Bore Cleaning

Would you believe me if I told you that there’s a good chance you’ve been cleaning your rifle’s bore wrong? “Wrong” might be too harsh a word considering there are so many ways people successfully clean rifle bores. While I won’t argue with anyone’s technique or preferred products, I’d wager that most shooters jump right in and start attacking the copper fouling first and that’s the “wrong” part.

When cleaning your bore, get the carbon out first using a carbon solvent.

When cleaning your bore, get the carbon out first using a carbon solvent.

I get it. We’ve been trained that copper fouling degrades accuracy and you can often even see little streaks of it when you look down the muzzle. Copper fouling does degrade accuracy, and you should remove it when it gets to be a problem, but more realistically it’s the carbon fouling you need to be attacking on a more routine basis.

You have to get under all of that carbon fouling before you start to attack the copper.

You have to get under all of that carbon fouling before you start to attack the copper.

My cleaning regimen is pretty simple and works quickly. I always clean from the chamber end and start with pushing a few patches wet with carbon solvent down the bore. Lately I’ve been using Hoppe’s Elite, but I’ve also used M-Pro7 and homebrewed Ed’s Red in the past. After letting the bore soak for a couple of minutes, I use a tight-fitting clean patch to push out all the loose gunk.

Some shooters won’t pull the brush back through the bore because they believe it will damage the crown. If you choose to pull it through, wet it from the muzzle end, too, to make sure there is plenty of solvent in the bore.

Some shooters won’t pull the brush back through the bore because they believe it will damage the crown. If you choose to pull it through, wet it from the muzzle end, too, to make sure there is plenty of solvent in the bore.

Next, I use a nylon bore brush and the carbon solvent and give the bore a good end-to-end scrubbing, sometimes adding more solvent to the brush while it’s sticking out the muzzle so the whole bore is good and wet. Some shooters balk at pulling the brush back through the bore and instead unthread it at the muzzle, reattach it and push it back through from the chamber end. Their thinking is that the brush can wear the muzzle crown and degrade accuracy. If you’re shooting a gun that groups in the zeros, OK, think about it, but for everyone else if it makes you feel good to take the brush off each time then go for it. I don’t bother.

Copper solvent is designed to attack the copper fouling and should be used after cleaning the carbon.

Copper solvent is designed to attack the copper fouling and should be used after cleaning the carbon.

After brushing with carbon solvent, I again let the bore soak a couple of minutes and then alternate wet and dry patches until they come out clean. At this point, the carbon should be clean from the bore leaving any copper fouling exposed for a copper solvent. You probably could stop cleaning at this point and just pass a lightly oiled patch down the bore for short-term storage.

A blue or green color on the patch after using a copper solvent indicates there is still copper in the bore.

A blue or green color on the patch after using a copper solvent indicates there is still copper in the bore.

If I want to get the copper out, I run several patches wet with copper solvent down the bore to wet it, and let it soak for a few minutes. I’m using Hoppe’s Copper Terminator as my copper solvent lately, but I’ve also used Montana Xtreme or Sweet’s 7.62 with good results. I follow the soak with one tight-fitting dry patch and then alternate between patches wet with copper solvent and dry patches. When those come out clean, I finish things up with a couple of alternating patches of cleaner/degreaser and dry patches followed by a lightly oiled patch for short-term storage.

Bottom line—get the carbon out first.

 

Scott Mayer

www.john1911.com

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Scott Mayer

Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

Latest posts by Scott Mayer (see all)

  • Gary Tompkins

    What’s your opinion on bore snakes?

    • Scott Mayer

      I use Bore Snakes exclusively on .22 Rimfires. For centerfires, they’re an expedient tool, especially in the field, but to really clean a bore takes a good one-piece rod and bore guide.

      • Gary Tompkins

        Thank you for the quick reply. I use them to start my cleaning process. I was just curious what others did.

    • I do the same as Scott. I look at bore snakes as field expedient tools. If shooting high round counts, they do a good job of knocking down some buildup.

      Another neat trick is to use it as a preparatory item. Done shooting? Squirt some low-level cleaner or oil down the barrel. Those 3-1 cleaners are decent for this.

      Run a snake. Then pack your gear up. Some say it helps the big cleaning back at the bench.

      Marky