Anyone used Tubb’s Final Finish to fire lap their barrels??
Anyone used Tubb’s Final Finish to fire lap their barrels??
There are lots of positive articles and reviews on the web. I've actually been checking into it lately, I think I'm sold on it.
I too have read rave reviews. I have 2 new barrels that I have been waiting for warmer weather to break in. Saw some photos of barrels taken with a borescope before fire lapping and after. The after photo was very smooth, after researching this I might have to invest in a borescope. I have to wonder what my other barrels look like inside. I'm going to order some in 270 and 300 and work in these new barrels.
A good barrel does not need the Tubbs product, nor even breaking in. I have borescoped many barrels and you would be amazed at how rough some look and on the other hand, how nice some look. Then again, I have a rifle built in 1910 with a bore that looks it, but it consistently shoots 5 shots in less than 1/2" if I do my part. Moral....looks can be deceiving
I would not use Tubbs or any like product on any of my barrels. I have had rough barrels and smooth barrels and found handloads that worked in all of them. Not a single custom barrel company recommends it and I think it is a mistake. You want to wear out a barrel then go for it but I won't. Been shooting over 30yrs now and never in a factory or custom rifle used it or needed to.
I found this really interesting.
"Barrel Break-in, internal ballistics, the use of Moly Coated Bullets and Fire-Lapping Compounds
Here's some research I did back in 2000/2001 time frame which I've updated here and there. This is not an end all, solve all paper on barrel break-in and internal ballistic, but it was written to give everyone a better understanding of what really happens when you pull the trigger.
Quick Note: This post has appeared on many hunting and shooting boards and web sites in the past and has be modified by myself as well as others who have asked permission to post it on there site. What prompted me to do this research was the fact that I unintentionally destroyed a brand new Shilen SS select match barrel in under 400 rounds shooting moly bullets.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading and talking with members on many different shooting boards about barrel break in procedures, shooting moly coated bullets and trying to fire-lap a barrel shooting impregnated bullets. Conclusion, what works for some, doesn’t work for others and some of the stuff out there theoretically, technically just can’t work. Being an engineer, when it’s broke or you don’t understand something you talk with real subject matter experts, use manufactures specs and schematics and look for real hard test data to support their conclusions. I’m not much for opinions and hearsay.
In the process of researching this subject I talked with 4 metallurgist, benchrest hall of fame shooter Speedy Gonzalaz, Doug Shilen at Shilen Barrels, Mike Rock of Rock Creek barrels, Stan Rivenbark retired ballistic engineer for Raytheon, and a couple of techs at Hart Barrels. Being an engineer I stuck with the folks who could give me hard facts and real test data to back up there claims. From a scientific/engineering point of view, all of the subject matter experts said pretty much the same thing.
Let’s talk barrel break-in shall we: I believe Kelly McMillan of McMillan rifles said it best, “this barrel break-in processes keeps us in business”. This shoot and clean, shoot and clean every round or few rounds break-in process only damages your new match barrel and/or significantly decreases the barrel life. Though I didn’t speak with Kelly on this subject I’ve read what he’s written and it mirrors my own findings.
A lot of barrel manufactures state the need for a breaking in a barrel, but when you ask for actual test data they don’t have any. Then when I asked how they came up with their barrel break-in procedure, they said this is what they’ve come up with by testing lots of new barrels. For some reason they don’t like it when you keep asking re-clarifying questions they don’t have answers for. I’m not saying there not knowledgably barrel makers as they are. They build some of the top barrels in the country.
Some barrel manufactures have now tired to re-clarify there stance saying that a barrel break-in procedures helps to smooth the transition from the newly cut chamber into the throat area of the bore. Now there is some merit to this statement except that the fact a cotton patch isn’t going to do squat to help remove any rough areas. Bullets passing down the barrel will help smooth the chamber/throat area. It may take just a couple of shots or it could take a lot, but it depends on how well the chamber was cut.
Speedy Gonzalez was a wealth of information as were the techs at Hart barrels. As Speedy says, “my $3000.00 video-bore scope doesn’t lie”. Not to mention he’s local to me and I’ve seen lots of barrels in his shop that have been ruined by various methods…mostly moly bullets.
