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Powder and copper fouling

This is a discussion on Powder and copper fouling within the Ammunition forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; I just picked up a pound of VihtaVuorie N-140 powder to try with some 155 A-MAX bullets. Well, it works very well with the A-MAX ...


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Old October 4th, 2012, 06:27 PM   #1
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Powder and copper fouling

I just picked up a pound of VihtaVuorie N-140 powder to try with some 155 A-MAX bullets. Well, it works very well with the A-MAX bullets, but what really surprised me was the amount of copper fouling being removed while cleaning my barrel.

Last Tuesday I shot 45 rounds loaded with the N140 and performed my normal barrel cleaning with Hoppes #9. A couple of wet patches followed by a couple of dry patches followed by another wet patch. I left the barrel soak for about an hour while I decapped, uniformed the primer pockets and started the tumbling on the spent cases.

After lunch, I ran a dry patch through the barrel and was astounded by the amount of blue on the patch. I've never seen that much blue even when using Shooter's Choice copper removal. I gave the barrel another half hour soak with Hoppes and the next dry patch was also coated with blue. Another half hour soak and, while reduced, the blue was still more than I'd ever seen using copper remover.

Today, I loaded up another 50 rounds with N-140 and I am seeing the same results when cleaning my barrel as last Tuesday. I'm really wondering what it is that I'm seeing here.

Hodgdon CFE 223 claims to aid with copper fouling removal but VihtaVuorie makes no such claims, at least not on their web site. Could the N-140 be causing more copper fouling or is the N-140 really helping with copper removal?

Has anyone else had this experience?

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Old October 4th, 2012, 06:49 PM   #2
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I get it with some of my slower loads pretty good. When I load light, with Hornady bullets I tend to get more copper fouling just as you described.

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Old October 5th, 2012, 10:02 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by BSalty View Post
I get it with some of my slower loads pretty good. When I load light, with Hornady bullets I tend to get more copper fouling just as you described.
I was hoping that you would tell me that VihtaVuori N140 has excellent copper fouling removal ingredients and that I should be proud of my choice.

Maybe it's the stainless steel barrel, maybe it's me (can't have that) but I can clean my barrel for a week straight and still not have a clean barrel. Hundreds of patches, wet and dry, nylon bore brushes, bronze chamber brushes, Shooter's Choice, Kano Kroil, CLP, Hoppes #9 and I've never seen a clean patch come out of my barrel.

I was hoping that the massive amounts of copper I've seen after shooting the VihtaVuori N140 was a good sign.

Well, I've got to go run a few patches through my barrel...

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Old October 5th, 2012, 10:44 PM   #4
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Lol! Run them patches. I'm not familiar with that particular cleaner. When I got back into shooting a few years ago I bought an M21 and was determined to go top notch with taking good care of the bbl to include cleaning the copper from it. I purchased hoppes elite cleaner, copper terminator and oil. It seems excessive but I was on a mission to keep the Krieger CM bbl clean. They were not cheap, especially at the place I was buying it. Around $10 a bottle and I think they were 4oz. bottles. They worked as advertised that for sure. I have an older ruger M77 that I have had since new. My father got it for my 14th birthday. I never knew about copper cleaners until I bought the M21. I spent a day and tons of patches cleaning that bbl until I did not get anymore green patches. It took me a solid day, my wife/ex wife thought I was crazy. I did eventually get the fouling out. I assume you are following the directions and letting it sit for a few minutes. I find that my SS bbls clean up a little faster than my Chrome Molly bbls not to be confused with chrome lined bbls. On noexperts advice I tried Mpro-7. Pretty sure that's what it was called. I saw a marginal improvement with regard to amount of time required to get the copper out of the bbl. Probel is the local gunshop is hit and miss with keeping the same cleaning products stocked. Last time I ran out I was forced to get a product I have used my entire life before switching to the hoppe's elite, good old hoppes #9. Once again I paid through the nose, it was $11 for a four ounce bottle. I know I know but the next gunshop is quite the drive. Not so much in miles but traffic and congestion. Another one of the reasons I switched to the elite line was lack of odor. The wife used to bitch about the smell of #9. well she is no longer on the scene. I used the #9 and was pleasantly surprised. It worked quicker than the elite and the mpro7, not to mention I did not need to use a stand alone copper cleaner. I typically shoot anywhere between 60 to 100 rounds out of any given rifle when I go to the range. I typically bring two sometimes three rifles. I take my time firing and can spend the better part of the day at the range. I guess my point is that I found that I no longer need the copper cleaner. I used it after the first time and no copper came out on the patch, #9 took care of it. From time to time, I will use the copper cleaner only to find that hardly anything comes out on the patch. I should have never changed from #9! I was out if town on a trip and stopped by a walmart, I picked up 6 8 oz bottles, the small display case of #9. best part is I think it cost me around $24. I don't think I will be switching back to any of the elite type products again, even if the next wife or gf does not like the smell.
How many rounds did you put down range before you started targeting the copper with a copper cleaner? It is a good idea to use one to get the copper fouling out if you have not been doing so all along. Keep on keeping on, eventually the patches will come out clean. Also have to ask if you are dipping the brushes you are using directly into the bottle of cleaner, if so the powder residue will accumulate in the fluid and will give you the appearance that all the patches run through are dirty. Sorry for being so long winded sometimes I get carried away.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 12:04 AM   #5
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82nd ABN,

