Should you really not clean .22 bores?


August 3, 2004, 02:35 AM
I hear from time to time that cleaning a .22 rimfire bore is somehow bad for it.

Is this true?

Is it because of the cleaning rod?

Finally, how about bore snakes?

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August 3, 2004, 03:47 AM
IIRC, it has to do with the wear from the cleaning rod and the relatively stiff bristles on the .22 calibre brush. Try getting a one-piece rod and just use solvent and patches to wipe out what fouling accumulates. Use the brush just for the more stubborn stuff, not every time.

August 3, 2004, 04:02 AM
the lube on the outside of .22lr bullets, when deposited in the bore while firing, protects and "seasons" the bore. you can shoot tens of thousands of rounds through an otherwise cleaned gun and never have a problem. cleaning the bore just causes uneeded wear and tear.

at least that is what my old smallbore shooting/ROTC instructor taught us. he almost went ballistic when a team member started to clean the bore of his remington 40X between matches.

i just push a patch through the bore to get out loose powder/lube flakes after shooting.. it seems to have worked fine for the last 30 years.

cracked butt
August 3, 2004, 05:58 AM
Unless the accuracy drops off, don't clean it. IE if it ain't broken ,don't fix it. Like mentioned above, the bullet lube will protect the bore from corrosion.

August 3, 2004, 07:41 AM
I clean my .22 bores. :uhoh:

Seriously, it gets dirty in there, and I shoot pretty much exclusively bulk pack hollowpoints, not the stuff with round-nosed lead bullets.

I don't see how a bronze bore brush, carefully pulled through from chamber to muzzle, gives the barrel any more "wear and tear" than a .22 high-velocity round. I do it a couple of times to loosen everything up, then follow with patches.

August 3, 2004, 08:25 AM
I usually run one solvent patch and the rest dry. Never takes more than six or so, even after shooting over 500 rounds in a day.

August 3, 2004, 08:33 AM
As mentioned before - target shooters will typically only clean a gun once a season or if the accuracy goes to heck. After you clean it, expect to have to shoot 100+ rounds to get the accuracy back to normal.

This is true for expensive bolt action target rifles. If you have a run-of-the-mill gun or semi-auto, more frequent cleanings may be in order just to keep teh mechanics running.


August 3, 2004, 08:38 AM
Interesting stuff.

I guess my dad had a point by never cleaning his guns. That said he NEVER washes his vehicles either. "That's what paint is for.":)

August 3, 2004, 09:10 AM
We all (well, most of us, anyway) know how anal-retentive military organizations can be about cleaning things.

However, during my service with the Canadian Army many years ago, the manual for the .22-caliber C#7 Rifle, a .22 version of the #4 Enfield, stated:

"Bores will be cleaned annually, for inspection purposes only." Good enough for me!

YES, clean the action and chamber for good functioning, but leave the bore alone unless it gets wet or fouled with some foreign substance. The "conditioning" which is established by firing a considerable number of rounds is a valuable component in accuracy results. Also, as mentioned above, aggressive cleaning methods can affect the soft steel used in most .22 barrels.

August 3, 2004, 09:42 AM
The rimfire benchrest shooters I've met clean their bores. I suppose they don't want to take a chance on the accuracy dropping off in the middle of a target. I'm less inclined to brush a target-grade barrel than a factory barrel. John

August 3, 2004, 10:06 AM
How does the don't clean the bore school of thought do with regards to using different ammo? I don't shoot all lead bullets through my .22, I shoot everything from wolf match target to CCI mini-mags to wally world bulk pack. I doubt they all use the same lube.

Or does it not matter if one switches between ammo types?

August 3, 2004, 11:01 AM
First my Dad taught me to clean my weapons after each use. Then the military taught me to clean my weapons at every opportunity.

Those habits were ingrained in me for many, many years.

That said I no longer clean .22 Rimfire bores after each firing. WHY? Because I noticed that after cleaning it would take at least 10 rounds thru the weapon before the scope zero would come back. Not being too detail oriented I would always be playing with the zero for a while each time I took the rifle out. Then I noticed (after being lazy one day and just skipping cleaning) if I didn't clean the bore that I didn't have to re-zero.

It took a while for that to sink in - really - it did. I've tested the theory many times. Now I just don't clean a .22 Rimfire bore. I still feel guilty about it (really - it makes me feel wierd - darned Army and its training) but I just deal with it and the feeling goes away after a few days.

