Clean Up the Build-up The Lyman Borescope Gives Clear Barrel View


Have you have ever wondered how effective your barrel cleaning routine is? If so, then the Borecam™ Digital Borescope with Monitor from Lyman® can help.

Lyman Borecam Digital Borescope with Monitor and an arsenal refurbished Soviet SVT-40. The SVT-40 looks fine externally but has a very pitted barrel.

Optical borescopes have existed for years, but they are very expensive. With the miniaturization of digital cameras, along with the rapidly dropping prices of same, it is no surprise that a digital version has appeared.

The various parts in the Lyman Borecam Digital Borescope kit include:
20-inch wand; display monitor; power adapter and USB cord; foreign faceplates for power adapter (white box); instruction booklet, SD card and card reader; lens and mirror cleaning solution and cotton tips.

This is actually an improved version of a borescope introduced several years ago. Lyman felt it could increase the clarity and resolution with the new version. It was hoped the new Borecam would be unveiled at the 2018 SHOT Show, but it was not ready at that point. It was eventually released around mid-year.

Using the Borecam is very straightforward. The 20-inch-long wand contains a miniature camera at the end along with an angled mirror and a tiny LED light. The mirror is set at 45 degrees to allow the camera to view the barrel wall. The light can be adjusted for six levels of brightness. Personally, this author prefers the maximum setting, so the lesser settings don’t get used.

The wand connects to the display monitor by way of a cord with a typical mini-USB connection. The display monitor is powered by a small transformer power adapter, also connected by a mini-USB cord. The transformer comes with several types of wall outlet plug-ins, for those who travel to exotic locations.

The camera has a very close focus, so it needs to be almost in contact with the barrel surface being examined. This makes perfect sense, as when one views a small diameter barrel (.20-caliber minimum), the camera is at the correct distance. However, when viewing a much larger bore, the user must position the wand to be in close proximity to the surface he wishes to view. This author taped a small ball of paper to the backside of the wand, in order to keep the wand mirror in position.

I was curious to see how much area a typical photo captured, so I laid the wand on a metric tape measure. It captured just over 3mm (1/8-inch) of the tape measure. I suspect that if it were a higher magnification, it would become a chore to use. By slowly creeping the wand down the barrel, I was able to get a good feel on the bore’s condition. The wand has a ruler scale printed on it to allow you to note a particular area for further study. As well, the handle has a line printed on it that notes the lens location. A sliding plastic cone helps position the lens at a particular distance from the end of the barrel.

Photo of a metric tape measure. Each pair of lines is 1mm apart, so the area captured by the Lyman Borecam Digital Borescope is just over 3mm long.

While an optical borescope still beats a digital one in terms of clarity, the digital type wins on cost, as well as on the ability to take and record photographs. The monitor has a built-in SD card slot, allowing photos to be saved and transferred to a computer. The package comes with a 128MB SD card, which can hold approximately 3,600 images. (I didn’t think 128MB cards were still available. A current 32 GB card should hold close to a million images!)

Something that I wish Lyman included, but did not, is a lesson on how to read the images. A few color photos, along with an explanation on what to look for regarding machining marks, copper fouling, powder residue, throat erosion, heat cracking (also called craze cracking), etc., would be most welcome.

Probable heat cracking near the chamber area of another rifle.

One word of warning for anyone who has not viewed his or her own barrels before: You will probably be shocked to see what your bore actually looks like! I knew the bore of my SVT-40 was dark from firing corrosive primed ammo decades ago, but this author was surprised to see the extent of the pitting. With a newer rifle, corrosive ammo wasn’t an issue, but copper fouling was. I have not fired many rounds through it, but the copper streaks were there, to my surprise.

Pitted bore of my SVT-40.

This unit is a useful piece of kit for an advanced shooter. It certainly isn’t mandatory, but it can alert one to copper fouling and powder residue build-up that may otherwise be missed. This author will definitely use this borescope to inspect more of his own guns soon.