Jags! Are You A ‘False Positive’

In a follow up to ‘Bore Cleaning, Marathon or Sprint’, Jan 18th, I thought it would be beneficial to highlight some of the pro’s and con’s on the material ‘jags’ are made from that are used in the bore cleaning process.

The most common type of ‘jag’ on the market is constructed from Brass.  The Brass jag has been in existence for decades.  However there has always been the problem that when a Brass jag is used to run a strong copper removing solvent soaked patch down the bore a ‘false positive’ can occur.  Let me explain a little further, a ‘false positive’ occurs when you get signs of copper continuing to come out on your patches, long after the bore has been cleaned from copper fouling.  But as you continue to witness the blue / green pigments of colour on your patch with every pass through the bore you will assume your bore is still fouled with copper.  A never ending loop.  This is due to the strong copper solvent reacting with the Brass jag as (Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc), the copper solvent begins to attack the copper compounds in the jag that then transfer to your cleaning patch.

Now with more insight and attention paid to the gun cleaning industry, alternative materials are being used to construct jags.  Some of these alternative materials are Stainless Steel, Nickel and Nylon.  These  three materials do not cause ‘false positives’ when using copper solvents as they do not contain Brass in their construction.

Author Unknown (2011) ‘Brass Jag Alternatives: Nylon, Nickel, SS, Clear-Coated”, Accurate Shooter.Com, 09 October.  Available at: http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2009/10/brass-jag-alternatives-nylon-nickel-ss-clear-coated/ (Accessed 03 February 2011).

Stainless Steel Jag

With the Stainless Steel jag you must be very careful when running this down your bore.  As both your barrel and the jag are constructed of steel you could cause irreversible damage to your bores throat, lands, grooves and crown if a hard metal such as stainless steel were to rub or scratch against it.  Therefore you must ensure you have a sufficiently sized patch that will cover the surface area of the stainless steel jag when running it down the bore.

Nickel Jag

A Nickel jag such as the one produced by Tipton, available from Midway USA has been given good feedback. Tipton’s product information tells us that ‘the Nickel jag has a patented protective coating to protect it from bore solvents for a long life and improved cleaning’.  Some shooters report that the  jag for their specific calibre can be too tight, but to work around this problem you can always use a smaller calibre jag with a tight patch attached to fit down your bore.  A Nickel Plated jag is also a hard metal and can damage your barrel in the same way the stainless steel jag can, so you should take the same precautions when using one to patch out your bore.

Nylon Jag

Polymer Nylon jags from Gunslick have been given great reviews.  They are strong and will last much longer than you might think they will.  They are also relatively cheap to buy.  If you prefer using a metal jag during your bore cleaning process it would still be worth purchasing one to have in your range bag or bench as a backup.

Bore Tech

A jag that I have not yet mentioned is the BoreTech ‘Proof Positive’ jag.  Bore Techs revolutionary ‘Proof Positive’ jag is guaranteed 100% Brass Free,  100% Chemical Resistant, 100% Barrel Safe and 100% Heavy Duty.  The jag is constructed from a proprietary alloy with a  secondary treatment process.   The jag is as soft as Brass but strong and durable to give you confidence  that it will not snap under pressure when pushed through your bore.

I currently use Bore Tech’s ’Proof Positive’ jag on my 6.5×55 Steyr Pro Hunter, after moving away from the traditional Brass and old style plastic jags due to the ‘false positives’ in the Brass jag and lack of rigidity in the plastic jag.

Useful Tip For Brass Jags

I found a very useful tip on-line for your Brass jags. If you’re reluctant to give up your collection of brass jags try covering the jag itself with a thin, transparent coating. Give the brass jags a coat of clear lacquer or acrylic.  You may need to experiment to find a coating that stands up to your favourite solvent, so experiment with one jag before coating them all.

A future article on cleaning rods ‘Any Old Rod Wont Do!’ will highlight what to look out for before you choose the right cleaning rod for your rifle.

'Proof Positive' Jag


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