Here at BallisticXLR we like to keep abreast of the movement in the firearms industry. This includes the latest in cleaning and lubrication products. Modern Spartan Systems has entered the market with cleaning and lubrication products which promise “green” technology, advanced chemistry, superior effectiveness and most interestingly, increases in muzzle velocity, reductions of group sizes and extending of barrel life. Well, we just can’t let an opportunity for a Pepsi Challenge like that go without tossing our hats in the ring.
We’ve gathered up a number of match rifles and plinking rifles. We’ve gathered defense pistols and target pistols. We’ve got trap shotguns and hunting shotguns. We’ve got high end optics, mid range optics and low end optics. We’re even bringing a cannon, a real antique Trapdoor Springfield and a new manufacture reproduction Sharps rifle in .45-70. We’ve got rimfire, centerfire and even fuse fired.
Variable Controls: We select a single load specification to complete each test with. Air temperature/humidity/pressure/wind are kept as stable as possible. Guns are not shot hot (when hot to the touch we take a break in testing to cool it off naturally)
MV Testing: We apply the entire MSS cleaning system as directed including conditioning the bore with Accuracy Oil. We compare pre-cleaning (dirty bore) velocity averages, standard deviation, coefficient of variation, minimum and maximum. Data is tracked and logged for each string as well as for each individual shot. Strings are 3-5 shots. 5 shots is the standard. 3 shots is used only where barrel heat becomes an issue during testing.
Accuracy/Precision Testing: We track group size for each string of fire during MV initial testing. After the barrels reach copper equilibrium and bench gathered data is of sufficient volume (where velocities and group sizes seem to stabilize and we have at least several 5-shot strings of velocity data post-treatment) we take the guns into competition because, hey, we are competitive shooters and that’s where the metal meets the meat so to speak. Match scores with MSS treated rifles are compared against past match performance (we have books full of our match scores).
Barrel Life: We have obtained 2 identical Columbia River Arms barrels chambered in 6mm XC. Both are chambered with the same reamer on the same lathe by the same gunsmith in the same week. Extra care was used in selecting a custom reamer and machinist gunsmith capable of the required precision to minimize tolerances like run-out. Both barrels are being put into existing match rifles. Both rifles will shoot the same load spec (this makes load development unnecessarily tricky but we’ll deal with it). Loads will use the same lot of brass/powder/primers/bullets and both will used only HBN coated DTAC bullets from David Tubb. One barrel will be treated with MSS’s system from the beginning, the other will not. After every 200 rounds we’ll re-clean & re-treat the treated barrel. On the control barrel we’ll clean every 200 rounds with Wipe-Out (which we prefer over Hoppe’s #9 & Sweet’s 7.62). We’ll track the barrel life via match scores, throat erosion pace, velocity retention and group size until we have a clear winner. We estimate it will take 1000 rounds to get to a usefully good answer.
Raw Data By Shot String Average:
Raw Data Shot-By-Shot
What we see with the .223; which has the most shots through it since treatment, we see that MV’s have stabilized. Group size average during treatment was over 1 inch. After treatment group size for a 10-shot string was .7 inch. SD’s were dropped roughly in half. Minimum string velocity (a component of velocity extreme spread) increased substantially without a sympathetic change in maximum string velocity as well. A gun/load combination that was getting on my nerves is now showing signs of being a potential sweetheart.
What we see with the 7mm BR, the 6mm XC and the 6.5×55 Swede so far is very similar to what we saw during the early phases with the .223. A lot of volatility during the treatment phase followed by what appears to be (NOTE: APPEARS TO BE, these are early results, too early for real conclusions) some stabilization. What we have not seen are dramatic, sticky (meaning that the effect persists) increases in MV. If anything what we see are slight reductions in peak velocity and slight increases in minimum velocity. That’s an increase of consistency which any shooter would gladly take over any token velocity increase.
What we did see pretty universally (only the 7mm BR didn’t improve) is a reduction in group size. Could this be a rebuke of our blanket advice to avoid unnecessarily cleaning a rifle? Maybe. It could also be due to more consistent friction leading to more consistent harmonics. It could be the stars aligning. Part of that advice to clean as infrequently as possible is economics based. It takes a good number of shots (so far it’s looking like at least 5-10 and as much as 40+ in some cases) for a barrel to get to copper fouling equilibrium. Part of it is based on the notion that most rifle barrel wear out in the real world of sport shooters comes from overly aggressive and overly frequent cleaning. We do both. Our metallic silhouette rifles mostly get cleaned after every 100-200 rounds (except my red gun). Our PRS/prone guns historically get cleaned almost never… like every 400 rounds or so.
What do you think we’ll see as final results? Comment below!