Cleaning - Extend Barrel Life and Maintain Accuracy.What good does a dirty rifle do you? A clean and properly maintained rifle is very important to extending the life of your rifle. Proper cleaning also helps to insure accuracy. In this article we will cover some of the basic methods of how to clean your rifle. You will be able to adapt the techniques covered in this article to help suit your needs.
Say we come home from a fun day of shooting at the range, now it's time to give our rifle some care to keep our shooting experience enjoyable for many more trips to the range!
Safety first! Make sure your rifle is unloaded! The first thing you should do is remove the bolt. Wipe the bolt down with a dry cloth or use some kind of mild cleaner to remove any powder fouling if necessary. Believe it or not, using a cleaner designed for "black powder" works quite well for general cleaning and for removing powder fouling. They are generally non toxic and work very well! At this point you can lightly oil the bolt and set it aside until the rest of your rifle is clean.
Next we will turn our attention to the barrel. This is the most important part of any firearm, so proper care is needed to keep your rifle performing at maximum performance. Before we use any ram-rod on the barrel, you should pick up a bore guide. Use can spend money on fancy ones, but I just like to use a bore guide like the one shown in the photo below. They come in various calibers and can be purchased for under $5.
The purpose of the bore guide is to help protect the crown of your barrel when you are brushing out the barrel using your ram rod and cleaning brush. A damaged crown can really wreak havoc on your shooting accuracy. A bore guide will also help keep the ram rod centered in the barrel as you slide it down the barrel.
Bore guide inserted into muzzle of rifle
Insert the bore guide into the muzzle of your barrel and keep it there until you are finished cleaning the barrel!
The first step I do is to use a mild cleaner (some kind of black powder cleaner) to remove the first layer of powder fouling. It's important to remove as much loose material as we can so our regular solvents will work more efficiently. Once you have removed the powder fouling you can screw the bore brush onto your cleaning rod and get out the Hoppies No. 9 (or your favorite whatever that might be)! I don't dip the brush directly into my bottle of hoppies , but instead, I pour some into a dripper bottle and then apply just the needed amount onto the brush. This helps keep the solvent clean and pure.
Solvent in a "dripper" bottle
Insert the ram rod and brush in through the bore guide and push the cleaning rod down the barrel in a firm smooth motion. Slide the brush back and forth a few times. You may even want to repeat this a couple of times. Next, take a dry patch and swab out the solvent, and repeat with dry patches until it's mostly clean.
Once our solvent has been used we still need to turn our attention to any copper residue that may still be in the barrel. This is often one of the most neglected steps when cleaning a rifle. After all, the patches "look" clean after removing the solvent don't they?
By not removing as much copper as possible, it has a tendency to build up on the grooves of the barrel and over time will reduce your accuracy. The best product to use on the market to remove copper fouling is "SWEET'S 7.62". It's an ammonia based product, so you should use it in a ventilated area. Copper will react with ammonia, and turn your patch blue, this is your indication that the product is removing the copper. Basically, just alternate between patches covered in "SWEET'S 7.62" and dry patches until your patches remain white or mostly white. Following the steps as described on the bottle will ensure that your barrel is absolutely clean and help to reduce copper build up.
After you are finished with all the copper solvents, you should dry patch the barrel, and then swab the barrel with a lightly oiled patch to reduce any chances of rust appearing in your barrel. This is important if you gun is not used very often.
We aren't finished yet! We still need to clean the chamber. You can simply use dry patches or some of that mild black powder cleaner to swab out the chamber to remove any powder residue or any solvent that may have gotten into the chamber during cleaning.
Patch out the chamber
Now, you are finished! You can insert the bolt and rest assured that the next time you head out to the shooting range, you rifle will perform at it's best once again!
Good luck and happy shooting!