Clean Gun = Bad


July 14, 2011, 11:38 AM
OK. Iíve been reading several of the forums here for awhile now and keep coming across discussions regarding the cleaning of weapons and how it is/can be bad for the gun. So Iím gonna ask right here, in front of God & everyone, just where did this particular theory/idea/whatever get its start? References, please.

Iíve been shooting for over 40 years, clean my weapons religiously, and ainít wore out a barrel from cleaning it yet. Seems to me that someone either came up with a theory, or employed some smart marketing hype, to get folk all concerned over barrel damage so theyíll immediately run out & buy some gizmo to prevent this.

Now the only way I see crown/land damage possibly occurring from cleaning is the repeated use of GI MILSURP multi-jointed cleaning rods (steel). Manufactured by the lowest bidder these things arenít exactly cutting edge tech, and those joints, unless perfectly aligned, are eventually gonna burnish the muzzle and/or abrade the ends of the lands. Some say that even aluminum rods do the same thing, but from what *Iíve* seen the lands take material off the rods, not the reverse.

Personal experience says the whole thing is a load of hooey. About the only way I know of to really wear out the lands is thousands of rounds, rusting from low or no maintenance, and those steel cleaning rods.

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July 14, 2011, 11:46 AM
I *think* what people mean by overcleaning is something grossly beyond what we could consider a cleaning.

Take for example a match shooter who puts a stiff borebrush through the bore onethousand times a day, regardless whether he has shot or not. Or a daily detail strip with all parts being sonic-cleaned, and then reassembled. [once a day]

We're talking *way* beyond what any normal cleaning would be considered. At least that's what I gathered.

July 14, 2011, 11:51 AM
One possible source of this meme is that improper re-assembly of a firearm can turn a dirty working gun into a clean non-working gun.

Rail Driver
July 14, 2011, 12:07 PM
Or a daily detail strip with all parts being sonic-cleaned, and then reassembled. [once a day]

Don't people use sonic cleaning specifically to avoid parts wear?

July 14, 2011, 12:09 PM
But wouldn't a daily detail strip start wearing out parts that aren't supposed to be constantly removed and replaced? Like I said, this is all hypothesis on my end, here. 8)

July 14, 2011, 12:15 PM
I've never heard that cleaning a gun can be bad. I do know however that over cleaning a gun can be bad. I don't like the idea of putting a chamber brush on a drill as I've heard that some others do. I'm sure that it works great but I just don't like that idea.
The over cleaning that we did (and is probably still done) in the military was simply stupid. In an effort to get every last bit of carbon residue removed we would use Spic & Span, brake cleaner and a host of other products on the weapons. We would take them down much further than you should on a weekly basis and I believe that some of the things that we did led to many of the claims of unreliability in the weapons.

July 14, 2011, 12:22 PM
have been worn out or damaged by neglect than by overzealous cleaning. You are already aware of the potential for damage of a good barrel by use (or misuse) of the wrong tools. Any barrel that can be cleaned from the breech should be, and when the design does not permit that, a muzzle protector should be used. Jointed rods may be convenient in the field, but are a poor choice for standard use - a one-piece steel (or preferably, coated) rod should be used - and it should be properly tempered so that it will not 'take a set' and start to look like a snake. Rods of aluminum, brass or other soft materials may not damage the barrel of themselves, but they do tend to pick up dirt and hard grit, which can embed in the rod and scratch the bore. Always check to see that the rod IS straight, and run your hand over the rod from end-to-end before use - you can feel any irregularities on the surface, which should be removed with a stone or fine file before the rod is used: anything embedded in a plastic-coated rod should be removed by scraping lightly. See that rod-tip accessories are in good condition and straight, and that the joints between the rod and tip are smooth.
The one caveat I would place on the cleaning process is that the gun should not be more completely disassembled than necessary for the level of cleaning needed: an accurate rifle should never be removed from the stock until it becomes necessary due to long use or exposure to severe weather - true match-grade weapons depend on tight fits and close tolerances which do not benefit from repeated and unnecessary dis-assembly.
Avoid over-lubrication and the use of greases unless the manufacturer specifically recommends them: accumulated oil or grease not only collect dust and dirt which can form an abrasive mixture, but some lubricants can oxidize and form a very stiff gum, or even a varnish, which degrades function and can be very difficult to remove.
Use solvents and bore cleaning solutions as recommended by their manufacturer - if using copper solvents with high ammonia content, do not leave them in the bore longer than recommended.
Bronze bore brushes can be helpful in removing accumulated or resistant fouling in the bore, and will not harm the barrel, if properly used: those wound on brass wire are preferrable- keep brushes clean and free from dirt. Apply solvents or oils to the brush by means other than dipping them in the bottle, which only dirties and contaminates the fluid. Avoid the use of stainless brushes in stainless barrels (which can gall, if the steels are incompatible), and resort to them only when attacking truly difficult fouling or rust.
Bristle brushes in various sizes and shapes are a big help in removing accumulated dust and dirt from otherwise difficult spots - clean brushes kept for the purpose can also be used to apply lubricants and preservatives lightly, evenly and effectively in those same, difficult areas.
I've been shooting for more than 50 years, and am a barrel maker, riflesmith and long-time competitor in many shooting disciplines - I hope that is sufficient reference. Evaluated in the light of what you already know, and with reference to standard good maintenance practice for mechanical devices, I think you'll find these recommendations sound.
PRD1 - mhb - Mike

