To Clean or Not To Clean


May 17, 2003, 06:13 PM
I was wondering how everyone treated their .22 rim fires. A question in the new American Rifleman got me thinking. They suggested that a .22's barrel should not be cleaned unless there was an obvious build up affecting accuracy. I'm one of those anal retentive types who rush home from the range afraid the gun will rust into a pile of dust before I get home to clean it. However, my father has had a Marlin 39 since before I was born and I don't think he even owns a .22 cleaning rod. When the extraction gets a little sticky, he'll run a bent pipe cleaner into the chamber a few times, but that's it. That 39 will shoot circles around any 22 I've ever seen. Maybe it's time to change my ways.

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Big Iron
May 17, 2003, 06:23 PM
You're supposed to clean them?

I have a Marlin model 60 that tells me when it's time. As soon as it stops extracting, I clean it. Clean the action with CLP and run a bore snake with CLP through the bore a couple times and VOILA! New rifle again.

May 17, 2003, 07:02 PM
When i clean my Ruger 10/22 barrel (I clean the receiver every time), i use a piece of weedwacker cord, with a 1/2 patch on the end.. I just use lead/copper solvent.. One soaked patch, wait 1 min, i soaked patch 10 times, two dry patches. Repeat untill last dry patch comes out clean, and it usually does the first time.

I typically only clean the bore when im changing ammo types.

Sir Galahad
May 17, 2003, 07:30 PM
This is one of those "Urban Legends" of the gun world that says that somehow cleaning the weapon is going to "damage it". Malarky. I have a Remington 513T stamped "U.S. Property" and made in the 1940s, so you can bet it was cleaned with a bore brush before it was put back in the armory after shooting it for however many decades they had it. This rifle will make a pea-sized group at 25 yards all day without any problem or any rest more than a rolled-up towel on my Jeep hood. American Rifleman has printed some whoppers as "truth" before, including a documented Urban Legend about animal rights activists putting orange vests on deer to keep them from being shot. For one thing, the author does not offer any tangible sources for his information. Or scientific information. It's his opinion based on the sayings of two guys, one of whom is not even named. Clean your .22.

May 17, 2003, 07:59 PM
Aparently Volquartsen(sp!) believes it enough for it to void your warrenty if you clean your barrel with a metal brush.

Sir Galahad
May 17, 2003, 08:26 PM
Volquartson probably does it to protect against replacing barrels scored by a bent metal twist that secures the bristles on brushes. It takes five minutes to clean a .22 with just patches and Hoppe's. Five minutes. A patch is never going to ruin a bore. If a person cannot spare five minutes to properly take care of a weapon, he ought to take up billiards. Cleaning the bore with patches cannot hurt it, so where is the point in not cleaning it? As I said, my Remington 513T has been cleaned for decades and is still more accurate than most off-the-shelf .22s on the market.

Again, the author of that American Rifleman article needs to provide scientific proof for what he says. He needs to prove that what he says is correct. Otherwise, the article is just more of the same pulp pablum that American Rifleman is starting to get chock-full of these days. Some of the things I've read in that almost-rag make me think: What planet is this guy on??? :rolleyes:

Art Eatman
May 17, 2003, 08:28 PM
Seems to me that unless you're dealing with high humidity, you don't need to do a lot of cleaning beyond keeping just enough oil on the outside so your sweaty little fingers don't cause a rust problem.

"Innards"? Sure, when there's any sort of noticeable burnt-powder buildup in the receiver. Barrel? Sure, from time to time, just on general principles. For absolute sure if you're concerned about lead buildup in the forward end of the chamber or in the barrel. I'd definitely clean a target rifle more often than a plinker.

Almost all .22 rimfire ammo has grease on the bullet, so barrel rust isn't a problem.

If I start with a clean rifle and only fire five or ten rounds, I'll oil the outside. But, after two or four boxes' worth of shooting, I'll be far more thorough.

:), Art

May 17, 2003, 08:39 PM
I do a super quick FP10 wipe down and I run a bore snake through mine twice almost everytime I shoot it. If I've just grabbed it to do something, I don't worry about it but if I put 100 or 200 rounds through it, I clean it pretty quick.

For guys that take a rifle out into the field and put 5 rounds through it actually hunting then take it home and run a brush through it 15 times with bore solvent and 5 patches... I'm sure the actual shooting of the gun only accounts for 2% of the total wear. :p

Up until the day before yesterday, I honestly probably shoot 10 times as much 22 Magnum as 22LR (in rifles) and the magnum with its low velocity solid copper plating is very clean shooting. I'd imagine it would take a LOT of rounds to affect accuracy. Usually after putting 50 rounds of Winchester Supremes through it, you can look down the bore and clearly see where the powder is... With a 22LR and lead bullets, after 100 rounds or so, a lot of the bore looks pretty dirty. At least with the ammo I shoot.

May 17, 2003, 08:48 PM
It is the improper use of cleaning rods. Not using a bore guide. muzzle guard, and the mixing of , experimenting with cleaning solvents/oils/degreasers and just being too over zealous that shortens bbl life.

