Foul the Bore Before Hunting?!?

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Distinguishing fact from fiction is as challenging in the world of firearms as it is everywhere else. Here’s one perspective on firearm cleanliness, from author Tom Tabor in his Gun Digest 2013 article, “Ten Shooting Myths Exposed”:

It’s always good to clean your gun and keep it in top-notch shape. For shooting consistency, though, it’s best to foul the bore by sending a shot down the barrel prior to heading out on a hunt. Why? Typically the first shot from a clean bore will impact in a different spot than the follow-up shots. This was the case in the photo, with the clean bore round printing high and to the left.

“How could anyone make an argument against firearm cleanliness? Well, I can think of only a single instance when a little dirt might be a good thing, and that is inside your gun barrel when it comes to heading out for a hunt. One of the factors necessary for consistent shot placement has to do with the consistency of the firearm bore. Simply put, a round fired through a clean bore will almost always impact at a different point that those shots that follow—and that first shot is often the most important you will take in a hunting situation. I have frequently found the amount of variation can be from about an inch all the way up to three or four inches at 100 yards. If you never shoot past 50 yards, this might not be an issue of concern, but, if you find yourself trying to pull off a shot at a recordbook bighorn ram on that once-in-a-lifetime hunt at 400 or 500 yards, it could easily become a substantial problem to overcome. I like to remove all the variables I can and, in so doing, I always send a round down the barrel and foul the bore before heading out to hunt.”

Read the other nine myths exposed by Tom Tabor, and more great stories from today’s top gun writers, in the newly-released 2013 Gun Digest. Remember to use promo code INSIDEGDB to get free standard U.S. shipping on your order. (Promo code fine print: Items which ship directly from the manufacturer do not qualify for free shipping.) Here’s a sampling of the feature articles and authors showcased in this year’s issue:

  • The Petersen Collection by Philip Schreier
  • Guns of the Westerns by Rick Hacker
  • Custom & Engraved Guns by Tom Turpin
  • More Than Purdey by Terry Wieland
  • Falling in Love with the .280 Ackley by Corey Graff
  • Whatever Happened to the .41 Magnum? by Frank W. James
  • The Truth About “Gun Tests” by Jon R. Sundra
  • The Mauser C96 by Massad Ayoob
  • The Truth About Mouse Guns by Paul Scarlata
  • .223 vs 5.56: What’s the Problem? by Patrick Sweeney
  • A Lust for Levers by Wayne van Zwoll
  • Browning A-5: A Gun with Soul by Nick Hahn
  • Ruger: Sixty Years of Single-Action Sixguns by John Taffin
  • The Novak NEXT Pistol by Gary Paul Johnston
  • 10 Shooting Myths Exposed by Tom Tabor
  • The .450-400 Jeffery Double Returns by Jim Dickson
  • Jack O’Connor’s Last Rifle by Tom Turpin
  • 50 Years Inside Weatherby by Wayne van Zwoll
  • Brownells: A Family Legacy by Steve Gash
  • Guns of the Hillsville Courthouse Tragedy by Thomas Cacecci
  • Bat Masterson’s Pocket Pistol by Duane Freeman
  • Tightening Up the M1 .30 Carbine by Robert K. Campbell
  • The 10-Gauge Magnum by L.P. Brezny
  • “Weatherby Eye” Be Gone by Tom Tabor
  • The Last Krag by John Malloy

Thanks for reading, and remember to check the Inside Gun Digest Books blog often for great articles and news about gun books and gun writers, and to get in on our popular book giveaways.


  1. Knowing that a fouled bore shoots better than a clean bore goes back to the 1880~1890’s, when the Irish team shooting against the Americans at 1000 yard Creedmore with muzzle loading Rigby rifles, .45 cal lead bullets, 86 gr of black powder, did not clean/swab their bores at any time during the competition, and handily outshot the Americans.
    Same thing goes for the .22 long rifle, as could be seen from the 200 yard matches held through the 1950’s [I still cannot fathom why those matches were reduced to 50 feet!] with records that still have not been beaten.
    Jack Hessian probably rolls over in his grave whenever someone says you need a clean bore to shoot well!

  2. Ive just read the 10 shooting myth and found it very interesting. But one problem I have is blatantly ignoring safety for the accuracy of the rile.
    Where Mr. Tabor writes how placing the barrel downward in the car could leave dirt on , or damage the crown of the barrel as a reason to always place the gun barrel up, I politely disagree with doing this.

    The reason and most important is that no one can be 100% sure where the bullet would come down if it goes off. And with fire arms I was always taught, ” if your not sure, dont do.” What if the firearm goes off and it hurts or kills a someone upon descendingg from the sky? Is that worth not getting you rifle crown scratched ?

    I would have much preferred a more sensible solution as maybe carry the firearm in an open case, a sheath, or even wrap a towel over the end of the barrel or make some kind of a protector, like a simple plastic cap. Its not as if the time taken to remove the rifle from a opened case, sheath, have the towel drop off then you pick it up, or just pop a plastic cap off the gun with your thumb before you can shoot your prey.

    Sure, the odds are slim of someone being hit by a falling bullet, but there is still a chance. Why take it? I am a firm believer in safety first, no matter how small the chance of someone getting hurt. Safety takes precedences over any thing especially to scratches or dirt on the crown. Never leave things to chance, or, “I doubt it will happen” type of thoughts. Because sure enough, it will happen if you treat safety that way.

    • I must add that what I wrote is for those who ride around with the gun loaded and chambered. Which I also disagree with having a round chambered until you are ready.
      If the gun is unloaded, you can carry it anyway you choose and saftey is not an issue.

  3. You must clean your barrel at some point, don’t you? Or has it not been cleaned in over 20 years? How do you check your zero, with a bore sight or test firing a round or two after you clean? At some point if you clean your barrel, a round must be fired for the barrel to not be in cleaned state before you go out to hunt, that is all he is saying here.

  4. This is sound advice but hardly news. I’ve known that the first round from a clean barrel is often a “flyer” for as long as I have been shooting (30+ years). Rather than sending “a round down the barrel and foul the bore before heading out to hunt,” I always check my zero and just not clean the barrel before I hunt. My primary hunting gun (a Winchester 670 in .30-06 with a 4x Leupold scope) has not changed point of impact with my preferred hunting cartridge (Federal 180-grain Power-Shok) in over 20 years!

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