How to clean a firearm - an overview of tools and preparations
In order to keep our weapons in good condition for a long time, proper maintenance is essential. It is known that we sometimes use our carbines and shotguns in difficult weather conditions, but in fact the acid reaction of the residue after burning gunpowder is the greatest threat to steel elements. In this guide, we will try to briefly tell you how and how to take care of your weapons.
First of all, remember that it is best to start cleaning immediately after shooting. Of course, we are not talking about setting up a stand with brushes and chemicals at the shooting range, but it will be a good habit to apply a small amount of gun oil directly into the barrel. It will definitely make it easier for us to clean the barrel of carbon deposits later. If we have reasons to worry about the external parts made of steel, regardless of whether it is the cover of the castle chamber or the discharge device, we can wipe them with a cloth soaked in a cleaning agent.
The first thing before cleaning should be the proper preparation of the workplace. In addition to the dedicated tools, it is worth preparing cotton cloths, a cuvette in which we will operate with chemicals and appropriate protection of the countertop surface. Certain gun cleaners can tarnish or damage the paintwork. If you have a worktop that does not necessarily look good, such as a workbench, it is still worth using surface protection - it will allow us to avoid mess and substances getting into inappropriate places.
Gun cleaning service mat
To protect the surface, the best solution will be dedicated weapon cleaning mats. They are made of a material that perfectly absorbs cleaning agents, and at the same time insulated from the bottom, so there is no fear of chemical saturation. The simplest models are simply pads of appropriate size, while in more complex models we can find solutions that facilitate the cleaning process. Useful elements will be trays that allow us to organize unfolded parts, magnets that make it difficult to lose elements or combine the two, found in Real Avid service mats.
Moving on to the actual process - the first step is of course to check the condition of the weapon. For the sake of safety, we take out the magazine, we make sure that the chamber is empty. Of course, we will not explain the process here - each of you, probably, knows exactly how to do it. However, we will divide the treatments depending on the type of weapon - short, long threaded and smoothbore. In handguns, we usually have a slightly more free access to the barrel thanks to the possibility of removing it (the pistol, although you know, not everyone) or it is significantly separated from the mechanisms (revolver).
Bore cleaning foams and penetrators
Therefore, starting with cleaning the barrel - as we have carefully applied oil to its interior, the deposit remaining in it should now be softened, which will definitely facilitate our work. It is worth wiping the barrel crown and the cartridge chamber with a cotton cloth, which will reduce the amount of sludge produced when using cleaning agents. Then we plug one side - in fact, it is worth starting with the cartridge chamber - for example with a brush for cleaning the barrel and insert the foam to clean the barrel inside. For the preparation to work properly, we need to leave it inside for a certain time - most often it will be about 15-20 minutes.
Brushes and cleaning rods
After this time, we can move to mechanical cleaning. In this case, the brush used as a plug can start working immediately. In the case of pistol barrels that can be removed from the weapon, it does not matter which side we clean. In the case of weapons with a barrel, fixed "permanently" like most carbines, shotguns or rifles, we have a slight complication. In theory, it is better to clean from the cartridge chamber to the muzzle of the barrel to limit contamination from entering the discharge chamber. In the case of many models of long weapons, the introduction of a rigid ramrod from the side of the chamber.
An important aspect here is the selection of the right brush and brush. We do not need to mention the compatibility of the calibers - too small a brush will not clean the barrel, while too large a brush will have a problem with squeezing through. Therefore, we choose a brush that is adequate to the caliber of our weapon. An important element here, however, is the ramrod, or rather its handle. Apart from ergonomics and ease of assembly, it is extremely important that the rod of the rod rotates freely in the handle. This will allow for easy guidance of the brushes in the barrel, and most importantly for their rotation in accordance with the course of the thread grooves. This will be guaranteed by effective and thorough cleaning.
Bore snake - an universal solution?
