Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 2 By Vince Bottomley


Mar 6, 2008
Like most of you, I've been cleaning barrels for a good number of years but, I have to admit, until I bought a borescope, I didn't really know what I was doing. I should perhaps qualify that and say – I couldn't SEE what I was doing. The borescope made me revise my cleaning regime!

We all have our favourite bore cleaners and mine is Butch's Bore Shine. I'd never used Butch's until I went to New Zealand for the World Benchrest Championships in 2001. It's customary at these events to receive a 'goody-bag' and ours contained a bottle of Butch's. Naturally, my rifle was squeaky-clean but, why not give the Butch's a go and see if it will bring out any more fouling? I was shocked to find that it did - lots! My next step was to take my bottle of bore-cleaner – which I had cunningly smuggled on the plane in a shampoo bottle – and pour it down the drain! Read More...
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Thanks to Vince for writing this and thanks Len for getting this on the site.

BTW, Sinclair sells an 'action cleaning kit' that includes a chamber cleaning rod and mop, among other items to clean action lugs, etc. Hope this helps.
I have what you'd probably call a silly question. I have a rifle that was never properly broken in. By that I mean the shoot one, clean and repeat method. Never had anything but your typical cleaner used either. Either Hops or Remington. Nothing specifically for copper. I think the 1st time it was shot was after a quick cleaning, then about 20 straight rounds sighting it in. From there on it was 5-15 rounds and a typical cleaning again. This would consist of patches followed by a brushing. Then dry patches. Oh, this was with the rod end that you pulled patches through. I never owned a jag until now. By my count, should be 110 rounds through it like this. At 100yds it shoots 3/4-1" for 5 shots.

For a gun like this, would you recommend cleaning it really well with a copper cleaner and regular cleaner like in the article then rebreaking it in, or just clean it well and continue to shoot as normal? Basically wondering how much damage I've done.

Sorry for the basic/dumb question. My gun was the one of the first that was new in my family so we'd never had to worry about breaking one in. Accuracy wasn't super needed either. Typical shots where I used to hunt were 50-100 yards.

That was a good article on cleaning the barrel. However, I have to disagree on one point. If you are going to store your rifle I would not use WD40. Long term it can get gummy. There are better choices out there such as CLP and Militec.
I was hoping to see a torque wrench, but alas....
I'd like to buy a good such wrench, and am looking at either the Weaver wrench or the Wheeler FAT. Does anybody have any experience with both? I'd like to know which one is better........?
After thinking about what was happening and what I wanted to accomplish, I developed my own method for cleaning my rifles. It is very similar to yours, except after cleaning I run a wet patch with gun oil (not WD-40) through the bore and then a dry patch to remove any excess oil.
I prefer to retain a small amount of copper wash in the barrel, and my main focus is removing powder fouling. I no longer do BR shoots but hunt big game, and when I have shot enough rounds that the accuracy begins to fall off, then I take out all the copper like you said...but before hunting, I clean the oil or CLP from the bore, visit the range and shoot bench style (with my sweet spot 3/8 inch group loads) until I see the really tight groups reappear. Few rifles I have shot with at high pressures show exceptional accuracy with no copper wash in the barrel. One of my 700 mil spec 5r rifles comes the closest, and is also the easiest to clean.
Do you think that it is easier to clean because of the 5r rifling? I have long thought that 5r made sense from an accuracy point of view, but very few rifles have it.

Possibly. The bore is extremely smooth and the way it was made could have involved lapping it to the smoothness. It takes very little to clean them after 80 or so rounds.
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