Tips for Cleaning your Firearms

  1. Shooter
    You shot it, now you gotta clean it. Here are some tricks, tips, and tidbits to help with that.

    You have everything you could want to take to the range with you here for gun-cleaning...notice you see no brass or ammo...keep it far away from any cleaning activity.

    First of all, always remember to check your firearm's chamber, magazine, and barrel for rounds. You should always unload any weapon before cleaning and check it even if you are sure it is so. Remember, at no time should there be any brass or ammo located in the same room as the firearm being cleaned. If this is done, the chances of having a potentially life changing accidental discharge drops dramatically.

    Why clean

    When a firearm is fired, the corrosive propellants and primers immediately go to work on the metal. Copper fouling, tiny metal flakes from the jacket of many high-velocity loads, coats the rifling inside the barrel. Unjacketed lead bullets, such as those in 22 rimfires, strip away sheets of lead through the barrel. These three factors can and will lead to surface rust, pitting of the metal, inaccuracy and eventually weapon functionality failure. Be sure to clean your firearm every time you shoot it. Some manufacturers even recommend cleaning after every 50 rounds in addition to this.

    Periodic inspections and at least a good yearly function check and touch up is recommended for every working firearm in your possession whether its fired or not. Remember that condensation occurs every day in your house and the regular build-up of moisture can have a very bad effect on even stored firearms.

    If storing your firearms in a sealed safe or very tightly closes gun cabinet, consider desiccant bags, silica cans, or other commonly used materials to absorb moisture, and help prevent surface rust. Some old timers along the salt air rich Gulf Coast have even been known to use uncooked salt left in small jars in their safe. New products such as anti-rust capsules that emit an invisible corrosion resistant vapor that protects aluminum, brass, copper, iron, steel, and other sensitive metals are also on the market for this purpose.

    What to clean with
    - Be sure to pick your actual gun products from your other multi-purpose lubes.

    Oh wow, let's just start a fight here. Everyone has his or her favorite gun cleaning, lubricating, and protective agents. The best way to fight this battle is with the following statement: use anything specifically made for firearms. Many products advertised that are multipurpose and have a 1001 uses often do, but keep these off your firearms. Remember the "WD" in the title of your favorite multi-purpose 'lubricant' stands for water-displacement and was made to remove water on Titan Missiles. It will actually turn to gummy slime when its residue gets hot and who wants that on their firearms?

    Some of my favorites are the 100-year old Hoppes products if using separate solvent and lubricants. If you want a good single-bottle fix, there are a multitude of products sold as CLP (for clean-lubricate-protect) that will dissolve carbon, help remove fouling, and once dry will lubricate with a dry lube. Old school military surplus CLP is always in demand at gun shows and its modern cousins by Break Free and Mil Tec find a place in many gun-cleaning boxes.

    If you are a big artillery guy, with the large amounts of brass and copper in some loads such as in 50BMG, Boys Anti-Tank guns, Finnish 20mm's and so forth, you may need to use a product such as Winchester's W50 Big Bore Cleaner which removes copper fouling without etching or hurting the metal of the bore without the use of ammonia.

    How to clean, tips and pointers

    Each firearm will have a manual available free from its manufacturer. Inside that manual should be detailed instructions on how to clean said piece. If your manufacturer is out of business do a web search. There are vendors out there who often have yours for free or will sell you hundreds for a few pennies
    Use a brush on your action to strip off thick grime and carbon buildup. Remember this should be soft brass or plastic and not steel.

    Cleaning rods similarly should be brass or plastic to avoid scratching barrels. Pay close attention that you are not damaging the crown of the muzzle face with your rod. Many gun owners like to go that extra mile and charmin it up by using cloth Bore Snakes and other pull-through cleaners. Of course, it is all up to you. Air hoses are great for cleaning out excess dirt and other particles you cannot see. However, they can also blow these particles deeper into your action and lead to a failure down the road.

    I have seen grease monkeys who love to drown their firearm in half a can of dry lube, or half a bottle of wet and smile in satisfaction. STOP! Once you are finished cleaning applies a thin (thin!) coat of lubricant to moving surfaces. I like to take a drop on my finger and gently rub the working surfaces with it. Even this drop is excessive and I have to wipe off excess remainder.

    Remember to wash your hands and clothes as soon as you can to remove harmful chemicals and particles.

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