View Full Version : In-line cleaning after using 777 and sabots?

05-30-2005, 06:01 AM
I have some muzzleloading questions for you guys. I am new to the front-end stuffers, just got a .50 cal. T/C Omega, so please don't laugh too loud at my questions...I understand that the 777 fouling can be cleaned using only water as a solvent on the cleaning patches. What do guys recommend to remove the plastic sabot fouling from the bore? After how many shots should the plastic fouling be removed? I have also been told to wet-patch between each shot while working up loads. How wet should those patches be-damp, soaked?? What do you recommend for a bore lube after cleaning? I plan to remove all lube from the bore prior to each shooting session as the Omega manual recommends having a dry bore when shooting sabots.

What have you found to be a good bullet for elk? I am considering the Hornady 300gr SST and the Barnes Expander MZ 285 Spitfire. I'll see which ones shoot the best from my rifle. Any other bullet recommendations? I have used and reloaded centerfire rifles for nearly 35 years, however this muzzleloading is NEW to me. I am open to any suggetions/advice that you folks are willing to share with me. Thanks in advance for your help.


05-30-2005, 07:21 AM
Can't help with the sabots, but 777 can indeed be cleaned with only water. It tends to produce a dry hard crust in the bore, especially the first several inches in front of the breech plug. I'd recommend a moistened patch, not wet, between each shot. Some people use a "spit patch" which is just moistened in your mouth. I get the best accuracy in my Encore .50 using one spit patch between shots, and nothing else. The first shot in a clean bore is usually a little off. Use the spit patch right after the shot so the barrel is still hot and the bore will dry withour a follow-up dry patch. I use powerbelts (plastic "skirt," legal in CO, sabots are not) and never had a problem with plastic in the bore, don't know about sabots.

One other recommendation--get a range rod with a big knob on the end, you'll be glad you did. 777 can get so dry and crusty that it's easy to get a patch and jag stuck in the bore and the knob, besides saving your palm, will make it easier to pull out.

Bore butter is a good lube for your barrel,Ox Yoke makes it. Get the pine scented green tube, the yellow tube smells like mint.

There's another thread on here with a cleaning method Patrick developed using a brush as a first step to knock out the soot, you may want to check that out.

One thing I forgot to mention, when I was workingup loads for the Encore I found that 100 grains 777 shot much more accurately than heavier charges in my gun, using a 350 grain bullet. If you use heavier charges and don't get the accuracy you want, you may want to drop down to 100 grains. Never used a chronograph, but 777 is supposed to yield 15% more energy than equivalent loads of BP or Pyrodex.

Good luck.

05-30-2005, 06:18 PM
Chip, Not much help on the sabots but I would watch the groups and if they open up,I would brush the barrel out with a good solvent. I like the Omega and would get one if I didn't already have two good hammer guns.

The 777 does burn about 10 to 15% hotter than pyrodex. I have had my best groups at 100 to 120 grains. Above that and the recoil becomes violent anyway. You might want to try some 370 grain maxiballs if elk hunting. They have done well for me. I would recommend not cleaning the 777 for a couple of shooting sessions to see where your first shot goes on each trip. I found it to be very consistent and didn't clean before my last successful elk hunt. No worry on corrosion with this stuff.

One last suggestion would be to add a peep sight to it if you can. That would be nice improvement over the normal rifle sights. Good luck.

05-30-2005, 07:39 PM
I like the 285 barnes for an elk bullet. For cleaning the plastic shooters choice used to and may still make a black powder cleaning gel, it has worked very well for me. My gunsmith even told me he thinks its one of the best solvents for all guns IE.rifles. I use the triple 7 pellets 150 grains a little stout on the recoil but tolerable. Better accuracy with the pellets for my gun. One tip, when you pull the damp spit patch out of the bore, do so very quickly so it creates a poping sound that moves a lot of air through the nipple and helps to keep everthing open. Good luck; Dean

05-30-2005, 09:16 PM
We have shot three containers of 777 pellets in two days during an extensive shooting test, have chronographed over one hundred different bullet/poweder combinations through a couple of dozen in-lines, have shot about every bullet combination available through a wide variety of inland brands - and have never seen a trace of residue from a sabot or plastic shim that is used with muzzleloader bullets.

