Rifle Bore Cleaning Process

Kroil, Bore Tech Eliminator, Dewey Cleaning Rod and various rifle bore cleaning supplies.

Here are the basic supplies I use to clean the bore of my rifles along with a shooting rest to hold my rifle while I clean the bore.

  • Kroil
  • Bore Tech Eliminator
  • Dewey Cleaning Rod
  • Sinclair Int.'s Rod Guide
  • Patches
  • Nylon Brush
  • Cleaning Jag for Patches

I have read many a comment and article on how frequent and what process different shooters use to clean their rifle barrels. It seems that everyone has their own opinion on how and when they clean their rifle's bore.

I have in the past done the tedious process of cleaning the barrel after every shot, over and over to break-in a new rifle... And then I have done very little cleaning to a new rifle barrel.

What I have found is that if I give the rifle a good cleaning or two removing all the copper fouling during the first twenty or so shots that it is plenty for breaking-in my new rifle barrels. A new rifle will have already been test fired at the factory so I clean the rifle's bore removing all copper fouling before I fire a single round and one or two more cleanings within the first twenty rounds. Then I often shoot hundreds of rounds between cleanings and often clean only because its the off season and am looking for a reason to open the safe and spend time with my rifles.

Now, if I ever switch from a molly coated to an uncoated bullet or vice versa I always clean and remove all the copper fouling. And if a rifle isn't likely to be shot in a long while I will run a patch soaked in Kroil through the bore.

I do feel that cleaning can actually do damage to the riflings if not done properly with the right chemicals and equipment. I really like Bore Tech's Eliminator bore cleaner as it does a great job at removing copper fouling and I don't have to worry about ammonia and the possibility that it could damage the bore. After using the bore cleaner I run a couple of dry patches through the barrel and then a patch with Kroil on it and I'm finished.

I also use a good cleaning rod and rod guides designed for my individual rifles. I use correctly sized Dewey cleaning rods and Sinclair International's cleaning-rod guides. The correctly sized rod guide keeps the cleaning rod lined right up with the bore. Not using a rod guide or an incorrectly sized guide will likely lap and damage the throat of my barrel, in turn throwing accuracy right out the door.

I have really found no accuracy difference in how a rifle shoots based on how often I clean and removed the copper fouling. Yes, I believe barrels can loose accuracy if they get too much copper fouling however, as infrequently that I clean my rifles its still frequent enough to keep them more than accurate. My rifles all shoot just as good with ten rounds or 200 rounds having been fired between cleanings of the bore.

The most important thing I have found is that I really enjoy spending my time shooting rifles, not spending my time cleaning them. I have also found that the first shot out of a clean bore is often going to be a little off course. I find that after a barrel is cleaned it needs to get fouled up properly to get consistent accuracy. After cleaning the bore I always consider that my first shot is a fouling shot before I start looking for tight bullet groups.

Update: April 2017
I have adding another step to my cleaning process to polish out a rough bore and increase accuracy.

