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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Before I start, this is a serious post, not trying to stir anything up..

I read a lot about Dirty powders vs clean. I shoot a mix of factory and reloads.

With most shells of either type, I usually see some flakes, etc in the barrel after one shot or a full days shooting.

My questions:

Isn’t the residue (“dirt”) we see only for the the last shot fired? It seem that the next shot would ‘clean’ whatever residue is in the barrel.

Does using ‘dirty’ powder actually have any real detriment? I’m mostly talking about break open guns. I do have one auto - a Remington 1000 Comp that I do a full clean every 500 shells or so. I haven’t noticed any real difference between powders, using some 700x, Red Dot and Extra Lite loads, or factory Gun Clubs for that matter.

Is there any real world benefits to using ‘clean’ powders exclusively?
 

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I agree with your point, especially with break open guns. My theory is that the first shot in a clean barrel leaves a certain amount of residue. The next shot blows it out and leaves its own residue. I doubt the barrel is any dirtier after 100 shots than it was after the first shot. As far as wad plastic and lead fouling, that's a different story. But those contaminants are unrelated to clean or dirty powder.
 

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To me a dirty barrel is a sign of a messed up load.
I expect some residue or a flake or two but if you’re questioning your reloads, shoot one and look down the barrel. Shoot another. If it looks the same now you have a control.
Now drop a factory shell and pull the trigger.
If the factory load “cleaned” your barrel, chances are your reload needs tweaked.
JMHO
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I appreciate the advise but perhaps ironically, one of the ‘dirtiest’ loads I shoot are from factory 20 ga Gun Clubs.

I should also make the point that all of the factory and reload shells I’m currently shooting perform fine.

So, I guess I’m still wondering: What does it hurt to have a dirty load, assuming normal cleaning is performed?
 

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To the shotgun, I doubt clean versus dirty matters. You shoot, you clean, you repeat. What I would like to know is if anyone can notice a difference on their hands or clothes after shooting 100 rounds. Is there a noticable difference in the soot, etc. that you get on you?
 

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I appreciate the advise but perhaps ironically, one of the ‘dirtiest’ loads I shoot are from factory 20 ga Gun Clubs.

I should also make the point that all of the factory and reload shells I’m currently shooting perform fine.

So, I guess I’m still wondering: What does it hurt to have a dirty load, assuming normal cleaning is performed?
I really wouldn't be concerned about what you see in your barrel.
What I would be concerned about, is what the inside of your reciever looks like.
MG
 

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Your observation that the dirt you see in the barrel is from the last shot is correct. If the "dirt" accumulated, eventually, in theory, your barrel would close up. It shouldn't be any big deal with a gun other than an autoloader. The concern with the autoloaders is with the "dirt" clogging the gas ports in the barrel. You need to go in there with a drill bit and auger them out once in a while. Sometimes the ash accumulates in the trigger group but you could easily drop the trigger group and blow it out with some canned compressed air.
 

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The only time I notice excessive fouling is when the load is too slow. I use Clays, e3, Titewad, American Select, Ramshot, and others depending on what I can get at any given time. As noted above the greater concerns are the receiver and trigger group.
 

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If shooting a gas-operated autoloader, I could see worrying about how dirty a load is. If shooting an O/U, it really doesn't matter.

Also, most "dirty" loads I have seen , is when a powder is used at pressure lower than ideal. For example, when Iloaded 3/4 oz 12 ga using Red Dot and the load published by ClayBuster. Extremely dirty. Put it in a 1 or 1 1/8 oz load, the pressure goes back up, and the load cleans itself up!!

Use XtraLite, and that 3/4 oz load is nice and clean.
 

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The only time I notice excessive fouling is when the load is too slow. I use Clays, e3, Titewad, American Select, Ramshot, and others depending on what I can get at any given time. As noted above the greater concerns are the receiver and trigger group.
Speed has nothing to do with clean burns.
Pressure is the key to this.
Low pressure = Dirty
MG
 

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What I consider relatively clean, somebody else may think dirty. I've never really noticed much with O/U, SXS. The only thing that has ever bothered me was noticeable un-burned powder in semi autos and pumps after relatively few rounds.
 

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There is a difference between a powder that is dirty and a bad load recipe. My 19.5 gr green dot load has always been dirty but all the powder burns. I have tried some WSF in 1 1/8 loads and while the load shoots great the powder does not completely burn. The hulls are clean but the barrel is full of powder granules. My take on the two is green dot is a little on the dirty side and wsf works better with 1 1/4 loads.
 

