Best Way to Clean a Bolt Action Rifle

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Here is a great How To Guide on the best way to clean a bolt action rifle.

Best of all it is quick, simple and straight to the point. No B.S. just the way hunters like you and me want things to be.

Each step has been explained for you providing the best rifle cleaning tips.

Best Way to Clean a Bolt Action Rifle

Why Clean A Rifle Properly?

At the risk of starting a major debate on the subject, I believe a clean rifle barrel provides better accuracy than a filthy one. Simple. 

That’s my experience anyway over many years of hunting and shooting a very wide range of different rifles.

I also believe a well maintained and clean rifle will last longer.

Plus it is a great way to spend some idle time, to look after your prized possession.

So watch the video below, it is only 1 1/2 minutes long. 

Read the step by step instructions and extra rifle cleaning tips and then you will know the best way to clean a bolt action rifle.

Bolt Action Rifle Cleaning Equipment

Bolt Action Rifle Cleaning Equipment
  • Cleaning Rod. No cheap aluminum cleaning rods. Invest in a quality one piece rod
  • Cotton Cleaning Patches.
  • Bore guid​​​​e. (Optional but a good idea)
  • Bronze brush and jag. – Make sure you get the right caliber to suit your rifle.
  • Powder  Solvent. Hoppes no.9 removes primer, powder, lead and metal fouling also helps prevent rust.
  • Copper solvent. Dissolves copper fouling from the bore.
  • Gun oil for rust prevention.
  • ​Gun vise for securing your rifle whilst cleaning. Makes the job a whole easier.

Bolt Action Rifle Cleaning Procedure


The place bore guide in the breach: helps with accurate rod placement and keeps solvent out of the action

step 1

Put a cotton patch on end of jag and soak in powder solvent.

step 2

Run it through the guide and rifle bore.

I like to run a patch with solvent on it, wait a few minutes for it to work before running the next patch through.

step 2
step 2

Repeat this process to remove loose fouling until the cotton patch comes out relatively clean. I find 2 or 3 times is generally enough, sometimes a couple more if rifle bore is very fouled.

Next Steps

Next, attach the bronze brush and run through several times:- removes the fouling you have loosened up with the solvent.

As this guide is about the best way to clean a bolt action rifle, I recommend you only push the brush through in one direction. The same way as the bullet travels!!!

This will prevent the fouling getting stuck inside the rifle barrel as well as to stop or minimize possible scratching damage to the bore.

I do know of others who push and pull the brush without problems. Your choice but as cleaning your rifle is actually a great way to spend some time, then do it the long way and remove the brush from the cleaning rod after each brush through and reattach before the next push through.

If the brush is dirty, (likely) clean dirty solvent and fouling off first before repeating the process.

Attach more cotton patches soaked in the copper solvent to remove heavy fouling. Repeat a few times until patches come out relatively clean.

Do not leave copper or any solvent in the bore. It will cause long term damage to your rifle.

Run some dry patches through to remove the solvent.

Finally, use gun oil on a patch to run through the bore to help protect from rust.

For longer storage then leave this light coating on oil in the barrel. Remember to run some dry patches through the bore before firing.

Additional Gun Cleaning Tips

Clean the bolt with solvent and oil lightly until clean. 

Clean the breach and lightly oil. A toothbrush will do the job nicely.Most gun cleaning kits include brushes for this purpose.

Use a Bore snake for a quick clean at the range or in woods.

Final Points

Don’t over clean. There is no exact right time to clean after x number of rounds have been put through.

Every ammo type is different and the conditions you are shooting are different. Looking down the bore is one simple way to check if a barrel clean is needed.

Clean before a major trip and sighting in the rifle or after a long and dirty hunt or range session.

Clean more regularly if using cheap ammunition as there is often more copper fouling with this in my experience.


This is a no fuss, no waffle and what I believe is the best way to clean a bolt action rifle.

Watch the video a few times and read the extra gun cleaning tips provided. You will then know how to how to clean a bolt action rifle properly and be confident when taking the next shot on that prized buck.

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