At first glance, cleaning a gun may seem like a ‘once in a blue moon’ ordeal but you’ll actually be surprised to know how many times it should be done. Here’s the gist of how often you should clean your gun and why.
Why Should You Clean Your Gun?
There are multiple reasons why you should be cleaning your gun, the most important one being that it removes gunpowder buildup and dust debris. Giving your firearm a thorough wipe down also ensures its reliability while shooting a bullet, removes the bullet’s residual fouling buildup, and prevents the gun from rusting.
How Often Should I Clean My Gun?
A gun should be wiped down after every use and thoroughly cleaned inside and out once a week. If it is kept in storage, it is best to clean and lubricate the gun once a month or every three months to ensure there’s no buildup of fouling or corrosion.
How to Clean a Gun
Whether you’re a first-time gun owner or an experienced range enthusiast with a new firearm, it is imperative to know how to clean your gun. Cleaning it regularly will help it maintain its performance and keep it looking new. So here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it easily:
1. Clean the Barrel and Chamber
First, unload the firearm and remove the magazine. Then, take a dry bore brush and clean the chamber and barrel to remove the metal fouling. Next, run solvent through the barrel using a cleaning rod wrapped with a patch dipped in bore solvent. After 15 minutes, scrub the inside using a bore brush until it comes out clean.
2. Oil the Gun
Take a nylon utility brush, some solvent, and a dry cloth to clean the barrel of the gun. Then, with a few Q-tips and a towel, wipe everything off. Place a drip pan below the gun and lubricate the oil rails, springs, and bearing surfaces with gun oil.
3. Reassemble the Gun
Read the instruction manual of the gun and carefully reassemble the gun parts then do a functional check on the gun’s trigger operation, safety buttons, slide mechanism, and the magazine’s ejection system to make sure everything runs smoothly and there’s no hindrance from oil or solvent residue.
4. Wipe Down the Gun
Lastly, do a final wipe-down using a dry towel or a luster cloth to get rid of any remaining oil residue and smooth out the finish of the gun. Most luster cloths are silicon-based which takes off acid and fingerprints plus adds shine to the gun’s exterior.
Should You Use Oil or Grease as a Lubricant to Clean Your Gun?
When cleaning a gun, there are two types of lubricants available to keep it running smoothly. One is grease, which is dropped very lightly on the rails and the machinery that slides. The other is oil, which is wiped on the exterior to keep it shiny and to smooth out the trigger.
How to Oil a Gun
Oiling a gun is as simple as disassembling the gun and then running a cleaning patch down the barrel through a cleaning rod and wiping down the exterior at the end. Make sure to use good quality gun oil that does not leave a residue or attract contaminants.
How Long Can You Go Without Cleaning Your Gun?
A gun needs to be cleaned quite often whether it is being used or kept in storage. However, if there are other pressing matters to tend to, know that a gun can go without cleaning for around four to six months depending on how much you use it. Any more than that can risk the reliability of the gun.
How Often Should I Clean My 9mm Pistol?
As a general rule of thumb, every gun should be cleaned after every use and deep-cleaned at least once a week when used regularly. This is true for 9mm pistols too, wipe down every week when used often and every three months when kept in storage.
How Often Should You Clean a Bolt-Action Rifle?
It is best to clean rifles right after purchasing them, especially if they are thrifted or bought second-hand. Make sure to wipe it down thoroughly every week and clean the bolt-action rifle after coming back from the range. If it’s in storage, clean it every 2 months.
How Often to Oil Guns in Storage
It is recommended to oil guns after cleaning them thoroughly, and at least every three to five months if they are kept in storage. This ensures the mechanics do not corrode, and the trigger does not rust or stop working. Also, lubricating the gun’s exterior keeps it shiny and in pristine condition, looking new.
What Can You Use to Clean a Gun?
Here is a brief guide on all you can find in a gun cleaning kit or purchase on your own to maintain your firearm:
Typically, a gun cleaning kit has a few bronze bore brushes that help remove carbon buildup from the barrel of the gun. The pricier ones may include a nylon bore brush and it helps clean debris and fouling from hard-to-reach gun parts.
Made up of nylon, steel, or brass, utility brushes are double-ended. They look like a toothbrush and are used to clean the exterior of the gun.
Also known as a cleaning swab, a gun mop is made of cotton and developed to absorb excess oil residue from the barrel after lubricating the gun. This is especially important because oil deposits can jam the trigger, cause residual fouling or affect the reliability of the gun.