I worry more about the high humidity, the chambers, extractors -than anything else. Your better finished out bores ( like Volq. ) have a very high finished inside don't need to clean with anything other than a patch...because the lead is less likely to build up --as opposed to a run of the mill bbl. Even the chamber and leade is better finished out. Same on many centerfire.

When accuracy falls off, exposed to rain,,,mud , snow...Ok. But this fire 5 shots and spend and hour to clean is not needed. Besides the POA/POI --in my experience --is off, I need fouling shots to get it back right.

I really think we need to go back to having only solvent available, machine oil and a "thong"...less mucked up bbls --IMO-- Maybe people would be better shots if they spent more $ on ammo than cleaning supplies-again IMO.

May 17, 2003, 08:55 PM
I usually clean my .22s every 550 rounds. Why that number you ask ? Because that is one of those cartons of ammo you buy from Wal Mart. But I don't clean them at that point because I think they need cleaned. I clean them at that point because I usually put them away for several months or possibly a year before I fire them again. I own a number of .22s. Probably a dozen easily. And I don't shoot them all that much unfortunately. My interests vary a great deal. So, I usually take one gun out of the safe and shoot it until my interest changes or I get tired of it. I then clean it, and return it to the safe until the mood strikes me again. With .22s I realize that they greatly increase my skill level because it is easy and cheap to shoot a lot of ammo through one. So, I usually open a fresh box of .22s and shoot that particular gun until they are gone. Then move on to something else.

I do believe that guns are damaged by incorrect cleaning. When cleaning a .22, I either use the weedeater line, or a bore snake. After years of experience, I am conviced that not cleaning a .22 until it malfunctions, doesn't hurt it in the least.

May 17, 2003, 09:05 PM
I'm very picky about my guns, more so with rifles. I don't mind spending a great deal of time cleaning and caring for a weapon after firing. Primary reason is to enhance function and reliability.

However, urban legend or not, all my 22s shoot a lot (LOT!) better when the bore is dirty. On those rare occasions when I clean the bore, say if they'll be sitting unused for a while, it always takes ten or so rounds before they shoot well. All my 22s shoot very well.

After firing, I clean/oil the moving parts and receiver, but only run a dry boresnake slowly down the pipe once to knock out the loose crud. No fouling shots for this kid.

Sir Galahad
May 17, 2003, 11:02 PM
I clean ALL my weapons after I shoot them. Period. If they're clean, I know they're not going to malfunction because of something I did. It takes 5 minutes to clean the bore on my .22s. All my firearms look brand new. My Ruger International .308 looks new and it's already had hundreds and hundreds of rounds through it. Color me overprotective, but this is my philosophy and I've never had a function failure on any of my weapons. I don't go scrubbing the bore, but I do make sure it is clean and shiny.

Before I put a firearm away, I clean it and oil where needed whether I shot 1 or 1,000 rounds through it. I inspect weapon for any damaged or broken parts. Worn parts can be found while cleaning and replaced before they break and possibly break another part collaterally. You can't tell a worn or cracked part if it's caked with crap.

Before I put my bow away, I wipe it down, inspect the string and ensure it is lightly waxed, and inspect the limbs for any cracks or chrysals. I wipe down my arrows and inspect the fletching and remove arrows with damaged fletching for refletching. I inspect arrows for straightness and any damage.

Before I put an edged weapon away, I make sure it is sharp, and sharpen if not. I inspect for rust and lightly wipe down metal with an oiled cloth. I inspect the hilt and handle to ensure they are tightly fastened and nt loose. I inspect the sheath for any wear or damage.

If I ever need any of these weapons for any reason, they are ready to go and I know that they are well maintained. If for some SHTF reason I have to get the heck out of Dodge, I can grab them and know that they are good to go. I have no questions in my mind about them. But that's just me...

May 17, 2003, 11:05 PM
I like to keep all my edged weapons tarnished, not from neglect! No, I feel that the possibility of inflecting the torment of TETNUS on my enemies is worth a rusty weapon! :evil:

Sir Galahad
May 17, 2003, 11:10 PM
Shai, if I have to defend myself with an edged weapon, my opponent will not have time to die of tenanus.:evil:

May 17, 2003, 11:10 PM
Really though, I'm much like you Galahad. I always clean my firearms after firing them. Every gun is dis-assembled, scrubbed with a hoppes-soaked nylon brush and then oiled where appropriate (I use no oil on my SS 10/22, seems to function better).

Parts like guide rods with recoil springs (10/22 and Glock 22) are liberally blasted with gunscrubber. Dental tools come out if there are any nooks with gunk in them.

To me, the dicipline of throughly cleaning my weapons after using them makes firing them all the more sweet. Kind of like yin/yang, pleasure/pain. I'm a sick man, arent I?


Sir Galahad
May 17, 2003, 11:16 PM
I find that cleaning firearms is best done while listening to Mozart. Helps you to pay attention to all the intricacies of the parts and their function.

