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Borescope review (you can look down your barrel for a lot less than you think!)

Discussion in 'Maintenance & Gunsmithing' started by P7id10T, Dec 25, 2014.

  1. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Some of you may already have one for looking at your cylinders through the spark plug hole. I recently came across the need to look down a pipe to discover why it kept clogging. Went to Harbor Freight and looked at the endoscope/fiber optic camera they had. Two choices: $99 and $199, both with big, fat camera heads.

    My experience buying stuff from Harbor Freight is a 50:50 proposition. Half the time it works, half the time it's crap. At the register, they told me "there's a restocking fee on the camera if you return it." Wilco Tango Foxtrot? Um, I'll wait.

    Went home and started searching. Came up with dozens of options on Ebay. While searching, I'm seeing I can find all sorts of head diameter options, so of course I think of using the same thing for examining my barrels.

    I settled on two, the first one being a 5.5mm Fiber Optic USB camera, 640 x 480 resolution with a 1m armored flexible fiber. $34, stocked here in the US. It arrived the 24th. The second one is a 8.5mm fiber head, with much higher resolution, 720p HD. On its way via China Parcel Post (i.e. 3 weeks). It was also $34.

    Setting it up was a snap, sort of. Out of the box, I plugged it into the laptop I usually use. Windows couldn't load the drivers for it, but on that beast it's a problem with Win7. I plugged it into an older Dell Win7 machine, it worked great. What surprised me was how easy it was to use it on my tablet. Downloaded and installed CameraFi off Google Play, plugged the camera into the OTG cable, and Viola!, I'm looking down the borescope. BONUS! (An OTG cable is a male/female adapter that you plug into the tablet/phone micro usb port that allows you to plug in usb devices like a thumb drive.)

    The first thing I checked out was the chamber and barrel of my new (used) CZ550. Everything looked good. I could see copper fouling still in spots in rifling of the barrel. Sorry, I didn't think to take pictures here. Next was my .308. Looking down both guns from both ends, what surprised me was how the chamber reaming on the 308 looked rough compared to the CZ550.

    When ordering the camera, I deliberately chose one with a 5.5mm head, thinking it would fit down my AR15 barrel. Nope. While the major ID is 5.56, the minor ID is less. D'oh! So it wouldn't fit down my German AK22. Then I looked inside some 308 cases.

    The rifling pictures attached aren't of the greatest quality. The head as a focal range of 1-5cm, and it seems to work best in when the object is ~2cm away. If I held the camera right, there would be much more contrast and definition between the lands and grooves.

    I'm pleased. For $43 all in, I have an extremely useful visualization tool. No more pulling out the multitude of dental mirrors that I have in my tool box. I can hear it now, "Honey, will you go grab me my borescope please?" followed by "What's a borescope?"

    Pictures attached.

    20141225_043611.jpg ebay.png IMG_20141225_044352.jpg 20141225_043543.jpg 20141225_043611.jpg IMG_20141225_044306.jpg IMG_20141225_044352.jpg ebay.png
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
    rick49 and ZA_Survivalist like this.
  2. B5Ben

    B5Ben Boise Well-Known Member

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    Nice! I have been thinking about getting something along these lines so I can check for water damage inside some walls. Never really thought about using one as a bore scope. Bonus!
     
  3. MarkAd

    MarkAd Port Orchard Well-Known Member

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    I have one called Supereyes. It is a great tool. The only compliant is it is too big for 22 caliber barrels..
     
  4. SinisterSouthpaw

    SinisterSouthpaw SW WA Active Member

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    I have an inexpensive Vision Optics borescope that has served me well over the last 5 years or so. Mine is a 4.8mm diameter flexible fiber optic unit that came with an attachment to look 90 degrees off axis and a little magnet. The latter is not useful to me in a rifle barrel. My unit has no camera and is 18" long, which is OK or my use since a barrel has two ends and I am not sending pix of lands and grooves out to the relatives. It was more expensive than the Harbor Freight unit, but works with all my rifles including 22s. It compares favorably with the Hawkeye as far as clarity of view goes, and was much less expensive. I have looked through both.

    My only gripe about the unit was that it was not a rigid probe, which made using the 90 degree attachment in larger bores virtually impossible, and that view is the one that really tells the most. I was able to fix that by wrapping the end of the probe with 1/2" wide masking tape so that the end of the probe did not flop around in the bore.

    IMHO, anyone who calls himself a serious shooter has no excuse for not buying and using a borescope these days, and anyone who wants to sell you a bore cleaner and has no pix of the bores cleaned using that product, is trying to sell you snake oil. The only miracle about most of these miracle brushless bore cleaners is that they have conned so many people out of so much money. A good borescope will also show you the reason why your factory barrel does not perform like a custom made hand lapped barrel, if you needed to be shown, and also when the good barrels are beginning to go south.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
    KayDee7, P7id10T and F2CMaDMaXX like this.
  5. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    +1 Sinister
     
  6. SinisterSouthpaw

    SinisterSouthpaw SW WA Active Member

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  7. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    ??? Scan your system for some malware and purge your history & cookies. Something ain't right about that. On an aside, I changed my Facebook age to >75 and laughed as I started getting ads for reverse mortgages and viagra-like medications.

