Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 2
After cleaning, I often have a look at the bore through the borescope – particularly if the rifle doesn’t seem to be performing to its expected standard. Copper is often still in there even though the patches aren’t turning blue. A more aggressive strategy is called for.
A clean, sharp crown is the ideal.
You can make the copper solvent more ‘active’ by scrubbing the bore with a bristle brush soaked in the solvent – don’t use a bronze brush for obvious reasons! The scrubbing action will induce oxygen into the solvent which acts as a catalyst and makes the solution work better. Copper solvents need oxygen to work. If you drop a bullet into your bottle of copper solvent, it will still be bright copper coloured after a week but if you put a drop of solvent on a bullet, it will turn blue in minutes.
As a last resort, you can ‘JB’ your barrel. JB is a specially prepared bore paste for removing stubborn fouling. It’s popular with benchrest shooters as it can bring a barrel that has ‘gone off’ back to life.
It’s quite simple to use. Prepare a very tight-fitting patch which really takes some effort to push through the bore. You can do this by thickening a standard patch with a small square or two of kitchen roll under it. Now smear the JB paste on the patch and rod the bore vigorously! It’s best to ‘short-stroke’ it by doing eight or nine inches at a time. You’ve really got to work that rod and change patches frequently. The patches will come out jet-black. After JB-ing, clean thoroughly as steps 1 to 4 above.
JB doesn’t always perform miracles but if your rifle has lost its edge, it’s worth a go. JB is a once a year thing – not every week!
We haven’t mentioned those aerosol cleaners yet like Forrest Bore Foam and Wipe-out. On the face of it they are the simple answer to all that scrubbing and patching. Unfortunately, the foam needs to be left in the bore for a long time - maybe eight hours or overnight - to do its job. Even then, how do you know your rifle is clean? Repeat the process? Who can spend hours on what is really just a five-minute job?
Is there any other barrel maintenance we can do now that it’s clean? Well, if you know someone with a borescope, beg borrow or steal a look at your bore. Borescopes cost a few hundred pounds but maybe your club could afford one and charge members Ł5 a go. In fact, once members have used it, I predict much return business!
Finally, it’s often said that the most important part of a barrel is the last inch. Have a good look at your crown through a magnifier. There are many different ways to crown a barrel but every crown should be free from burrs or dings and should be evenly cut. The lands should be clearly visible and undamaged. If you suspect the crown is anything other than perfect, go along to your favourite gunsmith and ask him to re-cut it.
A home-made chamber cleaning tool.
Before we close this article on barrels, don’t forget the chamber – particularly the chamber-neck -which will soot-up in exactly the same way as the cartridge-case neck. All gunshops sell cleaning-rods but next time you go in your local shop ask for a chamber cleaning tool. You will likely be met with a blank stare – but why? Cleaning the chamber is important. An old pistol cleaning rod fitted with a bronze brush will do the job (see pic). Wrap a turn of kitchen roll around the brush, apply a few drops of cleaning fluid and clean out that chamber! Dry it afterwards and pass a patch through the bore to ensure that no fragments of kitchen roll are lurking in there.
Next month, we will take a look at the stock.
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