Sniper's Hide Online Training Lesson, Understanding your ColdBore Shot

In many cases the Cold Bore shot is the most important shot a shooter will take. It's understand the How and Why of a ColdBore shot in order to eliminate any variation.

Understanding your ColdBore Shot 

The question was asked here in the Online Training Section about "ColdBore Mapping" and before I got into that particular topic I wanted to discuss the various types of ColdBore shots so the shooter can better understand the differences.  By breaking these down, identifying each type we can better diagnose and adjust for each one as necessary. 

The 3 Types of ColdBore Shots 

  • Clean ColdBore 
  • Fouled ColdBore 
  • Cold Shooter or Cold Body Cold Mind 

Each one these factors has a different solution.  So before you begin to map your ColdBore variation if you have one, identify the type. 

Clean ColdBore 

This is very common. A lot of people will thoroughly clean their rifles after each range session. It's part of their ritual to come home from the range and clean.  What happens here is, you are changing the physical properties inside the bore.  Two things are happening, 

1st you are removing the "Good Copper" from the barrel.  Many people compare to this "seasoning a frying pan" where, don't necessarily clean, but just rinse the pan to keep it seasoned. A lot of seasoned precision rifle shooters have learned to reduce the amount of cleaning in order to keep the good copper in place.  When the barrels are created there are things like tool marks inside the bore.  Small amounts of copper will settle into these spaces and keep the barrel shooting consistent.  This is different from copper fouling as it is not an accuracy stealing build up, but a filling in of the gaps.  

Depending on the rifle you can reduce the amount of cleaning necessary so your Clean ColdBore has less deviation because you are no longer stripping away this good copper.  Carbon only cleaners are used to replace harsher copper removers.  The stronger chemicals are then only used when accuracy falls off or when a larger number of rounds have been shot. 

Secondly, you have oil and chemical residue that must be "burned off" or shot out prior to the rifle settling in.  So if you are cleaning the rifle with stronger chemicals, putting it up, or just taking it out after storage consider using 97% alcohol to clean out those chemicals either right after cleaning or just before shooting.  

Many competition shooters will also foul the barrel after cleaning.  They thoroughly clean the rifle, then before putting it up, fire 3 to 5 rounds in order to replace the good copper and foul the barrel so it is good shape.  This is something I would recommend to all those who shoot consistently and / or work or compete with their rifles. 

Fouled ColdBore 

If you foul the rifle and still have a ColdBore variation, things get very tricky.  First you have to make sure it is not a case of a Cold Shooter. (More on that later) If you have determined it is not you the shooter, then you need to look at what the causes could be ?  This is a "Normal" situation and should never be dismissed as one.  A properly built Precision Rifle, especially a Tactical Rifle should never have a Fouled ColdBore Shift.  Some of the potential problems could be: 

  • Stress in the Barrel (Bad Barrel) 
  • Improper Torque between the Barrel and Action 
  • Improper Torque on the Action Screws 
  • Bad Bedding 

In the above cases it usually takes a gunsmith to remedy.  One  of the things we notice when a rifle has a physical problem is the rounds walk.  They don't shoot one and group, but will walk the rounds into target.   If this is the case where it takes 2 or more rounds to settle in, look at the above reasons.  

It's not uncommon for Button Cut rifle barrels to have stress in them, as well many factory barrels will be shipped out improperly torqued or stress relived. Button cut rifle barrels are very common and unfortunately if not executed properly pulling that button pushes steel around causing stress.  This why many people believe it to be normal, as there are a lot of button cut barrels out there. 

Cold Shooter - Cold Mind / Cold Body

The most common fouled ColdBore deviation we see comes from the shooter.  In short this is a first round flinch from the anticipation of the days' shooting. Generally speaking we are all excited about shooting.  Our brain however has an issue with a controlled explosion going off 3" from our nose, so as a defensive measure we flinch.  With a lot of people, it only happens for that first round and once we know all is safe it stops.  Since we creatures of habit, it is consistent and predictable. It is also something that can be eliminated. 

To test if this is a Cold Shooter, what you need to do is show up at the range with two rifles.  The first your primary precision rifle that is pre-fouled and ready to go. The second is rifle you will shoot first to get that flinch out of your system.  Start off by shooting a box of ammo from your secondary rifle.  Then transition over to your primary and see if if removes the cold bore deviation ?   I would recommend doing this at least 3x prior to making a full determination and also bring a dedicated target you can use to record the results.  Make up a Cold Bore Target. 

Lastly just before you shoot your primary rifle, dry fire. At least 10 good dry presses to make sure you are settled in behind the rifle. Giving Time & Opportunity the Dry Fire is one of the best ways to combat that first round flinch.  So don't overlook it during your practice.  If you condition your brain to accept this form of shooting it will never fear that first round shot.  The snap and click is enough to trick the brain. 

The more confidence and practice you put into your cold bore shot, the less issue you will have with it.  Today I never look at my rifles as having a cold bore deviation, it's out of my mind completely and has yet to bit me.  

Many databooks have a place to record this information so you can account for it.  One place I also see a cold bore deviation is with certain suppressors. With them it is called a 1st Round Pop.  You have to map it the same way as if it was an actual cold bore issue.  In one case once the suppressor carbon'd up with about 500 rounds through it, the 1st round pop went away. But it can and does happen with suppressors. 

Next we'll look at a target board one can use to map their cold bore variation. 

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