Whether you own a firearm for recreation or protection, it is important that you keep your firearm clean and in good condition so that it functions properly when you need it to. The number one reason for maintaining a clean firearm is safety. To maintain your gun correctly, it is important to have a solid routine for when you are cleaning and lubricating your weapon. It is also necessary to own the correct gun cleaning tools and know how to use them. Having a safe and detailed gun cleaning procedure can help your weapon stay in like-new condition, and ensure that it works properly when you need it most.

Here are our best tips for maintaining your personal firearm…

1. Find a Good Place to Clean Your Firearm

This step is crucial to a successful gun cleaning experience. The key is to find a solid and sturdy surface as you disassemble the various components of your firearm. A workbench, table or desk would work nicely. There are many fine cleaning mats on the market as well, helping to protect your gun from scratching the surface or from the gun itself gathering damage from any harsh abrasions. To make your life even easier, we recommend using a small rifle or gun vise to hold your weapon securely. A tray can be helpful to hold any small pieces that might otherwise get lost in the process. Small components can disappear and make the reassembly process all but impossible.

2. Disassemble Your Gun as Far as Recommended

Be sure you read any manuals provided by the gun manufacturer. These manuals include important information such as the proper sequence of disassembly and recommendations for how far to break down the weapon. The manual can also include tools and resources you might need in advance of disassembling your firearm. Breaking down the gun farther than recommended could lead to extra headaches, and it is best to stick with what the manufacturer says.

Note: Missing your manufacturer’s manual? Be sure to look online for digital versions or to contact the manufacturer directly. It is always a good idea to have these resources in front of you in case you run into a problem with disassembly/reassembly.  

3. Use Specially Made Gun Cleaning Brushes

An important component of any gun cleaning kit is the brush. The brush included in a kit should be of high quality, maintain its physical characteristics during use, and clean the barrel without causing excessive wear. The 4 most common types of gun cleaning brushes are nylon, phosphor bronze, stainless steel and cotton swabs. Each material has a different purpose, and can be used to achieve different effects.

  • Nylon: Ideal for lighter cleaning jobs, nylon fiber works to gently and safely remove residue from barrels, while preventing the brush from breaking down in commercially available cleaning solutions.
  • Phosphor Bronze: A favorite among many gun owners, phosphor bronze cleaning brushes are fantastic options for moderate cleaning jobs or just general purpose maintenance. Working to remove performance-hindering residue from the bore, phosphor bronze is gentle on the finish, preventing damage to the firearm.
  • Stainless Steel: When the residue in your firearm resists your best efforts to remove it, you need the toughest of brushes. Stainless steel brushes are relentless in their ability to take on even the most resistant residue. Ideal for removing caked-on powder residue and burn marks, stainless steel brushes should be in every gun cleaning kit.
  • Cotton Swab: Made from 100-percent cotton for maximum absorbency, cotton swabs are ideal for removing any cleaning solution after cleaning. Custom OEM gun brush manufacturer Sanderson MacLeod even makes custom swab designs, including colored cotton, combination swab/brush, and step-trimmed models. The variety of their product catalogue ensures that they have a product to tackle any gun cleaning task.

Using the descriptions above, you can now determine which bore cleaning material is the most appropriate for your case.

4. Use the Best Cleaning products

Using proper gun cleaning products is vital to maintaining the integrity of the firearm. Taking time to care for and maintain your gun, as well as using the best gun oils, can make a massive difference in overall weapon performance. To ensure proper function and avoid damaging the gun, be sure to purchase solvents and lubricants specifically designed for firearms. Other products can create more problems down the road. There are generally 3 types of firearm solutions:

  • Cleaning
  • Lubricating
  • Protecting

Some products come equipped to act as all of these, making them a 3-in-one type of cleaning solution. This can be a quick and convenient way to maintain your weapon, but are often not as thorough. For more intensive cleaning efforts, look to purchase solutions that handle each task of CLP individually. Although it may be intimidating to look through the huge list of available gun lubricant brands, there are many easy-to-read guides available on the internet which provide a great starting point for both new and existing gun owners.

This list includes 6 of the best reviewed universal cleaning CLPs and specialty cleaners.

5. Carefully Remove and Clean All Small Parts

Knowing the layout of your gun can prevent mistakes during this process. Missing parts, springs shooting across the room and bent or broken components are all risks of not being familiar with your weapon. Once you have reviewed the manufacturer’s manuals, apply lubricant to the correct parts and be careful not to miss any pieces that need lubrication.

6. Put It All Together in the Correct Sequence

This step is crucial to making sure your gun fires correctly when everything is said and done. It might seem like common sense, but mistakes during this step are all too common. Begin by wiping down all metal parts with an oiled cloth. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when putting the parts back together to ensure that everything functions properly when it is complete. Finally, test to make sure the firearm functions correctly while unloaded. This test checks to make sure the pieces went back together properly.

7. Wipe Down All Metal Surfaces

Before putting the weapon into a storage spot, take a minute to wipe down all metal surfaces. This step may seem unnecessary, but it actually helps to maintain the exterior of the firearm. You can even use a specialty gun oil or gun wax, but these options are up to the user’s preference. Make sure you’ve removed all fingerprints and imperfections. The salt and oil can eat away at the metal’s finish. Plus, as an added bonus, keeping your gun clean also makes it more presentable when you want to show it off at home or at the range.

Some Final Thoughts:

Millions of responsible gun owners around the world abide by common rules to keep themselves and those around them safe. Maintaining the integrity of your firearm is a crucial aspect of gun safety. By following this list of gun cleaning tips, you can ensure your weapon is operating at its peak potential.

Location is key. Before you begin the gun cleaning process, make sure you find a place suitable for the job. This location should be well lit and contain a solid surface, preferably with a vise to clamp down your weapon as you disassemble it.

Next, be sure to read the manufacturer’s manual and learn how far they recommend you disassemble the weapon.

Using specific materials to clean the bore of the gun is also an important decision. The different choices available include nylon, phosphor bronze, stainless steel and cotton swabs. Each performs a different role, and can be used interchangeably with gun cleaning rods. These different bore cleaners each have their individual benefits, and are best suited for specific degrees of cleaning.

Research the best reviewed gun cleaning oils and lubricants to ensure you are using the best product for your weapon. Universal cleaners can be useful for overall cleaning jobs, but for more intensive efforts it is recommended that you use the proper product for the individual tasks.

Extra care should be put into reassembling the gun, as mistakes in this process can cause damage and even misfires. Check for small loose pieces in the area around you to make sure nothing was lost during the gun cleaning process.

Finally, wipe down all metal surfaces of the gun, removing any blemishes and fingerprints. Like washing a car often, this keeps the elements of the gun in a healthy condition and reduces the risk of oils and dirt eating away at the metal’s finish.

Keeping your gun in top condition allows you to know you are doing your part to be a responsible gun owner.