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How to Clean Tough Lead Deposits From Your Barrel

How to Clean Tough Lead Deposits From Your Barrel

There are advantages and disadvantages to different bullet types: jacketed, plated, cast, swaged and frangible. Purpose, accuracy and economy often dictate their use. Lead bullets (cast and swaged) generally cost less and stretch our shooting dollars to the max. They tend to be smokey and gunk up the gun faster (due to the waxy lubricant) but the cost savings are worth a little inconvenience.

The other potential disadvantage of lead bullets is leading in the barrel. I almost always have a little leading when shooting lead. Minor amounts can be removed with a good scrubbing with a bronze brush and solvent. However, more often than not the lead is built-up thick and is not easily removed. When this happens, it can take forever to remove the lead with a cleaning brush. This is a job for a special tool.

Lewis Lead Remover
Figure 1. The Lewis Lead Remover is designed especially for removing lead from barrels.


The Lewis Lead Remover is designed for just this purpose. It uses brass mesh patches to scrape the lead out. They are available from Brownells in five caliber-specific versions with sized tips for a range of calibers: .32, 9 mm/.38, .40/.41/10 mm, .44 and .45. The kit includes a T-handle 9-inch rod, sized rubber tip, cone tip for cleaning the forcing cone, brass patches and complete instructions. It’s handy and works. They cost around $30 for a caliber-specific kit. Caliber conversion kits run $20 or so.

Chore Boy Pure Copper Ultimate Scrubber
Figure 2. A less expensive method for removing lead is the pure copper scrubbers made by Chore Boy.


An alternative method to remove lead is Chore Boy Pure Copper Ultimate Scrubbers. Two Chore Boy scrubbers usually cost less than $5 at any local hardware store.

Here is a very important detail. You want the pure copper version of the scrubbers. Make absolutely sure the box is labeled PURE COPPER. Pure copper is soft and won’t scratch your bore. Some ‘copper colored’ mesh scrubbers are made from steel and coated with copper. Do not use these. The steel is too hard and could scratch your barrel. Use only the pure copper version.

Using Chore Boy Pure Copper Scrubbers to clean your barrel
Figure 3. Just wrap a piece of the Chore Boy around your brush and scrub out the lead.


To use the Chore Boy copper scrubber, cut off a piece and wrap it around a bore brush. Then scrub your bore as usual. It might be tight and require some force, but that’s okay. That’s how you scrape out the lead. It works effectively.

All photos by the author.

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