A precision rifle is a complex piece of machinery built to exacting tolerances. Certainly there are few moving parts, however, it is a delicate machine none the less, and like any piece of machinery requires maintenance and care.We perform maintenance in such a way as to minimize variables and thus enhance the possibility of consistent shots. We periodically test the torque settings on every screw and nut on the rifle using an inch pound torque wrench. The scope mounts, rings and action mounting screws can become loose with normal use and if not corrected will result in poor accuracy. You should check the manufacturers recommendations and check them against your gun on a regular basis. Also on our list is reticle alignment. While you are checking all your mounts if any of the ring or base screws require tightening the reticle should be checked to make certain it is aligned properly with the action. We check it as a normal part of our regular routine regardless. During your mechanical checks you should also visually inspect the muzzle for any signs of damage in the form of scratches or other wear. A damaged muzzle will make it difficult to maintain MOA and if it does require repair re-crowning can be done by most competent gunsmiths.
Cleaning…This subject is cause for much debate and everyone has an opinion. Some folks clean after every shoot, some after so many rounds, some whenever they get around to it. The facts are that firing a rifle leaves residue fowling in the barrel, the chamber and bolt and should be removed by cleaning. Barring any wives tales we believe that a precision rifle should be cleaned at least after every use at a minimum. If you fire 10 rounds or 50, clean the gun. We use a multi-step process with Montana Extreme products on our rifles however most have a personal preference and you should use what you feel does the best job. Always use a properly sized bore guide preferably specifically machined to fit your rifle as apposed to a universal fit. A good bore guide will fit nicely in the chamber and have an o-ring seal to prevent solvents from escaping into the action. You also need a rod long enough to clear the rear of your scope as you work it down the barrel. On a standard bolt rifle that works out to something between a 36″ or 44″ rod depending on the optic and mount. Of course you need a method of holding the rifle like a gun vise and the correct size patches, jags and brushes. Also remember to clean with your barrel tilted down to keep the fluids from running back into the action and chamber and clean only from the breech, never from the muzzle. We start with powder solvent on a patch followed by brushing to loosen the powder residue. We patch with clean patches followed by patches of 91% alcohol to neutralize the solvent and prevent cross contamination. When that is dry we patch and scrub with Copper Killer. Once we have the bore coated with copper solvent and scrubbed we allow the solvent to sit in the barrel for about 5 minutes. Much longer than that is not recommended. This again is followed by clean patches and 91% alcohol to neutralize the copper solvent. If the gun is going to sit for any length of time run a final patch with a light coating of gun oil. The bolt and bolt face should be scrubbed with a brush and solvent then wiped dry. The final area of attention is the chamber. Probably the most overlooked area and least often cleaned. You will need a chamber cleaning kit. These are available from Dewey, Tipton and others and cost anywhere from $10 to $30 on average the difference being construction. They all do the same thing and make cleaning the chamber an easy job. Use 91% alcohol the supplied pads and mops to scrub the chamber and allow to dry. The bolt lugs and faces should have a small amount of gun grease applied and you’re done. Simple, effective and will help maintain to your accuracy and add to the life of your rifle.