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Flexible cleaning rods

Flexible cleaning rods

by B.B. Pelletier

Today’s topic is one that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Ever since we talked about the Dewey cleaning rod, I’ve also wanted to address flexible cleaning rods. I use them myself, but they have some drawbacks that you need to be aware of.

They come in all types
Most people probably think of the Otis flexible rod when they think of them at all. Otis makes flexible rods for Beeman, as well as under their own name. The thing that tells you it’s an Otis is the round, padded zipper case.

Why use them?
Sometimes, you have to use a flexible rod because of the construction of the gun. If that’s the case, you’ll be putting the flexible rod through the muzzle and attaching the cleaning patch at the breech. Each time you want to use a new patch, you have to go through this procedure, which makes the flexible rod more cumbersome to use. The Otis comes with a brass crosspiece that slides through a hole in the tail of the cleaning rod, making a handle for pulling the rod through the bore. When you pull, make sure you pull in a straight line with the barrel. Don’t allow the flexible rod to ride against any particular side of the muzzle.

The Otis rod also comes with a brass cleaning brush that works like any other bore brush. It’s short enough for most breeches; but when you wear it out, it’ll be difficult to find a replacement.

All rods are not created equal
I’ve been talking about the Otis rod, which is a well-designed flexible cleaning rod. There are others on the market. Several years ago, someone was selling a flexible rod made of lawn trimmer string, which is heavy monofilament fishing line. Using a rod like that is very dangerous, because the monofilament allows dirt to embed itself. That creates a saw sharp enough to cut steel. More than a few airgun barrels have had grooves cut into their muzzles by the improper use of this kind of flexible rod.

Flexible rods have been around for many decades. The Garand in WWII used one, because it was easy to carry and the construction of the rifle made it impossible to clean from the breech. As I said, there’s nothing wrong with them. You just have to be careful with the muzzle!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

31 thoughts on “Flexible cleaning rods”

  1. Ahh that scares me BB!!!

    You said that lawn mower trim is bad for the barrels, well my JROTC unit uses these for CBI’s (clear barrel indicator) In our Air arms T200s is this bad?

  2. BB,i done what you said putting a pellet from the muzzle to the breach,looked at the pellet under a magnifine glass there were a couple of burs on the dome, but the pellet skirt had quite a sharp but equal amount of burs from the muzzle end of the gun i take it, the burs look very consistant on the skirt, also quite sharp ,the barrel is now as we speak having the crown re ground and a 8 thou 45 degree shanfer and a polish to finish it off, if this works great if it doesn’t i have tried everything possible,p.s if anyone wonts to contact theoben in the uk about problems with there rapid 7,s dont bother as you will get more sense out of a monkey from the zoo!thanks for you advice BB,will let you no what the results are.

  3. how much is a beeman R9 Limited Edition in 20. Cal, they only made 175 in 20. cal and 200 in 177. very good condition, the only thing is that the stock is cracked but still in place, Is it possible to fix a cracked stock? Looks nice, has a blue laminated stock.

  4. No. A boresnake is not the same as flexible cleaning rod. A boresnake is like a continuous cleaning patch. It fills the bore and cleans it through friction. A flexible cleaning rod is much smaller and pulls a cleaning patch or brass brush through the bore.


  5. Bryan,

    It’s only bad if you apply pressure on steel with the nylon cord. If you just lay it inside the barrel, it won’t hurt anything. What people were doing is pulling the rod through the barrel by pulling 90 degrees to the muzzle. They were cutting a groove in the side of their muzzle.


  6. Nathan,

    I guess you’ve done all you can. It sounds like your transfer port is well-machined, and that’s a good thing.

    Have you contacted Theoben USA? They should be able to help you with this, or at least advise you.


  7. There’s not much collector value in any R9. People want them as shooters. If the stock were intact, I’d say you have a $250 gun. The laminated stock should be reparable by a good woodworker. My guess is that it’s probably cracked at the wrist, where most of them fail. That can be repaired and made stronger.


  8. I use the lawn trimmer cord as you mentioned. I simply gently wipe it down to remove any dirt or debree. Honestly, nothing imbeds itself. And it’s only the most basic common sense that would keep someone from pulling it anything but straight through. Are guys swinging their guns around by the barrel with the stuff?

  9. bb,

    do you think beeman lasers would jam up in a 1077? im thinking about getting some, because theyre lighter then the gamo flat heads, for a flatter trajectory, and also im sure theyre better made then gamo pellets. also, since the beeman lasers are not actually flat head pellets, they should be accurate for longer distances, right?


  10. Monofiliment line can be used to cut stone. Diamond dust is impregnated and the line becomes a saw.

    What lazy shooters do is pull the line through the barrel perpendicular to the bore. This cuts small grooves at the muzzle.


