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Otis Technology offers a full line of biodegradable cleaners designed to break down buildup and fouling.

Photo by Charlie Burchfield

For many, cleaning guns is not what most consider fun. Even so, firearm maintenance is a must. And believe it or not, the process does not have to be a chore. That is if you are willing to make a modest investment in good equipment.

To start select an area that provides plenty of room to work. A table or workbench, as long as there is ample area to provide access to your cleaning equipment and for firearm disassembly as needed.

A gun vice is a must. The vice secures long guns during the entire cleaning process. Use a gun vice once and you’ll never be without one ever again.

A gun cleaning mat that is solvent resistant works well when working on shotguns and handguns where disassembly is required.

A bore guide is another must have item. Guides are generally caliber specific. When inserted in the action of bolt action rifles, the device keeps the cleaning rod in the center of the bore. Also cleaning solvents are kept from dripping and or spreading to other areas other than the bore.

Quality cleaning rods are a must. Choose a rod(s) that is coated or comprised of carbon fiber. Regardless of your choice, the handle should be constructed with a ball bearing handle. It will make the cleaning process a more pleasant task.

Brushes are another must item. Here again, don’t shop for price, but rely on quality. Of all the different types of brushes, brass or phosphorus bronze are hands down the best. If there is one brand that stands out, Otis brushes are my choice. When it comes to cleaning jags, again the choice is brass or bronze.

When it comes to cleaning patches, yep, I grew up when Mom would save our old cotton T-shirts that would then be converted into cleaning patches. But no more. My choice are commercially packaged cleaning patches offered exclusively for cleaning firearms. I use them because they are consistent, absorbent, and more so because they work.

Call me particular, but I choose to run the rod down the bore in only one direction and that is down the barrel in the same manner the bullet leaves the barrel. Once the solvent swab, or brush, extends beyond the end of the barrel, the cleaning device is removed from the rod, then the rod is pulled back and removed from the rifle. Then there is none of this back and forth with a brush.

The process extends the cleaning time a little bit more, however it’s just the way I prefer to approach the cleaning process.

There are rifles that require cleaning from the muzzle. The Winchester 94’s, along with the Winchester 88’, Remington 7600’s, along with a wide variety of additional lever and pump action rifles, needs to be approached from the muzzle.

Today there are two good options when it comes to cleaning these firearms. The first is to use a quality coated cleaning rod. My choice is Gunslick’s Match Grade cleaning rods. When purchased, the rod comes with a brass muzzle cleaning protector. The device fits over the rod and centers over the bore for cleaning and protecting the crown of the barrel from being damaged. After the end of the rod reaches the breech area, the brush or swab is attached to the rod, then pulled from breech to muzzle to clean the rifle’s bore.

Another great option is to use a pull through device. Here a cable with a protective coating is used. The cable is dropped down the bore then the cleaning device is attached.

The pull through device that I use is offered by Otis. Years ago this company offered a kit housed in an oversized shoe polish can. Today that has changed and the Otis kit comes in a number of configurations. The brushes in their kits are top shelf.

As an added plus, the cleaning kit is compatible with any caliber or type of firearm in your gun safe.

When it comes to gun cleaning solvents, this is an area that has seen dramatic improvement.

In our basement spanning five and a half feet and several bottles deep on one shelf, you would be amazed at the lineup of bottles of gun cleaning products. At first glance you would think I’ve tried most every gun product that has come to light in the past five decades. Maybe not, but I’ve tried my share.

Heck, I even have a half a quart of “old” Hoppes No.9 that was discontinued due to its chemical makeup. Now the company offers a reformulated product that is still pretty darn good.

However today, when using petroleum based gun cleaning products, wearing protective gloves is a precaution many of us take. Still, products in this class can be used safely with reasonable caution.

Break Free CLP has been a long time favorite and is a Cleaner Lubricant Preservative. Tetra Gun is another product that is hard to beat.

Today even more cleaning products are flooding the market, and there are some that are new and improved and worthy of your consideration.

When it comes to non-toxic, “green”, biodegradable, and eco-friendly gun cleaners, this class of gun cleaning products is expanding. Products such as Ballistol, FrogLube CLP, Blue Wonder Gun Cleaner, Otis Bio CLP, have received very good reviews.

You can bet that the eco-friendly segment of the gun cleaning products will continue to grow.

Regardless of the gun cleaning product and how well it works, let the solvent do its work. Once the initial fowling in the bore has been removed, the next task at hand is to treat the bore with cleaning solvent. Now let time be your friend. Let the product work by letting several minutes go by, then use a dry swab to remove fowling from the bore. Then repeat. The investment of time will go a long way to provide the rifle with a thorough cleaning.

Also keep a logbook of your firearm, listing the date the rifle was cared for. Also note the product used which will keep from crossing one solvent type with another.

For those new to gun care or if you’re looking for tips and techniques of gun cleaning, folks at Otis Gun care can help. Go on line and find www.otistec.com On the homepage, click on SUPPORT then U-Tube Videos. There will be just over 60 short videos to choose from.

When using the proper gun cleaning techniques, using proven products will go a long way to insuring the value, reliability, and accuracy of your firearm(s) for decades to come.

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Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, an active member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net

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