Advanced Barrel Care & Cleaning for accuracy

An in-depth technical manual with valuable information from beginner to advanced level shooting.

Introduction
Good barrel cleaning habits may not be that obvious and can easily be contemplated as a dark art. This is the most important ritual after shooting and the sooner it is done the better. Good barrel care will not only improve your accuracy but it will also greatly improve the life of your barrel. For beginners, it is very hard to identify if a barrel is clean or not and how to look after a barrel to extend its life. Old-hand shooters have a good feel for when it is properly clean. This series of articles provide valuable information and cleaning techniques for the novice as well as seasoned gun owners.

When a shot is fired, the bullet is forced through the barrel while leaving behind copper and propellant residue on all the internal barrel surfaces. Friction and heat generated by the metal on metal contact will always deposit some copper on the surface. Due to the heat of combustion and the pressure of the explosion, predominantly carbon particles, as well as hot gaseous reactants, are deposited on the inside surface and micro-cracks of the barrel. Modern propellants also contain graphite as a lubricant to help fight copper build-up and prolong accurate shooting between cleaning. All barrels do not react the same but over time all of them will suffer from a buildup of carbon and copper fouling to the point that accuracy suffers. Cleaning the rifle properly is the only way to reset the buildup process.

Incorrect cleaning methods can destroy a barrel or seriously affect accuracy. Putting shots through an uncleaned or poorly cleaned barrel will shorten the life of the barrel and is absolutely a waste of good money and time. The purpose of this article is to provide inside knowledge of the why and how of barrel care, while providing a good platform to establish a good cleaning routine. In many countries, barrel replacement involves fulfilling certain legal requirements on top of the replacement cost. Therefore prolonging the life of the barrel with good care and cleaning practices make perfect sense. Cleaning tools are not very expensive and it is a good investment to have a well-stocked cleaning kit.

Barrel care is more than just about cleaning, it is also about acquiring the skills to get the most out of a barrel in terms of accuracy, cleaning intervals, barrel life, and preservation. For ease of reference and clarity sake, this series of articles will be broken down into three distinct “barrel care” routines as is shown below.

Barrel Care Part 1: How to know if a barrel is clean / How to know if a barrel is fouled.

Synopsys: A practical approach for intermediate shooters with a number of solutions to get a clear idea of the dark insides of a barrel. Also discus the use and benefits of a borescope.

Barrel Care Part 2: What tools to use for cleaning a barrel.

Synopsys: A simple description of all the cleaning tools and how each item can be applied to cleaning routines. Solvents and lubricants and their functions/applications are also covered in great detail.

Barrel Care Part 3: How to clean a barrel.

Synopsys: How to clean with each type of solvent as well as bore pastes. How to use the cleaning tools.

Barrel Care Part 4: How to prepare a barrel before shooting.

To Molly or not to Molly

Synopsys: How to lubricate the inside of a barrel for prolonged life and first shot accuracy after cleaning. How to preserve a barrel for storage.

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