Rifle bore: How clean is CLEAN?

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  • Rifle bore: How clean is CLEAN?

    OK. So while i'm in the question asking mood, i've been wondering for a while about cleaning my centerfire. Having watched plenty of different vids and read many different threads on various forums, things became a little murky when i started cleaning my .223rem (pardon the pun).

    When i first got it, second hand, i bought a good rod, some Hoppes and brushes and patches and jags. First cleaning took like and hour or more! I patched in some solvent, and worked it in with a nylon brush. Patched it out. Put more solvent in and used a wire brush (brass) after letting it sit for 10 minutes. Patched it out again. This went on, as i say for about and hour and a half and i was still getting more murky grey goo coming out the end. I gave up, figuring it was as clean as it was going to get. No evidence of blueish copper on the patches, or just the slightest hint.

    So. How particular should i be about cleaning the bore? How often should i clean it considering i shoot probably 4 days a week, between 1/2 doz & 20 shots?

    Last week i spent a session and shot about 60 rounds through it (don't ask, it was a disaster, as per another thread). I cleaned it afterwards and again it took ages and literally about 50 patches to get it sort of clean. I'm sure it i have given it another run with solvent i would have got more gunk out still!

    I realise there will be varying answers and different purposes require different cleaning regimes. I want it to shoot straight, last as long as possible and not have to shoot 2 fouling shots every time i get it out.

    Any advise or tips from you guys who shoot many times in a week would be appreciated.

    List to tick off:
    - TICK!!! NEW SCOPE: Sightron S-tac 2.5-17.5 X 56mm
    - TICK !!Left handed 223rem, Zastava M85
    - wildcat build in progress: 223McShort
    - TICK!!! Rebarrel Howa to 7mm-08
    - TICK!!! case trimmer/turner
    - Comp dies for 7mm-08
    - Case annealer
    - Custom dies for wild cat

  • #2
    I use Bore Tech eliminator for my interim cleans (after every shooting session)

    I just patch it in, work it with a nylon brush for 10 strokes and leave for 10 mins, patch out and repeat once more then stuff dry patches through until there is no deposits of crud left, usually 5 or so patches.

    This gets the bore clean but leaves what i consider to be 2-3 shots of copper fouling in the bore thus eliminating the need to perform fouling shots.

    After 300 shots(roughly) i will do as above but also do a complete copper removal with bore tech cu2 using the same patch, brush, patch and repeat method.
    That gets the bore very, very clean.

    I usually shoot twice a week approx 60-100 shots per session.

    Hope that helps.


    • #3
      this is clean

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      • Guest's Avatar
        Guest commented
        Editing a comment
        i havent cleaned in over 300 rounds because i hate cleaning and i'm too lazy- the rifle is still shooting 0.6-0.7moa

        its pretty overdue though (i expect a 0.2moa improvement after a clean) - usually takes 4 rounds to settle down

        I've been trying a few different things - cleaning using boretech carbon remover only and also trying foaming bore cleanser - both seem to be pretty effective although my barrels rarely copper foul

        maybe give the chamber a good clean as well - you could be picking up crap from the chamber and seeing it on your patches - sorry cant help much mor than that

    • #4


      • #5
        i keep mine somewhat dirty, clean carbon out after most shoots but only start using a copper solvent every 100 or so shots, and only nylon brush it 3-4 times and patch out, shoots MOA and cold bore shot is consistant so im happy with that. Im talking about hunting guns not target.


        • #6
          About a year ago I spoke to a mad-keen brenchrester / gunsmith who said "I never clean my centrefires"

          That's not the sort of thing I'd do, but he's a very experienced shooter who demonstrated some pretty good results.

          Personally, I'm a bit skeptical of using patches/jags as a way of getting solvent down the bore. I prefer plugging the muzzle, pointing the rifle muzzle down and then filling the bore with some kind of solvent.


