If visiting your dentist is one of your least favorite activities, gun cleaning is probably your second least favorite. Most of us don’t like to do either.
That said, most of us would also agree that both are necessary.
In this article, we’ll look into gun cleaning, why your guns need it, how to do it right, and even how to turn it into a (surprisingly) pleasant activity.
No Way Around It: Gun Cleaning is A Critical Task
As mechanical devices, every gun picks up some amount when you shoot it—even Glocks. The urban myth is that Glocks don’t really need cleaning because they’re so reliable.
But in my experience, good as it is, even my trusty Glock needs a cleaning at some point.
If a gun has any kind of lubricant or oil, it picks up bullet particles and burnt powder in the barrel and action, not to mention plain ole everyday dirt from hunting blinds and muddy camps.
Over time, this buildup affects the gun action even to the point where, ultimately, you need a trip to the gunsmith shop (bring your wallet). That bit of gunk can affect bullet rotation in the barrel and turn your usually fun target practice into a hair-pulling nightmare.
Not to mention some (God forbid) self-defense situation where you need your gun for self-defense.
An Unexpected Benefit
Most gun owners don’t realize it beforehand, but cleaning a gun makes them better understand how their gun works. That’s a valuable benefit.
You may have to pull out the owner’s manual to see exactly how to disassemble it, but for new shooters especially, you’ll avoid all kinds of missteps without it.
If you don’t already the workings and parts of your gun like the back of your hand, don’t try assembling it without the manual at your side. That’s a disaster in the making.
Instead, follow directions step by step, placing each part into a tray so that even the smallest item won’t fall off the table and be forever lost. Also, try using a gun cleaning mat to keep your work area clean.
Finally, don’t forget to check first that the gun is unloaded. Remove the magazine and clear the chamber. As an added precaution, move any ammo or loaded magazines away from your cleaning space.
As you disassemble every part, examine it for damage or wear. That’s another headache-preventative down the road.
Next, following your owner’s manual, lubricate each part as recommended by the manufacturer. Be careful not to over-lube. Use no more lube than required. Wipe off any excess.
Not all guns require the same amount of lube; some require more than others. For example, I’ve found that 1911’s call for more lube than my striker fired guns. Stick to the manual’s suggestions and you should be OK.
After the lube is complete, carefully begin the reassembly process, ensuring that you’re not missing any step. Completing the process and winding up with a spare part is, as you might expect, not a good thing.
Take your time, do it right, and double check for functionality when’re you’re done.
You Might Even Enjoy This. Really.
Long-time gun owners often tell me that, rather than gun cleaning be a task they’d prefer to avoid, they’ve actually learned to enjoy it.
Can’t say I’ve heard them say the same about trips to the dentist, however.
The trick, they say, is to make your gun cleaning chore an almost meditative experience. Find yourself a nice quiet and relaxing space. Give yourself plenty of room. Don’t rush.
There’s something extremely satisfying about knowing that your gun is reliable, free of damaging gunk and debris, working better and lasting longer.
Best of all, you did it yourself.