How to Use a Cleaning Jag for a Gun

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Shooting firearms for sport, hunting or target shooting is fun. However, the more you shoot, the dirtier your gun gets. Carbon fouling is deposited in the chamber, throat and barrel each time a round is fired. Lead or copper fouling can also occur in the grooves of the barrel as tiny particles of the projectile get shaved off when it is squeezed and forced down the barrel. Cleaning a firearm after a shooting session is essential to keeping the gun safe, reliable and accurate. A cleaning kit contains a plastic piece called a jag that holds patches used for cleaning.

Unload the firearm and make sure there are no live rounds in the magazine or chamber.

Set the rifle in a rifle rest and remove the bolt.

Assemble the sections of the cleaning kit rods by screwing them together end-to-end. If your cleaning rod is one piece, disregard this step.

Select the largest jag that will fit inside the bore of your gun, then screw the jag into the end of the cleaning rod. One end of the jag is threaded and screws into the female threads in the end of the cleaning rod.

Insert a patch through the slot of the jag. Only pull the patch half-way through.

Dip the patch in bore solvent, then insert the cleaning rod, jag-first, into the chamber. Push the cleaning rod all the way through until the jag and patch come out of the muzzle. Remove the dirty patch, then retract the clean rod from the gun.

Place a new patch in the jag, dip it in solvent and push the patch through the barrel again. Repeat until no more carbon fouling is seen on the patch. The patches should be white.

Place a clean, dry patch in the jag and push it through the barrel to dry the barrel of any remaining solvent.

Place a clean patch in the jag, then drop a few drops of gun oil onto the patch. Push the patch through the barrel one last time to coat the inside of the barrel with a fine layer of oil for protection against rust.


  • Do not move the solvent-soaked patch back and forth through the barrel. Push only from the chamber towards the barrel.


About the Author

Emrah Oruc is a general contractor, freelance writer and former race-car mechanic who has written professionally since 2000. He has been published in "The Family Handyman" magazine and has experience as a consultant developing and delivering end-user training. Oruc holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in economics from the University of Delaware.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Digital Vision/Getty Images