I like the solvent marketed by T/C as #13 or the Hogdons product - keep it simple, patch until no more crud is evident on the patch. Always end the job with a moisture displacing oil and you are finished.

Tony Knight explained something to me a long time ago that just does not get out to shooters. After ignition, whether black, 777 or Pyrodex the residue in the barrel can be likened to little sponges. Those sponges want to fill themselves with moisture, and when they get filled with water they form an acid that eats hell out of steel (rust and pits). Fill the little sponges with oil and no rust can happen. That is why Knight sells moisture displacing oil - to preven rust even if you have not cleaned the barrel.

As for cleaning with water - why would anyone want to put water into a steel barrel? There was a time when water or better yet, hot water was the only "solvent" available, it ain't that way anymore. There is no magic invovled in cleaning an in-line, just lots of patches and an appropriate solvent. As for solvent, there are lots of solvents that will do a fine job, some guys use windshield washer fluid for example. I prefer to use the two mentioned because they work well, my rifles shoot accurately with my cleaning routine, and I never worry about rust (or plastic fouling...).

Not oiling is the worst mistake we can make - rust is always waiting to happen regardless of which propellant is used.

As for brushes, we don't every use them because we don't need to, simple as that. I have a borescope to check the bores so we know if our cleaning is effective.

Good luck with your new in-line, I suggest cleaning it about like you would clean any firearm.

05-31-2005, 04:17 AM
Thanks to all who have replied. I do appreciate your responses. I knew that I count on the knowledeable members of this board to offer some good advice.

Good shooting,


Dave R.
05-31-2005, 04:51 AM
Ianm... This could be all wrong, but I heard that the main component of Thompsons #13 is water..maybe it works only with a properly seasoned bore??? Like a frying pan...I clean it with water and it doesn't rust due to the seasoning...


05-31-2005, 04:56 AM
Ian-Should I consider the moisture displacing oil for post cleaning lube or will Rem oil be fine?

05-31-2005, 05:44 AM
Dave R. you are right, T/C #13 is mostly water. And windshield washer fluid is 2/3 water, 1/3 methanol.

And to clarify on the spit patches, I use those only when I'm shooting, between shots, not for cleaning the gun at the end of the day. It's just handier than using a solvent that's mostly water anyway. And it's easier to get the moisture level right--I used to use T/C #13 between shots, but the patches get sopping wet, not good as far as getting liquid in the primer channel, etc., and spit patches work just as well for removing the bulk of the fouling. Especially when you are far from the trailhead and don't want to carry cleaning solvents with you. But a small container of lube or oil is a good idea.

When I'm done, I clean the barrel using the same stuff I use for rifles, but instead of oil for lube I use bore butter. Why? No particular reason, it's a leftover habit from the days when I used to shoot a Hawken and used the seasoning method described by Dave R. above. Penetrating oil is probably better for preventing rust, but I've never had a problem with rust using the bore butter.

I guess asking what's the best way to clean a muzzleloader is about like asking the guys up in Alaska what's the best gun to stop a grizzly, or at least it would be if there were more of us ML shooters on the forum here. Fact is, depending on your gun and load, you may get better accuracy by scrubbing the bore clean between each shot or leaving some fouling in the barrel. I know what works in my gun, but I don't shoot sabots.

Good luck and let us know what works in your gun.

05-31-2005, 08:22 AM
I do not know enough about oils to know if Rem oil is a "moisture displacing oil" but I am sure that any oil is better than none. I am confident that the guys are correct, #13 is mostly water, probably so is the Hogdons and others. Just points out that in-lines are easy to get clean compared to centerfires.

The bottom line for me is that in-lines are easy to clean and maintain, not like the black powder only days when we had to really work at preventing rust and corrosion.

My centerfire cleaning routine is far more involved than what I do for cleaning in-lines. Have to get both carbon and copper fouling out whereas we are only going after carbon with the smokepoles.

Make sure you get the crud out of the ignition area of the barrel, that is where it accumulates and hardens. Suggestion to buy a range rod is a very good one, saves the wear and tear on the ramrod. I also use a big, oversized round brush sometime, think it is for a shotgun bore just to clean the threaded area where the breechplug thread into the barrel.

