Whether you own a gun for self-defense, recreational use, or hunting, it’s essential to keep iht clean and in working order at all times. Every time you fire your gun, a little bit of gunpowder residue stays behind in the chamber and barrel, which can impact your weapon’s functioning. Regular cleaning is also a great opportunity to perform a functional check and practice gun safety, so don’t skip this vital step.
If you’ve only gotten your first gun, learning how to clean a gun properly can be an intimidating process. However, it’s a great way to get to know your weapon intimately and understand exactly how it functions. Knowing how to clean a pistol is an essential part of gun ownership, and the sooner you learn to do it effectively, the better.
Preparation For Cleaning A Gun
Before you even touch your gun, you should make sure you have a good working space. Use a well-lit, isolated area such as your garage, ideally near an open window. Having a large clutter-free space to work in will make the entire process smoother and easier.
Try to avoid cleaning your gun on any surfaces where people eat, drink, or prepare food. Some of the solvents and oils used in the cleaning process can be toxic and may result in food contamination.
If you keep all of your ammo in the same place where you want to clean, put it in a gun safe or another safe spot while you clean. By keeping your area clear, you can focus on your gun without worrying about other potential hazards.
Finally, make sure to read the owner’s manual. These manuals contain a huge amount of information about your gun and often include a comprehensive explanation of how to clean your weapon. New manuals even use color-coded illustrations to help you disassemble and reassemble your gun with ease.
If you’ve lost your manual, you can get a similar document from the NRA. They have generic manuals for different types of firearms and also have manuals for specific models. You can also find guides to firearm assembly on various firearm resources online. If you can’t find your model, get in touch, and they’ll find the right one for you.
Essential Tools for Cleaning a Gun
Once you’ve organized a clean, safe space, you can assemble everything you need to clean your gun. Having your tools ready and waiting will simplify and speed up the cleaning process. While different guns may need slightly different cleaning techniques and tools, the fundamentals are the same. The essential tools include:
- Caliber-specific bore brush
- Cleaning rod and swabs
- Cleaning jabs, both slotted and form-fitting
- Cotton swabs
- Caliber-specific cleaning patches that are lint and fiber-free
- Bore snake
- Luster cloth
- Drip pan for the excess waste
- Cleaning chemicals, including cleaners for dirt, cleaners for carbon, lubricants, and protective oils
If that sounds like a lot of things to buy, don’t worry – you won’t have to buy most of these products separately. A good caliber-specific cleaning kit will have most of what you need in one convenient package. The more experienced you become, the better you’ll know what you need and what you don’t.
The Gun Cleaning Process
Verify that Your Gun Is Unloaded and Clear of Ammunition
Let’s repeat that: make sure that you’ve removed the magazine and that your firearm is unloaded before you start any kind of field stripping, disassembling or cleanin. This is a step you should double-check and even triple-check to avoid an accidental discharge, which can have tragic consequences.
Clean the Barrel and Chamber
Your first step will be to clean the barrel and chamber. Once you know how to clean a gun barrel and how to clean rust off a gun, you’re almost 90% through the cleaning process!
Start by dry-brushing the barrel, starting at the chamber end and moving towards the muzzle. Once you’ve removed the large carbon and metal particles, you can apply the bore solvent.
Apply the solvent using your cleaning rod and cleaning patch. Start at the chamber end and move towards the muzzle. Make sure to saturate the chamber and bore surface. Don’t pull the cleaning rod back through, since you’ll just pull the dirt back into the bore.
Wait around 15 minutes for the bore cleaner to do its magic. Scrub the residue with the bore brush and remove it with a dry, new cleaning swab. Repeat the process until the swab comes out clean.
The final step is to use a light lubricant (not gun oil) to protect the bore against corrosion. If you want to store your gun long-term, use a heavier lubricant (still not gun oil) and clean it off before firing the gun.
Clean and Lubricate the Action
Cleaning the action is as important as cleaning the barrel. Use a dedicated action cleaner solvent and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, you’ll spray the solvent from the top of your gun frame downwards and let it drip into the pan below. Clean the sub-assemblies in the same way and leave them to dry.
Once everything is dry, use a lubricant needle to place a little bit of lubricant on every lubrication point (refer to your manual for the location of these points). You don’t need to overdo it – over-lubricating will attract more dust and grime, which will affect your gun’s reliability.
Clean the Magazines
Magazines also need cleaning with dedicated brushes and solvents. Take special precautions when cleaning your magazine since they’re spring-loaded and can cause severe eye injuries. Only use solvents rated for magazine use since any oils or petroleum products will contaminate the ammo primer and cause severe reliability issues.
Reassemble and Check
Once everything is dry and lubricated, reassemble your gun according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The final step is to check if your gun still works by checking trigger function, slide operation, magazine retention and ejection, and the functionality of the safeties.
These checks vary from gun to gun, so read your owners’ manual for details.
Wipe Down the Outside
Don’t forget to clean the outside of your gun. There are specialized gun cloths made for this purpose that are solvent-soaked, lubricated, and ready to go. Wiping down your gun will eliminate unwanted marks, hand grease that can impact the grip, and unwanted debris. It will also give it a smooth shine that looks great on the range.
As you can see, learning how to clean a gun doesn’t have to be intimidating. The time you spend maintaining your weapon is well worth it, and with regular cleaning, your gun will stay in great shape for years to come.