“How do I clean my rifle?” is a question I get asked more than any other (apart from “can you take me stalking?”) Now we all know someone who has never done anything to their rifle apart from blown the dust and cobwebs from it from time to time and of course it really is the most accurate rifle ever built, well obviously. So jokers aside, what is the best way and the best product for cleaning a rifle which after all, is a precision instrument. The answer is simple, the best way is the quickest, the best product is the one that gets it thoroughly clean the quickest and without harming either the rifle or the user.
Over the years I have tried just about every gun cleaning product on the market and had come to rely on two makes, the excellent KG products marketed by Open Season and a product marketed in the UK by Riflecraft as ‘Bore Cleaner’ which I strongly suspect is a product known as Eliminator made by Bore-Tech from America. What I have been searching for is a product that can achieve a ‘constant’, that is to say a point of cleanliness that can be repeated time after time. With every product I have tried so far I have always had either to guess how much fouling I had taken out of the barrel or it has been affected so badly that it has taken many rounds to bring it back to consistent accuracy – which is enough to put you off cleaning at all!
For the last few months I have been trialling a product that has been around a while and which is much-loved amongst target shooters worldwide, it is called Wipe-out.
The primary reason for cleaning the barrel is to remove any fouling left behind which could adversely affect the accuracy of the gun and as importantly its useful life. How many firearms manufacturers issue instructions with their weapons warning against cleaning? – none. How many manufacturers explain how to clean their weapons ?- few if any. So where does this leave the consumer? Well, your local gun shop or the internet would be the obvious choice, my problem with gun shops is that they are usually manned by individuals who are there to sell product and make money from it, that’s business, but the problem for gun shops is the number of products available to them all claiming to be the best and in fairness to the retailers they haven’t got time to try every single one or even half a dozen for that matter – I have! The internet is full of manufacturers and experts on forums claiming that the product they use is absolutely the best bar none, but how often do they clean their guns and with how many products. Now, I’m not claiming that I know best but I have tried literally dozens of products ( I have a box with 23 different bottles in it!) and I now clean my guns after every single use with a product I trust 100%.
If we did not need to clean our barrels we could shoot endlessly, just keep the ammo coming. Unfortunately guns have a fatal flaw, the by products of combustion along with metallic fouling from bullets and carbon from burnt powder all produce a deteriorating effect on the accuracy of any firearm, as these residues build up, accuracy decreases conversely and it is only the removal of this fouling that will restore the accuracy.
Most traditional products were never meant to remove anything other than powder fouling, they were given a pleasant smell but were totally ineffective for most problems that cause lack of accuracy. Loss of accuracy is normal in all firearms after they have been used in a prolonged shooting session, the barrel will become fouled with powder residue from combustion and additionally two other materials are deposited internally in the barrel, carbon and copper – these two are the most difficult to remove and are the greatest cause for the loss of accuracy in a firearm and many are not aware that carbon is probably the most difficult to remove of all.
In the past the removal of these types of barrel fouling has required highly aggressive chemicals such as acid and ammonia. These chemicals have been applied in the past on a patch or with a bore brush dipped in the solution. Then with large amounts of elbow-grease the brush was stroked back and forth through the barrel to scrub the fouling residues out. Then a patch was pushed through the bore, and it was checked for evidence of fouling or the lack thereof . This process was repeated until all evidence of fouling is no longer present on a patch. The standard practice has been to dunk a copper or bronze brush into the cleaner and stroke the cleaning rod the length of the bore. Worse to scrub the brush back and forth several times and without a bore guide and a coated cleaning rod, this is a good way to damage the bore, the throat (where most barrels wear out) and the crown, and a good deal of the evidence of fouling removal comes from the bristles in the bore brush itself.
Many shooters have never been aware that anything more than a few quick passes with some solvent and a few patches were required to properly clean a fouled barrel. Barrels left in this condition will only continue to lose accuracy. We have seen rifles on the used rack which the owners assumed were “shot-out” , which when properly cleaned performed like they were new. When examined it is not uncommon to see fouling built up in layers like a black forest gateaux. Each of these would be a layer of powder fouling and carbon, usually with a layer of copper on top, I have seen firearms with six or seven of these layers built up. In every case when these guns were cleaned properly, the accuracy returned.
