How to clean your rifle

How to clean a rifle

So you’ve got your firearms licence and you may have even been shooting a few times. But now what? There are so many things that they just don’t even mention when you go through the firearms safety course (mandatory here in Australia to get a license). Things like how to clean your rifle (hopefully this article will help with that one), how to get access to hunting land, how to field dress an animal once it’s on the ground, how to de-bone a cut of meat (roo leg, deer shoulder) and the list goes on.

The majority of the team here at I Am Hunter learned to hunt either late in our teens or as an adult so we understand and appreciate that not everything is as obvious as it might seem to someone who’s grown up hunting. We want to try and help with those really foundational things that are so important for safe and effective firearms handling and hunting.

This tutorial might seem a little basic if you’ve got some experience under your belt and that’s ok, maybe you can share it with someone who’s new to hunting. We made this video with the assumption that there will be people watching who have never had to clean their own rifle before and so may not know what tools they need or how to use them.

Let us know if you find it useful or if you have any questions. We’ll include a full list, along with links to purchase, for all the gear we used in the video at the bottom of this post.

The two rifles in the video are both Tikka T3’s. Jess was cleaning her Tikka T3 Hunter with stainless barrel in .270. This has been an awesome rifle for deer and kangaroo hunting. Tash had the Tikka T3x Forest in .300 win mag. The biggest different between the Hunter and the Forest being the moulded cheek rest on the stock of the Forest. Both rifles have been awesome tools straight out of the box and are taken on just about every deer and big game hunt we’ve been on in the last 2 years. You can find out more about these rifles by clicking on the links below the article.

Bolt action rifle

How to clean your rifle

Step 1

Ensure that your rifle is unloaded and safe to handle. Remove the magazine and the bolt. Most modern firearms will have a bolt release catch on the opposite side to the breach opening. Alternatively, some firearms will release the bolt when the trigger is pulled while sliding the bolt backwards out of the rifle. 

As always, even when your firearm is unloaded treat it with the respect it deserves and have it pointing in a safe direction.

With the chemicals that you’ll be using to clean your rifle, it’s a really good idea to have an old towel between the surface you’re working on and your rifle. This will stop any damage between surface and rifle, and also protect the surface from the harsh solvent you’ll be using. 

Step 2

Now that your rifle is safe and the bolt is out of the way, you want to get your cleaning rod out and ready to use. Most are a 3 piece rod that just screw together. The first attachment I use is the ‘scrubby tip’ (proper name – bronze brush). This one is great for making sure that you loosen any build up of gun powder or fouling in the barrel of the rifle. It will also do a great job of removing a barrel obstruction like clogged dirt or mud.

Assemble the cleaning rod and screw in the bronze brush tip. There are different sized brushes for different calibers. You want to ensure you are using the correct brush size so that it fits snug in the barrel. Most will have a small inscription on the base of the brush stating what caliber it is suited to. There should be a little bit of resistance as you insert the brush into the barrel but not so much that you have to use a lot of force.

Apply a small amount of solvent/gun cleaner to the brush tip. I insert the cleaning rod from the breach end of the barrel in the same direction that you would push your bolt in to load the firearm. This ensures that any nasty dirt and grime is pushed out of the muzzle rather than back into the breach. Pull the rod back out the way you inserted it and repeat 2-3 times (you shouldn’t need any extra solvent).

Step 3

Now I use the ‘black tip’ (proper name – slotted jag) with a small cleaning patch (folded in 3) to clean the inside of the barrel. For the first one, I put a little more solvent on the cleaning patch. Once you’ve threaded the cleaning patch through the slot of the jag, insert the rod the same way as before pushing it until the end exits the muzzle. Then pull the rod back out and remove the cleaning patch. Repeat the process using a new cleaning patch (apply a little solvent every 2nd or 3rd patch if your rifle is heavily fouled) each time until the patch comes out relatively clean.

Step 4

Once the inside of your barrel is clean, you want to apply some gun oil to protect the surface from rust. To do this, take a clean patch and thread it into the black tip (slotted jag). Apply a few drops of gun oil to the patch and insert into the barrel using the same technique as you did with the solvent. Push the rod through the barrel and pull it back out 2-3 times to make sure the entire surface is coated.

Step 5

The breach can also get quite dirty with dust and grime so it is a good idea to give it a wipe over with some solvent at the same time. I use an old rag (in the case of this video an old singlet) with a little solvent and using a finger just clean inside the breach, making sure to get in where the magazine sits and where the base of the bolt locks into the rifle. Repeat the same method to clean your bolt.

Using a clean(er) section of rag, apply a little gun oil and go back over the breach and bolt to protect the metal on those surfaces.

Step 6

Give the outside of your barrel and stock a quick wipe over with some gun oil to finish the job and keep your rifle looking as slick as can be.

Materials used

Here are the items we used in the video or items that we suggest to help with your rifle maintenance. You can click on the image to purchase or find out more about each item.

Tikka Rifle Cleaning Kit

To fit .22cal (5.5mm) rifles

Tikka Rifle Cleaning Kit

To fit .243 (6mm) rifles

Tikka Rifle Cleaning Kit

To fit .30cal (7.62mm) rifles

Hoppe's Cleaning Kit
Hoppe's Rifle Cleaning Kit

Includes brush to fit .308 / .30-06 / .300 / 7.62mm rifles

Hoppe's Cleaning Kit
Hoppe's Rifle Cleaning Kit

Includes brush to fit .270 / .280cal / 7mm rifles

Hoppe's Cleaning Kit
Hoppe's Rifle Cleaning Kit

Includes brush to fit .243 / .257 / 6mm / 6.5mm rifles

Hoppes Gun Cleaning Patches

500 pack to suit .22 to .270 cal

Burris Eliminator III
Burris Eliminator III 4-16X50

*without external switch

Burris Eliminator III 4-16X50

*with external switch

What is I Am Hunter?

I Am Hunter wants to change the way hunting is perceived and to change the conversation from a negative one driven by anti-hunters to a positive one led by hunters.

Our goal is to help hunters become positive role models and ambassadors for hunting, while simultaneously helping non-hunters understand why hunting is important. 

You can become a supporter and help us achieve our goal and spread a positive message about hunting with the wider community. 

Related content

If you would like to know more about hunting wallabies, kangaroos or deer in Tasmania, check out these related articles and podcasts. 

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