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Gun Cleaning 101

Depending on who you talk to, cleaning your guns after use is either the most important thing on earth, or the least. Those that do not clean their firearms regularly are likely the same folks that you will find fighting to remove a seized choke tube while in the blind or wondering why their safety no longer operates correctly on their 10/22. On the other side of the coin are those folks that have never learned how to properly care for a firearm in the first place, so end up using far too much oil, which can cause firing pins to stick (especially in the cold winter months) or damage the crown by running a cleaning rod in reverse (muzzle to breech).

boresnakeIt is so important to spend a few minutes doing proper maintenance to keep a firearm operating correctly in all weather and conditions, and it is not hard. With these simple tips, your gun will continue working hard for you for as long as you own it.

Disclaimer, no two people clean their guns the same way. This is the method that best works for me and I have found it to be highly effective. The longer you shoot and the more time you spend with your firearms, the more likely it is that you will make adjustments that work for you so please consider these as suggestions more than rules set in stone.

The Right Tools For The Job:

CLEANING RODI’m not just talking about using the right size of patch/ bore brush or bore snake for your caliber (although that should be abundantly clear, I’ve witnessed many guys try to ram a 1.5” patch down a .22 caliber barrel). What I am talking about when I say the right tools is more than just one. While a bore snake is a fantastic tool to use when in the field or at camp to remove any moisture or light dirt, it lacks the cleaning power of cleaning rod tipped with a bore brush or patches.

Everyone should have the following for each caliber they own:

BORE BRUSHBORESNAKE – As mentioned above, a boresnake is a great tool to have to give your barrel a quick clean at the end of the day. It can remove moisture from a barrel as well as a limited amount of grime.

CLEANING ROD – A cleaning rod allows you to attach a patch via a patch loop or push a patch through via a jag. Patch loops and jags are usually made of brass which is softer than the metal on the inside of your barrel or made from plastic. Either style can work well without damaging your gun.

CLEANING SOLVENTBORE BRUSH – Made from copper or aluminum, and even carbon fiber or nylon, a bore brush attaches to the cleaning rod and will give you a much deeper clean than a boresnake.

CLEANING SOLVENT – Firearm cleaning solvents come in many variations, including aerosol or liquid. Some are biodegradable and some are powerful enough to strip paint. I generally use Hoppe’s No.9 Solvent. It is equally adept at removing powder, lead, rust, and metal fouling and honestly the smell of Hoppe’s No.9 Solvent is like coming home. Not that I make a habit of purposely sniffing solvents… but a freshly cleaned firearm really does have a nice smell.

whiteLUBRICATING OIL – Much like solvents, lubricating oils can be aerosol or liquid. They come in different viscosities and are often hydrophobic to a certain degree. For a general-purpose lubricating oil, I once again use Hoppe’s brand. I like their lubricating oil and use it after my patches come clean from the barrel when finished a good cleaning. For the trigger assembly, hammer and firing pin assemblies I will usually go with a dry spray lubricant like Remington DriLube. I like the DriLube because it does not run or drip and it’s incredibly easy to apply a thin layer so that your firearm functions equally well in the freezing cold as it does in the sun.

Cleaning Procedure:

cleanFor bolt action firearms, remove the bolt. Add a couple of drops of solvent to a clean rag and give the whole thing a good wipe down. Next, dip a Q-tip into your solvent and clean the bolt face and under the extractor.

For lever action rifles, remove the receiver bolt, lever, and ejector. Wipe down with solvent similar to a bolt action.

Once your bolt, firing pin, ejector and other parts are clean, dry them off and then wipe everything down with a thin layer of lubricant. Or use an aerosol dry lubricant to ensure you are not overdoing it.

triggerNext, soak a patch in solvent and using your jag, push it through and out the end of the barrel. Do this 3 times to ensure solvent is coating the inside of the barrel. Now, remove your jag and attach your bore brush. Brush the barrel from end to end, around 10 to 15 times. Go longer if you would like but this seems to work for me.

A quick note on bore brushes. I would say that you do not have to scrub your barrel every time you use it, but if you are spending the day on the range and putting a few hundred rounds through your gun, then a good brushing out is a smart move.

After you are finished with the brush, you can reattach your jag, wet a patch with solvent and push it though the barrel. You will see that it is quite dirty. Wet another patch and push it through as well. Now, switch to dry patches and push them through the barrel one at a time until they come out clean.

setNow, wet a patch with lubricating oil and push it through the barrel. Do this one more time, then follow up with a dry patch to remove most of the oil. All you want is a thin layer left behind.

For the trigger set, disassemble as much as you are comfortable with. Wipe what you can get at down with a light solvent, using a q tip to get into tight spots, and then (sparingly) apply oil or DriLube to ensure everything is lubricated.

clothYou can now reassemble your firearm. Once everything is put back together, examine the outside of the barrel for any surface rust or dirt. Clean off any rust spots, wipe your barrel down with a dry rag and apply a thin layer of oil. Finally, examine your stock for any damage or gunk build up. For a wooden stock, use a damp cloth. Finally apply a thin layer of oil to the stock before putting your gun away.

Like any tool, a firearm is at its best when it’s been well taken care. Invest the few minutes it takes after shooting to give your gun a quick going over to ensure it remains in fine working condition for years to come.

By Noel Linsey

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