First, let me tell you that you posted a link for some LC/LR cases a while back that had been 'polished' I think the word was, but that had a significant ring around the case mouth. Well, I'm now shooting those cases (started out at 500, lost 25 before any prep was done, lost 5 after my first firing, and none after my second firing) and now on my 3rd firing and I am loving every minute of it. My group averages have dropped from around 6 MOA to less than 1.5 MOA while shooting these cases. So far, I've fired almost 1000 rounds at a total cost of $71 for brass. It looks like I'll see at least another 1200 shots before that brass is used up. It took a bit of work (I was a new loader, so the extra work was mostly my problem); it was a great purchase for me and I thank you for pointing out their availability.

As to the cleaning, I don't really clean the bore brushes, nor do I dip them in the solvent. Brownells sell some irradiated plastic bottles with spouts that allow me to squirt the solvent on to my patches. I figure that the brushes are always going to be dirty as I use them early in the cleaning process so cleaning them is a wasted effort. The patches are what I use to judge the cleaning process. A couple of wet patches followed by a copuple of dry patches followed by a couple of wet patches and so on is the procedure I follow. I used to use Shooter's Choice Copper Removal, but I saw only a slight tinge of blue after each application and figured that I really didn't have a copper fouling problem.

It was the carbon removal that never seemed to end. No matter haow many patches, nor how long I let the solvent soak, the next dry patch would always come out dirty.

Now, if I just kept using dry patches (after 10 to 20 wet patches) until they came out clean, I could've quit and been happy. But like the damn fool I am. I would run another wet patch though just because and sure enough, there was the brown residue mocking my sense of accomplishment.

With the VihtaVuroi powder though, I saw a tremendous change. I can't emphasize enough how much more 'blue' I saw in my patches. The very first patch had more blue in it than I'd seen in all the patches I'd used since I bought the rifle new combined. OK, I knew that I could alawys get more brown with another wet patch of Hoppes #9, no matter how long I was willing to try it, but now I could also pull out more blue than I'd ever seen before; wet patch after wet patch after wet patch. I was amazed at what I was seeing.

Two days and at least a hundred patches and I was still pulling out dark blue. What the devil was happening? I though that there must be something in the VihtaVuori that was loosening all the copper fouling in the barrel that I'd failed to remove from day one. My eyes are so poor that I can no longer trust what I see when looking down the barrel; it looks clean and shiney, it feels clean and shiney, but if I run another wet patch through followed by a dry patch, I'll see more blue and a lot of brown on the dry patch.

The endless brown I've become accusromed to, somwhere along the way, I've just got to quit. It's the blue now that has my attention. If I just run dry patch after dry patch after dry patch, the last will come out clean. But I know and have been proven correct, that if I run one more wet patch, that I will get even more blue and brown out of the barrel. It's almost as if there is nothing to be done about it; I clean for the rest of my life and more residue will always come out of the barrel.

OK, I accept that. Run dry patches until the dry patch comes out clean. Good enough, works for me. What sticks in my craw now is all the blue copper fouling I keep seeing. It is just so much heavier than I've ever seen before, even when using Shooter's Choice Copper Removal. BSalty suggests that it may be due to the light loads I'm shooting. I've only shot light loads and have never seen this before. Maybe it is the VihtaVuorie and light bullets (155 AMAX) but I didn’t see the problem with either IMr-3031 or Hogdon H4895 shooting those 155 A-MAX, 155 SMKs, 155 Nosler CCs or 150 GMKs; it was only with the VihtaVuorie N-140 and 155 A-MAX.

What I hoped to hear (and have partially verified) is that many powders have used copper fouling agents for decades and it is only recent advertisements that have brought that fact to our attention.

Well, with roughly 90 rounds of VihtaVuorie , N-140 left, I shall see how it goes forward. I cannot say that the V N-140 has cleaned all the copper fouling out of my barrel since day one as the second 50 rounds has shown the same blue as the first 50. If the third 50 round batch shows much less copper fouling than the first two, then, perhaps, I can conclude that the V N-140 truly does an excellent job at copper removal. If not, than I’ll have to conclude that BSalty is correct and that Vihtavurori (Beech switch hill when translated to English) N-140 truly does cause more copper fouling than IMR-3031 or H4895.