          • Guest's Avatar
            Guest commented
            Editing a comment
            I go by the rule:

            a clean patch = a clean bore (run a wet patch/brush through leave it for few mins then patch out if it comes out clean it is clean)

            it is not always strictly true but that is how i have cleaned my rifles. I mostly use butches, sweets and hoppes.

        • #7
          I've only used Froglube, nothing else. It appears to keep the bore looking like the day I brought the rifle home from the shop, fresh from the factory.

          The solvent and paste appear to work wonders, I have only put ~150 rounds through my 308 and nearly 400 through my .22 and a quick nylon brush with solvent followed by a few dry patches to clean, then a few patches with a bit of paste and finally one patch with a good covering of paste once the previous one had come out clean is all I've done.


          • #8
            I found the quickest way to bugger up my 22LR Martini international was to clean it.

            Centerfires I clean reasonably regular say 50 shots or less with hopes or butches bore solvent or bore tech eliminator does not seem to make much diff.
            I then patch it dry and clean it up and neutralized any of the ammonia solvents with metho on a few wrap ons on a jag.
            Finish with Hoppes and leave the last pass in the the clean bore till next use.
            Prior to use a single pass with a clean wrap on will often show a tiny bit of copper --just smidge.
            The main indicator i look for when it needs a proper clean is to run a firm but not tight wrap on a jag up and down in the bore and
            FEEL for any changes just forward of the throat .... feel that and it gets a proper Sweets scrub left in the bore for say 15 minutes / flush with metho / and scrub as above with hoppes and all good for ages.

            Actually I dont like jags all that much and do use an old soft brush that`s worn out and wrap my cleaners wrap on that.
            A wire wound old brush and there`s no false positives [ green] from brass off the jag and it works fine
            Don’t poke the snake, walk around it and come back later with a double-barrelled shotgun and blow its [email protected]#!ing head off!.

            Australia in future, the outcome is the same, a bloody dictatorship run on the whims of a very few ego-centric pathological elitists.


            • #9
              With the amount of shooting that your doing, I would give the rifle a basic clean once a week, and a good clean every month or so. Taking notice of when it shot the best, and adjusting routine to suit. If your having a break for a week or more, clean and oil.


              • #10
                A very interesting topic indeed! I have watched I don't know how many clips on YouTube regarding cleaning and not only do the methods vary but the comments to each clip shed light and variation as well.

                One of the suggestions was to use a bore guide... Always! Well I have never used one but it looks like a good idea. The LGS sold me a cleaning rod but on closer inspection, it isn't coated, so I'm guessing that if it touches the bore, it may be doing some damage. Clean but damage? Hmmm, seems like I'll have to look at a coated option. The LGS sold me some Gunslick foaming cleaner and said it was the ducks nuts. It does seem to work OK but I still patch out with Hoppes No 9 afterward. I do see a little blue after using the Gunslick so I guess it is cleaning a bit of copper out.

                One of the neat suggestions I saw was to put a plastic soft drink bottle over the end of the barrel so that when the brush pops out, it doesn't flick black crud all over the show. It worked for me.

                Why hasn't anyone invented (I haven't seen one yet) a nylon jag? That way it won't scratch the bore if it loses the patch. Can a brass jag scratch a bore? Am I just naive?

                Just a word of warning... Never clean your rifle and use solvents on the engineered stone benchtop in the kitchen. I used newspaper and plastic but some solvent with a bit of crud in it found its way onto the benchtop. I panicked when I saw the dark marks and no amount of washing took them out. In desperation I used a G Technic product called P1 Nano Polish and the marks polished out. The Mrs still doesn't know but if she knew, I would be banished to the shed forever!


                • #11
                  jeez- you blokes are making me feel guilty as sin.

                  After shooting my M44 or threeoh, I squirt some ballistol down the bore- followed by a patch [on the pullthrough]- then more ballistol, lock the rifle in the boot while I do my turn in the butts marking targets.
                  Then when I get back from the butts- another couple of patches and another shot of ballistol and wiped over with ballistol before going home.
                  rifles are stored with ballistol in the barrel/ on any external metalwork and wiped on the wood.

