Hoppe Bore Gel

Removing Lead Fouling from Gun Barrels

Products for cleaning lead fouling from handgun and rifle barrels.

Revised 2011-09-21

Birchwood Casey Lead Remover & Polishing Cloth

Birchwood Casey Lead Remover Cloth


Birchwood Casey tells us:

Quickly removes leading, burn rings, carbon residue including copper and plastic fouling, rust and tarnish. Great for use on handguns, rifles, shotguns and muzzleloaders. Excellent for stainless steel, nickel, most metal surfaces, wood, glass, plastic and porcelain. Can be cut to size for removing unwanted residue inside the chamber, cylinder, forcing cone, bore and choke. Also ideal for other sporting equipment and home/auto use. "

I have used this product with great success on revolvers, rifles, and the Thompson Contender. I use lots of cast bullets and frequently need to remove lead fouling.

Revolvers are the most trouble because led fouling is deposited in the barrel, the forcing cone, the top strap, and sometimes in the cylinder.

Be sure to use a tight fitting jag and cut a patch to fit very tightly. This depends on friction to strip out the leading and will not work if it is just loosely pushed through the bore.

Be careful using on the outside of the firearm. If used to excess, this stuff will remove the blueing.



Hoppe's Elite Bore Gel

Hoppes Bore Gel removes all types fouling

This is the same formula as Hoppe's Elite solvent but in a thicker formulation. It clings to the bore.


This special blend of cleaning agents, corrosion inhibitors and surface treatments safely penetrates the pores of metal to clean all types of fouling and powder residue. Hoppe's Elite also conditions the barrel to repel additional fouling, provides a powerful lubricant and can cut your cleaning time by up to 80%. Hoppe's Elite is approved safe by all major gun manufacturers and exceeds both EPA and MILSPEC requirements.


I find this to be a very effective bore cleaner for lead removal. I apply it liberally with a loose fitting bore mop then let it set for 20 - 30 minutes. After that, wrap some 000 or 0000 bronze wool around a worn out bronze cleaning brush and scrub diligently for ten or so strokes, Then repeat. Normal cleaning should not take more than two applications. Really bad leading may take more. REMEMBER. You need to let the solvent set for at least ten minutes in the bore before scrubbing.



Birchwood Casey Bore Scrubber Foaming Gel Bore Cleaner


Gell bore cleaneer 

Birchwood Casey Bore Scrubber Foaming Gel 2-in-1 Bore Cleaner quickly, easily and safely removes all types of fouling - carbon, powder, copper, lead and plastic wad residue. This bore cleaner contains no highly toxic ingredients and is safe for use on steel. Solvent clings to and penetrates neglected or fouled bores. Great for rifles, shotguns and handguns.



This stuff is nasty. It removes both copper and lead about equally well. It is very easy to apply to the bore with no tools because the supplied applicator tube can be inserted directly into the bore and the gel will under pressure foam along the entire length of the bore. m Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. It foams out the back end and the front end. You push it out with your cleaning brush. It gets all over everything. It makes a mess on your table.  When I use it, ( and I do use it ), I always cover the table top with a double layer of paper towels.

After leting it soak for 20 minutes or more, I wrap some 000 or 0000 bronze wool around a worn out bronze cleaning brush and scrub diligently for ten or so strokes, Then repeat. Normal cleaning should not take more than two applications. Really bad leading may take more. REMEMBER. You need to let the solvent set for at least ten minutes in the bore before scrubbing. 



Kano Kroil Penetrating Oil and Bore Cleaning Solvent* 


Kano tells us: 

Kano Kroil Penetrating Oil and Bore Cleaning Solvent is the oil that creeps. Kroil is used by the most accuracy-obsessed benchrest shooters to keep their barrels clean. Kroil creeps below the fouling in your barrel, allowing you to knock it out easily with a patch or brush. For best results when working with rusted or frozen gun parts, allow 24 hours for Kroil to penetrate.

They also say tight on the face of the can:


Technical Information: Kroil Penetrating Oil and Bore Cleaning Solvent

Container: Metal Canister
Removes Carbon Fouling: Yes
Removes Lead Fouling: Yes
Removes Copper Fouling: Yes
Can be use after moly-coated bullets: Yes
Displaces Moisture: Yes
Prevents Rust: Yes

This product gets rave reviews on the reloading forums. It is the equivalent of the old west "Snake Oil" It is claimed to cure anything that  ails your  gun. 

