Rifleman Q & A: Grimy Little Bullets

posted on May 12, 2017

Q: After speaking to the top shooters in my group of friends about bore cleaning, I’ve learned that there are differing views. One cleans his rifle after every use. The other two clean only sporadically, on the theory that if the bore is cleaned it needs to get dirty again before it shoots consistently. Of the two that don’t clean, one shoots only moly-coated bullets. We shoot both .22 rimfire and center-fire. Which, if either, of these practices is correct?

A: As you have found, there is no unanimity regarding this subject. Quality .22 rimfire bores firing quality ammunition may truly never need to be cleaned. The only reason requiring cleaning is a build-up of lead fouling. A dry bore can cause even the best barrels to foul with quality ammunition, so be sure to oil a clean bore.

Jacket fouling in a center-fire bore is inevitable, and significant jacket fouling predictably degrades accuracy. Obviously some competition rifles may have to fire 100 or more rounds without cleaning. And varmint shooters fire hundreds of rounds in a day, seldom stopping to clean. Jacket fouling rarely removes itself. On the other hand, if a well-made barrel shows no tendency toward copper fouling, and accuracy does not degrade from shooting session to shooting session, then frequent scrubbing is not warranted.

One final note: Any anticipated extended storage period should be preceded by a cleaning and oiling, for purposes of preservation.

—John Treakle


I Have This Old Gun Gallager Carbine Civil War 2
I Have This Old Gun Gallager Carbine Civil War 2

I Have This Old Gun: Gallager Carbine

The Gallager carbine is one of the American Civil War's lesser-known cavalry arms, but it still used a unique design that allowed it to adapt to the metallic cartridge era that followed.

New For 2024: Heritage Mfg. Roscoe Revolver

Inspired by the classic snub-nose revolvers of yesteryear, the new Heritage Mfg. Roscoe is the company's first centerfire revolver.

2024 Pioneer Award: Brandon L. Maddox, Founder/CEO Silencer Central

Silencer Central Founder and CEO Brandon Maddox revolutionized the suppressor-buying industry, and his efforts have spurred greater suppressor ownership in the United States.

Review: Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical

The Beretta APX A1 Tactical is a second-generation iteration (available in both Full Size and Compact versions) of the company’s APX pistol line that launched in 2017.

Favorite Firearms: Garand Memories of World War II

From the pages of June 2024's American Rifleman, read about NRA member Roy Seifert and his M1 Garand.

Project ChildSafe Program Celebrates 25 Years

Project ChildSafe has raised awareness about safely handling and securely storing firearms when they are not in use, along with educating children about firearm safety.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.