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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:32 pm 
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Like anything mechanical, firearms require a modicum of maintenance. Now, asking opinions on the "right" way to clean a gun will vary as much as asking someone what the "best" car is. There are a lot of answers, and many of them have merit, but what fits you best is really up to you.

Rather than try be an encyclopedia, this post is going to reference and link to a variety of methods to clean your guns.

First, guns need cleaning. The oil and sweat from your hands, dust and particles from the environment, water, chemicals left over from powder and primers, and residue from bullets all dirty up your gun. If these are left to soil your firearm, you are likely reducing it's useful life and the pretty, pretty finish. (well, unless it's an AK..... :D )

Some people will admonish you not to clean your guns too often. This has merit, within reason. Two things to avoid are:
Scrubbing your barrel unnecessarily
- This can prematurely wear out your barrel rifling, the chamber throat or the crown of the muzzle.
Over Oiling
- This can attract dirt and grime, and cause your gun to get dirtier faster.

What is too much oil or too much barrel scrubbing? That depends on the type of firearm, how it's used, and what your expectation of it is. A 600 meter benchrest shooter will have different cleaning thresholds than a hunter. A .22 semi-auto rimfire gets the gun dirty in different ways than a bolt action .308, or a single shot .50 BMG. A carry gun requires different considerations than a safe queen. Check out the internet, there are lots of opinions on how to best clean your particular gun.

When you clean your gun, look at the directions of the product you are using. Many call for ventilation and other safety precautions. Follow them! Many of these substances are toxic and/or caustic. I have a friend who lost some of his sense of smell by taking a big whiff of some super scrubber when he first opening it.

Outers, who makes gun cleaning products, recommends the following:

Q: How Do You Clean A Gun?
A: Cleaning a gun is a seven-step process:

1. Make Sure Firearm is Unloaded.

2. Run a solvent soaked brush through the barrel a few times.

To start the rod & brush through the barrel, grasp the rod near the rod tip section to get it started. Then push with the rod handle making sure to keep the rod at a straight angle with the gun barrel. Keeping the rod at a straight angle is especially important when using the Universal Kit rod (a .22 cal. rod) and when cleaning a .22 cal. rifle. Because of the small diameter of the .22 cal. aluminum rod.

3. Remove brush and attach a tip. Add the patch and saturate it with solvent and work back and forth through the barrel. Make sure patch is snug in the barrel.

Some customers prefer using the swab or mop instead of a patch.

Check the bore with an Outers Bore Checker. If traces of metal fouling or lead flaking are visible, repeat steps 2 & 3.

4. Use a dry patch to remove solvent.

5. Clean action, slide mechanism or bolt with patches and solvent and wipe dry. For revolvers, clean each cylinder chamber from the rear with solvent, brush and patches. Pay special attention to forward ends of the cylinder chambers where fouling collects.

6. After all parts have been thoroughly cleaned, run clean patch saturated with either gun oil or Tri-Lube through the barrel making sure all surfaces are lightly coated. (Tri-Lube is a lubricant and protects against rust as well as cleans and degreases.) Oil the revolver cylinders very sparingly. Apply gun oil or Metal Seal to all exterior metal surfaces. Wipe of excess.

7. Before firing the gun after cleaning, run enough patches through the bore and chamber to remove any grease or oil present.


Here are some different thoughts on gun cleaning in general:

Chuck Hawks thoughts on gun cleaning

The Otis Company thoughts on how to clean different types of guns

How to clean a Glock


Of course, this topic has come up a number of times on these forums. Here are some recent related links:

What's a good cleaning kit?

Should I clean my gun before I use it the first time?

Some thoughts on cleaning AR-15 style rifles can be found here and here.

Black powder cleaning thoughts

What are my thoughts? I know I clean barrels a lot less than I used to, which was every shooting session. How often I clean the barrel depends on my accuracy expectation. What I do do is wipe down guns after every firing session. For .22's I like BreakFree CLP and Q-tips. I wipe down the gunk from the action. I do the same with ARs and semi auto pistols. For revolvers I use Hoppe's #9 (love that smell!) to wipe down the black gas marks. AK and SKS rifles get a shot of RemOil sprayed in the action if only to prevent rust. Bolt, lever and single shot rifles just get wiped down with a patch or rag with a bit of oil (RemOil or whatever I have around) before I put 'em back in the safe. Same with shotguns.

