Gunsmithing  Tubb's Fire Lapping System

truck driver

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May 13, 2017
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I have a Ruger Hawkeye All Weather 338Wm that is a heavy fouler and I'm thinking about fire lapping it.
Any one use the Tubb's system to do this?
 

Ledzep

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    I've read mixed reviews, one was really ugly with groove diameter changing pretty significantly.
     

    MJB13SRT8

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    About 16 years ago I tried it in a Remington PSS in .308 all it really did was speed up throat wear it didn't make it any easer to clean.

    Montrose
     

    truck driver

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    Thanks for the responses I realize fire lapping isn't very popular and can under stand why since there has been some very bad results with various applications using the wrong materials and loading the bullets to a velocity that is too fast.
    Tubb's seems to have taken some off the human error out of it .
     

    demolitionman

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    I'm not sure I see any purpose in using it unless you want to wear your barrel out faster. Kinda like cfe powder. Seems like a way to shorten useable barrel life.
     

    truck driver

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    I'm not sure I see any purpose in using it unless you want to wear your barrel out faster. Kinda like cfe powder. Seems like a way to shorten useable barrel life.
    This is for a hunting rifle with a factory barrel so I doubt if I can wear it out in my life time but if I can improve it I would like too.
    Never heard that CFE powder causes barrel wear maybe you could explain?
     

    Tnek13

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    I used the Tubbs system on a Savage BA Stealth 308 that was a real copper mine. It got better, however not appreciably better till I reached about a 400 round count ( 50 break-in rounds, 50 Tubbs and 300 target rounds). I used a bore scope and after the Tubbs rounds the barrel was noticeably smoother. Did it do damage? I do not think it did. Groups tightened up. Fouling was less, I could get through 50 rounds before I had to clean, the difference was not noted till after 400 rounds. The kicker is that the rifle now wears a Shilen Select Match 6mm Creedmoor barrel, it took 4+ months to get the barrel. Not because of Tubbs, because I had no confidence that the Savage barrel would ever be right - it was getting there however the Shilen had already been paid for.
     

    knuckleballz

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    I am in the same situation with a remington 700 300 win mag. The thing shot 1/4 moa for the first 350 rounds of factory hornady. Now the barrel Will only hold a group for a few rounds after a light cleaning. I tried cleaning copper out and have shot another 100 rounds with the same issue. I was thinking about hand lapping the bore next. But wasting time and money on ammo with no guarantees has me thinking of ordering a match barrel that will have a guarantee of accuracy instead.
     

    natdscott

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    I know it's not always popular, and it is sometimes even cliche...

    ...but better barrels and cooler powders are generally the solution, not coatings, not magic dust, and not sandpaper bullets by Mr. Tubb.

    IFFFF you try it, go easy, load SLOW, and use only the finer few grits.

    -Nate
     

    MJB13SRT8

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    With a magnum its not always copper fouling thats the problem but carbon fouling in the throat area they have more powder so more carbon build up also hand lapping a barrel that has been chambered and crowned might help fouling but your accuracy is going to get worse there is a reasion that custom barrel makers leave 1" over finish lenght on barrel blanks.

    Montrose
     
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    truck driver

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    I gave Superior Coatings a call and the tech suggested since there was an unknown number of rounds down the barrel to just use part of the kit.
    He suggested using 5 of the #3 coated bullet , 5of the #4 bullet and 5 of the burnishing bullets to take out any high spots and smooth out the bore.
    I loaded up 5 each of the suggested bullets using H4350 with the bottom suggested load in Sierra's manual for a book velocity of 2300fps.
    As soon as the weather warms a little I'll shoot them and report back on the results.
     

    Subwrx300

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    I've used Tubbs Final Finish bullet kit (5 compounds 10 bullets each) on 4 different factory barrels: Weatherby Vanguard (Howa 1500) .308, Ruger Mini 14, Ruger SR-556, and Savage MSR-10 Hunter. The reason I used it varies from rifle to rifle but mainly either the barrel fouled quickly (less than 50-80 rounds before larger increase in group size) OR I was trying last ditch to improve precision (group size).

