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IHMSA News Feature Article
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
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Dewey  T/C  &  Encore  Barrel Cleaning Cradle
By Todd Spotti
     Probably the most important piece of maintenance any shooter can do on his firearm is to regularly and thoroughly clean the barrelís bore. All barrels, no matter how expensive the gun, foul to one degree or another. Thereís no doubt that barrel technology has steadily improved over the years, but no one has yet figured out how to make a perfectly smooth bore and perfect lands.


The Dewey cleaning cradle is an effective and convenient device for holding TC barrels while cleaning.

     The problem usually occurs when the barrel blank is initially bored. That is when a hole is drilled or reamed down the center of the solid blank. This reaming process will usually leave horizontal cutting marks across the width of the hole thatís just been drilled. If the reamer isnít razor sharp, the results can be very ugly. Just for fun, get a good magnifying glass and take a close look at the tops of your gunís rifling lands right at the muzzle. Youíll see what I mean.

     Then comes the rifling process, which can be done with a tungsten "button" which is pulled through the bore (button rifling). The button has the reverse of the rifling pattern cut into its surface so as itís being pulled through, itís impressing the rifling into the boreís surface. The bottomís of the grooves are now fairly smooth, but the tops of the lands will still retain the original reamer marks.

     Some custom rifle makers will pull a cutting blade through the bore to, in effect, scrape a land into the bore one at a time (cut rifling). On the other hand, factory barrels are often produced using a broach, which has several blades, and cuts all the lands simultaneously. However all these methods will leave the original reamer marks on the top of the lands. The only way to remove them is to polish them out. Actually, even when polished, they are never completely removed for the entire length of the barrel.

  As a bullet passes over the lands, these reamer marks will scrape off material from the jacket. As more bullets are fired, marks will be covered over but a "lump" of ripped off jacket material will build up scraping off even more material than before, and so the "lump" will get even larger. Those wonderful, super concentric bullet jackets are now being scratched and torn and are no longer the beautiful polished projectiles they were before. Result? Degraded accuracy.

     As important as it is, barrel cleaning is a hassle. If youíre a rifle shooter, you probably use one of the many rifle cradles that are sold for that purpose. The advantage of a cradle, is that rifle is held in place while youíre running the cleaning rod back and forth. Thereís no juggling around while trying to simultaneously hold the rifle, manipulate the rod, getting the patches on, trying not to spill that big $20 glass bottle of cleaning solution, etc. The cleaning process becomes a lot easier when the rifle is held in place in a fixture.

     Iíve often wished for something like that for my silhouette handguns. Well, now itís here - The Dewey TC barrel cleaning cradle. Made by Don Dewey of Christiana, PA, (not to be confused with Mike Dewey of California), the cradle is a simple, robust, and very effective tool for holding any TC or Encore barrel in place for cleaning. As you can see in the image, the cradle consists of three main parts: a base, a breech support, and a muzzle support.

     The base is made from very heavy aluminum channel that is well over a quarter of an inch thick. This base has two small 17/64" holes cut in the bottom and two larger 1/2" holes cut in the top directly over the lower holes. The bottom holes are meant to be used to permanently mount the base to a reloading bench using either 1/4" round head machine screws or hex head bolts. The large holes in the top allow overhead access with a screw driver or whatever to tighten up the mounting screws below.

     If you donít want to permanently mount the cradle on your bench, there are a couple of options. You could simply use a a "C" clamp or two to hold the the base to the bench. When youíre finished, release the clamps and un-mount the base. If you donít want to mar the bottom of the base with a "C" clamp, mount the base on a piece of wood and then "C" clamp the wood to the bench. However you do it, you want to be sure the base is firmly secured.

     On top of the base at one end, is a "U" shaped delrin plastic muzzle support that is held in place with two beefy allen head screws. Youíll notice that the "U" shaped opening of the support is more narrow at the top than at the bottom. The narrow opening, which is smaller than the diameter of the barrel, will prevent the muzzle from swiveling upward while vigorously passing the cleaning rod through the barrel. However the opening is still large enough to accept barrels equipped with a Ken Light type sight rib and hood.

     At the opposite end, is another delrin support for the breech end of the barrel - also held in place with two screws. The breech support is very different than the muzzle support in that it has a large hole in itís side. The purpose of the hole is to accept a large two diameter delrin horizontal pin. The pinís dimensions are an exact match with the dimensions of the steel TC factory lug pins that are used to secure the barrel to the frame. In this case, the delrin pin is securing the barrel to the breech support. As I mentioned before, the pin is a two diameter type so it can be used for both Contenders and Encores. Itíll also fit any aftermarket barrel as well. Now that I think of it, thereís no reason that you couldnít mount a Contender or Encore carbine barrel in the cradle either. I really like the fact that delrin was used for the breech and muzzle support as it is an ideal material as itís not going to scratch your barrels and the fact thatís itís very strong and impervious to cleaning chemicals.

     I really like this barrel cleaning cradle. With my Contender or Encore barrels mounted, I feel that I can do a much better job of scrubbing with the cleaning rod. If you shoot a TC or an Encore, you need this. The cradle retails for $40 plus shipping. Don Dewey is also a supporter of the Internationals.

Good luck and good shooting, Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.