Firearms must be kept clean for three reasons; safety, accuracy, and longevity.
Some firearms (that use black powder) may need to be cleaned during shooting sessions. Others will require a quick dry brush and wipe with a microfiber cloth. How often a gun gets cleaned depends on the type of gun and the type of ammunition.
Today you will learn how to clean and lubricate a gun using a basic gun cleaning kit. And you will also discover the differences between cleaning a revolver, a semi-automatic, a carbine, a muzzleloader, and a shotgun. (By checking out the relevant manuals)
How To Clean And Lubricate A Gun
The basics of how to clean and lubricate a gun are similar, no matter what type of weapon you clean.
But the techniques differ depending on how often you use the gun, what the climate is like, and whether you are giving a quick clean, a full clean, or a black powder clean.
Safety is always the first consideration. So, before you start cleaning it’s wise to get prepared. This involves:
● Clearing an area.
● Laying down a surface mat or towel.
● Removing all ammo from the vicinity.
● Laying out all the equipment you need.
If you are cleaning multiple firearms, it’s best to clean each one individually. It’s safer this way and you get to keep the cleaning station organized.
This short guide will give practical hacks on safety, storage, equipment needed, and cleaning and oiling techniques. You’ll learn why it’s essential to keep your guns oiled, and get free resources to the service manuals of well-known firearm brands.
Let’s jump straight in!
The Preparation Station: Get Your Gun and Cleaning Equipment Ready
● Choose a well-ventilated area. The solvents and oils give off vapors that make some people nauseous or dizzy.
● Well-ventilated areas include outside areas (dust-free), the garage, the kitchen, anywhere that has a good flow of fresh air. And a stable workbench or tabletop to work from.
● Clear away any live ammunition. Empty the magazine of the gun you are about to clean.
It’s easier to clean and lubricate a gun away from the area where you store ammunition and firearms.
● If you have just purchased a gun, clean it before you use it for the first time. New guns are treated with a preservative and gun oil.
This protects it from corrosion and damage during shipping and storage. All the preservative and oil must be wiped clean from the bore, the chamber, and the exterior parts. Use a dry, non-abrasive cloth or a cleaning patch.
● When you disassemble your firearm never take it apart further than the instructions in your manual. Look for the section called “Field Stripping” and/or “Inspection”.
● When you clean, always insert and push the cleaning rod from the back to the front and never pull it out. Instead, you must unscrew the lag or brush from the rod and then pull it out.
● Use microfiber cloths, Q-tips, an old toothbrush, cleaning patches, or any anti-abrasive cloth.
● Get the correct lubricating oils and solvents. WD-40 is not a cheap alternative to gun cleaning solvents and lubricants. It will do the job in emergencies but should not replace the gun oils. WD-40 evaporates, it attaches to dirt, just DON’T DO IT!
Items You Will Need to Clean and Lubricate a Gun: The Gun Cleaning Kit
1. Gun cleaning mat (optional) – Or use an old towel or pillowcase. It will get grease and oil on it, so use something you can keep just for gun cleaning.
2. Gun cleaning patches – Buy pre-cut patches made with quality material suited to clean guns. They are single-use and are available in bulk. They are not expensive.
3. Cleaning rod – Usually made from carbon fiber. The rod gets inserted from the back of the barrel and pushed through. Usually, it has an attachment that either brushes or pushes a cleaning patch through the barrel. Different lengths and sizes available, according to the caliber.
4. Bore snakes – This gun cleaning accessory is like a cleaning rod but it’s a rope. It’s weighted on the one end. This end gets dropped through the barrel, from behind. Then you pull it through. Attached is the cord that will be covered in oil or lubricant.
As you pull it through, it lubricates the barrel. Ideal for rifles and long guns. But you also get shorter ones.
5. Bore brushes and lags – These attachments (in varying sizes, according to the caliber of the gun being cleaned) get screwed onto the cleaning rod. The lags are used to hold cleaning pads in place. And the brushes remove fouling after firing and before cleaning with oil.
The brushes and patches must only be pushed forwards out of the barrel. Never pull them back, the opposite way.
6. Cleaning brushes (utility brushes) – You get cleaning brushes with your gun cleaning kit. These are actual brushes for dislodging dust and fouling.
It has softer bristles than the brushes that attach to cleaning rods. You can also use an old toothbrush.
Dry brushing is required to loosen carbon fouling and dust particles before spraying or applying cleaning solvent.
Sometimes a dry brush and a wipe with an anti-abrasive cloth are all that’s needed for a quick clean before running an oiled cleaning patch through a barrel.
You can use a brush and cloth to clean your magazine. Use the brush to get into places between the trigger and other tricky areas where a cloth cant go to loosen bits before applying solvent.
7. Q-tips – Super handy to remove excess oil, dirt, and grime, from areas like rails and surfaces that are tricky to reach. Just remember that sometimes the cotton threads can be left behind on the gun. So keep an eye out for that. It can happen with cotton cloth too. Don’t leave threads behind.
8. Gun cleaning chemicals – You get four types of chemicals designed for gun cleaning. You can’t use any chemicals. They have to withstand heat and also protect the steel of the gun. They cannot evaporate and they must not be corrosive. Solvents get used to clean fouling from the bore (inner barrel).
Degreasers remove dirt from moving parts of the gun. Lubricants protect against rust and keep moving parts oiled. Protectants dispel moisture and protect against rust and corrosion.
