An Apostatic* View of Rifle Cleaning

One of the guys who gives me regular lessons in rifle-shooting humility is a retired Maine state trooper and a competitive shooter of 40 or so years’ experience. I believe he’s rated either Master or High Master, and has been a regular at Camp Perry, so when he speaks, I listen.

I was whining about the everlasting gun cleaning to which I am sentenced, and he said that he, and other shooters he knows, clean their competition guns only after 300-400 rounds (we were talking about the .308; it would probably be less for smaller bore sizes) have gone through them. No sweat, he said; eventually you’ll see your groups widen, or shots go astray that you can’t account for, and then it’s time to clean. Aside from that, why worry?

Well!, as Jack Benny used to say. This sounded to me like not brushing your teeth for three or four months, or Hillary Clinton not picking up any stray cash that was lying around, or Donald Trump not repeating everything twice. He says everything two times. I was going to try it (not cleaning my guns; saying everything twice can wait), but then I chickened out.

I’ve seen rifles go without cleaning for a long time. When I shot in summer-camp .22 programs the rimfires we used were not cleaned between May and August, and had thousands of rounds put through them with no visible effects. But that was .22s, which don’t copper foul.

The problem with going a long time between cleanings is twofold: First, you’re going to lose accuracy, inevitably, and possibly at a very inconvenient time. Second, depending on how badly your rifle fouls, you may be faced with one hell of a job getting it clean again. The .416 of which I have written lately is a trial and a tribulation after only 30 rounds. What it would be like after ten times that number causes one to cringe.

So I will stick to cleaning the sporting rifles every time I shoot them and the match rifles after every 60 rounds, and put up with it. Not cleaning seems creepy, unnatural, and possibly un-American.

*Donald Trump’s first act after he figures out where the White House bathroom is will be to outlaw all words of more than two syllables and require everyone to repeat everything they say. We’ll have to use short words and say everything twice. So I’m using up all my polysyllables beforehand. Since Mrs. Clinton already knows where the bathrooms are, she will immediately revoke the First and Second Amendments and have Bill sent to Guantanamo as a precautionary measure.