As mentioned, everybody has different thoughts on cleaning. Feel free to reply to this thread if you'd like to share yours, or would like to highlight a place on the internet that has good tips.

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Last edited by PistolPete on Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:37 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:01 pm 
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Damn, nice write up PistolPete. I was talking to some people the other day about weapons maintenance and they wanted something like this to read. I'm going to print this off and give it to them. Thanks!

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:05 pm 
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Very nice

I would add that there are non-toxic products that work very well

If you are like me and you spend a lot of time working on weapons you should be smart about the chemicals (and PPE) you use

I use SLIP2000 for everything and I still wear nitrile gloves

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:09 am 
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We might ought to sticky this. Just a thought from up here in the peanut gallery.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:47 am 
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If I may add my 2 cents on this one . . .

I don't think wear of the rifling is a significant concern if you use modern brass-bristled brushes that are sold with most cleaning kits. The brass is supposed to be softer than the rifling. However, attaching them to a power source like a cordless drill is not a good idea in the bore. Also, don't reverse directions with the brushes while in the barrel - it's hard on both the rifling and on the brush.

With both brushes and patches, PULLING is better than PUSHING through the barrel. Compact cleaning kits come with a flexible cable instead of cleaning rods. Rods can also damage the crown of the muzzle (the very tip of the rifling on the business end) which will affect accuracy.

If you use Q-tips, be sure not to stick them anywhere you can't see them (just like on your body) - tiny bits of cotton can be pulled off. Pipe cleaners are a good substitute.

I will second the well-ventilated area with solvents - however, ALL of them will stain so put down a drop-cloth to protect carpet, tables, etc. I have also found that, after applying solvents, walk away and let the stuff do its job; don't just apply it and then wipe it off. This has also helped me to get frozen parts unstuck.

Solvents and lubricants both can stain wood stocks so wipe off all that excess before you stand a rifle up vertical. Too much oil will also splatter in your eyes if you hose the gun down before shooting it. Over-oiling is very common - a little dab'll do ya in most cases.

A very very fine steel wool can help to remove surface rust, but it is a good idea to do a little at a time, preferably in a hidden spot, to make sure you don't take off your finish. DON'T use a Dremel or similar powered tool to do this! PATIENCE!

On some precision rifles, disassembly is discouraged because is impinges on the accuracy. This applies to glass-bedded stocks and free-floated barrels and not to stock firearms.

Disclaimer: I'm not a gunsmith or anything, Your Mileage May Vary.


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A trick I like when cleaning my stainless steel; soak a clump of 000 steel wool with whatever cleaner you favor, and use that to break up the really nasty fouling areas, like between the cylinder and barrel on a revolver. You dont have to scrub hard, just wipe, but it cleans better than nylon brushes alone.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:09 pm 
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Here's some good info for those that use surplus ammo that might be corrosive: http://www.surplusrifle.com/shooting/co ... /index.asp

I've pretty just decided to spend a little more on ammo that's less likely to damage my rifle. It's too much of a hassle and I'm lazy.

Max wrote:
With both brushes and patches, PULLING is better than PUSHING through the barrel. Compact cleaning kits come with a flexible cable instead of cleaning rods. Rods can also damage the crown of the muzzle (the very tip of the rifling on the business end) which will affect accuracy.


Good point. Just be sure you pull down the barrel away from the chamber. Dragging all that dirt into the action is a bad idea and just makes you have to do more work.

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My cleaner of choice dissolve the corrosive salts

So it is no big deal...and I don't really trust any surplus to be non-corrosive

I know I sound like a commercial....but try Slip2000 carbon cutter on your cylinder. It will shine like new with no need to get abrasive

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One thing I didn't see mentioned is don't forget to function check the firearm after reassembly. Make sure it clicks when it is supposed to doesn't when its not. IE make sure all the safety features are functioning properly.

Usually goes something like this:

(The weapon should still be unloaded since you just reassembled it... right?!? Check it again if you are in doubt)

Point the weapon in a safe direction and dry fire it, hold the trigger in, cycle the action (rack the slide, pull charging handle, whatever your case may be), slowly release trigger, you should hear it reset, pull trigger again and it should again click.

(It changes a little with full auto weapons, I forget what the behavior is supposed to be in that case.)

