nylon brush after a few scrubbing passes with the bronze brush, or the patches you push down the bore to check it will never stop showing "copper" residue- - - -the solvent is eating the brush.
    Jerry
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    Senior Member breamfisher's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Oh, I know about the copper solvent working on the bronze brush. You also have to be careful using a brass jag, too!
    Unless we each conform, unless we obey orders, unless we follow our leaders blindly, there is no possible way we can remain free. - Maj. Frank Burns

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    On badly fouled bbls. I have used very fine wire SOFT, I REPEAT SOFT stainless brushes of the correct size with a patch.
    JAY

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    Moderator Linefinder's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    I'll preface this post by saying, again....I own a borescope. Used properly, bronze brushes don't harm your bore. "Properly" means use a boreguide, and you need to use a boreguide with anything you stick down the bore.

    I'll even say to anyone that's still of the opinion that bronze brushes damage bores, go look down any barrel you wish with a borescope, brush it a couple hundred strokes with a bronze brush, then borescope it again. You will not be able to show me any "scratches" in the bores surface that was caused by the brush. I guarantee it.

    But....there's always a caveat. I have (rarely) seen the occasional broken off bronze bristle left in the bore. I don't think this chunk of bronze when combined with the heat and friction of a fired bullet could possibly do the bore any good. That will scratch it, I'd imagine.

    Just make sure after using a bronze brush that you completely flush out the bore. Aerosol non-chlorinated brake cleaner does a good job on this.

    I'm not shy about using bronze brushes on my bores, though I rarely do it. I've become a much bigger fan of a patched jag with a mild borepaste such as Iosso or KG-2. It renders bores sparkly clean without a whole lot of effort.

    Mike

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    If you use brushes as seldom as I do, bronze won't hurt a bore. I think you can do more damage to the muzzle of a rifle with the cleaning rod than with a bronze brush. And that's cleaning from the rear, using a bore guide.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    A bullet is made of copper alloy and gets slammed down the bore at thousands of feet per second with a bunch of superheated gas behind it.

    A bore brush is made of copper alloy and gets gently pushed down the bore surrounded by lubricating solvents and oils.

    A barrel is made of steel, and so were swords when they were last in vogue. We gave up on bronze swords a couple thousand years ago when iron ones smashed them off the battlefield.

    No. . .I'm not worried about a bronze brush damaging my bore.
    WWJMBD?

    Ok, so .277 is the number of The Beast. This makes The Beast. . .what. . .a chihuahua?

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    Member jwv2001's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    This is an interesting interview with John Kreiger. He touches on the use of a bronze brush in the last minute or so. It's worth watching the whole video.



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    Senior Member Pegasus's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    OMG (as the kids say,) I completely forgot that copper is not as hard as steel. Silly me, I was all wrong. Go ahead and push your tight but weak bronze brushes through your super-hard steel bore and don't worry about damaging your bores. Better yet, make sure you use up thos bronze brushes, no need to buy new ones. The one you got in 1982 is still fine and for a good trick, put a dry patch around that old brush and push it through the bore.


    OTOH, I have always been leery of metal on metal contact when it comes to shiny surfaces. My match barrels are triple-lapped or more and I paid good money for that feature. One of the main benefit of a lapped barrel is its ability to not accumulate copper while firing jacketed bullets so that accuracy is not compromised as the number of shots through the barrel increases. Excellent accuracy can certainly be attained with barrels that do accumulate copper very quickly, but this fine accuracy disappears rapidly as the copper accumulates. So these great barrels are able to put several shots together and then the group size grows. This is rectified by a thorough cleaning and the cycle starts over. In a hunting or plinking situation, that is not an issue. In a match environment, it most certainly is an issue, hence the need for lapped barrels in match rifles.

    If your barrel is not lapped, you should stop reading now and continue using your bronze bore brushes, the older the better.

    .
    .
    .

    Ok, if you are still reading it's either because you do have lapped barrels or you are curious about this bronze brush/steel bore thing. Let's talk about lapping first, just to make sure we are on the same page. Lapping is the process by which a lead slug is pushed through a steel barrel after it has been rifled, woth the goal od essentially polishing it, removing all tools marks and giving the barrel a mirror finish. If you're thinking that lead is not as strong as steel, you have a point. So, some lapping compound is applied. Lapping starts with a bore that is ever so slightly smaller that the target size of the bore. So, if you are looking for .30 caliber bore, you may be starting with .298 or some such. Then as you lap the barrel, it will reach .300 with a very smooth finish. Yes, lapping actually removes steel from the bore of guns, yet lead a nowhere near as hard as steel. So the lapping compound helps.

    Now, let's take a bronze brush and examine it. We see that it is made of fine bronze wire that has been drawn and then cut when the brush was formed to the proper caliber. As we all know, as you work brass, it work hardens. This occurs when you are resizing and then firing cases; the neck gets harder. To make it soft again, you can anneal the case, which means you apply heat to it. Unlike steel, brass or bronze responds to heat by becoming soft. Then as you work the brass it becomes harder again.

