By Lars Dalseide | July 6 2014 10:53

Cleaning and maintaining your firearm means better performance on the range or in the field

NRA Family Insights guide to cleaning your gun The staff from NRA Family Insights sat down to bring you the basics for how to properly clean your firearm ...

How to Clean Your Gun
Can your firearm pass the white-glove test? Here's how to keep your gun clean and safe to use.

Cleaning and maintaining your guns preserves their functionality and value, and keeps them safe and accurate. The effort and attention you put into maintaining your firearms will pay off in peace of mind that your guns will do what you need them to do. Good maintenance habits help you know your gun better, and have more confidence in its performance at the range or in the field.

Once you have the gun disassembled, start with cleaning the bore. The rifling at the muzzle is critical to accuracy. You don’t want the cleaning rod to bang against the muzzle opening. Over time, this can widen the muzzle opening or leave it misshapen, so clean from breech to muzzle whenever possible.

Preparation is key to a good job. Choose a work area that is well-ventilated, well-lit, organized and clean. Outdoors or in the garage is best. If you must work indoors, choose a large indoor room, and try to work near an open window. Your work table should be sturdy. It shouldn’t rock or move when you lean on it. Avoid tables with wheels or casters. The dining room table or the kitchen counter is not the best choice, because you don’t want to contaminate your food with chemical solvents, gun oil copper, lead or carbon fouling. For the same reason, you shouldn't eat or drink while you work.

Once you have chosen an appropriate work space, remove all ammunition from the area. All loose and boxed ammunition should be returned to its proper storage place before you start. Only after that is done should you get out your gun and make sure that it is clear. If the gun has extra magazines, make sure they are empty as well.

Before you get to work, find the owner’s manual from the manufacturer. It should explain how to take the gun apart and clean it. Over the years, the manual for an older firearm, or one that was bought used, may have been lost. In that case, the two-volume NRA Guide to Firearms Assembly has written and visual instructions on taking apart a wide variety of rifles, shotguns and handguns.

There are a variety of specialized and improvised tools that will help you get the job done right, but can’t be found in any cleaning kit. A rubber mat with a non-slip surface will help protect both the parts and the work bench from damage. A cleaning cradle keeps the gun under control and leaves your hands free to control loose parts and cleaning equipment. If you don’t have one, a shooting rest for sighting-in or varmint shooting is better than nothing. Your bench vise may look tempting, but leave it alone: Too much pressure from the vise can crack the stock or even crush the receiver.

Also, an old cookie tin or coffee can is useful for holding loose parts. A container helps keep them in one place so small parts won’t get lost or separated. You might want two: one for dirty parts waiting to be cleaned, and a second for parts that have already been cleaned. Lastly, here’s a trick for when springs or pins go flying: Keep a flashlight on hand, as it is often a big help in finding lost parts. Even the tiniest pins and springs that have fallen on the floor will cast a shadow when a beam of light passes over them.


Read the rest of NRA Family Insights' guide to clean your gun on their website.

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