How to Use a Bore Snake – Simple Guide (with Pictures)

If you’re good to your gun then it will be good to you. Your firearms will perform for many years to come if you properly clean, maintain and care for them.

This means cleaning them after each use and occasionally taking them out once and a while to clean them even if they’ve not been fired recently.

picture of a bore snakeThere are two main gun cleaning methods:

  1. Quick cleaning with a bore snake
  2. Deep cleaning with cleaning rods.

In recent years the bore snake has gained in popularity and has become a convenient choice for cleaning your firearm in the field.

They’re easy to use and you run little risk of damaging your barrel but you may end up snapping your bore snake while it’s in the barrel, if you don’t know how to use it properly. If this happens, don’t shoot out your bore snake!

In this guide, you’ll learn how to easily prevent getting your bore snake stuck in the barrel, why bore snakes have become so popular and how to master the bore snake to properly clean all your guns and improve your shooting accuracy.

picture of cleaning a camo rifle with a bore snakeMost people, including myself, don’t like to put away a dirty gun. I used to spend more time cleaning my guns than I did firing them.

Thanks to the bore snake, all that has changed. A couple of passes with the bore snake and a little cleaning oil is all you need to save hours of time.

While using a bore snake is by no means a replacement for a proper deep clean, it has become much easier for me to do light maintenance and saves plenty of time.


The Anatomy of a Bore Snake

diagram of a bore snake with parts and how to use themYou can see that the bore snake consists of four sections. Each section has an important role to play and it’s taken many years of trial and error to finally come up with this design. You may find that not every bore snake looks like this one but the principles will be the same.

The material resembles that of a wool sock and has brass bristles embedded into the fabric to clean the muzzle of your bore. The brass weight is weighted which allows is to be inserted easily into the barrel without getting stuck.

How to Use a Bore Snake in 7 Easy Steps

Step 1 – First thing you always want to do is make sure the gun is clear, with nothing in the chamber and no magazine. It’s always a good idea to double or triple check this.

first step for how to use a bore snakeStep 2 – Take your favorite gun cleaning solvent and spray it on the bronze bristles. Some people like to saturate it and let it sit for a minute or two but I’ve found no difference in spraying it and using it right away.

the second step of using a bore snakeStep 3 – Take the end of the bore snake with the brass weight and drop it down the barrel and guide it through until the bronze bristles and solvent make contact.

third step for how to use a bore snakeStep 4 – Once you make contact with the brush section of the bore snake you’ll see that it starts giving you resistance.

learning to use the bore snake rifle cleaner - step fourStep 5 – Pull the bore snake with as much or as little force is necessary. If you’re bore snake is the same size caliber as the barrel then you may need to tug pretty hard to get it though.

picture of me cleaning my pistol barrel with a bore snakeStep 6 – The main floss area behind the bronze brush comes out very easily and aids in removing the carbon that was just scraped off from the brush and solvent.

picture cleaning with the boresnake - almost doneStep 7 – You’re done! Take a look down the barrel and it should resemble a highly polished mirror. If now, go back to step 1 and start again.

picture of how to use a bore snake - finally done cleaningMany people generally like to do this 7 step process two or three times. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to do three passes in about a minute.

Also, some people like to put a little bit of oil on the end of the bore snake. This leaves a light coat of oil when you’re finished.

Always be sure to wipe down your firearm once you’re finished with the bore snake. Any parts of the gun that may have been touched with your fingers should be wiped down as well.

A common practice is to use an old T-shirt or towel to give it a good wipe and then you’re done!

Tip #1 – Pull Your Bore Snake ONLY In One Direction

People often ask me if missing a bore snake can damage your bore, the answer is yes! Be sure to learn how to use your bore snake before attempting to try it out blindly for the first time. Always clean in the direction that the bullet travels – chamber to muzzle.

This may sound like common sense but I’ve seen many people go back and forth while cleaning with their bore snake and this is a very bad idea.

First, the carbon and gunk that you just removed is now sent back in the direction you just cleaned. That’s not a very good idea.

Second, the bore brush bristles will tend to face in one direction after pulling out the bore snake. Pulling out the bore snake in the opposite direction can easily cause the bronze bristles to scratch the inside of the barrel.

Tip #2 – Don’t Throw Away your Cleaning Rods

Bore snakes are by no means a replacement for a proper cleaning. One of the best uses for the bore snake is when doing load development at the range.

You can easily improve your accuracy by taking a couple of minutes to break out your bore snake at the range and give your gun a quick clean. It only takes a minute to scrape excess carbon which can slightly affect the trajectory of your shots.

image of a box of bore snake cleaning jagsThe majority of gunk that gets stuck in your gun will not be easily removed with a bore snake. A good brass jag and cleaning patch is still the ideal way, with the bore snake coming in after that.

This helps keep your bore snake clean and also there’s less chance that it will get lodged in the bore and break. A good set of cleaning jags is very inexpensive and costs about the same as drill bits.

Tip #3 – How to Clean your Bore Snake

Another common question I get is how best to clean a bore snake after you’re finished using it. Over the years I’ve tried all different methods, from throwing them in the washer and dryer to taking them to the dry cleaners.

The easiest way is to clean it after each time you use it. I’ve found the best way to do this is to use a little dish soap and clean it using hot water with a flexible nylon brush in the sink. Then simply hang it up to dry for a couple hours.

Best Bore Snake for Beginners

Many people like to buy a bore snake kit which comes with cleaning oil and lubricant. Hoppe’s makes one of the best bore snake kits out there for a very reasonable price: the Hoppe’s BoreSnake Rifle Cleaner.

image of the hoppes boresnake rifle cleaner box from amazonThey have been making bore snakes for the past 20 years, so they pretty much have this down to a science.

Also, the Hoppe’s No. 9 solvent is one of the most widely used solvents gun cleaning. The nylon carrying case is also really nice with this kit and includes a belt attachment and even includes a gun cloth which helps lubricate and protect rust.

You can choose your caliber when purchasing a bore snake, which means you’re probably going to want to get a separate bore snake for each caliber firearm you have.

A popular method, which is recommended by Hoppe’s, is to use one bore snake with a cleaner and one with a lubricant. This helps to prevent the gun cleaning solvents mixing on your bore snake, which can have an adverse reaction.

Conclusion

As mentioned before, the bore snack is not a Substitution for a full clean using a gun cleaning kit with cleaning rods, brushes, and jags.

It’s designed to be used for light cleaning and making your barrel shine after it’s been fully cleaned with a rod. Many companies are coming out with high quality bore snakes and you can find some really good ones that include bronze brush attachments and cleaning jags.

It’s up to you which bore snake to use just be sure to do a little research to make sure that you’re getting the right size for your caliber.

About the Author

Frank is a firearms collector, gunsmith, and hunter. He runs Gun Cleaning HQ, where you can learn everything about properly cleaning and maintaining your firearms and read reviews on the latest gun cleaning and maintenance products.

Frank also is a hunting and fishing trip planner. He’s helped many sportsmen and sportswomen take the trip of a lifetime to destinations like Alaska, Canada, Texas, Mexico, and the Rocky Mountains.

Hey everyone I'm Chris. Founder and editor at Gun News Daily. This site was originally started by my father who passed it on to me. Gun News Daily has been reporting on gun news and conservative politics since 2001. We are the original gun news source. Life-long Second Amendment Supporter.