X-Bolt vs A-Bolt Comparison

X-Bolt and A-Bolt Magazine Styles X-Bolt and A-Bolt Left Side
X-Bolt (Top) with detachable rotary magazine.
A-Bolt (Bottom) with hinged floorplate and detachable leaf spring magazine.
A-Bolt (Top) X-Bolt (Bottom)
The A-Bolt having a larger bolt release button.
X-Bolt and A-Bolt Bolt Lugs X-Bolt and A-Bolt Bolts
A-Bolt (left) X-Bolt (Right) Both bolts having three lugs forming a "A" shape. X-Bolt SA (Top) and A-Bolt SSA (Bottom)
The A-Bolt bolt rotates inside a three grooved sleeve through the middle section of the bolt. Where the X-Bolt's entire front half of the bolt rotates.
X-Bolt Safety in Fire Position X-Bolt Safety in Safe Position
X-Bolt safety in fire position showing the bolt unlock button (at the top of the bolt handle) in the down position.
X-Bolt safety in safe position showing the bolt unlock button (at the top of the bolt handle) in the  up position.
A-Bolt Recoil Pad X-Bolt Recoil Pad
A-Bolt's hard rubber recoil pad.
X-Bolt's softer recoil absorbing, Inflex recoil pad. A great option this recoil pad system offers is the abilty to easily add length via spacers to the X-Bolt's length of pull.
X-Bolt and A-Bolt 60 Degree Bolt Throw X-Bolt and A-Bolt Bottom Magazine View
X-Bolt (Left) and A-Bolt (Right) Showing the bolts in their top position, 60 degrees up from the bottom closed position, offering excellent bolt handle clearance with the rifle scope.
X-Bolt SA (Top), A-Bolt SSA (Bottom)
X-Bolt and A-Bolt Recessed Muzzle Crowns X-Bolt A-Bolt Stainless Stalker Comparison
A-Bolt (Left), X-Bolt (Right) Recessed muzzle crowns.
Right side view of Short Action (SA) X-Bolt  (Top) and Super Short Action (SSA) A-Bolt (Bottom).
X-Bolt and A-Bolt Magazines Top View X-Bolt Magazine Cartridge Shoulder Bumpers
A-Bolt leaf spring magazine with alternating 243 WSSM cartridges. (top)
X-Bolt magazine with rotary magazine and 270 WSM cartridges.
The X-Bolt rotary magazine has a ridge-line going through the magazine providing a "bumper" against the shoulder of the cartridge that prevents the bullet tips from being damaged during recoil.
X-Bolt and A-Bolt Magazines X-Bolt Action Trigger Assembly
Side view of a Super Short Action A-Bolt Magazine (Top) and a Short Action X-Bolt Magazine (Bottom). X-Bolt Action and Trigger Assembly
X-Bolt Recoil Lug Bedding at Front of the Action X-Bolt Bedding at Rear of the Action

X-Bolt Recoil Lug Bedding at Front of the Action.


X-Bolt Bedding at Rear of the Action.
View of Inside of the Forearm of X-Bolt Stock X-Bolt Recoil Lug

View of the inside of the forearm of X-Bolt stock.


X-Bolt recoil lug.


X-Bolt Trigger Adjustment Screw X-Bolt Trigger Guard Assembly
X-Bolt trigger adjustment screw. X-Bolt metal alloy trigger guard assembly and composite magazine.

AB3 (A-Bolt III) is Browning's Newest Bolt Action Rifle
In 2012 Browning introduced the AB3 (A-Bolt III) and has been fazing out the A-Bolt II shown in this article. Check out the AB3 vs X-Bolt article to see the new AB3 and X-Bolt comparisons.

Now that I own a X-Bolt I took a few photos and wrote some descriptions of the differences between these two Browning bolt action rifles.

Because I only have Super Short Action (SSA) A-Bolts and my X-Bolt is a Short Action (SA) the photos show the X-Bolt with a longer bolt, action, magazine etc. which would not be the case if they were both the same action length.

The first thing that comes to mind that is different between the rifles is the trigger system. The trigger on the X-Bolt is amazing for a factory trigger, not that the A-Bolt trigger is bad, it has a great factory trigger, the X-Bolt's trigger is just better.

I have been really impressed with how the X-Bolt trigger feels when you shoot. Both the A-Bolt and the X-Bolt have a trigger adjustment screw that can be accessed by removing the trigger guard assembly. I always back my trigger adjustment screws out to get the lowest trigger weight available. It's a simple procedure just follow the directions in the owners manual.

Both the X-Bolt and A-Bolt have top tang safeties that are easily operated with your thumb. The Safety is in the perfect spot to operate and still keep your head and hands in alignment as you are preparing to take a shot. No taking your eye or hand off the rifle to take the safety off. I really like top tang safeties.

The X-Bolt has a bolt unlock button on the top of the bolt handle. By pressing this button when the rifle has the safety on you can open the bolt and remove the unfired cartridge.

