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Cleaning Centerfire Rifle

Written by Scott Stonex on October 13th, 2014.      0 comments

Rifle Cleaning
  • Cleaning a Centerfire Rifle

  • Why do you need to clean

  • Maintain accuracy

  • Prevent Corrosion

  • Prevent & Remove Copper Build-up


First of all one needs to understand what happens to the interior surface of your rifle barrel each time
you pull the trigger. A number of by-products of the cartridge powders detonation deposit them- selves on the rifling (carbon, powder residue & copper fouling) being the major culprits.
There are lesser evils such as moly fouling but these are generally easily dealt within the steps listed below. The single worst of all the types of barrel fouling is copper fouling. This is caused from the jacket material of the projectile adhering to the internal surface of the barrel as it makes its way through the bore. Jacket fouling can often be seen with a light as orange or cooper colored stripes running along the rifling lands at the muzzle end of your rifle. But what cant be seen is the copper fouling immediately in front of the chamber/throat area of you rifle. The fouling will tend to be much heavier in this area. This area can easily be missed, as you can not see copper fouling building up here.
Jacket fouling is not easily removed and the longer it is left untouched and if the firearm keeps being fired the quicker it builds up & the harder this fouling is to remove. The problem with this sort of fouling is left long enough it can dramatically affect rifle accuracy. The smaller and faster the cartridge involved the quicker fouling will build up but many of today & many of todays over-bored and magnum cartridges can have severe cooper fouling issues. We have seen rifles with Copper fouling build up shooting 4” groups come back down to 1” groups once cleaned properly and the Copper fouling removed.

Equipment Needed to Clean Center Fire Rifles

  1. I prefer a one piece S/S or safety coated cleaning rod with ball bearing handel. Must be the correct size for the bore diameter you are cleaning.
Rods are made in different sizes to clean only a certain range of calibers per size
22 rod will clean 22 through to 264/6.5mm caliber
6.5 rod is a little bit of and oddball on its own
270 Rod cleans 270 through to 45cal
If you use a rod to small for the bore you are cleaning you will get the rod flexing in its mid section as you push it through the bore and slapping the bore. As you can imagine this is undesirable. So unfortunately you will not be able to buy one 22 caliber rod to clean your entire stable of rifles.

  1. For a bolt action rifle, a bore guide is important as it aligns the rod correctly to the bore. Which can stop the rod as it is moved back and forth eroding the chamber and throat area of your rifle. A bore guide fitted takes the place of your bolt and your rod travels through the bore
guide. It also serves to keep excess solvent from running back into magazine well and king screw holes softening wood that the action is bedded on.
For Semi Auto rifles and lever or Pump actions you are forced to clean from the muzzle end of your rifle this is an area of your fire arm that needs particular care when cleaning as you can very easily damage the crown on your firearm. If damaged this is simply the very last message a projectile gets before it is sent on its way, you can imagine a small nick in the crown of your rifle can drastically influence a projectile. The only piece of equipment available to you is a brass crown or muzzle guide. This is a much cheaper option than having a gunsmith re-crown your barrel.
  1. Good quality solvent proof spear tipped jag and patches lots of them they are cheap.Ultra-Jag-Individual
  2. Copper bronze brushes if there is some stubborn cleaning required or nylon brushes if you haven’t let any buildup develop and are just maintaining a clean barrel.Best-Bore-Brush-Individual
  3. Copper solvent works by chemically melts the copper fouling. Along with the light brushing effect of the copper or nylon bore brush. Solvents we recommend are Boretech & KG12eliminator large
  1. JB Cleaning Paste (Looks like Waikato Mud)JB BoreCleaning2
  2. Gun vise (This is a luxury Item but it will save a lot of extra work.)782731-large-405x405
There are a number of ways but this is how I clean my rifles. I have come from a target shooting and varmint background so you might or might not clean your old 308 or 270 this thoroughly.
Step 1 Placing rifle in gun vise if you have one remove bolt and replace with bore guide.
Step 2 Put one solvent soaked patch on jag and pass through barrel once do not pull that same patch back through the barrel repeat this process.
Step 3 Removing jag fit your bronze brush to rod and dip in solvent pass brush back and forth through barrel 10 full strokes. Being careful to push & pull the rod in line with bore. A quality brush will be made of a softer metal & components than the steel of your barrel almost always Brass.
Step 4 Remove brush and fit jag to cleaning rod pass two or three patches through bore until they emerge clean from the barrel. (Foot note when you have removed bronze brush from rod running it under very hot water for 5-10 of seconds will extend its life considerably as the solvent is attacking the brush as it is made copper also.)
Never use a bore brush that is old and worn. The bristles will lie down on one side when past use by.
Step 5 Pass two solvent soaked patches through bore. (Go and make a cup of tea mow the lawns earn some brownie points. Leave it for an 30mins.

Step 6 Pass a clean patch through barrel you will notice a green or blue color on the patch this is the copper residue reacting with the solvent.
Step 7 For Really Stubborn Copper  Fouling  Wrap an older bore brush in a piece of 4x2 cleaning cloth and cover with JB Cleaning Paste pass this through barrel 20 times. If fouling is severe you can short stroke the problem area.
Step 8 Repeat steps 1-5 until you get no or very little sign of copper showing on solvent soaked patch, generally green or blue color. KG12 has no color.
Step 9 Do not forget to clean chamber. You will need to remove bore guide to do this. Lightly oil barrel until next use.
This is probably more than you would do for most deer stalking rifles. But it is what should be done for all varmint/target and magnum rifles if you would like them to keep shooting accurately and extend barrel life. Only you can decide on the level of maintenance you are prepared to do. Remember to wipe oil out of barrel before next heading out for a shot.

Scott Stonex

P.S. It is possible to lose a lot of brownie points if you spill half a bottle of copper solvent on the spare bed so this is best avoided!!!

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