    Weatherby 308: rifle was .75-1MOA before FF system but would not clean very easily. FF performed after about 1,000 rounds down the tube. After fire lapping full system, lands moved forward about .010" but accuracy picked up to .5-.75 consistently. Easier to clean. That rifle remained .5-.75 through 6,000+ rounds before selling it for a 6.5CM. +1 Tubbs

    Mini-14: this gun flat out confused me. 1" group followed by 2" following a 2.5". Seriously no rhyme or reason just inconsistent. I fire lapped with 50 rounds and consistency improved to 1"-1.5". Far fewer flyers butt sold the rifle as I don't have much use for a 1.5MOA 5.56 rifle. Tubbs seemed to improve consistency in this rifle.

    Ruger SR556: terrible fouling barrel with random flyers in otherwise good groups. 4 shots into .5-.8" but one bullet would land at 1-1.5" out of group randomly. Tubbs improved this to consistent sub MOA lessening impact of flyers to sub 1" and much less frequent. Most groups would stay .5-.7" following Tubbs.

    Savage MSR-10 in 6.5 Creedmoor : this was most recent Tubbs application. Rifle would shoot occasional .8-1.2" groups with some handloads but factory ammo (140 ELDM Match) was in the 1.25-2" range group to group. Fouled like hell and hard to clean. After Tubbs had to change load slightly but factory ammo now in the .7-.9" consistently and handloads are .4-.7" for 5 shots, avg .63 MOA for multiple (10+) 4 and 5 shot groups. Much better consistency and very easy to clean.

    In my experience, with 4 rifles over 5 years, each of them has improved by varying amounts. Generally, Tubbs seems to improve consistency between cleanings and (for me) has also improved accuracy on FACTORY barrels. While it may not turn a 2 MOA rifle into a .5MOA rifle, it has allowed groups to meet or beat the best possible before firelapping by a fair amount. That is to say if your range is 1-1.5MOA before lapping, it seems to reduce flyers that cause the 1.5moa groups. Could allow .8-1" groups more consistently.

    Note that in each rifle, a slight tweak of load was required to achieve best groups. In most cases, it was a load that was previously discarded or bad node. In fact most of them increased charge slightly to find better accuracy where before lapping that node was not as good.

    Also of note: my criteria for good barrel/precision is as follows for multiple 5-shot group average. Also, I'm confident in my ability to shoot at or better than .25-.5MOA for most systems (I definitely didn't start this way; I was pulling shots for years before getting fine details of precise form). I only know this because I've gotten time behind friends rifles that would "only shoot" 1" - 1.5" at 100 yards" and proceeded to shoot .25-.5" groups consistently with their rifle. You need to be sure that you can include your skill as limited factor in expectations.

    Factory Barrels:
    Greater than +1MOA - not good, will do anything reasonable to attempt to improve groups. Firelapping is worth a shot no matter what.
    .75-1MOA - decent barrel/rifle but depending on purpose, may or may not need to be lapped.
    .5-.75MOA - if an AR10/15, I'm probably not going to tinker with this. That's plenty accurate for factory barrel. If bolt gun, I may or may not firelap depending on purpose of rifle.
    Sub-.5MOA - barrel is good for nearly all my applications. Would not firelap, Especially if newer barrel.

    Aftermarket barrels: if my $600 barrel didn't maintain sub-half minute, I'd call manufacturer or gunsmith to see what my options were before ever considering firelapping. The purpose of custom barrels is to avoid need to firelap.

    If you aren't sure if it's you or the rifle, find a buddy that shoots better than you or has a super precise rig and see if they have similar results with your rifle/vice versa. That's the baseline for your accuracy levels.

    Remember your mileage may vary, so evaluate your situation accordingly. Tubbs is still a last resort for me until I've ruled out as many loads, form issues as possible. I don't feel you can make this call until you have 100-200+ rounds down the tube.

    Happy shooting!

    FC
     
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    YukonRob

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    Thanks for sharing your experience Subwrx. I’ve always wondered if fire lapping would improve some of the extra rough factory barrels I’ve came across.
    I never did take the gamble, and ended up rebarreling or just selling/trading for something else.
    Pretty much exactly the same thought process as knuckleballz -
    But wasting time and money on ammo with no guarantees has me thinking of ordering a match barrel that will have a guarantee of accuracy instead.
     
