Tools - Rifle
Before we get
into the mechanics of barrel care, a brief look at the tools necessary
is in order. A good assortment of high-quality cleaning supplies
are essential to keep from damaging it during cleaning.
Some form of
cradle or vise to hold the rifle firmly in place during cleaning
will make the process much easier and more efficient. In the home
workshop, a vise (with properly padded jaws, of course) will serve
this purpose quite well. When cleaning on the range or out in the
field, some form of cradle will probably be the best choice. Gun
cradles that also provide storage areas for cleaning gear, solvents
and other related items are available from MTM and Midway Arms.
Sinclair makes a particularly compact cradle, well suited for use
at the range and in the field. This aluminum unit breaks down for
storage and transportation and is highly regarded among benchrest
shooters. Look at several different designs and choose one that
best suits your needs.
rod is obviously needed to get a patch or brush through the bore.
As simple as this function may seem, it can be a source of serious
barrel damage. Among competitive shooters, only two types of rods
will be found: the one-piece stainless steel rods or the one-piece
coated rods by Dewey or Parker Hale. At present, shooters seem about
evenly divided in their preference for one type or the other. While
these rods are far less likely to damage the bore than other types,
they must still be used correctly and carefully.
Most of the
better rods today, are available in a variety of diameters. By choosing
a rod as close to bore diameter as possible, the rod is less likely
to flex within the bore. When a rod is allowed to flex, some peening
of the lands may occur. Using a rod intended for a 22 caliber barrel,
for example, in a 30 caliber bore will allow the rod to flex badly.
This results in the rods peening, scuffing and scraping the
lands as it passes through. Inevitably, this will damage a barrel
over time, resulting in a loss of accuracy. This situation can be
avoided by using the proper size of rod to begin with.
The more commonly
seen aluminum rods are soft enough to allow abrasive particles to
become imbedded into its surface. These particles can act as a lap
while in the barrel, causing serious scratching throughout the length
of the bore. These rods should be completely avoided, at least for
any kind of gun-cleaning chore.
cleaning rods may be something of a necessary evil, especially when
cleaning gear must be stowed in a minimum of space. Their compact
nature does indeed make them easier to take afield, but the areas
between the sections provide a natural point for the accumulation
of grit. If you need to use a sectioned rod, assemble it, and make
sure that there are no burrs, high-spots, or potential snags at the
joints that may gouge the bore. Some shooters who use these rods cut
a slight bevel at the adjoining shoulders of each section to reduce
the risk of barrel damage.
consideration few shooters stop to think about is the cleanliness
of their cleaning equipment. Rods wet with solvent and laid down
on a shooting bench pick up dirt, dust and all manner of abrasive
material. Unless the rod is cleaned before using it again, all of
the grit it has picked up from the bench will be run right back
through the bore, possibly scratching or damaging the barrel in
the process. While the softer aluminum rods pose the greatest threat
in this respect, any rod can damage a bore if it is improperly used.
Before you run the rod through your barrel, wipe it down with a
clean rag dampened with a bit of solvent. You may be surprised to
see how much grit and residue is deposited on the rag residue
that would have gone into your barrel.
as with rods, there are both good and bad brushes available.
quality phosphor bronze bristle brushes are the best and safest
for your barrel. These use a brass core that is looped at the end,
leaving no sharp edges exposed that may damage the bore. A poor
second choice would be the bronze bristle brushes having a steel
core. If this type of brush must be used, extreme caution is needed
to get it started straight into the bore. Since the core is generally
cut rather than looped, a jagged tip is usually left exposed at
the end. If this tip is allowed to gouge into the throat or leade
area, bore damage will result. Stainless steel brushes have also
become available in the last few years. These brushes are probably
best reserved for handguns suffering from extremely bad leading,
as they are very aggressive and will cause barrel damage if overused.