May 17, 2003, 11:16 PM
I like Ludwig Van :p

May 17, 2003, 11:33 PM
Yu have a good attitude, Shai; I wish I could say I did the same as you.

I don'y think the .22 rimfire needs much bore cleaning, but all kinds of stuff cakes up in the action, and should be removed to ensure proper function; and any mechanism with moving parts should be lubricated.

A couple of years ago one of my Colt Gov't models JAMMED big-time; slide wouldn't move. I stopped by the gunsmith with it, and was amazed to see how he detail-stripped the gun in no time. A bit of cleaning, and the gun worked perfectly upon reassembly. I was required to promise that I'd detail strip and clean the gun at leasst every 5000 rounds in the future. Actually, I'm doing a bit better than that...


May 17, 2003, 11:35 PM
Yeah the 10/22 action gets VILE in less than 100 rounds. *shudder*

AND its the hardest one to clean, just due to its geometry.:rolleyes:

I dont even use powder solvent (No. 9) on the bore anymore, just lead/copper solvent.. The kind in the black container, cant remember brand. Anyone else just use that that on bore?

May 18, 2003, 12:59 AM
If there is a chance it's dirty, I clean it.

May 19, 2003, 03:17 AM
I clean after several hundred rounds, or when switching ammo, not a minute sooner.

I've done it both ways enough to know that the anal-cleaning after 10 shots doesn't protect the bore or help it's accuracy, so I found no point in doing I had to wait through 10 fouling shots before the gun got accurate again, which is not convenient if you're shooting in a match.

May 19, 2003, 08:22 AM
.22--boresnake, no brush, all you need. Clean the action all the time. Don't use oil, use drilube. I never oil .22's anymore. Except CLP on the outside to prevent rust.

May 19, 2003, 12:11 PM
I don't clean .22 rimfire barrels unless the gun gets wet, either from rain or condensation usually caused from bringing the gun from the air-conditioned house or car out into a hot humid environment. .22 ammo does not harm the bore, in fact, it leaves a wax residue that protects it. Unless there is a flaw or damage in the bore that scrapes the bullets, there is no lead buildup. Not cleaning the barrels unnecessarily eliminates the need for fouling shots to return the bore to the condition where it will shoot accurately and eliminates the possibility of damaging the crown, bore or throat through the slip of a cleaning rod. When I do clean .22 RF barrels, I use a BoreSnake.If people prefer to clean their .22 barrels, they should certainly do so but 25 years of experience have proven to me that it is not necessary.

Actions are a different story. In blowback autos and almost all .22 autos are blowback, the bolt starts back as soon as the bullet starts moving down the barrel. Blowback actions let powder gas into the action and powder residue combined with an occasional flake of unburned powder, and a little left over bullet lube plus a little lube in the action itself makes a gray "mud" that builds up during firing and will eventually clog up the action. Obviously this has to be cleaned out. I clean the actions every 200 rounds or so with Shooter's Choice of Hoppes and this seems to work fine. The action crud is much less of a problem with bolt and lever guns since the breech is locked during firing and much less crud bearing gas gets back into the action.


I hope that the stuff in the black bottle is Break Free and not Sweets 7.62. Sweets is an aggressive copper solvent that is useful in the case of stubborn copper fouling in centerfire rifles. It contains ammonia. While it is very effective in its work, it will corrode steel unless every speck of it is removed as the cleaning is completed. There is nothing generated in the firing of .22RF ammo that requires so strong a solvent and it carries the danger of corrosion unless completely removed.


Steve Smith
May 19, 2003, 12:37 PM
Just this week that I should be cleaning my .22 every time I shoot it, AND use a brush. He especialy liked the military .223 brass brushes. Just be careful, of course.

Go ahead, contradict Lones. I won't.

May 19, 2003, 02:20 PM

I have the utmost respect for Lones Wigger as well as yourself. However, I don't understand what it is in .22RF barrels that the brass brush is supposed to clean out. There is obviously no copper fouling and, with a smooth barrel, there is no leading to speak of. Regular solvents will dissolve the powder residue and the bullet wax. I am not trying to stir things up but I really do not understand the brush.


Steve Smith
May 19, 2003, 02:34 PM
Neither do I, honestly. What I figure I'll do is start cleaning mine (something I hadn't done) and occasionally use a brush to scour the inside edges of the rifling and the throat. Lones has decided to do that for whatever reason, and it obviously works for him. Sometimes you take something away from guys like that and try it yourself, just to see. Often it works.

May 19, 2003, 03:30 PM
Consider that no match .22 ammo is copperwashed.

I don't shoot copperwashed ammo in my .22s. (I shoot CCI Blazer and Wolf Match Target mostly.) Even if you do, it is extremely unlikely that there is any copper buildup in your barrel.

So why use an ammoniated cleaner like Hoppes?

I do not do so anymore, and recommend that shooters reexamine the need for ammoniated cleaners. A mixture of paint thinner and kroil works great for initial cleanup, followed by final cleaning and lube with FP-10.

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