How to avoid over cleaning


walking arsenal
February 6, 2005, 06:34 PM
In another thread a fellow mentioned that over cleaning a rifle can erode the bore more than shooting it.

I'd heard this before but never really thought about it much until now.

So i figured a good discussion on how to avoid over cleaning would help bring into the light how to avoid it from happenning.

A good refresher for some people and maybe a helpful thread for our newer members.

Now I'll admit that it's possible i have a psychological problem when it comes to cleaning my guns.

Even if it's just been a couple of rounds through them i find myself stripping them down and scrubbing every little part.

the problem for me is that when i start cleaning i never know were to stop.

do i just do the barrel? if i only shoot 50 rounds should i even bother cleaning? After how many rounds should i clean? and so and so on.

everyone has there own cleaning regime, what are some suggestions to avoid over cleaning a gun?

what are some little hints and tips to cleaning?

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February 6, 2005, 06:54 PM
After a range trip, I use different criteria on different guns.

Marlin 60: Entire inside of receiver is scrubbed clean. Action is scrubbed, esp. the feedramp. Bolt is scrubbed until completely clean (firing pin must rattle around freely). Action is then doused in solvent, and airblasted about 15minutes later to remove grit. Bore/chamber has solvent sprayed into it, and excess fluid is drained onto a cloth before being airblasted. 1/2" x 1" patch is tied to a bit of thread/floss/fishing line, and pulled through barrel from chamber to crown if more than 700 rounds have been fired that day.

SAR-1: None, unless over 700 rounds have been fired. Then it's field stripped, with the bolt face scrubbed (until firing pin rattles freely), gas piston wiped down, extractor cavity cleaned/air-blasted. Barrel is scrubbed and wiped with patches. (FWIW, I use Wolf in it almost exclusively...)

Swede Mauser: Bore/barrel is sprayed with solvent, then airblasted clean & dry. If over 160 rounds have been fired, I run apatch through to ensure everything is clean. Bolt face never gets dirty, nor anything else. :)

Vektor SP-2: Barrel is wiped down with patches, and slide rails are lightly oiled. Only 131 rounds have ever been fired from it to begin with, so it hasn't really had a chance to get grimy.

Nice music and the occasional good movie helps too. :)

February 6, 2005, 08:04 PM
I've been reading over on the MKII forum about how over-cleaning wears out the Ruger .22's faster than shooting them, and usually I clean them meticulously after a range session, but have slacked a bit after reading all those posts. I still clean my HD pistol crystal clear after a range session, but if the MKII only gets a couple hundred rounds, I don't mind lettin it sit for a rainy day. Maybe I'll change that if I hear differently here.

February 6, 2005, 08:46 PM
for me, it all subjective. the mausers get cleaned meticulously because i dont want the corrosive salts to eat away my bore. i've got a lot of elbow grease invested to make sure my mausers are in the best condition possible, for as much as i shoot them.

the AR gets cleaned after each range trip simply because thats my newest gun and i really want to keep her looking good.

when i had my .22's i'd only clean them sporadically. the marlin papoose was more picky about being kept clean since the action wouldnt always close if it had a lot of residue in the reciever.
the walther p22 also liked more tlc or it'd get all gritty and whatnot.
the ruger mk2 though couldnt care less if it was clean or not. i'd only clean it out just because i was bored, or wanted to see what shape the springs and pins were in.
other handguns, get cleaned whenever i feel like it. i'll run a boresnake through and wipe off the feed ramp and make sure the outside is free of dirt/carbon, but i dont get too anal about it.

February 6, 2005, 09:10 PM
Spiff ya aint cleaned that Kimber yet, dont lie


February 6, 2005, 09:14 PM
i'll clean my kimber when you clean your mousegun. :neener:

February 6, 2005, 09:49 PM
For some, guns are like their toys that they wish to keep sparkling and pretty, especially when we present them to gain favor with our friends.

