Introduction: How to Clean a Bolt Action Rifle

Picture of How to Clean a Bolt Action Rifle

In this, my first, instructable you will learn how to clean a basic military (or civilian for that matter) bolt action rifle.

Cleaning is one of the most important parts of gun care and respect. The more you respect them, the better. I'm not going to give you a speech :).

Also, especially with a military relic like this, taking care of the rifle keeps its value high and makes it perform a heck of a lot better.

Major Materials:

-Cleaning Rod, at least as long as the barrel of the rifle you are cleaning. Check Wal-Mart.

-Cleaning Patches, for the caliber rifle you are using. Can be found at most sporting goods/ gun s tores, even Wal-Mart

-Solvent, whether it's Hoppes 9 or Gun Scrubber it doesn't matter. This can be found once again at sporting/gun stores and most of the time Wal-Mart.

-Rust Protector, like Barricade in the photo or others.

-Some way to hold the rifle in place, I used sandbags made for shooting and a regular vise with a towel draped over it keep it from marring the wooden stock. They do make gun vises just for this purpose and if you are doing a lot of cleaning, you should consider getting one. Last I checked they ran from about $50-$200.

-Disassembly Tools, you need the tools that are required to disassemble your rifle. Often this is none at all or just screwdrivers. Some rifles have special tools (ie. M1 Garand, Mosin Nagant, SKS/AK sights) that are made just for them. Most of the time they are not necessary and can be replaced by normal consumer tools, but help a lot.

-Disassembly Guide, how are you going to clean it if you cannot take it apart? Some rifles come with a manual from the company that imports them (mine was from Century Arms) and you can buy take-down guides at most gun stores. Also, you can find instructions on how to take-down military rifles at

-Place to store small parts, not really required but helps a lot. I found a small organizer in the sewing (I think?) department of Wal-Mart. I can't tell you how many times I have dropped a screw or something of the like and spent hours searching for it on my garage floor. It's nice to have them all in one place.

-Last but not least, a spacious place to work, I use the workbench in my garage, but most places will do. You need at least enough room to fit the cleaning rod down the barrel. Remember that most of the solvents and chemicals need to be used in a well ventilated area, so do so. Personally, my garage workbench is a little too small, but it will do.

WARNING: Guns by nature are dangerous, and I hope you would know that. Always make sure the gun is not loaded in any way. In addition, some of the chemicals or solvents used when cleaning are toxic to breath or touch. Where the proper safety equipment (gloves, respirator, etc.) And for God's sake don't get the stuff in your eyes, or you will be sorry (I know from experience!) Therefore, while cleaning a gun shouldn't be dangerous if you do it right, I am not liable for any injury or death sustained while doing this. Don't be stupid or careless, always use proper gun safety even when its not loaded, and while cleaning. PLEASE BE CAREFUL.

Step 1: Make Sure the Rifle Is UNLOADED!

Picture of Make Sure the Rifle Is UNLOADED!

This is probably the most important step. Open the action of the rifle and visually check and make sure that there are no rounds loaded or in the magazine (if the rifle has one).

You wouldn't want to be killed (or kill someone else) by the unloaded gun would you? This takes all of 20 seconds but is a crucial safety step.

Well, you get the point, don't be stupid and careless!

Step 2: Partially Disassemble the Rifle.

Picture of Partially Disassemble the Rifle.

Now, start to take your rifle apart. I was only doing a quick clean, so all I did was remove the bolt and scope. When doing a more elaborate check, take-down the whole rifle.

For the Mosin-Nagant taking out the bolt is simple. Just pull the bull to the rear, pull and hold back the trigger, and pull the bolt rearward out of the receiver. To take of the PU scope, I just unscrewed the bolt on the base and removed the mount and scope.

Step 3: Visual Check and Wipe-down

Picture of Visual Check and Wipe-down

Alright, time to start cleaning. First I just look over the inners of the gun and make sure nothing is wrong, or shifted in the wrong place.

Next, I think it helps just to wipe-down the rifle with a paper-towel or the like. A lot of the dust and dirt on the stock (from the range) will come off and any grease applied last cleaning (to lubricate) probably has grime stuck in it to. Wipe it all off.

Also, while not necessary for this one, I would advise putting a towel over the wooden stock in areas that you might spill the solvent. That stuff will eat through the finish and can ruin the stock.

Step 4: Barrel Cleaning

Picture of Barrel Cleaning

Pull out the cleaning patches and cleaning rod. Thread the patch through the jib on the end of the rod. Soak the patch in solvent.

Insert the rod at the muzzle and push it towards the butt of the gun.

