Gun Cleaning

Cancel That Crud: Give Your Cleaning Some Clout!

It astonishes me how dogmatic shooters are about gun cleaning. There are lots of products and lots of cleaning schedules, and they mostly all work. Most shooters, in my opinion clean, too much, too little, or they worry about the wrong things. The outside of a slide doesn’t need lube, but the rails do. I’ll admit others may disagree with my cleaning approach. Not only do I not clean a gun after every use, I would never consider taking a freshly cleaned gun to a match, or carrying one for personal defense.

When I was shooting competitively my schedule was 200 rounds a day, 5 days a week. I applied fresh lube at the start of every session. I find completely disassembling for cleaning every day unnecessary. If anything, it increases wear on closely fitted parts. Today I’d probably pull a BoreSnake through the barrel at the end of every practice session, but we didn’t have them back then.

On Saturday I’d fieldstrip and clean the pistol, and on Sunday I’d reload a thousand rounds. A couple of days before major matches I’d detail-strip the pistol (including magazines), meticulously clean with solvents, brushes, and Q-tips and carefully examine every component. After reassembly and lubing I’d then fire 50 to 100 rounds with match ammo to confirm sighting and as a final function check.

After a shooting session with a carry/home-defense gun (using lower-priced ammo such as Black Hills “Blue Box”) I generally clean the gun at the range. After lubing/reassembly I’ll shoot the two magazines of high performance defense ammo carried in the gun, as a final check on function and sighting, then reload the magazines with the same ammo brand.

But a freshly cleaned gun works better you say! No it doesn’t — and it might not work at all. Of course you and I are far too smart to reinstall a part incorrectly, or to over-tighten a grip screw so the magazine won’t drop freely, right? But maybe a bristle from the cleaning brush, or a scrap from a cleaning patch, got lodged in the firing pin channel, or fell into the lock-work. Ridiculous you say? You’re 99.9 percent certain it could never happen? Shoot the gun and be 100 percent certain.
By Dave Anderson

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July/August 2012

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