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« Assault Weapons Ban Primer | Main | Site Policy »

September 09, 2003

Keep it clean! by Jeff Soyer of Alphecca True story: I was at a gun show and someone had a table set up with guns on consignment. There was an S&W model 66, a blued .357 Magnum with my name on it. But when I examined the gun, it was filthy. The barrel looked as though it had never been cleaned and there was residue all over the inside of it, as well as the cylinder. I didn't buy it of course because if the seller didn't even care what condition he showed his gun in, how much more likely that he probably never maintained the firearm when using it.

Any carpenter or auto-mechanic will keep his tools clean so they continue to function properly. The same goes for your firearms. Keep them clean and oiled to insure proper functioning and they will last much longer, shoot straighter and more reliably, and just plain look better. And maybe save your life!

In the picture below, I show a modest investment in gun cleaning supplies. You should be able to pick up everything shown there for about $25 dollars or less.

gun cleaning supplies

Shown is a cleaning rod which has an "eye" at the end where you can secure a small piece of COTTON from one of your old t-shirts. This one has extensions that can be added on depending on the length of the barrel. Some brushes are shown for cleaning. The world famous Hoppe's #9 cleaning solution (which smells great, but don't sniff it!) and a bottle of gun oil. Also shown is a muzzle light for examining the breach of your firearm. Note that if you are in a pinch you can also use gasoline with a spot of oil for cleaning but it smells lousy and you really should only use it outdoors.

Before starting:

Make sure your gun is unloaded!

If that sounds too obvious to you, remember that more than a few careless people shoot themselves every year for failing to heed that advice. In a revolver, open the cylinder and empty it of all bullets. For a pistal or rifle, remove the magazine, open the bolt or pull the slide back and check the breech to insure that there is no bullet in the chamber. And as always, keep the gun pointed in a safe direction and NEVER look down the business end (muzzle) of a firearm. If your gun has a safety, make sure it's on.

Different guns have different means of disassembly (also called field stripping) for cleaning. You should check the instructions that came with your firearm. If you bought the gun used and there is no guide, contact the manufacturer and (all of them) will gladly send you a free instructions manual.

Attach a small square of cotton (push it through the "eye") to the cleaning rod and dip it sparingly in the cleaning solution. Push it through (from the muzzle side of) the barrel a few times. Wait a few minutes and then attach a cleaning brush to the rod, dip it, and push that through the barrel a few times.

Now, attach a clean dry cloth to the rod and push it through to remove the cleaning solution. You might want to go through a couple of patches until they come out dry. Then with a patch sparingly wetted with gun oil (or any quality lubricating oil) lubricate the bore. Lastly, one more clean dry patch through the bore to remove the excess oil.

Also remember to clean the breech and breech-face of the gun, or the breech-side of the cylindar.

You also want to examine the slide (if there is one) and ejection port and clean those as well. Keeping the slide and any other parts that move lubricated with a very high quality oil or grease is also recommended.

If you've been using your gun a lot, use a bore light such as shown above to examine the breech of the barrel for any signs of wear and tear or cracks. If in doubt, most gun store proprietors will be glad to examine this for you.

After you're finished, especially if your gun has a "blued" finish, sparingly apply a very light coat of oil to all the metal surfaces. This helps prevent rust. How much to use? If you can see or feel the coat, you're probably using too much, wipe it off with a clean cotton rag. Reassemble your gun.

Don't forget to clean the magazines! Especially in semi-automatics the feeding end can accumulate gun powder residue. Doing so will help minimize mis-feeds. This is also a good time to remove the base (heal) of the magazine and re-tension the feed spring.

A couple of things to remember: Never use WD-40 anywhere on your gun. When the oil evaporates, it will leave behind gunk that can foul up everything.

A clean gun lasts longer and is more accurate. And it also helps the resale value.

Lastly, if you're planning to store your firearm for an extended period of time, clean it again -- even if you already did following its last use -- to help prevent any rust from developing.

Now get on out to the range and have some fun! Posted by Alphecca