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    straightshooter1

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    I've also used Tubb's Final Finish bullet kit (5 compounds 10 bullets each) on my .308 RPR after about 700 rounds. I was getting 5 round groupings around .60 - .75 MOA with hand loads and the barrel seemed to foul more than I thought it should. Since I had this many rounds down the barrel and on inspection with an endoscope, the surfaces looked pretty good for a factory barrel. So, instead of using all 5 compounds in the kit, I decided not to use the 2 coarsest compounds and follow the rest of the instruction best as possible. Like Subwrs300's experience with his .308, I also found than my throat had moved forward by about .010". When cleaning, there was a significant difference in that the patches went through much easier and the barrel wasn't getting as fouled as before. Using an endoscope again, the surfaces looked smoother and more shinny than before. Performance wise, I was then getting MOAs well below .50 (.35 - .45 and occasionally much better). So, I'm very satisfied that this made some good improvements as I had hoped. Though, I didn't particular like loosing .010" of throat that's already too long for my liking. Over 1800 rounds through the barrel now and still getting very nice results for a factory barrel.

    When using this product, just be sure to follow the instructions precisely.
     
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    Subwrx300

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    Thanks for sharing your experience Subwrx. I’ve always wondered if fire lapping would improve some of the extra rough factory barrels I’ve came across.
    I never did take the gamble, and ended up rebarreling or just selling/trading for something else.
    Pretty much exactly the same thought process as knuckleballz -
    Definitely agree with the gamble portion. For me it was simple economics: 50/50 shot it improved accuracy and cost of bullet system was $30-50.

    Compared to $400 barrel plus $200-300 gunsmithing, I felt that it was worth trying to improve precision without $600-700 expensive that could take a few months (or more: Bartlein...) to get a useable rifle system.

    In the cases of the above rifles, also came down to ability to get barrels. The Howa has metric thread receiver so most of the gunsmiths in my area wouldnt/couldn't cut barrel threads properly. The Mini and the Ruger SR556 didn't have any aftermarket barrels available. And the MSR10 I wasn't sure standard DPMS tenon barrels would fit as Savage is super tight lipped about offering any advise or info about possibly changing barrel. I've since found out that most AR10 barrels do fit this upper so I've got a Dracos 22" on order.

    I completely agree though that if I were even considering aftermarket barrel from start as project gun, I wouldn't likely use firelapping as it's a wasted cost. But in most cases, I want to tinker while waiting for project barrels or components so firelapping has been a cool experiment for some of my factory rigs.

    Admittedly it's been neat to see some of these projects turn into useable rifles after lapping.
     
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    Subwrx300

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    I've also used Tubb's Final Finish bullet kit (5 compounds 10 bullets each) on my .308 RPR after about 700 rounds. I was getting 5 round groupings around .60 - .75 MOA with hand loads and the barrel seemed to foul more than I thought it should. Since I had this many rounds down the barrel and on inspection with an endoscope, the surfaces looked pretty good for a factory barrel. So, instead of using all 5 compounds in the kit, I decided not to use the 2 coarsest compounds and follow the rest of the instruction best as possible. Like Subwrs300's experience with his .308, I also found than my throat had moved forward by about .010". When cleaning, there was a significant difference in that the patches went through much easier and the barrel wasn't getting as fouled as before. Using an endoscope again, the surfaces looked smoother and more shinny than before. Performance wise, I was then getting MOAs well below .50 (.35 - .45 and occasionally much better). So, I'm very satisfied that this made some good improvements as I had hoped. Though, I didn't particular like loosing .010" of throat that's already too long for my liking.

    When using this product, just be sure to follow the instructions precisely.
    Definitely agree on the throat erosion/lands moving forward but I ended up not really caring because, well, sub half is still sub half! Doesn't really matter how you get there, unless you need to run VLDs for specific purpose (High BC) which may not like the added jump if you can't get close enough to lands.

    Glad my experience is matched by others. Good post Straightshooter!
     
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    straightshooter1

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    Definitely agree on the throat erosion/lands moving forward but I ended up not really caring because, well, sub half is still sub half! Doesn't really matter how you get there, unless you need to run VLDs for specific purpose (High BC) which may not like the added jump if you can't get close enough to lands.

    Glad my experience is matched by others. Good post Straightshooter!

    Thanks. Your post was excellent!

    You're right about getting sub half. It's nice to know and have a factory barrel that can do that.

    I just picked up and loaded some Tubb's TMS (Throat Maintenance System) to maintain a smooth throat. I think it's a good idea to be used as directed. And interestingly, Tubb even recommend this for maintaining high end/custom barrels (though I doubt competition shooters would be excited about using it ;)).
     
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    Subwrx300

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    Thanks. Your post was excellent!