July 14, 2011, 12:29 PM
...where did this particular theory/idea/whatever get its start?
Good, old fashioned gunsmiths, that's where.

At least, I've taken to chatting it up with the old school type gunsmiths anywhere I find them. A lot of their repair work comes to them from a gun owner who was "cleaning" their gun and screwed it up something terrible. If a wise old smith tells you to go easy on that gun of yours, believe him, he's seen a lot of things that you have not.

One gunsmith in my area, looked me in the eye and told me that a good bit of his work is done for gun owners who have no idea how to disassemble their guns. They actually pay him, $20 a pop, to disassemble, clean, and lube their guns. He does this often, and began marketing it after he saw a trend arising. Detail strip, clean & lube... $20. Maybe because they are afraid to open the machine up or maybe they've been there and done that and either couldn't get it back together or they messed it up royally. So they pay him to keep and maintain their guns.

That being said, a good percentage of us gun owners don't need a smith to mount a scope, replace a trigger, install swivel studs, or remove superfluous internals. Those of us who know how to clean, repair, maintain, and use our firearms aren't likely to ruin it when we get to scrubbing on it.

July 14, 2011, 12:32 PM
Agree...people worry too much and are too anal about cleaning. Life's too short for all that nonsense.

July 14, 2011, 12:37 PM
My grandfather taught my dad to clean his guns after each time out shooting, my dad taught me, and ill teach my kids the same.

Seems to be working out pretty well for 3 generations in my family.

July 14, 2011, 12:41 PM
I agree with Nushif. The military teaches overcleaning. They don't care if they damage guns as long as they are clean. They would rather clean places that are entirely inconsequential (The upper receiver behind the gas tube comes to mind) and wear out and bend parts than leave well enough alone.

Owen Sparks
July 14, 2011, 12:53 PM
I sometimes clean guns with Naphthalene which is used to clean up oil based paint. It does a fine job of removing old bullet lube but it also removes all petroleum based oils. If you use something like this you must immediately oil all exposed metal surfaces, especially the bore before putting the gun in storage. It is not the cleaning that causes rust but the fact that it strips away all the protective oil and leaves the metal bare to the elements.

Carl N. Brown
July 14, 2011, 01:03 PM
Most of us have heard or read stories about folks going to a gunsmith with a bag of parts to get their guns reassembled after a first time cleaning session.

Disassembly necessary for routine cleaning is not the same as detailed disassembly such as would be necessary for replacing broken parts. But some folks do that.

Some assemblies are "semi-permanent" assemblies that require specialized tools, slave pins, etc., for reassembly.

July 14, 2011, 01:11 PM
I am not a fanatic about cleaning. I have never noticed it to matter much if you clean it after ever use or infrequently. I've had two firearms that I shot about 500 rounds through and didn't use it, clean it, or lube it for 15 years. After doing so, it was fine. I don't reccomend doing this though.

Flame Red
July 14, 2011, 01:14 PM
My brother-in-law subscribes to this philosophy for his Glocks and S&W M&P's. Not for 1911's or revolvers. Seems that the majority of his IPDA buddies taught him that. I don't get it.

Sav .250
July 14, 2011, 01:31 PM
Look at the Military... If over cleaning was a problem,then everything would be suspect.

July 14, 2011, 01:47 PM
@PRD1 I wasn't asking for references as to experience of a poster, rather, I was hoping someone would refer to an article/website/etc. as to who/what first proposed this idea. Seems to me it's taken on the guise of a myth become accepted as fact.

July 14, 2011, 01:52 PM
I *think* what people mean by overcleaning is something grossly beyond what we could consider a cleaning.


*Exactly, as in "overkill" or "over-loving one's gun/s to death"

Same as being in 'the camp' of "more must be better" vs those of us that understand "less is more"



July 14, 2011, 02:29 PM
My grandfather taught my dad to clean his guns after each time out shooting, my dad taught me, and ill teach my kids the same.

