I'm fixing up an old Sears & Roebuck version of a Marlin 100. Cleaning a gun is one thing, but the barrel on this gun needs some work. Rust is spotty and widespread. Should I use steel wool or a coarse rag? What oil is best for this kind of work? Of course I can't really see in there, but should I worry about the rifling being damaged?
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I usually just use a lot of elbow grease and the normal cleaning agents(can't remember which one I use specifically). I have a couple of older rifles and an older revolver that have some rust spotting as they sat at my grandfather's for decades unused and weren't protected. For the severe pitting and stains, I was basically able to stop them from spreading, but not much else. But I'm not all that picky or OCD.
I also had all three checked out by a gunsmith just to be safe. One had rust in the barrel(rifling) and I had him take care of that. It is an old 30-30 Winchester, shoots like a mofo, even if aged and not as pristine as many others. Plus it has my grandfather's initials carved and burned into the wood stock, making it super bad ass.
fine wire brush on a rotary tool, or you can use 00 steel (or even better, Bronze) wool. This will all harm the blueing or other finish - so be prepared to either re-blue, or polish up (if it was stainless before, use flitz). Use a light solvent oil like Hoppes #9 as you go.
run a few solvent patches through the barrel - if no sign of rust on the patches, you are probably ok - but I'd have a gunsmith give it a once over if you are at all uncomfortable.