New Thoughts on Gun Cleaning


June 17, 2010, 01:34 AM
I used to be the type who cleaned his weapon every time he shot it whether it was one shot or 100. However, the past year I have been shooting with a guy who has at least 200 guns and rifles of every type you can imagine. Many of them are very expensive and/or rare pieces. He has been shooting for 40 years and been in the gun manufacturing business. He rarely cleans his guns and they function just fine and are extremely accurate. He is an expert shot so that helps. He has one Dan Wesson 1911 that he has not cleaned in 10 years and it is a tack driver. His Marlin 39A was just cleaned recently after it started malfunctioning, but it had been several years and thousands of rounds since its last cleaning. He does wipe down his weapons to preserve the finish and uses Rem Oil occasionally to lubricate, but I have yet to see him actually clean a gun.

I have completely changed my way of thinking when it comes to cleaning. I think most people clean way too much and probably shorten the life of their weapons in the process. I used to dread shooting more than one gun at a time because I knew how much time it would take to clean each gun I took to the range. It is very liberating to put my guns away after a simple wipe down, and I shoot much more since I changed my cleaning philosophy. Of course, my ammo budget has taken a huge hit! What say you?

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June 17, 2010, 01:39 AM
I'm a cleaning nut but your viewpoint is valid. It's better not to clean than to wear out your gun cleaning it.

Thanx, Russ

June 17, 2010, 01:42 AM
I went to the range last week and took two 1911s and a Glock. I don't mind cleaning them cause they're fairly easy. But revolvers are a pain, as are some long guns.

I'll continue to clean them after every range trip, though. Just because. For the same reason I never dry fire. It's just the way I was raised.

June 17, 2010, 01:50 AM
pardon my ignorance, but how are revolvers a pain? i would think they would be the simplest ones to clean.

June 17, 2010, 01:53 AM
More holes to clean. More solvent. More scrubbing. More patches. With the glock you just pull the barrel and clean it. With a revolver you clean the barrel, cylinder 1, cylinder 2, cylinder 3, etc. Plus the brush that is the correct diameter for the barrel is too small for the cylinder.


fireman 9731
June 17, 2010, 01:53 AM
The only guns I clean every time I shoot them are my Mosins, and thats only because I shoot corrosive ammo most of the time.

The others only get it when they need it... which is usually less than once a year.

I do wipe everything down after I shoot it, and I have a tendency to lubricate frequently. But lubricating is not cleaning.

Tim the student
June 17, 2010, 02:13 AM
Most guns of mine don't get cleaned totally after they are used.

However, when I last shot my AR I put it away dirty. I pulled it out this morning, and decided to give it a quick wipe down before I went and shot today, and found a tiny bit of corrosion. I attribute this to the fouling drawing in some moisture and sitting there for too long - but I may be mistaken. I will now be doing at least a quick wipedown when I get back from the range. I'm unhappy with my self created situation to say the least. Thankfully, that was the only gun that had any issues.

On the upside, I shot some great groups with it today, and got some info I needed to go shoot some prairie dogs in a couple weeks.

Just One Shot
June 17, 2010, 08:43 AM
I will continue to clean mine, especially the ones I CC. Taking them down for cleaning also allows me to check for any potential problems.

It's better to find them at home than to have some kind of failure when you need it the most.

The only ones I'll skip the cleaning for any period of time is my .22 rifles. It's not likely that they would ever be used in a SD situation anyway.

It's kind of like buying a new car. It may still run if you never wash it or change the oil but, if you maintain it, it will perform to it's fullest capability.

Besides, stripping down and cleaning a firearm is considered therapeutic to some people.

Lee Roder
June 17, 2010, 08:56 AM
Besides, stripping down and cleaning a firearm is considered therapeutic to some people.

I like taking things apart and reassembling them and trying to understand why the parts were designed in the particular way they were. Plus I love the smell of turpentine.

June 17, 2010, 09:13 AM
I think that defensive weapons should always be kept clean, just to be prudent if nothing else, but range-only weapons can go for some time without cleaning, sure.

The Bushmaster
June 17, 2010, 09:37 AM
The bore brush is too small for the cylinders? Hummm. Never noticed that before. What size brushes are you using anyway? Say for a .38 caliber revolver.

I like clean guns. I clean after all range trips. I do not find it a chore unless you want to call it a chore of love. Besides I clean my guns while I'm preping brass for the next range trip. No big deal...

