Principle-Based Learning

July 28, 2016

Principle-Based Learning

There is a maxim that says “keep it simple, stupid.” The theory behind applying this to firearms training is that too many choices will result in hesitation and hesitation could get you killed–therefore, teach one way to do something and avoid any confusion.

Those who believe in “keep it simple, stupid” typically train from the lowest common denominator. This means that if there is a skill that a student can’t do well, the instructor will default to the lowest level of competency. This type of trainer will default to “recipes,” or one approach for all situations, regardless of context.

KISS training goes something like this:

“Today, we are going to cover the technique of shooting grip and stance. We are going to teach the Weaver stance because it is the “best” stance for gunfighting.”

The trainer then goes into the explanation and demonstration and has students perform the technique. At some point, a student asks about Modern Isosceles or some other stance.

The trainer replies that “we don’t teach that here.” We only do the Weaver stance because it is the “best” stance available. You will shoot Weaver. End of discussion. Time is short, moving on…

There are many examples of this type of teaching. Some deal with responses to situations, others with teaching a speed load vs. a tactical load. Avoid confusion, keep it simple.

Now, fast forward two years later: same trainer but he has attended a recent training seminar where he learned new methodology. We have mostly the same group of students with some new students thrown into the mix.

“Today we are going to teach you a new technique. We are going to be teaching Modern Isosceles because it is the “best stance for gunfighting.”

Now the questions form in students who had been trained in the Weaver stance. “I thought Weaver was the best. How come when I asked about Modern Isosceles before he blew me off?”

The trouble with KISS is that training often times isn’t simple and people are not stupid! While many may lack formal firearms training and some may have problems with motor coordination, that doesn’t imply that they are dumb. In fact, with the advent of the internet they are more informed than ever. Now they have questions.

Adult Learning

Adult learners relate what they are learning to their life experiences. They measure what has been said with what they have experienced or learned from other sources.

They want to know “why,” “what,” “how,” and “what if.”

Why are we doing this? Why is it important to me? Why should I change? Why should I take time from other pressing matters and pay attention?

What are we going to be doing?

How are we going to be doing it?

What if I like what I was doing before? What if I found something that works better for me? What if I heard something that contradicts what the instructor is saying? What if I did it this way, would it be better for me?

Keep it simple, stupid generally addresses what and how. This is what we are going to be doing and this is how we are doing it. “Why” is usually addressed in a cursory fashion. For what if, there is no real discussion or time given to work with anything else.

KISS is generally used in mass learning environments where time is short and techniques must be implanted quickly. Not a lot of critical thinking needs to be done in this type of teaching methodology. However, in environments where this type of teaching is commonly done, such as the military, there is usually extensive training of officers who will lead these troops and do much of the critical decision making.

When KISS Fails

For officers on the street, they have to do critical thinking and decision making on their own. Keep it simple, stupid tactical training can lead to performance errors.

A real-world training example that I have seen is taking a knee when doing a reload.

Officers are taught to take a knee when reloading to make them a smaller target. Several times I have had officers take a knee, in plain view, at three yards from a target in live fire mode or a subject in a force-on-force exercise. Negative results were incurred in these episodes.

Clearly it was detrimental to their health in the training we did. I am not opposed to taking a knee. I am opposed to executing a “recipe” that just doesn’t make sense, given the context of the situation.

Teaching the principle of minimizing yourself as a target as opposed to teaching the recipe of “taking a knee” would mean rapidly assessing the situation and determining the best course of action to accomplish this principle. This could mean moving rapidly to cover or if cover was not available, continuous lateral movement while reloading or transitioning to a second gun or anything else that makes more sense than kneeling for a “coup de grace” with a bad guy at close range.

The Important of “Why”

For the adult learner, “why” is crucial to acceptance and absorption of material being taught. Why” establishes the importance and validity of the material. If the “why” makes sense, there is no resistance. “Why” must be tested in situations, not just addressed in lectures.

“What if” is where training often goes awry. Adult learners need time to process and try things. They want to take the information and check it out for themselves. It is not that they don’t believe you; they just want to judge it for themselves based on their life experience. “If I did it this way, would it be better or not?”

