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Gunsmithing How-to Powder Burns Shooting Tips

Spit Shine: 4 Steps To A Clean Rifle

by Brad Fitzpatrick   |  May 29th, 2012 7

Aftermarket barrels, good triggers, premium ammo and top-shelf optics will all help your rifle shoot well, but without regular cleaning you won’t ever realize your gun’s true potential. There are hundreds of products on the market that claim to keep your rifle in top working order and it seems that most everyone has their own routine and regiment when it comes to putting the spit and polish on their guns. Author Brad Fitzpatrick shares his own rifle cleaning routine here. We’d like to hear how you go about keeping your rifles clean as well! Share your process in the comments section below!

  • Fast Ed

    Using a bore guide minimizes the potential of damaging the chamber and helps to center the jag or brush in the barrel. I use them on every rifle I clean. I am surprised you didn't mention them.

    • USMC 6591

      A muzzle guard and a bore guide accomplish the same thing, the only functional difference being the bore guide goes on the cleaning rod and the muzzle guide goes on the muzzle of the barrel. Some are metal and others are nylon or other non-marring materials.

      I have learned that using a jag vice patch loop through a chamber guide with a water bottle over the muzzle protects the chamber mouth, bore and muzzle while keeping excess fluid out of the action and catching both it and patches at the other end. So far this has turned out to be the easiest, fastest and least messy way for me as I tend to use a lot of patches. They just fall off the jag into the water bottle which I attach to the muzzle by cutting slightly with tin snips and tie on with a small plastic self locking electrical tie. This is quick and easy and avoid the expense of buying one of the commercial catch devices and I just throw the bottle away at the end after caping it.

  • Bobby O

    First I saturate a bristiol brush with Hoppes #9 Copper Solvent. Then I run the brush through the bore . Next I saturate a patch with Hoppes # 9 Copper Solvent. It usually comes out black. I do the same thing again until it comes out with no blackness on it. Then I sautrate another patch and look for copper fouling if I see it or do not see it I let the bore stand saturated for a couple of hours. If it comes out with more copper fouling I do the same but let it stand longer. I will even go as long as 24 hours and continue this until there is no more copper fouling. After this is completed I take a patch with a synthec oil and run it down the bore from the breech to the muzzel and of this I forgot to mention from the breech. After this is complete I put a light coating on my bolt and the action. Synthic oil does not feeze up like regular gun oil. If you weapon is totally greased up, take the stock off and boil water and hang the weapon over a sink or what ever and pour the boiling water of your gun. This is an excellent degreaser.

  • T Huntz

    I really like Barnes CR-10 for my bore solvent. Caution though; it is very aggressive and shoul not be "left to soak" for an extended period like more than 15 minutes. I run a soaked patch, follow up with dry patches. Keep repeating until they come out clean. After that I use Kroil penetrating oil with a wet patch and let it soak while re-wetting the bore/patch for at least 2 hours. Afterr that I go back to the Barnes and always get more fowling removed. Follow that up with Mili-Tech 1 for "storage". For VERY dirty bores use Remingto Bore Cleaner, formerly Gold Medallion. Saturate a patch and stroke back and forth until the barrel gets physically warm. Let it soak for 15 minutes or so then clean patch. After that I go to the Barnes/Kroil/Mili-Tech routine. I NEVER use brushes of and kind, they can only trap particles and possibly do your barrel harm. But hey, that's my opinion and always subject to something new. Been shooting for a bald/grey-haired/60+ years, the best I have come up with!!!!!

  • gary lanier

    i hate work. i'd rather be doing something else like shooting or reloading. all i use is a good cleaning rod and patches along with products that will save a lot of time and effort. first i use carb-out, then wipe-out accelarator, then wipe-out. carb-out gets the carbor fouling, wipe-out accelerator speeds up things, then wipe-out removes the copper. always use according to instructions on the bottle. no brushes. no ammonia. no work. with factory barrels, several applications will be needed. with custom barrels, one application of each should do it. no need to oil afterward because wipe-out has protectants built in. easy.

  • ShooterMcJJ

    After reading step 2, I wondered whether people really know how to apply a patch to a jag. I was taught a long time ago by an amazingly well accomplished competitive marksman that the proper way to attach a patch to your jag is to first wet the patch with solvent, then (assuming the patch is square) take one of the pointed corners of the patch, place it in the middle of the jag's bearing surface, and wrap it around the jag. You'll end up with the patch material being thicker at the center of the jag and tapering down at each end. The thick middle of the patch will then aggressively push fouling out of the rifling grooves as you push the rod from one end of the bore to the other.

  • Surringo

    A vintage Winchester .22 cal. rifle I bought over the summer was so heavily fouled with lead that it took me about an hour a day over a four week period to clean it. About a week into this routine I began to question how well the Shooters Choice "Lead Remover" solvent was really working. So, I devised an experiment whereby I took a sharp razor blade knife and created a bunch of shavings from a lead cast bullet. Then, using 5 different plastic bottle caps lined with a clean white patch I placed an equal amount of lead shavings in each. I then filled each bottle cap with six different bore solvents, including the aforementioned Shooters Choice branded "Lead Remover". After the first four hours I used a scratch awl to poke and test to see if the solvents had softened up any of the lead shavings and found only two that had marginally done so. I tested again 24 hours later and was surprised and thrilled by the lead dissolving so far accomplished by Hoppes No. 9. I was equally surprised and disappointed by how completely unaffected the lead shavings in the Shooters Choice Lead Remover solvent were and how this solvent did not show even in the slightest degree any discoloration from dissolved lead, which was entirely obvious with the other popular solvents. Long story short, for two weeks after the last of the other popular solvents had dissolved their little pile of lead shavings, the lead shavings covered with the Shooters Choice Lead Remover were still as hard as they were when I placed them in the bottle cap and the Lead Remover solvent was still the dull yellow color it was when it was first poured into the bottle cap. What an eye opener this was and what a disappointment at the waste of time and money I had invested in this so-called Lead Remover solvent. In the weeks to come, I will be doing additional experiments with both lead and copper shavings with as many different commercially sold bore cleaning solvents as I can find to see if there is one or more that dissolves these metals quicker and easier than the rest. By the way, the results of my lead dissolving experiment is as follows, and is listed from best performance to worst performance: (1) Hoppes No. 9 (was the clear winner), (2) Montana Extreme (was a not so close second place), (3) Butch's bore shine (was a very distant third), (4) CLP (was a distant fourth), and (5) Shooters Choice Lead Remover (had no effect on dissolving lead).

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