Your firearm is an investment piece and to keep it in top working order, it’s important you care for it properly. Without proper maintenance you may as well throw your money away, because the quality and usability of the weapon will deteriorate. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide for properly cleaning and caring for your firearm, so that you can get the most use out of your investment.
Regularly cleaning your firearm is one of the best things you can do to keep it in top condition. Just like a car, infrequent cleaning can lead to a rusted, unattractive exterior and a dirty, worn interior. Looks aside, not cleaning your firearm can severely impact its performance and cause unreliability and malfunctioning.
To clean your gun, you’ll need a few things. Luckily, most gun cleaning kits include most or all of these items. However, you can also buy them all separately if you’d like.
- Cleaning solvent (choose solvent based on your bullet type)
- Lubricant/gun oil
- Bore brush (the diameter of your bore)
- Patch holder and patches
- Cleaning rod
- Cleaning brush
- Cotton swabs
- Microfiber cloths
You should clean your firearm regularly and it’s recommended that you clean it immediately after use. The entire process only takes 20-30 minutes and having a properly-working gun is worth the time.
Step 1: Unload the gun. This step may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many people forget and unfortunately hurt themselves or someone else.
Step 2: Disassemble the firearm. Only disassemble when you absolutely have to. Taking your firearm apart more than necessary only increases the likelihood that a part will get lost or broken during the process. Reference your instruction manual if you still have it, or use the NRA’s Guide to Firearms Assembly if you’re working with an older gun or if you no longer have the instruction manual. It’s filled with written instructions and helpful visuals on taking apart of a variety of rifles, shotguns, and handguns.
Step 3: Clean the barrel. To clean the barrel, you’ll use the patch holder, patches, cleaning rod, and cleaning solvent. First, soak the bore (the inside of the barrel) using the cleaning rod, patch holder, and patches. Push the solvent-soaked patch through the bore until it exits out the other end and then immediately remove. Do not push it back through, or else all the residue you’ve just cleaned will re-deposit throughout the bore. Do this three times with three different patches and then you should be ready to move onto step 4.
Note: Work from the back of your bore if possible to prevent the cleaning rod from hitting the back of the bore. If that’s not possible, use a muzzle guard to protect it from the rod.
Step 4: Use a bore brush. Bore brushes are available with steel, nylon, and bronze bristles. Steel bristles can be very abrasive and nylon bristles can be too gentle, so it’s usually a safe bet to stick with the bronze option. Thread the brush to the cleaning rod and wet the brush with solvent. Using the same method as step 3, push the rod through in one stroke and remove the brush as it exits the bore. Do this approximately 10 times before repeating step 3 again. After repeating step 3, wipe down the cleaning rod and finish with dry patches. Each dry patch should come out cleaner than the last and 5 to 7 patches should do the trick.
Step 5: Lubricate the barrel. Run gun oil, conditioner, or lubricant through the bore to leave a light coating of oil inside.
Step 6: Clean and lubricate the action. Use your solvent to clean the action and then lubricate it with a very light coating of whatever lubricant you used in step 5. Too much lubrication on the action can cause gunk to build up, so make sure it’s just a light coating.
Step 7: Wipe down. Using a microfiber cloth, wipe down the parts of your firearm to remove acid from fingerprints and add shine.
Step 8: Reassemble. Reassemble your gun and check that all parts work correctly. It’s easy to lose a small spring here or there during the process, so it’s important to identify missing pieces sooner rather than later.
Step 9: Wipe down. Oil down the non-wooden exterior surfaces of the gun. If your gun has wood on the exterior use a wax instead, because oil can soften the wood over time.
How you store your firearms is equally important, especially if you plan to store them for months or years at a time. The most important aspect of gun storage is keeping them cool and dry to avoid rusting. Follow these tips to ensure your gun maintains its quality while stored away.
- If possible, use a case or cabinet to ensure a tight seal from the outside elements.
- Keep your firearm in a silicone treated gun bag, sock, or safe for ideal moisture control. Using storage containers made from foam or sheepskin can attract moisture and should be avoided.
- Keep the gun de-cocked to relieve tension in the springs and other parts. Or, remove the springs during storage.
- Take the gun out of storage every few months to clean and oil it. This is especially important if it’s a family heirloom, collectible, or any other important item that you hope to pass down to friends or family but don’t actually use very frequently. Routinely cleaning and oiling prevents rusting and keeps the firearm looking good as new.
As a responsible gun owner it’s important that you take care of your guns, so that they work accurately and safely. By taking the time to properly clean and store, you can save yourself a lot of time and money repairing and replacing parts in the future.