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Clean Gun = Bad

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by RaceM, Jul 14, 2011.

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  1. RaceM

    RaceM Member

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    OK. I’ve 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 I’m gonna ask right here, in front of God & everyone, just where did this particular theory/idea/whatever get its start? References, please.

    I’ve been shooting for over 40 years, clean my weapons religiously, and ain’t 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 they’ll 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 aren’t 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 *I’ve* 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.
     
  2. Nushif

    Nushif Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  3. rodregier

    rodregier Member

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    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.
     
  4. Rail Driver

    Rail Driver Member

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

    Nushif Member

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    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)
     
  6. Patriotme

    Patriotme Member

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    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.
     
  7. PRD1

    PRD1 Member

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    More good guns...

    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
     
  8. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  9. youngda9

    youngda9 member

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    Agree...people worry too much and are too anal about cleaning. Life's too short for all that nonsense.
     
  10. NMBrian

    NMBrian Member

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    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.
     
  11. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    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.
     
  12. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    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.
     
  13. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    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.
     
  14. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Member

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    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.
     
  15. Flame Red

    Flame Red Member

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    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.
     
  16. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

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    Look at the Military... If over cleaning was a problem,then everything would be suspect.
     
  17. RaceM

    RaceM Member

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    @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.
     
  18. Lonestar49

    Lonestar49 Member

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    +1 *

    ...

    *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"

    OMMV,


    Ls
     
  19. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    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 :).
     
  20. Ole Coot

    Ole Coot Member

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    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.
     
  21. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    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.
     
  22. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    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?
     
  23. Larry Ashcraft

    Larry Ashcraft Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  24. doorman

    doorman Member

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    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.
     
  25. PRD1

    PRD1 Member

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    RaceM:

    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
     
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