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Thread: What do I do about corroded Milsurp bores?

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  1. #1
    Member j_page2's Avatar
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    What do I do about corroded Milsurp bores?

    So.. I have two old WW1 guns, and i looked with my new borescope and on one of them discovered really bad corrosion from what im assuming was corrosive primers (Enfield SMLE).

    My Winchester M1917 isn't nearly as bad, looked okay with the naked eye but then with the borescope noticed minor pitting and some flaky looking fouling/corrosion. still learning how to diagnose these sad discoveries.

    Also have a Garandicon from like '43, and the corrosion is also pretty bad but not as bad as in the Enfield. worse than the M1917.

    Just as a control I even checked a new rifle bore in an ak i bought recently and it wasn't perfect either, but good enough i suppose. No corrosion obviously just has some tiny random nicks/marks/holes here and there from machining I'm assuming. and what looks like copper fouling but idk why that would be there on a new gun unless its from factory testing or is just the factory lubrication.

    Basically I'm wondering do I need to replace the really corroded/pitted barrels? what are my options? Some people say that it doesn't matter and that they may still shoot well. I just want to make sure they are safe.
    Would be expensive to replace the barrels. garand barrels can be found but have only seen 1 for the Enfield online, and thats not even including the price of gunsmith installation.

    am happy with my borescope as now i can check bores before i buy, at least in person, but was kind of shocked when i checked the rifles i already have.
    Any wisdom on this matter would be appreciated. thanks.
    Last edited by j_page2; 11-15-2021 at 11:42 PM.

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    A Collector's View - The SMLE Short Magazine Lee Enfield 1903-1989. It is 300 8.5x11 inch pages with 1,000+ photo’s, most in color, and each book is serial-numbered.  Covering the SMLE from 1903 to the end of production in India in 1989 it looks at how each model differs and manufacturer differences from a collecting point of view along with the major accessories that could be attached to the rifle. For the record this is not a moneymaker, I hope just to break even, eventually, at $80/book plus shipping.  In the USA shipping is $5.00 for media mail.  I will accept PayPal, Zelle, MO and good old checks (and cash if you want to stop by for a tour!).  CLICK BANNER to send me a PM for International pricing and shipping. Manufacturer of various vintage rifle scopes for the 1903 such as our M73G4 (reproduction of the Weaver 330C) and Malcolm 8X Gen II (Unertl reproduction). Several of our scopes are used in the CMP Vintage Sniper competition on top of 1903 rifles. Brian Dick ... BDL Ltd. - Specializing in British and Commonwealth weapons Chuck in Denver ... Buy-Sell-Trade .. Guns, Cars Motorcycles Your source for the finest in High Power Competition Gear. Here at T-bones Shipwrighting we specialise in vintage service rifle: re-barrelling, bedding, repairs, modifications and accurizing. We also provide importation services for firearms, parts and weapons, for both private or commercial businesses.
     

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Pitting doesn't matter unless they won't shoot. Collectors don't even consider the pitting if the barrel is the original and the parts are correct for that weapon. M1 rifles are an example, an early non lend lease with a low number and all original parts... I like a shiny bore on the other hand. Changing a barrel on an M1 rifle or Carbine or M14icon can be done here as I made the barrel/receiver blocks. Not so hard. Safe to shoot? What is it gives you pause to wonder? Just the pits? It may shoot better than some mint looking bores you'll see. If in doubt, have a gunsmith check headspace for safety and let fly. Barrel change value differs from gunsmith to gunsmith. Yes, procuring a barrel and having it mounted, finish chamber and headspace can be expensive.

    By the way, all factory firearms are fired live so you NEVER get an unfired gun even when new. That's why you find copper in a new barrel. Shoot these before discarding the barrels. They may be fine.
    Last edited by browningautorifle; 11-16-2021 at 02:27 AM.
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    If you don't shoot the rifles the inside condition of the barrel doesn't matter. If you do shoot them, the question is how accurate is it? If accuracy is about 3 inches at 100m that is just about what a military rifle should do. Or the loads for that rifle still needs development. If it doesn't group at all, say 6 to 8 inches at 100m irrespective of loads, then the barrel is a problem. Then decide what to do, replace barrel, replace rifle, accept poor grouping, etc.

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    Really Senior Member Singer B's Avatar
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    For these old milsurp rifles, I don't worry about accuracy too much but I do worry about safety. Most of these guns are 60-100+ years of age with a hard life and not a lot of care behind them so hoping for great accuracy isn't always realistic. For me, it's more about the experience of actually being able to handle and fire these pieces of history rather than how accurate I am with them. Just make sure they are safe to use, enjoy shooting them if they are safe and if they turn out to be pretty accurate, consider yourself lucky!!

