Rifle Bore Cleaning Process
The instructors and I are asked about proper rifle cleaning during almost every class. This can be a touchy subject due to some old habits and opinions about how to properly clean the bore on your rifle. I usually offer what I know about the process, but also invite students to utilize the techniques and process they’re most comfortable with while closely monitoring the effects on accuracy. As with all aspects of the training we provide, cleaning is yet another area where we stress repeatability and consistency. When done properly, you should not have to re-zero your rifle after cleaning.
That said, here is how I clean my bore.
- I always double check that my rifle is unloaded and separated from any ammunition. I’m never casual about fundamental firearm safety and cannot overemphasize the importance of this step anytime you’re working with your rifle.
- I remove my bolt and replace it with a bore guide. This ensures a smooth, straight stroke with the cleaning rod and prevents any unwanted rubbing.
- Using a Tipton carbon fiber one-piece cleaning rod with a rotating handle, I attach a jag—rather than an eyelet—and I wrap it with a high-quality cleaning patch. I feel that the jag allows more surface area contact between the bore and the patch. I apply a small amount of Hoppe’s No. 9 solvent on the patch, and send it through the bore from the breech toward the muzzle. I discard the patch at the muzzle, unscrew the jag and back the rod out. I try to be very careful that there is no metal to metal contact on the barrel crown.
- I let the Hoppe’s soak in the bore for about 3 minutes and then begin to run dry patches through the bore using the same method as the solvent patch. I do this until the carbon has been removed from the barrel (no more black on the patches). Please know that if you leave the solvent in the bore for a long period of time you will begin to remove copper from the barrel. Copper appears bluish-green on the patches.
A true and complete cleaning of the barrel means removing all the copper as well. I only do this every 500 rounds on my .300 Win. Mag. Other shooters remove copper at different intervals and some do not remove it until accuracy is affected, as indicated by the widening of shot groups.
Copper acts as a sort of lubricant in your barrel and extends barrel life by acting as a micro layer between the bullet and lands and groves in the barrel. When it is time to remove the copper and complete the deep cleaning process, I use Sweet’s 7.62 Bore Cleaning Solvent. This is the best solvent I have found to remove copper. There are directions on the bottle that require you to “scrub” the bore back and forth. I do not pull anything backwards in my bore. I simply use a soaked patch and let the solvent soak in the barrel for about 10 minutes and then use the same methods stated above running patches until I have clean patches. I also do not use any type of brushes in my bore. If you must use a brush, make sure you are using a nylon brush. I don’t believe metal cleaning tools of any type belong in your barrel, unless it’s a jag wrapped in a cleaning patch.
It is always important to remove the carbon that can lead to barrel pitting, while still leaving some copper in the barrel that will extend the life of the barrel, until of course, it is time for that true deep cleaning.
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