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By Wayne McLerran
Updated 8/17/16

Since I purchase BPCRs for resale, which are usually in used condition, I
inherit many problems from previous owners.  Certainly one of the
most common is moderate to heavy bore leading, which is likely why
many shooters become frustrated and sell their rifles.  One can’t
determine if leading is a problem by running a few patches down the
bore with typical black powder cleaning solvents.  I’ve cleaned the
bore after a relay until the patches came out white with no obvious
residue, only to find out later the bore was heavily leaded.  And
looking down the bore will not give an indication.  BTW, a few lead
flakes on the patch are typical and are not necessarily an indication of
a leaded bore.  When a tight patch comes out with slivers of lead then
you likely have a lead fouling issue.  As has been discussed and pointed
out in several BPCR forums, very tight patches using turpentine as the
solvent is one of the best techniques in removing bore lead.  But a
couple of turpentine patches will not be sufficient to remove all the
lead if the bore is heavily leaded.

I recently picked up a .45-70 BPCR.  The rifle was in great shape but
the owner complained he could not get it to “shoot”.  So I took a
chance and bought it due to the very attractive price.  During my
normal full disassembly and inspection the bore was found to be heavily
leaded at the muzzle, but how far down was hard to determine until I
grabbed my Hawkeye bore scope.  The bore scope indicated lead from
the muzzle to about ½ way down the bore, implying to me that the
bullet lube was inadequate (poor quality and/or the bullet did not hold
a sufficient amount).

So I did what a lot of experienced shooters have recommended.  Using
a very tight jag and patch soaked with turpentine I commenced to
scrub the bore.  A good bit of lead in long slivers came out, but
regardless how tight the turpentine-soaked patch was all the lead
would not come out.  I later realized that the technique will remove all
the lead but more time and elbow grease is required.  A good stout
cleaning rod and very tight patches are required – so tight that they
squeal when forced through the bore.  A rubber mallet may be required
to drive the rod & turpentine wetted patch through.  Or, not having a
mallet handy, insert the patched cleaning rod in the chamber and use
the ground and the weight of the rifle to drive the rod through the

I then switched to a bronze brush wrapped with bronze wool.  
Additional lead was removed, but still not all.  Finally, I grabbed the
Outers’ Foul Out II electrochemical bore cleaner.  After about an hour,
the unit indicated the bore was clean.  When the rod was removed the
section which was located in the middle of the barrel to the muzzle
was heavily coated with lead.  The rod was cleaned, reinserted and the
unit turned on.  The clean bore light came on immediately.  After
pouring the solution out and passing a couple of patches through the
bore, a close look with the bore scope indicated all the lead was gone.

By the way, reports that the Foul Out will damage bores are BS if the
operating instructions are followed.  I’ve been using it for years with
lead and copper jacket bullets in handguns and rifles and have never
had a problem.  If the bore is pitted and filled with rust, lead or
copper, it will clean out the pits and may have a negative effect on
accuracy.  If rust in present in the bore and precautions are not taken,
the process can convert the rust to a solution that may result in
further erosion or pitting of the bore.  And running the unit for
extended times can
damage the bore.  All of which is discussed in the
Foul Out owner’s manual.  Homemade electrochemical bore cleaners
are frequently reported to etch and damage the bore, most likely
because they typically run at higher voltages and are not current
limited, or were left unattended for many hours, sometimes overnight.  
The Foul Out II version I use is voltage controlled to approximately 0.25
v and current limited to less than 100ma.  I understand the Foul Out III,
the last version made, is voltage controlled to 0.3v and current limited
to 200ma or less. Too bad Outers’ discontinued manufacturing the Foul
Out and the solutions, but I have spotted them on eBay now and then.

Another lead removal solution is to use lead removal cloth, which also
removes carbon residue.  Birchwood Casey makes a 9” x 12” cloth that
can be cut up and used as a patch to clean lead out of the bore and
may be a good solution at a match.  One has to be cautious when using
the cloth since it can also remove bluing and case colors.  And using
the lead cleaning patches will not indicated when the bore is clean as
they will always turn black, even in a clean bore.  I should also mention
the Lewis Lead Removing System or kit, which is made for handguns
and rifles and shotguns.  It uses round brass “cloths” and an
expandable rubber adapter to remove lead from the forcing cone and
bores of revolvers and the bore of any handgun, rifle or shotgun.  It
may be the fastest solution of all for thick lead deposits.  I’ve used it
on handguns but not on rifles.  Based on my experience nothing cleans
lead out of the bore better and with less effort than the Outers’ Foul
Out.  Of course, even with the battery feature, the Foul Out would be
too slow to use during a match.

Since Outers no longer manufactures the Foul Out and has discontinued
the copper and lead remover solutions, those of you that don’t have
one may have been using a solution reported by many to work well.  
The suggested solution is a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and hydrogen
peroxide, which is poured into a
plugged bore.  After 30 minutes to an
hour the solution is poured out and the bore is swabbed with a clean
patch and oiled.  I had used this technique in the past
with success but
recently questioned the affect on firearm bores after finding out the
byproduct of the mix is paracetic acid, a corrosive agent known to etch
iron and steel in strong concentrations.  To determine if the weak
solution I was using was damaging the bore, I ran a couple of simple
experiments.  Refer to the article titled,
Warning – Using Hydrogen
Peroxide & Vinegar to Remove Lead Will Etch
Firearm Bores.

Another method is to use JB Bore Paste, a bronze brush and large
cotton patches to scrub the bore.  The patch is layered over the brush
and saturated with JB.  It requires many patches and lots of JB paste
to remove heavy lead deposits.  One of the shortcomings of this
approach is it requires a bore scope to determine when all the lead is

So what method do you use at a match when time constraints preclude
most of the above mentioned techniques?  I plan on keeping some
turpentine handy to use with a stiff cleaning rod and sufficient
quantities of tight patches to check for leading between relays and
remove the lead.

Wishing you great shooting,