Now check all safety features. Make sure the trigger won't move when the safety is on etc. This will depend on your gun. If you don't know, you REALLY need to find out.

Cleaning is a good time to check for wear and tear inside the gun but that takes experience and a trained eye to know what to look for. I just recently replaced the gas rings on my AR-15, I didn't even know they were getting worn until it was shown to me what to look for.

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http://www.sigsauer.com/CustomerService ... TGUIDE.pdf

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Thanks for the post Pete...I'm guilty of being an over-oiler...something I'm trying to fight...

nfa

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That is an excellent manual. They fill in a lot of the nitty gritty details very well. In particular I liked:

"Excessive lubrication is recognized as lubricant moving on the weapon
under the influence of gravity."

"A weapon is not considered properly lubricated unless the lubricant’s presence can be visually and physically verified by the operator."

Particularly for Sigs, I like to field strip the weapon again after function checking it and see what the lubricant is doing. P229s have a spot where the lube likes to pool together.

I thought this was a nice gem: "With the pistol disassembled and the barrel out of the weapon, drop each
cartridge into the chamber, making sure that it drops in easily and fully
seats. Then invert the barrel allowing the cartridge to drop from the
chamber into the hand. This proves proper fit of each cartridge into the
chamber of the pistol that it will be used in. Immediately return any
cartridges that do not pass this inspection to the issuing authority for safe
disposal."

On a slightly different train of thought, does anyone have any reason for not loving bore snakes?

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Bore snakes don't really get bores whistle-clean. Without a white patch to check the condition, you don't really know when it's clean.

I've run a rod on a patch in a bore that I'd just cleaned, and it came out with both copper and powder residue on it.

I'll use them on pistols, but not my tack-driving rifles.

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I'd agree with that. However, a bore snake is better than nothing, and in a ZPAW or other SHTF situation, where you don't have the luxury of assembling your rod and giving it a thorough cleaning, a quick run-through with some solvent forward of the embedded brushes will give a "good enough" clean for most rifles, especially those with chrome lined bores.

For "Quick n Dirty", Bore snakes have it hands down.

Since I'm not a "Tack Driver" shooter, I didn't go to the trouble to buy any "Tack Driver" rifles.

So I just use a bore snake every time I shoot, and once a week if I remember.

And every month or so I get out the proper kit and clean thoroughly.

Of course, in the ZPAW, I'd be doing both more. I love my bore snakes.

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I just recently replaced the gas rings on my AR-15, I didn't even know they were getting worn until it was shown to me what to look for.


Generally, I don't recommend "upgrading" from factory for a lot of reasons, parts interchangeability being one, and "if the factory had wanted it that way, they would have DESIGNED it that way" for another.

However, in the case of the AR-15, I know that the US Military did a few things to cut costs that the DESIGNER was against. One of them was substituting the machined firing pin retaining pin with a cotter pin. Another of them was to not chrome-line the bore. (The AK has a chrome lined bore, and so does the M-14...)

And in my own experiences, products have come out that improve upon (in my opinion) the mil-spec, such as the MacFarland one-piece gas ring.

The one piece gas ring is about three times as expensive as a set of three regular gas rings, but once you "screw" it into place, you don't have to worry about ever "gapping" your rings again, because it's one piece. That, and if it fails in one place, it will continue to operate; That's the part I like the best. For "Fail-operative, fail-safe" performance, I've found the MacFarland to be superior to USGI in this respect.

Again, your mileage may vary.

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Regarding corrosive ammo.....I've tried a number of different methods of cleaning out those salts and none of them worked better than simply pouring boiling water through the barrel and through the gas system. I fire up the kettle, wait for it to boil and then CAREFULLY pour a good amount of the boiling water through the bore and through the gas tube. That has the effect of immediately dissovling the salts and it washes them away. You do, however, have to be careful. You don't want to wet the wooden parts of the firearm and the barrel gets very hot when doing this so be careful.

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this how to wash glocks :lol:

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Bore Snakes are really a great way to keep a gun functional, but if you obsessed with a perfectly clean weapon just go through the barrel every once in awhile and scrub it out using a brush an some solvent like Blue Wonder, or whatever floats your boat.

But I'm of the mentality that alittle fouling in the barrel isn't going to make your gun less accurate, or reliable. I've gone to the range and hit 700m targets from the kneeling with an M4A1 using an EOTech, took a few tries (2/5) but I hit something beyond the effective range with a not so terribly clean gun.

