Friday, March 5, 2010

Zen and the Art of Gun Cleaning

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
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Is that a cleaning rod,
or are you just happy to see that gun?

“Be one with the rod,” said the Buddha. “It is important that you learn how to clean your gun.”

My wife always says that cleaning guns is my best therapy. That, and sharpening knives; there’s nothing like putting a keen edge on an edged weapon. There is something about using your eye, a stone, and what amounts to a hunk of steel, and finishing up with a lethal weapon, that appeals to my more sensitive side. But this is about cleaning guns not sharpening knives.

I make it a policy that if I shoot, I clean. It is very simple. If it is fired it gets cleaned top to bottom, left to right. How to clean a gun is one of the first things I taught the boys when they started shooting. We always made time for a thorough cleaning after a day at the range. It boils right down to the fact that if you know how to clean your firearm, it is unlikely to let you down, and that is what I instilled in them.

Start with your setup and get all your things together. I have a few worn out towels that the Mrs. has saved for me that I lay out. That keeps you from damaging the table you are working on, and from a savage beating from the Mrs. when she finds out you did it even though you tried to pin it on the kids.

Before you go any further, make sure all your weapons are unloaded.  That's the most important thing to do!

If you are using a rod, wipe it down with a patch and a couple of drops of Hoppe’s, same thing with a cable. I prefer take-down steel cleaning rods or the one-piece enamel coated ones. Either way, keep them clean. Stay away from the aluminum rods, as the soft metal will pick up grit.

I buy Hoppe’s #9 in the large bottle by the way. If I could cook with it I would. And I don’t know about you fellows out there, but I find that a little H#9 in the air sets the mood, if you know what I mean… and uhhh, if for some reason I can’t clean the firearms right then and there, at minimum I run a mop through the bore so it gets a good soaking with Hoppe’s #9 until I can get back to it.

You should have a bore guide. It's a plastic tube that guides your brush and rod, and protects the action from getting any cleaning fluid in it. If you have an auto loader, get a muzzle guard. This will keep the rod from contacting that all-important last couple of inches of rifling at the muzzle.
Image Credit: Bore Tech Inc
Jags will help get your bore clean!

I’m a big fan of jags. Buy them individually for the calibers you own. A jag with a tight patch will tell you if your barrel is clean. Check your bronze brushes; they do wear out you know. Did you know that if you wash them with dish detergent and hot water when you are done, that they will last longer?

I also like those mops. I use them on dirty guns that I take in for cleaning. You can really get a good amount of cleaning solution in a barrel with one of them. I also use a clean one for the final wipe down of the bore before I put it up. That particular mop is used only for that duty so that it stays pretty clean.

You will need plenty of bore patches. I tend to use two at a time. Try to buy them in bulk rather than the little packs that you get in the hunting aisle at Walmart. You will save money that way and you won’t feel like you need to be miserly with them.

If you use copper removal solutions you will need either nylon or stainless steel brushes. Copper removal solutions will eat your bronze brushes while you are trying to clean. All you will have left is the twisted wire in the middle when you are done, and a still dirty bore. I rarely use the copper cleaners. The only times I have been forced to use it, are when I clean someone else’s firearms and find the copper build up to be too heavy for Hoppe’s #9. Never leave it in a barrel longer than necessary; it can etch the bore.

The Otis Advanced Bore Reflector
A good accessory to have with your cleaning kit is a bore light. A bore light is nothing more than a small flashlight with a plastic tip that will allow you to light the inside of a bore. Inserted the plastic tip in the breech, and the light shines up the bore, and makes it easy to see the inside of a gun barrel. You can use the Advanced Bore Reflector from OTIS with a light source to accomplish the same thing.

I recommend the purchase of a silicone cloth. This is used to wipe fingerprints off the gun. Silicon cloths leave a protective layer on the metal and are excellent protection against "rust fingerprints." I carry a silicon cloth in a Zip-Loc when I am out in the field, and I have yet to get a firearm rusted.

One thing to keep in mind on the subject of gun cleaning is to go easy with the gun oil. Keep excessive oil out of the bore and action of any firearm. Only a small amount of oil is required to lubricate the action, and any excess will work its way back into the wood adjacent to the action. You really don’t need too much in the barrel either; a light coating is more than sufficient to protect your bore. If the gun is to be stored for an extended period of time, cosmoline might be a better choice for the bore and chamber. All of my firearms are stored muzzle down to allow any excess oils to drain down the bore and away from the stock. Before I go shooting though, I like to use a brake cleaning spray to get any oils out of the chamber and barrel. You can get it at any auto parts store, and a can will last you several years.

Don’t forget your scope. Buy yourself a proper lens cleaning liquid and cleaning paper. Or get a good kit like Clear Shot. Even coated lens are delicate and shouldn’t be abused by using your shirttail to clean them. Rubbing grit into a lens is the number one cause of damage to optics. Leaving them to broil in the sun is a close second. You should also have a lens cleaning cloth in a small Ziploc in your pocket while out in the field.

For protection, I also keep most of my firearms in gun socks. Most gun socks are siliconized and the fabric add a layer of protection from dings and scratches.

Remember, clean firearms are functional firearms that will not let you down when you need them. So keep 'em clean!

Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles


Anonymous said...

A very informative post and one that will come in handy for quite a few.

Bion said...

Good to see you're back...and writing something worth reading, Albert. Here's something of interest in making your own hoppe's...Thought you might be interested....from:
'Ed's Red' Bore Cleaner
good luck and good hunting...