Rail Driver
June 17, 2010, 09:42 AM
a .38 bore brush will brush the bore of the barrel but it won't fully contact the cylinder because the cylinder is sized to the case rather than the bullet. A .40S&W brush works great for a .38/.357 cylinder if you're having extraction or insertion problems due to fouling. (.40 brush is NOT for use in the barrel, however)

Old Shooter
June 17, 2010, 09:49 AM
Other than buggered up screw heads and idiot marks I can't see how you would wear out your gun by cleaning it. Unless you're cleaning the bore from the muzzle with a rat-tail file it seems pretty straight-forward. Personally I wipe mine down good after each session and on a slow day I'll take one down for a thorough detail cleaning. Each of my guns get this detail cleaning once or twice a year. I can't imagine anything I do, even on the detail cleaning that will wear out any of my guns.

Mayby you're talking about the Tupperware guns? :)

June 17, 2010, 10:15 AM
Coat hanger & Dowel Rod cleaning rods will wear out the rifling at the muzzle very quickly. Many, many muzzleloaders had worn muzzles and it was common practice to cut an inch and a half to two inches, to bring accuracy back.

Steel used for barrels usually is not a very hard or heat treated steel like a hardened tool, ie; knife, axe, ect.

And yes there are a lot of idiots out there doing and using the above, folks here by and large are enthusiasts and generally know what the're doing, emphasis on generally.

June 17, 2010, 12:08 PM
I generally clean and lubricate (as needed) everything except the barrel every time I shoot. I want my firearms, ESPECIALLY ones designated for SD, in the best working condition possible. If it's humid, has recently rained, the barrel gets cleaned too. I'm paranoid about moisture being trapped under the fouling and pitting the barrel. But I can definitely see how cleaning the barrel too often can wear it more quickly, especially if you are making a lot of passes with the brushes.

I use Otis, which I feel allows you to make a much tighter patch, and try to soak the barrels overnight to get as much penetration as possible so I don't have to make as many passes with the brushes. I also have been using Gunzilla for the past year and have to say that I am very impressed. The first time I used it on each gun, I cleaned those bores FOREVER until there was literally nothing left on the patch (as per the instructions). Since then, whatever coating the Gunzilla has left behind in the bore has really helped in getting those barrels clean much more quickly than when I was using Hoppe's. And I can clean them right in the house and around the kids since it's non-toxic and doesn't smell like hell (to my wife...I'd use it as air freshener in my car if I could!).

I remember reading an article in American Rifleman...probably within the last year...where the author stated that he never cleaned his barrels until accuracy started to suffer. I believe he quoted one of the testers at Sierra as stating that he did not detect diminishment of accuracy until about 500 rounds or so.

Still...I don't want pitting in my bores! Does anyone know how easily moisture can be trapped under fouling? I'm not talking if you're shooting or hunting in the rain...just your average humid summer day.

June 17, 2010, 01:08 PM
The only guns I clean after each range visit are the ones that shot corrosive ammo and SD guns. Everything else is two or three sessions between cleanings, those I just wipe down with an oil cloth. When I do clean however it's thorough, stem to stern. I've followed that regimen for 40+ years with nary a problem.

June 17, 2010, 01:57 PM
I used to clean them like mad, too, but have gone to wiping them and then using a brush to get the worst carbon off, and then I stick them back into the holster.
The only time they get a real cleaning is when I really feel I need the therapy.

June 17, 2010, 02:23 PM
I also used to clean obsessively (old army habits hard to break). I still do clean 'em a lot, nine out of 10 times after every range trip, but I don't spend so much time fanatically getting every last scrap of carbon off of there.

June 17, 2010, 03:09 PM
It's not the cleaning that does damage, it's the improper techniques and/or equipment.

Regardless, a blued gun will need to be wiped down every time after being handled, as observed by the OP.

June 17, 2010, 03:21 PM
Quote: by harmonic
"With the glock you just pull the barrel and clean it..."

You clean your Glock...? :eek:

Quote: by Old Shooter
"Mayby you're talking about the Tupperware guns?"