After cleaning with foam, remove its residues with a felt wiper. However, if it turns out that the barrel is still dirty, or we are simply aware that our weapon has not been cleaned for a long time, we can use an additional (or instead of foam) penetrator. The chemical composition of the penetrator makes it get into the micro-cracks and dissolve the accumulated carbon deposits. Its effects are easily noticeable, but due to its low viscosity, not everyone prefers this solution for every cleaning. After using the penetrator, just like with the foam, remove it from the barrel with a squeegee. Remember to do it scrupulously, until the barrel is completely cleaned.
How to protect barrel from corrosion?
The barrel should also be secured - gun oil is best for this purpose. To apply it evenly, we will need an appropriate accessory, usually also attached to the cut-out. For this purpose, it is best to use a wiper or a mop brush. As they are easily absorbable, they will spread the applied oil over the entire surface of the barrel. A popular solution are also barrel lines, usually in the form of a combined brass brush with a woven cloth mop. While pulling the rope through the barrel, the brush scrapes off the debris, and the mop soaked with oil collects them, while also lubricating the hose, protecting it against corrosion.
Cleaning the breech, as you might guess, will vary dramatically depending on the type and model of the weapon. Regardless of the model, however, it is worth wiping the lock / zipper compartment and bolt carrier with a cotton cloth at first, getting rid of the easiest to remove dirt. Then brushes and scrapers will be useful to us - they will allow us to remove dirt from hard-to-reach places. In the case of brushes, there are usually two types: metal (bronze or other soft metal) and nylon. The former will allow you to deal with hard carbon deposits, while the latter allow easier cleaning of the sediments from the cracks.
Weapon cleaning scrapers, hooks and tool kits
On the other hand, scrapers come in many forms. We can meet here scrapers resembling dental hooks, tools included in the multitools, or structures dedicated to specific elements of weapons, significantly facilitating cleaning. The first type will of course be the cheapest, and most importantly, it will allow us to clean many types of weapons. It cannot be denied effectiveness either. However, in the case when we have, for example, a carbine, one of the popular platforms such as AR or AK, let alone several of them, a dedicated tool may prove to be a great help.
For example, the AR-15 lock assembly has several nooks and crannies that are not the easiest to clean. The spaces between the bolt bosses, the back of the bolt, or the firing pin can be quite a challenge for the brush in the case of baked-on debris. Profiled, steel tools will remove the deposit without the risk of scratching the surface. Moreover, these types of tools often have functions that make it easier to disassemble the weapon. The lever securing the gas pipe in the AK, or the pin pin in the ARs, can be stubborn without the proper tool.
Degreasing and oiling
Dirty mechanisms can significantly affect the work culture of the weapon. Therefore, it is worth keeping the contents of the drain chamber in the best condition. If we see impurities on the mechanisms, it makes sense to treat them with a degreaser. It will remove the residual grease, which is the binder that holds the dirt in place. Then it is worth using silicone oil in moving places, but remember to limit its amount to the necessary minimum. Over-application of oil will make the dirt stick more easily, forming a kind of sludge faster.
While cleaning it after the first shot, we should have no problem removing the impurities, the mixture will harden more and more under the influence of temperature after each subsequent shot. Then we will achieve the effect of "baking" of dirt, which will make cleaning much more difficult - the degreaser may not be able to cope with it. In this case, the penetrator again comes to our aid. It will allow you to rinse out any dirt from hard-to-reach places, but it must be handled with care. Some preparations of this type may be aggressive towards polymers or wood. Therefore, before starting cleaning, it is worth checking a very small amount of the penetrator on a non-essential part of the skeleton. If the surface becomes dull after applying the preparation, it may cause damage to our weapons.
Which grease for gun maintenance?
Last but not least, protection of the surfaces exposed to friction, and here again - in some constructions the silicone oil may be too little sticky - it will just wipe off too quickly. We'll need some lubricant here. We choose lubricants with high temperature stability that will guarantee us effectiveness even in the event of intense shooting. Apply grease to all friction surfaces of the mechanisms. In addition, it is also worth applying a small amount of lubricant to the slide guides in the case of the pistol. However, it should be remembered that not all guns "like" grease, so it is worth taking into account our own experience and in selected models use silicone oil instead of grease.