    Now I think it's a safe bet that brush manufacturers do not anneal their bronze brushes and it's also safe to assume there is probably not more than a handful of shooters who clean and anneal their bronze brushes. I know I never did. The bronze brushes are work hardened from the day they are created and continue to do so as they are used.

    The main difference between the brass on a bullet and the brass in the brush can be felt by simply dragging either one on you cheek, pressing as hard as you can. If you're like me, dragging the bullet will not hurt at all, but the brush will leave a mark, I can assure you. Now, Rockwell 28 stainless steel is not as hard as you think and when you push through a work-hardened bristle bronze brush, it is going to scratch the bore. The scratches are going to be microscopic, but they are there and over time, they accumulate as the brush acts like a lapping head. This action will not be easily detected even with a borescope because it is minute and cumulative. I would never expect a bronze brush to leave a visible scratch, but it does a number on your barrel over time. Add to this the fact these brushes accumulate crap from the barrel, and you are pushing a brush encrusted with carbon and other junk. If you have ever cleaned the tail of an AR-15 bolt, you know how hard that junk can be and now that stuff is in your brush. Even if you clean the brush between each stroke, the carbon is still in there between the breech and the bore.

    We have also had discussion here about barrel break-in. Whether you think a break-in is required or not, we all agree that shooting bullets through the bore burnishes the bore. That should not happen since gilding metal (aka bronze or brass) is softer than steel. But it does. I just don’t think one needs to run through a fixed break-in regimen to do that, just go shoot.

    My point is that I paid good money to make sure my lapped match barrels are smooth and that is critical to me goals with these barrels. If you do not care about your barrels or you do not think that bronze brushes affect your barrels, continue using them. It's still a fairly free country.

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    A Bronze brush will not hurt the bore, but as Teach said you just don't want to use them with copper solvent.

    I always use Hoppe's Bronze & Nylon Brushes but I never use steel brushes.
    Last edited by temmi; 10-06-2011 at 07:35 PM. Reason: thr = the

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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Dang, that does it.......no more Bronze brushes on my Mosin Nagant barrels, it might damage them

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    Senior Member breamfisher's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Pegasus,
    Since I asked the question that began this, and mentioned bronze was softer than steel... Your first paragraph is very condescending, and makes me not want to read the rest of your dissertation. The occasional snide comment interspersed makes me unhappy that I tried to ignore your first paragraph and read on.

    Believe it or not, I'm actually asking because I'm curious as to what your original statement about bronze brushes being bad, and didn't want to derail another poster's thread. I also thought that it would present a chance for others to learn why bronze brushes are less than ideal.
    Unless we each conform, unless we obey orders, unless we follow our leaders blindly, there is no possible way we can remain free. - Maj. Frank Burns

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    Senior Member Pegasus's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Nice video. Very interesting.

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    Senior Member Pegasus's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Breamfisher, it was not aimed at you. Sorry for the mix up. Your question is good, various answers were not.

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    Senior Member Teach's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Yes, Earl, kernels of wisdom can be gleaned from sarcastic, condescending commentary. It's sort of like watching a flock of blackbirds picking stuff out of a steaming pile of cow flop on a cool morning.
    Jerry
    "We have met the enemy, and he is us!" Pogo

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?


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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Teach View Post
    Yes, Earl, kernels of wisdom can be gleaned from sarcastic, condescending commentary. It's sort of like watching a flock of blackbirds picking stuff out of a steaming pile of cow flop on a cool morning.
    Jerry


    And toothbrush bristles are bad for the enamel on our teeth, but we still gotta use them or have dirty teeth

    The pros far outweigh the cons and consequences

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    If I owned triple-lapped target/precision barrels that set me back three times the cost of the entire original rifle, I'd worry more about bronze damage. Even on the softer steel of .22 rimfire barrels, your primary damage will come from contact between the steel/aluminum/etc. cleaning rod itself with the muzzle. Although, I must say, I've gone from brush in the .22 barrels to a cleaning jag with patch ONLY for the most part.

    I also wouldn't use Windex and a paper towel to clean the lenses of the Hubbel telescope.

    It's a question of degree - if you're concerned that the bronze brush might harm a barrel, use something else - there's a lot of options.

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Quote Originally Posted by gunrunner428 View Post
    ...
    I also wouldn't use Windex and a paper towel to clean the lenses of the Hubbel telescope.
    ...
    Quick giving Buffy any ideas.

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spk View Post
    Quick giving Buffy any ideas.
    I coulda said "...with spit and a page from the Sears-Roebuck catalog", if you want I should give Buff idee-ers...

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Why are our forums populated by folks who love to talk down to others in the answer to a simple question?
    Is brass or bronze softer than high carbon steel? Yes!
    Will it damage a rifle barrel? No, if used by the average guy while cleaning his rifle.
    Good Lord, we don't need a doctorite thesis to answer the question.

