Clean Barrels shoot better
by Steve Theye

Copied with permission from Sinclair's "Shots" newsletter issue 1999-A

As we travel to matches all around the country we see and hear about all kinds of barrel cleaning methods. Some of them work, some don't, and some make us wonder why we didn't think of that. Here are a few methods we think do work.

It is much easier to do a good job of cleaning with the rifle in a supporting cradle or vise. Sinclair cradles, MTM Maintenance Centers, homemade cradles or vises all work well. Use a properly sized rod guide and some sort of cover over the rear stock. With all this done you can concentrate on nmning the rod straight and be aware of how the patch or brush "feels in the bore".

Work with your jag, patches, and solvent to come up with just the right size combination for your bore. Our NEW Reloading & Shooting Handbook has a chart on page 163 to get you started. We often use two wet patches of the next size smaller to get the initial powder fouling out - then switch to a larger patch. Use the best patches you can find - 100% cotton flannel and napped on both sides. The patches we stock are the best we have ever used. Always use a couple wet patches before you brush the bore.

Some of the newer solvents are designed to be effective copper removers with patch use only - Butch's, Sweet's, and the bore pastes like JB, USP or Rem Clean. If you brush the bore with Sweet's or Butch's the ammonia in the solvent will react with the copper in the brush bristles. The brush will be dissolved by the solvent and you will get lots of dark blue color. Some shooters still use a bronze brush like this since it does remove the copper from the bore. Nylon bore brushes are fairly new, and using them with animonia based products seems to speed up the copper removal process. Sweet's makes a foam when brushed with a nylon brush, and you'll see a touch of the blue color from the brass core of the brush when there is no copper fouling in the barrel. We think the nylon brush with Sweet's is a good idea. Butch's can be used to soak a bore; never use Sweet's! Proper patch and brush use, good solvent selection, and frequent enough cleaning should eliminate the need for soaking.

Many shooters like to finish the bore with a little old fashioned gun oil. Don't use oil with Teflon in it.

Cleaning the chamber with the right tool is very important. Solvents get in the front end of the cham- ber no matter what type of rod guide you use and the case can't grip the chamber if there is solvent in it. If you use a swab handle with a large bore mop for chamber cleaning, put a patch over the swab - patches are cheaper than swabs. A brush will snag the patch if it stays up in the action when you pull the swab out.

A couple of last, obvious, but often forgotten, thoughts. Always cover your scope lenses when you are cleaning - it's hard to see through solvent spray and solvents may damage lens coatings. Don't forget to "wipe her nose". The solvent drips on the end of the barrel get sprayed out when you fire your first shot. The guy on the next bench will
thank you, and your fouler shot will go where it is supposed to. The same guy who said to "wipe her nose" always says "a clean barrel is a happy barrel"!