I have found that .22's actually get tighter on the target if they aren't cleaned, I don't know why and I'm not going to argue the point, but mine seems to do better dirty then cleaned. Marlin single shot .22 and Buckmark .22.

As for the others, the AR needs cleaned each and every time that it comes home from the range. The 30-40 could care less how clean or dirty it was. The handguns, they don't care it seems either. I clean my Kimber every month because it it my carry piece.

I've found that if you aren't using corrisive ammo, the guns really don't care when and if you clean them. They still seem to work and hit accuratally, with exceptions on the AR.


February 6, 2005, 09:54 PM
'll clean my kimber when you clean your mousegun

Aint gonna clean it, when It gets dirty get a new one :)


February 6, 2005, 11:02 PM
Single best way to prevent damage/excess wear to firearms by overcleaning:
Don't use metalic brushes or abrasive materials often.

I clean all my guns after all range trips or hunting trips.

For handguns:
-clean bore w/ Hoppe's Benchrest or foaming copper solvent
-put patches through using tight fitting plug on the end of a rod until the bore is clean
-wipe everything clean with a rag and Breakfree CLP or Hoppe's if it has a lot of residue on it
-lube w/ Breakfree

For my Tikka T3 308:
-clean bore same as above
-wipe dirt off bolt and action
-relube bolt/action with a little Tetra grease

For my Ruger 10/22:
-don't clean the bore unless I'm not gonna shoot it for a while. If I clean it then I use an Otis pull through cable w/ patches. I don't clean the bore every time because it takes a lot of rounds before the gun shoots normally.
-wipe the breechface and chamber clean with breakfree (chamber is cleaned with a patch over a nylon brush)
-always wipe inside the reciever and bolt clean w/ Breakfree

For my Mossy 500 12ga:
-brush the bore with a bronze bore brush and Hoppe's. This is the only gun I normally use a brush in because it doesn't have rifling that can wear away. The only thing that will happen with lots of cleaning is the machining marks in the bore will go away :)
-wipe the bolt, inside the action, and action bars with Breakfree

When most people tell you that cleaninig wears a gun out they are refering to the use of metalic brushes. Even though things like bronze are softer than the barrel's steel it will eventually wear away the surfaces.
No harm can be done with just cotton and oil/solvent.

February 6, 2005, 11:34 PM
Handguns get cleaned when they look dirty.

.22s get oiled.

Blastin' rifles get cleaned ever so often.

ACCURATE rifles get cleaned ever 15-20 rounds. 3 soaked patches of Butch's Bore Shine, 10-15 strokes of a benchrest bronze brush, with Butch's liberally applied, 3 soaked patches of BBS, two dry patches.

I can load 20 rounds to benchrest standards using a single stage press, and clean a rifle, in 23 minutes.


The things that tear up rifle bores...

If you own one of those wally world jointed aluminum cleaning rods, give to someone who you don't like. It'll eat your bore.

Get a one-piece pro-shot or dewey rod, and a BORE GUIDE. Keep everything running straight and true.

cracked butt
February 7, 2005, 04:50 AM
I run a patch of Hoppes elite through, allow it to sit for 5 minutes, brush 5 or six strokes, put about 3 or patches through followed by a patch coated with FP-10.

Bronze brushes will not harm your bore.

All of the harm comes at the 2 ends of the barrel- a cheap rod scraping against the throat end, then having a brass jag pushed out the muzzle of the barrel and pulled back through, dragging against the crown before it straightens out. Both will wear the most critical spots on the barrel.

That being said, I never clean .22s.
I only clean centerfires if they are going to be stored for a long time or the accuracy is starting to degrade or I shot corrosive ammo or black powder through it. If its because of corrosive ammo, I clean with a few water soaked patches before I even leave the range and it gets a thorough cleaning as soon as I get home.

I've purposely shot corrosive ammo through a rifle and let it stand for several days to see how long it took to rust- it took about 4 days before orange fuzzies started to show up, but I'm sure that pitting began long before rust was visible.

