Rifles should be cleaned any time they have been used in the rain or snow, after they have been fired, and at the end of the season before storage. Here we’ll discuss how to clean a rifle barrel or bore. The internal workings of your rifle should be cleaned as well, but because these mechanisms vary from one model to another, consult your owners manual on to how to proceed. If you don’t have a copy of the manual, one can be obtained from the manufacturer.
Of prime importance before cleaning any firearm is to ensure that it is unloaded. I’ll repeat – make sure there aren’t any live rounds in your rifle! I agree that this would seem obvious, but every year there are stories of someone being shot while a firearm is being cleaned. However, when the victim is shot multiple times, it leads one to believe that more is at fault than just cleaning technique.
How to Clean a Rifle with a Cleaning Rod
You’ll need a rod of sufficient length and of a diameter that it will pass easily through the barrel. For rods with interchangeable tips, select one designed to handle your rifle’s caliber.
Rifles such as break-action single shots and some styles of removable bolts allow you to look down the barrel from the chamber to the muzzle. For these types, you may use a tip designed to push a cleaning patch down the bore. For other rifles such as lever actions, pumps, and semi-autos, you will use a tip that has an opening like the eye of a needle that pulls the patch down the barrel, after first pushing the tip from muzzle to chamber without a patch. In both cases, the patch travels in the same direction as a bullet would.
Select cleaning patches sized for the caliber of your rifle. These may be purchased or cut from cotton cloth. When making your own patches, start small and increase the size as necessary to avoid jamming a patch in the barrel. If you do create a jam, it may prove easier to push the patch out the way it entered. Apply bore solvent to your first patch to aid in removing any lead, powder, or primer. Repeat with a new cleaning patch until the the patch comes through clean.
How to Clean a Rifle with a Wire or Chain
- Starting at the chamber, feed the wire/chain through the barrel with the patch loop last.
- Insert a patch with solvent and pull it through the barrel in the direction a bullet would travel.
- Repeat with clean patches as above.
- Be very careful not to use an over-sized patch, because you won’t be able to push it back through.
How to Clean a Rifle with a Snake
- A snake is sized for the exact caliber of your rifle and is designed for quick cleaning without patches or solvent.
- Feed the thin cord through the barrel from the chamber to the muzzle.
- When the cord emerges from the muzzle, use it to pull the thicker portion of the snake through the bore.
Remember: Keeping your rifle well cleaned will help avoid a decrease in accuracy.