Your grandfather and dad were likely shooting in an era when corrosive primers where much more common - if not the norm. ;)

A lot of the thought that goes into the compulsion to strip down a gun and clean it any time its fired is generation wisdom held over from a time when its required, but much of that isn't applicable in this day and age with the materials we use.

Realistically, if you're not shooting blackpowder or surplus ammo with corrosive primers, there's no need to clean a gun each and every time its shot. You probably won't actually *hurt* the gun by doing so, but you're also not doing a whole lot of good.

Typically, my guns get cleaned when they get wet and obviously rust, or get visibly so dirty that I feel "Its time for a cleaning", which is often 6-8 trips to the range (sometimes more).

I've never had any cleaning related malfunctions or drop in accuracy. The only gun I've ever seen do that didn't belong to me but rather a family member. It was a shotgun that had been used for duck hunting (a PARTICULARLY rough environment) and hadn't been cleaned in YEARS. Probably approaching 100+ trips out, and it still was only occasionally messing up (shell was failing to pop out of the mag tube sometimes when the pump pulled back). After one cleaning its been going for about 3 more years now without any further attention nor hiccups :).

Ole Coot
July 14, 2011, 04:12 PM
I go by experience only excluding getting wet or muddy. After 60 yrs of cleaning them I go by the schudle of "when I think it needs cleaning". It may be after a dusty ATV ride or a rainy hunt. I don't clean my rifle after it has been sighted in until after I am finished for the season. I check my carry weapons more frequently, clean when I think they need it.

July 14, 2011, 04:21 PM
Look at the Military... If over cleaning was a problem,then everything would be suspect.

It is suspect in the military, where overcleaning is a major issue. Any time your idea of "clean" verges onto things like wearing the finish off parts, then cleaning has become pathological in nature. Far too many NCOs in the military confuse parade pretty (and/or arms room inspection pretty) with cleaning a weapon to ensure proper function. And so these half to quarter-wits waste Joe's time making him wear out his weapon in the name of "cleaning" and then don't know much of anything about how to keep their and their troops weapons running downrange when it's for real.

July 14, 2011, 05:26 PM
The old practice of cleaning after use comes from black powder guns, which then continued due to corrosive ammo.

Corrosive residue should be removed from the firearm as soon as possible, leaving it there causes more wear and damage than the wear from cleaning it out.

However most commercial ammo in the US today is not corrosive. Cleaning extensively after every use puts more wear on the gun than waiting.

Some tools and methods of cleaning also are worse than others.
I have seen bore brushes with steel bristles.
Running stiff steel bristles up and down a steel barrel is certainly going to put more wear on the rifling and be worse for the gun than leaving it dirty or cleaning less frequently.
Even many bore brushes with softer bristles often are attached to steel rods. If the rod is coming into contact with the bore during cleaning it can cause excessive wear.

Many guns are likely more worn out from cleaning than from the round count they have shot. How many lead or copper jacketed bullets of relatively soft metal fired down the barrel does it take to equal the wear of one pass with a bore brush?

Larry Ashcraft
July 14, 2011, 05:30 PM
Shotgun chambers will rust and pit if not cleaned after each use, even in this dry climate. It has something to do with the plastic hulls. Other than that, pull a Bore Snake through once in a while and keep the outside wiped down so they don't rust.

I clean the bores of my rifles when the accuracy starts to degrade, which is around 500 rounds in my 17HMR, probably less in the centerfires. I clean and oil rimfire semi autos when they start malfunctioning.

July 14, 2011, 05:37 PM
I started out with the clean frequently after every outing. Then as time went by and life got busier I have settled on: Pistols=every 200 rounds, Rifles=after the last hunting outing of the season, Sporting rifles (AR10 and AR15) every 200 rounds.

July 14, 2011, 06:53 PM
It would seem that nobody here knows the source of the 'myth' - and I sure don't.
I'd suggest that the next time you see such a theory proposed and/or supported in this or any other forum, you ask the poster/proponent himself.
For me, the thrill of guncleaning wore-off some decades ago, but as a workman who knows the value of, and takes pride in his tools, I give them what I consider deserved and proper care. Those who take the time to learn about their tools also learn to care for them as they deserve - you can tell a lot about a man's character by examining the tools he uses.
I belong firmly in the 'proper, necessary care' camp, not the 'obsessive/compulsive', the (not really) 'benign neglect', the 'whenever I get around to it', or the 'now where did I put that thing, and I wonder if it still works?' ones. That way, I am always sure that when I need it, it's good to go.
If it's dirty, clean it. Don't detail strip it if it's not necessary. Learn how to strip and re-assemble it properly, and if you don't know, ask someone who does. Keep it properly lubricated and protected from rust and mechanical damage. Do it that way and, barring accidents, it'll outlast us all.
PRD1 - mhb - Mike