They should never be used in stainless steel rifle barrels!
are several different styles of jag tips available, and each has
its proponents. Some shooters prefer the spear type
jag, such as those put out by Pro-Shot, while others prefer the
wraparound type by Parker-Hale. Dewey offers a jag that
can be used either way. Here, personal preference is probably as
important as any other factor, as they all do a good job when properly
bore guide is a closely fitted tube, usually plastic or nylon, which
keeps the rod centered in the bore. Most bore guides simply replace
a rifles bolt (in bolt actions) during the cleaning process,
with the rod run through the hollow center of the guide. Ideally,
the rod should be a close fit to the guide to prevent the rods
flexing in the bore. This flexing can allow the rod to peen or gall
the surface of the rifling, potentially harming the barrel. Some
guides, such as those from Sinclair, feature an O ring
that seals the chamber to prevent solvent from running back into
guns that cannot be cleaned from the breech, such as most autoload-ers,
lever actions, revolvers, etc., a muzzle guide of some type should
be used. A muzzle guide fits into or over the muzzle of a gun, and
like the bore guide, is intended to keep the rod centered in the
bore. No matter which type is appropriate to the firearm you are
cleaning, always use a guide.
type of material makes the best patches? In the words of a top benchrest
gunsmithing firm, We dont care what type of material
you use . . . as long as its cotton flannel. Highly
absorbent, cotton flannel is tough enough to withstand being run
through the bore on a tight-fitting jag, making it ideally suited
to bore cleaning chores. When using patches, always use the proper
size patches; a patch that is too tight may cause rod flexing and
possible bore damage. As with bore brushes and cleaning rods, patches
must be kept clean. Keep them in a sealed container until they are
to be used, and never leave them out where sand or grit may be blown
bore cleaners, such as Shooters Choice MC-7 or Hoppes #9,
represent the most common and widely used method of barrel cleaning.
In practice, a few drops of solvent are placed on a bronze brush
and run through the bore several times. This scrubbing action should
effectively loosen both powder residue and mild copper fouling,
allowing it to be removed easily with a solvent-soaked patch or
two. An alternate method is to use the solvents alone, without resorting
to brushes. When using only patches to apply solvent, remember that
the solvents work chemically and do not actually require any scrubbing.
When solvents are used in this manner, use only a loose-fitting
patch. In this instance, the patch serves only as a vehicle to transport
solvent into the bore. A patch that fits the bore too tightly will
be wrung out, leaving little solvent to do the work.
using any type of solvent with a bronze brush, it should be thoroughly
flushed with Gun Scrubber, or some similar cleaner/degreaser to
stop the action of the solvent. Bronze, after all, is a copper alloy
and is attacked by the solvent just as aggressively as is the fouling
in the barrel. Flushing the solvents away will increase the service
life of your brushes many times over. Regardless of the approach
used, if evidence of copper fouling remains, a stronger method may
be called for. A more aggressive type of liquid solvent is also
available, usually containing a higher (4-5%) ammonia content. Two
popular examples of this type of solvent are Sweets 7.62,
CR-10, and Shooters Choice Copper Remover. These will prove
useful in removing particularly stubborn deposits of copper fouling
but should be used with appropriate care. Unlike the milder solvents,
more aggressive solutions should not be used with bronze brushes,
as they will begin to dissolve them almost immediately. This creates
a second problem, as it gives a reading of copper fouling
when patches are used next. Whether the traces of blue on the patches
actually indicate copper fouling or merely prove that the solvent
has attacked the brush and left traces of bronze in the bore will
be unclear. Avoid this situation by using patches only with this
type of solvent. While many milder solvents may be left in the bore
to soak for long periods, some of the stronger solvents may actually
etch the metal if left in the barrel too long. Due to the higher
ammonia content of these solvents, they are best suited to removing
copper fouling, as opposed to powder fouling or carbon buildup.
particularly stubborn fouling, it may be necessary to resort to
a mild abrasive, such as JB Bore Compound or Remingtons Rem-Clean.
These compounds, usually in the form of a paste or thick liquid,
contain a mild non-imbedding abrasive that when used carefully will
cut through fouling without damaging the bore.
brushing is a technique in which a bronze bristle brush is run through
the bore without the benefit of any type of liquid bore cleaner.
While this will help keep fouling from building up quite so rapidly,
dry bushing cannot be considered as a replacement for a more thorough
cleaning with liquid solvents.