I still clean the bores on all my other weapons though I suppose the same would be true for them as a .22 (except for copper wash I guess).

August 3, 2004, 11:35 AM
I clean my 22s after 250-300 rounds. I use a nylon brush and some solvent ( RB-17 ) followed by patches. If I shoot more than 300 in a day than it is cleaned at the end of the day. If worried about fouling shots being needed to regain zero. just crack off 10 shots into the berm first. 22 is the cheapest firearm to shoot so waisting 10 shots shouldnt be a big deal. with my centerfires target shooting I usualy shoot 2 in the berm before going for groups. the rifleing is on the thin side on most 22 firearms so I only use bronze brushes for troubled bores and never touch the stainless steel.

August 3, 2004, 12:01 PM
This question often comes up and from the replies my previous post are confirmed.

I would suspect cleaning does more damage to .22s than actual firing. I do know repeated cleaning with a bore brush will bring out more gray stuff often confused with fouling. That’s steel. I no longer clean my guns like I was taught in the service because I don't have a full time armorer at my service. The last club I belonged to shot .22’s for 15 years in hunter safety and Youth Fest WOT NRA days. The only difference was we never cleaned them. I got together with people two years ago and did finally clean them but we didn’t overdo it with a brush. They all shoot great. I didn’t think it was possible to shoot out a .22 rimfire but I may be wrong.

August 3, 2004, 12:05 PM
I own a John Norrell 10/22 full auto conversion. It sees a LOT of rounds downrange - maybe 10-15k annually. While I have to clean it every 800-1000 rounds, I only run a boresnake through the barrel - no solvent. Works for me.

August 3, 2004, 12:13 PM
Just curious, but how frequently should the bores be cleaned in centerfire rifles and handguns, shooting jacketed bullets? What about shotguns?

August 3, 2004, 04:19 PM
Allthough I don't normally clean my .22's a lot I did find an exception. About a year ago I bought a Savage-Anshcultz for $80 from a serious shooter. He told me up front that the bore was worn out. One inch at 50yds was the best it would do. I cleaned the barrel and, on a whim, ran the Foulout unit in it. In 10 minutes the short light lit and the rod was caked with lead. Finished it off and ran a couple of patches down it. It now shoots one hole groups at 50yds.

Maybe a rough barrel? I don't know , never seen or heard of a .22 leading the bore before or since. Now I know it can happen.

Standing Wolf
August 3, 2004, 04:30 PM
Clean guns are happy guns. Happy guns shoot better.

August 3, 2004, 07:09 PM
I will pull a bore snake through my tricked out 10/22 about once a brick.

August 3, 2004, 07:24 PM
One point I haven't seen mentioned is, what is the point of cleaning a gun ?
I can think of several: improve accuracy, improve funciton, to provide protection from rust and corosion.
So when you clean you .22LR, what is the reason you are cleaning it ? Is it malfunctioning ? Have you noticed a drop off in accuracy ? Are you having a problem with rust ?
If so, there is a valid reason for cleaning it.
If you don't have a good reason for cleaning it, then why are you doing it ?

In my .22s I clean them when I have a reason to do so. This almost always means that it is one of my semi-autos and I am starting to have malfunctions. Otherwise I leave them alone. If they continue to funciton and shoot accurately then there is no reason for me to clean them. Rust is not an issue for me as I live in the desert.
I have bolt action .22s that I have never cleaned. I had a Remington Nylon 66 when I was growing up that I shot over 10,000 rounds of ammuntion in and never cleaned it once (my dad bought me two cases of ammo, so I have a pretty good idea of how many rounds were fired). In my .22 revolvers, I usually clean them after 550 rounds. This isn't because they need cleaned, but I might only shoot 550 rounds out of them in a year's time (I have a number of them). So, since I am going to return them to the safe for maybe a year, I clean them. Most of my autoloaders begin to malfuction after several thousand rounds, so I clean them.
I personally don't see any reason to ever clean the bore. Note that most shooters consider cleaning the bore to be cleaning the gun. When the subject of cleaning comes up, they immediately think about running patches and brushes therough the bore. I consider that action on a semi-auto to be FAR more important than cleaning the bore and this includes centerfire semi-autos.