My dad gave me a Rifle that I know he bought new, and hadn't cleaned in at least 25 years. I gave it a thorough cleaning, and it had very minor pitting in an area about 4" long in the middle of the barrel, not sure if this was due to powder residue attracting moisture, but the damage was very minimal for the veruy long time it was stored that way.

February 7, 2005, 11:18 AM
On another thread the other day, I invented the '15 minute rule', which states simply that if you spend more than 15 minutes cleaning a firearm, you are overcleaning.

BTW, where did I get 15 minutes? Just plucked it out of the air. :D

But I think that the concept is valid (for you it might be 10 minutes, for someone else 20).

February 7, 2005, 01:36 PM
After use I'll run a patch coated with Breakfree down the bore. I'll take another patch with some Breakfree on it and wipe down the bolt/cylinder/whatever and I'm done. I doubt I'm over cleaning.

R.H. Lee
February 7, 2005, 01:43 PM
The main reason for cleaning IMO is to remove the buildup of carbon fouling in the chamber, on the breechface, under the extractor, and in the trigger and its workings. Other than that, I find no reason to shove a cleaning rod down the bore all the time. More firearms are worn out and damaged by obsessive cleaning than by shooting.

February 7, 2005, 01:59 PM
Speaking of rifles only, peak accuracy is generally achieved if the bore is clean and free of carbon fouling and copper fouling. I clean mine in a fashion similar to what bogie posted, but I clean every 10-15 rounds instead of every 20 when possible. I use Butch's and good old Number 9, a quality coated rod, quality patches that are absolutely clean (if I drop a patch I toss it) and I use a nylon brush. Every hundred rounds or so I'll let the bore soak overnight and then again the next day with Hoppe's. When the copper fouling gets bad enough I use good old JB Bore Cleaner.

On my competition handguns like my Baer, if I shoot lead I scrub the bore with the worst imaginable item, a stainless brush wrapped with extra coarse stainless steel wool. Only a total idiot would use that combination, but I rebarrel so often it doesn't matter. Everything gets scrubbed after each trip with liberal amounts of Hoppe's, sprayed with brake cleaner, blown dry with an air compressor, then lubed liberally with synthetic motor oil. Handguns are tools, keep them clean and well lubed. I rebuild every my Open gun every 30,000 - 50,000 rounds. A standard 1911 can go a lot longer.

February 7, 2005, 09:55 PM
I tend to clean my guns immediately after I shoot. I am probably a little overzealous about it as it usually takes over an hour. Maybe I should stretch out it between cleanings a little.

February 7, 2005, 10:02 PM
I usually dont worry about cleaning the guts of my guns until I have about 500 rounds into them. I will however run a wet patch through the barrel to keep it happy. :)

February 7, 2005, 11:31 PM
Immediately after shooting, I always run a patch soaked in gun oil through the bore. I also wipe down the bolt face with a very oily rag. I then drive home and several hours later clean the gun. I have found that the heavy layer of oil loosens all of the crud and I only have to run a Hoppes soaked patch through the bore two or three times.

I started this routine thinking that the gun oil would keep the oxygen away from the steel, but I now do it because it facilitates my later cleaning efforts.

Also, I second the comments about those awful jointed cleaning rods. They should be banished from your gun gear forever. The plastic rods are cheap and soft.

February 7, 2005, 11:45 PM
Oh yeah - never use a stainless brush unless (1) you plan to rebarrel often, or (2) you're an ubertactical ultrablack rifle high speed low drag shoe-wearin', plate tapin' studmuffin of a ninja sniper... Cuz accuracy don't matter.

February 8, 2005, 01:20 AM
Once in a while I run a dry boresnake down my rifles.

Semi autos get taken down and piston/impingiment cleaned and action lubed after every 1k or so. I get 80% of the ???? out, lube with CLP, and back together she goes.