Time will, given its full range, tell.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 12:28 AM   #6
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First I'd like to say I felt real bad when I read the reports from members that received their brass in the condition it was in with that ring. I had received the same brass from him before that had no problems and the 1000 pieces I had purchased when I out that notice up came in without the ring. I felt as though I misled you guys. I'm glad they worked for you in the end. Did you ever contact him to see what the story was. I have not reloaded any of mine yet, I checked mine and all mine are even from the same year. I wonder if he took mine from a different batch. He said he does not advertise all that he has in stock because he does not want only a few people getting all the brass turning around and selling it on gb for crazy prices.
With regard to the fouling and the powder being the culprit, this sounds like a good question for RAMAC. He is in my opinion the godfather of reloading on this forum. There are others as well. I suggest sending a pm to him with a link to this thread. He may be able to give you an answr that you can live with. You would think that the blue and or brown would eventually stop, it has me puzzled as well. I usually spend as much time cleaning a rifle as I do shooting it. I stopped doing it all in one sitting. I set the rifle up on the bench and send the brass brush down the tube a few times followed by patches. I'll repeat this over the course of a couple of days a few times a day. I let the #9 do the work for me. I always use the brush soaked then follow up with patches wet then dry. That system seems to work for me. I use the brass brush initially a couple of times then switch to the nylon. I simply can't explain why your having this trouble but if it has to do with the powder of light loads I bet RAMAC has been there and has the tee shirt. Worth a try sending him a pm.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 01:14 AM   #7
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Did not realize that the powder itself brought about copper fouling?? Not saying that it does not, but not sure how that would occur. Different bullets/copper jackets will provide more copper residue than others I have found. When I have a bore which is "coppering up" one step I take is to give the bore a good cleaning with either RemCleaner which has a mild abrasive in the solution or JB Bore Cleaner, perhaps a bit more aggresive abrasive. Afterwards do use Hoppes NO.9 to flush out the bore and copper evidence is far less. For many a year have only shot Sierras MK's and some month ago did buy couple thousand 147gr military bullets for plinking purposes and will say a lot of copper fouling/blue occured far more than ever experienced in the past with Sierra or others as well. Powder used has pretty much always been IMR4064(bolt gun,) Varget, RE15 and yes, VV140. Again, never thought of the powder itself causing the copper issue, but learn something every day it seems.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 01:23 AM   #8
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Remember that if you introduce brass brushes into a clean barrel with a copper remover solvent. You will see color from the brass reacting with the solvent.
There are barrels out there that have some unusual fouling in them. I bought a used hunting rifle years ago that I just couldn't get to shoot well no matter what. I followed the same cleaning procedure I used for my match rifles and the final patches I would run thru came out clean. One day after completing the normal cleaning I wet a patch with house hold vinegar and ran it thru the bore. It came out dark brown. Several more patches until the patches came out with out any color. I then wet a patch with Sweet's copper solvent and ran it thru the barrel. The following patch came out blue. More Sweets and dry patches until the patches came out clean. Next back to the vinegar, yes again it came out brown. I repeated this back and forth for the better part of the afternoon. Finally I couldn't get anymore color from Sweets, vinegar, Shooter's Choice, or Hoppes #9. The next trip out to the range and that same rifle averaged 1.5 min. groups.
I'm not sure what I was up against there but I'm guessing that the previous owner may have shot some powder that had a high amount of calcium carbide in it. Not sure what else the vinegar might have been working on that the regular solvents weren't touching.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 04:46 AM   #9
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This is just a little off topic, but its related. I just wanted to pass this info along, since your talking about copper fouling and cleaning.
As you all are talking about cleaning your bores, you guys are cleaning and cleaning until all of the copper fouling is completely removed. Is this correct??
Do not do this!!! You never want to remove all of the fouling, ever.
You always want to leave just a little copper fouling in the bore.
Why you ask??
It does two things. First, you will have slightly improved accuracy with just a bit of fouling left in the bore. I've actually seen benchrest shooters run a dirty patch back through their bores after cleaning, just for this reason.
Secondly, removing all the copper only serves to wear your bore out faster. With a little copper left in, it acts as the bearing surface riding against hour bullet as it passes through the bore. It does the same thing as oil does in your cars engine. This prevents the bullet from riding in direct contact with the surface of you bore. Strip all the copper out of your bore and its now shearing steel away as it travels through. This is especially true if you understand what is actually happening after you pull the trigger and the bullet leaves the case. Your bullet will start and stop inside your barrel at least twice before it exits. Each time it stops and starts, this is the area of the most wear. All of this happening of course in milliseconds.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 05:15 AM   #10
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82nd ABN,

