Black Powder Rifle Accuracy System

When A Good Barrel Goes Bad

I recently received a question asking why a rifle that had been getting good groups suddenly began opening up the groups that previously had been the envy of one and all. Here is my answer Simple. You changed something.

When, after 6 months of selling my material, my shooting went all to hell. Sorry, reverend, there is no other word. I was beginning to consider the difficulty and cost of refunding all the money I had taken in at that time, when while talking to the range owner I heard myself saying, "The only thing I have changed is the wiping patch."

Clank! The penney dropped.

I had run out of the U.S. Government issued wiping patches and had purchased some pretty flannel ones at some gun store. I looked around and found some more Gov't patches and took a measurement and then compared that measurement to a measurement of the flannel patching. The new stuff was half as thick as the Gov't stuff…


Went back to the gov't issued stuff and in about 3 shots was back to the nickel sized group.

While I had been wiping between shots with the new material its thinner fabric wasn't doing the job of the former material, so there was a very slightly larger amount of residue left in the bore which was baking on, shot after shot, giving me an ever increasingly small bore. so that as I fired, the ball/patch combination was increasingly wrong. Resulting in gross inaccuracy and when I found I was beginning to pound the balls out of round during loading I began to get flyers of heroic proportions. I strongly recommend getting a jag that is too large for your barrel, and then truning it down to where , with a clean barrel, two Gov't Issue wiping patches, will, slowly and smoothly go down your barrel with only the weight of your arm supplying the impetus. That seems to do the trick. I have read and many places that a barrel is good for about 1500 -1800 rounds before it is shot out. As I have fired vast multiples of those numbers of rounds out of the same barrel with NO loss of accuracy, I am inclined to believe that the "Shot-Out Barrel" is part of folklore and not reality.

However, bear this in mind, We use soft brass cleaning jags and loading jags, usually the same jag, because a steel jag would raise heck with the rifling. Well and good. On the other hand the rifling raises a bit of heck with the soft brass jag and it very slowly becomes smaller and smaller.

In about 1500 to 1800 rounds your jag will wear down a bit and start leaving a very small amount of crud in the barrel, just like the thinner wiping patch did in my barrel, and your barrel begins to behave badly. A shot out barrel? No, a shot out jag.

Your problem may have been caused by something else. But I do know that the reason your rifle began to misbehave was because something changed. You just have to figure out what you did. Unknowingly, as in my case with the thinner wiping patch, something has changed.

In loading your rifle you must be consistent in ALL things and your groups will be consistent.