It may be important for sniper rifles and shit, but barrel fouling will have a lot less to due with accuracy then well zero'ed sights and operator competency.

I like AK's for a bazillion reasons, but one major one is how easy it is to clean and maintain. I have 6 things I use to clean it.

1. Cleaning rod (which comes with the gun, and stores under the barrel)
2. Bore Snake
3. Bore Brush (screws onto the cleaning rod)
4. Rags and/or Paper Towels
5. Blue Wonder Gun Cleaner (solvent)
6. Mobil 1 Synthetic (lubricant)


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I have two thoughts on corrosively primed ammunition.

First thought is this, I've had an M38 that I ran about 200rds of corrosive hungarian through at one point. I left it out in the rain over night with the barrel horizontal (no rain got into the barrel), and then brought it inside in the morning to clean.

I poured soapy water, warm, but not hot, through the barrel and it dissolved the corrosive salts with no issue. I only say soapy water because it was easier to clean afterwards. Then I ran Hoppes #9 through the barrel, and cleaned up the tiniest bit of rust on the outside of the barrel and she was fine.

Second thought is you don't need anything special to clean them off. Just warm water will do the salts. Warm soapy water helps with cleaning out the fouling and whatnot, too.

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mantis wrote:
Regarding corrosive ammo.....I've tried a number of different methods of cleaning out those salts and none of them worked better than simply pouring boiling water through the barrel and through the gas system. I fire up the kettle, wait for it to boil and then CAREFULLY pour a good amount of the boiling water through the bore and through the gas tube. That has the effect of immediately dissovling the salts and it washes them away. You do, however, have to be careful. You don't want to wet the wooden parts of the firearm and the barrel gets very hot when doing this so be careful.


I do exactly the same thing for my rifles that get used with corrosive ammo, no corrosion yet. :)

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Windex (ammonia) works well for the corrosive salts. The aforementioned CLP, toothbrush, oily rag, and bore snakes seem to take pretty good care of everything else.

Not to be contrary or too preachy, but please don't go overboard with the cleaning, unless you frequently low crawl with yours around the back 40. Guns seem to be happiest being tools, like a hammer or shovel, only just a bit more more delicate (excepting, of course Mosins. http://62x54r.net/MosinID/MosinHumor.htm ) At least, that's what mine whisper to me, late at night...

YMMV, of course. Have fun and enjoy your rights as you see fit.


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Also, just to add, make sure you use the correct types of lubricants. A lot of military self-loaders, particularly older ones, need some parts to be greased instead of oiled. This is particularly true of M1 Garands, M1 Carbines and M14/M1A's. Oils just don't cut it for the rub areas of the operating rods.

Use a cleaning rod guide if possible, and never never never never use those old steel cleaning rods. Stick to brass or coated rods exclusively.

Whenever you get a new firearm, always tear it down and completely clean it. Rspecially if it's brand new in the box or a mil-surp. Cosmoline is a protectant, not a lubricant. I've very fond of Simple Green for cleaning it off.

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I came to love bore snakes during training as they were the only way I could get my firearm clean enough to pass inspection in the amount of time allotted. I ended up doing a lot less push-ups that way. After 10 hours of all day shooting this was a hard process. By the end, I was dreaming about bore snakes and waves of qtips. >_>

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wildbill wrote:
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this how to wash glocks :lol:


Hey, it does work. :wink:

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Having spent some time armed in a desert for a while, I've come to be a big fan of 'dry' lubricants. I use Militec on all my guns. I love the stuff. They also have grease for more heavy duty use. I used to stick a little bit on the locking lug on my Beretta Cougar.

Militec the gun. Wipe it dry. Fire it enough to warm it up. Clean.
Repeat a few times. It kind of soaks up into the metal. You can see this. Hit the metal with something crazy like Gun Scrubber that strips every bit of anything out of the metal (and dissolves plastic guns, pipes, toys, parts and window frames...Just an FYI). Then wipe it down with a lubricated cloth. Then wipe it dry with a dry cloth. Even dry, you can see the difference.

Kind of made me nervous to have a 'dry' gun. I tested it on a over-used and badly cared for 92FS. Worked fine. Been using it since. No problems.
Too much wet lubricate attracts dirt and dust. Gritty oil is the last thing you cycling through your gun...

Regards,

M

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