Proper Rifle Care: Routine Cleaning

Proper Rifle Care: Routine Cleaning

After every trip to the rifle range or your hunting grounds, you should thoroughly dry your firearm and wipe down the bolt as well as the exterior metal portions with a lightly oiled rag. As far as cleaning the bore, the inside of the barrel, of your rifle, there are many different opinions on how often it should be done.

However, the basic answer is that you should clean your firearm before the bore becomes so fouled that it has an adverse affect on accuracy. Dirty barrels are probably the number one reason that otherwise good shooting rifles turn bad. Depending on your gun, that could happen every ten shots or every hundred shots. If you want to be on the safe side, clean your rifle after every trip to the range, assuming that you shoot a couple dozen rounds. Some shooters claim that over cleaning/brushing can harm the bore of a rifle, though no part of the cleaning procedure exerts as much force on the barrel as a bullet that’s traveling close to 3,000 feet per second. It is not necessary to clean your firearm after a hunting trip unless you did a lot of shooting or you got debris such as sand or mud (or worse, saltwater) down into the barrel.

Getting a barrel truly clean requires a few tools and products that are widely available, plus a lot of work.

  • Gun cradle or vise. By securing the rifle in a vise or cradle, you have a solid work surface and two free hands. Most cradles also offer a convenient place to store your cleaners and tools.
  • Coated cleaning rod.  Coated cleaning rods have a protective surface that will not damage the bore of the rifle. The best cleaning rods also have free-spinning handles that allow the rod to turn with the barrel’s rifling.
  • Nylon or brass brush for loosening powder residue.
  • Brass jag, used for holding and pushing cleaning patches through the barrel. Parker Hale style jags are an excellent choice.
  • Cleaning patches made from 100% cotton or blend material.
  • Bore guide.  Essential for keeping the rod true and preventing cleaning products from dripping back into the action.
  • A powder solvent such as Hoppe’s No. 9.
  • Copper solvent such as Sweet’s 7.62.
  • Lightweight gun oil such as Rem Oil.

Here’s the Procedure

  1. Using a cleaning rod and jag, run a few solvent-soaked patches through the bore. Follow these with a dry patch, then alternate between solvent-soaked patches and dry patches until the patches are coming out clean. This may take 20 or more repetitions on a really dirty rifle.
  2. On approximately every fifth cleaning, follow step one by using a copper solvent. Copper solvents should be used in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
  3. Run a patch that’s been lightly oiled with Rem Oil through the barrel. For long term storage, the barrel is now done. If you’re heading out to the range or on a hunt, run one last dry patch through the bore to remove excess oil.
  4. Spray the bolt with the powder solvent and wipe with a paper towel or rag. A toothbrush works great to loosen any caked-on crud.


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