The Complete Guide to Gun Maintenance

Who are the top shooters of the old west?

Doc Holliday, Annie Oakley, and Buffalo Bill Cody! Close behind, there’s Billy the Kid, and Butch Cassidy.

Gun enthusiasts have a special connection to the old west era of American history. Perhaps the fondness is because of the critical roles that guns had to play.

Folks on the Frontier used their weapons to survive, and they understood just how vital gun maintenance is. Gunman in the old west would run their firearms through hot soapy water to keep them working smoothly. They’d also use bear grease to keep their gun nice and lubricated.

Today, you have many more cleaning tools at your disposal. But, if you’re not using the best gun cleaning practices, no amount of tools will make a difference.

What does it take to properly maintain your firearm throughout the year? Read on to find out.

Read Your Manual First

Whenever you purchase a new firearm, it will come with a user manual. Instead of throwing out the user manual, keep it in a safe place so you can reference it often. Understanding how your firearm works will make gun maintenance so much easier.

The user manual will become an invaluable resource as you begin breaking down your weapon and cleaning each individual part. The manual will give you special tips and tricks for cleaning different segments of your gun.

You may even be able to get advice regarding the type of cleaning chemicals you should use. Since you’ll be getting the information directly out of the user manual, you’ll know it applies specifically to your firearm. For instance, you’ll be able to ensure you choose the right AR15 parts, for your specific firearm.

Set Up a Workstation and Take Your Time

After referencing your user manual, you can set up a workstation. Having a dedicated station for cleaning your gun will make it easier to track all the parts. You’ll also have everything you need within arms’ reach instead of getting up and leaving your firearm unattended.

Don’t try to perform firearm maintenance when you’re pressed for time. There isn’t a gun maintenance session that only takes 5 or 10 minutes.

To truly clean your gun from start to finish, you’ll need at least a half-hour. If this is your first time cleaning a gun, plan to spend an hour thoroughly taking everything apart, examining, and cleaning.

Gun Safety During Cleanings

Every good firearm enthusiast knows that guns demand respect, no matter the situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re out in the field getting ready to shoot, maintaining your gun at home, or simply shopping for a new firearm.

You have to follow the proper gun safety protocols whenever you’re handling a gun. For starters, your weapon should always point in a safe direction.

You should never point your gun in a direction you don’t intend to shoot. Why does the direction matter? If you accidentally discharge, there won’t be any injuries or damage.

Next, always unload your firearm before cleaning it. In fact, anytime you pick up a firearm, you should first check to make sure it’s unloaded.

If you haven’t checked, assume that the gun is live. Treat it like a loaded gun to prevent any accidents from happening.

How can you tell if there’s a bullet in the chamber? You’ll need to actually open up the action and inspect the chamber yourself. Simply asking somebody if it’s packed isn’t good enough.

You’ll also want to keep all of your ammunition stowed away while cleaning your weapon. By keeping the ammunition out of reach, you won’t have to worry about any accidental discharges.

Finally, watch your finger placement. Gun enthusiasts understand that your trigger finger should only go on the trigger when you’re ready to shoot.

Gun Maintenance Out in the Field

When it comes to weapon cleaning, the extent of your clean depends on how you’re using the firearm. If you only have a little time, you can perform a quick clean on your firearm.

A quick clean, or field clean, is a must-do when out in the world. Quick cleans only take a few minutes and they’re a way of maintaining your gun throughout the year.

The best part is that you can perform a field cleaning with almost no disassembly. The main goal during a field clean will be to remove any metal fouling from the bore. You’ll also clear out any residual powder.

During an extended shooting session, stop periodically to perform a quick field clean. This will help keep the powder and metal from building up inside the barrel.

If you let the residue build up, it will impact the accuracy of your firearm. So stay on top of your quick cleans!

Full Clean Tips

Quick cleans are great for when you’re out in the field, but you’ll need to perform a complete clean when you get home. A full cleaning involves clearing the bore completely. You’ll also be getting any dirt, debris, grime, and whatnot, out of the barrel.

You’ll need to do a bit of disassembly, and it’s best to do it right after your shooting session. You’ll want to take a peek at your firearms user manual to learn how to fully disassemble it for complete cleaning.

Use Professional Gun Cleaning Supplies

You’re ready to get down to business after referencing your user manual and unloading your firearm. However, you’ll want to ensure that you have the right cleaning tools and solutions.

Unfortunately, many gun owners fall into the trap of trying to make their own cleaning solutions or tools. Don’t let this happen to you! Makeshift gun cleaning tools are likely to damage your firearm and leave it less than clean.

Products designed for cleaning, and lubricating your gun will be the best choice. In other words, WD-40 is not going to keep your gun lubricated. Nor is any other non-gun-related cleaning solution.

Do you understand what happens when you shoot a bullet? Gunfire is an interesting and complex process.

One of the reasons the cleaning solution has to be so particular has to do with the high heat that guns experience. Guns withstand extreme heat, fast movements, and tons of friction.

The oils and fluids explicitly made for firearms will help prevent any type of rust within the barrel. You’ll also be able to fully clear out the residue and debris that can impact your accuracy.

Inspect Your Gun Often

How often should you be inspecting your gun? After every long shooting session, you’ll want to perform a complete clean. However, before the shooting session takes place, perform a quick inspection.

Avid gun users inspect their guns before, and after every time they’re used. Do you have a weapon that sitting in a holster all day long?

Guns sitting in holsters are the most susceptible to elements of the environment. They can quickly become clogged with sand in the air or retain moisture that causes rust.

If you’re a daily carrier, you’ll want to quickly inspect your gun at the end of each day. Check it every week if you’re simply sitting at home or resting it comfortably in your car.

How to Clear Out Debris

Since each gun will require different cleaning techniques, the tools will change from one firearm to another. However, there are some essential tools that you’ll almost always need during the gun cleaning process.

Here’s a shortlist of the tools you’ll want to gather:

  • Bore brush and snake
  • Cleaning swab
  • Mops
  • Cotton swabs
  • Luster cloth
  • Double-ended utility brush
  • Disposable drip pan
  • Action cleaner
  • Lubricant
  • Bore cleaning solution

We suggest investing in a gun cleaning kit made specifically for your type of gun. Other materials you might want to add to the list include a rubber mat to help you set up your workspace. The rubber mat will keep all your gun parts safe while also giving you an uncluttered area to perform the cleaning.

If you have a long gun, consider getting a cleaning cradle like a rifle. The cleaning cradle will make it easy for you to keep the gun in a convenient position, so you can be hands-free. You’ll be able to focus on controlling your cleaning tools, and handling loose parts, instead of holding the gun in place.

We also suggest investing in a pair of high-quality safety glasses. If there’s any flying debris or springs that come loose, you’ll want to have protection for your eyes.

It’s also possible that the chemicals from the gun cleaning solutions could splash up into your eyes, so safety glasses are a must. Take things one step further by getting solvent-resistant gloves. You’ll be able to protect your skin from the different chemicals you’re using so they don’t absorb into your body.

Maintain Your Firearm Like a Pro

Now, you know the best tips and tricks for maintaining your gun throughout the year. Take a moment to think about your gun maintenance needs.

Is your gun sitting in one spot and barely ever seeing action? Then you can get away with inspecting it once a week and only cleaning it after shooting.

If you’re a daily carry gun owner, you’ll need to check your firearm every day. We’ve got you covered if you’d like to find more helpful tips. See what the rest of our blog has to say.



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