Re: Cleaning a Dark Bore

My experience attacking maybe a dozen rifles with serious dark bore has
been that the answer lies in lots of elbow grease, using several
different products, a fair amount of time, and, near the end, very
sparing use of an abrasive cleaner like JB bore.

My kit for a serious bore clean-up includes:

Several new bronze brushes - including 1 over-caliber
A Caliber-appropriate Jag
Lots of patches
A cork that fits the end of the rifle barrel

It also includes a bunch of bore cleaning products. Here is my list,
although I think just about any mixture of several including the
"**critical**" products would be as good. If you have it already and
it claims to be a gun cleaner, use it.

***Hoppes # 9*** - marked as essential because it is mild enough for
an overnight soak
Hoppes Benchrest
Sweets - use with care per directions and never leave in bore for
more than a few minutes
***Kroil Oil*** - for soaking between cleaning sessions
***JB Bore*** - don't use until end of clean-up.

The key to my "dark bore" cleaning process is do a more or less normal
5-minute cleaning with one product and then a next cleaning with a
different product, etc., rotating until you are tired of cleaning.
Perhaps I have deluded myself into this belief, but I think that using
a new product for a next cleaning is more effective than doing a repeat
cleaning with the same product.

A session always starts with a good bronze brushing, either soaked in
solvent if the bore has been left dry, or while the bore remains wet
from a soak in either Kroil or Hoppes #9. Bronze brushes wear out
quickly enough that I figure on wearing out 3 resurrecting a dark
military bore.

A session generally ends by corking the bore at the muzzle and filling
it full of either Hoppes #9 or Kroil Oil and leaving it sit with the
rifle standing on its muzzle in a corner with its muzzle in a plastic
bucket. I never let Hoppes #9 sit for more than 24 hours and only do a
Hoppes #9 soak when the barrel is well on its way to cleaning up.
Kroil I will leave for days. Kroil is just a super effective
penetrating oil that works under and helps release fouling. When you
run a first patch through the bore after a brushing after the first
Kroil soak or two, look at it. You will be amazed at the stuff that
the brush now scrubs loose. A Hoppes #9 soak solvates traces of copper
fouling with relative gentleness. However, there is not much point to
this until Kroil, the bronze brush, and patches have gotten the worst
of the crud.

How long do you do this? I have seen continual improvement over maybe
15 30-minute cleaning sessions distributed across a month. I know that
I am getting close to done when the third dry patch after a brushing
after a soak is crud-free.

I finish the job by polishing with JB Bore. Follow the instructions
that come with JB Bore. I do a total of 10 JB-soaked patches on a well
fitting jag, each swabbed end-to-end 10 times. After each JB Bore
swab-job, I push the crud out with a Hoppes #9 soaked patch and follow
with three dry, clean, patches.

Note that JB Bore is basically a lapping compound and contributes to
barrel wear. It will lap a barrel unevenly if the barrel is badly
fouled. Thus, I use it only after a BIG investment defouling the bore
with solvents, brushes, and patches. Some people will strongly advise
you not to use it and you must make your own judgment here. I would
not use JB Bore on a valuable antique.

What is the result? The bore will look about like it did when it was
dark, but will be shiny. If the barrel is really badly fouled,
particularly if it is leaded, you may discover pitting or roughness you
did not see before. And sometimes you will discover a bore that looks
much better than you ever imagined that it could. But the one thing
that never will happen is the disappearance of barrel pits that you can
see when the bore is dark.

And, shooting wise, sometimes it will shoot a lot better than it did
before you cleaned it. And sometimes it will shoot the same and
sometimes worse. So, if the gun is a really sweet shooter before you
start, you might consider leaving it dark.

Win a Henry Lever Action .44 and protect your 2nd Amendment Rights too!
Support MPFO! See details at
Learn about rec.guns at