Does millitary "overclean" their firearms???


March 27, 2003, 11:09 PM
Saw a news story about Iraq stating that the sand was so bad the troops had to clean there guns twice a day. This made me remember Basic in '87.

Everytime we had down time and had our rifles with us out came the cleaning kits. Three sometimes four times per day and still most of us had relibility problems. Other than feeding issues, I recall the horrible fit of the uppers and lowers and how the worn out guns wobbled because of it. Also recall how the handgaurds tended to fall off regularly on a lot of the rifles.

Now this is not a M-16 bashing thread because I'm wondering the same thing about the M-9's which I see on TV whose finishes look like somebody used an emery cloth on belt sander to polish for a solid afternoon.

Could the millitary's habit of keeping everybody "busy" when there is really nothing to be done but wait be hurting them? Seems to me even just field stripping any weapon thousands of times for no particular reason would have to accelerate wear and cause problems???

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March 27, 2003, 11:20 PM
Short answer?

Yep. More barrels cleaned out than shot out.

Stupid. White glove inspections belong in the mess hall, not the armory.

March 27, 2003, 11:37 PM
You're right, we do overclean. And since things like "cleaning from the breach" aren't always taught, weapons barrels can take a beating overtime, from people shoving in brass bore brushes from the muzzle end.

Freedom in theSkies
March 28, 2003, 12:06 AM
...And it's not just in the States. Here in the Great White North, we have the same problem with overcleaning. It used to be worse with the FN C1 (FAL) but now that the C7 (M16) has taken its' place, the Breakfree 7 day cycle is used, after an initial cleanup. The cleaning procedure is not exactly standardized from unit to unit.
A buddy of mine is an Armourer and he says that the most amount of wear on the barrels is from cleaning equiptment. The rest of the rifle takes a bit of a kicking too, because of the poor handling practices that they receive by the users.

March 28, 2003, 12:31 AM
I read an article many years ago by one of the famous old gun writers, (Hatcher, I think), about the condition of Mauser rifles in Pre-war Syria.

The rifles used by the Border Guards were cleaned on Sunday by firing a round off the top of the mountain. The rifles were in excellent condition.

The rifles used by the regular Army were cleaned every day by wiping down with a cloth, and running a patch down the bore.
The cloth's and patches were used for months, and had sand embedded into them. This was so abrasive, he said that some rifles had the floor plates nearly worn through from the constant abrasion and bores were scratched and badly worn.
The Army rifles were in poor shape.

On the other hand NOBODY is more anal-retentive about cleaning than the Navy SEALs, and their weapons are always in beautiful condition. But then, they are taught HOW to clean properly.

Phil Ca
March 28, 2003, 01:31 AM
In RVN in the Fall of 65 we were setting up our maintenance unit and one of our big jobs was to make cleaning rods for the infantry who had just been issued M16 rifles. The rifles had no cleaning kits and there were some real problems.

When I was getting ready to ship out to Vietnam I purchased a brass cleaning rod and kit. The rod was made of brass and pretty sturdy for a .22 caliber rod. Since we were issued the M14 in 7.62 x 51 some guys asked me why I chose the .22 kit. My reply was that the .22 kit would fit any caliber and if somewhere down the road we finally issued the new rifle I would have a good cleaning kit.

Our unit had to manufacture rods for the 1/26th and 1/28th of the First Infantry Division iirc. How the gov dot org could have screwed up and not sent out the proper cleaning equipment is beyond me, actually its not, because I saw a lot of goofy things in the USAF and the US Army during my 10 years.


AJ Dual
March 28, 2003, 11:46 AM
Frankly, were I the General of "this-that-procurment-guns-whatever" I would order that under no circumstances would anyone but armorers or the special forces be allowed to touch a rifle with any steel rod, steel brush, or abrasive cleaning product.

All issued cleaning materials would be string/synthetic pull-throughs, plastic, copper, and bronze bristle. The closest thing to a rod would be pipe cleaners for the M16's/M4's gas tube.

I have a relative that had an inspection coming up near the end of basic, and a seargent chucked a steel cleaning rod and .223 brush on a cordless drill and everyone lined up with their M-16 uppers...

:eek: oh God...

March 28, 2003, 01:38 PM
FWIW, when I did my basic, with the A1 variant, I also noted how loose the upper/lower fit was.

Then too, until I got to my duty unit, I was convinced that the M16 had a polygon bore!