When the rod comes out of the barrel and into the receiver, DO NOT pull it back through the barrel. Take the patch off and then pull the rod back out the way it came. Pulling the rod out with the dirty patch in it could get the dirt you just cleaned back in the barrel. I don't really know if this is true, but it is what most people tell me and it seems logical.

Continue to put solvent on and run them down the barrel until you get the bulk of the mess and break up the solids in there. You can check your barrel buy looking down it (duh).

After a while, you can just run dry patches until they come out white. It might take quite a few of them, so don't stop mid-way.

NOTE: If you have a copper brush, use it now too. They help a lot. I just don't have one for this rifle so I didn't use one.

Step 5: Clean Other Metal Parts

Picture of Clean Other Metal Parts

While cleaning the barrel, you may want to soak other metal parts (bolt, magazine, etc.) in solvent, or spray them down in solvent. Wipe them off after soaking them.

Be sure and check to make sure that the solvent will not take off the finish on the metal. Things that are painted (some civilian sporting rifles) may be affected by the powerful solvent.

Step 6: Stock Treatment

Picture of Stock Treatment

My Mosin Nagant didn't need any type of stock finish. Some choose to put oil or wood cleaner on the stock to make it shiny. Do this now.

Step 7: Rust Protection

The major metal parts should be sprayed with a rust protecter. I used the Barricade product. I sprayed it on the bolt and then wiped the excess off. It gives it a nice oily feel.

Spray it onto a paper towel and wipe it on other parts like the outside of the barrel, sights, receiver, etc.

In my opinion this also makes the metal shine a little bit too.

Step 8: Lubrication

Picture of Lubrication

Almost done, it's time for the best step. Take out some lubrication. Like I said before, I use the US Military Rifle Grease. It works very well. Use a Cue-Tip (is that how you spell it) or a paintbrush and apply a little at places where metal rubs or slides. Major places include where the bolt slides on the receiver and the trigger assembly.

Just be careful when using a Cue-Tip not to get the little fuzzy parts on the ends in the lube and then in turn in the rifle.

Step 9: Reassembly and Glamour!

Picture of Reassembly and Glamour!

Now, reassemble the rifle and look at it in glory, for it is now clean!

It helps to do that every time you fire about 50 or more rounds out of it. Now I know that a military rifle like this doesn't need it that often, but I hate to put it away dirty. Plus, doing it often makes it not as large of a job.

This may not be perfect, and feel free to post up your methods (comments, other instructables) and suggestions.

Happy shooting, and thanks for reading.


psyoper22 (author)2010-10-07

beautiful rifle. i'm quite envious.

great cleaning instructions, except you really shouldn't use hardened steel tools for cleaning any firearms. you should use tools made of brass; ones intended for use on firearms. i gave you 4.5 stars, but it would've been lower if you were handling something rarer, like a 1887 winchester lever action.... =)

AnarchyGamesY (author)psyoper222017-10-02

Myself i own a marlin .44 mag lever action saddle ring gun and clean it every chance i get its a great little rifle and i love it

CrazyInventor (author)2012-09-25

Always clean the barrel of your rifle from the chamber end. This prevents the cloth from pushing any unwanted rubbish from the barrel into the chamber, which then just creates more work for you later on. :)

I agree, it's not a good idea to clean from the muzzel for several reasons, but the one you stated is one of them.

william.cramer3 (author)2015-02-27

Q tips

william.cramer3 (author)2015-02-27

Never had a problem cleaning down the barrel rather then up the chamber. Your going to clean the chamber anyway. Some firearms you can't clean chamber end.

IsaacV1 (author)2014-08-07

Thanks very much for the guide. That was the first time I had seen that US Rifle Grease stuff instead of a spray or liquid oil, so I'll have to check that out. With the exception of the scope, this is the same rifle that I should be picking up next week, so it was really nice to see everything torn down.

zacker (author)2013-04-29

Great Inst. Hey, How does that scope mount to the gun? is it bolted directly to the gun or is it bolted to the wooden stock?

BOFH_2 (author)zacker2014-05-10

I am sorry that no one got back to you on here, (maybe they did directly, who knows? :) ) It is "bolted" to the receiver, via a scope mount or rings.

zacker (author)BOFH_22014-05-12

cool thanks. I was looking for a way to mount a scope to my Mosin, I ended up making a mount similar to one I saw for sale on line, it involves a metal strap that goes around the receiver. its pretty solid but if you hit it hard enough it can still be pushed out of alignment. I am just afraid to drill into the receiver for fear of going in too deep and ruining

zacker (author)zacker2014-05-12

BTW, Mine is a 1933 Izzy octagon receiver. I bought a nice thumbhole stock from Boyd's gunstocks for it because the original stock was all beat up and was a mess. Plus, you can still get a good stock Russian Mosin stock on line for like 20 But I love the way it looks with the thumbhole stock on it. I got this Mosin years and years ago as a kid from one of my uncles and never knew what it was except that it was a Russian army