I think I might clean my Glock 34 again someday. Hasn't needed it in about 3k rounds (though I've broken down and put a drop of oil on the slide rails once :)

February 8, 2005, 10:40 AM
I am not afraid to admit that I don't clean my guns all that much. In one of the gunsmithing classes I took the very knowledgable teacher told us that many guns are worn out from over cleaning. He said that if we do want to clean our guns relegiously we should buy the fancy bore rods that keep the rod from touching the rifling. None of the pistols I own seem to care if they are clean or dirty so I just let them go.

Joe Demko
February 8, 2005, 11:25 AM
All get wiped down each time I handle them.

I have a couple Ruger .22 autos that get hosed out with Gunscrubber and then relubed when they get filthy enough to start having reliability problems. I never clean the bores.

Savage Model 99 gets the bore cleaned at the end of deer season each year.

The AR's get stripped and the carrier group wiped clean every 500 rounds or so. The bore gets cleaned when accuracy starts to fall off. The gas tube never gets touched.

Centerfire pistols get stripped and cleaned every 500 rounds or so.

Carry guns get stripped, wiped free of lint, and relubed weekly.

February 8, 2005, 11:39 AM
I clean any gun after I shoot it. Whether or not I use a bronze brush depends on what I was shooting.

I clean my rifle by using multiple wet patches with some sort of copper removing cleaner. After several wet patches, I take a few passes with a bore brush, then several wet patches. I let it soak for a minute or two between each patch while I clean the bolt or other guns. I follow with a dry patch, then some more wet ones. When I stop getting any greenish blue color on the patches, I run a couple dry ones through, then follow with an oiled patch, then a couple dry patches to remove the excess.

For my handguns, I do pretty much the same, but use the brush more, especially if I'm shooting lead. I field strip my handguns everytime I clean them. If I have time to clean the barrel, I have time to clean the rest of the gun. Like Joe, I clean my CCW piece weekly or so just to make sure there's no crud in the action.

I use a coated Dewey rod and a boreguide for my rifle. I use an uncoated steel road and a guide for my handguns. I use brass patch jags and bronze brushes.


February 8, 2005, 01:32 PM
If I shoot them regularly, they get cleaned when they don't work anymore. Besides a little CR10 or simply wiping the feedramp, they don't need to be cleaned very often.

If I had a handgun that was more for nostalgia that I only shoot every so often, then I'd clean it more.

Shotguns: I make sure the bores are sparkling. But with a shotgun, this isn't hard to do. I've seen too many nice shotguns ruined by rusty bores.

Rifles: I try not to use the brush a whole lot. Someone mentioned using oil. I noticed after I clean my rifle, when it's "clean" after running an oily soaked patch through, I pick up a whole lot more dirt. So I clean with CR10 soaked patches only, then run an oily rag down the bore.

I had an benchrest shooter, probably in his late 50's and with around 100+ rifles tell me he used the same procedure I do, but instead of oil, he'd run an isopropal alcohol soaked rag down the bore. So the bore would be dry. It seems it'd be a magnet for moisture that way, but I suppose if he cleaned his rifles that way then they'd go in the safe, he'd be ok.

February 8, 2005, 01:38 PM
I clean my .22LR actions but never the bores.

Pistols I patch and brush, lightly oil and put them away--a 15 minute exercise. For rifles, I patch and brush, then I let solvent do the dirty work--I use regular hoppes and patch it once in the morning and once at night until they stop coming out green/blue. I've got one old leveraction rifle that never comes clean, so I just mop it out real quick and hang it up.

I use one piece coated cleaning rods and bore guides (for rifles).


February 10, 2005, 12:40 PM
1- Get rid of all guns.
2- Get rid of all cleaning supplies
3- Shoot other folk's guns and let them worry about it. **
4- Never Shoot your guns.

