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Cleaning rods and barrel damage

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Unread 07-09-2012, 06:42 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: People's Republic of New Jersey
Posts: 26
Cleaning rods and barrel damage

This is my first post, so go easy on me. I put it in gunsmithing instead of equipment as I am looking for a more technical answer rather than opinion. I have been shooting for 30 years or more, but have recently taken it up a notch with my new Remington 700 P in .308.

How do barrels get scratched from cleaning rods?

Assuming you use a bore guide and care it doesn't seem logical. Aluminum and brass are softer than a barrel, according to Pro-Shot my stainless one piece is as well:

"Thank you for your email, I will address you question. *First, the cleaning rod is made from 416HT steel that has an (Rockwell Hardness) HRC of 26, it is a different steel totally than the barrel steel. *Barrel Steel is made from 416R. *Barrel steel is much stronger and tougher than our rod material. *Not to mention we also centerles grind, micro polish, and finish polish the rod to a finish of 6. *Regular machined stainless steel has a finish of over 30. **If you have any additional questions or concerns, please let me know."

Thoughts on SS cleaning rods would be welcome as well.

So, how do cleaning rods scratch barrels?
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Unread 07-10-2012, 06:48 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Texas
Posts: 7,232
Re: Cleaning rods and barrel damage

It is more of the process than the rod material that damages the bore of a barrel.

A bore guide is a must and one should never clean from the muzzle if it can be avoided.

I use the largest Diameter rod possible to prevent Snake 'ing down the barrel and I
also use one size smaller jag that allows me to use more than one patch at a time preventing
the jag from touching the bore if the jag cuts through the patch.

I use nothing but stainless cleaning rods and allways push two or more patches through the
bore to sweep out the powder fouling (90% carbon and very hard) before starting the cleaning

Softer rod materials can allow particles to embed and will act as an abrasive and will scratch
the bore.

Also two/three piece rods can damage a bore because of the connections (They will catch and
hold the carbon/debris while cleaning) and the weak points allowing the rod to flex more in
these areas.

I have, and use a bore scope and find that this process does not damage the bore or leave any
wear marks.

In addition to proper cleaning I recomend using a bore snake or dry patching when possible
between shots to keep the bullet from picking up carbon and scratching the bore upon
firing (This also looks like cleaning rod damage when viewed by a bore scope.

You mentioned no opinions but I'm sure that there are other ways to clean a bore without
damaging it.

As stated the proper tools and procedure will prevent/minimize bore damage.

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Unread 07-10-2012, 07:56 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: People's Republic of New Jersey
Posts: 26
Re: Cleaning rods and barrel damage

J E,
Thanks for the reply. By opinions I meant that I wasn't looking to start a debate and you did just fine. Thanks. What you said supports what I have been working my belief towards: It's not the equipment that scratches, it's the technique. It's tough when you are starting out and you hear "Don't clean too much you'll scratch/damage barrel.", "Dirty barrels cause decrease in accuracy.", "Dirty barrels lead to corrosion and pitting and damage". Aaaaahhhhhhhh!

Nobody seems to differentiate cleaning techniques for custom BR rifles, serious factory target, general hunting etc. It's all or none.

I think I will stick to good technique and my good old fashion common sense!

By the way, I really like the one size small two patch technique.
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Unread 07-10-2012, 01:47 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Allen, TX
Posts: 2,608
Re: Cleaning rods and barrel damage

I've been using Tipton carbon fiber cleaning rods for a few years now and there's not a hint of anything embedding or abrassive whatsoever.

I do agree that proper care and technique is key.

-- richard
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Unread 07-10-2012, 10:41 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,075
Re: Cleaning rods and barrel damage

Goattman, I have tried many cleaning techniques also. You mentioned benchresters. I copied a cleaning process written up by Sam Hall. I think I found it on the 6mmBR website. Like you, I wanted to find out how benchresters cleaned their barrels. There are many successful benchrest shooters, and probably just as many different processes. Sam's just happened to turn up. I also read the processes written up by premium barrel makers. Dan Lilja has a lot of cleaning, bore care, and break-in info on his website.

Any process that degrades the muzzle crown is a bad one. Easiest way to do this is to clean from the muzzle with anything. Probably the worst offender is a stainless bristle bore brush. Maybe next is excessive brushing, even with a bronze brush.

Any process that doesn't remove built-up carbon is poison.

This is purely my opinion, but I never run a dry brush through any bore, and I never leave any kind of solvent in a bore more than about an hour, no matter what it says. Sweets 7.62 or its equivalent only about 5 minutes at a time.

In my experience, most factory barrels are hard to get clean. The gloves are off then, and just about anything goes.

I use the Dewey plastic coated cleaning rods. The plastic coating could imbed grit, but I wipe them between passes, use a throat saver, and clean from the breech. They are very stiff and don't buckle and rub the bore on the push stroke. On rifles that have to be cleaned from the muzzle, like Garands and M1-A's, I use BoreSnakes from the breech.

A borescope like the Gradient Lens Hawkeye is the best way I know to inspect the chamber, throat, and bore, and is good even at the muzzle. Expensive, but very effective.

Texas State Rifle Association Life Member
NRA Endowment Life Member

A big fast bullet will beat a little fast bullet every time

Last edited by specweldtom; 07-10-2012 at 11:00 PM. Reason: Add the Dewey cleaning rod paragraph
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Unread 07-10-2012, 10:57 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 974
Re: Cleaning rods and barrel damage

Just make sure you wipe the rod before doing any cleaning and never push a dry first patch into a barrel that is using moly coated (MoS2 ) bullets as they tend to jam up.
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Unread 07-10-2012, 11:17 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 550
Re: Cleaning rods and barrel damage

I don't use rods at all...haven't for about 25 years now...I don't "scrub" anything either, I have yet to encounter any copper fouling that Hoppes Benchrest solvent wont remove if used properly (let it soak a few hours, it won't hurt the barrel...even overnight).

Otis Technology

I don't use Otis lubes or solvents...just the tools (cables and attachments)

CLP (have used other things for this...but prefer CLP)
Hoppes Benchrest solvent (not plain #9...)
Brushes (always wrapped with cloth...a bare brush never passes through my rifles)
Some patches (made of old cut up T-shirts)
Pull through cable attachments

Thats all I've used to clean my rifles since about 1987...no damaged bores, no fouling I couldn't remove, and I don't even know what a bore guide looks like (seriously).

Treat the rifle with some TLC as opposed to just jamming a rod down it or jerking a cable through...and all will be well. I've cleaned everything from a $200 Stevens to a $4,000 custom this way...it works for me...YMMV.

Nothing against a bore guide...I understand the concept and all...but they are not absolutely necessary if you just take your time and don't get carried away while cleaning.
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