How to Clean a Gun

How to Clean a Gun

There are many ways to clean a gun but the basics are all the same. You clean the action and then the barrel or bore. It’s pretty straight forward however some actions are somewhat complicated like the AR-15. Disassembly of the AR-15 bolt group may need some instruction. Some handguns like the Ruger 10/45 .22 caliber pistol are difficult to field strip and/or put back together. Always prepare yourself before jumping in.

  1. Remove the magazine and/or ammunition from the chamber. Make sure the gun is empty and safe to field strip. Do not leave ammunition out where you are cleaning your gun. Put it away.
  2. Field strip the gun and layout the parts on a clean light colored cloth or towel. Use a light colored cloth so that you can see any small parts. Dark colored gun cleaning mats or cloths will make it difficult to see small metal parts like springs or pins.
  3. Use a good quality gun cleaner, gun solvent or CLP to clean your gun. Make sure you follow the instructions on the bottle. You will also need swabs, gun cleaning patches, gun cleaning rod or boresnake, bore brush, bore jag, nylon and bronze utility brushes and some small rags. I use old cotton socks for rags. I use them to wipe off carbon and dirt after the gun cleaner has soaked in.
  4. Start by first applying gun cleaner (like M-Pro7 Gun Cleaner) to all of the gun parts such as bolt, receiver, chamber, bore, etc. You can spray it on or wet a small cloth and apply to the metal surface. Run several wet patches through the bore to get it good and wet with a gun cleaning rod and patch jag or bore mop. Use loose fitting patches for this. Tight fitting patches will wipe away most of the gun cleaner. You want the bore to be wet. Let everything soak for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Use a nylon utility brush to scrub all small parts and the bolt along with the interior of the receiver if possible. If the nylon brush does not remove the carbon use a bronze phosphor brush. If there is no carbon fouling then the nylon brush will work perfectly. After you’re done scrubbing, wipe off everything with a clean cotton cloth or rag.
  6. Use a good quality gun oil or gun lubricant to lubricate and protect all of the parts that you just cleaned with gun cleaner or solvent. Apply a wet coat of oil to all metal surfaces. Now wipe off all excess oil with a clean dry cloth. Try to wipe off as much as you can. You ideally want a really thin film of oil. If you are using a CLP in step 4 like BreakFree CLP, then you can skip this lubrication step.
  7. Now you can clean the bore. Push an appropriate size bore brush through the bore 5-10 times (back and forth) while the bore is wet with cleaner. Now push a tight fitting wet patch from the chamber to the muzzle. I do not use dry patches until the bore is clean. I keep pushing wet patches through the bore after I use a bronze phosphor brush. Perform this 2 step process, brush then wet patch, until the patches come out fairly clean or totally clean depending on your preference. Remember…it’s only necessary to clean a gun until accuracy and reliability are restored. A gun does not have to be Absolutely Spotless Clean.
  8. Once the bore is clean, run 2 or 3 dry patches through the bore to remove the gun cleaner. Now wet a patch with gun oil or gun lubricant and push it down the bore slowly. You want the bore to get wet with oil. Now run 2 tight fitting dry patches through the bore to remove excess oil or lubricant. Gun oils and gun lubricants work best when they are applied in a micro-thin film. If there is a thick layer of oil on the gun, it will not only collect dirt but also increase friction. Here’s how you know when you have a super thin film of oil….“if you think you removed too much oil, you have just the right amount.” So always wipe as much oil/lube off as you can. Remember it’s not possible to remove all of the oil/lube with just a dry cloth. It takes a cleaner to remove all traces of oil.
  9. Now you can reassemble your gun.