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Old levers, gun cleaning, and shocking results. IMHO anyway

JunkCollectorJunkCollector Posts: 1,454 Senior Member
So you guys know about my Winchester 92 almost week long cleaning saga.

Today I did the Marlin 32-20.
It Only took about an hour.
It was nowhere near as built up as the 92.
When I was done I wanted to try it and my son was up for a range trip so off we went.
I Brought a couple 22's along for fun.
My son liked that Danzig especially the scope on it.

Now for the shocking results.
I started with the modern day mortar rounds.
That's what I call those 100 grain rifle & pistol rounds.
After cleaning the bullets were tumbling/keyholing like crazy.

They weren't even close I'm talking feet.....not inches apart at 30 yards.

They had never done this before.
Gotta say I was a bit upset/panicked by it.
I shot pretty random some at paper some on steel when it settled back in I was on steel and the results were just as shocking

It started to actually group bullets again.
I went back to paper and wow.
It would group and not keyhole again.....very weird science.


  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Posts: 14,740 Senior Member
    How did/does the crown look? Did shooting it fill in some damage from overzealous cleaning in the past?
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • JunkCollectorJunkCollector Posts: 1,454 Senior Member
    edited March 19 #3
    This was with the Marlin 1894 in 32-20. 
    I've shot it several times before and it never keyholed.
    It always grouped decently but not great either. I also never deep cleaned the bore.

    I decided to try it and see what would happen.
    The results to me were quite interesting and scary at first.

    I'm definitely curious on what the other one will do now too.
    I'm sure the bore on it was heavily leaded.
    I'm hoping it will shoot now and not keyhole.
    It will probably take quite a few rounds like this did to settle in.

  • sakodudesakodude Posts: 4,794 Senior Member
    Interesting phenomenon. I’ve never been blessed to own something that old that required that much scrubbing. Might be interesting to slug the bore before fouling it again.
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 4,907 Senior Member
    That’s normal.  It takes a few rounds for all the imperfections that you opened up with your deep cleaning (fissures, pitting etc) to get filled back in with metal from the first series of rounds and smooth out.  Then it’ll shoot well for a bit until the rough bore gets too fouled then it’ll go to hell again.  Old damaged barrels do this.  

    You can prolong the good shooting by using mostly jacketed bullets and hard cast, and keep your cleaning from now on pretty light.

    It’s a °IIIII° thing 😎

  • FreezerFreezer Posts: 2,657 Senior Member
    It would be an interesting experiment to clean it well then record what a bore scope sees, shoot it until the gun shoots well then bore scope it again.
    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
  • JunkCollectorJunkCollector Posts: 1,454 Senior Member
    edited March 19 #7
    I definitely found the whole experience interesting/upsetting too.

    This isn't the 92 I just picked up.
    It's a marlin 1894 in 32-20 that I picked up last year in September.

    I've shot it a decent amount and it never keyholed.
    It shot decent groups but not great ones.

    The cleaning was an experiment to see if it would group better after cleaning.
    Still not sure on that.

    The keyholing "all over" really threw me and wasn't expected.

    I'm not expecting to clean this one again unless or until the accuracy goes totally south.

    I'm also going to pay close attention to just how it will shoot group wise with a bore that did this.

    I'm pretty much only expecting about 1 1/2" 5 shot groups at 30 yards.

    It is what it is
    Just a fun gun to shoot.
  • Wambli SkaWambli Ska Posts: 4,907 Senior Member
    Freezer said:
    It would be an interesting experiment to clean it well then record what a bore scope sees, shoot it until the gun shoots well then bore scope it again.
    Actually it is.  I bough a bore scope a while back and some birds will scare the crap out of you.  And yet they’ll still shoot relatively well when fouled.

    It’s a °IIIII° thing 😎

  • JunkCollectorJunkCollector Posts: 1,454 Senior Member
    edited March 19 #9
    I'm happy enough with the 32-20
    It is actually in the truck right now to see just what it will do now.

    It's cold It's windy but I won't be shooting long or far so figure I'll live.

    It was pretty rushed yesterday when it settled in.
    I actually have hopes for the 25-20 with all that came out of it.
  • BigslugBigslug Posts: 9,770 Senior Member
    Yet another of the reasons I want to rope you guys into bullet casting.

    If you do a swage-cast of your chamber with a fired case as its foundation (one of my Hawkeye threads covers this), slug the barrel for groove diameter, and pin-gauge it for bore diameter, you can get very nerdy about determining the specs you need for your cast bullet - whether that's as simple as poking through blueprints for an off-the-shelf mold and the correct sizing die to run it through or going full custom.

    But if you've got the right alloy and a bullet that starts out .001" to .002" over groove diameter (maybe a little more for a big - read, "worn" -  throat), it will seal against the gas blow-by that is the cause of most barrel leading - even with a fair amount of pitting.  It will also grip whatever rifling you've got left and typically shoot pretty well.  A bullet design with grooves packing a generous amount of a good lube also helps.  Consider that the shank of your bullet is most likely much longer than any individual pit, so while gas might have a very brief window to get past the base of the bullet, it will probably run into a tight seal farther up - and then the bullet is past the pit and the gap is gone.

    The ideal is to have a bore that tapers VERY slightly, getting tighter towards the muzzle.  If a bullet is fit to the throat, the grip starts correct and gets a little tighter - and continues to gas-seal well - all the way down the bore.  A bit of gentle fire-lapping with abrasive-embedded bullets in front of very light loads can help to achieve this when necessary, as well as knocking down some of the roughness of a pitted bore.  You'll want to do your chamber and bore measurements again AFTER you do this.

    While I wouldn't necessarily purchase a mold specifically for this, there's a school of thought that advocates gas-checked bullet designs in which the front edge of the gas check forms the back edge of the rearmost lube groove.  The front edge of the copper gas check then forms an effective scraper to scrub out fouling from prior shots, or in the case of some of these oldies, the "gunk of ages".

    Short version - there's a lot of old guns that can be saved from uselessness if you develop and feed them the right ammo, and because of the ravages of age, the "right ammo" may be a little off original spec.  I imagine the major "Kiss of Death" would be major damage to the crown from improper muzzle cleaning - but we have outfits that can re-line barrels if it comes to that.

    But mainly, y'all are acquiring these lovely antiques and then agonizing over how to find "Bibbledy-dash-boobledy" ammo to feed them.  We have a lot of tasty cookies for you here on the Dark Side. ;)

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • JunkCollectorJunkCollector Posts: 1,454 Senior Member
    I definitely find what you and you dad do interesting.

    A lot more intensive than my intents for simply enjoying an old lever gun though.

    The above gun has shown a fondness for 120 grain GC bullets vs 100 grain plain. Lead ones.

    Saco helped me out there and a recent gunshow got me a good stash for continuing Feeding it.
  • BigslugBigslug Posts: 9,770 Senior Member
    120 grain bullets. . .little things.  I keep having to remind myself that my .32-20 is not exactly a .32-20:

    Cartridge on the left in the first photo is an unfired .32-20 case that needed to be flared to accept my custom .320" bullet.  Cartridge on the right and the one on the breech block are blown out and reloaded.

    If it didn't shoot so damn well, I'd seriously consider rebarreling it to .357 Magnum to simplify the logistics, but as it stands, it does, and the Weird Science is done, so it stays as-is as one of my favorite giggle-makers.

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
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