After time in the hunting grounds, you will want to take extra care of your hunting rifle to ensure it will last you and help you take down your target the next time you are out.
When you are exposed to the elements and come home after working hard to catch your prey, you need a pick-me-up by way of a shower, fresh clothes, and a hot meal. Why wouldn’t your rifle need the same?
Obviously, your rifle does not wear clothes and does not eat, but it could use a bit of freshening up to help it reset for your next adventure. Here are some tips to help keep your hunting rifle in tip-top shape.
Wipe it Down
When you make it home from the range, you first want to dry off your weapon. Then, take an oiled rag and wipe down the outside of your AR lower. You want to specifically pay attention to the bolt and exterior metal pieces of your rifle.
This may seem like a small thing, but it will make you feel like your rifle is new after each hunting trip, and it will help the exterior last longer. Drying it off before wiping it down with an oiled rag will also help keep the rifle from rusting.
This small act will make the rifle last longer and will help you continue successfully bagging your prey.
Clean the Inside of Your Rifle
Depending on how many rounds you fire while hunting, you may or may not need to clean the inside (sometimes referred to as the “bore”) of your rifle. Many riflemen will argue that you must clean the bore of your rifle after each time you take it on the range or hunting.
While you need to ensure that your rifle does not become so full of gunk and debris that your accuracy suffers, taking the time to clean the entire rifle after each trip may become a bit taxing. If you take your rifle hunting and you do not have a successful or busy trip, you may not need to clean the rifle at all.
A good rule of thumb may be to clean the inside of your rifle after ever 15 to 20 rounds. This is a standard number across the board. You can clean it earlier if you wish, but do not feel pressured.
If you go on an intense hunting trip where you get sand, mud, saltwater, or other debris in the barrel of your rifle, you will need to ensure you clean the inside of your rifle. Otherwise, the rifle could corrode and become unusable, especially if something as erosive as saltwater gets on the inside.
Tools Needed to Clean the Bore of Your Rifle
An important thing to know is exactly how to clean the inside of your rifle. There are many opinions as to how often you should clean it depending on how many shots you fire, but there are not too many ways to effectively clean it. There are a few standard tools that you will need to get the job done correctly.
- Gun vise
- You want to be able to keep your rifle secured while cleaning it. This helps you apply the appropriate amount of pressure to the weapon as you clean it. Without a vise (also called a cradle), you would have to try to balance the rifle on your person while trying to clean it. If this sounds difficult, it is even more so in the moment.
- Coated Cleaning Rod
- Cleaning rods are easy to come by. You will want to ensure, though, that the rod is coated. The outside coating helps keep the rod from damaging the inside of the rifle. If you want to step up your game a bit, you can get a rod that will rotate with the rifling of the barrel. This helps get all the gunk out of your barrel and ensures there is no damage done to it.
- A nylon or brass brush will help you to loosen the powder residue from where you have been shooting.
- Cleaning Patches and a Jag
- Cleaning patches are small patches that you can push through the rifle to help clean it out. The jag is what will help you to push the patches through. The best patches will be ones made from 100% cotton.
- A powder solvent, a copper solvent, and a lightweight gun oil.
How Exactly Should You Clean it?
First, put your solvent on your cotton patches and use the jag to run the patches through the rifle. This may need to be done multiple times to get it as clean as possible. After every 3 to 5 cleanings, use a copper solvent to help keep the integrity of your rifle.
These solvents can be bad for the rifle if used incorrectly, so be sure to follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
Now, you will want to run a patch that has been soaked in lightweight gun oil through the barrel. If you are planning to use the rifle soon, you will want to run another dry patch through the barrel to capture any excess oil. Otherwise, you can leave the excess oil there and store the weapon.
Finally, wipe down the bolt and the rest of the outside of your hunting rifle with a powder solvent on a paper towel or rag. This helps shine up the outside of the rifle and if you have any built-up gunk on it, this will take it right off.
It can be daunting to think about cleaning your hunting rifle, especially if you are new to the scene. The most important part is to have all the tools you need as listed above and follow the steps to keep your rifle clear of debris.
When you are using the rifle to help provide for yourself or protect yourself, it is just as important to care for your rifle as it is to care for yourself. Keep your rifle in tip-top shape and you will be hunting with it for years to come.