After they have shown that they can handle the firearm safely and have been shown a drill, they don’t need someone talking to them while they are shooting. They need time to work with the material, think things through and establish what works and what doesn’t based on their experiences with the material.

Principle-Based Learning

Principle based learning allows flexibility of technique or tactic based on the needs of the training. If I can show you how to increase your control of the handgun and you can meet the training goal of x many shots in x many seconds in x size target then what does it matter if you shoot Isosceles or Weaver?  I will teach you about active footwork, weapon/holster position in relation to your opponent and pertinent information you need to have to understand the why of things.

In principle-based learning, the focus is on presenting the principles involved with the trainer facilitating the training. Students are encouraged to ask questions and try different options to determine what works best for them.

In teaching control of the firearm while shooting at gunfight speeds, there are scientific principles involved that will contribute to superior control. Each student can adapt the principle to fit their style and internalize it in a way that works best for him. This then becomes part of their style. Future experiences will allow them to refine their style over time while still following the original principles. When new information becomes available, it is presented to them and they can make use of this information to improve their skills.

In reality based training scenarios, situational awareness and critical thinking skills are used to assess the situation and then make the correct choice based on tactical and critical thinking principles, not situation specific techniques and “recipes.”

TPC Training

I don’t have just one way of doing things. I will teach what I consider to be the best techniques that I have tested and have stood the test of time to those who demonstrate they have the skills to master them.

For those who demonstrate poor motor ability and aptitude, I will teach a way that will work for them.

All students are not created equal. I will not handicap a superior performer with inferior technique for the sake of dumbing it down to the lowest common denominator. This works for students of all abilities and skills levels from the basic to the advanced student. I have used it successfully in large and small classes for over 29 years now.

During the training, I encourage experimentation while providing feedback when needed. I let students process it for a while without interfering with the learning. Then I take questions, establish dialogue and do it some more. After we have accomplished the mission of controlling the gun under gunfight speeds with requisite accuracy then we can move forward.

In conducting tactical training, I teach tactical principles and show how to apply the technical skills within the situation. Here situational awareness and critical thinking skills are emphasized to allow the participant to make good choices when it comes to execution.

Tactical load or speed load? Stay here or move? Take a knee or not? Should I shoot or not? Critical thinking under duress is the key. Make the mistakes here, do it again, make a better choice. Stay flexible, stay engaged, solve the problem, and survive/win the encounter.

Ron Avery, co-founder

Tactical Performance Center

Leave a comment

Grip Strength Training: Part II

July 26, 2016 1 Comment

Grip Strength Training: Part II

One of the contributing factors for successful high performance shooting lies in your ability to control your handgun during the recoil cycle. While there are a myriad of biomechanical and neural processes involved in precisely how we create that control, none are more fundamental than strength in the hands, wrists, and forearms.

Strength is a commodity that we tend to take for granted, unless we don’t have it. After having a complicated series of wrist reconstruction operations over a three-year period, I was faced with severely limited strength in my shooting hand, wrist, and arm. I was faced with the daunting task of learning how to shoot all over again. I had to learn to grip the gun in a new way as I gained strength back in my upper body, arm, and hand.

When I first returned to the range after surgery, one of the first things I noted was how much more the gun flipped due to my reduced strength. I knew what to do, I just couldn’t do it. Prior to surgery I was capable of shooting accurate splits in the .12 – .15 range out to 10 yards. Post-surgery I found myself running splits in the .22-.26 range at 5-7 yards with only marginal control on the target.

Having a background in strength training, I knew I would need to do specific training to bring myself up to speed quickly.

IronMind® Training Tools

For students of strong man or Olympic weightlifting contests, IronMind® will be a company that you recognize. Specializing in strength tools for serious practitioners, their products are found worldwide.

I contacted Dr. Randall Strossen, founder of IronMind® regarding specific training for shooting strength. We agreed to do some research into the subject and he provided me several tools for my strength and conditioning program.

For my research I obtained six of the Captains of Crush® Grippers: the Guide (60 lbs), the Sportsman (80 lbs), the Trainer (100 lbs), No. 1 (140 lbs), No. 1.5 (roughly 170 lbs), and the No. 2 (195 lbs).

