For many gun owners, their firearm is their pride and joy. So, naturally, they want to make sure that they’re doing all the right things to properly maintain it and keep it in tip top shape. A clean gun will definitely perform better than a dirty one.
The problem is that there are times when you begin to have doubts about your skills as a gun owner. If you’re one of these people, you know just what we’re talking about. The same question can also arise in terms of gun cleaning.
You might be asking yourself, “Am I under-cleaning or over-cleaning my gun?” Or, perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “How do I tell when my gun is clean enough?” A vast majority of gun buyers experience these doubts, so don’t worry.
We recognize and understand these problems, that’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to show you how to check if a gun is clean. Here we go!
Why Should You Clean Your Gun?
We cannot overemphasize how important it is that your gun remains clean. When you fire a gun, it causes gunpowder residue, among other things, to build up in the barrel. Over time, this affects the accuracy and performance of your gun.
A dirty gun can be quite unreliable, so for your safety and for the safety of others, you should follow proper gun cleaning etiquette. Apart from this, there are many other reasons why a well-cleaned gun is important.
1. It Helps You Understand Your Gun Better
When you fire a gun, you only see the end result – a bullet round leaving the barrel. The rest of the action that happens inside remains a mystery, unless, of course, you decide to educate yourself.
Proper gun cleaning techniques require you to take apart your gun before every cleaning. That simple act alone will help you better understand the inner components of your gun and its mechanism of action.
Even if you don’t find the interactions of the different gun parts of any interest, just knowing that they exist and their specific importance will help you gain a new level of reverence for your weapon.
2. It Increases the Longevity of Your Weapon
You’d be surprised how much you will be adding to your gun’s lifespan simply by cleaning it properly and regularly. For instance, handguns can long as long as several generations if you treat them right!
You need to regularly clean, lubricate, and store your guns properly to get the most action out of them. Also, depending on how thorough your cleaning and maintenance is, you won’t have to replace as many gun parts over time.
3. It Ensures Safety and Reliability
In addition to the gunpowder residue that builds up after each shooting session, constantly applying lubricant will help protect the gun from any possible residue, grime, dust, and dirt that might stick to the gun. Over time, this build-up could cause the gun to gum up, cause firing problems, or even lead to expensive repairs.
This collected grime could also reduce the precision of your gun. If you use your gun primarily for sport, this could affect your accuracy. But if you use it for safety or self-defense, this could mean the difference between life and death.
Regular cleaning and maintenance will make you feel confident in the capabilities of your gun, even in unpredictable scenarios.
4. It Prevents Major Issues in the Future
A good cleaning routine will help to prevent your gun from developing issues in the future. Some of the issues that can be prevented include rusting, build-up of fouling, failure to feed, failure to eject, and failure to fire.
Cleaning your gun regularly will also help remove rust, lubricants, and any debris which could lead to serious issues.
Additionally, a vast majority of gun owners find cleaning their guns to be a relaxing activity.
How to Check If a Gun Is Clean
Unfortunately, there is no foolproof method to check if you’ve cleaned your gun properly. In fact, so many “cleaned” guns still end up at the gunsmith’s workshop for being faulty when all it really needs is a little extra cleaning.
Sometimes you may think you have successfully cleaned your gun, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The primary cause is that many people don’t know the proper cleaning techniques when it comes to cleaning their firearms.
Many inexperienced gun owners will simply use a cleaning rod to pass a cleaning patch through the bore a few times and then conclude that they’ve successfully cleaned their guns. This is like running a dry wash rag a few times around a muddy car and assuming you’ve cleaned it.
Sometimes, guns get so fouled that even scrubbing the bore for days will achieve nothing. It’s even worse when you use the wrong solvent for cleaning purposes. Even with the right solvent, a badly fouled gun may take weeks or several trials to truly be clean.
A good way to tell if your gun is getting clean is by paying attention to the amount of residue, debris, or gunk that comes off as you run your cleaning patch through it. Alternatively, if you’re using a brush tip, make sure to completely run it through the gun barrel before reversing the motion and check to see that the brush doesn’t get stuck.
How to Tell If Your Gun Is Due for a Cleaning
The only way to know for sure that your gun is unclean is by using it. A gun that formerly functioned properly can start misbehaving and shooting at targets in a haphazard manner when it has accumulated too much dirt.
There are several ways to check if your gun is dirty and due for some cleaning.
