Many people who own a gun may not know how to clean a revolver, pistol, or other handgun. It is important to know how to clean a gun if you want to keep it in reliable use for a long time to come.
Don't know how? Don't feel bad! It's not hard to learn how to clean handguns, and it's never too late to learn. We'll cover all the basics of how to use a gun cleaning kit to clean your gun.
When it comes to cleaning the various firearms you might own, it’s important to first start by making sure you have all the necessary cleaning tools. We’ll walk you through these tools and from there, we’ll dive into how to properly (and easily) clean your guns.
Now that you have all of your tools, you’re ready to learn how to clean a pistol or other firearm. But, what is the first step in cleaning a firearm?
The first step in cleaning a firearm is to ALWAYS make sure it's unloaded.
“Unloaded” guns kill or injure many people a year because they actually aren't. Some guns require you to pull the trigger for disassembly. Make double sure your gun is unloaded and that the ammo is stored nice and safe, away from you! This is important to safety.
While your gun should always be kept in a clean condition, there are some areas in particular you should pay attention to. These are areas where contamination can build up and cause rust and other malfunctions.
Not only should you be cleaning your gun, you should also be keeping it in a safe place. Check out our guide below to find the best one for you.
Wondering how to check if all of the parts of the gun are clean? It’s pretty simple.
After cleaning, run patches through the barrel of the gun until they start coming out clean and dry, free of debris. Inspect the bore (remembering all rules of gun safety) and see that it is bright, shiny, and smooth. You should see no debris left over.
If there are visible traces of lead or copper left in the bore, you might need a specific lead or copper solvent to deal with this.
Use your gun cleaning rag to wipe the rest of the parts down and remove any debris that came loose during cleaning. A simple solvent like denatured alcohol can help with this.
Inspect the parts visually and make sure they look clean, with no residue left over. Use a clean q-tip, cleaning patch, or fresh cleaning rag and wipe all the parts down. If they come away with any residue, you still have cleaning to do.
Finally, you can lightly rub all the parts with your fingers and verify that all the parts feel smooth and free of debris. If all of this is good, you can move on to the next part: lubricating your gun.
The solvents used in cleaning will remove all the lubrication from your gun. Gun oils and greases both lubricate moving parts and protect the metal from corrosion. Now that your gun is completely clean and free of oil, you will need to properly replace it. Follow the steps below to do so.
So there you have it! Cleaning a gun isn’t so hard after all! It only takes a little bit of know-how and the right tools. However, let’s look at a couple of frequently asked questions:
Related: What and What Not to Do: Gun Owning
Should I clean my gun before shooting it for the first time?
It’s a good idea. Many guns come from the manufacturer packed in a heavy preservative grease (especially if they are imported from overseas).
This grease is great at preventing rust and corrosion - not so great at live-fire performance. You’ll want to strip this heavy grease as well as any other factory debris and lubricate your gun properly before shooting it for the first time.
Even if your gun arrives properly lubricated, taking the time to take it apart and clean it will allow you to inspect your new gun and become familiar with it.
What is the easiest way to clean my guns?
For most shooters, it’s best to buy a complete kit that has all the attachments and chemicals you need. However, if you work in a gun shop, clean guns professionally, or simply have lots of guns to clean, there are a couple of great options to save time.
Gun part cleaning tanks, like those used in auto shops, allow you to soak the gun in solvent and brush debris away easily. Even better, specialty ultrasonic cleaners will clean a gun to a level that is difficult to achieve by hand - plus, they save labor.
These tools represent significant investments but may pay off if you have many guns to clean.
How should I prepare my gun for storage?
If you have a gun you’re going to clean and store away for a while (for instance, until next hunting season), it's important to invest in a good gun storage cabinet on the market. Before storing away, there are a couple of steps to take with your gun.
Clean the gun as you usually would. Then, using an appropriate gun grease, apply grease the bore, slide rails, and other important parts of the gun. The grease will protect the gun for long-term storage.
Be sure to clean it thoroughly before using it next time, though! Grease buildup in the barrel can be a danger if not cleaned out before shooting.
What type of cleaning rod should I use?
Rods made of soft materials such as aluminum, brass and plastic are preferred because they are less likely to damage the rifling or crown of the barrel.
If you are cleaning a longer gun (such as a rifle), it is much preferred to use a solid one piece cleaning rod that is less likely to damage the barrel. These are more expensive, but it may be a good investment to have in your most used calibers.
Proper gun maintenance is part of being an educated and responsible gun owner. Guns are seen as heirlooms and can be passed down for generations to come. If you want your guns to keep working properly - not just now, but for years to come - it’s important to take care of them the way you would any other machine.