** works best and is a lot of fun. :D

I just used a can of "Dust Off" to clean my CCW to get rid of Nelphs. One drop of oil on a pipe cleaner to lube what needed lubing. I spent more time applying more Carnuba Wax to external of slide and such than I did Unloading, taking slide off, making safe and putting back together.

I inspect and maintain. I don't do bores except when mud, snow or rain dictates otherwise. I concern myself with chambers, extraction , feeding and action.

Actually I just wanted to play with the Dust off , I was using it for something else along with the pipe cleaner... and was putting up the Mother's Car Wax from giving my truck a quick CCW was a afterthought...I did get caught in the mud and rain the other day...thought I'd take a looksee...

happy old sailor
February 10, 2005, 01:53 PM
i clean handguns about like this, being convinced a gun can be over cleaned and suffer unessary wear therefrom. i have seen ppl after their bore like it was full of dirtdobber nests. i use a Boresnake, inspect it, and go from there. copper build up and soft lead bullets cause a cleaning chore unto themselves. silicon cloth takes care of exterior smudges. my guns are not ER clean, but, they look good and shoot good. i require nothing else. i particularly dont like an oily gun in an oilsoaked holster. first shot and lube blows all over your glasses. geeeze

February 10, 2005, 08:26 PM
You guys probably don't change the oil on your cars, either? After all, it's the same deal.. carbon deposits, quickly moving metal-on-metal parts with lots of force, and high temps. Might as well just leave that factory lube in there till the thing stops running, then clean it out.

February 10, 2005, 09:14 PM
I inspect and maintain.

I don't get all obsessive and compulsive about it- or anything else.

I change oil and filters too.

Yeah I was the guy with the "old man" looking car for a personal vehicle. Mine was paid for and always worked. I towed the race cars , dirt bikes I played with...also took other folks to the part stores and "speed shops". Yep the same folks obsessing and fretting and "fixing what was fixed" - that razed me.

I dunno , I was taught and mentored by some Gunnies. I recall very well I cleaned a 1911 ( I was about 7or 8) ...right proud I was too. Gunny tossed on the ground, in some mud and then kicked dirt on it. " I want you run it under that faucet and then shoot it". I did, it worked.

His point: He wanted me know how to "inspect and maintain". He also pointed out the ...err..."new guys" he kept busy cleaning guns, so to keep busy, to teach how to do a inspect and maintain and not take all day about it. They most likely would have to clean a gun in harsh enviroments with folks wanting to kill them..." I want them to know how to do it in their sleep, sleep depraved and dead bone tired" . They will learn these [1911s] will damn sure take a LOT of use / abuse before needing a bunch of stuff done to them.

Gunny could do a strip and clean so fast make one's head spin...he would do it a box without looking...

I don't get my shorts wadded up if I run a bit over the time or miles on a oil change either...most times I do it early...but if I drive 700 miles over getting back in town, I figure them 700 miles straight driven at eight miles minute ain't gonna a thing...

Still think folks need to spend monies on ammo, lessons and training moreso than cleaning kits and stuff...

February 10, 2005, 10:04 PM
Looking at the way US Army snipers are supposed to clean their rifles, I'm guessing there's no such thing as "overcleaning," only improper cleaning.

c. M24 SWS Cleaning Procedures. The M24 SWS must always be cleaned before and after firing.

(1) The SWS must always be cleaned before firing. Firing a weapon with a dirty bore or chamber will multiply and speed up any corrosive action. Oil in the bore and chamber of a SWS will cause pressures to vary and first-round accuracy will suffer. Clean and dry the bore and chamber before departure on a mission and use extreme care to keep the SWS clean and dry en route to the objective area. Firing a SWS with oil or moisture in the bore will cause smoke that can disclose the firing position.