1. Do a Functional Check
As mentioned, one of the effects of a dirty gun is that it has firing failures. You can always do a test shot of your gun to see how effective it still is.
First, you need to make sure that the barrel doesn’t have any obstacles. Something as little as excess gun oil, grease, mud, or even snow in the bore could increase pressure and cause the gun barrel to swell or even explode on firing.
On the off chance that your gun is dirty, you should use a cleaning rod to check the bore and clean out any obstructions before shooting to avoid injuring yourself and others.
Also, check the action in order to be certain that there’s no ammo in the magazine or chamber before loading your gun.
Once you fire the gun, pay close attention to the noise or recoil it gives. If it doesn’t seem quite right, there’s a high chance that your gun isn’t clean and you should definitely do something about it.
2. Check for Accumulated Dust
You’d be surprised by how much dust a gun collects daily, even in a holster. The amount of dirt a holstered gun accumulates depends on the kind of material the holster is made from, where you keep the holster on your body, and the amount of dust and dirt you’re exposed to on a daily basis.
For example, leather holsters accumulate dirt easily, especially when compared to other materials like Kydex. Also, if you carry a small revolver in a leather ankle holster, it will gather more dust than if you carried the same gun in a leather hip holster.
If you walk around with your ankle holster in a dusty area, chances are you’ll pick up a lot of dirt. On the other hand, a gun inside the waistband, open-bottom Kydex holster will remain relatively clean because it doesn’t easily accumulate dirt and anything that gets in will fall right back out of the bottom.
Regardless, after carrying your gun around for a week, whether its been fired or not, remove the gun from the holster, unload it, and do a quick check. The parts that need to be checked vary depending on the type of gun you own.
Protocol for Revolvers
If you own a revolver, check the ratchet, locking mechanism, and hand to be sure that there’s no dust, lint, or loose particles. Also, don’t forget to check the hammer travel and the firing pin area. Although it’s uncommon for dust and dirt to settle in and around that area in such a short time, that’s not a risk you should take.
Protocol for Auto-Loading Pistols
If you own an auto-loading pistol, you’ll have more areas to check than if you had a small revolver. If your pistol has an exposed hammer and you keep it cocked and locked, you will need to check the whole of that area for dirt and clean accordingly.
Sometimes, dirt can even settle along the slide rails or along where the parts merge with the gun frame. Safety levers are another part of the gun that tend to attract and keep dirt.
In addition to doing a routine weekly sweep of your gun, you may also need to do a monthly field strip of your pistol in order to clean it more thoroughly.
How Regularly Should You Clean Your Gun?
How often you clean a gun is a common debate among gun users. Some people don’t clean regularly and some do. Both groups swear that their weapons work just fine, so it all depends.
However, as a rule of thumb, gun owners should do a light cleaning of their weapons after each use and a deeper clean 3 – 4 times annually. At the end of the day, the frequency at which you clean your gun depends on how much you use it.
Do You Need to Clean a Gun If You Never Use It?
Even when you don’t fire a gun, you still need to clean it to ensure it doesn’t accumulate dirt. Even while locked away in storage, dust and dirt can still find a way inside the gun chamber.
The only difference between cleaning a gun you use and one you never use is the frequency. For example, if you only take your gun out of its case a few times a year, but don’t actively shoot it, you can get away with cleaning it just once or twice a year.
How Much Deep Cleaning Does Your Gun Need?
In short, it depends on how dirty your gun is. A simple cleaning inside the gun barrel and sliding, lubricating and wiping down the exterior of the gun is enough to get it clean.
But, sometimes you may need to do more, especially if you use them regularly or they’re already showing intense signs of rusting. At that point, it’s necessary to get deep inside the barrel, use a solvent to clean up any gunk and rust down to the bare steel, and add lubrication.
to summarize, in addition to being the pride and joy of every gun owner, a clean gun will ensure you can enjoy the best benefits from your firearm. The only way to check if a gun is clean is by repeatedly running the cleaning patch through until it comes out without any signs of debris or residue.
The amount of dirt or rust in the gun, the kind of cleaning solvent you use, and the amount of effort you put into cleaning will determine how much time you’ll spend until you reach a satisfactory result.
It can sometimes take a few hours to get a completely clean gun, but it’ll be worth every minute. In fact, your gun will last a lot longer and you’ll end up saving money on repairs.
Check out our other articles on our gun cleaning website for more ways on how to get the maximum performance out of your weapon!