Shooting Gear: Pros and Cons of Cleaning Rods | Field & Stream

The Gun Nuts

Ranting and Ravings from Phil Bourjaily and David E. Petzal

gun writing, about guns, rifles

Shooting Gear: Pros and Cons of Cleaning Rods

Someone asked me about cleaning rods, so here's what I know. A good one, used properly, will keep your bore alive and healthy. A bad one, or a good one used incorrectly, will kill your bore quicker than a good dose of hydrochloric acid down the muzzle. A good cleaning rod is either steel or plastic-coated, like the Dewey rods. It should be stiff enough that it will not bend; a bent rod will scrape against the rifling and that will be that. The worst rods are brass and aluminum, as they're soft and pick up abrasive crud, and they bend permanently out of shape. I am also down on jointed rods of any kind unless those joints fit together seamlessly.

The best jointed rods, in a walk, are those made by Belding & Mull, however B&M apparently does not make them any more. If you ever see one, grab it, assuming that someone is not using it at the time, in which case he will punch you in the snout. I do not like pull-throughs; however, D'Arcy Echols, whose opinion I respect to the nth degree, thinks the world of them, and wishes that he had invented them.

The rods I use are made by Neil Jones Custom Products in Saegertown, PA. They are spring steel--if you're strong enough, you can bend them virtually double and they will snap right back dead straight. However, they will rust. Mr. Jones sells them as a two-rod set--one rod has a permanent jag tip and the other has a threaded tip for brushes.

Aside from those, Dewey Rods and Pro Shot rods seem to be best, and I see more Dewey rods in the hands of people who know what they're doing than any other.

Rod guides are highly useful, and I think that Neil Jones again makes the best. I don't use them, however, because I'm too lazy, and because I've been using a rod long enough that I can keep it centered in the bore without help.

What you do need, however, is a roll of paper towels. Every time you pull that rod out of the bore, wipe it down.

How much damage can you do with a rod? Plenty. I once saw a barrel whose chamber was actually worn egg-shaped by a rod that was continually pulled upward. Needless to say, that barrel was of no further use to anyone except the scrap yard.