by preparing your rifle for cleaning. This should include protecting
your scope with some form of lens cover. Brushes soaked with solvent
can create a fine spray or mist of solvent upon exiting the muzzle,
some of which will invariably be blown back onto the scope. Modern
bore-cleaning solvents are quite strong and can severely damage
the lens coatings of a fine scope. This can easily be avoided simply
by covering the lenses before you break out the solvent, brushes
or other cleaning materials. A second item we strongly recommend
is a stock boot. A stock boot is a protective cover that is draped
over or wrapped around the butt of a rifle to protect it from solvents
during cleaning. While it will protect the finish of the rifle,
its real benefit is to keep the solvent from dripping into the area
around the tang. Solvents or oils seeping into this area will attack
the bedding, rendering it soft or punky and destroying
accuracy. There are commercial stock boots available through several
of the better competitive suppliers, such as Sinclair International.
A heavy towel backed by plastic can serve the same purpose, preventing
solvent from reaching the stock. With the rifle set into a cradle
or vise, were ready to begin cleaning.
by placing the bore guide or muzzle protector in place and wiping
the rod thoroughly with a clean, solvent-dampened rag. Make this
a habit every time you run a rod through the bore! Standard cleaning
techniques usually call for swabbing the bore with a patch soaked
with one of the milder solvents, such as Hoppes #9 or Shooters
Choice MC-7. This is best done with a loop-type patch holder, rather
than a jag; the patch will hold more solvent and allow better saturation
of the bore. The solvent should loosen any powder or metal fouling
that may be in the bore, enough that a second patch on a tight-fitting
jag will allow its easy removal. If a jag is used to initially apply
the solvent, make sure that it is not too tight a fit. Remember,
the solvent provides the cleaning action chemically and does not
require scrubbing. A jag that is too tight will merely serve to
wring out the patch, actually decreasing the amount of solvent you
are applying to the fouling. Leave the solvent to soak in the bore
for a few minutes, then swab the barrel out with a dry patch. Repeat
this process a second time, noting the condition of the last patch.
If there are traces or streaks of blue or green (depending on the
type of solvent and its ammonia content) present, this shows copper
fouling. You may wish to repeat this process until the fouling has
disappeared. At this point, we are ready to move on to brushes.
Thread a bronze brush onto the rod and apply a few drops of solvent.
In doing this, never dip the brush directly into the bottle; you
will contaminate the remainder of the solvent and weaken it. We
have found that the small plastic bottles available at drug stores
are ideal for this.
with a closeable spout, they will allow solvent to be dribbled directly
onto the brush, avoiding the temptation to dip the brush directly
into the solvent. Guide the rod into the bore and run it back and
forth all the way through the bore for several strokes. When doing
so, NEVER try to reverse directions while the brush is in the barrel;
run it completely out the bore, and then reverse the direction.
Repeat this procedure 10 to 12 times, or until the fouling is removed.
Once you have finished with the brush, flush it thoroughly with
Gun Scrubber, MEK, or a similar cleaner/degreaser. Fitting a jag
tip to the rod, run a wet patch or two through the bore, followed
by several dry patches. Inspect the bore for any signs of fouling
still in the barrel and watch the patch for a blue or green discoloration
caused by metal fouling. If there are none, the barrel is clean.
If this discoloration and/or copper fouling is still present, we
have more work to do.
method of using the milder solvents on badly fouled bores is to
use a chamber plug and soak the bore. In practice, a cartridge shaped
chamber plug fitted with a rubber or silicone O ring
is chambered in the rifle. With the O ring sealing the
chamber, the bore is filled with solvent and left standing upright
(muzzle up) for eight to 10 hours, or more if the fouling is severe.
After this has been done, follow it up with a normal cleaning as
outlined in the previous paragraph. Before using this method, make
sure you check with the manufacturers instructions, as some solvents
need oxygen to work and are obviously not suited to this procedure.
option for stubborn copper fouling is to resort to one of the stronger
solvents, such as Sweets 7.62, CR-10 or Shooters Choice
Copper Remover, which are specially formulated to dissolve copper.
