Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Right Way

There is the right way, the wrong way,  and the Marine Corps way. It is known.

When it comes to gun cleaning, the Marine Corps way is designed to cause damage. The goal to remove every molecule of carbon. If reaching that goal removes steel in the process, it's just collateral damage. Steel cleaning rods and a heavy handed application of force will put more wear on the bore of a rifle than shooting thousands of rounds.

I have no proof, but personal anecdotal data suggests that the worst case scenario is when the rifle is refused by the armorer because it's not clean enough late on a Friday afternoon. If the Marine wants to go on liberty he has to get that rifle turned in. If carbon free, completely dry, white glove clean is the requirement and that date with Suzy is the goal, that Marine is now a rifle cleaning machine.

You see the wear at the muzzle and in the throat because that is where the cleaning rod rubbed as it was being pushed ever so vigorously into the barrel. A military rifle that has seen a lot of use will have a battered crown, and the rifling will either be missing or barely visible in the last 1/2 inch or so.

I had to be retrained in a more rational cleaning process when I became a shooter as a civilian. You do want it clean, but it's still good to remember you will be shooting it again soon. Box O' Truth offers what he does when he cleans old mil-spec rifles. I may not do this exactly, but his way is probably better. At least you won't do any new damage to your old rifle.


Dave H said...

An instructor at our M1 Garand class a couple of months ago showed us the cleaning method approved by the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. It's pretty much what Box O' Truth describes, but they use a carbon fiber or brass cleaning rod with a muzzle guard. (It's not easy cleaning a Garand barrel from the breech end with a straight rod. I use an Otis pull-through cable myself.) They use Hoppes #9 solvent on patches to remove carbon, and Sweet's bore cleaner on a patch and brush to remove the copper fouling.

Chris Byrne said...

Ayup...any time I see an AR with the anodizing scrubbed off, I know it was owned by a marine.

Tony Tsquared said...

You have the Marine method described very well. I was in a Joint unit for many years and I had a Gunny as a supervisor for 5 years - he re-trained me on the "right way" to shoot and care for my weapon because the Air Force didn't know the proper use of a weapon unless it had a tail number. My groupings got tighter but I still relied on a cleaning short cut my uncle (Army Vietnam Vet) taught me on cleaning my rifle - Edge shaving cream. The world nearly ended in the late 80's when Gunny caught me cleaning my M16 with shaving cream.

ASM826 said...


That's funny right there. I can't imagine shaving cream could hurt anything on the rifle.

Having a Gunny walk up on you squirting shaving cream on and in your rifle? Priceless.

Tony Tsquared said...

ASM826, I had the M16 with the break down pin pulled, holding the lower between my knees while I was in a squatted position, muzzle pointed at my feet, white foam all over the chamber/feed, nude, in the shower with the shower running, and in walks Gunny. His first response was something about how I shouldn't have intimate relations with my weapon and then realized I was using the shaving cream to clean the weapon and he went totally ape-shit crazy on me.

I have a few stories of where Gunny caught me doing things I shouldn't or getting into situations with him - I am pretty sure we are still not welcome in Karup Denmark. I was the only AF in his shop and he initially took an interest in realigning my military bearing to his Marine view. I learned real quick how to do push-ups till he got tired watching me do them. He became a mentor and is now a close friend.

Goober said...

proper care and maintenance for almost any mechanical item rarely means that it is so clean you could eat off of it.

Rifles are no exception.

Why the military stresses this so much, I suspect is because they had a bunch of "poor cleaning" failures and so now they go to the other extreme, where they're causing failures because they expect their soldiers to sterilize the damn things.

There is a happy medium somewhere in this story.

Under normal use, I never, ever clean my guns after each use. Maybe twice a year for my shotty guns, and once after big game season for my hunting rifle.

DOing it more often than that is a recipe for having a very clean boat anchor. barrels should be worn out by bullets, not cleaning brushes.

bruce said...

George MacDonald Fraser said (Quartered Safe Out Here the Brits in WWII just put their rifles in a pot of boiling water and let them dry. That would be old school corrosive ammo.

Geodkyt said...

It's a hold over from WWII with corrosive ammo.

More Marine weapons are damaged beyond serviceability by abusive overcleaning than any other cause. Which is why they wear out almost twice as fast as weapons used by Army units with similar firing schedules.