(2) The SWS must be cleaned after firing since firing produces deposits of primer fouling, powder ashes, carbon, and metal fouling. Although ammunition has a noncorrosive primer that makes cleaning easier, the primer residue can still cause rust if not removed. Firing leaves two major types of fouling that require different solvents to remove--carbon fouling and copper jacket fouling. The SWS must be cleaned within a reasonable time after firing. Use common sense when cleaning between rounds of firing. Repeated firing will not injure the weapon if it is properly cleaned before the first round is fired.

(3) Lay the SWS on a table or other flat surface with the muzzle away from the body and the sling down. Make sure not to strike the muzzle or telescopic sight on the table. The cleaning cradle is ideal for holding the SWS.

(4) Always clean the bore from the chamber toward the muzzle, attempting to keep the muzzle lower than the chamber to prevent the bore cleaner from running into the receiver or firing mechanism. Be careful not to get any type of fluid between the stock and receiver. If fluid does collect between the stock and receiver, the receiver will slide on the bedding every time the SWS recoils, thereby decreasing accuracy and increasing wear and tear on the receiver and bedding material.

(5) Always use a bore guide to keep the cleaning rod centered in the bore during the cleaning process.

(6) Push several patches saturated with carbon cleaner through the barrel to loosen the powder fouling and begin the solvent action on the copper jacket fouling.

(7) Saturate the bronze bristle brush (NEVER USE STAINLESS STEEL BORE BRUSHES-THEY WILL SCRATCH THE BARREL) with carbon cleaner (shake the bottle regularly to keep the ingredients mixed) using the medicine dropper to prevent contamination of the carbon cleaner. Run the bore brush through at least 20 times. Make sure the bore brush passes completely through the barrel before reversing its direction; otherwise, the bristles will break off.

(8) Use a pistol cleaning rod and a .45 caliber bronze bristle bore brush, clean the chamber by rotating the patch-wrapped brush 8 to 10 times. DO NOT scrub the brush in and out of the chamber.

(9) Push several patches saturated with carbon cleaner through the bore to push out the loosened powder fouling.

(10) Continue using the bore brush and patches with carbon cleaner until the patches have no traces of black/gray powder fouling and are green/blue. This indicates that the powder fouling has been removed and only copper fouling remains. Remove the carbon cleaner from the barrel with several clean patches. This is important since solvents should never be mixed in the barrel.

(11) Push several patches saturated with copper cleaner through the bore, using a scrubbing motion to work the solvent into the copper. Let the solvent work for 10 to 15 minutes (NEVER LEAVE THE COPPER CLEANER IN THE BARREL FOR MORE THAN 30 MINUTES).

(12) While waiting, scrub the bolt with the toothbrush moistened with carbon cleaner and wipe down the remainder of the weapon with a cloth.

(13) Push several patches saturated with copper cleaner through the barrel. The patches will appear dark blue at first, indicating the amount of copper fouling removed. Continue this process until the saturated patches have no traces of blue/green. If the patches continue to come out dark blue after several treatments with copper cleaner, use the bronze brush saturated with copper cleaner to increase the scrubbing action. Be sure to clean the bronze brush thoroughly afterwards with hot running water (quick scrub cleaner/degreaser is preferred) as the copper cleaner acts upon its bristles as well.

(14) When the barrel is clean, dry it with several tight fitting patches. Also, dry the chamber using the .45 caliber bronze bristle bore brush with a patch wrapped around it.

(15) Run a patch saturated with rust prevention (not CLP) down the barrel and chamber if the weapon is to be stored for any length of time. Stainless steel barrels are not immune from corrosion. Be sure to remove the preservative by running dry patches through the bore and chamber before firing.

(16) Place a small amount of rifle grease on the rear surfaces of the bolt lugs. This will prevent galling of the metal surfaces.

(17) Wipe down the exterior of the weapon (if it is not covered with camouflage paint) with a CLP-saturated cloth to protect it during storage.

February 11, 2005, 09:35 AM
The shop owners and gunsmiths I know are definitely not impressed with people who don't clean their weapons. I've been told by several to clean them after each range session.

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