A great tip - to really clean the threads in the breach-plug, take about 10" of dental floss, make a "U" shaped loop and snag the threaded area, spin the breach plug so that the floss tracks in the threads, this will get all of the crud out much better than brushing with a toothbrush or whatever. I have brushed hell out of a breach plug, then spun the floss into the threads and took out a bunch more crud.

You got a very good in-line when you bought the Omega. I was fortunate to shoot the very first whitetail buck with the Omega, back when it was being prototype tested. Have used Omegas for many hunts, they are as good as it gets in muzzleloaders. I know the R&D guys at T/C and they are shooters and hunters - no telling what they will come up with next!

05-31-2005, 11:42 AM
Just wanted to add a little note here, lest someone think I was taking issue with ian's cleaning methods, I was not. The man knows whereof he speaks--as a matter of fact, I would highly recommend his book "Modern Muzzleloading for Whitetails" (or is it Modern Muzzleloaders?) for anyone interested in shooting in-lines. He wouldn't plug it so I will. It's full of original research and hard data, unlike a lot of ML books I've read that are long on personal opinions and short on data. And don't let the name fool you, there is plenty of good stuff in there applicable to elk hunting, especially if you're using sabots. I've read some of his articles on long-range ML shooting also, very good stuff if you want to reach out there and hunt in a state where sabots and scopes are allowed. Since the book came out, I think there have been a few more very good bullets developed for use with sabots, but ian can tell you more about that.

My only point on the cleaning thing is there's usually more than one way to skin a cat.....

05-31-2005, 09:29 PM
It is fair to say that there is no single best way to clean a muzzleloader, or for that matter any firearm. Whatever system that works for you, removes firing residue and maintains the reliability of the firearm and prevents rust and undure wear is the "best" way to clean your guns. I will share my procedures, but would not claim that they are the best, if someone has a better idea or a better solvent, muzzle spray container, scope lens cleaner or whatever, then I will change to improve my procedure. I recently got an opportunity to use a new solvent that does both carbon and copper - elliminates the need to have two solvents on hand. It works so well that my centerfire cleaning time is reduced, fewer patches, few minutes to clean a bore thoroughly. Until this came along I was a died in the wool Shooter's Choice user, went through a lot of their two solvents.

For anyone interested the new solvent is available from Sinclairs and it is called TM Solution. Works for me.

06-01-2005, 05:28 AM
ianm: A question on copper solvents, in general. They're mostly ammonia, right? The directions on the Shooter's Choice say not to soak the bore or leave it in the bore more than 5-10 minutes. Is this stuff really that hard on steel? If you can't leave it in the bore more than 5-10 minutes, I would think that repeated cleanings with the stuff would erode the bore, is this really a problem?

06-01-2005, 06:50 AM
I have never seen any degradation from solvents, more concerned about cleaning rod damage to tell you the truth. I always followed the rule about 5-10 minutes when using CR-10, Sweets or Shooter's Choice copper solvent. You are correct, ammonia is usually a basic ingredient, we are trying some commercial grade ammonia in some rifles and it is amazing how quick it removes the copper.

I went to the new TM Solution because the originator assured me that his solvent will not harm a bore, regardless of how long it is left. Plus it seems to be very fast acting, but does not contain any ammonia I believe.

I always leave a light film of oil in the bore, unless I know I am using the rifle shortly. Try to remember to run a dry patch down the bore to remove some of the oil then shoot a fouler, first shot usually does not go into the group. That is not great since the first shot is usually the one we are hunting with.

06-01-2005, 05:57 PM
Ian- Have you ever tried Wipe-out bore cleaner on your centerfires? It seems to do good things for me.

06-02-2005, 04:04 AM

I have used Wipe-out on a couple of my centerfire rifles that get badly fouled with copper, one a factory Remington barrel and the other a match-grade Schilen stainless barrel. It has worked very well for me. I like the ease (much less "elbow grease" required) and quickness with which it works. The lack of ammonia fumes is nice too.


06-03-2005, 08:53 PM
I sure have used Wipe-Out and it is a fine product. I know many guys who have made the switch to this brushless system. Less running cleaning rods down the bore the less chance of damage is their notion.

