How to Clean a Gun
Properly inspecting and regularly cleaning your guns will keep them functioning effectively and firing safely. Because of the tiny explosion in the chamber every time you pull the trigger, residue and sediment are left on the inside of the barrel, making it essential that you take the time to clean it regularly to avoid dangerous malfunctions. You should clean a gun after every time you fire it, and particularly after target practice when you are firing lots of rounds. See Step 1 to learn to start cleaning your guns properly.
Get a cleaning kit.Whether you purchase a pre-assmebled cleaning kit from a sporting goods store or you assemble the necessary components individually, you'll need a few basic things to have in your arsenal of cleaning supplies. A basic set includes:
- Cleaning solvent
- Lubricant, or gun oil
- A bore brush
- A patch holder and patches
- Cleaning rod
- A nylon cleaning brush
- Cotton swabs
- Microfiber cloths for polishing
Unload your gun.Always take the time to properly unload your gun and double-check to make sure that it's unloaded every time you pick it up to clean it. Remember that your gun may still have a round ready to fire after you remove the magazine, so check and remove this round.
- After opening the chamber, look through the barrel from back to front. Confirm that no round remains inside, either in the chamber or stuck in the barrel. No gun can be considered unloaded until you have looked through the barrel.
Disassemble your gun only as much as the manufacturer recommends.Check the owner's manual for disassembly instructions to prepare the gun for cleaning. This will allow you to access all parts that become dirty from firing.
- Semi-automatic pistols and rifles will generally be stripped into their major components: barrel, slide, guide rod, frame and magazine. Revolvers, shotguns, and most other sorts of guns will not need to be stripped to clean them.
- Field stripping is not necessary to clean the gun thoroughly. Don't take apart your gun more than you have to unless it requires repair. Likewise, some guns can't be stripped at all and it won't be necessary to do anything but open the chamber to clean it.
Always clean your gun in a well-ventilated area.Find a a place with good air circulation to clean your guns. Solvent fumes are noxious and can make you sick. Likewise, the solvent and lubricant used just flat-out smell foul if you try to clean your guns indoors, so keep your family happy and don't stink up the joint.
- Cover your work surface with plastic bags, newspaper, or old towels you've saved for the purpose. Head out to the garage and put the door up, or clean your guns on a bright and dry day to get them cleaned properly.
Cleaning the Gun
Clean out the barrel with cleaning rod and patches.Soak the bore, or inside of the barrel, using a cleaning rod, patch holder and the right size cotton patches for your gun. Work from the back of the bore if you can. If not, use a muzzle guard. The muzzle guard keeps the cleaning rod from banging against the muzzle, which can cause your gun to malfunction.
- To thoroughly clean the barrel out, push a solvent-soaked patch through the bore until it exits the other end. Remove the patch, don't pull it back through. Pulling it back through will just redeposit all the gunk you clean off.
Alternate the bore brush and patches to thoroughly scrub the barrel.Remove the patch holder and attach the bore brush. Run the bore brush back and forth along the full length of the bore 3 or 4 times to loosen any debris. Next, reattach the patch holder and run solvent-soaked cotton patches through the bore. Remove them when they exit the front. Repeat this process until a patch comes out clean.
- Run one more dry patch through to dry it out and inspect it closely for any build-up you may have missed.
Lubricate the barrel.Attach the cotton mop to the cleaning rod. Apply a few drops of gun conditioner or lubricant to the cotton mop and run it through the bore to leave a light coating of gun oil on the inside.
Clean and lubricate the action with solvent.Apply solvent to the gun brush and brush all parts of the action. Wipe them dry with a clean cloth.
- Next, lubricate the moving parts of the action lightly. A light coating helps prevent rust. A heavy coating gets gummy and attracts debris, so only use a small amount.
Wipe down the rest of your gun with a luster cloth.This is a flannel cloth that comes pre-treated with a silicon lubricant. It will remove any remaining debris, including acid from fingerprints, and add shine.
- If you don't have a particular cloth designated for cleaning guns, old t-shirts and pairs of socks work really well for the purpose. Use something you've got lying around and won't need to reuse.
Clean your gun after every use.A good-quality firearm is a significant investment, whether you're using it for sport, hunting, or home defense. Make sure you give it the attention it deserves whenever you get back from a round of firing it.
- The whole cleaning process, start to finish, only takes 20 or 30 minutes. It's worth it to do it regularly. You might even consider getting out old guns from the back of the closet and doing them all at once while you've got the materials out. Can't hurt.
Consider investing in a barrel snake and/or ultrasonic cleaners.Like everything else, gun cleaning technology is cutting edge. For rifles and shotguns, barrel snakes are long multi-purpose cleaners that make the job much quicker and easier, some featuring lights on the end that allow you to see the interior of the barrel much more easily. It cuts down on time and makes the job more efficient.
Store your guns unloaded in a cool and dry environment.To ensure the longest life for your gun, don't store them anywhere they'll be significantly affected by the elements. Keep them indoors, in temperature-controlled environments. Consider investing in trigger locks to keep your gun safe and tamper proof.
- Soft or hard cases are available for guns, anywhere as cheap as or . If you have a higher budget, there are also lockable gun cabinets and safes made for the purpose of storing guns in a controlled and locked environment.
QuestionHow do I disassemble my gun?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost guns are different. Take a course to learn about your gun. The user's manual will probably say, but you still may want to take the course so that you can see it hands on. Plus, there are videos online that can help as well.Thanks!
QuestionCan guns get so dirty (from improper storage/just sitting around) that they are no longer usable or able to be cleaned?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGuns are metal, and metal can corrode and be weakened over time. Any firearm that has not been properly maintained should be taken to a gunsmith to be examined and cleaned. It is not an arcane process and many gun owners and hobbyists could probably do an equivalent job, but if you need to ask here, you need a gunsmith.Thanks!
QuestionWhat's the best way to remove rust spots on guns?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUsing WD-40 and a brillo pad is most effective. Spray some WD onto the rusty area and make light circles with the brillo pad. You will have to wipe down the gun to clean off brillo residue and the WD afterwards, but it's a good way to remove the rust.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you clean a 17 HMR rifle?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere are specialized carbon fiber rods you can get that are made for 17 HMR (smaller than most common .22 caliber or bigger rods). You can find them at Walmart or any sporting goods store. If you have the money, though, invest in a bore snake. It is the best way to clean a small caliber rifle without damaging it. Just run the bore snake through a couple times, and you're good to go.Thanks!
Before you clean a gun, remove the magazine and double-check that there isn’t a round in the chamber or stuck in the barrel. Once the gun is unloaded, disassemble the gun according to the manufacturer’s instructions, being sure to work in a ventilated area. Wrap a solvent-soaked patch around a cleaning rod and push it all the way through the barrel, then alternate the bore brush and patches to scrub the barrel until it’s clean. Dry and lubricate the barrel, then clean and lubricate the action with the gun brush. Finally, wipe down the rest of your gun with a luster cloth.
- You can also clean a bore with a bore snake. To use a bore snake, apply solvent to the portion in front of the brush and gun conditioner or lubricant to the portion behind the brush. Drop the weight through the bore from back to front and pull the snake through.
- While you're cleaning a gun, inspect all the parts for defects or signs of wear. If you find any, take the gun to a gunsmith.
- Always take the time to check and make sure your gun is unloaded before attempting to clean it.
Things You'll Need
Cleaning rod with patch holder, bore brush, cotton mop
Sources and Citations
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