LockervomHocker (author)2008-05-17

Its a important question, how often i have to clean my gun.? Its like with a good shave, how often you think you need a shave? If you like yourself you will say "often" and you see if you like your rifle or your gun. You will say the same, when we talk about the cleaning of rifles or guns. But to make it easy, transform the question "how often i have to clean my gun" to "how safe is my gun without cleaning" Thanks to the Author, fine work.

clean it after every 20-25 rounds and lube and rust proof constantly, it's impossiible to overdo it but make sure you get excess as it will effect performance over time

jveta172 (author)backyardpyro2172012-04-12

thats a bit much. bear in mind that the rifle he is demonstrating was used for 16+ hours between cleaning by the soviets in WWII.

20-25 really i clean after every use about 200 rounds but it's just a .22

you should clean your firearm after each use!!!!

Tux0r (author)LockervomHocker2011-12-14

It depends on your firearm, I just clean it after i'm done shooting and back home, short-term storage : light oiling after cleaning, long-term storage : heavy oiling after cleaning and a once-over with a silicone impregnated gun rag to get the acidic/corrosive finger prints. Though you should clean them of finger prints anyway before you put them into the gun case.

jerry303 (author)2011-10-10

y is my bolt for my 303 so hard to get in i took it out to clean the gun now i cant get my bolt back in

andy60 (author)2007-07-29

i have a crosman 2250b, but i never clean it, how often do you think i need to clean my rifle(i only got it in august of last year)

tyleestuff (author)andy602007-08-02

Being a BB gun, I really don't know how often it should be cleaned and oiled, if any at all. Does anyone else have any idea?

ak49er (author)tyleestuff2011-01-21

Generally, you just need to periodically oil the seals, especially near the bolt. The Crosman 2250 uses CO2 powerlets, so you don't have to worry about oiling the pump cup. I put a drop or two of oil on a q-tip, and rub a light coating of oil onto the bolt, working the bolt back and forth to insure an even coat. I would try to get my hands on a felt cleaning pellet to clean a bb or pellet gun, and use one every 500 pellets or so, or after a long storage period. I would also fire a felt pellet with a drop or two of gun oil before storing a pellet gun.

If you did have a pump pellet gun, you should check the manufacturer's recommendation for oiling. Crosman generally recommends a drop on the pump cup every 200-250 shots or so.

andy60 (author)tyleestuff2007-08-02

i also have a BSA mercury that i never clean? i have had it for about 10 years lol and never cleaned it, it seems to work fine but i suppose i should clean it and see if there is any improvement in the rifle.

gotja (author)andy602007-09-06

bb gusn u say they dont need to be cleand unless there a sniper rifle (m4 m16 ish asalt RIFLES dont need to be cleand as much) like my sniper rifle u usualy clean 1ce ever month. and for u cheep people that reuses bbs clean it 1ce a week because sinper rifles along with hop up has rifled so it could damage it (use instructions givin to u by the store) and u have to put the bolt back when u clean it and regrease/oil it too because when u clean it it sometimes comes off

Madrias357 (author)gotja2009-05-11

I clean my We-Tech Dragon (airsoft) after every use, and if anything, it makes it work better. All should be cleaned, and the frequency of cleaning depends on the use, how many rounds you fired, and also, the 'How much do you like that gun' factor.

gotja (author)tyleestuff2007-09-06

bb gusn u say they dont need to be cleand unless there a sniper rifle (m4 m16 ish asalt RIFLES dont need to be cleand as much) like my sniper rifle u usualy clean 1ce ever month. and for u cheep people that reuses bbs clean it 1ce a week because sinper rifles along with hop up has rifled so it could damage it (use instructions givin to u by the store) and u have to put the bolt back when u clean it and regrease/oil it too because when u clean it it sometimes comes off

thejrb (author)andy602008-04-22

I believe it is recommended to clean a bb/pellet gun after every 5000 shots. If you have proper cleaning tools and lube just do it every month or two.

jellybean10122 (author)2010-10-27

Where it says the cleaning patch is almost the same size, (7.62)
Isn't the mosin 7.62x54 anyway?

thoraxe (author)2008-11-15

damn man, that is one sexy rifle. did you buy it or was it a handed down?

Karikaru (author)thoraxe2009-02-06

They have specials on these at Big 5 for $99. I paid $139 for mine, but it was a "hand picked" one from the warehouse (means a little bit better condition), and it has matching serial numbers. These aren't exactly priceless antiques with something like 20 million of 'em floating around the globe, but there are circles that collect them for their historic value. I imagine if you collected them now and took care of them, you could start a tradition passing them down to your kids and by the time your grandkids are your age these rifles might be worth something.

