A recent post about Kreiger barrels brought up recommended cleaning practices. Personally, I tend to subscribe to Dan Lilja's recommendations regarding cleaning, but I and I think a lot of people could benfit from a discussion on cleaning frequency and practices.
Here are a few points that I feel are important regarding cleaning firearms:
..good maintenance and cleaning costs money - you have to accept that
..once you have good rods, guides, supply of brushes, chemicals, patches etc the job gets much easier
..barrel cleaning is not simply a few passes with a brush and a few patches, you have to get the carbon first, then check for copper fouling and remove it, then protect the steel with some oil or preservative.
..a good idea is to stay with one company's products, they will be compatible and no concerns about adverse chemical reactions
..we should adopt the mindset that cleaning and maintenance is a part of the shooting, not a separate function after we are finished
..I like to clean every 40-50 rounds when we are practicing and shooting a lot
..like to clean at the range or in the field if possible, then I can simply put the rifle away when I get home
..use a PAST shooting kit that has rifle supports, lots of room for solvents and stuff
..a heavy 5" vice with padded jaws to hold the barrel is great for securing the rifle during cleaning at home, tip the barrel down a bit so solvent can't get back into the action
..check out the PATCH HOG from Bore Tech, it is a great device for keeping solvent spray contained (simple container that fits on the muzzle and contains the spray that flys out when the brush passes through the muzzle)
..how many passes with the bronze brush? Many thoughts on that, ranging from the same number as shots fired since last cleaning to no more than five or ten. I go with 10 and seem to get the bore as clean as when I standardized on 20. Some barrel makers say we wear out barrels with too much cleaning.
I would like to emphasis a couple of thing that IanM said above. As he stated we all have a particualr way of doing it as in number of passes, size of patches, etc but the 2 most important things I think that IanM said above are:
#1 -you have to get the carbon first, then check for copper fouling and remove it, then protect the steel with some oil or preservative.
Couldn't agree more. And carbon is a lot more difficult to get out then some people realize.
Case in point: my 1000yd LG has always shot like a house a-fire. But this summer it just kept opening up and not as consistant as it use to be. I thought it was because of work and not being able to keep it tuned up with the lack of testing. Anyway just before the last match of the year thanks to the suggestion of a friend, I got after that barrel in a big way with JB in the throat area. End results was the 2nd smallest group fired at NC 1000yd club in 2002 and the highest score of the year with no other changes from the previos match in which I shot (2) 7" groups back to back with it. The last match was a 3.187" with a perfect 50 score. Only difference was the good scrubbing w/ JB paste and .004" of seating depth to keep the same .010" of engagement into the lands with the throat burning out some. All carbon buildup!! The cases, powder lot, bullets, everything else was the same. you've got to keep that throat area cleaned and smoothed out during every cleaning.
#2 - a good idea is to stay with one company's products, they will be compatible and no concerns about adverse chemical reactions
again, I've had first hand experience in this. Don't know how or what got mixed but pitting was the end result in 2 barrels. At the time I blamed it simply on ammoniated solvents. But now in hind sight I think something got mixed together. I use ammonia solvents again but when I get a barrel brand new, I start using a particular brand of solvent and use it for the life of the barrel. Then there's no problem. Even if someone asks me to try a new solvent, it will be used on an old hunting barrel and not my good SS match barrels.
One point that I missed was the importance of cleaning your cleaning rod and in particular the bronze brushes after each use.
Impossible to clean a dirty barrel with dirty brushes - spray them with a gunk-out aerosol spray after each use, they will clean right up. Always wipe the rod, not a bad idea after each pass.
Some guys talk about how they cannot ever get a barrel completely clean. Brush and patch the hell out of it, but always get some gorf out, patches dirty. They are putting crud back into the barrel with dirty brushes.
We used to rinse the brushes in solvent or alcohol, now just give them a blast with blast-off type cleaner.
Also make sure you have a lug recess cleaning kit, best one for the money is sold by Midway. Ask your dentist for a few "lug recess cleaning swabs", he uses them to pack holes in peoples jaws (square or oblong swabs).
Last, always lube your bolt lugs and the base of the bolt handle where the camming action takes place.
Agree with all said. Important to keep carbon out of end of chamber and throat. Do something kind of different.
I use the Bore Kleen plastic bristle brushes instead of bronze brushes. They have very hard plastic bristles that clean well and hold up. They do not wear down with use due to ammonia products, no damage to crown, last I do not get any "green" color from the brush itself. I was using one brush each weekend for each caliber. Not expensive but pain in the butt as the ammonia wore down the brush. The plastic is just as good and stays tight the whole time.
Found that I can use the plastic brush to use ISSO for carbon and then Montana Extreme or Barnes CR-10 for copper.
Important to keep brush and rod clean too.
Wipe rod each time it comes out of rifle and then reuse.
Have checked my barrels with borescope using this method and shows that they are clean and no damage. Plus it is easy.
Have you tried the newer Bore-Tech aluminum core nylon brushes? I've got some softer brislte nylon brushes I got from Sinclair that work great in that I can reverse them in the bore without harm and really work in the copper solvent. But they use brass for the core and threading area and stil leave some copper wash in the bore.
But those Bore-Tech brushes use a much much stiffer nylon bristle and use aluminum for the brush core so that you don't get any copper "wash" from your brush.
I use these Bore-Tech brushes for the first cleaning while the bore is still hot and then let the bore soak for 10 minutes. After the majority of the copper is gone and the patches come out with blue streaks in them, then I use those other softer brushes to really work the solvent in and not harm the bore. I don't use the bronze brushes anymore myself.
Again I'll to tell everyone to read and reread your posts above. Lubing the lugs and caming area on the bolt can't be stressed enough especially with stainless steel actions. I saw a brand new BAT 8 1/2" action gall a lug this summer within the first 100 rounds thorugh it. It was bad enough that it took a good amount of physical force to close the bolt and had to be recut.
The best way to "work in" lubed bolt lugs in the action is to insert the bolt into the action raceway, (make sure rifle is unloaded... sorry had to say it) pull the trigger so the bolt doesn't cock and allow the bolt to go as far forward as possible then work the bolt lugs up/down 2 or 3 times so the grease gets on the lug abutments in the action and isn't scrapped off if the bolt engages the sear and is held back against the abutments.
also when I JB my bore I work the throat area quite heavy with back & forth motion then and work down the bore a little bit then simply push the patch w/JB on it out the crown in one quick motion. It takes a little messing around with to get the right size patch to fit your bore size so that JB work the best. But then you don't want a lot of pressure from a tight fit, because now your creating a lap and have gone past cleaning the bore. A bore scope is a great asset in this area. If you don't have one, go to your gunsmiths some evening and use the before and after method.