Bore cleaners: is there really any difference? What do I use?

Bore cleaners: is there really any difference? What do I use?

A recent email asked my opinion on bore cleaners, and to my surprise I found that I’d not written anything on the topic. It is, after all, unlike me to have no opinion – and it may be a bit of a surprise to learn that, on this topic, I don’t have a strong opinion.

When it comes to bore cleaners, it’s been my experience that everything works. Shooter’s Choice, Hoppe’s, Butch’s, Break Free, it really doesn’t matter – with one caveat.

I break cleaners into two basic types: general bore cleaners, and copper removers. Copper removers, such as Hoppe’s Benchrest and Sweet’s 7.62, usually contain ammonia to dissolve copper jacket residue. Ammonia compounds, if not thoroughly flushed, can pit steel. Pitted bores are not generally conducive to good accuracy! Those compounds are also hard on bronze bore brushes, which is why their makers often recommend nylon brushes wound on stainless steel cores. Regular use of a copper removing bore cleaner isn’t recommended, and I only use them in rifles where accuracy reductions are likely to be noticed, and only when the jacket fouling gets to a point that those reductions show up. Other than that, I use a regular bore cleaner.

The bore cleaner I use most is the popular homebrew Ed’s Red formula. Originated by C.E. “Ed” Harris, noted engineer and certified firearms genius, Ed’s Red is both economical and effective. I’ve found it to be as good as anything else in cleaning rifled bores, and a bit better than most when cleaning shotgun barrels. (The acetone in the formula makes it an ideal solvent for removing plastic wad fouling.) Since I use a lot of bore cleaner, being able to mix a gallon at a time saves me both money and effort.

If you’re not the DIY type, anything will work. Many people like the smell of Hoppe’s #9 (the distinctive odor comes, I believe, from amyl acetate), and I must admit it’s a pleasant odor. My first cleaning kit, for a Winchester Model 67 rifle, was from Outers; to this day the┬ásmell of their bore cleaner takes me back to my childhood and summer afternoons sitting under a walnut tree, cleaning my rifle from a hard day of plinking. Yes, I have a bottle of it stashed away just for old time’s sake. It still works well, too.

Frankly, given the generally good performance of all of the bore cleaners I’ve ever used, that’s as good a rationale for a choice as any!

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On May 3, 2010
Tags: Ed Harris