Basic Guide to Cleaning Your Firearm Properly

Shortly after my father passed away, I went to his house to collect his things and put the house up for sale. To my surprise, I found a gun safe in the attic, and inside was a 1995 Colt Python revolver. I never knew it existed!

The gun lay there forgotten for God knows how long because it was in terrible shape. The rust had taken over all of its metal parts, but I made it my mission to bring it back to its old glory.

Long story short, the professional restoration ended up costing me a little under $2,000. This is why I have pledged to clean and maintain all my firearms ever since—even those that are not used often (like my wife’s 9mm Beretta).

If you want to commit to preserving your gun collection just like me, follow these six basic steps for cleaning your firearms:

  1. Prepare the cleaning kit.
  2. Dismantle your firearm.
  3. Clean the barrel.
  4. Clean the action.
  5. Reassemble your firearm.
  6. Protect the exterior.

Now, let’s describe each of the steps in more detail.

1. Prepare the cleaning kit

Before you start the process, make sure you have all the tools and supplies you need for a thorough cleaning. These include:

  • Jag or slotted tip
  • Cleaning pick
  • Cleaning rod
  • A handle you can attach different brushes to
  • Brass wire brushes
  • Bore brush
  • Cleaning patches
  • Bore mops
  • Cotton patches
  • Gun cleaning solvent
  • Lubrication oil

After you have obtained all the items necessary, find a well-lit place with a decent-sized table in your home and use a few small bowls for storing tiny parts. Now you are ready for the next step.

2. Disassembling your firearm

Before you start disassembling your firearm, double-check if it is unloaded. The process of taking a weapon apart is different for handguns, shotguns, and rifles, so it might be best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Be extra careful when you remove any strings, as they are under great pressure and can fly out in any direction. So, it’s a good idea to wear safety glasses for this purpose.

3. Clean the barrel

The barrel is the dirtiest part of your weapon, so you should clean it after each use. Start by pushing out debris and fouling with a dry bore brush. Next, soak a cotton patch in a cleaning solvent and attach it to a cleaning rod. Pull the rod with steady pressure from the chamber to the muzzle until there’s no dirt coming out.

Allowing your firearm to sit in a solvent for a while is essential to its effective use. 10 to 20 minutes is usually enough, but make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations first.

Continue by running a dry patch through the barrel to ensure no traces of solvent are left behind. Finish by pushing a mildly oiled patch through the barrel to protect it from any outside elements like moisture or heat.

Pro tip: If you want to spend less time cleaning your barrel, use more quality ammo that doesn’t produce too much dirt, like Natchez ammunition.

4. Clean the action

Apply solvent to the copper brush and clean every part of your firearm’s action. Use a clean, dry patch to remove any excess solvent. Lastly, lubricate all moving parts of the action with a light coating of oil. Note that too much lubricant can get sticky and attract debris, so try not to overdo it.

5. Reassemble your firearm

After you finish cleaning and lubricating all moving and fixed parts of your firearm, start reassembling it. If you are not sure which part goes where, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once your weapon is fully assembled, pull the slide back a couple of times to distribute the lubricant evenly and ensure everything functions properly. You should also check the functionality of your safety switch and magazine release button.

6. Protect the exterior

You have made it to the final step. What’s left for you to do is wipe down the exterior of your firearm with a lint-free cloth and protect it with a silicone-based lubricant. And that’s it! You now have a firearm that looks as good as new and is safe from the elements.

Closing Thoughts

When I first started cleaning my firearms, I found the process to be tiring and time-consuming. But after a while, it actually started to calm me down. Plus, my household members don’t bother me while I’m engaged in this activity!

I hope I managed to convince you that regular firearm maintenance is not only good for extending its shelf life, but is also crucial for ensuring your weapon operates flawlessly any time you need it.