Ah well, I consider the experience useful: I know all about the accuracy of an full auto musket.

March 28, 2003, 01:54 PM
Well, how often the rifle NEEDS to be cleaned depends on the conditions the rifle is being used in. If you are out in the desert around moving vehicles, with high winds, and you are actually down in fighting holes etc. Sand is going to find it's way into your weapons rather quickly. This is going to effect the reliability of the weapon, no matter what weapon it is. I am sure that anyone that is concerned with their own safety and operational effectiveness is at a minimum removing their bolt and brushing the sand off of it and the inside of the upper receiver.
In the peace time Army, there is no question that they "over clean" their weapons. It is used as busy work to kill time. I also don't think that people are taught the correct methods to use to clean a rifle; at least I wasn't. I also don't think the military uses real good cleaning equipment, although it very well might be the best equipment for a military application. As an example, I would never use a multi-section steel cleaning rod on one of my own rifles. But, in the military you need to have a rod that can be easily carried, so it needs to come apart into multiple sections. So, there are tradeoffs in the equipment used. The idea of using a pull through type system is a good idea that should be looked at by the military. This would cause far less bore damage than the rod I used in the military.

March 28, 2003, 01:58 PM
In my expeience, we do clean our rifles quite a bit. Too much? ... I don't think so.

Poor technique in weapons cleaning is a symptom of leadership failure by the NCO's in that unit. I'd rather train my people to take care of their personal weapon every chance they get.

FWIW, I qualified a few months back with an A2 that was so loose that everything rattled, and I still shot 1 point shy of a perfect score. Believe me, no one was more surprised that I was when we went forward to check targets.


March 28, 2003, 10:24 PM
I don't remember over cleaning any weapon except for inspections and it wasn't the barrel that was really over cleaned. The barrel was always the hardest to get free of carbon though.

If you're somekind of match target shooter that is anal about having your barrel last forever than maybe you want to take every step to prevent premature wear of the barrel. To the grunt the most important thing is that the weapon function.
You keep it functioning by always paying attention to it and its condition. Removing all the gunk in side of it after its fired isn't a bad thing. In combat field conditions it may be a very important lesson to clean your weapon thoroughly and often. I'd rather have a worn weapon after a years time than one that wouldn't operate just once.

March 29, 2003, 01:42 AM
Do they issue muzzle caps or allow folks to run some black tape over muzzle? If so there would be no reason to clean barrel more then once a day. Clean gun wipe chamber and load rd. From then on just clean recieiver.

March 29, 2003, 11:16 AM
navy boot camp was the only place we saw rifles and all those were plugged except for the ones at the armory.

we were the last "cycle" to pass through that had to march and drill with them, i think m-1s but who remembers?

16 count manual arms! HUT!!

we were also the last to get pewter buttons on our peacoats, after us they were plastic, sad,,,very sad

still got mine, it almost fits,,,not


March 29, 2003, 11:37 AM
Larry, I have been seeing the Brits using muzzle caps. I am sure the US has them but I haven't seen them. I know we had them when I was in, bu that was 20 years ago.

"it almost fits,,,not" :D

Phil Ca
March 30, 2003, 01:57 PM
At ForT Ord in Cali during basic training in the mid 50s we had to clean the MI every day. When it was time to turn in the rifles at the end of training one guy took his into the shower after removing all the wood furniture. Some other guys really shined up their rifles and hurried down to turn them in and were sent back. I cleaned mine the normal way, placed the rifle on my bunk and continued packing. I figured the first guys down to turn in their rifles would be sent back and I was right. I waited about an hour and took mine down and it was checked and placed on the rack in less than a minute.


March 30, 2003, 03:40 PM
still got mine, it almost fits,,,not

So, you're saying your handle is your weight, 280plus?


March 30, 2003, 04:15 PM

Can remember that well. But in our company, middle to 3/4 was best. Wait too long and they caught on and actually were LOOKING at the rifle again.

NEVER be 1st in ANYTHING in the army. Cept maybe goin home.

Another good one for the M1 in Fort Ord was ....R U S T !

Damn fog wud rust the rail guides and the hard to get at places.

A #2 lead pencil wud restore GI finish to almost any rust spots.


hmmmm....may be wrong.....I think the 1st 2 guys done got their guns accepted and then the next 50 had to go back and try some more. Then the next 20 were "yes", the next 12..."no"...etc. etc.

Unless the wind was also too much for the non-coms in which case, ALL would be clean enough.


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