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To me a dirty barrel is a sign of a messed up load.
I expect some residue or a flake or two but if you’re questioning your reloads, shoot one and look down the barrel. Shoot another. If it looks the same now you have a control.
Now drop a factory shell and pull the trigger.
If the factory load “cleaned” your barrel, chances are your reload needs tweaked.
JMHO
One flat. It actually looks cleaner to the eye than what the camera shows. I'm pleased.

0FD2C6E0-378A-4956-B1A1-F43AD1DDF805.jpeg
 

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Well, given the choice of clean or dirty I prefer a clean bore every time. I dont care if dirty powder is cheaper, Ill spend a few $ more on a keg and get a clean(er) burn.
I recently shot a factory box of AA 12ga. Disgustingly dirty. But those were the "tracer" version shells. I also gave the hulls away. Only good thing is a member sold the box to me (I didnt bring enough ammo that day) for $5.
First factory shells Ive shot in YEARS.
 

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Clean and dirty mean different things to different people. The original Red Dot was considered a 'dirty' powder. The dirt that it left consisted mostly of graphite in the bore and a little powder residue. What it didn't do was deposit crud in the receiver than had to be scraped out. If the receiver stays clean, or any crud that deposits wipes right out, I consider it a 'clean' powder.

I used to shoot a variety of powders, but standardized on e3 for 7/8 and 1 oz. loads and Am Sel for 9/8 oz. loads. Both are extremely clean. I made it a practice to wipe down the receiver after every shoot, just because. I made it a practice to clean my barrels before the Keystone Open each year, need it or not. They had been polished by Kerry Allor and it seemed nothing stuck to them.
 

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Clean, dirty. I have been using Clays for years and it is considered a very “clean “ powder. Looking down the barrel after any shot and it looks clean. When I take the gun to the basement to clean however? It’s still a mess. Clp, bore brush on a cordless drill, patch after patch more clp clean patches. You are burning powder. It’s all dirty. Shoot what you like, clean the gun after and call it good.
If you are getting a lot of unburned flakes that might be a different story.
 

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Clean, dirty. I have been using Clays for years and it is considered a very “clean “ powder. Looking down the barrel after any shot and it looks clean. When I take the gun to the basement to clean however? It’s still a mess. Clp, bore brush on a cordless drill, patch after patch more clp clean patches. You are burning powder. It’s all dirty. Shoot what you like, clean the gun after and call it good.
If you are getting a lot of unburned flakes that might be a different story.
This describes the difference between carbon fouling and "ash." If you can see it, its ash and results from a load that has pressure that is on the low side. All powders deposit some modicum of carbon as it goes out the barrel. One of the those fuzzy tubes will remove the ash. You need solvent to remove thore rest. Now that I'm bored, I'll take the time to go downstairs and chuck a bore brush on a cleaning rod and spray some "crap out" in barrel and make a smoothie out of it.
 

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I was asked to try a light reload, 7/8 ounce because it came up in conversation that I’ve never shot 7/8 before. I was handed a box and tried them for first shot of doubles.
They were definitely soft and broke the target but I’ll never try that again...

Here’s the bottom barrel after those loads:

1A628A2D-66D6-419D-9EFC-BD2B9CC91446.jpeg

Now compared to my regular reloads top barrel:

C0C3E271-8009-4895-8601-E31DA90A3314.jpeg

For what it’s worth, it took forever (compared to what I’m used to) to scrub that crud out of my barrel.
 

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I was asked to try a light reload, 7/8 ounce because it came up in conversation that I’ve never shot 7/8 before. I was handed a box and tried them for first shot of doubles.
They were definitely soft and broke the target but I’ll never try that again...

For what it’s worth, it took forever (compared to what I’m used to) to scrub that crud out of my barrel.
I would not sell 7/8 oz. loads short. Obviously, the load you shot produced pressure that was, shall we say, on the low side. You don't know what sort of load was in those shells; you might try to find out. This is why I look for loads with the highest pressure available. I'll admit trying to find such loads takes some looking, especially if you want a 1200 fps load. But if you are willing to bump the velocity up to 1250 fps, you can find some with adequate pressures that will burn much more cleanly.
 
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