Cleaning a firearm

The procedure for cleaning any firearm is essentially the same.  I follow this basic cleaning procedure after every trip to the range. 

1. Make sure the firearm is unloaded!

2. Field strip the gun.
"Field stripping" is disassembling a firearm to a point where all parts critical to its function can be accessed and cleaned.  This procedure varies enormously from gun to gun; consult your owner's manual.  If you don't have one, check out this site.  Basically, when your field stripping is complete, you will usually have separated the barrel from the receiver and gained access to the action.  I also recommend removing the grips on handguns when cleaning, because sometimes cleaning chemicals can damage the plastic or wood finish.

3. Run a wet patch (a patch soaked with solvent) or brush through the bore.
I usually only use patches when cleaning.  Using a bristle brush is only needed occasionally, and use of such a brush too often will do nothing except cause unnecessary wear on your bore.  Also, whenever possible, clean the bore from the breech end rather than the muzzle end.  The reason for this is that the muzzle is the most important part of the barrel for accuracy, and we want to avoid damaging it.

4. Run dry patches (no solvent) through the bore until they come out clean.

5. Run a patch with rust protectant down the bore.

6. Clean all exposed parts of the action, as well as any other internal parts you have access to.
Pay special attention to the chamber, which is often the dirtiest part of the firearm, and the extractor claw, which is often overlooked.

7. Once the internals are clean, lubricate the moving parts.
Your cleaning job will have applied enough residual lube, usually, if you've used a combo product like CLP.  Don't overdo it; excess lubricant will attract grime and grit.  One thing I like to do is put grease on the rails of semi-autos.  I like Tetra Gun Grease for this purpose.

8. Reassemble the gun.

9. Clean and oil the exterior of the firearm.
This can be done with patches, but the best way is really to get some oil on your hands and "make love" to the gun. :)

10. Function check the gun.
To make sure you put everything back together properly. :)  Just work the action, dry fire, etc.

11. Don't forget the magazines.
Clean the followers and feed lips, at least.  To easily get at the feed lips, you can use a pin punch to push down the follower.  Occasionally you should completely disassemble your magazines for cleaning.  This can often be done by sliding off the baseplate.

12. That's it!
Although every 1000 rounds or so you should do a more thorough cleaning than this, this procedure will suffice most of the time.  Don't stress about getting your gun "museum" clean, because the very next time you fire it, it will be dirty again.  Enjoy your beautifully clean gun. :)


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