Cleaning & Care of your Firearm
Those who know me will probably laugh at the idea of my writing an article on cleaning and care of firearms. My idea of cleaning is to apply some of our oil to the moving parts of a gun, work the action a few times and go back to shooting. Yes, our company produces gun oil that works for lazy shooters like me. So this article is for those of you who approach gun cleaning more seriously, and it can be very serious if your life depends on the functionality of your firearm.
All guns have one thing in common – they are made of metal. Even the polymer guns have some metal in them. Unfortunately metal tends to rust especially in wet, damp or humid conditions, so one of your first considerations should be to avoid this.
We will deal with the ways to keep your firearm from rusting a little further along in the article, but first let’s approach the cleaning aspect.
First ensure that the firearm is empty. Pointing the firearm in a safe direction (one where an accidental discharge would do the least damage) take the following steps:
- Remove box magazines.
- Open action.
- Check for bullets in chamber, remove if present.
- Check to verify you can see follower in lever and pump actions, work action to clear bullets from internal rotary actions. Open loading gate on single action revolvers and rotate cylinder 2 to 3 complete turns.
Once you have satisfied yourself that your firearm is truly empty, it’s time to start the cleaning process.
You will want to disassemble the firearm. How far will depend on the degree of cleaning you intend to do. Most firearm manufacturers will advise on the recommended level of disassembly.
That reminds me of a time one of my pistols was malfunctioning. A Colt 45. A good friend offered to help me check out the problem. We felt it was important to totally disassemble the pistol as it had gone full auto on me. Once we had all the parts spread out on the bench (it seemed like a million to me) my friend (hmmm) said “Sorry Dave, but I have to catch a plane, see you later.” Fortunately his wife was still there and said “No worries Dave. We’ll just disassemble his gun and sort of reverse engineer reassembling yours.” Mission accomplished and no further malfunctions. Thanks Myrna. Regardless I don’t recommend that level of disassembly.
At this point we should consider what we need by way of materials to complete the cleaning process.
- Cleaning rod or pull through
- Patches or swabs
- Tooth brush
- Cleaning oil
- Bore Cleaner
- Lubricating oil
- Cleaning rags
Added items can include:
- Bench mat, soft material to avoid marring gun surfaces
- Racks for guiding cleaning rods in rifles/shotguns
- Bore lights
- CO 2 cleaning systems
At this point apply a cleaning solution that will facilitate the removal of carbon, grease, dirt, and powder residue from the action of the firearm. Let it sit for a while.
Now focus on the barrel. Using a bore cleaner or copper remover swab the barrel. Apply cleaner, leave for a few minutes and then using clean patches swab until patches come out clean. Immediately apply a thin coat of oil to inside of the barrel to avoid any rusting or corrosion.
NOTE: Excessive amounts of oil will change the point of impact on your first few shoots.
Back to the action. Using a clean rag remove all the dirt carbon and buildup. For difficult or hard to reach areas use the tooth brush. Once all moving parts are clean apply a light coat of oil and start the reassemble process.
You can now coat the entire firearm with a light coat of oil and the job is done, it’s ready for use or storage. Be mindful to keep oil or oily rags away from scope lenses.
Okay, let’s take a look at some additional possibilities. Bore guides are an excellent accessory that will help avoid scratches and scores on the rifling of your barrel. Worth consideration. In my opinion a snake or non metallic pull through are equally good.
Bore lights are very helpful in determining the condition of your bore. Economical and well worth the cost.
CO 2 Cleaning Systems operate on a CO2 cartridge that forces a relatively soft foam wad through your barrel. The wad can be coated with bore cleaner or oil; the advantages are no bore scoring and a fairly quick process. The disadvantages are the amount of kit and the number of CO 2 cartridges you need.
A bench mat is a great tool and with the right approach you may even be allowed to use it on the kitchen counter. Much better than being banished to the basement.
No discussion of cleaning firearms would be complete without some discussion on lubricating oils.
Clearly there is no shortage of products on the market. Here are some of the characteristics you may want to consider.
- Many of the products currently available have a tendency to attract grit and dirt. Avoid them. You also want a product that has a thin consistency. Thick oils gum up your action.
- Consistency has nothing to do with lubricity. The lubricating film and lubricating toughness is based on the product formulation and not on how thick the product is.
- You also want a product that performs well under a variety of temperature ranges. A product that will perform well at 100* or – 80* F is preferable.
- Bore cleaners are another item you may want to consider. Again, there are many on the market. Those using ammonia seem to work best at removing copper. Test them with pennies. Our company will be introducing a copper removing product shortly.
This article wouldn’t be complete without a brief discussion of storage.
I am reminded of a friend’s story about how his firearms were stored in a closet under the back stairway. The stairway leaked and his guns got wet. Don’t let that happen to you.
Give serious consideration to how and where you store your firearms.