How to Clean a Muzzleloader with Soap and Water

How to Clean a Muzzleloader with Soap and Water

Muzzleloader rifles are often used for hunting big game or for muzzleloading. They are pretty unique, and they are highly accurate. However, if you use a dirty muzzleloader, the chances are that you are not going to hit your target.

Dirt and powder fouling can reduce a muzzleloader’s accuracy, so giving it a good clean after firing it a few times can help maintain its accuracy. Muzzleloaders use black powder, so to maintain your gun’s accuracy, you have to clean or swab it before reloading it.

In competitions, this is not allowed, but if you are shooting for the fun of it or hunting, you need to swab your muzzleloader after ten shots to ensure you get an accurate aim.

In light of that, cleaning a muzzleloader is not as easy as cleaning a pistol. It does require some time and effort. If you are a new owner of a muzzleloader rifle, learning how to clean and maintain the correct way is essential. This guide is for you, so read on and find out how to go about it properly.

Step 1:

Gather together your cleaning equipment
Source: YouTube

Gather together your cleaning equipment that is dishwashing soap or other liquid soap, cleaning patches or a clean rug, ramrod, cleaning brush, and some clean, warm water. Then disassemble your rifle by detaching the barrel from the stock.

Not one muzzleloader rifle is the same, so check your instruction manual on how to do it. Some are easy to disassemble, while others require tools to take them apart. 

Step 2:

Once you have disassembled your muzzleloader rifle, the next step is to take a warm water bucket and add your dishwashing soap to the water.

Make sure not to use hot water as it can result in what’s known as flash rusting.

Drop your small pieces like your nipple and breech plug in the bucket and leave them there for a couple of minutes to allow the soap to loosen any dirt and grime. Then take your barrel and drop it in the bucket as well.

Step 3:

Push the rod through the barrel
Source: YouTube

Take a patch jag and attach it to your ramrod. Take a cleaning patch, soak it in your soapy water, wrap it around the jag, and then push the rod through the barrel. What will happen is that it’s going to suck the water up and down, much like a plunger.

Do this a few times, and you’ll notice that the water in the bucket will start to change color to indicate that the soapy water is doing its job at removing all the powder fouling and dirt from the barrel. You might need to use more than two or three patches during this process.

Use a ramrod that can pass through the entire length of your barrel like a working rod or a range-rod, which are long to mitigate the risk of damaging your ramrod. 

Step 4:

The next step is to attach your cleaning brush to your ramrod. Make sure to remove the patch jag first before doing this. Then pass the rod through the barrel a couple of times, scrubbing it as best you can.

Once you have done this a couple of times, remove the brush and attach back your patch jag, wrap a clean, dry patch around the jag and pass the rod through the barrel to dry it. You may need to do this two or three times, using a clean patch every time to ensure it’s completely dry. 

Step 5:

Take the rest of the pieces out of the bucket and dry them with a clean, dry cloth or old T-shirt. Then take your gun oil, apply the oil to each piece, use your cleaning brush, and give each piece a good scrub. This should remove any stubborn carbon fouling and dirt. 

Then take your cleaning patches or rag and dry the pieces to remove all the dirt you have scrubbed off.

Step 6:

Pour a few drops gun lube on each piece
Source: YouTube

Take your gun lube, pour a few drops on each piece, and then coat each piece well with a cleaning patch or rug. Don’t use too much oil. Excess oil may gunk up your moving parts, and that may cause the rifle to malfunction.

Don’t get any oil down the nipple. 

Step 7:

Put a couple of drops of your gun oil on your barrel and wipe down the barrel’s outer part. Then take a clean patch, apply some oil to it, attach it to your ramrod and run the ramrod through the barrel. Do these several times, using a clean oiled patch every time to give the barrel a good coating and remove any powder residue and dirt.

Step 8:

Double-check all your pieces to see if they clean, and then start reassembling your rifle. Make sure that you reassemble it correctly to avoid malfunction problems. Once assembled, wipe down the rifle for the last time and store it in a safe place.

Safety Precaution tips when handling a muzzleloader

Learn everything muzzleloader
via @the.outlife

Muzzleloaders are more complex to operate than other firearms, so significant knowledge is needed to use them correctly. If you are new to muzzleloaders, learn everything you need to know about them, including how to load, fire, and clean them before actually using one.

  • Don’t use any other kind of gunpowder except black powder in a muzzleloader
  • When firing a muzzleloader, always wear ear protection and shooting glasses
  • Don’t cap a muzzleloader until you are ready to fire
  • Don’t smoke while loading or shooting a muzzleloader
  • Unload your muzzleloader once you are done using it
  • Never clean a loaded rifle

Final Thoughts

Cleaning a muzzleloader is not as easy as cleaning a Glock. It does take some time and effort; however, to keep your rifle in good working condition, it’s necessary to clean it.

We hope that this guide has been of some use to you. Muzzleloaders are great hunting rifles, and if you are a hunter, you understand that a clean rifle is an accurate rifle.

How to Clean a Muzzleloader

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