The magazine on a X-Bolt is a composite drop-out variety. The magazine also has some really nice features. It is a rotary style that places the cartridge in straight alignment with the chamber for a smooth straight shot to the chamber. The X-Bolt magazine also has shoulders or a ridge line that prevent the the tips of your bullets from getting smashed into the front of the magazine when the rifle recoils. This ridge-line in the magazine stops the cartridge by preventing the shoulder of the cartridge from moving forward.

A-Bolt magazines are metal with a leaf spring and a stacked alternating cartridge design. The magazine snaps into a hinged floorplate.

The X-Bolt has four screws per base while the A-Bolt has two. In theory with four screws per base it will give you a more solid mounting for your rifle scope.

Both rifles are made in Browning's Miroku Japan Factory and Miroku is know for making good rifle barrels.

Both rifles have recessed muzzle crowns to prevent damage to the rifling at the tip of the muzzle.

Both my X-Bolt and my A-Bolts have been bedded with free floating barrels. The X-Bolt was bedded at both the recoil lug at the end of the barrel and at the back of the action. I have not had to do anything with bedding to get my barrels free floated, they're bedded and free floated right out of the box.

Both the X-Bolt and A-Bolt Composite stocks have a right hand palm swell which not only feels nice but also helps with a more comfortable alignment for your index finger and the trigger.

The X-Bolt has a recoil pad that is designed to deflect the stock down and away from your face. The A-Bolt has a hard rubber recoil pad. In fact I don't really think it could be called a recoil pad, it's more like a black rubber eraser.

Most of the X-Bolt line currently has more of a Euro styling in the stock where the A-Bolt has a more traditional lines and checkering.

I believe the X-Bolt is lighter but, upon reviewing browning.com it appears that a comparable A-Bolt to X-Bolt has the A-Bolt at about 2 ounces lighter than the X-Bolt??? I really think it should be the other way around. I'll see if I can get two comparable models and weigh them myself to see.

I own a couple of A-Bolt rifles and an X-Bolt and really like all of them. If push were to come to shove I would chose the X-Bolt over the A-Bolt. Mainly because of the trigger, the bolt unlock button and the magazine's cartridge shoulder "bumpers".

When the X-Bolt was first introduced I had a bad taste in my mouth about the "plastic" magazine. I thought it should be metal but now that I have an X-Bolt I am very happy with the plastic magazine and can see how it is a better material for the task. The plastic provides a very smooth surface for the cartridges to slide along, self lubricating is one way I have heard it described and the plastic is actually stronger in my opinion. Could you imagine standing on a X-Bolt plastic magazine and a metal A-Bolt magazine or better yet driving a truck over the two? The A-Bolt metal magazine would get all bent out of shape and the X-Bolt plastic magazine would be just fine.

Now when shooting off the bench the A-Bolt is easier to single feed a cartridge by opening the action and just placing/setting the cartridge in on top of the magazine and then just close the bolt. The X-Bolt's magazine protrudes up higher into the open action thus when you single feed a cartridge you have to push it forward near the chamber with your fingers before attempting to close the bolt... so for shooting off the bench on the range or on a varmint hunt, I like the A-Bolt better. Now for big game hunting I prefer the ultra smooth feeding straight into the chamber X-Bolt magazine system.

The X-Bolt has been designed with a sleeker lower profile than the A-Bolt. One problem this can create is with shell ejection using a scope that has a long windage turret and the short, fat WSM cartridges. The long turret, WSM combination can prevent shells from ejecting from the X-Bolt.

I get great out-of-the-box accuracy with my A-Bolt rifles and my new X-Bolt's accuracy has also been great. However out-of-the-box I think the X-Bolt could give a little better accuracy because of the trigger, not that the A-Bolt trigger is bad but I think the X-Bolt's trigger is even better. I do wish that the X-Bolt came in a Super Short action with a bolt and magazine to handle a 243 WSSM but alas it doesn't. :(

Review of My Nikon Buckmaster 1x20 Muzzleloader Scope

View of the Nikon Buckmaster 1x20 scope turrets
View of the Nikon Buckmaster 1x20 scope turrets. Offering finger adjustable half inch click adjustments.
Nikon 1x20 Buckmaster Scope on CVA Firebolt on the Shooting Bench
Nikon 1x20 Buckmaster Scope and CVA Firebolt on the Shooting Bench

I took my muzzleloader to the range on the same day I shot my new X-Bolt.  I was pretty excited about my X-Bolt and how well it shot. In my excitement to shoot my X-Bolt, I forgot patches for the muzzleloader. To get the best accuracy shot after shot, I like to run a patch lubed with Bore Butter through the barrel between shots. Accuracy was not going to be it's best with the muzzleloader today without the patches. 

