We know what you’re thinking. “C’mon. How dirty can it get? It fires fine, and I never clean it.” Gamble much? Shooting with a dirty barrel will compromise your accuracy and your firearm’s reliability, and that’s not something you want to dance around.
How dirty can it get? Every time you fire your weapon, residue accumulates inside it, most commonly copper, carbon, lead and, with a shotgun, plastic. This fouling will layer upon itself and eventually, well, you get the picture.
The best discipline is to clean the weapon after every shooting session, but others go by a 500-round mark. Either way, it does not have to be a chore. Here are our favorite tips for a good gun-cleaning session.
- A proper workplace: A clean, clutter-free tabletop, desk or tailgate in a well-ventilated, ammunition-free space is ideal. Prep your site with everything you’ll need – a cleaning kit, cotton swabs, lint-free rags, When your firearm is disassembled, lay the parts out in order and work logically.
- The proper tools: Cleaning kits are always in stock here, and they’re an inexpensive investment in your pieces. The kit does one thing, but it does it perfectly. Don’t wing it.
- Directions: Forgive us if we’re oversimplifying, but Read. Your. Manual. A few minutes spent reading and learning could make a very big difference. Get familiar with your firearm’s parts, their names and functions. Your manual should include detailed instructions on disassembly, cleaning and reassembly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Mind your magazines: It’s not necessary to clean them after every use, but periodically, you’ll want to take them apart for a complete cleaning. A rag with a little lube on the feed lips and follower will suffice.
- Devil’s in the details: Look out for any engraving or etching on the steel components. Those are prone to rust, so set a drop of rust-inhibiting oil on it and make sure it gets absorbed.
- Eye for safety: If you don’t wear eyeglasses, you might consider wearing your protective eyewear. It’s not unknown for someone to be injured by a rogue spring or splashed in the eye by a chemical.
- When done, dry run: This gun could be the difference between life and death for you or the person you love most in the world, so you’re going to dry fire after reassembly, every time. Set up in a safe place with a solid backdrop and check to make sure the gun is not loaded. (Yes, you’ve just reassembled it, but it takes two seconds and could save a life. “Empty” guns have killed people.) When you’ve confirmed the gun is empty and safe, go through the motions of shooting to ensure the trigger travels smoothly and resets properly and the slide racks as it should.
Got any tips that ratchet up your cleaning game? Comment below!