* Interestingly, although Midway USA advertises this product as a bore solvent and cleaning product, The manufacturer makes no such claim.  Brownell's states it will penetrate under carbon, copper, and lead fouling and help to remove them.

FYI, If you are going to buy it,  you can order it from cheaper than from the shooting supplies companies.

The results: 

Does it work? Yes.
Is it "Magic"?   No.

It does an adequate job of removing bore fouling, including lead but it is not instant. It needs 20 to 30 minutes to work just like all the other solvents.  It takes slightly more work and a few more applications than say Hoppe's Elite or Birchwood Casey Bore Scrubber Foaming Gel.

If you have it, use it. If you don't have it, don't buy it as a bore cleaner. 

Just for grins, I thought "This stuff does work. If it works by penetrating under the fouling and loosening it that way, then any good penetrating oil should do the same thing." 

I thought that WD-40 is arguably the most famous penetrating oil on the market and everyone already has a can of it. Why not try it.  After the next trip to the range with some ammo known to lead badly, I started by spraying the WD-40 into the bore and saturating it from end to end, just like I would do with any lead removal product. After a 20 minute wait, I proceeded with my normal cleaning routine and found that it worked exactly as well as, but no better than Kroil.



World's Best Bore Leading Removal Tool


Bronze Wool Bore Brush

Bronze Wool Bore Brush


Click to Expand Images




Take a worn out bronze bore brush. You want it worn out because you are going to ruin it and you don't care if it fits tight. Take a pinch of bronze wool. Pull it apart and stretch it until the fibers are only loosely connected. Wrap it around the brush in a spiral pattern until the brush is completely covered from end to end. If the brush is worn so much that it fits loosely in the bore, keep wrapping bronze wool until it will not enter the bore by finger pressure.

Now put the brush on the end of a short rod, As short as possible because you are going to be applying lots of pressure and you don't want it to bend. Using the rod, force the brush into the bore from the breach end if possible but for revolvers you will have to force it into the muzzle. The first time you use it, it should "shave" some of the bronze wool off and leave it behind. If it does not, you don't have enough bronze wool. Occasionally you will wrap so much you just cannot get it to enter the bore. When that happens, unwind a little of it and try again. The final fit should be tight enough that it requires significant force to push it through the bore.

Although this is very effective, you should use it in conjunction with lead removing solvents, not insteae of.





Firing Jacketed Ammo

Fire several rounds of jacketed ammo.

When I first heard this, I thought "Oh my God" nothing could be worse than firing jacked bullets through a lead fouled barrel.  All that will do will iron in on and make it stick tighter and be harder to remove. This was one of those self evident truths that I just 'knew" to be true. Well these self evident obvious truths frequently aren't. This this turned out to be one of those times.

I have a Thompson Center .38 Special / .357 Magnum. This thing has about a three quarter inch section of sewer pipe for a forcing cone. It is very rough and leads very badly. This would be a perfect test gun.

Beginning with a clean barrel, I fired 50 rounds of hot .38 special. ( Not as hot as +P loads. ) This left about one and one half  inches of severely leaded lands and groves in front of the forcing cone. This was fired into 5 ten shot groups at 50 yards, the first was about 3 inches and they progressively got larger. The last one was over 7 inches. This experiment was followed by two five shot groups using Winchester Super X 130 gr. FMJ ammo at the same range. The first group went into about 6 inches. The second was about 2.5 inches.  Something unexpected is happening here.

I looked through the bore again and saw nothing but some powder fouling. I passed two ( very tight fitting ) clean dry patches through the bore and it looked completely clean! I could see no leading and no lead appeared on the patches.

A couple of passes were made with the Birchwood Casey Lead Remover Cloth. As expected, it did pick up some lead but only tiny particles. This bore was essentially free of leading.

Later that day, after several test groups with other lead bullets, when the groups began to open up, I decided to try it again but one shot at a time. Just how many rounds of jacketed ammo would it take to perform this task. I fired one round and passed two ( very tight fitting ) patches. I could see no difference at all in the lead. After round two and two more clean dry patches, I did notice a significant decrease in the amount of visible lead. After the third round and two m ore dry patches, it was visually as clean as after the two five round groups.

The same day I repeated the experiment with a modestly leaded 9mm Kimber and got the same result. After five rounds this barrel showed no visible leading.



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