Gun Cleaning and Maintenance Basics
Whether you are a first-time gun owner or an avid shooter, a fundamental tip for safe use and prolonging the life of your weapon is gun cleaning and maintenance. Dirt, grime, and gunpowder can build up in your weapon causing it to operate improperly and unsafely.
You should make it a goal to clean your firearm within 24 hours of firing it and set up a monthly cleaning schedule as well. Sticking to a schedule will ensure that your firearm is always in top shape when you are ready to use it.
Preparation – Before You Clean Your Firearm
When owning a firearm, the number one rule is safety. This holds true in all aspects, and that includes cleaning and maintaining your firearm. Cleaning should be done in a well-lit, well-ventilated area. You will be dealing with several chemicals and don’t want to breathe those in. The best place to clean your firearm is either outdoors or in a garage. Again, because you are using chemicals, do not clean your weapon on any surface that people may eat on.
There are two kinds of people in the world – those that read the owner’s manual and those that don’t. If you are the latter, do not throw out your owner’s manual. It comes with specific instructions on everything to do with your firearm, including best cleaning and maintenance practices. It is an invaluable resource for the life of your firearm. If you cannot find the owner’s manual, log-on to the manufacturer’s website and download it from there.
Before you begin to disassemble and clean your firearm, be sure to remove all ammo and cartridges not only from the weapon itself, but from the room or area in which you are working as well.
Depending on how intensely you want to clean your firearm, there are several tools that can be used. But the four main essential tools you need are bore brushes, standard brushes, cleaning patches, and extension rods.
Bore brushes are stiff, wire brushes. They need to be the exact diameter of your gun’s barrel, and in fact, are sold by the caliber. This is where your owner’s manual comes in handy.
A variety of sizes and shapes of standard brushes are available, and most resemble a toothbrush. Cleaning patches are small squares of fabric used to wipe away smaller particles and any leftover gunpowder. An extension rod can be used to hold the patches, making it easier to get into those deep, hard-to-reach places.
To effectively clean your firearm, you will need a cleaning agent, lubricant, and possibly a protectant.
Solvents or degreasers are used to help loosen and dissolve any built-up residues on the gun. Depending on how often you clean, these can be difficult to loosen, which is why setting a routine cleaning schedule is important.
After cleaning, a lubricant is applied to the weapon to help its moving parts slide more smoothly. Finally, a protectant can be applied to metal surfaces which helps prevent any rust or corrosion, potential death sentences for a firearm.
Cleaning a Firearm
Safety glasses and latex or nylon gloves are recommended for cleaning your firearm. Not only will you be using chemicals, but there is also a risk of flying debris and parts from the weapon. Always safety first.
The first step in cleaning a firearm is to disassemble it. Refer to your owner’s manual for steps on how to do this.
Use your bore brush to firmly scrub inside the barrel of the gun. Do this until you are not seeing any more dirt, gunpowder, or carbon. Again, depending on the last time you cleaned the firearm, this may need to be done numerous times to really get in there and get it clean.
Take one of your standard – or utility – brushes and firmly brush the other weapon parts, including the breech, hammer, slide, bolt, trigger housing, and cylinder. If you are having trouble getting all the grime off, use the cleaning solvent to help.
Grab one of your cleaning patches and apply a bit of solvent to it. Wipe down all exposed surfaces of each part of the gun. Do this until the patches no longer are visibly picking up dirt. You may need to use several patches (or a rag) for this step.
To ensure the gun’s moving parts (i.e. the action) glide and operate smoothly, you need to apply a light coat of lubricant to them. There is a bit of a fine line on the amount of lubricant you should apply. If you use too much, the moving parts can become sticky and will attract unwanted dirt, dust, and lint, which can make your firearm operate less smoothly. Therefore, we suggest a light coat of lubricant.
Different weapons require different lubrication, so again, refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions on your gun.
After cleaning and lubricating the firearm, reassemble it and perform a function test to ensure it operates correctly. Follow your owner’s manual to complete this step.
Last, apply a thin coat of protectant to any exposed metal surfaces to help stave off rust and corrosion. This step is not needed for all firearms, so refer to your owner’s manual for direction.
Immediately after cleaning, wash your hands thoroughly to get any chemicals and gunpowder residue off. Let your weapon air dry before putting it safely away in its gun case or holster. If storing your weapon for a longer period, it is a good idea to throw in a couple desiccant packets to help absorb moisture.
Regular gun maintenance and cleaning not only helps with the visual appeal of your firearm, but also increases its safety, helping to ensure it operates and fires as it should. A good firearm investment should be complemented with good maintenance, which helps prolong the lifespan of the firearm. In other words, take care of it and it will take care of you.