Every sportsman knows the value of keeping his gun carefully cleaned and in smooth working order. No gun will do good work with the inside of the barrel fouled with the residuum from burned powder, and rust-pitted from neglect and failure to use the proper cleaning implements. It is true that in these days of nitro and high powders gun barrels are not so greatly affected and do not become so heavily clogged with residuum as when the cheaper grades of black powder were in such universal use. There is no explosive made, however, that will not to a greater or less extent leave its coating of burned substance upon the highly polished interior of a gun barrel; and even the slightest amount of residuum so remaining, retaining, as it does, chemical properties destructive to even the finest qualities of steel, will in time pit and rust the barrels. The sportsman who takes care of his gun as carefully as he would take care of his watch is the sportsman who gets the best work out of it and whose arm will serve longest. Neglect or indifference to the condition in which a gun is set away in the rack after a days' shooting will affect, not only the life of the barrels, but their shooting qualities as well. Particularly is this the case where shore-bird and other water-fowl shooting is indulged in. Salt or damp air will always affect metal disastrously, unless measures are taken to protect the metal against it; and where the evil effects of burned powder residuum is increased by moist or salt atmosphere, the effect upon gun barrels is much more rapid and destructive.
The interior of a rifle barrel will yield more readily to the chemical effects of residuum from burned powder, either nitro or black, than will the barrels of a shotgun. The grooves of a rifle barrel offer far better opportunity to the destructive chemical effects of burned powders than does the comparatively intact interior of a gun barrel. And, for obvious reasons a pitted rifle barrel will affect the accuracy of the marksman to a much greater extent than would be the case with a trap- or field-shooter. In the rifle the barrel is so constructed as to have a direct bearing upon the bullet from the moment it leaves the cartridge until it arrives at the muzzle. Any imperfection, however slight, will therefore adversely affect the passage of a rifle ball where it would not materially affect a charge of shot in a smooth-bore gun.
Revolvers, like rifles, owing to the grooved interiors of their barrels, retain residuum to a greater degree than is the case with a weapon of smooth-bore barrel. No better evidence of the fact that a foul revolver barrel will affect the marksmanship of the shooter is needed than the frequency with which the expert target shot will clean his weapon while at practice or in competition. The limited length of the barrel requires that it shall exercise undisturbed control of the bullet from the moment it leaves the chamber until it passes beyond the muzzle, and there is but little opportunity for the recovery of that control, should it be lost or affected at any period of the bullet's passage as the result of a foul or pitted barrel. It is important, therefore, not only that the parts of a revolver be kept well-oiled and free from foreign substance, but that the barrel be frequently cleaned when in use and that it be kept absolutely free from pits.
The Gun Bore Treatment Company of New York city, has devised an absolutely effective and permanent protection against the rusting, pitting, fouling and leading of the bore. The treatment is chemical, and changes the color of the bore to a dark blue or black, making the surface hard and smooth, and penetrating the pores of the metal, filling them and preventing the entrance of ravaging agents. The treatment cannot fill up pits and rust spots (metal once gone cannot be replaced), but all further pitting or rusting is arrested. It does not change the resisting power of the metal or its tensile strength. The treatment requires from five to six days, according to the character of the metal, and may be equally well applied to the exterior of gun barrels with the most satisfactory results.
Scores of barrel cleaners are now on the market. The Budd-Petmecky and those made by the Bridgeport Gun Implement Company are excellent. Recently what is known as a "wick plug" has become popular. It is made on the same plan as a lamp wick, except that it is round. A hook is fitted to one end of the plug, to which a string cleaner may be attached, the weight dropped through the barrel, and then the wick, after having been saturated with oil, pulled into the barrel so as to completely fill it from one end to the other.
Farrow, Edward S. American Small Arms; a Veritable Encyclopedia of Knowledge for Sportsmen and Military Men. New York: Bradford, 1904. Print.
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