The Otis Field Cleaning Systems
An Overview

14 December 1999
By Scott Powers

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):

Other items may include:

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.

Kits are available for the general shooting public as well as for specific firearms. All kits are available to the public, including the M40A1 kit and the M16 cleaning system. OTIS may be contacted at:

OTIS technology, Inc.
PO Box 582
Lyons Falls, NY 13368
or by calling 1-800-OTIS-GUN

You may purchase OTIS products direct or through one of their many distributors, of which the Sniper Country PX hopes to become one, because I feel their kits are simply the best of their type. This is one of those excellent products that simplify the life of the field shooter, and Sniper Country is happy to recommend it. Further reviews of the OTIS cleaning system will highlight some of the available kits, which for our purposes include the M40A1 (and M24), the M16, the M4 Carbine, the DMR-M14, and the M2/M82A1 weapon systems. OTIS also offers a universal tactical rifle kit that will function with calibers from .22 to .50 and even 10 gage shotgun. This kit, which is the same size as the others, also provides gear for handguns up to .45 caliber. Reviews to follow.

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