How do you clean your muzzleloaders?


July 29, 2008, 07:14 PM
The only muzzleloading rifle I have is an old T/C Hawken I built a long time ago. It has a barrel with a lugged breechplug that pops out of the tang for cleaning.

So, I always just put the breech end in a bucket of hot water and Hoppes BP solvent/patch lube or something, and pumped a few patches through it. It gets it clean quickly and thoroughly. I've done the same with some pistols.

How do you clean a nice rifle, without the modern barrel modification?

What other tricks can you share?:)

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July 29, 2008, 07:24 PM
Soapy water is the best thing to clean them. If you have a hooked breech and can remove the barrel, that is the way. Only thing I could add is to run a ~30 to 38 cal brass brush (whatever fits for your caliber rifle) with a patch on it into the patent breech to get that powder chamber clean and dry. The last things I do after running patches through is to run a few through with alcohol to make sure I get things dry. Then a light coating of your favorite oil -- olive oil, ballistol, wonderlube, etc...
For barrels that are pinned to the stock, I remove the nipple or vent and screw in a fitting with a piece of plastic tubing. The end of the tubing goes into the bucket of soapy water and then everything else goes the same. That way you don't get the stock wet. If you prefer not to remove the vent liner (flintlock), there are devices available that clamp a piece of tubing over the vent hole so you can clean it in that manner. It just goes a little slower since the water has to be flushed out through a small hole, typically 1/16 to 5/64 of an inch in diameter.
I also remove the lock and clean that as well. Residue can end up in there and cause corrosion over the long haul.
Finally before re-installing the vent liner or nipple, I run a pipe cleaner in there to make sure things are clean. Also clean out the nipple or vent liner. A touch of never-seize on the threads and then carefully put them back.

July 29, 2008, 07:38 PM
Remove the tang bolt and proceed as you do.

July 29, 2008, 08:04 PM
I generally just use the hot water. If you are going to be shooting for several days in a row,wet patches on a cleaning jag will clean the fouling, takes several until they are running clean, then swab the barrel with a couple of lubricated patchs and wipe down.

For a thorough cleaning, remove the barrel. Unscrew the nipple if it is a cap lock. Submerge the rear of the barrel in the hot water. Put a wet patch on the cleaning jag and as you push and pull the ramrod up and down in the barrel you will see a jet of water flow in and out of the touch hole (or where you unscrewed the nipple). When the water is clear, your barrel is clean. Dry out the water and lubricate.

Don't forget to clean your nipple and the lock. "Ditto" the pipe cleaners.

Best lubricant I have found is GIBBs Brand. It is an alcohol based lubricant that really works well. Displaces water and you can't hardly get metal to rust
with in on it.

An old timer told me years ago that smoke poles were designed around natural products. Use pure lard to grease your patching and in time your barrel will season like a cast iron skillet. I stopped using soapy water after that and have aways had good luck with just hot water. Whether or not the barrel really seasons or not? I don't know, but it sure seems to work.

Good shooting

July 29, 2008, 09:09 PM
If you have one of the more traditional looking muzzleloaders, how do you get the barrel off of the stock for cleaning?

July 29, 2008, 09:19 PM
You don't. It is cleaned in place if there are pins to be removed. Removing pins (not wedges) is a good way to damage a gun.

WNC Seabee
July 29, 2008, 09:22 PM
I've got a very traditional flintlock. Kentucky rifle style. My barrel attaches to the stock via 2 pins that go through the fore stock and then through a slot on the bottom of the barrel.

At the breech end there is a "hook" at the end of the barrel, behind the frizzen that connects the tang mounted to the stock.

I'll post pictures if you need.

Just knock the pins out and lift the barrel off.

WNC Seabee
July 29, 2008, 09:25 PM
I see OldNamvet and I were typing contradicting posts at the same time...

I prefer to remove my barrel for a complete cleaning. I put the barrel in a bucket of warm soapy water and run several patches through the barrel. The patches will seal to the barrel and suck water/soap up through the touch hole. You can get a really good scrubbing in this way.

