The modern-day gun whether it is your AR15, AK47, the polymer framed Glock or the aluminum framed Beretta 92 is a reliable and rugged firearm. However, sturdy as they are, basic gun maintenance is critical if you are to keep them in good working condition.
Most modern guns are now made of rustproof or rust resistant materials such as stainless steel and aluminum frame, which means that they need less cleaning and maintenance.
Nonetheless, if you use your guns without proper lubrication and cleaning, it can result in malfunction and even permanent damage. In fact, guns such as the AR15 which work on direct impingement can get really dirty from the buildup of carbon on the bolt and bolt carrier over time. This means that the gun needs heavy lubrication to keep it reliable, functional and clean.
Back in the day, all you needed was the Hoppe’s No. 9 Lubricating Oil and the Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner. However with so many methods and product options now available… just how should you clean your gun?
A recommended cleaning product is Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner and Lubricating Oil. The original century-old Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner and Lubricating Oil still works fine on any modern firearm. The basic kit comes with:
1. A cleaning rod brush for removing stubborn grime
2.Patches for the application of oil and solvent to the interior and bore of the gun, and
Once you have used the cleaner and oil to clean the grime and powder, wipe the arm of the gun dry and coat the important parts of the gun with a thin film of Hoppe’s lubricating oil to prevent rust.
You can then lubricate the working parts of the gun with a thin film of oil, particularly on blued steel firearms.
NOTE: You need to use oil on blued steel given that the Hoppe’s Bore Cleaner will not protect bare metal or blued steel components.
There are other cleaning kits on the market but the basic gun maintenance kit for cleaning your handgun or rifle will come with a cleaning rod, patches and patch holder, bore brush, lubricant/oil, and solvent to remove powder and lead fouling.
Other things that you may add to your kit include cotton swabs for small spaces, small flashlight or bore light and a nylon cleaning brush. Nonetheless, each gun may need a few more items in what is needed to get it clean and you should consult your user manual for how to do it. Still, the basic cleaning process is the same for most models on the market.
Getting Ready to Clean the Gun
1.Review the Owner’s Manual
Before cleaning your rifle or handgun, get your owner’s manual for instructions on how to do it. If you do not have the manual, you can find one online at the manufacturer’s website. Most guns will need some disassembly before they can be cleaned. Ensure that you know where each part came from and what part goes with which part. You do not want to have your springs rolling across the floor or risk damaging the gun by leaving some parts not lubricated.
2.The Cleaning Area
Always clean your guns in a well-ventilated space as some of the compounds and chemicals used to clean guns and those produced by firing the gun may be toxic and you need to be careful with them. Have a table or workbench ready and covered with a plastic sheeting overlaid with newspapers and some paper towels. This makes it easier to collect and dump everything in one go when you are done with the cleaning.
3.Personal Safety with the Gun
Always wear protective rubber gloves to protect your hands from toxic compounds and wear safety glasses to protect your eyes. Start by unloading the gun and pointing it away from you before you start cleaning. It is not uncommon for people to shoot themselves in the foot while cleaning their guns, there is a reason it is a common joke. You should also get all ammunition out of the cleaning area as the cleaning lubricants and solvents can damage them.
You will rarely need to disassemble the handgun or rifle to clean it though you will need to do some partial disassembly. For semiautomatics such as the AR15, all you need to do is remove the magazine and lock the bolt to the rear. For bolt action rifles, simply remove the magazine and bolt. Semi-automatic pistols may be disassembled into the magazine, frame, guide rod, slide, and barrel. For single action revolvers, you will need to remove the cylinder from the frame, while all you will do with double action revolvers is simply swing the cylinder into the open position.
Cleaning the Gun
The most critical component to be maintained and cleaned is the barrel, which usually gets the most grime. The barrel gets so dirty since it gets a coating of carbon after shooting sessions. These deposits can reduce reliability or worse corrode the barrel. Here is how to clean it:
1. Get a cleaning rod and attach a bore brush dipped in solvent to the end of it.
2. Push the rod through the bore of the barrel back and forth until it is comprehensively scrubbed.
3. Once you are satisfied that the bore is free of grime, attach a patch holder to the rod. Now attach a patch to the rod and move it back and forth in the barrel.
4. Change the patches until they start to come out relatively clean. You can also check the barrel bore with a flashlight just to make sure.
5. Once you are satisfied that it is clean, lubricate a patch with lubricant or gun oil and run it through the bore. The oil will protect the rifling from rusting from any moisture that may get into it.
Note that for revolvers you will have to clean the one long barrel and the short barrels/chambers in turn.
Cleaning Other Parts of the Gun
Dip the nylon brush in solvent and scrub the gun, then wipe off the residue and solvent with rags. Use your user manual and check all nooks and crannies that may have a buildup of grime.
Semi-automatics tend to have dirt accumulated on the contact points between the frame and slide, under the ejector and the slide’s interior grooves. Revolvers accumulate grime around the cylinder ratchet, the cylinder’s face and the forcing cone.
Overall, semi-automatics require lubrication where the components rub against each other during cycling action. Revolvers require just a little lubricant, while single action handguns need to get some lubrication on the ratchet and pin. Double action handguns require some lubrication on the cylinder ratchet and ejector rod.
NOTE: It is important not to over-lubricate, as too much lubrication will attract grime.
Once you have cleaned your barrel and the other parts of the gun you may reassemble the gun. Now that you have reassembled the gun, cycle the action several times to ensure the lubricant is spread evenly and that the gun is working as expected. Check for any leaking oil/lubricant and wipe it off with a rag as it can attract grime.
Get a rag and Apply a thin coat of preservative mixed with lubricant to protect the finish and you will be done.
Cleaning Using Ultrasonic Cleaners
If you do not like to manually rub and scrub or have several guns that need cleaning there is another option – ultrasonic cleaners. Ultrasonic cleaners are electric cleaning tanks that combine cleaning solvent and ultrasound to scrub your gun parts clean.
The disadvantage of ultrasonic cleaners is that they require massive investment as compared to the patch, rod, brush kits that you can get from any gun store. Another disadvantage is that they use water-based solvents, which place the gun at risk of rust. However, you can avoid this by rinsing and drying the gun parts, and then filling the tanks with lubricant to provide the film that will protect the gun from rust.
Recreational rifles and handguns need to be cleaned and maintained especially if they are used regularly. To keep your guns in good working order, clean them regularly and check that they do not have dirt buildup and have the requisite lubrication. Regular cleaning and maintenance will ensure that your handgun or rifle remains reliable and that it lasts longer. Ensure that you clean and maintain the gun according to the instructions in the owner’s manual. However, the instructions in this article should work for pretty much any handgun or rifle out there.
About the Author: Tobias, a.k.a. Geek Prepper, helps people prepare for any SHTF, big or small, natural or man-made, that could impact anyone. He also gathers data from credible private and government sources to publish informative and accurate content on prepping and survival.