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    Member j_page2's Avatar
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    I definitely won't be getting rid of any of the barrels. I just care about safety and accuracy/aesthetics. as long as they are somewhat accurate that is fine by me..

    It just really bums me out that the bore on the enfield looks really bad because I'm OCD about things like that and being a piece of history, I would have liked to have a prettier relic that I could be proud of. It Also I can't find any 303 ammo right now so until I find some or some brass to load some I wont be able to test fire it.

    The only reason I was concerned about safety was I wasn't sure if the corrosion would somehow be bad enough to obstruct the path of the bullet. I don't think it is, but I've never had a barrel like this so just wanted to ask. it wasn't the pits but it looked like there was corrosion sticking upwards on the lands, but I think that may just be the lands and the pitting around was bad enough that it make the corrosion stick out.

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    This is the one downside of having a borescope and milsurps....a lot of awful, old, neglected bores. On this forum though you will find many reports of the worlds ugliest bores being great shooters as well as new pristine bores that don't do so well.
    Here is a fun experiment for your new toy...pick out your best, shiniest new bore and run the side camera through it. Smile at how perfect and shiny it is. Then take the side mirror off and run it through birds-eye. Make sure your spouse records how fast your smile turns to a frown . Point is, the way the light catches the metal (whether perpendicular or parallel to the surface) will tell different stories. New hand-lapped match barrels will show mirror finish both ways. Chrome lined barrels the same. Most others show bright with a side-view, and grey or sometimes false-frosty with the birds-eye. Side view will show minor copper or rust the same as major trouble, birds-eye will only show the major trouble spots.

    I personally think that uniform bore diameter and lack of excessive muzzle erosion matter a lot more than whether you have a frosty or pitted bore. I have a mosin 91/30 that looks much worse than your pictures that shoots lights out...the bore is good and tight with little to erosion at the either end. I have a Garandicon with very clean, shiny, not a single spot in the whole bore that's only good for making ping sounds -- muzzle gauges a 3 with cleaning rod damage from years of aggressive scrubbing.

    Shoot your rifles before you get too bummed out. If it doesn't meet your accuracy standards for a 100+ year old rifle, try shooting cast bullets. Lots of threads and experts on here about that too, along with lots of other ways to squeeze every last bit of life out of the most tired old guns. As far as safety goes...pitting will be harmless as long as it's not full of raised/jagged edges for fresh corrosion or active rust...clean it first. If that's rust in your darker pictures, boil the action first before scrubbing the bore to convert active rust to black oxide (look for videos by "Anvil" on YouTube).
    Last edited by ssgross; 11-16-2021 at 11:19 PM.

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    Member rugersworld's Avatar
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    save your bore scope to use on your benchrest rifle.
    shoot your milsurps and be happy.

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    Contributing Member mmppres's Avatar
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    Like as been stated worry about how safe the firearm is. I have given my father rifle with bores that look like sewer pipes an he shoots cast bullets thru them with great success. Now alot of times a bad looking bore means nothing. I would not change a all matching collectable because of a bad bore. Now a arsenal rebuild with a bad bore is really not an issue. Change the barrel. But dont be surprised that it shoots same as the old one. Alot of barrels can be made to shoot better by just counter boring them. Have saved a lot of really beat up Turkishicon an Cz Mauser rifles by doing just that.

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    Member Piscoda14's Avatar
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    Clean the crap out of them and roll cast bullets in baby/talcum powder and fire lap them don’t be afraid to fire 40-50 rounds


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    I shoot cast bullets in some of my mil surps. So got pretty picky about the condition of the barrels in the rifles I have bought. With the exception of a few bought within the last ten years, most if not all the mil surps I own I have had for well over 30 years. Great barrels were easier to find back then they are now. I have a Chileanicon 1895 short rifle in 7mm caliber. The barrel is less than I would normally accept. Sat down and started scrubbing with wet patches, then a worn 30 caliber brush. I'm cheap and have been accused by the wife with all the junk I have laying around. Brush was a good tight fit in the barrel. Amazed by the powder and copper fouling that came out. Between uses I cleaned that brush with some spray carb cleaner. When done for the day would let the barrel soak over night.

    Next day would wet patch the barrel to see what came out. Usually the green slime from copper fouling. Long story short it took five cleaning sessions to get that barrel free of all the powder and copper fouling. Do not use stainless steel bore brushes. They potentially do way more harm than good. I use the old Hoppe's solvent, but recently on the ASSRA forum there has been a new thread of the recently newly made Hoppe's causing problems on barrels. Butch's Bore Shine has been proven to remove powder and copper fouling on some of my barrels. don't know what the black looking stuff that your barrels have in them. Looks like bad powder fouling. Regards,Frank

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