In Shawn’s earlier post “cleaning and the AR15,” he pointed out that overcleaning can sometimes cause more problems than it fixes. I’d like to add something from the perspective of the Swiss rifleman. (For the record, I’m not a Swiss rifleman–I just happen to collect antique Swiss Rifles.) As many of you may know, Switzerland has a much more “gun friendly” culture than the U.S. currently does, and they take rifle shooting fairly seriously. All able-bodied males are members of the reserves, and are required to qualify periodically. It’s interesting to note that, in general, the Swiss have cleaning habits that are quite a bit different than what we might think:
“The only thing we really have to do is oil or grease the barrel after firing. Even non-corrosive jacketed ammunition is a hazard simply because it leaves no rust protection in the bore. Mix a little atmospheric water vapor with cold, naked steel and you get rust. Keep a little greasy kid stuff in between the two and that dance doesn’t happen. Get a shaving brush (works better in crevices than a rag) and work a little oil onto the exterior metal surfaces to keep freckles away.
As for the rest. Clean out the jacket fouling if accuracy falls off. Avoid removing the stock unless the rifle gets wet or the trigger is gritty. If subjected to rain, sand or dust, clean and lube the bolt/receiver/magazine – otherwise leave them alone.
Eventually, some of us learn that “less is more” for gun cleaning, too.”
In case you’re wondering, the person quoted here is an American who won a medal at Camp Perry with a Swiss rifle that was at least 120 years old. While he’s no more Swiss than I am, I believe his statement (in addition to being in English) is a good representation of the “Swiss method of cleaning.” I’d also like to point out that they usually suggest the barrel be greased while it is still hot, probably to help make sure that the grease coats everything. The debates that I’ve seen usually are about what kind of lube is best, rather than whether “American-style” scrubbing is superior to simple lubing.
This echoes the point that Shawn made earlier. Regardless of whether you decide to use solvents and scrub brushes or not, lubing is the most important part, and that doesn’t just go for AR15s.