In addition, Dr. Strossen designed a series of mini-grippers called IMTUGs® that would isolate specific fingers or finger combinations. These were designed in increments going from the No. 1 through No. 7. Numbers 2-5 will do the majority of what you are going to do with them.

I also used a device called Titan’s Telegraph Key® to develop pinch grip strength. Pinch grip strength is useful in shooting when you wish to exert more pressure side to side against the gun.

For rotational arm strength (to control gun torque in recoil) we decided on the Wrist Reinforcer® leverage bar with a weight attached on the end.

Lastly, to balance out the muscles of the forearm and to keep the hands healthy, I used a set of Expand-Your-Hand® rubber bands of varying strength to work the extensor muscles on the back of the forearms and a soft rubber  ball called the IronMind® Egg to warm up and work the hand muscles prior to heavy training or to recover on off days.

Injury Prevention

While my reason for strength training was to recover from a serious medical issue, you may want to consider strength training as part of your regular training routine. Shooting repetitively tends to overwork the muscles and tendons of the hand, wrist, and forearm. This, combined with the shock of recoil forces, creates a very common complaint among shooters known as “tennis elbow.”

Tennis elbow is caused by an inflammation of the tendon attaching the inner and/or outer elbow and can be debilitating. Building the muscles to withstand repetitive gripping and recoil shock, as well as evening out the strength of the different opposing muscles, is crucial to maintaining healthy hands and arms.

Strength Goals

The key to grip strength is to build your strength to a level where you can control the gun while still keeping a sizable reserve of strength. This reserve is critical to fine motor skills and shooting performance. If you have to use all your strength to hold onto the gun and try to control recoil, you will not be able to move the trigger finger with the finesse and speed required to shoot precisely at that speed.

While reserve strength is needed, you do not need massive levels of strength to shoot well. What you do need is to have enough strength to set the grip firmly without straining and then isolate the trigger finger without releasing your grip. The two middle fingers of the shooting hand do roughly 90 percent of the gripping action of that hand. Don’t neglect the pinkie finger though.

I would estimate that top male shooters have a grip strength of between 120 and 170 pounds on average. Curiously, the support hand tends to be stronger than the shooting hand in many shooters I have tested.

Grip training not only strengthens the muscles of the hand and arm but the tendons and soft tissue as well. Over time, both muscles and tendons will grow in strength and resistance to injury. While you won’t get “popeye” forearms, you will get pure, functional strength and conditioning from a proper shooting grip strength program.

The key to developing a high level of grip strength is to use more resistance with fewer reps. Tennis balls, conventional grip devices and other low resistance exercises done for a lot of reps are not going to take you where you want to go. Remember, if you are already dry firing and live firing, you are getting a lot of gripping reps already.

Captains of Crush® Grippers

These grippers come in varying resistance levels that go far beyond conventional grip tools. These are at the core of my shooting hand strength program.

The grippers are rated as follows with approximate poundage:

  • Guide 60 pounds
  • Sportsman 80 pounds
  • Trainer 100 pounds
  • No. 1 140 pounds
  • No. 1.5 165 – 170 pounds
  • No. 2 190 pounds

Make sure you seat the grippers correctly in your hand. Use particular care not to let the coil part sit down in your hand in the event the spring should break. One rep means going from a full open to a full closed position with the gripper. If you can’t close it, you didn’t do it.

Workout Schedule

“Break in” program: First two or three weeks.

Use the IronMind® EGG to warm your hand up. Squeeze it 20-30 times with each hand. Take two grippers, your choice.

Day 1

1st gripper 2 sets x 15 reps each hand  (Last few reps should just start to tire your hands)

2nd gripper 2 sets x 8-10 reps each hand  (Last 3 reps are hard)

Now use the Expand-Your-Hand® bands. Don’t get crazy on trying to force reps and sets. Just take progressive bands and start with 15-20 reps and then go slightly heavier for 10-15 reps. 2-3 sets is plenty.

Evaluate how your hands feel for the next two days.

Day 2

If hands feel good, repeat day 1. If not, back off the heavy resistance and keep to a lighter program for more reps.

Do this program for two to three weeks and then you can launch into the following program.

Main Workout: Sample program

This program would be done 3 times a week.

