Why does the gun barrel have tiny holes?

Variant 1: The quick care in between

Many hunters still believe (and say) that chemical barrel cleaning is actually superfluous or even a shame more than it is useful. That's not true. It may well be that a rifle barrel will last a long time even without maintenance, depending on the quality of the barrel steel and the ammunition used, as well as the conditions in which the weapon is used. But at some point - and in many cases very soon - the accelerated wear caused by insufficient maintenance becomes noticeable: the precision decreases, the functional reliability decreases. In extreme cases, the weapon can only be opened with difficulty after the shot, because the cartridge case seizes in the cartridge chamber covered with tiny rust scars when you eyelid.

After frustrating misses and the often costly troubleshooting, one day the diagnosis is certain: The barrel is so badly damaged by corrosion that a new one has to be found. In any case, this is an expensive affair, and in the case of combined weapons with permanently soldered barrels, it is often an economic total loss. Annoying - especially because the premature aging of the barrel could have been avoided every now and then with a little care, or at least it would have been postponed for a long time even with previously damaged runs.

Regular barrel cleaning contributes to precision, service life and safety.

Pitting corrosion in the barrel due to bullet wear

With every shot, the rifled barrels of handguns and rifles in particular are exposed to enormous loads: the bullet is pressed into the rifles and fields with high pressure. Abrasion from the bullet or the bullet jacket settles in the barrel. The propellant powder burns in the barrel at a high temperature, creating powder residues that react to aggressive substances under the influence of humidity. This already outlines what a barrel cleaning has to do: The aggressive combustion residues must be neutralized and removed, the metal abrasion must be loosened from the barrel.

Because it is precisely the interaction of combustion residues and bullet abrasion that fatally promotes corrosion: the metallic bullet abrasion and the barrel steel form a galvanic element, while humidity acts as a corrosion medium. This leads to the dreaded contact corrosion and ultimately pitting. The acids and salts from the powder residue reinforce and accelerate this process.

How often does the barrel need to be cleaned?

There are widely differing views on how often the barrel of a rifle needs to be cleaned. If you don't want to take any risks and want to safely rule out corrosion in the barrel, you have to carry out a chemical barrel cleaning after each shot and then preserve the barrel. Meticulous shooters who value the highest precision and value retention of their weapons do the same. These clean their barrels after every series of shots, that is, after every hunt or driven hunt block, after every visit to the shooting range or competition.

But before you allow yourself to be discouraged by this high effort and not clean at all, it is better to carry out a quick cleaning in between and a more thorough cleaning only at certain intervals. Depending on the caliber and bullet - rapid calibers and certain types of bullets such as some lead-free solids generate a lot of abrasion - after 20 to 50 rounds, a chemical barrel cleaning is definitely due. This also serves the protection of the shooter, because the lubrication can in extreme cases reduce the barrel cross-section and cause gas pressure increases.

You need: barrel cleaning cord (BoreSnake), gun oil

The more shots are fired without cleaning the barrel, the more stubborn debris burns into the barrel and the more difficult it is to remove. It is therefore advisable to remove at least the coarsest dirt after each hunting session or visit to the shooting range. This can be done quickly and easily with the proven BoreSnake barrel cleaning cord.

A barrel cleaning cord is a kind of combination of a wool wiper and an integrated brush. The BoreSnake fits in every bag and hunting backpack and is very easy to use. Simply pull through two or three times, that's it. However, one should definitely not forego using a little high-quality gun oil. It is sufficient to spray or moisten a section of the BoreSnake with oil before pulling it through. Oil is not conductive and thus prevents or delays electrochemical corrosion. If the barrel cleaning cord is dirty, it is simply put in the washing machine.

Oil shot? Better not!

Instead of using the BoreSnake, the temporary barrel preservation and cleaning can of course also be carried out with a cleaning rod and cleaning felts: Simply remove the smoke with a dry felt, then preserve with an oil-soaked felt. Before the next shot, excess oil should be removed by pulling through a dry cleaning felt or a clean BoreSnake. Liquids cannot be compressed, so tiny oil droplets in the barrel or chamber can lead to dangerous gas pressure jumps and cause microscopic damage in the barrel. Simply shooting out the oil with the so-called "oil shot" should therefore definitely not be done.