06-09-2005, 07:32 AM
Omega shooting report:

First, THANKS again to all who shared suggestions and ideas to help get me started. The range rod is a MUST for long shooting sessions. This muzzleloader shooting is FUN. Cleaning is much easier than I expected. Great, now I have another habit to support.

I first mounted a 4-12 Leupold on the rifle for my benchrest shooting tests. I tried various combinations of bullets and powder, about 75 shots fired so far. The most consistant 100 yard, 3 shot groups have been with the Barnes MZ 285 gr. Spitfires with 3, 777 pellets, average 1.125". The next best are with the Hornady 300 gr. SST. With 3 pellets the average group is 1.375", with 2 pellets just over 1.00". I am amazed at how well this rifle shoots. I will try these same loads at 200 yards when I shoot again. I have also tried some 295 gr. Powerbelt Aerotips which have averaged about 3". I think I'll try some of the heavier powerbelt bullets also. The powerbelts load easier and I am thinking that is the reason they do not shoot as well in my rifle. A few more loads to test, then all that will be left to do is put on my hunting scope, a 1.75-6 Heavy duplex Leupold, get it sighted in, PRACTICE MORE, and find me an elk in October.

I also added a Limbsaver recoil pad. That really tames those 150 grain loads.

THANKS again for all the help. You guys gave me some great ideas to get me started the right way.

Bernie P.

06-09-2005, 04:01 PM
Thanks for the reports, Bernie. If you shoot the heavier PBs, let us know how they do in your rifle. When I was working up loads with 348 grain PBs, they were much more accurate with 100 grains of 777 than with 120 or 130.

But if you're shooting 1" with the Barnes and Hornady bullets, what's not to like?

Just out of curiousity, were you scrubbing the bore clean after each shot, or leaving it partially fouled to get your best groups?

06-09-2005, 08:25 PM

When you were using the 348 gr PB's, were they the Aero Tip or the Hollow point?

My first time at my range I got the bore clean between each shot, usually using 3 wet patches and a dry patch. I tried spit patches, some blackpowder solvent and some windshield cleaner. That was when I was trying to figure out what cleaning method would work for me, and familiarize myself with the rifle. The other times (when I was actually shooting 3 shot groups) I first fired a fouling shot, then just licked a patch with my tongue to get it damp on one side, ran that through the bore with increasing stoke length until I was at the breech plug. Then I used the opposite side of that same patch and ran that down the bore. Just the one patch between each shot, using both sides of it. Between my 3 shot groups I would use the same method, using two separate patches. During my first session I was concerned about the "crud ring" that I could feel while cleaning and did not want to stick a bullet while loading. After I had time to think about it before shooting again, I figured the one patch moved a few times over the build-up area should be sufficeint to remove the "crud ring". It worked for me, and I used a lot fewer patches. I also loosened and retightened the breech plug about every 8-10 shots.

I will order some of the heavier PB's to try. I need to develop a load that I can use in Colorado! This year will be New Mexico, and the sabots and pellets are okay there the last time I checked their regs. Wish I could buy the PB's locally, but the closest store that sells muzzleloading supplies is a 190 mile round trip. Thus, the need to order to save time and gas money.

I did have one problem with the rifle. Initially when using a 3 pellet load, the 209 primer would stick in the hole. I had to pry it out. I had no problem with the 2 pellet loads. After about 45-50 shots the sticking was less noticeable, after about 60 shots the problem solved itself. I think there may have been a small burr in the primer pocket that had to be worn down.

Have you tried any of the Dead Center bullets from Precision Rifle in Manitoba? I have recently read some good reports on them. They offer a 12 bullet trial pack, so I may try a few of them also. I do the same thing with my centerfire rifles, always loading up some new bullets to try and then when its time to put some meat in the freezer I almost always use a good ol' Nosler partition in my 7 Rem Mag or .338 Win mag. I am lucky in that my range is only about 50 yards from my house, so I can shoot whenever the wind is down.

Once again, I need to say THANK YOU for your help. It is appreciated.

Bernie P.

06-10-2005, 04:20 AM
" I also loosened and retightened the breech plug about every 8-10 shots."

