Gun powder is corrosive and the heat and abrasion that parts of your firearms are exposed to when firing may cause rust. Ambient humidity can also promote rust. For those of you that carry your firearms on concealment holsters, your body-heat combined with ambient humidity, entering and exiting from cars and buildings with A/C and exposure to weather changes will also promote rust on most firearms. As a result, firearms should be cleaned after each use or at a minimum once a year if you haven’t fired them. Cleaning yearly and immediately after each use will help prolong the life of your firearms. As a precaution, also dry and properly lubricate firearms that have been exposed to any liquid.
Properly cleaning, lubricating and maintaining your firearms will help retain most of the value of your firearms, prolong their useful life and ensure the proper functioning when you really need it. Improper maintenance, or improper breakdown, lubrication or reassembly of any firearms can adversely affect its operation, reduce its value or shorten its useful-life. Over lubrication can result in excessive carbon buildup and accumulation of dust, lint and copper fouling.
While in the majority of cases I have never seen a firearm malfunction due to excess oil or the accumulation of dust, lint and other material, I have observed one case in which a gun owner tried to load (without success) an old pistol that was owned by his father and had been in storage for a prolonged period of time. Upon inspection, it appeared that it had been oiled with some sort of thick oil which became gooey or sticky and prevented the slide from moving. This incident highlights the need to use a quality gun oil and the need for yearly maintenance. As a general rule, firearms should be cleaned after each use and if not used, at least once a year. This recommendation will help ensure the proper function of your firearms when you need them the most.
1. Unload your firearm. Unload and triple check to make sure there are no rounds in your gun. If you attempt to disassemble a loaded gun, it may shoot. SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT. I have met several people that have accidentally shot themselves and others that have shot a TV or a wall when cleaning their guns because “they were sure” that the gun was unloaded when they started to disassemble their guns for cleaning.
Follow these steps: 1- keep your finger off the trigger. 2- Remove the magazine if you have not done so already. 3- Point the gun in a save direction 4- Open the slide and lock it open if possible. Look inside; and visually and physically inspect the chamber to make absolutely sure that there are no rounds inside the chamber. 5– While keeping the finger off the trigger and the gun pointed in a safe direction, proceed to disassemble as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
2. There should be NO ammunition in the room where you plan to clean your firearms. If your ammunition is stored in the same work area where you are going to clean your gun, then you need to find a new location to clean your gun.
3. Use a well-ventilated place. The last place you want to be is locked in a small room inhaling the fumes from the cleaning products. You should use a room with an open window or install a fan to remove the fumes from your work area. Otherwise, clean your firearms on your deck or backyard but make sure that there is no ammunition around you, and that there is no one else around.
4. Wear eye protection. Cleaning chemicals or oil could splash into your eyes. A spring may also pop out of a gun and hit your eye. Before you even start taking your gun apart for cleaning, put on your safety glasses. This simple step will save you the pain and discomfort that may be caused by the cleaning chemicals falling on your eyes and it may save you from a trip to the doctor.
5. Understand how to safely take apart your gun. Today’s pistols are rather easy to disassemble, but if you’ve got any questions make sure and read the manual. The last thing you want to do is bend a part because you’re forcing something when the gun should come apart easily. Keep the manual in the case where you store your gun for quick reference, or get on the Internet and search for the manual if you’ve lost yours.
6. Use the right cleaning products. Use proper gun cleaning formulas. There are many quality gun cleaning and lubrication products in the market. just ensure that you don’t purchase a single product marketed as a cleaner-lubricant mix. your firearms manual may suggest some products and mention products that should be used on your gun.
7. Other items you need to properly clean your gun. These include the gun rod and the brushes of the proper caliber to clean the barrel, and patches to run down the barrel and remove contaminants and the cleaning solution. While not absolutely necessary, you may want to use cotton swabs or pipe cleaners to clean the hard to reach areas. You will also need a towel or rag to wipe the gun off when you’re done cleaning it..
8. Clean the magazines. When you clean your gun, you should also clean all of the magazines used. Most pistol magazines quickly disassemble for easy cleaning.
9. Use a tray. There are many firearms that have small parts such as pins and springs. If you use a tray when cleaning one of these firearms, it may help prevent these small parts from getting lost.
10. Perform a function test. After you’ve cleaned your gun and put it back together, you need to make sure it works. With a safe and empty gun, and a safe backstop, pull the trigger to see if it is functioning properly, rack the slide again and perform the test again.
Proper maintenance, cleaning, lubrication and inspection of your firearms will ensure a safe and reliable operation when you need them the most. For service from our Certified Glock Pistol and Colt Rifle Armorers, please visit our Firearms Services page or contact one of our company representatives.
Adapted from Top 10 Gun Cleaning Tips by Jason Hanson.