These solvents are used with a jag tip and patches only, not a brush.
Saturate a patch with the solvent and run it through the bore, discarding
it after one pass. Allow the solvent to soak in the bore for 10
to 15 minutes, and run a second solvent-soaked patch through the
bore. If the patch comes out blue, you still have traces of copper
fouling present. When the second patch comes out with no blue streaking,
the bore is clean. Bear in mind that these solvents are extremely
strong and cannot be left in the bore for more than about 20 minutes.
We have seen bores etched when ammonia-based solvents were left
in too long, so use them with appropriate discretion and follow
the manufacturers instructions to the letter. Rubber gloves
are strongly recommended with these solvents, as they can irritate
the skin during prolonged contact. When using any solvent, proper
ventilation is essential.
you want to avoid the harsh ammonia solvents, you may wish to consider
a mild abrasive cleaner, such as JB Bore Compound or Rem-Clean.
We have had excellent results with both cleaners here in the Sierra
ballistic lab. In use, the cleaning compound is applied to a tightly
fitted patch (most manufacturers recommend a patch wrapped around
a worn-out bore brush), and run through the bore eight to 10 strokes.
In doing this, make sure the patch does not fully exit the bore,
or it will be wadded up or stripped off when the brush reenters
the muzzle. Rods equipped with a stop collar, or even marked with
a simple wrap of masking tape, will provide a reference point to
stop before running the rod entirely out the bore. If the process
needs to be repeated, a fresh application of the compound should
be made, as it breaks down very quickly, rendering it ineffective.
As when using the various copper solvents, read the manufacturers
directions and follow them to the letter.
an abrasive compound has been used, the bore should be given a quick
but thorough brushing or swabbing with a good solvent. After the
bore has been completely cleaned, a light coating of oil may be
in order if the gun is to be stored. Bear in mind that if too much
oil is used, it may seep back into the action and down into the
bedding. If a rifles bedding becomes oil or solvent damaged,
serious loss of accuracy will result. Ideally, rifles should be
stored muzzle down to prevent oil or other cleaning fluids from
running back down the bore, into the action, trigger and bedding.
Stronger Ammonia Treatment
28% Stronger Ammonia treatment was the solution to metal fouling
used by military ordnance departments in years gone by. With the
development of more effective commercial bore-cleaning solvents,
this treatment has pretty well faded away, although a shooter may
still hear it mentioned. A complete discussion of this method (with
the formula and mixing instructions for the solution) can be found
in Col. Whelens Small Arms Design, Vol. II, as well as Maj.
Gen. Julian Hatchers classic, Hatchers Notebook. While
it was extremely effective, the solution had its drawbacks.
use, the 28% Stronger Ammonia solution had to be mixed up fresh
for each cleaning, since its shelf life was extremely limited. Once
mixed, the solution needed to be used immediately, as it could not
be exposed to air for more than about five minutes. This meant the
rifle(s) to be done had to be prepared for cleaning prior to mixing
the solution. This was accomplished by tightly plugging the chamber
and fitting a small section of rubber hose over the muzzle. As soon
as the solution was mixed, it was poured into the barrel. With the
bore completely filled, the rifle was allowed to stand for not more
than 30 minutes before the solution had to be removed. After the
treatment, the rifle would be cleaned with water, dried, cleaned
again with standard cleaning solvents and oiled thoroughly.
it was effective, the 28% Stronger Ammonia treatment was very harsh.
If the solution was allowed to evaporate on exposed metal, it caused
rusting almost immediately. If used on a barrel that was too warm,
the solution attacked the steel and instantly ruined the bore. When
the solution was spilled on the stock, it would discolor or burn
the wood. Even when mixed and used properly, Maj. Gen. Hatcher mentions
that on occasion the solution would attack the steel for no apparent
reason, ruining the barrel. An effective way to remove fouling,
yes, but perhaps a bit too much of a good thing. The 28% Stronger
Ammonia solution is presented here more as a point of historical
interest, since it is occasionally mentioned today.