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    Senior Member Pegasus's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    The issue with accuracy and barrel life is predicated on obtaining a good obturation of the bore with the bullet. If your bullet fits tightly in the bore and thus prevents the hot gases pushing the bullet from blowing by the bullet, your barrel will be more accurate and less likely to accumulate copper. Provided of course, that the bore is not rough. However this obturation needs to be uniformely tight for the entire length of the barrel. Now, if une uses a bronze bore brush, especially and older, soiled one to repeatedly clean the bore, and in a showshine mode, the brush is in effect acting like a lapping slug, albeit a very weak one. Over time this will cause the bore to expand and obturation will suffer. We are talking about extremely small amount here and at the pressure we are talking about, blow-by is inevitable. When blow-by occurs, you will get copper deposits in the barrel. This is when the barrel is considered "shot out." I would say, the barrel is "cleaned out."

    What is insidious about this is that you will not be able to see this with a borescope, the only way to measure it will be to slug it or air-guage it.

    Now, the vast majority of shooters simply do not shoot enough to encounter this. And of those who are volume shooters, they may, correctly or not, attribute the loss of accuracy to the retreat of the lands right after the chamber. This is expecially true of the ones who shoot high intensity cartridges that eat the throat inside of 1200 rounds. For those of us who do not shoot such cartridges, a match barrel can retain its gilt-edged accuracy for several thousand rounds. My match .308 has close to 3000 rounds down the bore in the last 2 years and it's still hellaciously accurate.

    If someone does not think that bronze brushes can be harmful to a steel bore, that's fine; it's not my job to convince people otherwise. There are any number of wonderful products that will clean your bore with little effort and no bore damage, but if you think you get better results with an old bronze bore brush, have at it and the older and dirtier the brush, the better.

  23. #23
    Senior Member JasonMPD's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Yes brass is softer than steel and won't scratch the hardened steel of modern gun barrels.

    That being said, I do not believe that a brass brush and Hoppes #9 will rid my bores of the copper deposits like I want it to. What will get rid of copper like I want it to is a chemical solvent of copper, like those available for cleaning barrels. That and a few tight bore patches does it for me.
    "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." -Ronald Reagan on the economic philosophy of big government.

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Airedale View Post
    Why are our forums populated by folks who love to talk down to others in the answer to a simple question?
    Is brass or bronze softer than high carbon steel? Yes!
    Will it damage a rifle barrel? No, if used by the average guy while cleaning his rifle.
    Good Lord, we don't need a doctorite thesis to answer the question.
    First off, I agree with those that hold that using a bronze brush won’t damage a barrel, what some may have a problem with is the process of moving the brush’s tip and base and the rod across the crown.

    I find that I use more force to push a bronze brush than a nylon bush or just a patch and have to watch myself a bit more when using a bronze brush.

    There are some folks that don’t believe in cleaning a rifle at all until you start noticing some problems.

    I seem to take all things cleaning and reloading to extremes, so I’m not really one to talk.

    In any crowd there are some, with experience, who just have a problem getting their points across without seeming a tad aloof.

    I still believe we all have something to learn from each other so I never throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    Snake

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Ok so how does one clean a rifle without dragging the fouling thru the bore as if it were a lapping tool?

    Some foaming bore cleaner then some other fluid thru some sort of a parts washer thing and then let it air dry?

  26. #26
    Senior Member breamfisher's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    I patch mine, and push the patch from the chamber to the crown, take off the patch and jag, withdraw the rod, put on the jag and a new patch, repeat....
    Unless we each conform, unless we obey orders, unless we follow our leaders blindly, there is no possible way we can remain free. - Maj. Frank Burns

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Oh hey I understand that sir. I do the same generally. Lately I use a bore snake... or an OTIS cleaning system.

    I was asking the guy(s) who claims the bronze brush damages the bore because it acts like a lap. Patching the bore is going to act as a lap as well since you are dragging that nasty fouling down the bore.

  28. #28
    Senior Member Pegasus's Avatar
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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    Well, will wonders never cease? I was just ready this month's issue of Precision Shooting, the September issue. There is a long article by James Lewis who makes similar points to mine. He does state that bronze brushes do scratch stainless steel bores. But we all know that can't be right.


    TRF, when I finally get down to cleaning the bores of my match rifles, after several hundred rounds, I use Wipe Out, which I leave in the bore for 15-20 minutes and then push through patches. The bores clean out in 2-3 patches. No need to force anything, let the chemicals to the work.

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    Re: Bronze brushes bad for the bore?

    No direct experience with such matters, but as a person that is in the automotive field and gets to experience metallurgy at its best..... has anybody else witneesed how a soft RUBBER seal can wear a nice groove in a hardened steel crankshaft pulley???? Just saying as an analogy.

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