Why clean a centre fire rifle? The barrel of a centre fire rifle needs cleaning to prolong life and maintain accuracy.
We often hear of the old school line of thought that you should “never clean a rifle barrel”, I have seen rifle bores shot out, corroded and eroded in less than a year by this practice resulting in a total loss of the rifles ability to shoot a decent group, by a “decent group” I mean 1” (or 1 MOA) at 100 yards. All factory produced rifles should be capable of producing this out of the box.
What happens inside a rifle bore?
On firing a bullet, the bullet leaves copper fouling from the jacket and both burnt and un burnt powder residue on the lands and valleys of the rifling, every subsequent bullet that travels up the bore firstly presses the fouling from the previous bullet into the bore as well as laying down its own fouling to be in turn pressed in again by the next bullet, and so on.
Every 8 rounds (approximately) releases a teaspoon of water, water partials mix with the gasses from the burnt propellant to form ammonia, if left this gathers underneath the fouling, eating into the metal and causing pitting and further stripping of the copper from each bullet, a bullet scarred from travelling up a rough bore is destabilised as it leaves the muzzle due to propellant gas venting unevenly and so causing loss of accuracy.
The speed of the process is greatly accelerated by leaving a sound moderator on the rifle and putting it in the cabinet after shooting, so even if you do not clean your rifle after use it then ALWAYS, ALWAYS remove the moderator.
The following process is what I have found to work best, others have their preferred methods, this one is mine, I have used this method to restore rifles previously thought “shot out” it works!
Let’s assume we are cleaning a rifle that has gone without cleaning for 20 rounds+ for a thorough clean…
1. Run through a phosphor bronze brush from the breech to the muzzle a few times soaked in Tetra Concentrated Powder and Light Fouling Remover followed by a dry patch. This leaves the bore in a raw state ready for the copper solvent.
2. Use a jag or a wool mop soaked in Tetra Gun Copper Solvent, run it through the bore twice from the breech to the muzzle and allow to soak for 30 minutes to an hour, run through a dry patch on a jag, any blue hue on the patch indicates the presence of copper so repeat as necessary until the dry patch comes out clean.
As an alternative to this I sometimes prefer to use Forest Foam (Mill Foam) this is similar to shaving foam in that it is injected into the bore through a tube on the can, the foam is expanding and fills up the barrel, the Mill Foam tends to be less harsh on the bore as it does not contain ammonia. Note do not use a phosphor bronze brush with these two products as they will dissolve the bristles.
3. After the last dry, white clean patch run through another patch or wool mop with a light coating of Tetra Penetrating lubricant and Bore Conditioner.
4. Run through a dry patch before shooting, as long as the bore is dry you will preserve your zero.
Once you have a clean bore you can keep it that way by using Forest Foam (Mill Foam) after several shots or after each outing, one application is all that will be needed without any harsh cleaning or abrasive brushes, a bore in good condition is easier to keep clean, picks up less copper fouling and is more accurate.
Always remember to push the rod through from the breech end to the muzzle to avoid damaging the crown, if the crown is damaged this will severely affect accuracy.