Do you want to clean your gun, but have no idea how to do it? You’ve probably seen people on TV or YouTube cleaning their guns with water and oil. But that’s not the right way! Using water can ruin the gun’s metal parts over time, which is why you need to take a different approach. In this article, we’re going to teach you the best gun cleaning techniques, so that it stays in good condition, for longer. We’ll also give you a few extra tips and tricks to keep a well-maintained firearm.
What’s the right way to clean your gun? Read on to find out!
Gun Cleaning Safety Preparation
Safety first! Before cleaning your gun, you need to make sure that it is unloaded. You should never clean a loaded gun because there’s no telling when the firearm may unintentionally discharge.
About 2 out of every 10 self-inflicted gun wound is unintentional. Well-meaning gun owners are simply trying to clean their piece when it accidentally goes off. Thankfully, by unloading the gun first, you can be sure that will never happen to you!
Gather Your Supplies
Next, collect all of the needed supplies together in one place. All of these items are inexpensive and easy to find at any sporting goods store or online retailer. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Brass-bristle brush
- Eye protection
- Soft cloths
- Cleaning rod
- Carbon solvent spray
- Chemical-resistant gloves
Why wear eye protection? Even though you’re not using water like those TV and YouTube personalities, gun residue will still fly off the firearm as you work. If that happens to get into your eyes, it could severely damage or blind you.
Next, we suggest using a rag instead of paper towels for a few reasons. First of all, they can be reused. Paper towels are designed to only clean one surface and then they’re thrown away.
Plus, paper towels leave a trail of lint everywhere they touch! You don’t want your firearm covered in a trail of lint after a thorough cleaning process.
You’ll notice we suggest using a carbon solvent cleaner. Removing the carbon from within the gun is going to take some time and effort, but it’s worth it.
Be sure you have enough supplies to last through the entire process before you begin. This will not only increase your productivity during cleaning, but it will also save you money in the long run.
Not sure you have everything but don’t want to go to the store? No problem. There are online stores like Aero Precision that offer a variety of cleaning supplies, like rods.
Got all of your supplies ready? Great. You’re now ready to start the cleaning process.
The first step is to disassemble your firearm. This means getting rid of the barrel, frame, bolt carrier group, magazine, and any other attachments that may be on or in your gun.
For shotguns, push out the shell latch pin at the rear edge of the receiver. The trigger group can now slide downward slightly and come off toward the front.
Then remove the barrel from its engagement with the magazine box by twisting it counterclockwise until it stops. Pull it away from the gun and remove it downward and toward the rear.
For rifles and pistols, the procedure is similar but simpler. Remove the magazine and cycle the action to cock the gun. With an autoloading rifle like a semiautomatic or automatic, remove the bolt carrier assembly toward the rear and upward.
While holding it firmly, tap out the hinge pin on top of the bolt carrier (it’s also called a charging handle) with a screwdriver handle. You could also use a different blunt metal object such as a hammer.
The holding latch can then be pulled away from its bore alignment notch and upward out of its track. The gun is now fully disassembled into component pieces. Set the pieces aside in order so you don’t lose anything.
Lubricate After Cleaning
One of the most important steps in firearm cleaning is to lubricate it well after you’re done cleaning. If you skip this step, your weapon could develop rust and become useless over time. As for what kind of oil or lube to use, that’s up to you.
We would recommend using 3-in-1 gun oil because it lubricates just as well as more expensive brands, but costs less money. However, you can spend more if that gives you better peace of mind.
When you’re lubricating your gun, be sure not to get any oil or lube onto the exterior of your firearm. This will make it difficult to clean later and could cause malfunctions when you go to use it.
Remember, a well-oiled firearm is a safe firearm.
Reassembling the Firearm
Once you’re done cleaning, reassemble the firearm. Push in or tap back in the locking block until it feels snug. Then test-fire the gun to check for function. Keep track of your parts because not everything gets reattached.
Use a torque wrench when screwing in barrel attaching screws to ensure they are tightened properly. If they are too loose, the gun won’t be able to shoot accurately and could come apart while shooting – which is not safe.
For rifles and pistols, don’t forget to attach sliding surfaces with good quality lubricant before reassembling either! Using these techniques will save you time, and reduce wasted energy. You’ll also be able to lessen the wear on your equipment and produce better results than if you just winged it.
How Often to Clean Your Gun
Beyond learning the proper gun cleaning techniques, you also have to know how often to do it. While there isn’t an exact number that applies to every shooter out there, we suggest cleaning your weapon after each time you use it. That’s in addition to regular lubrication in between uses.
If you’re going on a multi-day hunting trip with a friend or two, bring along cleaning supplies. Make sure you bring enough to share. Together you can help each other keep your guns in tip-top shape!
Gun Range Etiquette and Cleaning
Did you know there’s a direct connection between cleaning your gun and following the right gun range safety practices? It’s not safe to bring a dirty or rusted weapon into the field or onto the range.
When you bring in a weapon that’s not in proper working order, it puts everyone in the range at risk. If the gun has any malfunctions when you’re out hunting or shooting with friends, it could seriously injure or kill someone.
Even if your firearm functions fine and is well cared for, other shooters will appreciate knowing that you clean your guns thoroughly before heading to the range.
Live by this mantra: safety first! Since a clean gun is a safe gun, your gun should always be clean.
Storing Your Gun
Are you leaving your gun in your car all day? That’s a big no-no in the firearm industry. Never store your gun where there are high temperatures for extended periods, such as an attic or car trunk.
The exception to this rule would be if you had thick insulation on all sides so no heat can reach inside of the weapon case itself. This is especially important if you live in an area where the temperature can reach exceedingly high or low limits throughout the year.
Worried about humidity? We would recommend using a dehumidifier to control humidity if you’re leaving your firearm long-term in storage. This is because increased moisture content brings down the flashpoint, which means it can ignite easier and cause severe damage to your weapon or trapping devastation within your home.
Using desiccants will also help dry out any moisture that may be inside of your gun case. You can make your desiccants at home, in a few simple steps!
Of course, the heat isn’t the only thing to consider when storing your gun. Putting safety first, you’ll also need to learn how to store your gun securely. If you don’t have the money to purchase a gun safe right now, consider buying a locking rifle bag or another type of lockable case. A long gun safe is a perfect solution if you plan on storing your guns long-term.
Practice the Right Gun Cleaning Techniques
Now you know the proper gun cleaning techniques to clean your firearm. But most importantly, you now have a responsibility to take pride in your gun ownership.
A firearm is not meant to be a burden or a chore — they’re meant for fun! Treating them with care will ensure that they last a long time and can continuously be used for their intended purpose: protection, recreation, and collecting.
Check if you have all of the supplies necessary to clean your gun the next you use it. Then have fun exploring the rest of our site!