You need: cleaning rod with adapter for felts, bronze or brass brush, cleaning felts, gun oil

A bit more thorough than the BoreSnake method is cleaning the barrel with gun oil. This is recommended if, for example, you have fired several shots on a driven hunt and want to preserve the weapon until the next scheduled day of hunting without having to carry out a complete chemical barrel cleaning. To do this, you first push an oil-soaked cleaning felt through the barrel. Depending on the degree of soiling - which can be read from the color of the felt used - stubborn dirt can also be removed with a bronze or brass brush.

Always clean from the chamber to the muzzle

The brushes are generally only guided from the chamber towards the muzzle, never the other way around. Once the brush has left the mouth, it is unscrewed, the cleaning rod pulled out and the brush screwed on again for the next cleaning cycle.

After using the brush, a felt is used again until a satisfactory cleaning result is achieved. Important as I said: Before the next shot, the barrel must be pulled through with a dry felt. Excess oil must also be removed from the cartridge chamber. Toilet paper, for example, is suitable for this.

The brass brush is always pushed from the chamber towards the muzzle - never back and not back and forth.

Mirror-like barrel?

After cleaning the barrel, many hunters check the success of the barrel by holding the barrel up to the light and looking through it. Then they are happy that the barrel looks sparkling clean and as clean as a mirror. But that shouldn't lead you to the wrong conclusion that you don't have to do anything else: What shines there is often only the metallic bullet deposits that have clogged the barrel - and under which the barrel steel rusts cheerfully. You can only tell what the condition of a run is really like through an endoscope or a corresponding inspection camera - and what you see is often quite shocking. If you don't want to let it get that far, you can't avoid regular chemical barrel cleaning.

You need: cleaning rod, adapter for cleaning felts, solvent, gun oil, bronze or brass brushes, kitchen towels, rubber gloves, possibly cleaning rod guide, handgun cleaning rod, spiral grooved rod holder, tow or viscose wadding

Regular dry barrel cleaning is, as I said, difficult to recommend and really not rocket science. As with all manual activities, it is also true here that sensible, high-quality equipment not only makes work easier, it also makes it more enjoyable. The utensils required for professional barrel cleaning do not cost the world, but it takes revenge if you save in the wrong place. This is especially true for the cleaning rod. A sensible cleaning rod is an acquisition for life. A good cleaning rod from VFG, for example, costs around 30 euros and will do its job for a long time without complaint, which cannot be said of its cheap counterpart. So you should make sure that the cleaning rod is stiff enough so that it does not bend when in use and scratch the inside of the barrel. In addition, the cleaning rod must have ball bearings in the handle so that it rotates when felt or brushes are pushed through the barrel. Only in this way can the cleaning agents follow the trains and fields while turning.

Cleaning and workshop boxes with integrated, adjustable weapon holders are a great relief for all care and maintenance work on weapons. This not only means that all cleaning and maintenance utensils are always at hand, but the weapon can also be securely clamped in the holder. This means you have both hands free to work and you don't have to fix the weapon on the table with one hand while you operate the cleaning rod with the other.

Cleaning of self-loading rifles is more complex

Before the actual barrel cleaning, all parts that could be a hindrance to work, such as rifle slings or telescopic sights, are dismantled. In the case of semi-automatic weapons, further dismantling is sometimes necessary before cleaning can be carried out from the chamber - the operating instructions must be observed here. It must then be ensured that the cleaning solvent cannot run into sensitive weapon parts such as the lock or trigger mechanism. In the case of drop barrel rifles, this can easily be ensured by removing the barrel assembly. Even with the Blaser R8, because the trigger group and system can be easily removed. For other weapons, such as classic bolt action rifles, the use of an artificial lock or a cleaning rod guide is recommended.

