We all know that precision rifles need to be kept clean. But too many shooters think clean refers only to a rifle’s bore. Of course, there’s a certain level of cleanliness which must be maintained inside a rifle’s barrel in order for it to shoot accurately. Just how much cleanliness is variable, as some guns shoot better with a fouled bore and some shoot best with a freshly cleaned one. The only way to find out what your rifle likes is to do a lot of shooting with it.
However, a rifle barrel includes more than the bore. The chamber is an integral part of that barrel as well, and it needs to be kept clean too. So far, I’ve never seen a rifle which performs better with a dirty, grit-filled chamber. I doubt one exists. Which leads us to the question of how to clean chambers.
The time to clean a chamber is always after all the bore cleaning is completed. It’s the step you take right after the long cleaning rod and it’s bore guide are put away. I suppose there might be some sort of high-tech and expensive way to clean a chamber, but when low-tech and cheap works perfectly well, why bother with anything else. I use a simple bore mop mounted in the end of a short cleaning rod. Find a size which fits snugly into the chamber, push it in, rotate it once or twice and pull it out. You’re done.
The best rod I’ve seen for doing this chore is made by J. Dewey Mfg. and is called their BAC – Bolt Action Lug Recess Cleaning Kit. As the name suggests, it’s not made specifically for cleaning chambers. Rather, it’s intended to clean the lug recesses of bolt action rifles. It does that by inserting a hard cotton swab into a special holder and locking it in place with a small screw. The swab is at right angles to the rod and when assembled it looks like a miniature version of your rifle’s bolt. Push it into the action from the rear and when the cotton reaches the lug recesses, it expands to fill them. Rotating the handle rotates the swab and pulls out the dirt. A square felt swab can be used after that for a final wipe.
Cleaning chambers and lug recesses is an often overlooked chore, but it’s a necessary one for precision rifle shooters. Whatever system you use, clean both these areas regularly.