January 14, 2021 5 min read

Learning how to clean a gun properly is one of the first steps toward becoming a responsible gun owner. By cleaning your gun often, you can lower the risk of accidental discharge and improve your weapon’s accuracy. Of all gun-related injuries involving cleaning a firearm, those 50 years of age and older are responsible for17.5% to 20% of all incidents - the highest of all age groups.

You will need a few supplies and a sturdy work surface before cleaning your gun. Collect your cleaning supplies and follow these directions to improve gun safety.

Step 1: Get the Cleaning Supplies You Need

Take some time to collect all of the cleaning supplies you need. Preparing now will help ensure you have all the items you need when learning how to clean a gun properly. Having the supplies in one spot will also make it easier for you to follow cleaning instructions without skipping any steps.

Your gun cleaning kit should include:

  • Gun cleaning solvent (bore solvent)
  • Lubricating oil
  • Cleaning rod
  • Bore snake
  • Bore brush
  • Bore jag
  • Cleaning patches
  • Nylon brush
  • Wire brush
  • Cleaning pick
  • Microfiber cloth

Other items that can make the job easier include:

  • A flashlight
  • A gun vice
  • Cotton swabs or Q-tips

You can purchase these items independently, or you can buy a gun cleaning kit. If you choose to purchase the items separately, you can make cleaning easier by storing them in one container. A tackle box or toolbox works well.

Bore snakes and other items come in a variety of sizes. A bore snake that cleans your 9mm Glock might not fit your .45 ACW Kahr. If you have any doubts about the tools you need to clean your weapon, consult the owner's manual. It should tell you precisely what you need to do the job correctly.

For additional safety, you should either set up your cleaning area outside or in a well-ventilated room.

Step 2: Safety First! Unload and Double-Check Your Gun

You’ve heard it a million times before, but it can’t be said enough: never assume that a gun doesn’t have a round in the chamber! Even if you just fired the weapon an hour ago – and you think you’re 100% sure that you used the last round – assume that your gun is loaded and ready to go. This step only takes a second, and it can save you from a lifetime of regret.

You almost certainly already know how to check your gun. Since we’re using abundant caution, though, it’s worth noting:

  • Point the gun away from anything you don’t want to shoot.
  • Release the magazine.
  • Check the chamber for a round… then check it again.
  • Inspect the gun to make sure a round hasn’t gotten stuck in the barrel.

Now, we’re ready to get to work!

Step 3: Disassemble Your Gun

Your owner’s manual will also tell you how to disassemble your gun. Field stripping the gun probably isn’t necessary, but you will need to disconnect the firearm’s major components, such as the:

  • Slide
  • Barrel
  • Magazine

Wear protective glasses when disassembling your gun to prevent something unexpected from hitting your eyes.

Step 4: Cleaning the Bore

Carbon often accumulates on the inside of your gun’s barrel, called the bore. Since bullets travel through the bore, you need to give the area special attention.

Use a cleaning rod and solvent-soaked patch to clear everything out of the bore. Since you have disassembled your gun, you can probably stick the cleaning rod all the way through the bore until it pokes out the other side.

The soaked patch will likely have some dirt on it, so you don’t want to pull it back through the bore. Instead, remove the dirty patch before you pull out the cleaning rod.

Now, you can use the bore brush to loosen any remaining debris. Insert the bore brush and move it up and down about four times. Then, you'll use another solvent soaked patch to clean the surface.

Depending on how recently you've cleaned the gun, you may need to do this several times before you get a completely clean patch. A bore snake can also remove some of the fine dust left inside the barrel.

Step 5: Lubricating the Barrel

Apply a light coating of gun oil to a dry patch attached to the end of your cleaning rod. You should only need a few drops of the lubricant. Insert the cleaning rod to oil the entire inside of the barrel.

Step 6: Cleaning the Gun’s Action

Once you take apart your gun, you can see its action, the parts responsible for firing rounds, and adding new rounds to the chamber. These pieces need to work together perfectly for the gun to fire safely. Even a slight flaw in the action could make it impossible for you to defend yourself. Imagine squeezing your gun’s trigger, but nothing happens. That’s the kind of result you can get from a poorly maintained action.

Add some solvent directly to your gun brush and use it to clean every part of the action. Once you remove all visible dirt and dust, wipe the parts with a clean, microfiber cloth.

Step 7: Lubricating the Action

The moving parts in your gun’s action can experience quite a bit of wear and tear over the years. Adding a light lubricant to the parts will minimize friction so the firearm will work perfectly for decades.

Make sure you cover all of the parts but only apply a thin layer. You don’t want lubricant dripping out of your gun. The gun oil could get on your grip or trigger, which will set you up for a dangerous slip.

Step 8: Cleaning the Exterior of Your Gun

You need to clean and lubricate the outside of your gun, too. Start by inspecting nooks and crannies for pieces of dirt, rock, or other debris that might have worked its way into them. If you find something, remove it with your cleaning pick.

Once you have removed obvious signs of dirt, wipe down the full exterior with a microfiber cloth.

Finally, use a slight amount of oil to protect the exterior’s metal parts from rust. Ideally, you should let the gun sit for a while before you use it. You want to give the oil some time to create a barrier between the metal and moisture in the air.

Step 9: Follow a Maintenance Schedule

Different guns need different levels of maintenance. Check your owner’s manual for advice. If you can’t find the information you need, you can play it safe by cleaning your gun after every 200 or 300 rounds.

How to Clean a Gun Properly: Conclusion

Now that you know how to clean a gun properly, add to your safety and security by carrying the firearm in one of our Kydex holsters. We specialize in high-quality CCW holsters made in the United States.

Order a Kydex holster made specifically for the type of gun you carry. Every product you buy from us comes with a lifetime warranty, so you can expect to get decades of use from your holster.

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