There are probably less than a dozen individuals in the US that understand internal and external ballistic as well as Stan Rivenbark and Mike Rock. Stan is retired ballistic engineer at Raytheon and Mike Rock of Rock Creek Barrels builds some of the best barrels in the country. They both understand the whole internal ballistic equation more than all the others I talked with. This is because they worked on internal ballistics in their real lives, used state of the art test equipment to perform actual tests and record the actual data. They are true subject matter experts and both of their views points and explanations were very similar. A slight twist here and there and different approachs but there test data and conclusion were the same. A lot of folks claim to understand all or part of the internal ballistic equation, but these people had the real scientific data to back up there statements and claims. I like solid test data and not opinions on what someone believes.
As I stated Stan and Mike Rock gave me the most detailed explanations on barrels and internal ballistics. Both were ballistic engineers and both have degrees in metallurgy; Mike was a ballistics engineer for the US Army for many years at the Aberdeen Proving grounds. When Mike worked at Aberdeen, the Army used high speed bore videos with mirrors, thermal imaging and computers to analyze any and everything that happens when the firing pin hits the primer and the round goes off. When the primer ignites there is enough pressure to move the bullet forward into the lands. The bullet then stops. As the primer ignites the powder, more pressure builds moving the bullet forward where it can stop again. Once there is enough pressure from the round going off, the bullet is moved down out the barrel. All of this happens in nanoseconds (billionths of a second). Your bullet starts and stops at least twice before it leaves the barrel. This is fact. Bet you didn’t know that…….neither did I!
Think of a car engine for a moment. Why do we use oil in the engine? To prevent metal-to-metal contact and reduce friction between two metal surfaces. Your barrel is no different from the engine. If you clean every round or every few rounds during your barrel break-in process or clean your rifle so well after shooting that you take it down to the bare metal, you’ve created a metal-to-metal contact surface for the next time you shoot the gun. So what’s the problem with this you ask? Just like your car engine, metal-to-metal contact will sheer away layers of metal from each surface. So if your bullet is starting and stopping at least twice before it leaves the barrel, that’s two places for metal-to-metal contact to happen as well as the rest of your bore. Even though copper is a gilding metal it can still sheer away barrel surface metal in the bore when traveling at high velocities under extreme pressures. Cleaning with products such as JB’s and Flitz can clean so well they can take your barrel down bare metal. To preserve your barrel we need to avoid cleaning down to bare metal.
According to Mike Rock and the other barrel manufactures agreed, all you need to avoid this metal-to-metal contact is a good burnish in the barrel. Some barrel manufactures will void your barrel warranty if you shoot moly bullets. This is not to say that moly is necessarily bad for a barrel, but it can be when applied to bullets. More on moly later.
When Mike rebarreled my tactical rifle with one of his 5R barrels, I talked with him about my new barrel, the barrel break-in process and how to get the best performance out of my new barrel. This is what he had to say. When he makes a new barrel, he hand laps the barrels with a lead lap. He then uses two products from Sentry Solutions, a product called Smooth Coat, which is an alcohol and moly based product. He applies wet patches of Smooth Coat until the bore is good and saturated and lets it sit until the alcohol evaporates. The barrel now has loose moly in it. Next he uses a product called BP-2000, which is a very fine moly powder. Applied to a patch wrapped around a bore brush, he makes a hundred passes through the barrel very rapidly before having to rest. He repeats this process with fresh patches containing the moly powder a few more times. What he is doing is burnishing the barrel surface with moly and filling in any fine micro lines left by the hand lapping. He then uses a couple of clean patches to knock out any remaining moly left in the bore. He also included a bottle of each product when he shipped my rifle back.
With the barrel burnished with moly, this will prevent any metal-to-metal contact during the barrel break in process. My instructions for barrel break-in were quite simple. Shoot 20 rounds (non-moly bullets) with no cleaning, as this will further burnish the barrel. This will also help smooth out the transition from the chamber and throat area. Done! Now shoot and clean using your regular regiment of cleaning and if you have to use JB’s or flitz type products, go very easy with them, or better yet avoid them. Never clean down to bare metal
He said most of the cleaning products do a great job, don’t be afraid to use a brush and go easy on the ammonia-based products for removing copper fouling. Basically don’t let the ammonia-based products remain in the barrel for long lengths of time.
Moly coating and Fire-lapping a bore
This is one of those topics that just doesn’t hold water in my book. You theoretically and technically can not moly coat a bore with moly bullets and the same holds true for trying to fire lap a bore with impregnated bullets.