July 14, 2011, 08:10 PM
ive always thought the actual source of the myth comes from old military and black powder guns that were routinely cleaned from the muzzel.often with a dirty metal rod that abraded the rifleing at the muzzel and caused a drop in accuracy.if memory serves me, many rifles were shortened and recrowned to get rid of the last inch or two of barrel that had been damaged by abrasive dirt imbedded in either a wooden rod or a brass one.

July 14, 2011, 08:17 PM
i clean my guns so regularly that i never have to "scrub" them or be hard on them in the slightest

they get cleaned after every shooting session

July 14, 2011, 09:01 PM
they get cleaned after every shooting session

And the one I havnt shot get cleaned when I think they need it.

July 14, 2011, 09:18 PM
yep....i try to clean/oil my unfired guns once a month to just keep up on it is how i see it

July 14, 2011, 09:30 PM
I clean guns after every range session. I paid a lot for them, so I take care of them.

July 14, 2011, 11:48 PM
Thanks everyone for the replies. Looks as if it is one of those "I heard it from so-and-so, who got it from so-and-so", ad nauseum. Not really a big deal, but it bugs me to see specious info being bandied about.

@Mike Yeah, the next time I see that crop up I'll try to find out where the poster got their info from. Hopefully without starting an argument.:D In the meantime I'll just keep on keepin' on.

July 15, 2011, 12:27 AM
It would be pretty nifty to see where that came from. Make sure to repost in here. 8)

But on a related note ...

i clean my guns so regularly that i never have to "scrub" them or be hard on them in the slightest

I really think that is the ideal state in the cleaning of handguns. A little bit of timely maintenance goes a very, very long way, I feel. Even my bores hardly ever see a real copper brush, because I clean them almost immediately.

Owen Sparks
July 15, 2011, 12:35 AM
Residue from modern noncorrosive ammo is in itself fairly harmless. The problem is that in humid enviroments that residue attracts and holds moisture from the air and that moistuer is what promotes rust. Household dust can do the same thing. I once inspected an old muzzel loader that had hung on a wall for years. It had a layer of dust on it and there was a strip of rust running down the top flat of the octagonal barrel where the dust settled and held moisture. The bottom of the barrel was fine.

July 15, 2011, 03:57 PM
I always oil them, which provides rust protection, and generally wipe them clean.
But I don't really consider that a 'cleaning'.
It is the scrubbing of the bore, to remove copper and lead particles every time with non corrosive ammo that is excessive.
Some residue also acts as lubricant itself.
But even if you don't completely clean the bore of all foreign metal some oil to prevent rust is always a good thing.

A completely cleaned gun before oiling is when the metal is in the least protected state. Oil and residue is removed and bare metal is fully exposed to moisture and oxidation.

Cleaning and not completely greasing/oiling the metal is typically more risky for the firearm than not cleaning the firearm each time. So if you are going to clean be thorough when adding protection. Just going through the motions, and stripping away existing protection can be more harmful than helpful.
Likewise partially removing some of the protective finish on a firearm because you have to polish or shine it up or give it a perfectly clean surface every time can do more harm than good. The finish ceases to protect the firearm sooner, and some factory finishes are more durable than what you are likely to replace them with.

Larry Ashcraft said Shotgun chambers will rust and pit if not cleaned after each use, even in this dry climate.

Interesting. Smoothbore shotguns are firearms I do clean the bore of each time, it takes very little effort and imparts very little wear to clean a smooth bore compared to a rifled bore. There is also no lands that will receive most of the friction and wear down disproportionally while trying to perfectly clean out the grooves.

Working with machinery I have found greasy oily and slightly dirty machines far more durable than pristine looking machines. They resist friction, and have barriers to oxidation and moisture and generally stay as they are longer.
There is exceptions though, if you get foreign hard particles on the machine they need to be removed. Likewise metalic flakes or other wear needs to be removed for the same reason.
Sand or dust on a firearm for example would require all the grease and oil the be cleaned off and replaced with sand free oil and grease.
But non corrosive powder residue? That just mixes in with the oil and grease and makes it darker until the next time you clean it off.