Freedster (author)Karikaru2010-09-30

Closer to 40 million. :)–Nagant

I own one myself, got it at Cabela's for $99.

sarge69 (author)2010-08-10

7.62 and 30 caliber are exactly the same

theburn7 (author)sarge692010-08-23

Only in bore diameter, but a 7.62x54r is much different than a 30-30 or 30-06 .308 too. Next time, get your facts straight and never shoot the wrong ammunition

DrWeird117 (author)2009-05-10

Damn it, I can't find a Mosin. Where'd you get one?

Coffee bean (author)DrWeird1172009-06-23

aim surplus had them for a while

DrWeird117 (author)Coffee bean2009-06-23


Coffee bean (author)DrWeird1172009-06-23

Aimsurplus had them but not any more(check them out anyways.)
ImpactGuns now has them

tyeo098 (author)Coffee bean2010-05-15

Or any pawn shop that sells guns.
One guy had a *ugh* laminated Nagant, labeled as an SKS, for 467$.
Really? He couldn't tell the difference between a bolt action rifle, and something resembling an AK? REALLY?!

Coffee bean (author)tyeo0982010-05-15

 Thanks sad, correct my if I'm wrong but I think that high for an SKS?

tyeo098 (author)Coffee bean2010-05-15

Depends on make/model etc but its in the higher range.
But it doesnt matter because it was a regular ol laminated nagant.

gun487 (author)2009-01-03

Very nice rifle look very new is it a ww2 production? or later years im buying a mosin nagant im trying to get a early production but your looks very sexy =P

Karikaru (author)gun4872009-02-06

Judging by the sites and the receiver, I'd say it is a later production 91/30. If those holes are original on the receiver, it's an ex-sniper probably from Izhevsk arsenal (Soviet Russia). I'm somewhat of a newb mosin collector. I just got my 1943 Izhevsk m91/30 this week. It's been fun going to and identifying it. Just a note on mosins: they require a lot more attention when firing the old surplus ammo. it is corrosive and will eat up your barrel if it is not cleaned after shooting. I've heard a mix of ammonia and water helps to neutralize the corrosive stuff. Those interested in this rifle should definitely check em out! They're some of the cheapest rifles you can buy, but very reliable and accurate - plus they're historical.

Pbyrd (author)Karikaru2010-01-11

Yeah on the topic of surplus ammo, I wouldn't even buy it. You can get new made Russian ammo for a pretty cheap price and it isn't corrosive. Most surplus ammo says it isn't but most of the time it is.

gun487 (author)Karikaru2009-02-15

Sweet lol the other day i found a fairly sweet deal at dunhams a mosin nagant 91-59 for $120 might be a soviet sattelite country production but is the same rifle and for a cheap price ive read up about it and all the numbers match up on most of them and there fairly accurate so im looking into it =}

Karikaru (author)gun4872009-02-16

Sounds like a good deal. I also saw that Big 5 in my town has the 91/30's for $90 this week, so that might be an option for you too if you have one around. A big thing that will determine accuracy is the bore of the rifle. You can remove the bolt pretty easily by just uncocking it and pulling it back and then pulling the trigger and sliding it the rest of the way out, and then holding the barrel up to a light and looking down the bore. The lines of the rifling should be pretty crisp and look for signs of pitting and rust and overall cleanliness. I recommend going for one of these as opposed to a fancy new rifle, because you'll save yourself a lot of money and the value on these will go up, because they're collectors while the value of a new rifle will go down as newer models come out.

dla888 (author)gun4872009-10-11

I kinda think a Mauser Model 98K looks very nice, but that's probably the German in me.

Pbyrd (author)2010-01-11

Nice Instructable. I also have a Mosin-Nagant, but mine came with all of the tools for the gun. When I clean it, I use the original tools and cleaning rod to disassemble and clean it. What year was your's made in? Mine was made in 1939, btw.

theburn7 (author)2009-07-23

heh, i have a mosin nagant too, its m44 model Izevsk factory post war stock, and it is nice

rasta74 (author)2009-04-07

Thx a lot for the step by step instructions on how to clean a bolt action rifle. It was very helpful to me and anyone thats not familiar with a bolt action rifle, this would be the page to look at. Very detailed and simple. Q-tip is the correct spelling. Thx again. Rasta

happybirthday (author)2009-02-18

Very nice Mosin Nagant. My uncle owns one

aleigh45 (author)2008-06-28

what type of bolt action rifle is that

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