How Often Should You Clean Your Gun – Tips from a Firearm Hobbyist
- Robert Townsend
A few days ago, one of my associates asked, “Hey Rob, how often should you clean your gun?” I replied, “Everyday…um…every few weeks or someday while I can…” He chuckled and said, “You’re kidding!” No, I wasn’t! I wasn’t trying to skip anything either! To be honest, different types, frequency of usage, exposure situations (where you use), and ammos are the factors that decide how often to clean your gun. I’ve been using firearms (they’re registered!) for the past two decades, and that’s what I’ve learnt from my experiences and revered superiors.
So, How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?
Cleaning is the vital part of firearm maintenance that affects the performance of a gun. Here, you’ll be learning when cleaning becomes a necessity requiring no specific issues to be addressed.
- When it has been a while since you used the gun last time
- After you’ve taken multiple trips to the nearby range and allowed heavy wear and tear, carbon and salt buildup
- Every time after you’ve exposed the firearm to dampening situations or moisture-prone areas
- If you’re fond of using corrosive ammunitions
Inspect the Barrel Thoroughly
Checking the barrel can also be a quick way to know that your gun needs cleaning. Here’s how you can check the barrel of your gun for issues.
- Look inside the barrel with a borescope to detect pit corrosion, dirt, and rust.
- Inspect the front end of the barrel and crown to detect signs of copper fouling.
- Check the barrel chamber to see if there’re carbon, dirt, or lubricant buildup.
If the interior of the barrel gets cooper buildup, know that it’s going to hurt your shooting accuracy sooner or later, no matter how seasoned you’re as a shooter. Several factors affect barrel fouling. Look at the points below.
- Your usage behavior
- Types, construction, and materials of ammunitions used
- Design, geometry, and surface finish of the barrel’s interior
- The desired precision (your preferred level)
- Life cycle of the barrel
However, I didn’t tell you one thing! When should you inspect the barrel? No strict rules apply in this case. The only factor you can care about is the accuracy you’re acquiring (I assume that you already are a REGULAR shooter).
If/When you start feeling that your accuracy is going down your standard and you can shoot quite well with someone else’s gun, it’s time you spent a few minutes to inspect the barrel of your gun for the issues I mentioned above. But I want to make things more precise for you. Here’s a quick rundown of the inspection schedule.
- For a benchrest shooter, every 15 shots indicate the need for a thorough inspection and cleaning job.
- Long-range shooters shouldn’t delay longer after they’ve fired 20-30 shots.
- Bullseye shooting is all about accuracy and precision. So, frequent inspection and cleaning should be pursued.
- Bisley and Field shooters can enjoy shooting without cleaning until they’ve fired 50-60 shots.
- Rapid fire shooting also allows as much flexibility, even more as you can take around a hundred shots and then head up to the cleaning process.
- Rifle hunters/shooters can easily take 500+ shots before doing the cleaning.
These points are entirely oriented to help you decide your cleaning time based on the number of shots you take and accuracy. However, some firearm users take shots the entire season and don’t spend a second thinking of cleaning and WITHOUT any feeling of deterioration in their accuracy.
At this stage, (if I’m not wrong) I think you still want to know more, and it’s about the gun you own. Yes, I understand few people want to go through their shooting type. With a query on their specific gun type, many acquaintances have asked me, “How often do you need to clean your gun?” Well, here it goes.
- If you’ve got a gun that is only used for plinking, target clays, or punching holes in paper, it’s probably OK to let a few months and 3-4 trips to the range lapse before doing an in depth cleaning.
- You should still be aware that semi-automatics and Rimfire firearms may begin to show performance and reliability issues with excessive fouling. Fouling, dirt and dust can cause reliability issues in semiautomatic firearms.
- On the other hand, if you’re shooting a match gun or a firearm that is relied upon for personal defense, you should always keep it clean, oiled, and ready to go.
- Any primary defensive firearm should, in this writer’s opinion, be kept clean and well-oiled at all times.
- Revolvers are not immune to fouling either: carbon build up on the cylinder can make a double action trigger nearly impossible to pull as the cylinder gap becomes clogged.
- Bolt action rifles on the other hand often require a fouling shot for the best consistency out of a cold bore.
- For match guns, most semiautomatics run more accurate and more reliably when clean.
Don’t Rest Already!
You might say “I’ve got a stainless steel barrel and receiver. I don’t need to worry about moisture.” To a certain extent, that is true. Stainless steel components do help slow down corrosion and the effects of the elements that cause it, but such parts are more susceptible to excess wear from dirt, dust, and fouling. Stainless steel is softer than other steel used in firearms and as such can experience faster wear.
My Final Thoughts
All firearms should periodically undergo a professional detailed cleaning where the firearm is torn down and thoroughly cleaned, oiled and reassembled with a tested gun cleaning kit. How often this is necessary depends on the number of rounds fired through the gun and the role it typically is used for, but I like to detail strip and clean all of my firearms at least once a year regardless of whether or not they ever made it out of the gun safe at all.