As I get older I like to have tighter and tighter groups for my rifles — I like an accurate rifle. Fifty years ago, 1- to 1 1/2-inch groups with a factory rifle and factory ammo were unheard of, but today it is possible. But you have to do a couple of things if you want to get a tight group using factory ammo and a factory rifle.
Here’s what I’d suggest. First, you’re going to have to test a few different manufacturers and grains of ammo to determine what shoots best in your rifle. It constantly amazes me as to how much the accuracy of different ammo varies.
Secondly, some rifles are more picky than others. Some rifles like to be clean before they’ll give you a good group. My Mossberg Patriot Revere .30-06 likes to be clean. After I shoot about 15 shots, the groups start widening out. That doesn’t cause me any heartburn because I’m not going to get in that many shots in a day other than on a hog hunt.
So here’s how I’d recommend cleaning your rifle. But first, one disclaimer. I’m a middle of the road cleaner. You have extremes on both sides. On one side was my old 94-year-old buddy, Roy. He said a smokeless rifle didn’t need to be cleaned. And then on the other end of the spectrum are the fanatics that will run 20 patches down their barrel.
Here’s what I do, and it works fine for me. To begin, get a good gun cleaning station. I use an Otis Range Box. For years, I’d pile blankets on the kitchen table and try to balance it on them. Make a one-time investment in a gun-cleaning station and you’ll be happy ever after. You can keep all of your gun-cleaning supplies in it so it doesn’t take 30 minutes rummaging around hunting all of your supplies.
The first patch I’ll run down my barrel using some Barnes CR-10 Rifle and Hand Gun Bore Cleaning Solvent. Then run a wire brush. Then a rag to clean it up and repeat. it depends on how dirty the rifle is, but generally I’ll do this two or three times (Let it set for a minute the first time. But read the instructions).
Then I run a couple of dry rags down the barrel to remove any loose crud and then use some of my Otis gun cleaning oil and run a few patches and brush it until clean. You want to remove all of the CR-10. The last patch I run a lightly oiled patch down the barrel.
Then oil a rag and lightly oil the bolt and clean out the breech. Then run a patch over the outside of your rifle. If you over oil it, it will just act as a dust magnet.
Then using an optic rag, I will clean the lenses on my Riton Optics scope. Don’t dry rub the lenses. I like to blow off any loose dust. Then using a good lenses spray apply to the lenses and then clean with a lenses rag.
You are now ready to go sight in your rifle.
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.