An essential part of the cleaning process, cleaning patches are dunked in the solvent and (with the help of a cleaning jag) clean the chambers of the gun.
Specialized for gun cleaning, they are usually thinner and longer which helps when detailing a gun or cleaning hard-to-reach areas inside the barrel. The handles are wooden, the tips are cotton and the swabs usually come in a pack of 100.
A cleaning jag is usually made of nickel or brass as the materials are soft so they don’t nick the barrel of the gun or the sensitive parts. It is used with a cleaning patch dipped in cleaning liquid to clean the interior of the gun (the chambers and barrel). At the end of a cleaning session, it must be dried off as residual solvent can corrode the metal.
A mandatory part of a gun cleaning kit, cleaning rods are used as an attachment tool for all the different components and can be found in a variety of sizes, shapes and materials to fit the needs of a firearm.
A cleaning solvent is available in a variety of solutions and it is the main component needed while cleaning the gun. It is used to clean the buildup and scrub the residual fouling from the barrel. It is important to note that some cleaning solvents can cause dermal toxicity so it is important to do thorough research on it.
A bore snake is specially designed to fit the caliber of a specific firearm and is mainly used for a quick wipe down of the gun after firing a bullet to remove any gunk and ensure the next round of fire is smooth.
The second most important step of the cleaning process, a gun is lubricated using gun oil and grease. It protects the barrel and chambers from corrosion and keeps the exterior looking pristine. Gun oil is used on the bearings that turn after every cleaning session while grease is used sparingly only on the gears that slide, when necessary.
Used while oiling the exterior of the gun, a luster cloth is a silicon-based cloth that absorbs any excess oil deposits, removes the solvent buildup, and adds shine to the shell of the gun.
Cleaning a gun can be a messy process as it involves the use of solvents and oils. To ensure the work surface does not get dirty, it is recommended to place a rubber cleaning mat on it. It also makes space to place the gun parts when the firearm is disassembled.
Firearms like rifles and muzzleloaders can be tough to handle while cleaning as they are heavy and can cause strain on the wrist. This is where a cleaning cradle comes in handy, it holds the gun securely freeing up hands and reducing the time needed to thoroughly clean the firearm.
Safety Glasses and Gloves
Gun cleaning is a chemical-based process so it is important to ensure your safety first before handling the equipment. Wear gloves that can withstand chemical solvents and oils to protect the hands from rashes and residue. Also, remember to put on safety glasses in case of solvent fumes and debris.
What Are Some Homemade Solutions You Can Use to Clean a Gun?
Not everyone has access to a good gun cleaning kit or maybe you just ran out of your cleaning solvent. No worries, mix a 50/50 solution of white distilled vinegar and hydrogen peroxide and clean the gun using this solvent. The mixture is strong enough to scrub away bullet and gunpowder residue.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What happens if you forget to clean your gun?
If you forget to clean your gun or it is kept away in storage for a long while, the buildup of carbon from gunpowder residue and dust debris can collect at the gears and trigger causing rust. It can result in failure to fire and problems in ejecting the magazine.
Should I clean my gun even if I don’t use it?
Yes, even if a gun is kept in storage, it needs to be wiped down thoroughly every three to five months to prevent rust, keep the trigger working smoothly, and to reduce the amount of carbon buildup. Also ensures the gun does not fail to fire in emergency situations.
How often should you clean your gun even if you don’t use it?
Generally, a gun kept in storage needs to be thoroughly cleaned every three to five months to make sure it does not corrode or fail to fire. Regular cleaning also increases the lifespan of the gun and ensures shooting precision.
Should you clean your new gun before first use?
Yes, giving a new gun a thorough wipe down before using it is essential to maintaining the sliding and moving mechanisms, the trigger operation, and its pristine finish. It also ensures there is no residual buildup of oil or packing tape. Cleaning a gun is especially important if it’s bought second-hand.
Can you use WD-40 to clean a gun?
No, WD-40 is not a cleaner, a gun solvent, or specialized to be a lubricant. It should not be used to clean or oil a gun. It could ruin the pristine finish of the exterior, jam the trigger, or create unnecessary buildup at the bearing surfaces.
Is it okay if I use alcohol to clean my gun?
No, using alcohol on the exterior or to clean the interior of the gun will remove all oils and deplete the firearm of any lubricant which may jam the trigger and allow rust to settle in the mechanics faster. If you do use alcohol or drop it on the gun accidentally, make sure to lubricate it well using gun oil on the turning gears and grease on the sliding ones.
With the above tips in mind on how to clean your gun and what to stay away from, you can easily increase the lifespan of your firearm.