It really depends on what you did on your outing.
Someone that just went hunting in the rain or high humidity and barely fired their firearm would be in more immediate need of a cleaning than someone that just went to an indoor range and fired 100 rounds of non corrosive ammo.
Someone that had their firearm picking up dirt or dust or exposed to water even if it was never fired may need an immediate cleaning, while someone that fired numerous rounds may not.
Someone dropping magazines in the dirt and then using them shortly thereafter as in many competitions for example clearly needs to clean the firearm after introducing all those foreign particles to the firearm.

Any firearm that is going to be stored and not likely used or cleaned in the near future also needs a thorough cleaning. People with large collections that may not use a gun again in the near future obviously need to clean it in preparation for storage.

People in humid climates are more vulnerable to moisture and will have oxidation problems from inadequate oiling sooner.
Just as those shooting in a dry dusty environment are more likely to need to clean out sand and dust regularly to prevent friction.
While the person that just took their clean gun, from its clean storage location, and went and shot it indoors in a clean range, and practically never took the firearm outside as many urban shooters do, can be just fine simply oiling it a little each time and cleaning it as needed.

July 16, 2011, 12:11 AM
^ ^ ^
This is the most coherent explanation I have heard to explain why it is not a good idea to [regularly, if ever] spray brake or carb cleaner into a firearm.

July 16, 2011, 12:56 PM
automotive products are made for automobiles....i will never use carb/break cleaner OR wd40 on any of my firearms

some people swear by wd40 - but not this guy. I paid too much for my guns to be cheap about cleaning them! i will stick to products made specifically for firearms

July 16, 2011, 04:09 PM
Take for example a match shooter who puts a stiff borebrush through the bore onethousand times a day, regardless whether he has shot or not. Or a daily detail strip with all parts being sonic-cleaned, and then reassembled. [once a day]

I know of no competitive shooters who have such cleaning regimens.

July 16, 2011, 05:53 PM
Me neither, to be honest. But I am sure there is some afficionado, or tinkerer who does.
Or someone who is really that worried about it not working when they need it.

Takes all types, right?

fireman 9731
July 16, 2011, 06:29 PM
Those of us who know how to clean, repair, maintain, and use our firearms aren't likely to ruin it when we get to scrubbing on it.


I have seen too many marred screw heads, worn muzzles, and scratched finishes to recommend novice gun owners to clean their guns after every use. And I have seen even more people totally degrease their gun, and reassemble with no lube.

I clean my guns when they start to get dirty, I don't apply a round count to it, it might be 200, it might be 2,000. I clean the lint out of my carry gun about once a week, and I clean my milsurps whenever I shoot corrosive ammo.

Guns are tough, they aren't made to be babied. A little dirt wont hurt.

July 16, 2011, 06:48 PM
Heck, some GREAT information here, but I will add in my .02c!

Most Competitive shooters will clean on a "Regimen" based on how many rounds they have down the tube, and when that PARTICULAR tube will begin to degrade in accuracy do to lack of cleaning. They do Not want to get caught in the middle of a long firing string with a bore that has just fouled to the point of accuracy degradation. They do not want to over clean, as this *CAN* potentially cause its own set of problems. Less is more, except when its not enough :)

All that being said, One thing I didn't see is Cold Bore Shots. A well respected competitive shooter taught me that if I take 92% alcohol and swab out my bore real good to get the Oil and Stuff out of it right before I begin shooting, my Cold Bore Shots will become A LOT more consistent. The reason I say 92% alcohol, is because it has less "impurities" and will dry faster, and more consistently.

Have a good one,

July 16, 2011, 08:10 PM
I clean the he#@ out of all my firearms every time I use them and have yet to damage them.
I have developed a method of preventing damage to the bore or crown with those jointed cleaning rods though. I take the shrink to fit wire insulation stuff ( don't remember what it's called) and shrink in around the joints. This prevents the sharp edge of the joint from contacting the bore/crown surface. I do the same wirth the joint area for the bore brush and swab tip.
I look at it this way, if a jacketed or other type projectile traveling at 1000 fps to as much as 3600 fps doesn't destroy the barrel, I don't think a bore brush is going to damage the bore.

July 17, 2011, 04:31 AM
The only exception that I have personally encountered is my Browning Buckmark, which seems to want to have some dirt in it to run well. Right after I clean it, it seems to hiccup some, and when it gets dirty enough to clean it hiccups on me, but in the middle, its smooth sailing. But, this might be a .22lr specific phenomenon.

July 17, 2011, 04:45 AM
Ivdo as my friends dad does. He has been doing it for 20+ years and no problems to date.

After every shooting trip, no matter how many, or few, rounds the guns see. I clean them. This is usually a field strip, with maybe a couple extra things. For example, my handgun, i also take the grips off and clean the moving parts under them, however, i do not remove those moving parts.

