Parker-Hale is an old name in gun-cleaning gear but rather than rely on reputation I got a Parker-Hale rod, attachments and fluids, as well as a dirty 12-gauge shotgun, and set out to see if they live up to the long-standing name.
I’ve used Parker-Hale cleaning products a fair bit over the years but this is the first time I’ve had a whole swag of it together at one time and focussed on its effectiveness and usefulness over a concerted period.
The details are covered below but the overall impression after a couple of months is of good-quality stuff that works very well and should last well, too. The “Made in England” stamp is visible on many of the accessories.
I won’t quote prices here because they’ll change over time but you can find them all on the website of Australian distributor Pro-Tactical. I’d say they’re all on the money, though.
Parker-Hale makes a range of different cleaning rods for rifles and shotguns. The one here is the one-piece hardwood shotgun rod; you can also get two- or three-piece wooden ones.
Why wood? Just because. Yes, steel or plastic rods work just as well but look at this thing! It’s stunning with its dark tones and shiny brass fittings and it’s exactly where my penchants lie.
The one-piece rod is just too long to fit in my gun’s case but I never need to take it with me; a single piece suits me best, but you’ve got other options if you’re not in the same situation.
I love the brass jag. It’s solid and very nicely made — it looks like it’ll last forever. It holds patches or rag in place perfectly.
The phosphor bronze bore brush is standing up to regular use well. I’ve had cheaper ones that haven’t lasted long at all before their bristles are bent out of shape but the Parker-Hale is made to a higher standard.
If you prefer a softer nylon brush for your bores, Parker-Hale has one.
The chamber brush (aka Payne Galway brush) is a finer phosphor-bronze design which, for want of a better description, is woolier than the spiral-wired bore brushes. It’s a fraction larger in diameter than the bore brush and is intended to get rid of plastic deposits in the chamber and is also said to better clean back-bored barrels. I’d never used one before and was pleased with how effective it was, not that it needed to do much work anyway.
I use the woollen mop only to put a final film of oil down the barrels after the rest is done and the Parker-Hale mop is doing this as well as it should.
The other essential item is the so-called Universal Sportsman’s Cloth, a silicone cloth for wiping down the entire gun afterwards, erasing fingerprints, removing lint and finishing off the job nicely. Everyone should have a silicone cloth.
One point to remember is that Parker-Hale’s rods and attachments all use the old BSF thread of 9/32-26 which is not common now. You can get adapters to fit other brands’ accessories, though.
I tried three fluids for this review: 009 nitro powder solvent, Young’s 303 and Express Gun Oil.
To begin, I let the barrels get quite dirty during a couple of long shoots without cleaning them in between, and then put the gun away for a week before putting some 009 down one bore. There was a reasonable amount of caked-on residue but not nearly enough to trouble this solvent.
It’s a strong one, not the sort I’d leave in the barrel for more than a few minutes. And you definitely want to use it in a ventilated area because the smell is powerful and the fumes almost tangible.
But if a barrel needs a thorough cleaning, this is the stuff. Apply it, let it sit a few moments them scrub the bore with the bronze brush.
I ran it through one barrel and saved the other for the Young’s 303, a milder solvent that Parker-Hale bills as its cleaner and rust preventer. It worked a treat in the barrel, which came up gleaming with one application: I let it soak for five minutes then scrubbed with the brush. A few patches afterwards left the the bore looking great.
For all successive cleans, I only needed the 303, and very little of it at that.
303 is a renowned and well-proven product, so I expected the good outcome. It is not, however, a lubricating oil. That’s where Express comes into the equation.
After every clean I’d mop the barrels with a small amount of this light mineral oil, apply a little to all the exterior metalwork, and ensure all appropriate working or contact surfaces had an adequate amount of lubrication with it.
I know many people prefer grease for lubricating hinge pins and so on but I’ve long lived by the theory that light oil applied regularly is equally good at reducing wear and friction but it doesn’t collect nearly as much grit nor form a grinding paste over time. Works for me, and Express works in the role.
You can get all these fluids in a choice of containers, including aerosols.
The 125mL tin is ideal for the Express oil because you can apply a single drop into nooks and crannies very accurately, yet it’s still simple to soak a patch from it.
Next time I’ll try the 009 and 303 in the aerosol cans to see if it’s a more convenient way to use them: simply spry them down the bores. But as it was, in the bottle and tin respectively, they were easy to work with.
Find out more at the Pro-Tactical website.