     
    F2CMaDMaXX likes this.
  8. thorborg

    thorborg portland oregon Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    [QUOTE="

    IMHO, anyone who calls himself a serious shooter has no excuse for not buying and using a borescope these days,.[/QUOTE]
    Really?
    I'm well past the hump of life, owned more than my fair share of firearms, hand loaded or bought, and shot, tens of thousands of aggregate multi caliber rounds, but never found a need for a bore scope. I've pretty much learned to identify copper / lead fouling, rough bore worn rifling and rust with just a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Albeit neither do I consider myself a "serious " shooter. I've just been having fun all these years.
    I must admit though, and speaking as a toolaholic, one might be fun to use a couple of times then go sit with the hundreds of other (at the time) tools I couldn't live without and haven't used again. I even have a spot right next to my stud finder and digital non contact temperature sensor.
    Too bad gun shops don't have a quality scope you could use free when you bring your gun in, they could try to sell you accessories while your there.
     
  9. SinisterSouthpaw

    SinisterSouthpaw SW WA Active Member

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    .........there are smiths who will show you your bore for a nominal fee or even for free and.............there are hotels that will let you use free soap serious bathers find it worthwhile to buy their own................o_O



    but seriously, I have found after more than 50 years shooting, much of it in various compettitions, that if you are going to lay out the $$$ for high quality barrels, it will be stupid to not know what is happening inside them. If you just want a cheap gun to go bang and flash and scare the crows away---never mind looking at what you are doing to--or not doing for, the barrel.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
  10. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    For me it's much simpler: as I get older, I can't see what I used to be able to. Technology is the great equalizer here for those failings.
     
  11. SinisterSouthpaw

    SinisterSouthpaw SW WA Active Member

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    The really good thing about your borescope is that it will show you the source of barrel problems and also potential problems before they ruin your scores.

    I lent mine to a good friend who after rebarreling his 6BR norma rifle, with a very spendy custom tube, was seeing groups significantly worse than his old barrel was delivering. A look with the scope revealed that the barrel had gone out without being lapped at all--this from a company that touts the benefits of their precision hand lapped match barrels. Without the scope he never would have been able to make his case for a new (free) barrel. Apparently this was a barrel made on the day before a 3 day weekend or something.

    I've also personally inspected barrels that the owners claimed were clean as could be (they looked in them using bore light) using wonder brushless chemicals and/or nylon brushes. A quick peek with the scope revealed a lot of copper fouling still in the grooves of the rifling. This is a real problem in ARs since the gas port tends to strip copper like mad. A bore light just reflected the shine back to the eye without revealing what metal in the bore was shining. A bore light only shows up the most egregious pitting and/or lands fouling anyway.

    Once you've fitted your barrel and all is working as desired, you might not need the scope for a while except to keep an eye on the carbon ring, but there is always another barrel in the future for match shooters............
     
  12. F2CMaDMaXX

    F2CMaDMaXX West of Portland from England Bullet goes where now? Staff Member Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    What does an occasional use bore scope go for these days (i'm not really liking the quality of the OP pics, i think i can see more with a bore light)
     
  13. SinisterSouthpaw

    SinisterSouthpaw SW WA Active Member

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    I'm not sure what scopes are going for theses days. I do know that it took a bit of research to find one that fitted my needs. I am sure that if you need one that you want to use to look at .30 barrels and larger, you will have more success. However, it seems that folks who demand match type accuracy are going to be changing and/or inspecting barrels most often and the time and expense are something they will count as worthwhile over the casual plimker or hunter and they will be wanting to look at bores down to 6mm if not 5.56m. The casual/hobby folks can be well served by gunsmiths who have the scopes and can investigate problems in the bore for them.

    Certainly a bore light will reveal those really egregious problems like massive pitting or failure to clean at all well in bores--from reflected--or not reflected light. Pits and carbon do not reflect light back to you when using a bore light. For a great many, if not most of us, that is as much as we need to know. I certainly do not bother to inspect a factory barrel that is shooting poorly beyond what a bore light could reveal, except that I have the scope and I have used it on every barrel on every rifle that ever shot badly or at least not up to expectations, since I bought it.

    So if you have factory rifles you find are not shooting well after examining EVERY other possible cause and having tested them using wind flags and other shooters and loads and etc. etc. you might want to TT a gunsmith with a scope. A new barrel might well be in order. If you shoot match grade custom rifles and really go for competitive accuracy, a bore scope is a worthwhile investment if only to tell you that the poor grouping you are experiencing is due to your laziness in cleaning, or some new fouling in the latest lot of your fav bullets or if the throat is finally gone and it's time for a setback or a barrel replacement or what.........still, no matter what the situation, you cannot help but learn things that will help your shooting and about barrels and much more when you get a bore scope.
     
    F2CMaDMaXX likes this.
  14. MarkAd

    MarkAd Port Orchard Well-Known Member

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    I piad 40 bucks for one that does all but 22 - 25 caliber. they are not very expensive









    i piad
     
  15. F2CMaDMaXX

    F2CMaDMaXX West of Portland from England Bullet goes where now? Staff Member Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    What did you get?