He also takes the guns he uses seldom, and cleans them every so often ( 2-3 months i think). I only have 3 guns so far. So its not much of an issue for me. Thy dont go more then 2 months without being used.

July 17, 2011, 08:08 AM
I have never been in the military, BUT...
A soldier depends on his arm. In combat situations the firearm will be subjected to exposure to dust, grit mud, grime, etc. for extended periods of time and fired more than us casual shooters can compare. The soldier must know how to totally disassemble and clean his arm beyond the normal care we expect. A unit armorer will quickly take care of any worn parts. It is tough to compare military use to even the avid shooters situation.
If I am out for an average range session, my arms usually get a bore wipe and wipe down, unless it is particularly dust, etc.
If I am hunting it will get a complete breakdown each time. Brush, exposure to humidity, rain, snow, etc. willl get into the action. Still, the number of times a year that it will get the full treatment will not affect the effective life of the arm (as several of my 3-4 generation arms continue to show).

July 17, 2011, 08:41 AM
Cleaning weapons in the military is as much about discipline as it is about maintenance. In the black powder days cleaning was necessary to forestall corrosion and retain accuracy. Today, with the advent of practically corrosion free powders, primers and jacketed bullets, cleaning is not as important as days of yore. We ex-military types probably clean our guns more than is needed, but I get a sense of satisfaction when I look at a clean gun before I put it in the safe.

Competition shooters clean to preserve accuracy, Bench rest shooters are probably more anal about it. I had an epiphany when I started shooting black powder in my cowboy action guns. After two cylinders of black had found its way down the bore, I found that I had a great deal of difficulty in hitting the targets. Even at close range, accuracy degraded to ridiculous levels unless I cleaned after each stage. I did not use wads under the bullets. Maybe that would have helped.

I clean when I feel like it.

July 17, 2011, 11:42 AM
Ummm..... This thread has kinda meandered off the question I was asking, so I'm gonna nudge it back on course a bit. I'm still trying to find the origin of the "cleaning your gun is bad for the barrel" thing.

Below is an opinion I found at ITS TACTICAL .COM (remember, I was/am asking for references). Not exactly what I was looking for, so I'll keep trying.

Myth #9 – “Guns need to be cleaned every time they are fired.”

Ummm…No! Keep them well lubed and you will be just fine. Modern weapons run like sewing machines for the most part. My days of “white glove” inspections went the way of my 6 pack abs.

They're his guns, so I reckon he can do what he wants with 'em. Mine are staying cleaned & lubed.

July 18, 2011, 01:27 AM

Part of that is every time you go jamming a rod down the barrel, Assuming you jam it down from the muzzle end, you add wear and tear to the Crown. Over time, this can Definitely have an adverse affect on accuracy. Period. This is fact. I use a bore guide and clean from the breach end.

Another part of it is what exactly are you jamming down there? If it is a stainless brush, then yes you can adversely affect the bore itself. In fact, even a good bronze brush might add enough wear to amount to a negative affect.

These are two things that are very much known.


July 18, 2011, 05:44 AM
I like the outside of the gun to look clean so I wipe them down whenever I think about it. I have noticed though, that if I take a clean gun to the range, the first several shots are flyers. The groups seem to get smaller the more rounds you fire. Go figure...

July 18, 2011, 06:25 AM
There was a story somewhere of that Magpul endorsed shooter who has a Bravo Company AR with like ten thousand rounds through it NO CLEANING. Just keeps it wet. No malfunctions yet (aside from a worn out magazine, ammo, non-gun related, etc).
Another guy posted on M4C that did a 2400 round test on his BCM AR with no lube and no cleaning. He didn't have any problems.

I have cleaned them after every range trip or every three months or so, but I think I'll stop.
I'm starting to care less about a scratch or two or a little bit of carbon.
These are tools, they are meant to be used. They get dirty and beat up.
That said, I probably will still baby my 5.7xxx serial number CMP Garand (there were only six thousand Springfields made in that serial range for some reason).

July 18, 2011, 09:41 AM
The only reason I can think of is because if it's clean then you aint shooting it. ala, "Happiness is a warm gun"

July 18, 2011, 09:52 AM
The manual on my new Phantom says clean after every use. I've cleaned my guns after every use for over 49 years. Hard habit to break. Although I do resort to just a snake and a few patches in the bbl. my Glocks lately if I've just fired a few rounds.

July 18, 2011, 10:02 AM
The manual on my new Phantom says clean after every use.

Many car manuals suggest that you do a full walk around, checking all lights, wipers, etc each time prior to getting into the car. That doesn't mean anyone does it. Most gun manuals also explicitly state that you should not fire handloads too. Manuals are written in CYA mode; the lawyers have to have something to do.

