Everything You Need to Know About Proper Gun Cleaning and Maintenance

by | Apr 1, 2019 | Sports Featured

You have a right to bear arms, but when you do you bear responsibility to keep your weapons clean. Read here for the most important gun cleaning tips of 2019.

In 2018, a gunman in Cincinnati killed three people at a local business. The death toll would have been much higher had his gun not jammed.

When a gun jams while in the hands of a criminal, we count it as a blessing. What about when it happens to a law-abiding citizen or law enforcement?

There are many reasons why a gun or rifle can jam, and there is no good time for that to happen. One of them is poor gun maintenance. There is a real danger in failing to clean your firearms properly.

This article tells you all you need to know about gun cleaning, including what happens when you don’t.

Why Is Gun Cleaning So Critical?

Every time you fire your weapon, you expose it to copper, carbon, and lead residue among other things. After a while, those contaminants build up inside the chamber, ejector, action, and inside the barrel.

Even if your firearm is new, it’s not impervious to this build up, which is also called fouling. Fouling is the comprehensive result from the powder, bullets, wad, and moisture exposure.

What are the effects? Corrosion occurs, which affects most of your firearm’s components. When left unchecked, fouling can do significant damage to your gun.

Types of Fouling

Typically, bullets are a rim-fire or a center-fire. They have a lead core encased with a copper jacket. Even lead-free rounds contain copper. That will expose your firearm to carbon and other emissions, depending on the type of round.


All three types of rounds also emissions inside the barrel and chamber of your gun. Those include copper from bullets with a copper jacket, lead from lead bullets, and plastic from a shotgun round.

These emissions, combined with black powder and the salt within it, create fouling. Fouling, in turn, promotes erosion.

Other Types of Residue

Even if you haven’t fired your gun recently, it can still gather residue. Sweat, dirt, dust, and general grime make its way in, especially during sticky summer months.

This kind of build up doesn’t cause the harsh damage of emissions, though it serves to add to the problem.

Fouling and Erosion Damage

Fouling leads to erosion and rust, which eats away the metal of the gun. Damage begins inside the barrel, then moves to the chamber, then on to the ejector and firing mechanism.

Components can rust so much that they fuse together. The weapon fails to feed or fire. Basically, the gun is no longer reliable once fouling has taken its toll. Of course, the value of your weapon as a financial investment decreases as well.

Even before you reach advanced erosion, one of the first signs that you’re heading that way is reduced accuracy of your fire. Cleaning a gun is like car maintenance in this sense.

If you don’t maintain either one, it loses value along with function.

How to Prevent Fouling

You won’t find any hard and fast rules telling you how often you should clean your weapon. Though, take a moment to think about how the military and law enforcement agencies view gun maintenance.

For both, firearms are standard equipment. Soldiers and law enforcement rely on them. So, they clean their guns every time they use them to prevent erosion. Indeed, it is a smart example to follow.

How to Clean a Gun or Rifle

If you’re set to maintain your firearm correctly, then you’ll be cleaning it countless times in the future. It’s best to establish your routine and procedure so that you clean it the same way every time. And learn to enjoy it in the process.

  1. Dedicated Space for Gun Cleaning

Begin by designating a space in your home, garage, or yard. You’ll need a stable platform or table with adequate lighting and ventilation.

Gather your tools, oils, and solvents and lay them out in front of you. You should use and store all these away from pets, food, and small children, as they are toxic.

Gun Cleaning Kit

An easy way to organize is to purchase a gun kit, many of which are available online or at sporting goods stores for reasonable prices.

Gun cleaning kits contain all that you need, though you’ll add smaller items like containers for small parts. Containers give you places to store small screws or other small parts as you disassemble your weapon.

It’s easy to lose them otherwise, especially with custom firearms. Should you lose any of these parts, you may find replacements at Volquartsen.

Clean rags are other essential items for your gun cleaning kit, as are old toothbrushes. Finally, invest in a good gun cleaner like BreakFree CLP (Cleaning, Lubricating, Protecting) Gun Cleaner.

You’ll use it to loosen residue and build up.

Owner’s Manual

Another smart tip is to include the owner’s manual for each of your firearms with your gun cleaning kit. Most likely, you know your gun(s) well, but it never hurts to have the manual on hand in case you need it.

  1. Begin Cleaning Your Gun

Once your space is set up and ready, you can begin cleaning your gun or rifle. Depending on the type you are cleaning, start by cleaning the bore. If you can remove the barrel, start cleaning from the breech end.

If it’s not a removable barrel, then start at the muzzle end. Be sure you have the correct size bore brush and cleaning rod. You’ll know if your brush is too small if you’re using too much effort to push through.

Using the correct size helps avoid damaging the rifle or gun.

  1. Cleaning Patches

Cleaning should involve using the cleaning rod to pass wet patches through the bore and barrel. This step loosens the fouling and excess residue.

You’ll moisten the patches with the correct bore solvent for bullets you’re using such as lead or copper. Your gun cleaning kit has attachments for the cleaning rod that are sized for the bore.

Once you attach it, moisten the patch with the solvent, then pass it through the bore. Continue through to the full length of the barrel. Repeat this multiple times.

The key is to use long strokes rather than shorter, jerky motions. Use a fresh patch for each pass through.

  1. Bore Brush

After you make several passes through the barrel with the cleaning rod, switch to the bore brush. The bore brush should be for the caliber of rifle or gun you are cleaning.

These brushes are made of different materials depending on their intended use. Many people prefer bronze bore brushes. If you have an older or more expensive gun, you may want to go with nylon brushes.

They require a bit more work on your part, but they offer gentle cleaning. Moisten your brush with solvent and pass it through the barrel. As you did with the cleaning patches, use full strokes through the length of the barrel.

Repeat this 6-10 times.

  1. Dry Patches

Next, start over with the wet patches to remove the particles you loosened with the brush.

Then, pass dry patches through the barrel. You’ll use several of these, and each patch should come out a bit cleaner than the one before it.

  1. When to Use Gun Oil

If you’re planning to put your gun or rifle away for the season, you should run a patch with gun oil through the bore.

This protects it from rust. Just remember that you have to run dry patches through it before using it again when hunting season opens.

Tips for Lubricating

Here is an instance where more is NOT better.

Many of you can tell stories about your father and grandfather using a liberal amount WD-40 on everything from rusty tools to a shotgun. Well, gone are the days of WD-40 gun cleaning.

Now, we know to select the correct fluid for the application, cleaning, lubricating, or protection. Whichever you need, be sure to use just a drop or two to lubricate your firearm lightly.

Rub with a cloth to leave only a light coating. Also, avoid lubricating the chamber, firing-pin channel, magazines, or bore. Lubricants can cause debris to stick.

If You Shoot It, You Clean It

Proper gun maintenance is more than knowing how to tear down, clean, and reassemble your firearm. Gun cleaning has to do with establishing a maintenance routine and having the discipline to carry it out.

This article presented an overview of how to clean your gun. Every responsible gun and rifle owner must maintain their weapon. Keeping your gun clean gives you a safer and more accurate firearm.

Remember, even an un-fired gun can still get dirty and collect residue. If you enjoyed this article, visit us again soon for more Top Stories.


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