Any gun owner, true to his salt, will tell you how important it is to keep the gun clean for getting the best results out of it. Moreover, regular cleaning and consistent maintenance are very instrumental in improving the longevity of a gun.
Many gun owners take this issue lightly and do not bother to clean their gun until it becomes visibly dirty. Those who are in the habit of cleaning their firearms are confused and often ask, “how often should you clean your gun?” This article is aimed at clearing all such doubts about gun cleaning.
How Often Should You Clean A Gun?
1. Old Guns
While there is no doubt that the cleaning of guns is important for maintaining good efficiency and performance, the frequency of cleaning varies with the age and use of the gun. Guns that become old are more prone to metal fouling due to the burning of gunpowder.
Moreover, these guys have a lot of grime and metal waste settled on the interiors of the barrel. All this dirt usually blocks the barrel and decreases the ejection velocity of the bullet.
Ultimately, the terminal performance of the bullet will also be affected since the momentum continuously decreases because of the dirt blockade. So, any old gun should be cleaned regularly, and after all shooting activities, you should check the amount of dirt accumulated inside it and clean it as soon as possible.
Old guns that are used with highly corrosive ammunition should be cleaned thoroughly and consistently. Such ammunition leaves behind a lot of grime that can be hard to remove once it settles completely.
Besides, prolonged accumulation of corrosive chemicals inside the barrel will lead to degradation of the metal used in making the barrel. Eventually, it will make the gun useless after some time.
2. Frequently Used Guns
Naturally, any gun that is not old enough but used very frequently requires cleaning and thorough maintenance. A gun that has not been cleaned regularly from the inside and is used very often will stop giving the desired performance after a short while. Therefore, pay due attention to the cleaning process along with the judicious use of your firearms for better shooting.
3. New Guns
For new firearms, frequent washing is not important. Generally, new firearms are used with store-bought ammunition. All such ammunition is vigorously tested for corrosive chemicals and is free of any harmful agent that may produce instant grime inside the barrel or may trigger metal fouling. So, when your gun is new, you can fire several rounds without having to worry about the cleaning of its barrel.
4. Defense Weapons
Defense firearms present a separate case altogether. Even if these firearms are new or are not used very frequently, they need good cleaning and maintenance of the highest order. The primary reason behind this is that these firearms should remain in top condition so that any emergency use of these guns produces the best results and does not give way at any crucial point.
Secondly, whenever these guns are used, strong and corrosive ammunition is installed in the brass case. Hence, a lot of dirt and grime is produced after several rounds of firing. Moreover, quick-burning gunpowders are usually used with defense firearms that create a lot of mess. All these reasons make it important for the owners to clean their defense guns regularly with premium quality products.
5. Sports Pistols
The usage of sports pistols and shotguns is all about accuracy and precision. Here, you do not require fast ejection velocity or strong momentum for better terminal impact. Neither do these guns use fast-burning gunpowder, which triggers metal fouling? Nobody likes to enter a competition with a dirty gun. Therefore, for better looks, cleaning the sports gun is important.
While the accuracy of the shot is of prime importance in sports, it won’t be right to say that only keeping the gun clean will make all your shots hit the bullseye.
However, the collection of dirt and grime negatively impacts the gun, having a long-drawn influence on its performance. So, just to prevent avoidable mistakes and to better your chances of winning, cleaning the gun after use is a good habit to cultivate.
6. Hunting Rifles
The same logic extends to rifles used for hunting and all other kinds of firearms. When people ask- “how often should a firearm be cleaned to keep it in top condition?” it becomes a subjective question as the answer differs from case-to-case. Overall, cleaning is the primary goal, but the frequency can be duly adjusted.
Overcleaning: Harmful Or Not?
Overcleaning of guns is not as big an issue as created by some experts. It is because nothing major can possibly go wrong by simply keeping your guns clean, no matter how many times you wash them. The only reason why people warn you about overcleaning of guns is that being finicky about gun-cleaning is absolutely unnecessary. Even old guns don’t require a wash more than once in two days.
Residue takes time to build-up inside the barrel. It’s good to prevent grime from settling, but it doesn’t warrant cleaning the gun unnecessarily. Keeping stuff clean, fresh, and sparkling is good, but like vehicles, guns can also work well even if you skip a day of cleaning.
How To Clean A Gun
Once you have fired a lot of rounds, be prepared to clean the gun thoroughly. The following steps should be followed for removing all the dirt from your gun:
Safety should be your first priority, be it during shooting or during cleaning the gun. Unload the gun completely, and double-check if everything has been removed or not.
Open the chamber of your gun and look through the barrel to see whether any round is left or not. Proper inspection of the gun is essential to complete this step of unloading.
Disassembling the gun should be done within limits prescribed by the manufacturer. For that, you need to check the instructions given in the manual. Removing every part of the gun is called field stripping. In non-defense firearms, field stripping is not advised as it may alter the working mechanism of the gun completely.
Disassembling is important to gain access to all the difficult areas where grime gets accumulated very commonly. Semi-automatic guns need to be disassembled completely. The parts that need to be removed include a guide rod, magazine, barrel, frame, etc.
Efficiently cleaning each part is crucial because all have active roles to play in the firing process. For guns like shotguns and revolvers, disassembling is not mandatory. However, it will give you a better view, and you’ll be able to clean the gun properly.
NOTE: Once you have disassembled the gun, keep it in a well-ventilated area. It is because when you open the gun, noxious fumes and smells are released that might make you sick. Use plastic bags, newspapers, etc., because the dirt removed from the gun during disassembling might spoil the entire floor and surroundings.
3. Soak The Gun
Soaking the bore of the barrel is important for thorough cleaning. Use a cleaning rod or a washing patch to get into the hard-to-reach crevices inside the barrel, and soak each part nicely. For this purpose, use a solvent-soaked cleaning patch, and insert it inside the barrel. Move it inside the bore, and then take it out from the other end.
Once every part inside the barrel is soaked with cleaning solvent, use a bore brush and move it back and forth inside the bore. If the barrel has a large amount of residual matter and metal fouling material, use more force so that everything gets removed. Once you are done scrubbing, use the solvent-soaked patch again and insert it so that the solvent can take away all the dirt and come out from the other end.
After several rounds of scrubbing and washing, if you see the patch and the brush coming out clean, it means that all the dirt has been removed. It is now time to lubricate your gun from the inside.
For this, you can use special gun conditioners or any regular lubricant. Put it over a cotton mop, and then insert it inside the barrel. Move the cotton mop around so that the lubricant forms a thin coating over the surface of your bore.
If the exteriors of the gun, like the trigger or the butt, are also dirty, you can use the same solvent and give it a scrub. Ultimately, you should use the lubricant to coat the entire gun so that it shines and remains resistive to any corrosion.
So in this article, we discussed the importance of cleaning a gun regularly. “How often should you clean a gun” is a question that is very frequently asked by gun owners. The frequency of cleaning a gun depends on several factors and variables.
There is no set time or pattern as to which guns should be cleaned. Keeping guns clean, fresh, and shining is a great habit for any firearms owner. The lack of gun cleanliness impacts the performance, and gradually it will make your gun useless.
Some people believe in cleaning their gun only after it starts stinking. The fun of owning a gun is not just in enjoying some good rounds of firing but also in taking care of the firearm like any other precious item. Therefore, prioritize the maintenance of your guns, and keep them clean for better appearance and performance.
Michael Castaneda is a 45-year old war veteran from Michigan with a deep interest in guns. After the war, Michael took a pledge to never touch a gun except for the purpose of self-defense. He created Machine Gun Books to guide people on self-defense and providing information on guns and accessories.