Monthly Archives: October 2011

Dr. Irwin Ruderman : Veterinarian and Jewish Marksman

The VCA Staten Island Animal Hospital website lists Dr. Irwin Ruderman as its Medical Director, and includes an interesting biography. Of most interest to our blog is the following excerpt:
[Dr. Ruderman] got his Veterinary Technician license in 1975 and earned his B.Sc. in Zoology in 1976. While at Ohio State he lived over an animal hospital working full time and going to school part-time. Veterinary school took Dr. Ruderman even farther from home – Milan, Italy. Not only did he move to Italy but he also had to learn to speak, read, and write the language first. Many are surprised to find a Jewish veterinarian fluent in Italian! Six years in Italy also gave him a appreciation for Italian wines.

Some of his hobbies, just like his medicine find origins in the East: Bonsai, collecting Japanese swords and sword fittings, fishing, and target shooting.

Jewish Marksman Learns His Lesson on AR-15 Barrel Cleaning

And you shall have a designated place outside the camp, so that you can go out there [for use as an outhouse]. And you shall keep a shovel in addition to your weapons; and it shall be, when you sit down outside [to relieve yourself], you shall dig with it, and you shall return and cover your excrement. For the L-rd, your G‑d, goes along in the midst of your camp, to rescue you and to deliver your enemies before you. [Therefore,] your camp shall be holy, so that He should not see anything unseemly among you and would turn away from you. Deuteronomy 23:13-15

Cleanliness is an important concept in Judaism, and I recently had an eye-opening experience with barrel cleaning. Go to any Internet gun forum, and you’ll find that if you ask “how should I clean my barrel?” you will get a different answer from every person. The advice that has always appealed to me most, however, is to use the least abrasive techniques so long as accuracy does not suffer.

For my small bore rifles (.22LR), this has meant to rarely clean a barrel. Although there is debate, the general consensus is not to clean a small bore barrel unless it seems to loose accuracy. And even then, a mild solvent with cotton patches should suffice. If fact, most small bore barrels are believed to shoot better a little dirty. With .22LR rounds, the bullets are unjacketed lead at relatively low velocity, so there is no need to worry about copper and lead fouling, and only mild carbon concerns.

High Power center fire barrel cleaning is another story, because copper jacketed bullets will schmear copper in the rifling, and there is heavier carbon fouling. After every few matches, my cleaning practice was to first run a few patches of carbon solvent through the barrel. Then I had the idea of inserting a foam ear plug into the muzzle, and from the chamber end, filling the entire barrel with copper solvent, and letting it soak for 15 minutes. I’d pull out the plug, and all kinds of blue (ammonia dissolves copper into a blue liquid) and black gunk would spill out. I followed this routine for 1500 rounds on my AR-15 barrel, and it kept hammering out master and high master scores! Why change?

Then, slowly but surely, my scores started dropping. Suddenly, I found I could not shoot master scores, with wild off-call 7s and 6s showing up on my targets. And my zero seemed to keep moving. Oy veh!

At first, I thought it could be (a) the recent switch I’d made in bullets, (b) that the barrel had met an early end in its life, or (c) something was off with my technique. A little experimentation disproved (a), and using my lower with a .22LR upper disproved (c). That left me very concerned that the problem was the barrel. 1500 rounds was a little early for a barrel to die.

I had a talk with some fellow club shooters, and within seconds they diagnosed the problem. Each exhibited shock when they learned I had never put a brass brush to my bore in over 1500 rounds. Apparently, it was common knowledge that an AR-15 barrel needs to be subjected to a brass brush and JB Bore Paste (a very mild abrasive cleaner) every few hundred rounds!

Sure enough, after a good scrubbing, my barrel can group again! At a recent match, despite my zeros being totally off I almost shot a Master score again, and now have my zeros back for next time. No wild sixes and sevens! Mazal tov!

Aside from the JB Bore paste tip, I also got advice on which solvents to use after each match. I purchased some and am happy that many modern solvents are much less toxic and odorous than solvents I’ve used in the past. I’ll report back on the success of my new cleaning techniques in a few thousand rounds.