June 25, 2012
Is There Such a Thing as a Rifle That's Too Clean?
By David E. Petzal
I started shooting seriously (as opposed to spraying lead around the landscape) in 1958 at summer camp. We shot in an NRA-sanctioned program, and we did it with set of 10 or so .22 target rifles—good ones, as I recall. These guns were in use every day for two months, and were not cleaned until they were put away at the end of the season. As far as I can recall, they were just as accurate at the end of the summer as they were at the beginning.
This is why I asked John Blauvelt if my compulsive scrubbing of my own .22’s barrel was unnecessary. His opinion was yes. According to John, the best treatment of a rimfire bore is benign neglect. After you put lots and lots of ammo through it and find yourself overwhelmed with guilt because it’s full of grease and wax and burned powder, you can run a wet patch through it and then a dry one. But nothing more than that. Most .22s, said John, don’t really start to shoot accurately until you get them dirty, and as far as rust goes, when the bore is coated with lube from the bullets, the steel is sealed off from the air, so no rust.
The one step that is necessary is the removal of the ring of burned powder, lead, lube, and who knows what else that accumulates just ahead of the chamber. This can keep you from running a round all the way in and can raise hell with accuracy. The way you get it out is to scrub the chamber and an inch or so of barrel ahead of it with a wet 6mm brush (not a .22 brush; you need something bigger in diameter than the chamber).
He speaks the truth. I’ve had the Ring of Crud develop in a very good .22 rifle and a .22 revolver cylinder.
You should also remove the crud from the action and in particular the bolt face, but let the bore mostly alone. You will be happier, and so will your rifle.