  11. bb,

    i read your complete review of the genesis a while ago, and just today, i read a review on the g1 extreme by Rick Eutsler, and he says the g1 could be used for hunting up to 50+ yards, because well, hes done it. i doubt you have time to write a review on the g1, so my question to you is, in about a month, i plan on buying a g1, and i was wondering if you would mind if i wrote a review in the message section on the blog here.


  12. BB, sorry if this is too general a question…

    I’m looking for an airpistol that will be at least somewhat useful as a trainer for a powder-burner pistol. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to spend a heck of a lot, so I’ve narrowed my choices down to (new, refurb, or used):

    1) RWS 5G
    2) HW 70
    3) IZH 53

    I imagine that a springer would be better than a gas gun for this purpose. Which, if any, of these would be best – or am I asking too much of a sub-$200 pistol?

  13. Vince,

    Of the three pistols you mention, I’d recommend the RWS 5G. Since that gun is no longer made (the P5 Magnum replaced it about six years ago), I assume you are looking at used guns, so try to find a Beeman P1.

  14. Really? This is a factory refurb for about $135 (shipping included), so I would have assumed it to be a later model. I’ll have to double-check.

    I KNEW you were gonna recommend a P1…

  15. Hi I’m looking for an airgun for pest control. What would be your recommendations? All I need is a gun accurate enough to hit a sparrow or blackbird at max of 30 yards. Would any low-cost air pistols be able to achieve that? I’m looking for something in the $50 ballpark.

  16. This is actually in response to today’s post “Does Better Cost More?”, but for some reason I cannot leave a comment on that post…

    Anywhoo, here is the question. My son will be turning 12 this year, and I want to get him a cheap 22 (he is only 12) for some small game hunting this fall.

    I am thinking about getting him the Daisy 22sg or the crosman 2260. Both guns are really quite inexpensive, so the cost does not play much. I know you did a favorable review on the 22sg, and was wondering how the Crosman 2260 stacks up next to it?

    We won’t be hunting anything larger than cotton tails.


  17. Hi Kyle,

    I don’t know of any pistol in the $50 range that can beat the crosman 1377C for power, though I am no expert.

    30 yards is a really long shot for a pistol, and I don’t know if the 177 round will retain enough energy at that distance to down a blackbird humanley.

    I own a 1377 and can hit soup cans at a little over 30 yards 3-4 out of 5 shots.

    There are a lot of aftermarket mods and upgrades for this gun, but I use mine stock. I do use it for pest control, but not out to 30 yards. I plink that far, but don’t chance a shot at a critter that might be injured and get away before it can be dispatched.

    Just my opinion, but it is a really good pistol for the price.

  18. Hello Kyle,

    I have to agree with Alfred on the Crosman 1377C. You may even consider the Crosman 2250 (.22cal) if you are just taking sparrows and blackbirds, and don’t mind having to purchase the CO2 cartridges.

    A month ago, I recently purchased the 1377C and 2250. They both are accurately enough for 30 yards. In the 2250 I chronied 14.6gr Beeman Field Target Specials at 485 fps. I don’t know what the down range speed would be.

    When I first received the 1377C I chronied 8.8 gr .177 Beeman Field Target Specials at 510 fps. I liked this pistol, because as Alfred mentioned, there are alot a modifications you can to with it. I immediately modified it into a .22cal and am shooting 14.6gr Beemans at 520fps. For the most part it was just a breech kit and barrel replacement (plus a few minor parts).

    The modified 1377 has become one of my favorite guns. With a 3-9X32 scope and the shoulder stock it looks pretty cool, and can be disassembled for easy carry. It was alot of fun doing the mods.

    The 1377C is a great pistol for immediate gratification and potential future upgrades.

  19. p.s. – Kyle, I thought about it, and I know you mentioned pistols, but a Crosman 2250 is nothing more than a 2240 with a longer barrel and shoulder stock.

    Keeping in the same vain, the 2240 is similar to the 2300’s, but the 2300’s are .177 caliber, and the 2300S is a match grade pistol. You would be surprised how the 2240/2250/2300’s and 1377 share the same framework

  20. Alfred,

    The 22SG is a multi pump pneumatic, so it has the advantage of adjustable power and sweat equity for every shot. I think having to pump for every shot makes a person a better shot. The Daisy is also not dependant on the temperature, which the Crosman is.

    The Crosman is perhaps the more accurate of the two, and maybe a little more powerful in warm weather.

    The Daisy comes with a scope, which I would leave off the gun until your son can shoot well with open sights.


  21. Thanks BB,

    I had not considered the temprature, which makes the Daisy SG the clear choice here. We live in Washington state, and may be hunting with a little frost or snow on the ground…

    My son is a decent shot with his Daisy 880, but definitely needs more field practice. He can hit from the bench but still has trouble shooting offhand and sitting.

    Thanks for your advice.

  22. Thanks alfred & squirrelkiller for the advice. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna go with the 1377, from what i’ve read now it looks like a very trusty & accurate gun. I’ll probably make my own stock for it, I’ve made wooden airgun stocks before and enjoy it:)
    thanks again.

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