At the rifle range it is not uncommon to see shooters cleaning their barrels.  What often surprises me though is the number of otherwise experienced shooters who do not use bore guides in cleaning rifle barrels.  It is difficult to know why that is so.  Bore guides are readily available and modestly priced.

A bore guide serves a number of very useful purposes.  When placed in the rifle chamber it ensures that the cleaning rod is directly in line with the bore of the barrel.  That is important because the stroking of the bore with a cleaning rod is a fairly vigorous activity and, in the absence of a bore guide, the cleaning rod or its attachments can contact the edge of the barrel bore where it meets the chamber.  It is possible to damage that area, with undue wear, as the shaft of the cleaning rod scrapes against it.

The other major benefit of a bore guide is in preventing excess solvent from running down into the trigger and magazine area.  Some solvents are by nature quite powerful chemicals, designed to dissolve the metallic fouling left behind in the lands of the barrel as the projectile is propelled out by the powder charge.  Some solvents are harsher than others and it is wise to prevent potentially erosive chemicals from attacking the metal work of the delicate trigger mechanism, chewing up the magazine spring or eating into the rifle’s bedding compound.

Bore guides are available for the different action types.  Single shot and break action rifles are catered for.  Guides for bolt actions typically have a small protruding arm that fits into the rifle bolt slot and holds the guide in place.  There are different length guides for short and long action rifles.  Mostly, the bolts of rifles are to similar diameter and any given bore guide will fit a wide range of different firearms.  Occasionally, though there are exceptions.

bore guides for rifle cleaning

Just recently I was testing the new Howa 1500 Mini Action in 223 Rem.  When it came time to clean the rifle my small sized bore guide would not fit into the receiver.  It turns out that the Howa, like a few other smaller bolt actions, has a slightly smaller diameter bolt than most.  I did quick web surf to find out where I might acquire a suitable bore guide for the little Howa.

Following up on some forums’ chat I emailed the US based, family run, Possum Hollow Products and received an immediate reply.  I paid with PayPal and the bore guide, machined from inert Delrin, was delivered to my address within two weeks.  The Possum Hollow guide is a nice tight fit in the Howa receiver and also has an o-ring to ensure no seepage of solvent back into the rifle action.

For the great majority of shooters it will not be necessary to order a bore guide from the USA.  Every gun shop in the country would most likely have a range of bore guides on the shelf, and be able to order in anything unusual in that line.  Do yourself, and your rifle, a favour and make it a habit to always use a bore guide when cleaning the barrel of your rifle.

This review was first published in the SSAA Australian Shooter of March 2017.