It's not hard to round up a group of shooters to blast an afternoon away plinking. However given the same group, it can be expected that there will be few volunteers to spend any time cleaning up the firearms after the shooting and excitement is over. None-the-less, firearm cleaning is a critical part of firearm ownership and while boring, is necessary. The gun cleaning situation is compounded for hunters on the move; who wants to clean a gun after packing it around all day?
Otis Technology of Lyons Fall New York has spent a great deal of time thinking about and developing products for firearm cleaning. While most of Otis' products are focused on the military and law enforcement shooters, for 2011 they have introduced a new complete cleaning system specifically for hunters that Otis' has dubbed the "Hardcore Hunter."
The Hardcore Hunter is a complete kit that is based around a pull-through system that cleans the firearm from breech to muzzle. Breech to muzzle cleaning has gained traction over the years because it minimizes the chance of accidentally marring the crown of the muzzle and thus potentially reducing the accuracy of the firearm. The Hardcore Hunter includes three separate cables for cleaning, a longer rifle cable, a shorter pistol cable, and a long thin more flexible cable for 17 caliber rifles and semi-auto 22's. For very long barrels, the long rifle cable and pistol cables can be connected to make a very long single cable for barrels longer than 30". Each cable is made of strong braided steel that is coated with flexible plastic and each end capped with softer brass attachments.
Overall view of most of the accessories that come with the Otis Hardcore Hunter cleaning system.
The portable kit includes 17, 22, 27, 30, 38, and 45 caliber brushes along with 20 and 12 gauge shotgun brushes. For those that shoot popular 6mm (.243), .257, or 6.5mm (.260) caliber cartridges will need to purchase additional brushes and the same goes for 9mm/.357 and 10mm/.40 caliber pistol cartridges.
The cleverest part of the system is the panoply patch system. For those new to Otis systems it's important to watch the included CD or at least read the instructions to understand how to use the unique patching system. Using the pre-cut holes in the circular patches and then pinching and folding through the slotted brass tip produces a uniform patch that can be adjusted to various caliber sizes based on the pinch-and-fold-point. It's like a simple form of "patch origami" to precisely fit the caliber you will be cleaning. Otis has a short video that shows the patch folding process.
It's worth noting as well that each patch can be used for up to 5-6 pull-throughs. Simply refolding and turning over the patch repeatedly exposes new clean patch surface that can be reused.
The carrying case is well thought out, compact, and comes in either Mossy Oak Break-up or Realtree AP and has a belt loop. The zipper is lined on the outside to help keep water out although if submerged everything inside is going to get wet. While it is possible to carry all the brushes, 20ga and 12ga included, along with the cleaner in one pouch, it's somewhat of a tight fit. Simply set the shotgun brushes aside if you're going rifle hunting, and this will open up some extra space to carry extra patches or cleaner.
A handy feature of the braided steel cable is barrel obstruction removal. Because the pull through cable is made of braided steel it can be used to tap out a stuck case or stuck bullet. While the flexibility of the cable doesn't help, it's still rigid enough to pound out some obstructions, which can be a big help if you've ever had an extractor slip off a stuck, fired case.
Close up of the obstruction remover, which also doubles as the T-handle of the pull-through system.
The braided steel pull-through cable has an additional feature that may not be obvious unless you've used pull through cleaning systems before. Some pull-through cleaning systems, particularly those made of cloth or nylon, can break off in the barrel when cleaning a particularly fouled or small caliber barrel. Once broken off a cleaning system stuck in the barrel can be ridiculously difficult to remove. The Otis cable is very strong and should not break even in heavily fouled barrel conditions.
The system includes two longer cables and one short cable (not shown). The thinner,
more flexible cable is used for 17 caliber rifles and semi-auto 22's.
So the Hardcore Hunter system is well thought out, compact, and works well, what's not to like? Like most other quality systems, the Hardcore Hunter comes with a heftier price tag. With a street price of around $70-80, this makes it 5-10 times more expensive than other basic, non-compact cleaning systems. In addition, while the panoply patches are clever and can be made to fit a variety of calibers simply by folding, they too are relatively expensive, with an average cost of around 10-20 cents per patch depending on the quantity purchased. However as we mentioned above, the panoply patches can be reused if the folding procedure is followed carefully.
In conclusion, with the ever rising cost of firearms, it's worth considering a portable higher end total cleaning solution. The Otis system makes it convenient to carry the system along wherever your hunt may take you and since it's with you it's easier to not simply put off the inevitable cleaning, that firearm ownership requires.
For more information visit www.otisgun.com .