How To Clean Hunting Rifles

You've prepared to hunt through watching lots of cable TV hunting shows and by preparing recipes for the game you bring home, but before you go out on the hunt it is important to learn about how to clean hunting rifles. Maintaining your hunting rifles is the best way to assure that hunt after hunt, you will be able to safely and effectively go into the wild to commune with nature, appreciate environments we must protect, and to practice the ancient art of hunting. There are many types of hunting rifles, but the principles of cleaning each rifle are the same: to remove fouling and moisture from the barrel, action and receiver that can pit or rust the rifle and that can cause failure to function when a pivotal shot is needed.

What you will need:

  • a hunting rifle
  • a rifle cleaning rod
  • bore brush specified for your rifle
  • a cleaning loop or jag
  • gun solvent
  • gun oil
  • a clean rag
  1. Move into a well ventilated area. Solvents used in gun cleaning release fumes that can be harmful over time. Use a garage with a door open and fan running if possible to avoid fumes.
  2. Assure the rifle is unloaded. Point the rifle in a safe direction, then remove any ammunition from your hunting rifle and cycle the action to make sure no ammunition is feeding into the chamber, then check the chamber one more time. These steps are taught in hunter safety, but if they are unfamiliar, take a refresher course through your local hunting club or department of natural resources department.
  3. Strip the action. Each rifle requires you to strip the action in a slightly different manner. With bolt actions you often open the bolt, depress the trigger all the way, then pull the bolt out of the rear of the rifle. Semi auto and lever action rifles often have pins that hunters remove by tapping them out with a brass hammer and punch before pulling the action from the base of the rifle.
  4. Clean the bore with a solvent-soaked patch. Use a cleaning rod, jag or loop and cotton patch soaked in solvent. Clean the barrel from the chamber out through the breech whenever possible to avoid chipping or denting the breech. Soak a patch in solvent and run it through the bore using the cleaning rod and jag or loop. Alternately you can start by running a bore snake through the bore to remove a lot of loose grime so you don't clog up the brass brush you will use next.
  5. Brush the bore clean. Attach a brass brush made for the caliber rifle you are shooting and put a little solvent on the brush. Run the brush through the bore eight or nine times, then let the rifle rest so the solvent can work. The bore brush helps scrape lead, brass and powder residue from the lands and grooves without damaging your hunting rifle.
  6. Get rid of the grime. Run a couple of solvent soaked patches through the bore to clean out the fouling the brush has scraped up, then run dry patches through the bore until they come out clean. To have completely clean hunting riles, use a brass brush to remove any fouling from the receiver and action, then wipe the residue away with a patch treated in gun oil.
  7. Condition your hunting rifle. To lubricate the bore, run a patch with a light amount of gun oil on it. This reduces the likelihood of moisture buildup in the bore that can lead to damage. Be sure to wipe down the action, receiver and outer barrel with a patch or clean cloth treated little gun oil to protect your hunting rifles from rust.

Learning to clean hunting rifles is an important part of being a safe and responsible hunter. Clean your hunting rifles regularly, and they will last you a lifetime.


NRA Gun Safety Rules

Firearm Maintenance

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