Barrels are designed to withstand thousands of pounds of pressure, and you're telling me that they can be damaged easily?
Come on now, let's use some common sense here. Personally, I clean rifle barrels from the bore. I use either stainless steel or coated cleaning rods or bore snakes. I've gotten away from aluminum rods because aluminum oxide is extremely abrasive, is harder than ordnance steel, and is bad for the barrel.
On another note, foam cleaners are great! I use them for super duty cleaning if I haven't cleaned that particular rifle barrel in a while. I use Powder Blaster to get all the burnt powder out of everything, then CLP + Bore Snake to clean the barrel.