Is Your Cleaning Patch Angel White?

By Glenn Burroughs

I’ve been cleaning rifles for a long time and it wasn’t until recently that I got one clean. It was quite by accident that a gunsmith friend told to me to try Wipe-Out cleaner. My friend specializes in long range, accurate rifles and his work does not leave his shop until he is satisfied with the accuracy. So when he makes a recommendation I tend to listen. Although his advice is always good I did not act, as I still had plenty of my regular bore cleaner. Then another friend who has a reputation for winning groundhog matches gave me the same advice, “The stuff works.” That bit of information was also stored somewhere in the grottos of my memory. Finally, some months later another top-notch shooter told me to give Wipe-Out a try. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I decided there must be something to this bore cleaner and contacted Terry Paul at SharpShoot-R Precision Products in Paola, Kansas.

As soon as he was on the phone I popped the question; “Is it really true that using Wipe-Out will actually leave my patch white?” His immediate response was, “Angel white.” When that quick, very confident reply hit me I could not help but grin. Still, I was a little skeptical, after all, “angel white” is a color I have never seen when cleaning a rifle.

Then he challenged me, “Let me send you some samples, I’ll send a can each of Wipe-Out and Patch-Out, plus a few other items. Wipe-Out is applied by spraying into the bore and has a special applicator tip to do the job. You will probably be more interested in the Patch-Out since it’s used like a typical bore cleaner. Whichever one you decide to use, do our ‘proof test’. I think you will be happy with the result. If you have a barrel that is heavily fouled with copper, you always have the option to use some Accelerator. This product may be used in conjunction with either Wipe-Out or Patch-Out. Just let me know how Patch-Out works for you.”

When the package arrived I could not wait to do the SharpShoot-R “Proof Test”, a test that determines if a bore is clean. A rifle that had seen quite a bit of service over the last year
was retrieved from the safe. This rifle had been cleaned using my standard method: five to ten patches of my regular cleaner through the bore. The final patch still had a slight tint of gray, which I thought was normal. Using Patch-Out, a wet patch was run through the bore, then the rifle set aside for ten minutes. According to SharpShoot-R’s website, if the patch comes out a deep navy blue color there is copper in the bore. If it comes out brown that’s carbon. Powder fouling will always be gray or black, and molybdenum will show up as long black stripes from the bottom of the grooves.

In this case the patch came out slightly gray, not much gray, about the color of a patch that I would have considered clean. But according to the “proof test” that gray tint indicated some powder fouling was still in the bore. Then a second patch soaked with Patch-Out was pushed through the bore and left overnight. The next day I ran a clean patch through the bore and it came out gray. One more patch and it came out white. The two applications had removed the powder residue that the other cleaner had left. I was flabbergasted… and a little excited. I don’t remember ever getting a really white patch after cleaning a barrel.

Is Your Cleaning Patch Angel White?

The first rifle tested had a custom, cut-rifled barrel and they don’t foul much, plus they are easy to clean… so maybe that was not a sufficient test. I decided to try a factory rifle, a Remington 700 chambered in 221 Fireball that had seen about a hundred rounds down the barrel. A patch was soaked in Patch-Out and pushed down the bore. After ten minutes a clean patch was run through the bore and it came out indicating both copper and powder fouling. The bore was treated again with Patch-Out and left on the bench overnight. In the morning a clean, dry patch was run through the bore and the patch indicated copper and powder fouling again, so the rifle was treated and left overnight again. The next day a clean patch was pushed through the bore and it came out white. I don’t know if it was “angel white”, but it was white. Again, I was impressed.

Another rifle was placed on the bench, this time a custom rifle with a barrel made by a very respected barrel maker. The rifle had only been shot about three hundred and fifty times. Like the other rifles, this one had already been cleaned with my regular bore cleaner. Patch-Out was applied to a patch and run through the bore followed by a ten minute wait. A clean patch was pushed through the bore and it came out gray, indicating powder fouling.

To make a long story short, this process continued about twenty times, each time resulting in a gray patch. This was not experienced with the other two rifles, so I called Terry and told him of the situation. He knew the problem right off. “For those rifles that are badly fouled you may want to apply Patch-Out with a nylon brush. We strongly recommend that you do NOT use a bronze brush. A nylon brush will allow more Patch-Out to be applied and make the chemical suds-up and get down into the grooves better. After you have given the Patch-Out time to work then wipe the bore out with a quality patch.”

It was hard to believe that this barrel could be badly fouled with powder but I took his advice and ran some Patch-Out through the barrel using a nylon brush. After waiting a few minutes a clean patch was run through the bore and, to my surprise, the first patch came out black… solid black. I continued cleaning. The second, third and fourth patches also came out black. Then the patches started getting less black, until the eighth one came out white. Holy cow, a barrel that I thought was clean was actually filthy. I wonder what effect this fouling had on the accuracy. It was at this point I decided that Patch-Out and a nylon brush would be used to clean my rifles in the future.

I was having such a good time I decided to try another rifle, one that would more than likely be very fouled. It was an older Ruger Model 77V chambered in 220 Swift that my mother gave me in 1996. It had been used primarily for crow hunting and I doubt seriously if it was cleaned on a regular basis. After receiving this nice gift a scope was mounted and the rifle sighted in. Other than that event it had not seen a crow or any other varmint in many years.

The Ruger was retrieved from the back of the safe and taken to the bench. Assuming the bore was in serious need of cleaning the Patch-Out was applied using a nylon brush. After ten minutes a dry patch was pushed through the bore. To my surprise it came out only slightly dirty but indicated both copper and powder fouling. Then I pushed a wet nylon brush through the bore and left it overnight again. The next day a clean patch was run through the bore followed by another dry patch which came out white. The Ruger was not as fouled as I had suspected.

Is Your Cleaning Patch Angel White?

In my initial conversations with Terry I asked if the bore should be lightly oiled after cleaning and he answered with an emphatic, “No.” Then he explained, “The reason is simple. The next shot will cause the oil, which is a hydrocarbon, to leave fouling in the bore. If an oily patch is run through the bore after cleaning, the next shot will truly be a ‘fouling round’. Once a barrel is cleaned with Patch-Out and followed up by a clean patch, the first shot out of the barrel should be the most accurate. And as far as protecting the barrel, Patch-Out contains three anti-rust compounds, so there is no worry about rust. Next time you are at the range, try this test. With a clean rifle fire the first three shots at a target. They should be in a group with no flyer.”

After my conversation with Terry I decided to try the three-shot test. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. If the barrel is clean, there would be no reason for a flyer. But just to satisfy my curiosity, a rifle that had been cleaned with Wipe-Out and finished with a clean, dry patch was taken to the range. Three shots were fired and the target retrieved. It was no surprise that the three holes were in a nice group with no flyer.

As I mused over my experience with Wipe-Out I felt quite content. Not only have I learned how to clean a rifle, but now I don’t have to finish the job by running an oily patch through the bore then firing a fouling shot at the range. After many, many years I am finally able to get the bores on my firearms truly clean, and what a satisfying feeling that is.


SharpShoot-R Precision Products
PO Box 171
Paola, Kansas 66071
Phone: 785-883-4444
Email: [email protected]

Glenn Burroughs is a retired computer systems manager with a lifelong love of guns. His main areas of interest are accurate rifles, wildcat cartridges, reloading and bench shooting. He also enjoys an occasional trip out west to the prairie dog country. Glenn was a columnist for Precision Shooting magazine and also wrote articles for Varmint Hunter magazine. He resides in Lynchburg, Virginia.
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