We stock all the cleaning products necessary, which means pretty well all that is distributed through the UK gun trade. Additionally, we will try to import any products you tell us are world-beaters. However, we have no interest in stocking second-rate products.

There is probably more confusion on the merits, and technique, of barrel cleaning than any other aspect of shooting - so, firstly, why clean a barrel, and, secondly, how to clean a barrel.

Each round fired deposits carbon and copper (or lead, if not a jacketed bullet). Carbon can build up a hard deposit, particularly just in front of the chamber area - in other words, a constriction of the bore - and this will adversely affect the bullets as they pass through. Copper (or lead) will be deposited along the length of the bore, so the nature of the bore is gradually changing as copper builds up; and changes to the nature of the bore will affect the bullet's progress.

Taken to the extreme, it could be argued that cleaning after each shot is the way to consistency, but that is an unattractive proposition. Nevertheless, some precision shooters do thoroughly clean every few shots.

For most of us the trick is to never allow these build-ups to become more than negligible - hence, regular and effective cleaning.

Effective cleaning calls for appropriate solvents and tools, and proper technique.

We are not convinced that certain products will remove all fouling, lubricate and protect, and increase velocity and accuracy - but we do believe in the tooth fairy.

It is probably fair to assume that all the copper and carbon solvents out there do work, if used properly, and it should be taken as a good recommendation that successful shooters use particular brands.

Products needed are a cleaning rod, bore-guide to centralise the rod, jag, nylon bristle brush, bronze bristle brush for 'stubborn' deposits, cotton patches, and solvent(s). Additionally, we are much in favour of the sponge-coated Bore-Tips, featured later; and a flexible chamber-cleaning tool is essential for doing what it is intended for.

Pull-throughs should not be relied upon, but are infinitely better than nothing, and much prefered to putting a rain-soaked gun away. We always carry Bore Snakes in the field - but you are unlikely to see pull-throughs at bench-rest competitions.

A basic bore cleaning routine is to run a solvent soaked patch, on a jag, through the bore to remove burnt deposits and debris.

The pierce jags are perhaps best/easiest to use, and the fouled patch falls off when the rod is drawn back, so deposits are not dragged back through the barrel. If the patch is too tight, a smaller one may be better, or pierce it progressively off centre until satisfactory.

Next, we use the sponge Bore-Tip with solvent, and pump it up and down the barrel until the solvent foams. This causes maximum oxygenation, which maximises the solvent's efficiency.

After leaving the solvent to work on the deposits in accordance with manufacturer's instructions, scrub the bore with a brush. Ineffective cleaning is probably because the solvent is not given long enough to work.

Then pass clean, tight, patches through and note the removed deposits.

To be sure the barrel is clean, repeat the whole process. You may have to repeat several times before the barrel contains nothing but air.

Do not lubricate the barrel to help the bullet fly through! At best, any lubrication will take a few shots to burn away, before accuracy settles. At worst, a hydraulic situation will occur where the bullet attempts to push a wave of oil ahead of it - except that it won't, and the barrel will be permanently bulged. Incidentally, anything in the barrel - oil, water snow, mud, insects, a stuck bullet, etc - will damage the barrel when the next shot is fired. Barrels can, and do burst violently under these circumstances. Fortunately, we keep large stocks of barrels, but some things cannot be replaced.

If the barrel is oiled to protect from damp and rust during storage, place some reminder on the gun to ensure every trace is removed before next firing.

By the way - "Don't think stainless steel doesn't rust"!


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