Think about this whole process of treating a barrel with coated bullets logically for a moment. A bullet is only so big and when compared to the surface area of the inside of barrel it’s really very small. Now let’s take it a step further. The contact surface of the bullet that will come in contact with the inside of barrel is even smaller. So you want to treat the inside of your barrel with moly using a bullet with an extremely small contact surface. Folks it doesn’t take an engineer to do the math and see this is going to work as prescribed. This is like trying to wax your entire car with just a very tinny dab of wax and starting over at the exact same place each time you apply more wax to applicator. You just can't cover the entire car, but you get a nice wax build up at the starting point.
The same thing happens when trying to moly coat your barrel with moly coated bullets. You get a nice moly build up right in the throat area and not much moly beyond that
Fire-lapping could and probably would help factory barrels. It would help polish the throat area of the barrel as well as smooth out some of the rough surfaces that a inherent to factory barrels, but I see it as a waist of time with a hand-lapped custom barrel
Moly Bullets – Bad barrel Ju Ju?
When I first researched moly bullets in a barrel, I concluded they weren’t bad Ju Ju for barrels. I jumped on the band wagon with everyone else. I’m not sure where I went wrong as I faithfully used Walt Bergers cleaning method for shooting moly bullets. I toasted that new barrel in less than a month. Speedy Gonzales really helped me understand just how I screwed up and my mistake is something he sees all he time when looking through his $3000.00 video bore-scope.
The reason I ruined my new Shilen SS match grade barrel with less than 400 rounds of moly coated bullets was really quite simple once I understood what happened. When your round goes off, moly comes off the contact surface of the bullet in the throat area of the rifle and is bonded to the barrel due to the excessive heat and pressure. Were not talking coated or adhered to, we’re talking bonded to. In addition, add carbon fouling and some of the copper jacket from the bullet to the mix. Follow this up with another round and you’ve now embedded the carbon fouling and copper jacket between layers of bonded moly. This is the beginning of the black moly ring, which ruins countless barrels and is so hard; it can hardly be scraped off with a screwdrivers corner edge.
When I first research moly bullets there was no product that would dissolve bonded on Molybdenum Disulfide (MoS2) without destroying your barrel steel. However I have since read of some organic cleaners that now claim to dissolve MoS2, but won’t touch the copper or carbon or bonded on moly. Most cleaning products will remove loose moly from the barrel, but not touch the bonded on moly. Some moly users say they brush it out when they clean their rifles. Without looking through a borescope, how would you know? Doug Shilen at Shilen barrels cut the throat section out of my ruined barrel to see the specific damage once he determined it was toast. He could barely scrape the moly out with the sharp edge of a screwdriver on the barrel I ruined. I could have scrubbed with a bronze brush for days on end and I wouldn’t have touched it.
I think moly shooters have a better understanding now of moly coated bullets and how to clean their barrels without getting the black moly ring in the throat area. I also believe they use moly coated bullets for accuracy reasons more so than trying to moly coat the inside of the barrel. But there are probably more moly users who haven’t figured out the right way to work with moly and destroy their barrels much in the same way I did.
So to conclude, for all this barrel break-in non-sense (as I see it) all that is really needed is a good burnish in the barrel. Factory barrels may need more work or more rounds down the tube and some are so bad nothing can help them. A good custom barrel that has been hand-lapped should take little effort to settle in and shoot well.
There’s a lot more to this but I hope this sheds some light on the situation.
This is something to consider.
A GUN WRITER NEEDS:
THE MIND OF A SCHOLAR
THE HEART OF A CHILD
THE HIDE OF A RHINOCEROS
That was a good read Jeff. both of the barrels I have are new factory barrels. I'm investing in a borescope and plan on using it to make sure that my barrels are clean and smooth.
A GUN WRITER NEEDS:
THE MIND OF A SCHOLAR
THE HEART OF A CHILD
THE HIDE OF A RHINOCEROS
I used final finish in a 22 cal barrel on a Remington factory rifle in 223. The barrel fouled too much and was not terribly accurate when I bought it. Since the kit was not terribly expensive, I decided to see if it would help with the roughness, and if it improved accuracy that would be great, but completely unexpected.
Well, the barrel fouled a little less when I was done, but that was about it. I have decided since then that factory barrels are probably going to disappoint me, and I'm prepared for it when I buy one.
I think the solution is to get a Krieger or Lilja if you want a great barrel. All this break-in, weird cleaning regimens, and fire-lapping is not terribly helpful. I know buying a good barrel and paying a smith is not cheap, but every time I have done it I have been happy with the results, and I would rather have fewer rifles that really shoot than alot of factory stuff that is not that terrific.
