How to Properly Clean a Gun

One of the most underrated and neglected tasks of most people who own firearms is the act of properly cleaning them. Cleaning guns is a laborious and sometimes tedious chore that is never a preferred activity. During my military years, I grew to hate cleaning my M-16, M-4 and M-60 weapons. Cleaning them was not too difficult but having them inspected and rejected for a simple speck of dust really soured me on cleaning any firearm, but I do it and I try to do it properly.

There are many different styles and methods of cleaning firearms but there are some basic rules that always apply. First off, always triple check any firearm you intend to clean to make sure it is not loaded. Don’t just treat every gun like it is loaded, treat it like it is unloaded but it is secretly trying to always sneak in a live round when you are not looking. I am paranoid about loaded guns and I think everyone should be.

I try to clean my rifle after 30 or 40 shots, or after a nasty day in the field. I like to use a good solvent that will adequately remove metal and powder residue. There are many brands out there and I think they all work. I apply liberally to a clean patch and run it through my rifle from the rear to the front. I do this a couple of times to saturate the barrel in the hopes that is rehydrates any dried debris and makes the other metal and powder residue ready to be cleaned out.

After running clean patches that eventually come out clean and powder-free, I oil up a new patch and run it through to lubricate the barrel enough so rust won’t grab a hold of anything. I then wipe down the outside of my barrel as well. I try to complete this process on my bolt and trigger action as well. 

If I am storing my rifle, I leave it alone after the oil application. If I am going hunting with it, I will try to shoot one round through it just to prime it. Every barrel has microscopic pits in it and sending a round through the barrel can fill those in and present a smoother surface for the bullet to slide through which will keep it more accurate.