I have a 24" stainless steel bull barrel 5.56 NATO AR that is used for varminting type work. I shoot FMJ handloads in it.
I have about 150 rounds through it so far.
How often do I clean it and how aggressive do I need to be? I am aware that many rifles are ruined by improper and/or over cleaning and I do not wish to join that club.
How often do I need to clean the bolt and other moving parts? So far I have been doing it 'on condition'.
Thus far I have only used a boresnake and Hoppes. There is no visible copper fouling.
Purchase a bore guide and get a good nylon coated rod (Dewey). I would not trust a bore snake for a thorough cleaning.
Use a good bore cleaner like Butch's Bore Shine.
Some of my rifles acctually shoot a little tigher with a "dirty bore," so you will have to experiment once your barrel is broken in.
My rule of thumb is to wipe down the BCA with CLP after each shooting session and leave a LIGHT skim of CLP on the bearing surfaces. Clean the bore on a broken in barrel after 250 to 350 rounds.
Talk to a reputable manufacturer (ArmaLite) or a reputbale barre maker (Dan Lilja) and they will tell you that a lot of barrels get ruined from over cleaning and improper cleaning technique.
I shoot an SS barrel in my service rifle. I clean the bolt carrier group and upper receiver before a major match. I usually go 300-500 rounds between major cleanings. I stoped cleaning the barrel about two years ago and only run an oiled patch down it between matches. I do a through cleaning at the end of each season where I use Butch's Bore Shine to clean out the copper. Too much cleaning will reduce the service life of a stainless barrel.