Tupperware makes guns now...? :what:

Quote: by Kwanger
"I also used to clean obsessively (old army habits hard to break)"

+1...yep...I know a little about that, too...Back in the day, every time the weapons were drawn and left the premises for whatever reason, we cleaned them for three days afterwards. I quickly learned that the armorer wouldn't pass them for cleanliness until the last day, regardless. Proved that many times by cleaning the first day, and then on 2nd & 3rd day doing nothing to the rifle( 1911, and M-60 as well) but sit around until time to have them inspected...Of course, you have to clean them right the first time to get away with that. Point being, I know if my gun is clean or not. I generally clean them after each use. The Glocks can get away with less scrubbing, but I really believe that all of them should be wiped down regularly, as a rule. You can't really "over clean" them, but you can waste a lot of time. :rolleyes:

The Bushmaster
June 18, 2010, 08:58 AM
FuzzyTGF...If a .40 caliber brush will harm the bore of a .38 caliber then, in turn, it will harm the cylinder where it tapers down at the mouth. Your theory holds no water. Bore brushes are made of Phosphorus bronze and in no way can harm bore or cylinder. Unless you are talking about the stainless steel brushes and I don't own any...

Rail Driver
June 18, 2010, 11:20 AM
*shrug* I had .357 that had cylinders that didn't taper. A .40cal brush worked just fine to clear sticky cylinders when inserted from either the breech end or the muzzle end (not through the barrel).

I wasn't aware that .38 cylinders had a taper, but in that case, just make due with a .38 bore brush.

Or you could use q-tips, or patches, or ... or... or...

As far as bore brushes causing harm to bores or not... lead for bullets is much softer than the chrome or steel bore... Copper jacketing is softer than chrome or steel... Brass cleaning rods are softer... yet they all have the potential to cause harm to the bore. The same holds true for bore brushes.

June 18, 2010, 12:15 PM
"Brass cleaning rods are softer... yet they all have the potential to cause harm to the bore. The same holds true for bore brushes."

Well... no. Cleaning rods can damage the crown, not the bore. Even thought brass (& aluminum) is softer than steel it can still act as an abrasive and alter the profile of the crown edge and effect accuracy.

A bronze brush doesn't have the same effect.

June 18, 2010, 11:07 PM
Well maybe depends how you shoot. We that are involved in IPSC, IDPA who shoots almost 500 rounds at least a month will have problems if we don't clean our weapons. Specially on a precision 1911.

The Bushmaster
June 19, 2010, 09:05 AM
On the other hand, I have never seen a modern revolver that didn't narrow down at the mouth of the cylinder and I have Colts, Rugers and S&Ws...

June 19, 2010, 09:14 AM
The military instilled it in me, I clean my "important" weapons thoroughly after a range trip. Those would be anything related to self-defense. This includes my AR15, my .45, and my .380 pocket rocket.

A range gun, in particular my Ruger 10/22, gets cleaned sometime around 5,000 rounds. I also have a .22LR conversion for a Beretta 92 that I shoot until it decides to quit working completely.

But do keep in mind, whether I clean them every visit or not, they all are slathered inside and out with CLP.

June 19, 2010, 08:02 PM
I clean my defensive pistol every range session.

My K-22, it gets cleaned every other range session....basically I shine a light down the barrel, and if there is no shine to the inside, it gets cleaned.

June 19, 2010, 08:43 PM
He rarely cleans his guns and they function just fine and are extremely accurate.
He does wipe down his weapons to preserve the finish and uses Rem Oil occasionally to lubricate, but I have yet to see him actually clean a gun.

That's how I roll, except when shooting corrosive ammo.

I clean my defensive pistol every range session.

The other exception. Since I invariably carry guns that are very small for their caliber, the is not a lot of margin for error in their function.

more forty fives
June 19, 2010, 09:03 PM
I clean after every trip to the range but I do have one gun that has never had a patch down the barrel.When I was 13 years old my father gave me my first gun a bolt action .22 that I still have.At the time my uncle told me you never clean the barrel on a .22 and I never did.Any one else ever hear that?

June 19, 2010, 10:08 PM
I've never heard that....I know if I do not clean my K-22, I get ejection problems as well as caking around the forcing cone. The extreme cases I'll actually have my supporting hand get hit with cake fragments that are blown loose by shooting. I discovered the cake during a full-day range session....somewhere around round 400 (guesstimate based on a 525rd Federal box) or so I had to stop and give it a full-cleaning.

Since my typical range session with it is about 140 rounds, every other session works fine, as range trip #3 would have some problems at the tail end of it otherwise.

For my defensive's a subcompact 9mm. It works just fine even when incredibly dirty (as in needing to soak the slide in Hoppes for 15 mins kind of dirty), however I don't feel like betting on feeds and feels so much better when clean.

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