Cleaning rod bearings?
Why does the new cleaning rod I bought for my handguns have bearings in the handle to allow the rod to rotate freely? Why not just have a non-rotating rod?
The bearings allow the rod/attached jag to twist and follow the lands/grooves in the rifling of the barrel while you hold the handle steady. All my rifle rods have this feature (Dewey Rods)... but my pistol rod is non-rotating.
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It helps keep the accessories you thread onto the end of the rod (patch pusher, bore brush, etc.) from coming unscrewed when you run them down the barrel. The rifling in the barrel will try to rotate the rod attachment, and if it is affixed to a non-rotating rod, it may start unscrewing (or get really tight, depending on the direction of rotation).
Because pistol rod attachments usually don't travel very far compared to rifle rod accessories, it's less likely they will come completely unscrewed, but it's still possible. If something like a bore brush or patch pusher w/patch is unknowingly left in your barrel near the end of a cleaning session, it can be bad news the next time you go to shoot...
It's good to have at least one fixed/non-rotating rod in your cleaning gear, so you can deliberately rotate a brush or patch if you need to, such as when cleaning the firing chamber, the chamber throats and forcing cone on a revolver, or the inside of a flash suppressor.