As said, cleaning after every use is mostly a left-over habit from when it WAS necessary. It doesn't hurt anything if you feel a compulsion to do so, but it's simply not a big issue unless you're veering off the beaten path into things like surplus corrosive ammo or black powder (in which case "classic" shooting styles require classic maintenance :)).

Cop Bob
July 18, 2011, 11:37 AM
I have recently started shooting some BPCR, They get cleaned religiously... 1st HOT Water, then Ballistol, not too heavy on the bore brush, good wipe down...

My small bore rifles that have high MV's like my 17 Rem, 220 Swift, they get mopped and Butches Bore Shine fairly often... like every 20-30 rounds,,, I go after them with a copper fouling agent like Butches about every trip out

My .308 Tight Neck, it gets a mopping with a bore snake fairly often, every 20 rounds or so... I pull the copper out of the bore every range trip too, then a fouling shot, light wipe down with Ballistol and back in the case with several decedent packs...

My Pistols,,, oh, heck, my carry gun, I will break them down, take a bit of Ballistol and dab it here and there, use compressed air to blow the dust bunnies out of them. after a Qualification, or a trip to the country after a box or two, I may run a Bore snake through them.. Heavy bore cleanings, not that often.

When I was shooting PPC and had a 500 Round a week practice routine, I used to pull the grips off of them every six months whether they needed it or not. I would drop it in an ultra sonic cleaner full of good old Hoppies #9 and run them for a few hours, pull them out and blow them out with compressed air. Once a year, at end of season, it would de-lead the bore with a bath of pure mercury to amalgamate all the lead off the forcing cones, cylinder face and bore... some people would FREAK at that today, but hey, it works! the lead would float the to top, and you just skimmed it off.. Looked like a new bore.. Today I'm a little more green, I use butches bore shine, a Lewis Lead Removal tool, and A LOT of elbow grease... Those old wad guns did seem to shoot tighter with a bit of lead in the tube..

I still get some older 30 Ball that is corrosive that I shoot in my old Lee Enfields and Garands, they get a cleaning right then, as I never know how long they may be back in the safe..

It all depends on the gun, and If it is going back into storage for a bit...

I too am not a fan of WD-40, it does an OK job, but it tends to be a dust collector, where good old Hoppes, is not...

Not a fan of Break Free.. it is fine on actions, and bolts, but I have had competition guns that I used Break Free as a bore cleaner, and the group size doubled,, and took 2-300 rounds to wear the stuff out of the bore, to where it would start grouping again... Proves it a great lube.. but a bit too slick and sticky for the bore...

If you are not familiar with Ballistol, I would look it up and give it a try, stinks, but it is a rust killer/controller from hell... Black Powder guys swear by it, and it makes a good storage oil and general lube.. Shines up real Purdy too... (purdy.. E-Tx lingo for Pretty)

July 18, 2011, 02:26 PM
It is a load of hooey. I suppose a dirty gun does not have to be a bad thing. But a clean gun is always a good thing.

July 18, 2011, 03:58 PM
I do not clean my service rifles except during the end of the season. they function fine and a few hundred rounds is not going to affect that. Removing them from the stock creates more problems than the lack of a cleaning.

What is a definite possibility is the damaging of the muzzle from over cleaning using low quality tools and a lack of care.

That said, no one left my range during semi annual qualifications until the handguns were cleaned.

July 18, 2011, 07:27 PM
I'll wipe down the exterior of my guns and clean any crud from the action and may lightly oil them if necessary, but I refuse to clean a barrel until accuracy begins to drop off. If it gets wet, 1 pass through with a bore snake is fine to get out any moisture. When I notice my groups getting larger then it is time for a thorough cleaning of the barrel.

Rifles will almost always shoot more accurately with a fouled barrel and are usually good for several hundred rounds before they need cleaning. Many need 10-20 rounds through a clean barrel before they will shoot to their accuracy potential.

I usually clean my hunting rifles really good once late each summer. I then will make a couple of range trips just to be sure everything is still right before hunting season, but don't clean them again until after the season ends. Spring and early summer are when I shoot the most at the range working on loads and practicing. I clean them as needed.

The military has different needs. A soldier could go through several hundred rounds in just a few minutes if the SHTF. They are also often in the field in situations where their guns are exposed to a lot more dirt and grime than most hunting rifles. Keeping it as clean as possible under those conditions is a good idea.

July 18, 2011, 11:56 PM
I think I have my answer now, it was just a matter of using the right search terms.