Just curious why you are doing this?

This thread has reminded me to get the scope mounted up on my Omega and get it to the range...it's getting to be that time of the year.

06-10-2005, 05:52 AM

I had the same question as Ken, curious as to why you loosened the breech plug and whether you saw any benefit from that. Do you do that to keep it from siezing up? You may want to try teflon tape on the threads, T/C sells it in small rolls. I used to grease the threads, but tape is much better for cleanup. Also keeps the plug from siezing, I've shot upt to 40-50 rounds without a problem, although I'm shooting lighter charges than you.

To answer your questions on PBs, I've only used the copper clad aerotips, 348 grains. I'm not sure how the expansion of an aerotip compares to a hollow point, but I just didn't like the idea of using an HP on elk. Over the last couple of years, the 348 grain bullets have performed well on two cow elk and one buck, flattened the elk last year on the spot at a little over 100 yards. But, the two recovered bullets from the elk, although they expanded nicely, did lose some weight, so I'm thinking about going up to the 405's this year. I didn't recover the bullet from the buck, it blew right through the rib cage.

The other thing about hunting in CO is that you'll have to do without the scope. If you have the fiber optic sights on the Omega, I'd go with those, I really like 'em, especially in low light. When I shot the buck, it was getting towards dark and I was a little worried about being able to see the sights, but when I shouldered the rifle, those sights were glowing like a beacon! I don't think I could have made that shot with a peep sight or open iron sights.

And with the distance limits imposed by using open sights, trajectory is not such a concern, a 400 grain bullet is only around 2-3 inches high at 50 if you sight in for 100, so I like the big bullets for elk.

Funny that you mention the Precision bullets, I just bought a pack to try. They're all lead, knurled, with a blue plastic tip, somewhere around 420 grains, I think. I am going to try some out, probably this weekend. I'll report back.

Also funny you mention the limb saver, I just tried to install one on my gun last night, but I had the model for the synthetic stock, which wouldn't fit my walnut stock. I guess great minds think alike!!! The factory recoil pad is really hard and not very good, I'm just getting over a sore shoulder from shooting two weeks ago. I'm hoping the local Sportsman's warehouse has the right model. Don't know if you order from Cabela's, but they are a good source for ML bullets.

06-10-2005, 07:43 AM
Smokepole and Ken,
I read somewhere about loosening the breech plug regularly to keep it from seizing, so I thought I'd do it to avoid problems. It sounds like I could eliminate that step. It is easy to do with a 7/16" socket and short extension. I will try the teflon tape.

My Omega does have the Fiber optic sights. I plan to shoot a few groups with the open sights when I am switching scopes just to see how I can shoot with them. It sounds like the 348 gr PB's have worked well for you. Thanks for that info.

You will like the Limb Saver recoil pad. I was not going to install one, but after a few rounds with the factory pad I decided to try it. You will feel a big difference. I shot about 40 rounds my last time out, and absolutely no sore shoulder.

Most of my "stuff" comes from Cabela's, either ordering or by a visit to their Sidney store. I worked there for several years, so still feel obligated to buy from them.

Please do let us know how the Precision bullets shoot for you. Had to laugh about the "great minds" comment...maybe on your side, but no great mind in my head! I'm just another shooting nut that can't hear as well I could 20 years ago.

06-10-2005, 10:07 AM
chip- That sounds reasonable. I had a little trouble with mine the first time I shot it...not enough lube. Now I make sure that the threads are well coated and have not had much trouble since, but I don't have the shots throught my gun like you do yours, so I'll keep an eye on things and let you know how I progress.


06-12-2005, 02:52 PM
Personally I would not change the tension on the breach plug while I was shooting groups. One more variable being introduced. We use that slippery silver Never Seize stuff, put lots into the threads, particularly the first 5-7 threads. I wipe the stuff into the entire threaded surface, never have a problem removing a breach plug even after 50 or more shots.

Ususlly the best accuracy occurs if you use the exact same loading procedure for each shot and that procedure should include a swabbing between shots.

Sounds like your Omega is working well, try some T/C Shockwaves when you can get your hands on some, the 250 gr. is a very consistent shooter, sometimes the 300 is better.