Use the Expand-Your-Hands® bands at the end of the workout to train the extensors as you did in the beginning program. Use the squeeze ball to keep your hands supple on the off days.

Note: Try to do weight training after skills training. Your hands will thank you when you are shooting.

Use the appropriate level of resistance that is right for you. The models in parentheses are just examples, not absolutes. You are in charge of what feels right for you.

Warm up – use the IronMind® EGG for 20 reps (each hand)

1 set x 10-15 reps with very low resistance (Guide)

Workout (each hand)   Rest as needed but not longer than 2 minutes between sets

1 set x 8-12 with moderate resistance (Sportsman)

1 set x 6-8 reps with moderately heavy resistance (Trainer)

1-2 sets x 4-5 reps with next level up (Trainer or No. 1)

1-3 sets x 1-3 reps with next level up (No. 1 or 1.5)

Once a week – 3 sets x 1 rep with heaviest one you can do

Additional Exercises

For pure pinch grip strength you can also use Titan’s Telegraph Key®. This is a phenomenal piece of equipment. I think training the pinch grip helps me control the gun that much more over conventional grip tools.

For rotational arm strength the Wrist Reinforcer® device is superior to anything I have used in the past. Start out with light resistance, sit down and place your forearm flat on your thigh. Now rotate the bar from side to side, slowly. Use your other hand as a catch in case it gets too heavy. Work a 180 degree arc of motion. Make sure you maintain control of the motion, particularly at the extreme ends.

As you gain strength in these exercises you are going to notice that recoil feels “lighter” when you shoot. You will see a definite increase in the precision in which you are able to shoot at the same speed you were shooting before. This is good.

Remember, train lower reps, higher resistance and only 3 times a week. Use the bands at the end of each workout and the soft “egg” on the off days to recover.

My Success Story

I am happy to report that I have been able to increase my grip strength in my hands to 190 pounds. My splits are in the .12-.15 range and, on a good day, I can do this speed out to 15 yards in practice with really good hits. What is really cool is how minimal the muzzle rise is when I shoot.

After two and a half years, I have worked most of the bugs out of my new system of operating and I don’t feel like I am giving up anything in terms of performance. I feel that I have increased my performance from what I was doing prior to surgery and I know I can better my performance over time. The grip training was an integral part of the training program that helped me come back.

I know that grip training will work for you too. Give yourself time to build strength and you will see the rewards in your shooting. Good luck in your training!

Ron Avery, co-founder

Tactical Performance Center

1 Response

Leave a comment

Why You Should Train with Airsoft Guns

July 14, 2016 3 Comments

Why You Should Train with Airsoft Guns

This article was originally published on

I am no stranger to airsoft guns and have had the opportunity to test new airsoft products over the years. These tests have given me the chance to see just how useful airsoft can be for serious training.

One of the most effective airsoft training applications I found was in teaching new shooters prior to going to live fire. The results were impressive; not only did new shooters quickly grasp the concepts of sight alignment and trigger control but the lack of recoil, noise, and pressure allowed them to focus on shooting well. Before long, they were making precise hits on target and we could move into more advanced drills.

In addition to training new shooters, another advantage of using airsoft guns is the ability to practice in your garage, basement, or other indoor space. You can set up a variety of different drills and exercises quickly and easily. All you need is a spare room with an appropriate backstop to stop the pellets. For outdoor practice, biodegradable pellets are also available. You can use a variety of paper and reactive targets and are only limited by your imagination as to combinations.

Being able to practice at home has allowed me to fit airsoft training into my regular dry fire program. I have found real value in this arrangement for myself; not only is it a break from the regular routines of dry fire, but it has also forced me to concentrate on flawless follow-through after breaking each shot (note: using black pellets forces you to use your sights and not follow the pellet downrange with your eyes).

Firearms training with airsoft guns has several real advantages including fast, economical practice with minimal setup, indoor practice during poor weather, and force-on-force training. No longer is airsoft just a game. I see it as a part of training smarter, not harder.