The Importance of Safety and a Clean Gun
A clean gun is a safe gun. When a gun is not cleaned properly it can corrode. Particles of dirt and carbon fouling can lead to corrosion.
Also, if bullets are fired through a dirty barrel it can cause damage to the gun and it will be less accurate when shooting.
It can also result in jamming and serious injury can arise.
So keeping a gun clean:
● Reduces the risk of injury
● Reduces the risk of malfunction
● Keeps it firing accurately
● Keeps it in good condition and gives it longevity
When Must I Clean My Gun and How Often?
A gun must be cleaned after every shooting session. Some guns may even need a quick clean during, it depends on the ammunition.
Modern ammunition allows for a lot less cleaning. Older types are corrosive because they contain salts that eat into the metal of the gun.
This can cause an uneven surface inside the bore, which leads to rust and also means carbon and other particles can get trapped in the minute pitting.
All this leads to a possible malfunction of the weapon, reducing accuracy and increasing chances of misfiring or bursting. A gun must be cleaned when it gets taken out of storage and also before it gets packed away.
You will clean your gun differently depending on how long it will get stored. Whether it gets fired outdoors or indoors also factors in. The weather conditions make a difference too.
If the weather is humid or there is moisture from rain or snow, then you will need to clean it more thoroughly, to make sure there is no condensation after it gets packed in its case. In dry conditions, the firearm will require more oiling before storage.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to oiling guns. Some folks insist on using liberal amounts of oil while others insist it is better to shoot dry. The truth is in the middle. Excessive lubrication will gum up the trigger mechanisms and drip into places it shouldn’t.
Too little oil, especially on areas where metal touches metal, will lead to faster wear and tear.
How To Clean And Lubricate A Handgun
Place the gun mat or towel down on a firm surface. Place the gun cleaning kit out, ready to use.
- Always make sure the gun is pointed away from you.
- Follow safety protocol by removing the magazine from the gun. Cock it and check that chamber is also empty. Remove all ammunition from the vicinity.
- Disassemble the gun. (This example is using a Glock 10mm) Remove slide from frame and take out the barrel and the recoil spring. Place all parts on the gun mat.
- Start by wiping the magazine with a dry cloth to remove any debris.
- With a dry brush, clean the frame, inside and out.
- Then move on to the barrel. Wet a cleaning patch with a bore cleaner. Place the patch over the end of the barrel.
- Using the cleaning rod with an attached cleaning jag, push the patch through the barrel once. This is to wet the inside. Set it aside.
Attach lags and brushes to the cleaning rod and push through the barrel. Never pull back. Always unscrew first and repeat.
- Take the frame. Use a toothbrush with no solvent and brush to remove carbon or lint. Make sure to get underneath the rails that the slide operates on.
- Hold the front end of the slide. Use a dry patch and wipe off any carbon down the front of the slide and inside. With a toothbrush dry brush the inside and any places where the patch couldn’t reach. This will loosen any remaining fouling. Use a Q-tip to give a final once over and reach places previously missed.
- Use a dry brush to clean the recoil spring.
- To oil, you will apply gun grease to the frame’s rails. Use a syringe-type applicator for less mess and more accuracy. The excess can be wiped off afterward.
- Then apply grease to any parts where metal touches metal. For instance, around the outside of the front end of the barrel. Use grease or oil, your choice.
- Place some grease on the slide’s disconnector notch.
- Assemble the gun and cock it a few times to spread the grease.
Some gun owners will grease their gun every thousand rounds but will oil after every 200. The same cleaning procedure can be followed when giving a more thorough clean.
But when you clean deep you will be applying more oil and solvent to the various areas that are fouled from ammunition. It is advisable to use liberal amounts of oil. As long as the excess is removed before the next shooting session.
Stick with legit gun oils and solvents to ensure the longevity of the firearm.
Consult The Manual Specific To Your Firearm (revolver, semi-automatic, carbine, shotgun, etc.)
Your gun should come with a manual. If you don’t have a manual, it is easy to download a copy from the internet. Or contact the manufacturers to get a copy.
The manual will explain the safety precautions, storage instructions, assembling and disassembling instructions, and how to care for and clean your firearm.
Some guns are more complex to clean, like the AR-15, the manual will show you where to put the drops of lubricant.
There are many more points of contact for lubrication on these firearms than there are for handguns. They are also more complex to disassemble.
But as a gun owner, this is something all gun owners become proficient with over time.
It’s important to keep your guns clean. A clean gun has less chance of misfiring, getting jammed, or bursting. Clean your gun carefully to avoid damaging the bore. Loosen carbon fouling and other debris with a dry brush first. Then apply cleaning solvent and clean.
Finally, oil and grease the gun before storing it. When you take it out of storage, give it a once over with dry brushing. Make sure the moving parts are always greased or oiled. And any parts where metal touches the metal must also always be lubricated.
A clean gun keeps your firearm accurate and increases the longevity of the firearm.
- https://archive.org/details/firearmsmanuals Firearm manuals archive, over 2,000 to choose from.
- https://www.vintagegunleather.com/gun-manuals/ This link takes you to a site that has an A-Z of gun manuals. Available in PDF, if you don’t have Adobe Reader.
- http://www.survivorlibrary.com/index.php/8-category/53-library-firearms-manuals Over 50 manuals to choose from.