I to use Hoppes #9 and like it alot I do have some Butch's bore Shine that I purchased awhile back to get some fouling out of an 03A3 that I purchased and boy was it fouled but now I pretty much just use the good ol' Hoppes.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 05:36 AM   #11
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Regarding brass/bronze bore brushes: I respect that many cleaners will attack said brushes and try to limit this by first washing them under a stream of water from the sink to remove any water soluble stuff and then spraying them with something like WD-40 to remove the water and stop the water based reactions that might be going on on the brush before storing them between cleanings.
A can of aerosol "penetrating oil" is probably a better choice than WD as it will likely contain no silicone components to maybe add a new variable to the cleaning equation (this is just a brainstorm, I have NOT tested it to know if it does or does not).
The water rinse followed by storing oiled seems to make my brushes last longer and definitely does take care of any issues with reaction with the brushes being mistaken for copper fouling in the bore.
.....
With regard to projectiles: It IS possible that the jacket material going from projectile to projectile across manufacturers and maybe going also across product lines will vary. I don't know how any end user could tell with a specific rifle which jacket materials may foul more or less except to use the various manufacturer's offerings and seeing what happens. There is also the manufacturing processes to consider when thinking about jacket fouling in the barrel...again, shoot to see what does and does not foul YOUR particular barrel.
.....
The way I usually test for remaining copper after cleaning is to wet the barrel with Hoppes #9 and store in barrel down overnight with the muzzle in a bucket of paper towels. If it comes out "no reaction" after a day or two of this...I consider it clean enough to be oiled and stashed in a safe for quite a while.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 08:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Instructor View Post
Did not realize that the powder itself brought about copper fouling?? Not saying that it does not, but not sure how that would occur. Different bullets/copper jackets will provide more copper residue than others I have found. When I have a bore which is "coppering up" one step I take is to give the bore a good cleaning with either RemCleaner which has a mild abrasive in the solution or JB Bore Cleaner, perhaps a bit more aggresive abrasive. Afterwards do use Hoppes NO.9 to flush out the bore and copper evidence is far less. For many a year have only shot Sierras MK's and some month ago did buy couple thousand 147gr military bullets for plinking purposes and will say a lot of copper fouling/blue occured far more than ever experienced in the past with Sierra or others as well. Powder used has pretty much always been IMR4064(bolt gun,) Varget, RE15 and yes, VV140. Again, never thought of the powder itself causing the copper issue, but learn something every day it seems.
My medium weight SS NM barrel from SAI has a rough chamber; tool marks I presume, that leaves rings around my fired cases. I can see the tool marks readily when the chamber is dirty. I think the throat is also rough as the sound of the patch as it passes through the throat sounds rough and feels rough.

Many powder makers have long included copper fouling removers such as bismuth and or tin in their recipies. Hogdon has begun to push this attribute with their CFE 223 powder. My first thought with the VV140 was that this powder also included a rather potent copper fouling remover that was responsible for all the blue.

After BSalty's post, I began to rethink the problem, but I've not found a good resolution to the question. It may have something to do with the burning temperature of the VV140 and the rough throat in my barrel combining to cause excessive copper plasma that is deposited in the bore. It might also be a copper fouling removal agent in the VV140 or a combination of the two.

With the 90 shots fired so far, I should have removed any and all copper fouling from previous use; if the fouling continues from this point, then I'll have to conclude that the VV140 is doing something to cause this problem or this cure, whichever it might be.

I've got my best groups to date with the VV140; a 0.952" seven shot group (five seven shot groups averaged at 1.620") and a 0.628" five shot group (nine five shot groups averaged at 1.435), so I'm encouraged to keep working with the VV140.

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Old October 6th, 2012, 08:46 AM   #13
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...removing all the copper only serves to wear your bore out faster. With a little copper left in, it acts as the bearing surface riding against hour bullet as it passes through the bore....
Do you believe this to be equally applicable to chrome-lined barrels?

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Old October 6th, 2012, 09:25 AM   #14
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Maybe I'm really screwed up, but I find it hard to believe that the choice of powder would make the barrel foul worse than another powder. I would think that the choice of bullet would make more sense since its metal make up would be more of a cause. Reason I'm saying is that the bullet is ahead of the powder discharge, and has already left whatever shavings in the bore before the powder has an effect in it. If it coats the shavings, maybe it will be harder to clean the bore, but the bullet makeup is still the culprit. dozier

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Old October 6th, 2012, 11:11 AM   #15
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Do you believe this to be equally applicable to chrome-lined barrels?
I've little experience with chrome lined barrels, but yes I would believe it still applies for the same reasons.

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