Now the actual barrel cleaning can begin. Depending on which method you choose, the barrel is foamed with the cleaner for this purpose (Milfoam Forrest) or a first felt is soaked with the solvent (e.g. Robla Solo MIL) and pushed through the barrel. Then it's time to have a cup of coffee or tea, so give the barrel cleaner time to take effect. It can usually continue after ten to 15 minutes. The barrel moistened with Robla Solo MIL should not be left lying around for much longer, otherwise the ammonia contained will evaporate and the remaining water, in combination with organic salts, could cause pitting corrosion. In the case of heavy or firmly burnt-in dirt, however, it makes sense to fill the barrel with solvent and store it in this condition overnight. Nothing can happen here.

Cleaning agents containing ammonia are particularly effective

In the case of the cleaning foam procedure, it is sufficient to wipe the barrel after the treatment; A wafer-thin film remains in the barrel and provides the necessary conservation. This is convenient, but tests have shown that cleaning with solvents that contain ammonia, such as Robla Solo MIL, is more effective. These cleaners have a rather strong smell, so the workplace should be well ventilated. In order not to have to touch the soaked and soiled felts with bare hands, rubber gloves are used.

With the Robla Solo MIL method, the barrel is pulled through with a bronze brush after the exposure time. As I said: Always exclusively from the chamber towards the muzzle! Depending on the degree of soiling, two to three work steps with a bronze or brass brush are sufficient; in the case of stronger and stubborn dirt, the process may have to be repeated several times. Caution: It splatters when the brush is pushed out at the muzzle. It is easiest if you absolutely need to put a newspaper underneath here or put a rag over the mouth.

After the passage with the bronze brush, further felts soaked with Robla Solo MIL follow. Occasionally, care should be taken to wipe off any solvent leaking at the mouth with a cloth. If the reaction time is very long, the solvent could otherwise attack the browning. Gradually, the characteristic blue coloration of the felts, which is caused by dissolved metal salts from the bullet abrasion, becomes lighter and lighter after the barrel has passed through the barrel. If no discoloration or hardly any discoloration can be seen, the crucial part of the barrel cleaning is over: The metal smear has dissolved and removed.

After the chemical cleaning, the barrel must be preserved with gun oil.

Preserve after cleaning

Excess solvent and residues of the loosened dirt must now be removed from the barrel. This can be done by pulling some dry cleaning felts through it. It is more thorough to rinse the barrel with water or, if necessary, brake cleaner. Then the barrel is dried with one or two dry felts. The barrel must then be preserved by pulling a felt soaked in high-quality gun oil through the barrel.

The cleaning and preservation of the cartridge chamber is often neglected, which can lead to corrosion damage in this area. A handgun cleaning rod in conjunction with a spiral groove holder is well suited for cleaning the chamber. Tow or viscose wadding is wrapped around the tow holder so that a plug is created that matches the diameter of the cartridge chamber. This is soaked in gun oil and the chamber is carefully cleaned. A little barrel cleaning paste helps with heavy soiling. The cartridge chamber must then also be preserved with oil and must be de-oiled before the weapon is used again.

Store the cleaned weapon with the barrel down

To finish cleaning the barrel, it is advisable to rub the outside of the barrel with a cloth soaked in gun oil. Occasionally, the locking lugs and the lock should also be checked and, if necessary, cleaned and given a light film of oil. In this way, the weapon can be cleaned, cared for and preserved in the gun cabinet - ideally with the barrel facing down so that excess gun oil does not run into the system or the trigger. In order not to damage the sensitive muzzle, a piece of foam rubber with some kitchen paper to absorb the oil is placed on the bottom of the gun cabinet.

Shotgun barrels should also be cleaned and preserved regularly. The cleaning procedure is basically the same as with rifles, except that there are cleaning sticks, brushes and cleaning felts that are suitable for the barrel diameter.

Don't forget: Before using the gun again, remove the excess gun oil from the barrel with a dry felt and also wipe the cartridge chamber again, for example with toilet paper. The remaining thin film of oil is harmless, does not impair precision and preserves the weapon, which you will enjoy for a long time in this way.

Everything for gun care