How To Clean Your Firearm

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How To Clean Your Firearm

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By: Jay Busch

There is no doubt that if you are reading this, you like shooting. There is nothing better than getting out to the range on a sunny day and putting some rounds down range. The unfortunate side effect of that is that you need to clean your weapon.

At the end of the day a firearm is just a piece of machinery. It is metal and plastic rubbing against each other. Similar to your car, lawn mower, or blender, if you do not take care of and maintain your equipment, it will surely fail. If your lawn mower stops working, the worst case scenario is that you have to spend some money and get it fixed or replaced. On the other hand, if your firearm fails, specifically your defensive carry weapon, than you might find yourself in a lethal situation with no more than a paperweight in your hands.

Cleaning and maintaining your firearms could seem a little intense for new shooters (and seasoned shooters alike) and I would like to take a few minutes and explain how to properly clean and maintain your firearm.

First and foremost, it is always important to practice proper firearm safety at all times. Before you begin to disassemble and clean your firearm, ensure that the firearm is unloaded by properly clearing it. Always observe firearm safety guidelines while handling a firearm, even when it is disassembled.

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Without a complete cleaning kit, you could find yourself pulling your hair out trying to get into all the nooks and crannies in your weapon. A standard cleaning kit will include all you need to start cleaning a firearm. Ensure that you have a Cleaning Solution, a form of gun oil (some solutions are a combination of both and can be used simultaneously,) a bore brush, cloth swabs (q-tips and cotton-balls work great as well,) a cleaning brush, a cleaning rod, and some microfiber towels that wont leave any residue.

Also, I recommend a larger white towel that you can put down to disassemble your firearm over. Suprisingly, there are a lot of small pins and springs in most firearms that can be easily lost. Having a white towel as a base will ensure that your parts will remain visible and easy to locate.

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Now that you have all the equipment you need, the next thing to do is to disassemble your firearm. When it comes to firearms, many manufacturers have a slightly different way of completing this process. The best way to learn how to do this is consult the user manual (lets be honest, its 2015, most of us will never open that thing up) or find a video on the internet that shows the breakdown process. For instance, if I had a Glock 19 that I needed to dissemble, I could simply run a Google search of “How To Dissemble a Glock 19 video.”

When disassembling a firearm, there are many different levels to which you can break it down to. Never break a weapon down further than the manufacturer recommends unless you have intricate knowledge of the firearm and/or are a gunsmith. For a majority of people, getting this granular is not necessary and could actually damage the firearm if done improperly.

Finally ensure that you are cleaning your firearm in a well ventilated area. Lead gets built up in a firearm and some cleaning materials are not meant to be inhaled in a confined space. If you can, usually a back yard or a garage with the door open is your safest bet.

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Now that your weapon is completely disassembled, you can begin to clean your firearm. I know it is not nearly as fun as shooting, but it is a necessary item.

To clean your barrel use your bore brush and cleaning rod (with some cleaning solution on it) and feed that through from the chamber’s end, not the downrange end of the barrel. Alternate with the bore brush and the patches or swabs to clear the barrel of any debris. Once finished, run one more patch through the barrel to remove any excess cleaning solution and replace with one patch of gun oil.

From there, move on to the action of the firearm. This is the area where most build up occurs because this is where the powder is ignited. Using the bore brush and patches (or q-tips) apply cleaning solution to the entire firearm and brush clean. Once any debris and build up have been removed, wipe down the firearm and apply a light coat of gun oil (if you apply too much, it will actually start to “gunk” up your firearm by catching more powder and carbon.)

Now that the internal components are cleaned, apply a light layer of gun oil to any outside metallic portions of the firearm. This will prevent rusting and oxidation. Be sure to remove any gun oil from any plastic (polymar) portions of the firearm as this could degrade the integrity of those materials.

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Now that you know how to clean your defensive firearm, you need to ensure that you are properly maintaining it. After every use, you should be doing a very light cleaning (no need to go longer than 5-10 minutes unless needed.) By doing this, you ensure that you have the highest probability of that firearm functioning properly when you need it. A full and thorough clean should be performed on a as needed basis (or if you are me, when you are bored on a Tuesday night watching Friends re-runs.)

When the firearm is not in use ensure that you have it properly stored in a cool, dry environment. This control will minimize any rusting or oxidation of the metallic components.

Once again I cannot stress the importance of firearm maintenance as you could find yourself relying on this tool to save your life one day. By maintaining a firearm properly, you only further reduce the chance that you will hear a click when you expected a bang.

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