One of the more common questions we receive here at Gunscleaner is should you clean your gun after each use. This is a question loaded with variables such as people’s ammo of choice, firing habits, and type of weapon. Although all of these variables affect the necessity for cleaning your gun, we have one simple solution – no matter which end of the spectrum you fall on its best to clean your gun after every use.
As mentioned above, we prefer to err on the side of a well cleaned and protected gun. This helps to ensure its accurate and dependable use over the long term. Whether you are a marksman with a rifle or a clay breaker with a shotgun, we would recommend at least a modest cleaning of your weapon after each outing. Now we don’t mean that you need to strip your weapon down to the bare bones after every use. Doing that often enough could risk missing a step when you put it back together. We simply suggest a good barrel clean both inside and out. You should also do a general clean and wipe down of the chamber area and stock.
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Effect of Ammo and How to Handle it
No matter the ammo you use, the discharge will always result is some debris and carbonates getting left behind. Some ammunition will leave a more significant amount of “dirt” than others. Regardless of the ammo you choose, a quick bore scrub will keep it clean for the next use. There are various schools of thought on the best method to clean a barrel. The efficient and easy bore snake or the more tedious but thorough rod/brush/mop/cleaning patch/solvent combination. Both methods will ensure that anything left in the barrel after an outing will be flushed out leaving a clean bore for the next use.
Bore Snake or A Cleaning Rod
Whether you prefer the bore snake or the traditional cleaning method, they both require the use of a good gun cleaning solvent. At Gunscleaner we have already put in the effort of reviewing all the best cleaners out there. Simply put, each cleaner has their pros and cons with a few standing out from the pack. You can find our preferred options here. Dabbed onto a cloth or swirled through the barrel, the solvent will do the work for you of breaking down all of the baked on carbonates inside the barrel.
You’ll also want to make sure you have a solid cleaning rod if you choose to go that route. Cleaning rods come in all different materials and pieces. We find that the brass rods tend to have the most upside. They are sturdy enough to push a brush or mop through the barrel but won’t scratch or damage the barrel on the way through. We also have found many rods are assembled in anywhere from 1 to 7 pieces. The 1 piece rods will be the strongest but are not practical to carry with you anywhere you go. On the other end of the spectrum is the 7 piece rod. Not only is this rod flimsy and clunky, it also is a time-consuming pain to assemble and disassemble before and after each use.
The Often Forgotten Step
Another equally important but often overlooked aspect to gun cleaning is a general wipe down of the firearm exterior. This includes both the barrel and any other exposed metal components. Most guns are made of a carbon steel alloy which means that any moisture left on the metal for a long period of time can lead to corrosion and pitting eventually shortening the life of the gun. Some guns, however, utilize a stainless steel barrel which is more resistant to corrosion from moisture and outside elements. This still doesn’t mean its a good idea to throw it in the case and leaving it to sit for months on end. Stainless is a softer metal than its carbon steel counterpart. It will be quicker to show the effects of wear tear from dirt and other elements.
No matter the metal used in the manufacture of the gun, I like to grab a dry cloth and wipe down all exposed parts of the gun to remove all the dirt and moisture. After that, I grab a lightly oiled rag and wipe down the entire gun. The oil not only helps to act as a moisture barrier for the gun, it also gives it a nice polished look.
The Field Strip
Depending on how often and rigorously you use your gun, you should also consider a complete field strip cleaning. The frequency of this type of cleaning is of course up to the owner. We would recommend doing it after 5-10 outings. Cleaning the barrel and outer parts of the gun are good in the short term, but to keep a gun firing accurately for as many years as you want to use it, the full break down and cleaning of every nook and cranny will keep all components free from corrosion working its way into the heart of the gun.
There will always be debate and variation to how people approach gun cleaning. This is similar to how people approach cleaning their car. How often do you see a freshly washed and waxed car next to one with a dirty back window with the words “wash me” carved in with someone’s finger? Now that’s a bit of an extreme for a comparison but it goes to show everyone has their preference for doing something. We here at Gunscleaner want to provide our best advice for what we find works for us and how it can help keep your guns cleaner.