Well I fell for the gimmick, I'll let you know if it works in a few weeks. I've been shooting a lot of Barnes TSX's lately. Ive been working up loads in 375 Ruger, 375H&H, 300RUM and (4) different 308's. All of these rifles are accumulating copper faster than I would like to see.
I ordered a set of 204 to break in a new model M77 Ruger Target/Varmint and 308 for the Rum and 308Wins. Also 375's to run through the two 375's mentioned above.
These bullets are Sierra's, no surporise there since David Tubbs is sponsored by Sierra. The 204 is a 39gr Blitz King, the 308's are 200gr Match Kings and the 375's are 300gr Game Kings. All of these bullets have some kind of abrasive coating on them.
Thanks for posting that. Mods can we make a "Sticky" out of this?
I am left to conclude that you would not use Tubbs firelapping stuff even though you conclude that firelapping would probably help a factory barrel?
I would agree that there is no need to fire lap a custom barrel that has already been hand lapped.
A few things in regards to Tubbs Final Finish. His product literature states that his product is not for new custom hand lapped barrels like Lilja, but for factory barrels that could benefit from smoothing out the throat (and the bore). As I remember, he recommends AGAINST using his product in high end custom barrels and other barrels that are shooting well already. Just check his website.
"FinalFinish is designed to improve mass-produced factory barrels. It will produce dramatic improvements in these barrels. The improved polish and smoothness will allow you to increase velocity and reduce fouling. This means that more rounds can be fired without accuracy deterioration. (Some of the most impressive results with FinalFinish have come in factory-barreled handguns. Our test firearms showed an average of 60-percent smaller groups! Lead bullet shooters especially will find much easier clean up too.)"
I have used the product in several rifles. I found a modest improvement in accuracy, and a definite improvement in how much copper the barrel collected. However, I'm not touching my Ruger M77 tang safety 30-06 that shoots 3/4 inch groups all day long. I don't care how much copper it collects, even though it has a factory barrel, I'm not messing with success.
After using the Final finish in my AR15 with a factory Colt barrel, cleaning is a breeze. It definitely smoothed out the barrel and I hardly have to use copper cleaner compared to before.
If you can spare the 25 bucks or so and aren't satisfied with your barrel, give it a try...FWIW
My experience with Tubb's final finish and one barrel are the same as GD Yankee and dougk.
My barrel was a badly abused 30-06 lots of pitting in the barrel, that took 3 applications of Sweets and then a soak in wipe-out to clean after every 20 rounds. The best group before was about 2" with the average group more like 3".
I ran the 50 Tubb's bullets through per instructions. I would not say accuracy improved much or at all, but it surely did not get worse. What did improve was cleaning. Now it takes one run of sweets and a soak in wipe-out and it is clean, not blue on the patch at all.
I would not Fire lap a great shooting barrel but if it shooting so-so and is hard to clean I do not think there is much to loose by trying.
First of all, I definitely agree with Jeff in his article. I would never use (or see a reason to use) fire-lapping on a hand-lapped custom barrel.
On the other hand, factory barrels are not typically lapped. This does not mean one should fire-lap all factory barrels. As others have stated, if it shoots well and cleans well, why would you?
That said, I've used it on three rifles, with varying results. The best results were on my Model 70 375 H&H. It shot poorly (2+") and fouled very badly. After one 50-round course of Tubb's Final Finish it now cleans as easily as any of my other barrels and shoots MOA. The second rifle I used it on was a Ruger M77 in 7RM. That one was almost impossible to get clean. It shot good groups when clean but groups opened noticeably up after as few as 4 shots. The Final Finish had little effect though. It's still a bear to get clean, and I've since replaced it with a new Savage.
Finally, I also used it on Kimber in 7-08, kind of as an experiment. This time I shot a few factory rounds, but then decided to try "fast forward" barrel break in using the Tubb FF. The groups it shot before fire-lapping were ugly, but that may be because it only seems to shoot well with Barnes TSX bullets, don't ask me why. (Others I've talked with have said the same about their Kimbers...it's a mystery!) Anyway, it cleans very well, and although it's a little picky it does shoot very well with the right bullets and the right load.
I just got a Pac-Nor barrel in 257 Wby as a switch barrel for my new Savage. I haven't had the chance to shoot it yet but I can tell you that if it shoots or fouls badly, it will go back to the factory before I try any fire-lapping.
So, I recommend you shoot a factory barrel first. Give it 50 rounds before you consider fire-lapping. After that, my experience indicates fire-lapping is a good option.