When to clean or oil your rifle

Leica Amplus 6
Hi All

As a relatively new shooter I have what might be a very basic question and if so I apologize.

My question is when should you clean and/or oil your rifle barrel and/or mechanism. There are thousands of articles and videos out there on HOW to do this but no one seems to tell you when you should do it.

For example should you oil the barrel before putting a rifle back in the cabinet?

This leads me to my seconds question, is there a difference in maintenance between centrefire and rimfire?

Again I am really sorry if there are people out there rolling their eyes at me.


Well-Known Member
As you get to know your rifle, you will learn how often it's bore needs cleaning. Some like to run a bit dirty. However, don't stint on keeping the outside nice and clean, as blood mud, sweat etc will mess it up.


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You'll get loads of different opinions on this. I'm of the lazy camp who doesn't clean his rifle very much. If I've been out in the rain I dry the gun thoroughly and run a couple of dry patches through it. I'd guess I clean my centrefires every 100 rounds or so but as I rarely target shoot, that can be some time.


Well-Known Member
It depends on a few things in my opinion.
Having experience of rusted guns due to damp, a knackered rifle because of damage caused by the previous owner not removing the moderator.
I speak with some experience.
If your cabinet location is where you can get damp you should definitely oil it before putting away. Again if the gun has got wet, or if it’s very cold out. You need to dry and oil it as rust will form given half a chance.
Oil in the barrel should be removed with a patch wet with meths (or similar) followed by a few dry patches. Before shooting next time out, to avoid change of POI.
A stainless rifle will still need some care, it’s actually “stains less”. But the grades used in firearms will rust to some degree.
As for cleaning I keep the bore on my Fullbore rifles clean I use copper and carbon cleaner after each use. In my opinion the only repeatable condition is clean. Not everyone will agree though.
As for my 22 rimfires I don’t clean the bore very often but the same applies for the outside surfaces. The bore is coated with lube from the bullets which prevents rust internally.
Always remove the moderator as gasses formed in it are very corrosive if allowed to mix with condensation. This is probably the biggest single cause of rifle damage since their widespread use began.


Well-Known Member
At the very least make sure that it has dried out properly before putting it away. It isn't always possible to get all the moisture off just by rubbing it down. So make sure it is dry before you do anything, either putting it away or oiling it.


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.22 Rimfire never. Unless it's had been out in the wet. Centrefire rifles, and shotguns, everytime, even it's only fired but one shot and on the driest and mildest of days. Powder residue is by definition bone dry. It is hygroscopic. Regardless that modern powders are non-corrosive the unburned powder residue will still attract moisture. Clean it out. Oiling the barrel afterwards is optional. Sometimes I will. Other times I'll leave them unoiled. But I'll never leave them dirty and uncleaned.


Well-Known Member
Cleaned the .204 the other day, just using some rags, bloody thing shot all over the place, but after 10-15 it started closing in and now.... I've learned not to clean it until I start to loose accuracy when zeroing. Obviously likes shooting on a dirty barrel.
But Definitely would suggest cleaning and drying the rifle off before putting it to bed.


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Keep mine dry and oiled externally . After use quick pull through with bore snake and bottle brush actions. Twice a year solvents brushes etc. If my life depended on it I would be more pernickety, but then environment and situations do not usually allow for that.


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Probably it also depends on how often you're shooting. I'd certainly clean the bore and leave a film of oil in it if the rifle was going to be sitting in the cabinet unused for a month, but then, who'd want to leave a rifle that long without using it anyway? The best way to clean the bore is to put another bullet through it ;)

Edinburgh Rifles

Well-Known Member
Cleaning is for cleaning, removing dirt, grime, fouling,
Oiling/waxing is for rust prevention

Some oils clean too!!

If it’s wet or dirty it needs cleaning
Bring to room temperature as cold metal attracts condensation

If a rifle or any gun has got damp or wet I strip it, dry it, warm it, oil it
The number of guns I take apart and service that have clean exterior but the action is rusted to feck underneath because they were never taken out of the action.

Rimfires don’t often respond well to cleaning bores
Clean the outside as you would anything metallic you would like to maintain.

Light application of oil is all that is required
You don’t need to paint it on


Well-Known Member
If you leave carbon fouling in the barrel for any length of time it is very difficult to remove. My mate had a 220 swift that had started losing accuracy. He didnt clean it too often. I told him to clean it and he gave it a scrub out with solvent every night over a few days. It still didn't help so we took it to a gunsmith to check the bore.
Well the first half of the barrel was black with carbon and the second half was spotless.
He took it home and I gave him some JB bore paste and he gave it a good cleaning.
Took it out to the range the next day and it was back shooting half inch groups again.
My advice is to clean out the carbon with a good carbon cleaner after shooting as it's much easier to remove then.


Well-Known Member
If they get wet I dry them. If they get muddy I clean it off. Both rimfire and centrefire bores get a pull through with a boresnake after shooting, and the moderator is ALWAYS taken off my centrefires. I don't bother taking it off the rimfire, although it's a good idea to make sure it's not seized onto the threads every now and again. All get a wipe down with an oily cloth before going back in the cabinet


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As an added layer of protection I clean off any oil residue and wax my actions and barrels with Renaissance Wax when they're out of the stock.... which isn't very often.

Then it's usually just a wipe over with the usual oily rag. Paper towel if its wet.

I clean a CF bore after any shot with carbon cleaner and bore-foam but the rimfire stays as is.



Well-Known Member
Wood - +1 for renaissance wax
Barrel, action & scopes - Marine Tuf cloth when dry
Moving parts & mod thread - light coat of oil/ grease
bore - shotties and centrefire cleaned before putting away (mostly!). Rimmie - bore was cleaned before I bought it, never seen the need to do it since.


Well-Known Member
Bore - shotties and centrefire cleaned before putting away. Rimmie - bore was cleaned before I bought it, never seen the need to do it since.

Except I'd always clean the bore of a "rimmie" just before paying my money over. Just to check for ring bulges.
But after that with any "rimmie" I've owned unless it's got a soaking I've also never seen the need to do it again.


Well-Known Member
Another thing is to put a moisture absorbing pack in your cabinet to help with the cabinet being mounted on a cold wall and the cabinet being in a warmer room .


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I always clean mine every time after 1 shot or 20 shots with KG carbon cleaner but after like 50 shots I'll put the KG copper clean in for a good clean then i put a oily patch down the barrel , I notice with a clean barrel it makes no difference on zero for the first shot so I got no worries , if I fire the rifle in the morning and I'm going to back out in the afternoon I'd put a dry patch through the barrel to get rid of any moisture left but that's about it but after I give it a good clean
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