Otis and gun cleaning have always been synonymous. The company’s claim to fame was assembling sturdy, well packaged kits for pistols and rifles in every conceivable caliber or configuration of calibers. For example you could purchase their Three Gun competition cleaning kit (with components to clean a .223/5.56mm rifle, 9mm/40/45 pistol, and a 12 gauge shotgun) or a professional cleaning kit just for Glocks.
They have recently expanded their line to include hearing protection, storage solutions and a full array of lubricants, protectants, CLPs, wipes and the like. (More on that later).
My favorite Otis product is the Ripcord which I discovered at SHOT a number of years ago. I picked up a press release on it at the company’s pavilion which they described as a “one-pass cleaning tool”.
Did that mean all I had to do was to yank the “Ripcord” through the barrel and then put the gun back in the safe?
The Ripcord is really the latest evolution of the venerable bore snake. It’s not meant to be a substitute for a full-on fieldstripping. Rather I use it as sort of internal wipe down of the barrel at the range. By removing a great deal of the “detritus” before you get home, you’re making your maintenance job that much easier. I prefer to do it when the bore is at least “warm” so that you stand a better chance of removing the gunk.
A little about the design.
This product differs from the standard bore snake in a number of ways. First off, it’s manufactured from Nomex fibers braided over a molded rubberized core/cable combination. Nomex is a product invented by DuPont, first used for flight suits and later as standard fare for people who need flame resistant garb to protect them from burns such as firemen, racecar drivers, etc.
This material is not going to melt in a red hot barrel—if you ever get the notion to clean one!
The Otis people state that the Nomex material acts as both a brush to loosen and a patch to capture fouling particles. If you compare a standard bore snake to the Ripcord you’ll note that the latter looks and feels more like a bungee cord. Whereas the bore snake is made of a flaccid, droopy material, the Ripcord has a rubberized core which forces the Nomex cleaning fibers to rub against the bore. (No, it’s not “stretchy” like a bungee cord but has a similar kind of sturdiness).
It’s anything but flaccid.
Because of its dense structure the Ripcord is actually quite robust, and is much easier to insert down a barrel than a standard bore snake which has to be “gravity fed” by tilting the gun downwards. All you do with the Ripcord is to place the longer, narrower end in the chamber and push/slide it–breech-to-muzzle.
When the tip emerges from the end of the barrel you can pull it through. Otis says the core has a “helix shape, which helps engage the rifling throughout the length of the barrel.”
I was expecting to find an abrasive texture on the exterior, but this is not the case.
One of the bore snakes I use for my 1911, has a bristly copper overlay which will poke you if you grab it wrong way. Not so with the Ripcord. The fiber is quite smooth—you won’t jab yourself.
Unlike a standard bore snake, the ends of the Ripcord have 8-32 threaded ends so you can screw in jags, brushes and the like to assist in cleaning. In addition, says Otis, “the core is a helix shape, which helps engage the rifling throughout the length of the barrel.”
Whether you want to do this at the range is up to you. Obviously if you want to do a thorough cleaning job you’ll need to combine a copper brush or the like with some chemical and I suspect the range may not be the best place to engage in this kind of endeavor.
What happens when it inevitably gets dirty?
You can wash it with mild soap. Don’t put it in the washing machine or dishwasher! (In order to extend the life of the product, Otis recommends you attach a slotted tip & patch to the Ripcord and place the solvent on the patch instead of the Ripcord).
The bottom line: If you’re thinking of buying an old-fashioned bore snake, get this instead.
The Ripcord is available in 17 cal, .22 cal/.223 cal, .243 cal, .260 cal, .270 cal., .30 cal/7.62mm, .38 cal/9mm, .40 cal, .45 cal and 12 gauge.
Better Shooting through chemistry
Otis also has a dizzying array of cleaning offerings for a number of years (under their own brand) but recently acquired the Shooters Choice company whose products they have both integrated into their own Otis line of cleaning kits and sell separately on sites such as Midway USA, Amazon, etc.
In my reckoning, the Shooters Choice signature product is their FP10 CLP which I note Otis includes in their high end sets such as the Elite Range Box. FP-10 CLP, has a great reputation for cleaning carbon residue from burning gunpowder and primer charges, lead deposits from bullets or shot pellets, and deposits from your chamber, forcing cone, cylinders, trigger, slide, ejector mechanism and port, and barrel.
They also have new Bio-Degradable Bore Cleaner that’s become part of my routine.
The bottom line is that Otis make some of the best cleaning kits in the business and according to their spokeswoman, supplies all branches of the service. Recently the Army acquired their I-MOD and T-MOD cleaning kits for 5.56 and 7.62 caliber rifles.
If it’s good enough for our servicemen and women, it’s certainly good enough for me.