Ron Avery, co-founder

Tactical Performance Center

3 Responses

Leave a comment

Acclimation Training: The Hidden Key to Performance

July 12, 2016 3 Comments

Acclimation Training: The Hidden Key to Performance

This article was originally published on

One of the most neglected areas of firearms training is acclimation and its role in conditioning the performer. Most training consists of the fundamentals of shooting (stance, grip, sight alignment, etc.) followed by a series of shooting drills. This method of training generally works well–until you try to speed up, shoot farther, or get put under pressure. When this happens, you start to fail to hit well.

The fact that performance takes a hit when you are put under pressure is not a weakness of character or a hidden flaw; you have simply not been acclimated or conditioned properly to perform at that level.

Acclimation to noise, recoil energy, and learning to control bodily responses should come before sighted shooting.

Calmness is Key

From novice to world-class performer, the ability to remain calm, control your emotions, and accept recoil is vitally important. Learning to do this at speed and while under pressure is what true skill is all about. Telling someone to hold still or press the trigger smoothly won’t cut it. Telling them to watch the front sight when shooting won’t do it consistently either.

So how do you acclimatize yourself so that you can achieve calmness and control? Just putting yourself under stress and trying to “inoculate” yourself is not the answer. Teaching grip, stance, sight picture and trigger control and then incorporating them all at the same time with various shooting drills is also too much. A far more effective approach is to focus on a single area that needs work.

Let’s pick one and run with it. 

Acclimation to Live Fire

Once you have learned the fundamentals of shooting, you can then transition to one of the most important skills you must master in order to get to the highest levels of performance.

Start by holding the gun safely downrange, BELOW eye level, without looking at the sights, and simply fire the gun very slowly into the backstop. How well can you maintain a calm mind, relax, and hold still behind the gun when it fires? Repeat this process for 20 to 25 shots. If your hand slips, get it connected properly. If you feel yourself blink, feel your body or grip tighten as you fire or are about to fire, then you are not ready for sighted shooting yet.

Keep shooting until you can calmly fire the gun without any reaction. This may take 100 shots or more but it is time well spent.

The next step is to calmly watch the gun as it fires, without blinking. This is not quite as difficult as watching a firecracker go off but it is similar. Repeat this 25 to 50 times.

Now, bring the gun up closer to eye level and calmly fire the gun while watching the front sight move up and down. No target and no aiming is allowed at this point. Let the gun fire, let the gun cycle, and let the gun return. Your task is to simply hold still, watch the sight move and accept the process.

Once you can reliably do this on demand, it is time to move up to sighted shooting.

50/50 drills

We use the following drills here at TPC to train students but I often use them for myself as well, especially when trying to increase speed and precision. To shoot these drills, use a horizontal line or download the TPC trigger stripe target and put it up sideways.

50/50 Drill #1: Load one round into the gun and bring the gun to the line. Hold the sights aligned on the horizontal line and calmly press the trigger. Once you fire the shot, hold it there for a moment, then bring the firearm back down. Within three seconds, bring the gun back up and dry fire immediately. Note your reaction when you dry fire the shot. Repeat this sequence 50 times. The goal for this exercise is to maintain stillness as you calmly press the trigger.

50/50 Drill #2: This is a more advanced drill but the goal is the same as the first drill. Load one round into the gun, bring the gun up to the line, and fire the shot. Immediately reacquire the sights and dry fire the second shot. Note your reaction. Repeat this sequence 50 times.

These two 50/50 drills will give you a high return on your investment of time and When you can control your reactions in both 50/50 drills, you are ready for sighted shooting with multiple shots being fired. Use them and go back to them often. They will help you gain awareness of your physical responses and help you learn to control them.

Acclimation training is used for any part of training where you need to get to a new level of awareness, calmness, precision, or focus. I also use it to get used to new environments or challenges until they become part of the “new normal”.

Acclimation training can take anywhere from several days to a few weeks to grow or retrain a particular skill, however it is a vital component of training. Remember that acclimation and staying acclimated is a process. It is a mental and physical state that must be refreshed on a frequent basis.

Don’t neglect acclimation training in your training. It truly is one of the hidden keys to mastery. 

Ron Avery, co-founder

Tactical Performance Center

3 Responses

Leave a comment

Trigger Weight: Safety vs. Performance

July 07, 2016

Trigger Weight: Safety vs. Performance

This article was originally published on

I am often asked what trigger weight is optimal for law enforcement or concealed carry. The short answer is that it depends on your mission, your training, and your values.

