OTIS Technology, Inc. of Lyons Falls, NY, is known as an innovative and successful manufacturer of weapon cleaning systems. As part of their success, OTIS has had several of their cleaning kits adopted by the United States Armed Forces. An OTIS kit has also been adopted by the Marines for their M40 series of sniper rifles. OTIS also produces an improved butt stock cleaning kit for the ever lasting M16 series and now the M4 series. Word has filtered down that the M40 kit will also become the M24 cleaning kit of choice for the Army.
Many of you know how to clean a rifle. We have come to expect high quality specialized tools that help us maintain our firearms while avoiding the pitfalls that can damage them. We have adopted one-piece coated cleaning rods and long abandoned those old segmented steel rods we first saw issued to us in the military – and woe be unto the poor soul observed trying to clean his valuable rifle with a segmented department store aluminum rod! If he survives the derision of his fellow marksmen, he may not survive the tar and feathering to follow – or the bill he’ll receive for replacing his now ruined barrel. We have action cleaning tools, specialized solvents for removing copper, high quality bore brushes, non-abrasive bore cleaning compounds, and top-notch coated one-piece cleaning rods. Unfortunately, none of these things are helpful in the field environment!
It is quite easy to keep a high level of maintenance on your weapon system back in the comfort of an armory, garage or living room. Large bulky tools like a one-piece rod are not an issue under these circumstances, and one can create a fully developed cleaning box the size of a medium portable tool kit! My current box is an adaptation of a tool box found at Wal-Mart and it must weigh a good 30 pounds! With it I can clean every single firearm in my collection. It is a real armorer’s kit in every sense of the word. It is universal and comprehensive. Obviously this thing, and the accompanying rods for all the various caliber’s I shoot, is NOT going afield with me. In steps OTIS.
OTIS has developed a complete line of dedicated and universal cleaning kits for the field. Each round ballistic nylon pouch kit measures roughly 4 inches in diameter and 2.25 inches wide. In this small space, they have managed to assemble everything you could possibly need to maintain your system under real field conditions. You no longer have to cob together a kit or rely on an M60 or M16 pouch kit for your field duties.
OTIS has taken an old idea and applied modern technology to the equation. In WWII for instance, many armies fielded cleaning kits with segmented pull chains or even strings. In use, these would be fed though the breech of the rifle and pulled through to the muzzle. One problem of these systems was the accumulated crude that would build up in the chain or rope. This debris would then damage the bore on the second pass. Wiping down the chain helped, but many troops would forgo this and in any case, being awash with segments, it would be impossible to get all the debris out of the chain. However, being all they had at the time, these self-contained kits did the job and got the troops through another day. The convenience of these kits was paramount. You could take all the necessary items into the field with you and even though not ideal, the systems allowed the average grunt to keep his life blood (the rifle) operating when it hit the fan.
OTIS has recreated the pull-through system by using a multi-strand braided and coated wire they call OTIS memory flex. It has a pull strength of 750 pounds! Besides being field portable, it has obvious advantages over modern one-piece rods. When cleaning with a modern single piece rod, one has to contend with the occasional rod flex caused by a tight patch jamming in the bore. This problem often results in the bore being damaged when the rod contacts the lands and groves. A pull-through system by its nature cannot jam in this manner as the patch is the last item to pass through the bore. OTIS also has developed a new patch system that is very unique. Each round patch has three slits in it. Upon each pass, you lock the patch onto one of the slits and the end result is a fabric cone that makes complete contact with the bore. This is a great improvement over the old way of using the eyelet patch holder or the wrap or punch jag. The OTIS method forces the patch material into the deepest crevices of the bore assuring a complete contact and cleaning. Testing has verified that one pass of the OTIS system is equivalent to 20 passes under traditional methods! It is no wonder the military has adopted the OTIS kit line.
Standard patches can be used. You need not have the OTIS patch on hand. One can adapt the typical .30 caliber or 5.55mm patch to the OTIS system so you need not restock or replace your current patch collection until it is depleted. With each OTIS kit comes a complete set of directions. In use, the kit is quite simple and the dullest troop to the highest trained sniper can learn the system in a few minutes. Both will appreciate the improvements it allows over the old field cleaning kit. Time lost to cleaning chores is greatly reduced.
A typical OTIS kit includes the following (items may vary depending on actual kit):
- a ballistic nylon soft case with several ingenious and dedicated compartments for the included tools. The case has a heavy duty zipper. It may, depending on model, have a web strap to facilitate attachment to your belt or it may have standard military attachment hardware as found on current load bearing equipment;
- an OTIS memory flex cable pull through. These “cleaning rods” are coated with a heavy duty flexible covering and capped with brass threaded ends for attachments. The length is appropriate to the kit;
- a short length of OTIS memory flex cable for chamber cleaning or for lengthening the main rod;
- a fiber optic bore reflector. This is a unique little gadget that allows you to use ambient light to check the state of the bore. It has an amber/reddish color. This color is used because your eye can better distinguish problems in the bore than it can with a clear white light which tends to wash out the view! The bore reflector can also be fitted to a battery operated bore light if you prefer and most unique of all, it can double as a empty chamber indicator on the firing line!
Other items may include:
- a brass chamber cleaning rod, brush and T-handle. A small pick-like device for scrapping tight, hard-to-get-to areas and a toothbrush attachment;
- an obstruction remover. In practice, this is attached to the long rod-cable and can be tapped against a stuck case to drive it out of the chamber;
- a forged brass cleaning tip (eyelet type) for dragging patches though the bore;
- a flat scraper for getting hard carbon off of bolt faces;
- brass cleaning brushes constructed of brass wire and a brass core. The brushes will last quite a long time because you are only using them in one direction, avoiding the bending forces exerted on the normal brush when pulling it in both directions as done with a one-piece rod. These brushes are of very high quality and their design is well thought out;
- The kit also may include an adapter for adapting the commercial 8-32 thread to the NATO spec 8-36 thread, plus several other adapters that help facilitate the use of the tools. OTIS patches are included of course, and some kits have complete lens care kits included for scoped rifles. A CLP type cleaning fluid is also included in the kit as well as pipe cleaners or cotton swabs.
The kits are so well thought out that one could essentially use them for all their cleaning chores. In some cases, I am tempted to use them exclusively because they would seem to offer better protection for an expensive bore. The cone-shaped patch for instance is self centering and will not allow the cable or brass fixtures to touch the bore at all. It also is used to clean the chamber, shoulder area and throat. You simply rotate the cleaning rod when the patch is in these areas and due to the conical patch’s “filling” nature, contact with the fouled surfaces is assured. As you pull the patch through, solvent is pushed ahead of the patch instead of being dragged along behind. The obvious advantage is that the trailing portions of the patch mop up any left over debris and that results in less passes required for a complete cleaning.