The benchrest competition rifle is a precision instrument made to exacting specifications. One blemish the size of a gnat's eyelash on the crown can cause bullets to veer off target by several microns. One micron here or there can win or loose the match. Therefore, all benchrest competition rifles must be gently cleaned with soft materials. Never allow any metallic tools or implements to contact these delicate instruments.
Benchrest rifle bore cleaning materials:
Q-tip (cotton swab)
Witch hazel - Can be purchased over the counter or self prepared from the bark of Hamamelis virginiana
Sperm whale oil (Jojoba oil can be used as a substitute)
Camera lens cleaning brush, the kind with a small air bellows attached
100% pure lead shotgun pellets (no antimony), #6 for rifles .30 caliber and less and #5 for rifles over .30 caliber
Natural (unbleached) cotton balls
Benchrest rifle bore cleaning method:
~ a. Using extreme care, remove the bolt and place the rifle, muzzle sloping down, on a silk lined pillow. It is essential to have the bolt out and the muzzle lower than the breach.
~ b. Allow the rifle to rest in this position for at least 10 minutes to allow all aromatic vapors to escape via the breach to the atmosphere. At the same time, condensate created by compression of air in the bore will completely drain out the muzzle. While waiting, put on a head net, wash your hands, and don latex free surgical gloves.
2. Scrubbing the bore
~ a. Take a small tuft of cotton and roll it evenly around a shotgun pellet. Take care to use only enough cotton to completely and evenly cover the pellet.
~ b. Apply one drop of witch hazel to the cotton covered pellet and carefully insert it into the bore from the chamber end.
~ c. Wearing gloves and safety glasses, lift the rifle up with both hands. While keeping the barrel horizontal, gently rotate the rifle on the axis of the bore. Continue this until the pellet rolls completely along the rifling and falls out of the muzzle. Rotate clockwise for US calibers and counterclockwise for UK or EU calibers, unless you are located in the southern hemisphere, in which case the directions are reversed. Discard the used pellet.
~ d. Repeat the above steps until the cotton covered pellet comes out clean.
3. Swabbing and oiling the bore
~ a. Return the rifle to the silk covered pillow, muzzle down.
~ b. Break off one head of a Q-tip and carefully drop it into the chamber, soft part forward.
~ c. With the camera lens cleaning brush, apply repeated short, gentle puffs of air to move the Q-tip head through the bore. Continue the process until the Q-tip head falls from the muzzle. CAUTION: To prevent severe throat erosion, do not allow the hairs of the lens cleaning brush to enter the throat of the bore.
~ d. Apply one drop of sperm whale oil to the other head of the Q-tip. Break it off and carefully drop it into the chamber, soft part forward.
~ e. Again, using the lens cleaning brush, apply repeated short, gentle puffs of air to move the oil soaked Q-tip head through the bore. Continue the process until the Q-tip head falls from the muzzle.
3. Inspection and reassembly
~ a. Inspect the bore looking for any areas that were either not completely cleaned or completely oiled.
~ b. Reassemble the rifle
~ c. Note - Upon inspection, should the bore contain lingering powder residue, gilding metal, or cotton threads, remove these with three passes of a BoreSnake in accordance with manufacturer's instructions.