I grew up with firearms and have been shooting since I was five years old. Shooting is very much a part of my identity and I was raised with gun safety as a priority. During my tenure in law enforcement, shooting and gunfighting training was a way of life for me. This mindset continues to this day in my career as a professional trainer and shooter.

Contrast that mindset to individuals who have never fired a gun until they attended the police academy. They arrived with no history with firearms, no set of values associated with them, and no self-identity of being skillful with them. Perhaps they do not care whether they are good or not with a gun–as long as they qualify they are satisfied with their performance and their security needs are being met.

Too many times in tense situations I have had such officers behind me with their guns pointing at my back, finger on the trigger, and no clue as to what they were doing. Many of them have an over-inflated sense of their skill and no awareness of gun safety in dynamic situations. This represents a lack of commitment to safety on the part of the individuals concerned and is a very real problem in law enforcement as well as other gun-carrying professions.

Some administrative personnel have reasoned that if you simply make triggers heavier, safety problems will magically go away. This is simply not true. You should never handicap an officer with a heavy trigger who may have to fight for his or her life. An excessively heavy trigger will decrease precision and could cause a public safety issue if the shooter cannot hit reliably while under duress.

Firearm safety is a software problem, not a hardware problem.

Trigger Weight

From a technical perspective, a lighter trigger is better for performance. However, while a lighter pull weight does make it easier to isolate the trigger, going too light can be problematic in regards to the mission that you are engaged in.

As a law enforcement officer, I routinely carried a three to three-and-a-half pound trigger on my 1911. That is not a “competition trigger” as some would call them–those are in the one-and-a-half to two pound range. Four to five pound triggers are generally considered by my law enforcement peers and I as being in the optimal range for duty use. I have also operated with a trigger weight of only three to four pounds in temperatures of 35 below zero to 100 plus degrees in deadly force situations without a problem.

As trigger weights increase to over 5 pounds or so, you will start to see a gradual loss of precision at speed. The heavier weight will often cause shooters to squeeze their other fingers as they press the trigger at gunfight speeds; it takes a lot more training and practice to overcome this. Simply put, the heavier you go, the harder it is to shoot fast and precisely.

You must decide on a trigger weight for your gun based on objective, performance-based testing and with consideration given for how your weapon will be used.

Ron Avery, co-founder

Tactical Performance Center

Leave a comment

Pro Tips for Cleaning Your Gun

July 05, 2016 1 Comment

Pro Tips for Cleaning Your Gun

Originally published on

Keeping your firearms running in less than optimum conditions, from below zero temperatures to temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, as well as preserving and protecting the bore, requires both knowledge and the right tools for the job.

Principles of Gun Maintenance

No matter what firearms you use, you will follow the same basic principles to keep them in optimum condition:

  1. Clean out carbon and other foreign matter
  2. Check for loose screws, cracks, or broken parts
  3. Clean out the copper from the bore (or lead for lead bullets)
  4. Lubricate based on environmental conditions and requirements for serviceability
  5. Follow a maintenance schedule for replacement of key parts before they break or wear out

Maintenance Procedures

Remember to always wear eye protection when cleaning your firearms. Light-weight vinyl gloves can protect your skin from chemicals and other contaminants. Some solvent fumes are toxic so be sure to clean your firearm in a well-ventilated area.

Remove Carbon Fouling and Other Debris

Disassemble your firearms according to manufacturer’s directions and then use a good solvent to loosen the carbon buildup on affected surfaces. I recommend using a toothbrush or AR-15 nylon cleaning brush with the solvent to break loose the carbon fouling from the slide, frame, outside of barrel, and miscellaneous parts.

Next, clean the barrel. Always try to clean from the breech, not the muzzle. If you must clean from the muzzle side, remember to use a muzzle protector so you do not hurt your barrel’s crown and diminish its accuracy. For the inside of the barrel, use a quality cleaning rod with some solvent on a patch to soak the powder and other fouling in the bore. Use a brass brush to scrub the bore and remove most of the powder fouling.

