By Darrell "Hunting Man" Morse

The cleaning of black powder firearms has evolved much like the guns themselves have. When true black powder is used the general cleaning system is to heat up some water add a little soap, swab the barrel and scrub the parts until everything was clean. This process was followed by light oil, yes even a bear grease coating in the old days, to prevent rust from developing.

Today, modern black powder substitutes have led to advanced cleaning products, eliminating the need for hot water and soap. However, the general cleaning principal is still the same, remove the barrel, if possible, along with associated components and begin the cleaning process using a wet patch on the ram rod jag. I like to use a wet patch over a wire brush to expedite the barrel cleaning time. Swabbing the barrel bore until the wet patch comes out clean is essential. There are literally too many modern cleaning products to list here, but for my personal use on in-line muzzleloaders, I like Thompson Center Arms T-17 Pre-Saturated patches, and Butch's Bore Shine for black powder. I use Olde Time AC 1477 for my muzzleloaders shooting actual black powder.

It is vital to insure all the parts have been cleaned, especially the breach plug and thread areas. I like to use discarded tooth brushes and q-tips to clean the threads and hard to get to areas of the firearm. Once you have everything clean and dry it's always a good idea to inspect the bore with a bright light to insure you have the barrel perfectly clean.

Prior to assembly, lightly coat any threads with a quality breach plug grease. I like to use Rem Oil on a clean patch as a final barrel pass through as well as a light metal coat on everything else. For wood stock firearms a final polishing using a good gun stock wax and it's ready to be put away. Synthetic stocks need a simple damp cloth wipe down and dry to be ready for storage.

This is the process, that over the years, I have found to clean and protect my muzzleloading firearms. I am sure there are many variations out there being used by today's shooters for cleaning and storage of black powder firearms, this just happens to be one of them. Whatever cleaning process you use be sure to do a thorough job and the firearm will last many lifetimes. Enjoy!