                  Before shooting, barrel gets a patch on the pull through, rifle is wiped over to remove any excess ballistol.

                  The only time I do different is when I use corrosive ammo in the M44, then as soon as I finish shooting- it has a large thermos of hot water poured down the barrel before the first patch and ballistol.

                  several thousand rounds in the M44 and the barrel is great, and the threeoh's love it as well.

                  all times wasted wots not spent shootin'


                  • jasmay
                    jasmay commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The only way to tell if your rifle is ACTUALLY clean is to borescope it, and, I recommend everyone sexperience this at least once to understand just where fouling in your rifle occurs.

                    What appears to be a minty clean barrel to the eye i susually not, especially if well used, a fouled barrel can lead to increased pressure, which gives widely varying results on paper.

                    So much so I have seen a rifle go from brilliant, to blowing primers, borescoped and cleaned, and back to liek new. The effects fouling can have are underestimated by most shooters.

                    Its a bit of a myth when someone says somethign like "Well snipers dont clean" True, but they may also only fire a handful of shots in the same period you would fire 100. its also a bit of a fallacy, as most professionals spend great time understanding how their rifle shoots with a "Clean Bore" sometimes refered to as cold bore.

                    Competition shooters have the luxury of being able to run fouling shots after a clean to settle a barrel down.

                    Dont under estimate the value of cleaning......

                • #12
                  I use either hoppes or butches bore shine for carbon, and will take some copper out if let soak. For copper removal I use sweets solvent, and have started with montana x treme 50 bmg. Both of these are excellent, and remove copper fast, as well as a lot of carbon. I patch dry and oil.


                  • Guest's Avatar
                    Guest commented
                    Editing a comment
                    After the HORRENDOUS copper fouling in my 303 (new barrel) I have gone off Sweets and now use Boretech Eliminator products.

                • #13

                  What he said

                  Write it up nicely and we could sticky that for new shooters and old alike -a dam good post .
                  Don’t poke the snake, walk around it and come back later with a double-barrelled shotgun and blow its [email protected]#!ing head off!.

                  Australia in future, the outcome is the same, a bloody dictatorship run on the whims of a very few ego-centric pathological elitists.


                  • #14
                    so I guess you guys really frown upon the old bore snake. I don't usually use a chemical cleaner other than a bit of oil.

                    true though I do use a brass brush but its the cheesiest thing you ever saw. the brass brush of the lowest bidder. it gets the job done though. I find the powder I am using still burns out the barrel so I get a lot of powder buildup on the end of the barrel on the outside downrange face.

                    Which means I should be suing a faster burning rifle powder instead of a pistol powder but I am forced to shoot on a pistol range so that is what you get.
                    "He got the whole nine yards" - as it happens World War II (1939–1945) aircraft machine gun belts (US 50 cal) were nine yards long.


                    • #15
                      Fantastic topic guys, very informative.
                      Now, let's get caliber specific. I own only one center fire, a Stevens 200 223. When I bought it from the gunshop they told me to clean it thusly, clean after each round for the first 10 rounds, then clean after every 3 rounds for the next 30 rounds, then clean after every 10 rounds for the rest of forever. They suggested that I mop some solvent in the barrel running it up and down for about a minute, 6 scrapes of the brass brush up and down the barrel, then mop out. Repeat if necessary.
                      Well, I've been following this routine for the last 3 years. The other day, I was feral controlling out to 250+ meters, don't know for sure, but definitely beyond 200 meters.
                      After inspection of the feral, the bullet hole was right where I was aiming.

                      Using Highland 223 ammo, she seems to like the cheap stuff, never have done hand loads as I don't have the time, patience, money to set it all up just for one center fire. I'm using Sweets Solvent the 7. something or other and Sweets oil. Don't know exactly how many rounds have gone through her, but it's been a lot. Don't know how long it will keep it's accuracy using this cleaning method, but so far so good.