For precision rifles, IOSSO bore paste is used by many benchrest and precision shooters to break up hardened carbon buildup.

For AR-15 bolts, firing pins, and bolt carriers, you can use a dental pick or similar tool to scrape off the buildup. As a final step in the removal of the powder fouling, take a can of gun scrubber and blast out all the loose particles of debris and clean off the firearm.


Next, inspect your firearm closely for loose screws, cracks and excessive wear patterns so you can stay ahead of the curve and take care of small problems before they become big problems.

Copper Removal

Copper removal is an individual thing when it comes to cleaning. For my competition pistols, I almost never bother with trying to remove it after I clean my bore of any powder fouling. The reason is; it is not needed. There is very little and it does not affect accuracy to any appreciable degree in my match barrels.

I have spoken to many rifle shooters who tell me the same thing. Once they have conditioned their bores, they do not do a lot of copper removal unless something unusual occurs.

However, if you do wish to proceed I will give you what I like to do. I prefer chemically stripping the copper as opposed to using an abrasive on my bores. Use a cleaning rod with the appropriate jag on the end, soak a patch in a good copper solvent. 

Now run the patch down the bore to wet it with the copper solvent. Let it soak per the manufacturer’s instructions. After the required time, run a dry patch down the bore. You should see your patch come out the other side with bluish streaking. Depending on the amount of copper, you may repeat this procedure or move into the next step.

You will need to use a nylon brush because copper solvents will eat your copper brushes. Put a few drops of copper solvent on your brush and run it through your bore from breech to muzzle several times. For extreme precision rifles, you can spray the brush as you exit the muzzle to remove the foreign matter before retracting it. Now let it soak for a few more minutes and then run a few dry patches through the bore.

Examine your bore and see if there is any telltale streaking down the grooves that indicate fouling is present. Contrary to popular belief, your bore doesn’t need to be squeaky clean. Excessive cleaning in rifles can actually take away accuracy from a properly conditioned bore that has been broken in. Just be sure to remove the majority of the copper fouling.

You can also use a product called Wipeout with their accelerator to do this process. It is fast and relatively simple to do.

Finally, take your regular solvent, put in on a patch and run it through your bore several times to get rid of the copper solvent. Take a couple of dry patches and clean the solvent out of the bore.

Gun Cradles and Bore Guides

For precision bolt guns, always use a bore guide to keep the chemicals from getting down into the action area and dissolving or loosening the bedding material. Some shooters use them for their AR-15 precision carbines as well. A well-designed gun cradle is a great aid to cleaning long guns.

Lubrication and Protection

While you are waiting for the copper solvent to work, you can put a few drops of lube on a q-tip and run it lightly over all working surfaces. If there are any surfaces that are shiny or exhibit wear marks, they will benefit from a very light coating of lube; this would include the outside of the barrel and the hood. I also very lightly lube the surface of the chamber ramp to avoid any possible bullet stoppage there.

Some manufacturers claim their firearms don’t need lubrication. It has been my experience that ALL guns benefit from the proper amount of lubrication. The key is to use the right kind of lube and not use too much. I use Slip 2000 and have tested it extensively in the field from 27 below zero to well over 100 degrees in all my weapons systems.

Once your barrel is clean, take a patch and run a very light coat of oil down the bore. After coating the barrel lightly, run a couple of dry patches down the bore to remove all but a very thin sheen.

For true precision rifles, if you are trying to achieve a good cold bore shot, you will want to test how this affects your first shot. Only testing will show how your particular rifle will perform after cleaning it. For my precision rifles that need to have a good cold bore shot, I clean the rifle at the range and then fire one to two rounds on target to lightly foul the bore. Then I run a dry patch down the bore to remove the powder granules and leave it alone.

Don’t forget to disassemble your magazines and clean out the powder fouling there as well. For pistol magazines, use a very light trace of oil on the sides of the magazine and follower to make sure the ammunition doesn’t hang up in the magazine tube; this will not adversely affect the ammunition. For very fine dirt/sand conditions in desert environments, a light film will still work.

You’re done! Your weapon is now in optimal condition and ready to bet your life on.


Ron Avery, co-founder

Tactical Performance Center

1 Response

Leave a comment