How Often Should You Clean Your Smallbore Rifle?

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posted on December 11, 2019
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From the vault: Smallbore rifle cleaning advice plus an anecdote from the late, great Lones Wigger. As transcribed from a 1984 NRA Silhouette Championship seminar where Mr. Wigger was a panelist.


Cleaning Your Rifle
By Lones Wigger

I feel very strongly about cleaning a smallbore rifle. I have, on several different occasions, had it proven to me that when a barrel fouls and started to lead, it will lose accuracy. After you have cleaned that barrel with a brush, solvent and patches, you can lie back down, shoot a couple of fouling rounds and immediately shoot the small groups you should be shooting.

How often should you clean your rifle?
I think you should clean the gun after you shoot a box of ammunition. It probably doesn't need to be cleaned any more often than that. Some barrels seem to take longer to lead than others, and you can get by for a longer time before you lose accuracy. I prefer not to take chances so I clean regularly.

The lesson was once again proven to me at a small match I shot in preparation for Camp Perry. When I started shooting unacceptable groups at 100 yards, I got up, cleaned the rifle, and returned to shoot two tight 10-X groups, about a third of the size of the groups I had been shooting. That's pretty convincing evidence that barrels need to be cleaned.

Do you use a brass or nylon brush?
A bronze or brass brush is fine, but do not use steel. For a period of time, I thought you shouldn't use a brush because it might damage the barrel. Pat McMillan, the barrel maker, told me that benchrest shooters used a brass brush and that you can brush a barrel all day long without hurting it. At that point, I began to use a brush again.

This Anschutz cleaning kit (#011604) includes a brass brush and cleaning rod with PVC handle.


Lead photo courtesy of Anschutz North America.


See more: How Often Should You Clean Your Air Gun?

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