Of course, when I'm done it's plenty more patches 'til everything is dry, then a good coat of oil.

Removing the barrel also lets me get a q-tip into the lock.

July 29, 2008, 10:18 PM
I have always (well, for the last 30 years, anyway) completely removed the barrels - pins, tang bolts and all - from the stocks for cleaning in hot soapy water. I have yet to incur damage.

July 29, 2008, 11:51 PM
I do mine pretty much like y'all, except instead of a bucket of water I use the toilet. One flush and you've got clean rinse water. I do clean the toilet first.;-)
Then I pour hot water through the barrel to heat it up for drying.

July 30, 2008, 12:05 AM
for my non traditional in line. i take off the whole barrel. turn on the water in the bath tub. soap it all up. run patches through it. or even better i just wad up some papertowels and push them through until they come out clean. but the warm water and soap help out a lot. a tooth brush for the breach part helps. then i take it out as fast as i can leaving the door closed and the fan on and get out of the house before my wife figures out what i just did. As the smell will be in the bathroom for at least a good half an hour.

July 30, 2008, 12:09 AM
When you say "pin" do you mean a barrel wedge (which goes through brass-reinforced slots in the stock) or actual pins, which are pressed through holes in the wood?

July 30, 2008, 07:31 AM
Actual pins. Short pieces of thick wire. There are 2 on my Kentucky rifle, same diameter as one of my brass punches; they are tight and it takes careful tapping with a small hammer on the punch to get them to move.

July 30, 2008, 08:18 AM
When I clean my long rifles with barrels pinned in ( full Stocks) ..I put a piece of small fuel hose on the nipple so the water doesn`t run down the stock about a 6 inch piece ..then I proceed to clean with warm water soaked patches , about 4 wet patches and she`s clean ..then I run a dry patch ..remove the nipple and clean , oil her up and she`s ready for the next shoot . It`s not a good Idea to take the barrel off a custom made full stock rifle , the wood is thin in the forearm , and there would be a risk of breaking or cracking it ..not to mention the pins would get loose from removeing the barrel . I`ve seen some tubeing sold that has a threaded end you can screw into the nipple ..I think Dixiegunworks has these ...but I use weedeater fuel hose works well too.

July 30, 2008, 08:22 AM
How do you guys clean the nipples?

I've used an ultrasonic cleaner, but of course they didn't have those in the 19th Century.

July 30, 2008, 08:39 AM
Hot water and pipe cleaners, an old tooth brush for the outside, dry them good and my personal preference is Gibbs for lubing - alcohol evaporates and leaves a synthetic film for rust preventative.

July 30, 2008, 11:34 AM
What about Thompson's water sealent for the stocks if you have a plain kind of wood?

July 30, 2008, 12:29 PM
What about Thompson's water sealent for the stocks if you have a plain kind of wood?

I tend to use B/C Tru-Oil inside and out. I just don't rub the inside of a stock/grip.

July 30, 2008, 10:55 PM
Finish both the visible stock and the inside (inletting, under butt plate, barrel channel, everywhere) Those unseen areas can rot easily if water gets in.

Tru-oil, tung oil, boiled linseed oil. NOT Thompson's water sealer.

August 2, 2008, 11:42 PM
FYI, the Hook breech used by T/C et Al. taint "modern", you'll find them on Hawkens made by the original Hawken Shop in the early 19th century among other manufacturers... ;)

I happen to belong to the remove the barrel school since I bought my TC in '76 and began making my own replicas, but fer folks that are leery of barrel removal a simple piece of gum rubber tubing that fits on the nipple with the other end in a pan of water works equally as well and does a fine job of cleaning the innards of the nipple while one is "pumping the water". For a field clean, moose milk (AKA soluble oil) and 1/2 dozen patches does a passable job.

Know of a few folks in the BPCR venue that use windex with vinegar fore their cleaning chore, havent tried it as I kinda like my Murphy's oil soap and HOT water, rinse followed by a lightly oiled patch myself.

Keep yer powder dry,

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