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Everything you Need to Know about Rifle Maintenance



Anyone that owns a rifle needs to know how to maintain the weapon properly. If you are using the rifle for a person or home defense, it is essential. If the firearm is not maintained correctly, it becomes much less reliable. When a rifle is unreliable; it can be disastrous. It may malfunction when you need it most. Here is how to maintain your rifle.

Step 1: Unload the Rifle

First, you want to unload the rifle. Make sure that you always keep safety in mind when handling a firearm. Keep the muzzle pointed away from you and/or others. When holding your rifle always assume it is loaded even if you know it’s not. Keep your finger from the trigger. If your rifle has a magazine; eject it. Don’t forget to empty the chamber. To empty the chamber; there should be a bolt. You can pull it back and see if there is a bullet in the chamber. Double check to make sure that there is no ammunition in the rifle. If there is; you could accidentally harm yourself or someone else while maintaining the firearm. Make sure that the ammunition is kept away from the rifle while you are going through the cleaning process.

Step 2: Field Strip

The next thing you are going to do is dismantle the rifle. Your rifle should have come with a manual that will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to dismantle it. If you have a bolt-action rifle; normally you must release the bolt. However, if you own an automatic loading rifle; dismantling it is a bit more complicated, and the manual is critical to doing this safely. Next, identify the parts. The receiver and action and the barrel of the rifle are the main parts that will need to be cleaned. The barrel assists with the rifle’s accuracy. You want to be careful with the inside of the barrel and the muzzle end. If you damage these parts; it can have a huge impact on the accuracy of the rifle. The receiver and action of the rifle is the trigger, bolt, and chamber assembly. The ammunition is held in the chamber by the bolt. The trigger starts the process of firing the rifle. Reliability and operation are affected by these areas. Accuracy can also be negatively impacted if the rifle is not properly maintained. The stock and receiver of most rifle models require tools to dismantle them.

Step 3: Bolt and Chamber

Next, you want to clean the bolt and chamber of the rifle. Get a paper towel and wipe all the components. You can use a cloth, but it can leave lint on the parts. As you wipe down each part; remove as much of the build-up as you can. Make sure that you are also removing unburnt powder and oil from the parts. If you have a magazine; wipe down the inside of it as well. Clean the area around the chamber and the ejector. In areas that the paper towel turns black, you should pay extra attention to and wipe them down more than once to be sure they are clean. You can wipe each part quickly; the idea is to remove as much as you can before proceeding to the next step.

After the parts are wiped, get your solvent. You are going to spray this on all the dirty parts. Most rifles are made so that any solvent can be used. Check the manufacturer warning to ensure that they don’t warn against the use of a specific solvent. Using more solvent is better than not having enough. Be generous when spraying the solvent on the parts. Once you have sprayed the solvent, give it a few minutes. Make sure that areas with carbon buildup, dirt, or other filth are soaking in a generous amount of solvent. Once the solvent has set, get a brush and scrub the gun. Make sure the brush does not have metal bristles. Use something like a toothbrush. Scrubbing the gun allows the buildup to be loosened. Do your best to ensure you clean the small cracks as well. Make sure you scrub the bolt of a bolt-action rifle once it has been removed from the receiver. If you have a gas-operated rifle; keep in mind to use special care when you are cleaning gas tubes, the gas inlet or the gas rod.

After scrubbing the gun; get a lint-free cloth and clean it. Make sure that you wipe off all the solvent. Continue wiping until the cloth is not removing any more stuff. Make sure that you use a solvent-soaked cloth again to wipe down the entire rifle. Look for anywhere that may be turning the cloth dark. This part isn’t clean. Make sure to get it clean. Once you have finished, use a pick to clean off any chunks of powder buildup, carbon buildup, or any other type of buildup in small spaces of the rifle. The chamber is the most common location for carbon deposits. The corners typically have buildup.

Step 4: The Barrell

Get a bore brush to break up buildup from the barrel. If you haven’t shot much since your last cleaning; run the brush along the barrel five times. If you have shot a good bit since the last time, you should do this more than five times. Make sure that you do not change directions while the brush is inside the barrel. Make sure that you push the buildup all the way through and back. Let the bristles change direction once they are outside the barrel. Once you have finished, get a solvent soaked cloth and swab the barrel. Repeat the process with clean solvent-soaked cloths until one is clean when it comes out. You should only move in the direction of the receiver to muzzle while swabbing the barrel. The number of times you will need to do this varies based on several factors. Sometimes it can take as many as 20 times; if the rifle is extremely dirty. If you can; use a bore guide so that you don’t rub the metal against the initial rifling. You want to make sure that you are using a rod that is made of softer metal (aluminum is a good option) to clean the bore. If you use a harder metal; it can scratch and damage the barrel of the rifle.

Us a copper solvent-soaked cloth to swab the barrel once you have finished. Sometimes; copper comes off a jacketed bullet as it makes its way down the barrel. This process will remove that copper. Consider making more than one pass with the cloth. You want to repeat until there is no copper visible on the cloth. You should make one more pass to be sure. You should not, under any circumstance, oil the bore. No advantages come with putting gun oil down the barrel. Putting oil down the barrel does increase the likelihood of dust, powder, lead, and copper buildup. This buildup can lead to squibs and jams when bullets are caught in the barrel. It is a myth that putting oil down the barrel can neutralize the solvent.

After the copper has been removed, you should get a dry cloth and swab the barrel. You want to do this before shooting the gun. The results of using dry cloth are consistent and neutralize the solvent. It also keeps the barrel dry for the first shot you make after cleaning the rifle. If you want top accuracy when shooting; you should consider cleaning the barrel after every ten shots with the rifle. Bore brushes are not required when going through the standard cleaning process. However, you may consider adding this step if you want to ensure the rifle is completely clean.

Step 5: Final Steps

Some of the parts of the rifle are going to require lubrication. The manual for the rifle should specify which parts you should oil. You can also look at the areas where the rifle is wearing down to get an idea of which parts you should oil. Make sure that you oil around rotating parts. This is going to be areas like the trigger assembly and the bolt. Do your best to prevent the oil from going into the openings that lead to the firing pin housing. Oil collects buildup, and if you have a buildup around the firing pin, it can prevent you from firing the rifle. Make sure that you oil the bolt rails and grooves they use. Once you have finished oiling everything, reassemble the rifle. Make sure each of the parts is working as they should. Once the rifle is reassembled; wipe it down completely so that there is no excess oil left on the rifle. Once you have finished; you can store or use the rifle. Once you have cleaned the rifle, don’t forget the importance of keeping it clean. Keeping the clean rifle increases, the accuracy of the rifle and the safety in using it. Finally, always remember to keep the gun pointed away from you while cleaning it; just to be safe.


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