How to Clean and Maintain a Thoroughbred Rifle

Now that you have your new Thoroughbred Rifle, you will want to maintain it’s accuracy as best as possible.  This process is quite simple and not very time consuming.  Following is an easy set of steps for cleaning your Thoroughbred Rifle.

1)   SAFETY FIRST – UNLOAD your rifle and never attempt to chamber a live round of ammunition unless you are at the shooting range or in the field preparing for your hunt.  Also, never carry a loaded rifle in your vehicle.  ALWAYS UNLOAD prior to entering your vehicle.

2)   Remove the bolt from the action and set your rifle in an appropriate cleaning cradle with the barrel slanting down.

3)   Insert a bore guide into the rear of the receiver (we strongly prefer Lucas Bore Guides).   Thread a cleaning jag of the proper caliber onto the end of the cleaning rod (we use Dewey coated cleaning rods).  We also recommend laying a thin shop cloth over the top of the stock under the bore guide to soak up any excess cleaning solvents.

4)   Soak a patch with cleaning solvent (we recommend Butch’s Bore Shine) and run it down the barrel from the rear to the front using the bore guide to ensure that the rod is aligned properly with the bore.  Repeat this step five times.  The first few patches will appear black from the powder fouling being removed.  The last few patches should appear less black and may have blue green streaks from the solvent oxidizing the copper fouling left in the barrel by the bullets.

5)   A) If the fifth patch has no blue green streaks, patch the barrel out with five dry patches and proceed to step six.  B) If there are still blue green streaks, then switch the jag out for a bronze brush.  Run the brush down the barrel and wet it with solvent.  Proceed to stroke the barrel 10 to 20 times back and forth with a wet brush.  Remove the brush from the cleaning rod and replace the jag.  Wet a patch with solvent and push thru the bore.  Repeat this five times.  Now patch the barrel out with five dry patches.

6)   Remove the bore guide and thread a bore mop onto a short chamber cleaning rod.  Insert the mop into the receiver and dry out the inside of the receiver and chamber as thoroughly as possible.

7) Remove the chamber mop and thread a bolt lug raceway cleaning tool to the end of the chamber cleaning rod.  Wet the cleaning tool with degreaser and insert into the chamber until the tool is in the lug area. Spin the tool around in the lug raceway several times to remove any solvent, lug grease or debris.

8)   Clean your bronze brush, bore mop and raceway cleaning tool with a spray degreaser of any brand.  Be sure you are using a “degreaser” and not a spray solvent.  One of the least expensive degreasers is aerosol brake cleaner which can be purchased at any auto parts store.  Also, never clean your barrel with any degreaser type product as it will leave the bore too dry of lubrication and cause the next rounds to foul excessively.

9)   Finally, place a small drop of grease on the rear face of each bolt lug and another small drop on the rear of the bolt under the handle where the bolt body and bolt shroud meet and rotate against each other.

General Cleaning Guidelines

Your first shot from a clean cold bore will most likely not go into the group formed by further shots.  However, if you wait till the barrel cools from the first group shot after cleaning, the first shot from a lightly fouled cold barrel will generally go into the group.  Therefore, it is our practice to clean and then lightly foul our barrel with 3 shots prior to any hunt or competition.  This serves two purposes.  First, it confirms our rifle’s zero and secondly it ensures that the first hunting shot goes to that same zero point.

As for cleaning frequency, this depends primarily on the cartridge chambering for a particular rifle.  The higher speed magnums require more frequent cleaning than do the non magnums.  We generally don’t clean our hunting rifles untill the end of the hunting season or the end of a particular hunting trip unless we did a lot of shooting (10 or more rounds) at camp or at the range during the season.  In general, we clean our magnums after 10 rounds and our non magnums after 20 rounds.  Prior to storing a rifle after the season or hunting trip, it is a good idea to clean it thoroughly and then as a very last step, run a couple of patches soaked with a lubricant.  We like Kroil penetrating oil for this purpose.  But don’t forget to dry patch your bore prior to the next shooting session or hunt.