August 3, 2004, 08:14 PM
This thread is just blowing my mind.

I thought that leaving gunk and lead in a barrel is bad for it?

Shouldn't you get that stuff out of there before it causes rust or corrosion, or something?

Please enlighten me.

Oh yeah, and what about centerfire weapons?

August 3, 2004, 10:46 PM
I have several .22's,after about 2-300 rds....I just pull a bore snake through the tube and call it done.

August 3, 2004, 11:08 PM
I very rarely run a rod down a rimfire bore and only clean the actions when they start to get really gunked up.

If it's hurting my accuracy, I can't tell it. I keep winning the gun club matches...

When I DO decide to clean the bores I NEVER use a bore brush on a rimfire.

August 3, 2004, 11:28 PM
I stopped cleaning my .22 barrels because I was noticing the groups got worse after the barrel was clean. I do clean the action of my semi-auto .22s. If I ever clean my barrels I use this:

The patchworm from 20/20 concepts. I run one wet patch and then one dry patch. For my Volquartsen THM barrel, the instructions said DO NOT use a brush.

August 4, 2004, 02:29 AM
I guess my dad had a point by never cleaning his guns.

Heh, we're just talking about .22s here, not all guns.

That being said, I still clean mine.

August 4, 2004, 10:00 AM
Heh, we're just talking about .22s here, not all guns. Well, all he ever owned was .22's and .410's. By the way, his old JC Penny .22 that was never cleaned shoots some pretty tight groups at 50 yards. I just cleaned up the action and it's good to go.

As far as the .410, I suppose he figured he can still hit what he aims at so why clean? That said, I did take it away from him and am getting it reblued. I guess its the "guns are simply tools" mentality, where we tend to think of them differently.

By the way, we doesn't rotate tires either because it costs more to constantly rotate than buy new tires earlier.

I clean my handguns a lot because I use lead bullets and that filthy Bullseye powder.

August 4, 2004, 10:11 AM
I clean all guns after firing, all guns will show a first/ second shot point of impact difference after cleaning depending on how and what cleaned with
however the idea of cleaning hurting(if done correct)a gun is silly.:D

rock jock
August 4, 2004, 10:26 AM
I have been cleaning my .22s ever since one day I looked down the barrel of a Hammerli Trailside I used to own and noticed the bore was significantly restricted due to leading.

August 4, 2004, 03:05 PM
only run a boresnake through the barrel - no solvent
I'm another self-confessed and enthusiastic Bore Snake addict, especially when it comes to .22lr guns. About two pulls and I'm done.

August 4, 2004, 04:06 PM

How to clean rimfire barrels from the Lilja barrel company.

Who you going to believe, Mr. L or some guy like me on the web? ;)


August 4, 2004, 05:18 PM
I guess my dad had a point by never cleaning his guns. That said he NEVER washes his vehicles either. "That's what paint is for."

I like that! :D :D

buy guns
August 4, 2004, 05:24 PM
By the way, we doesn't rotate tires either because it costs more to constantly rotate than buy new tires earlier.

you know you can rotate them for free by yourself.

August 4, 2004, 10:04 PM
I read that Dieter(sp?) Anschutz favors cleaning the bore between matches. I don't know who would be a better authority on world class rimfires.
I use a coated rod and jag (no brush) on my Anschutz 2013AL about every 300 rounds. It usually takes 3-5 shots to settle back into 1 hole groups. Most smallbore shooters that I know clean once per season, some regulary and some never. I have however known of $2500 .22s failing to function because of a lack of cleaning. I don't see any downside to a CAREFULL cleaning.

August 4, 2004, 11:42 PM
I'll bet Anschutz does pretty much what Lilja recommends.

In a nutshell:

Clean the chamber and the leade often for top accuracy.

Only clean the bore when leading can be seen. Otherwise the only thing that goes down the bore is a dry patch to push out loose fouling.

2nd Amendment
August 4, 2004, 11:59 PM
I'm not big into .22's so all I can say is I am still shooting my grandad's Mossy and to the best of my knowledge it hasn't been cleaned in any way since he passed 1966. The old girl still shoots like a charm.

August 5, 2004, 05:12 AM
i like the idea of not brushing everytime just run some patches with solvent throught it a few times just to get all the powder residue out, after a brick i will brush and detail clean the whole thing.

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