A bore snake is a long fabric rope with and integrated bronze brush for cleaning the bore of a rifle or a shotgun. Due to it’s length with just one pull through you have a lot of fabric cleaning the barrel. I used it myself for years in the wilderness as the only rifle cleaning tool. Because the conditions in wilderness can be pretty harsh you need to clean the rifle as soon as possible after you took a shot. The residue from the burnt powder is sucking moisture out of the air!

disadvantages of the bore snake

But can I recommend it? Not any more. There are several points which are a big disadvantage of a bore snake.

wet bore leads to wet bore snake

If the bore gets wet because of condensation so do the bore snake. But because the wetness can be very slight and hard to notice there is a chance that you put the bore snake back wet. In a plastic bag or any other normal storage it will not dry and the residue on the snake will keep the moisture tight. That can lead to, that your only bore cleaning tool is not able to get the bore dry the next time.

residue adds up

While using the bore snake more and more residue from the burnt powder adds up in the fabric of the snake. When you pull that dirty snake through the barrel it will not clean up everything any more. I noticed that when I pulled clean patches through the barrel after I used the bore snake.

bronze brush and accuracy

In the wilderness you often just do one shot. But to zero the rifle you do 3 as an absolute minimum. After a shot in the wilderness you need to get the residue out of the bore because it sucks moisture from the air leading to corrosion very fast. So normally you clean after every shot in the wilderness. I noticed that this changes the point of impact often up to two, sometimes even more, centimeters on 100m, depending on the rifle. For most shooters that doesn’t sound much, but when you hunting birds and shoot them on the head on distances up to 200m this is absolutely unacceptable.

the bore snake catches oil from other parts easily

It is good to oil some parts of the gun, even when they are stainless or aluminum, because they will work much more smoothly and with less abrasion. But when you pull the very long bore snake through the barrel it touches a lot of other parts of and in the breech block. The bore snake will get very slightly oily and spread this oil in the chamber and in the barrel. While with a few guns the impact of that is hardly noticeable most guns can get very inaccurate! There where a lot of research done on the impact of oil in the barrel or in the chamber and the results are very different. The bore snake is not easy to clean in wilderness and it takes a lot of time.

the alternative

Of cause a cleaning rod is not an alternative. But there are ropes where you can attach different tools which are even lighter then a bore snake. I use a rope with a nylon brush, a bronze brush and a holder for cheap cotton. I mainly use the nylon brush to get most of the residue out and do a final clean with the cotton. I have the bronze brush only with in case I notice a degradation in accuracy because too much brass is adding up in the barrel. This degradation can happen pretty suddenly.

With this method I keep my rifle reliable accurate and still clean.