Cleaning your gun, be it a handgun or a rifle, is important in the safe operation of the firearm. The cleaning process also includes providing the right type of lubrication to keep the gun working in optimal condition. This is really not a complicated procedure and only needs to be completed on a schedule based on the use of the firearm. The more that you use your weapon the more frequently it will need to be cleaned. This is because residue actually builds up in the gun barrel that can lead to problems later on.
Using only top quality ammunition that is free from any signs of degradation is also important. Any corrosion on the jacket or tip of the cartridge can be removed with a bit if steel wool before firing. However, if the damage includes any type of pitting or malformation to the surface of the cartridge the round should not be fired. Discard the cartridge in a safe fashion instead of risking any potential problems.
When you are planning to clean your gun a bit of preparation makes the process simple and very quick. Have a clean, lint free towel or cloth on which to place the parts of the gun as well as all your cleaning equipment. Make sure you have your cleaning kit on hand which should include the cleaning rod or bore snake, solvent, Q-tips as well as the brushes used to clean the gun. Having all your supplies right at your fingertips just makes the job easier.
The first step, even if you are absolutely sure of the answer, is to check to make sure the gun is not loaded. Be sure to remove any clips or magazines and then lock open the action or take out the bolt depending on the type of firearm you are working on. If you are not sure of how to complete this step check your owner’s manual for the firearm. Most manufacturers and gun owner websites provide simple, clear instructions specific for each model of handgun, rifle or shotgun.
Clean each part by first brushing with solvent and then wiping off the accumulated material. Avoid using too much solvent. The brush or clean patch should only have a light amount of solvent. After cleaning apply a light coating of appropriate lubricant. Do not soak the area with the lubricant as this will lead to problems with debris and gummy residue collecting later.
Using the brush dipped in solvent or the cleaning rod clean from the breech end to the muzzle. This is easy to remember if you think of cleaning only the way the bullet travels through the gun. Do not draw the brush or the cleaning rod backwards down the barrel as this will pull the dirt into the chamber.
If you are using a cleaning rod make sure it is centered and that the tip of the rod is not scraping or touching the interior of the barrel. This can create small scraps and damage to the inside of the barrel. Avoid using the brush first if the barrel is dirty, instead apply solvent with the cleaning rod and allow to sit for up to 15 minutes before brushing. This will help loosen the debris inside.
To avoid pulling the brush back down the barrel of the gun, unscrew it from the rod once it exits the muzzle. Then attach the brush again and push up through in the direction of the movement of the bullet.
Clean as needed. This is usually between 10-15 passes of the brush if you clean your gun after each use. Then clean using a cloth patch going the direction of travel of the bullet. Additional passes with the brush and cloth should be completed until the barrel is clean and the cloth patches come out relatively unsoiled. Some of the cleaning solutions may leave a slight bluish to green tint to the cloth but black is definitely a sign that more cleaning is needed.
To protect your gun use a light gun oil that provides rust prevention. Just slightly dampen the cloth and wipe over the entire interior and exterior surface of the gun. Ensure you wipe down the exterior thoroughly because you do not want to be handling a loaded firearm that is slippery. Replace the bolt and wipe the entire surface area to remove any possible fingerprints that may leave harmful residue on the surface.
At this time you should also remove any dirt or dust from the scope, sights, trigger and where the barrel fits into the stock. A soft toothbrush is perfect for this task. Be sure to cover the surface with a very light coating of the gun oil and also be sure to oil the stock lightly to protect the wood.
A good idea is to wear cotton gloves during at least the final step of the process. This allows you to store your guns free from any oil residue and moisture from your skin.