    You're right about getting sub half. It's nice to know and have a factory barrel that can do that.

    I just picked up and loaded some Tubb's TMS (Throat Maintenance System) to maintain a smooth throat. I think it's a good idea to be used as directed. And interestingly, Tubb even recommend this for maintaining high end/custom barrels (though I doubt competition shooters would be excited about using it ;)).

    I'm still on the fence about a custom barrel needing throat maintenance but if it can smooth a slightly heat checked throat, it may have some merit. Does reduced copper fouling and roughness in the throat and first few inches really help precision for field use? I don't have that answer but I'm sure benchrest shooters would say it's ultra important. Wish there was an *easy* way to test TMS on quality barrel without possibly ruining it in the process. I don't like the prospect of a $600 screwup that degrades an otherwise good barrel.

    Amd on side note, I've learned that my ability to call and read wind is BY FAR the limiting factor at ranges past 800yds. I'm not so much worried about 1/4moa deviation from throat erosion over time as the 1-2 MOA misses from reading gusts incorrectly at that range.

    Fun stuff!
     
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    straightshooter1

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    I'm still on the fence about a custom barrel needing throat maintenance but if it can smooth a slightly heat checked throat, it may have some merit. Does reduced copper fouling and roughness in the throat and first few inches really help precision for field use?

    The recommended use for TMS is to fire 1-2 rounds every 100 rounds or so as a last thing to do before cleaning. These bullets have a very find grit on them. Am not sure if the issue of the heat checking was addressed and how it might help that, but the main idea is in keeping the edges of the lands smooth. Apparently, even in custom barrels, those edges become roughed up to the point it where such deformation effects the BC of the bullet exiting the barrel. At LONG ranges, I'm sure that's an issue.

    I don't have that answer but I'm sure benchrest shooters would say it's ultra important. Wish there was an *easy* way to test TMS on quality barrel without possibly ruining it in the process. I don't like the prospect of a $600 screwup that degrades an otherwise good barrel.

    Yeah, I don't think I'd want to risk it without some good solid confirmation from reliable sources.

    Amd on side note, I've learned that my ability to call and read wind is BY FAR the limiting factor at ranges past 800yds. I'm not so much worried about 1/4moa deviation from throat erosion over time as the 1-2 MOA misses from reading gusts incorrectly at that range.

    lol . . . windcalling is problem for all shooters, huh? :cool: More so for shooters like me than others.

    Excellent point.
     

    Rob01

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    Thanks. Glad it helped out some.
     

    Subwrx300

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    Thanks. Glad it helped out some.
    Just curious: did you find the same forward progression of the throat/lands with the full FF system? I may forego the first two grits on any further use to see if I can smooth with less forward erosion of the leade/lands.
     

    Rob01

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    Just curious: did you find the same forward progression of the throat/lands with the full FF system? I may forego the first two grits on any further use to see if I can smooth with less forward erosion of the leade/lands.

    Honestly I never checked the first time I used it with the full system on the 300WM but I did try it with just the three finer grits on another rifle and did check and got a very small change. If I remember correctly like about .002.
     

    ShooterwithNoName

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    I used a partial kit on one of the cheap SDM-R barrels from Midway. I bought the barrel as a backup to my Keystone barreled DCM rifle. The Keystone barreled upper was good to go out of the box. The SDM-R barrel, which I paid like $120 new shot about 1-1.5MOA for the first couple hundred rounds and fouled up quick. Groups opened up before I got to 20rds every time and then I had to spend 10min scrubbing it to get a clean patch.

    I shot two of each grit, 5 thru 1 and I can run about 60rds through before having to clean it. It's much easier to clean now and shoots reliably in the .5-.7MOA range. It's a stainless, 20", 5R, 1:8 barrel and I shoot mostly 69gr, 77gr and single load 80gr TMK and SMK in it. I would not hesitate to shoot a match with it now.

    The Tubbs worked for me, cheap rough barrel was a perfect candidate. It did move my lands out very slightly. Which most likely went in my favor shooting the longer 22cal bullets. Depending on what you are using it for the Tubb system seems to have it's uses. I wouldn't run them through a barrel that already has great accuracy expecting to get better. But for the cost, $120 barrel + $40 Tubb kit it worked for me to make a budget DCM upper that shoots right with my Keystone. Plus I have the rest of the kit to use if I have another 22cal barrel that's fouling.
     
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