"Contact between brush tips and the bore can scratch or gall the bore ruining accuracy. Use a muzzle guide or bore guide to prevent this. Our one piece coated cleaning rods prevent scoring of the bore caused by contact between the cleaning rod and the bore. Protect your investment by purchasing quality cleaning products."

J. Dewey Mfg. (Gun cleaning products)

This one details the “proper” way to clean a gun. There were others, but why bother?

Looks like my initial surmise was correct, smart marketing.

July 19, 2011, 11:13 PM
1. If you want to kill a man, shoot him with a .45; if you want to just wound him, shoot him with a 9mm. He was in WWI, and was familiar with the effects of both.
2. If you clean that rifle, you wonít kill another squirrel with it until you get it good and dirty again.

I think he was right; and the reason I say this is because I cleaned that rifle and couldnít kill another squirrel or rabbit with it for a good eight months.

Back in the early sixties I bought a Ruger Mk I at the local five and dime; T.G.&Y, or Woolworths, I donít recall. I think it cost fifty, almost sixty dollars back then, which was a lot of money. I still own that same gun and have only cleaned it three times in about fifty years.

Once it fell in the hog pen and sank, except for the tip of the barrel. I wiped it off and it still shot okay, but it smelled so bad my wife told me to get that gun out of the house until I cleaned it.

The second cleaning was because I lost it in a snow bank and couldnít find it until the snow melted enough and I was so happy to find it, I gave it a good cleaning.

And, the third time I cleaned it gratuitously, it was just a cleaning for all the good service over the years.

I can understand and sympathize with other peopleís point of view on cleaning their guns; itís a very personal subject that can be filled with a great deal of angst and anxiety and worry. What I donít understand is the mindset of having to buy a ďsafeĒ to keep your guns in, and then having to clean them every time they come out of the safe.

What I would suggest for the angst ridden is to take a gun out of their ďsafesĒ, throw it in the mud, pick it up and wipe it off and then shoot it and return it to the ďsafeĒ. If you canít do thatÖ. what can I say. At least Iíve cleaned my gun three times. Itís kind of like ďVolvo bashingĒ, which is very therapeutic.

P.S. In case you were wondering; the Ruger came out of the snow bank after a month and a half with very little rust because it was well oiled.


July 21, 2011, 02:57 AM
I dirty gun is a degrading gun. If we don't keep them clean we are in effect excellerating the wear and reliable function of the weapon at an excellerated rate. Other than common grit and dust, there is the build up of copper or lead and residue that will rather quickly begin to change the dimensions of the barrel and chamber which can, and most likely will, cause pressures to be higher than normal for any given round. A dirty gun can cause the barrel and chamber to buldge, scratch, and in some firearms can fracture forcing cones and throats with ammunition that would other wise produce SAMMI approved pressures. There is also the wear on lugs and other working parts that need to remian clean like timing hands, extractors, stars, lugs ands lug recessions, and just about any other moving part that needs to be within tollerances established as maximum allowable.
I've also heard the myth that over cleaning your firearms will excelerate wear. I find it almost humurous to think that a bore brush is capable of damaging a barrel capable of withstanding extreme velocity of a copper jacketed projectile being damaged by a core brush. Yes, improper cleaning with a cleaning rod can deffinitly damage a barrel if the threaded joints or other contact points are not protected from scraping the barrel while running it through. I use a shrink to fit insulation used for electrical wire the perfect solution for preventing sharp parts of the rod or cleaning tip from scratching or contacting the barrel or chamber.

July 21, 2011, 06:23 PM
Hmm, I know I would definitely bring more guns to the range or shoot some of them more often if I didn't have to worry about cleaning them to NIB condition.

Of course, now that I reload, shooting a couple hundred lead rounds loaded with Bullseye powder tends to really filthy up a revolver. Remember "Harry the Dirty Dog" story? When he turns from a white dog with black spots to a black dog with white spots? That is what my revolvers look like after a good workout at the range, and the trigger starts to get a little gummy sometimes as well.

On the other hand, I imagine that a semi auto could run a long time being kept oiled enough.

The 22lr comment seems true. I cleaned a 22 bolt and the first 20 or 30 rounds weren't really going according to plan, and then it settled in and was ringing the groundhog metal target the rest of the day. Maybe I was just getting warmed up, but come to think of it...

July 27, 2011, 11:33 PM
Here's an interesting link and quote:

"We have run a number of guns to over 15,000 rounds without cleaning—or malfunctions—as long as they were kept well lubricated."

In case anyone is interested,


VT Deer Hunter
July 29, 2011, 05:16 PM
Over cleaning is what is seems like it would be. I every so often oil my gun and i clean it after shooting.

July 29, 2011, 05:52 PM

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