When I started shooting the muzzleloader I was sailing them over the target. I got the windage adjusted fairly close and started taking a shot and adjusting it lower and lower until I got the final shot a few inches high and to the right. There was a strong L-R wind so I think I am pretty close to being where I want it sighted in, maybe just a little lower and I'll chalk the last shot going right to the wind and excessive fouling as I didn't have my patches.

Muzzloader Powder, Sabots, Bullets and Primers on the Shooting Bench This was my first experience with a 1x scope and thus being a scope I thought I could just start at 100 yards. One power scopes are scopes but... it really didn't sink in how small everything was still going to be looking through the scope. If I were to do it over I would start sighting it in at 50 yards then go out to 100 yards.

With it only being a one power scope the reticle covered the two inch dot on the target. This makes it a little difficult knowing for sure you are holding right on the dot. However a reticle covering a two inch dot is sure a heck of a lot better than open sights covering the entire lower half of the target. Next time I will take a target with a single 4-6 inch black dot to shoot at.



Target showing bullet placement using Nikon 1x20 Buckmaster Scope on CVA Firebolt
Target showing bullet placements using Nikon 1x20 Buckmaster Scope on CVA Firebolt muzzleloader. An adjustment was made after every shot to bring the bullet placement down.

I was excited to find no parallax issues with the scope. I was not sure what distance the focal plane of the target and the crosshairs would align. Never having used a 1x scope I was a little worried that the crosshairs would float all over the target. I placed the muzzleloader in a shooting sand bag to hold the muzzleloader steady. Then I would move my head around looking through the scope. I found that the crosshairs did not float around on the target. Perfect! No parallax issues at 100 yards. Just what I wanted. Now it was a little unnerving seeing the front sight in the scope floating all around. I might think about removing the sights. It is a little distracting to say the least.

I really like the solidly made Warne scope rings and bases. So I ordered some from Midwayusa.com for this scope and muzzleloader. I went with a High set because I didn't want the rear sight being in line with the scope and blurring the optics. I'm really glad I went with the High set of rings. As you can see in the pictures the bolt handle just misses the scope by about 1/32 of and inch. I had not taken this clearance issue into account when I ordered the rings. I've been a little spoiled with the 60 degree bolt throws on my A-Bolt's and now X-Bolt, where scope clearance is never an issue. I'm really glad I didn't order the Medium height ring now. Even though it is a narrow amount of clearance it isn't on a high powered rifle, only a very slow cycling, load through the muzzle, muzzleloader. I can live with the narrow clearance.


View from side of Bolt Clearance with Warne High Rings and a Nikon 1x20 Buckmaster Scope on CVA Firebolt View from behind of Bolt Clearance with Warne High Rings and a Nikon 1x20 Buckmaster Scope on CVA Firebolt
Bolt clearance with Warne High Rings and a Nikon 1x20 Buckmaster Scope on CVA Firebolt muzzleloader.

After a few shots I was really liking this scope on my muzzleloader. The optics are very clear, I had no parallax issues, the scope adjusted nicely and the eye relief is very generous (a nice feature for heavy recoiling muzzleloaders). It's a great quality scope for the price. Now I am just going to have to wait to hunt with it for at least another year because I didn't draw the muzzleloader permit this year. :(

This journal entry is a follow-up entry to my first entry on the Nikon Buckmaster 1x20 muzzleloader scope.

You can also see the accuracy I get when shooting 295g Powerbelt bullets from my muzzleloader.

Additional information