A more recent approach has been to use products with heavy amounts of acid and ammonia which still require large amounts of brushing and contain chemicals which have a horrible smell and can be very dangerous to the steel used in gun barrels and the unsuspecting user. It is quite easy, using these products, to permanently damage the interior of the barrel with pitting, they can also remove stock finishes.
So, the challenge. Find a product that removes all fouling with little or no effort and restores accuracy to that when the gun left the factory, impossible? I was beginning to think so until I tried Wipe-out.
The blurb on the bottle says use it on a gun which you think is clean. A couple of weeks ago whilst trying the new Lawrence Precision titanium moderators, I filled the barrels of the 243, 6.5 and 308 with KG12 copper remover and it did just that but in every case it took almost 20 rounds for the groups to tighten up again, hardly ideal, something was missing.
The range of products available consist of a carbon remover (Carb-out) a foam version (Wipe-out) and a liquid version (Wipe-out patch-out) this last product can be enhanced by using it in conjunction with a product they call Accelerator which speeds up the cleaning process. The carbon remover whilst incredibly effective came in a can with a tube attachment, unfortunately the product contains a solvent that corrodes the seals on the can causing it to leak so I decanted it into a plastic applicator bottle, unfortunately the solvent then starts to evaporate causing it to thicken – so whilst the product is brilliant the packaging is crap! I am assured that a solution is coming. Luckily the Wipe-out itself removes carbon although just not as quickly as Carb-out. The first barrel which I tried it on was the 308, this is the barrel that fouls the least so I thought it would be a good test. I was really keen to try the foam so I stuck the applicator tube in the breech end and squeezed, the instructions said count to two – if your barrel is about 100 inches long that would be perfect, in reality a short squirt is all that is required. After I had cleaned the excess foam up I laid the barrel horizontally for an hour as per the instructions. After an hour or so I ran a patch through the barrel and was impressed by all the colours coming out on it, black and blue, indicating powder fouling and copper – how could this be, it was a clean barrel. I did the same with the 243 and 6.5 and the result was the same. The instructions said to repeat the process until clean patches came out, if need be leaving the foam in overnight (due to no acids and ammonia being present). I started again this time using the Accelerator and Wipe-out Patch-out. After several applications with no brushing or scrubbing I was getting clean patches.
The next day I couldn’t get to the range quick enough, again I had my pet rounds for each rifle which I knew shot 1cm groups if I did my bit. After the KG12 incident I was expecting a repeat performance but even I was astonished by the result. I tried the 243 first. The first shot was 2 cm right of zero, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th were virtually in the same hole on zero. The 6.5 never moved at all and clover-leafed. The 308 needed 2 shots which were again only 2 cm away from zero, the next three went bang on the money in the same hole! I assure you these are not just idle boasts. That afternoon I repeated the cleaning procedure only this time it was obviously much quicker, less than 10 minutes from application to a clean barrel using accelerator and Wipe-out Patch-out although the 243 was more heavily fouled as the copper deposits were more severe from a higher velocity round.
The next day I had a client at the range trying out his re-crowned 223 which a gun shop had assured him needed a re-barrel, it didn’t, it shot beautifully. Quite by chance he asked me about cleaning so I told him what I had been doing, I also had all three spotlessly clean rifles with me so I got out the 243 and whilst he was spotting for me I told him what I thought would happen i.e. one 2 cm to the right then a tiny group on the money, I was spot on and he was suitably impressed, needless to say he has ordered some. Since then I have repeated the cleaning process several times with the same predictable results although now all three calibres appear not to need a fouling shot and I am now so confident in the product that I routinely clean my rifles every time I use them safe in the knowledge that my first shot is going exactly where I want it. It is rare to find a product that actually does what it says, it is even rarer to find one that improves performance at the same time. I am so impressed with Wipe-out that I have decided to break from my principles and now stock it at the range – it is the only product I actually sell and that is because it makes cleaning much simpler and effective which should lead to more accurate shooting which when all said and done is what I am all about and what we all strive for.
If you want any more information or to order any of the Wipe-out range please feel free to contact us.
Safe and accurate shooting.