Well, you’ve done it. You had your first shooting session with your new rifle. You are smart enough to watch the old timer down the bench clean his rifle and he mentions that you shouldn’t forget to clean yours.
One of the first things a new shooter is told is to clean the gun after shooting is over. That is good advice, and today we will talk about cleaning your rifle after your first day of shooting.
Lets say that your still at the loading bench with all your newly acquired ML stuff. With everything out on the bench, let’s look at the things you’ll be using. Mixed in with all the loading supplies you probably have a pile of cleaning patches, a bottle of solvent, a jag that fits your rifle, and a bottle of oil. You may have bought these because a another shooter told you that you would need them.
Let’s have you begin by wetting a patch with solvent and wiping the barrel. This won’t get it clean, but it will convince you there is plenty more to get out. Since your rifle is percussion, fold a patch into quarters and lay it over the nipple. Lower the hammer on it. Now, squeeze some solvent into the barrel. Wet a patch also and run it up a down a few times. After a bit of scrubbing, bring the jag near the top of the top of the barrel, tip the rifle to one side, take the hammer back to half cock and remove the patch. A downward push with the ramrod will squirt the solvent out through the nipple. Run a clean patch and see what it looks like. If it comes out with black on it, you may need to repeat the process. The amount might be so small that a patch wet with solvent will finish. When the patch comes out clean, dry the barrel out with another patch or so.
You are ready to oil the barrel and see to the outside of the rifle. I often take a patch previously wet with solvent and wipe the lock and the barrel’s exterior. To oil the rifle I happen to like a product called Rem Oil. There are a number of good ones. Sheath is another that comes to mind. Squirt some oil down the barrel and on a patch. I run the patch up and down a few times. At the end I want to see a spray of oil come out the nipple. The oily patch is then used to wipe the lock, nipple, and barrel exterior.
Looks pretty clean and you might be done. But – check around the nipple and you will probably find some crud down deep in the crevices. A toothbrush is a good tool for getting at this. Sometimes I let this go until I get home. The problem is that sometimes I get lazy and the job doesn’t get done. Since you don’t have a toothbrush with you, I’ll just have to trust you to clean the crevices around the nipple when you get home. And . . .when you shoot the next time bring a old toothbrush with you.
There, I think you’re pretty much done. If your rifle sits in a vertical position between shoots, I have one more thing for you to do. Lower the hammer on a folded patch. If you have oil running out of the nipple, it won’t run down the stock.
That should leave you in pretty good shape. It’s never a bad idea to run an oil patch down the barrel in a few days to see if you really got it clean. Shouldn’t be too bad off though.
Now, there are many ways of cleaning your rifle. You have the basics, but things change if you are shooting from a pouch, on a primitive trek, or putting the gun away for an extended period of time. And every veteran shooter has a method he likes best. And he will have his pet solvents, oils, etc. So I’m leaving this open-ended. I hope my muzzle-loading friends on the forum will step in and comment on their cleaning tricks.