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December 04, 2017

As an avid hunter, you know that a clean rifle is an accurate rifle. Keeping your hunting rifle clean and well maintained ensures that it shoots properly and accurately each and every shot. You also know that rifles are expensive, so you want to make sure you protect it so that you have it for many years, either to keep in your collection, or to pass along to your children and grandchildren one day.

Cleaning your rifle throughout the season ensures that dirt, dust, and grime doesn’t accumulate, making it more difficult to clean after it’s caked on. It may not be the simplest or most fun task to perform, but it’s a must if you want to keep your rifle in great condition. You may even find that cleaning your hunting rifle quickly becomes a relaxing part of your routine that you look forward to.

What tools do I need to clean my hunting rifle?

To properly clean your hunting rifle, you’ll need the right tools for the job. There are many excellent gun-cleaning kits available, or you can pick and choose what works for you and assemble your own kit.

Items you’ll want to consider include:

  • A carbon fiber or nylon cleaning rod
  • Nylon brush
  • Patches
  • Bore guide
  • Cleaning jag
  • Cleaning rag
  • Carbon remover
  • Copper fouling remover
  • Gun oil

There are a ton of choices when it comes to cleaning solvents and gun oil. Ask your friends and fellow hunters which ones they prefer, then experiment to find one you like and that you think does the best job.

You may want to invest in a good cleaning bench, as it provides a sturdy place to clean your weapon. Disposable latex or vinyl gloves will protect your hands from the cleaning solvents and oils, which can be toxic. A flashlight will help you see in crevices and other hard to reach places to ensure you’re getting out all of the dirt and debris.

Cleaning your hunting rifle

Step 1 – Ensure the rifle is unloaded

This may sound like a statement from Captain Obvious, but don’t take it for granted that your rifle is unloaded and ready to be cleaned. Always double check. It takes a few seconds and is well worth avoiding any potential accidents.

Step 2 – Clean the bolt face

Spray some of your cleaning solvent on the bolt face and use a nylon brush (a toothbrush works great here) to clean it.

Step 3 – Remove dirt and debris from the outside of the rifle

Use a nylon brush, which is not as harsh as other materials, to brush off any loose dust, dirt, and other debris from the outside of your rifle. Make sure you get into any nooks and crannies to remove dirt from those areas as well. Then, grab your cleaning rag and wipe down the rifle to remove the excess debris.

Step 4 – Remove carbon from bore

Now we’re ready to dive deep into the nitty-gritty of cleaning. Place your rifle on the cleaning bench, or a flat, sturdy surface, and remove the bolt. Next, place the bore guide into the rifle. The bore guide helps to protect the bore of your rifle by aligning the cleaning rod properly and reducing the overflow of cleaning solvents.

Take your cleaning rod and attach a jag to it, then take a cleaning patch and attach that to the jag. Place a couple of drops of the carbon remover on the patch and run the cleaning rod with patch through the bore. Repeat this process several times with a fresh patch until the bore is clean. The first few patches you use should be quite dirty, but as you continue the process, you’ll notice the patches become less so with each clean.

Step 5 – Remove copper from rifle

Next, you’ll want to work on removing the copper fouling from your rifle. Copper fouling is the residue left behind from a copper-jacketed bullet, and it can ruin your rifle’s accuracy if left unchecked.

Attach a nylon brush to a cleaning rod and run it through the bore of your rifle. Once it’s completely through, apply several drops of copper-remover solvent. Now you want to give the bore a good, hard brushing, anywhere from say, 25 – 50 times, which will remove all the copper residue that has built up.

Next, attach a patch to your cleaning rod and run it through the bore to make sure it’s clean. If not, repeat the process until you can run a patch through and it comes out clean.

Step 6 – Apply gun oil

Take a cleaning rod and attach a jag and place a patch on that. Next, apply a few drops of your gun oil to the patch and run it through the bore several times, lubricating the inside of the bore. With a dry patch, run the rod through again to help remove any excess gun oil.


Step 7 – Take a foul shot

Rifles tend to respond in different ways to a cleaning, so it’s a good idea to take a foul shot to ensure the cleaning went well and the rifle fires properly, instead of waiting until the next time you want to fire a shot in real time.