A Guide To Cleaning And Maintaining your Firearm

Presentation and Functionality are a part of our daily lives. My grandma always said. “Your porch is the window into your home.” So, How does that fit into firearm cleaning and maintenance? Your gun's appearance and the way it functions shows dedication to yourself, others, and where you fit in the gun world. We certainly cannot forget how important to safety maintaining and cleaning your firearm is. After you clean your firearm you also need to check the components to make sure they are in perfect functioning order.

To clean and when to clean. That is the question. You should make a habit of cleaning your firearm after each time you shoot your firearm.

I have a designated area for cleaning my firearm, that is clean of any other items. My cleaning workspace is my kitchen table. I give myself at least half of the table so I will have plenty of room to lay things out properly.

Step One: Gathering a woman’s firearm cleaning essentials:

Your firearm manual, (Gun Digest has guides if you cannot locate yours),Firearm Cleaning Mat or Plastic Baby Changing Pads, a short bore rod, a bronze bore brush that matches the caliber of the handgun your cleaning, a bag of patches, (or old t-shirts can be cut to size), a GI toothbrush, cotton swabs, & a cotton washcloth or shop rag, & bore light.

I am a lady that loves her fingernails. So spend the extra dollar & buy a good pair of nitrate gloves that fit your hands.

I recommend Frog Lube or Rand CLP for your cleaning solvent/ oils. I prefer these brands because both are environmentally safe and have no bad smell. They are both all- in-ones (cleaner and lubricant). We women like our thoroughness and simplicity.

Now gather up these cleaning essentials and get ready for Basic Cleaning of your Pistol

First, remove the clip or magazine out of the firearm. Engage the safety (if it exists). Charge the firearm three times, and rotate the open port side towards the ground. This way shells or cartridges also have to fight gravity to stay in. Lock the slide to the rear and visually inspect the firearm to make sure it is clear. Repeat this clearing process. Have someone else check, heck even let your dog check a few times!

It’s helpful to have a knowledgeable friend or the gun store show you your pistols break-down process first. Maybe you are the type who doesn’t need a manual until you find you can’t get it broke down or back together? If you don’t know how to break down your firearm, you’ll need to read the manual. In some cases, (or if you are a blond like me), you may need to YouTube a video of the process.

As you break down your firearm, lay the pieces in the order you have disassembled them on your cleaning mat. This helps in putting the firearm back together correctly. For most semi-auto handguns, remove the slide from the frame, then remove the recoil spring and barrel from the slide. Handgun recoil springs may be compressed, please use caution to prevent them from flying about.(Many of the smaller caliber handguns, such as .22 s, .25 s, .32 s and .380 s are fixed barrel semi-auto’s, meaning the barrel is part of the frame. On these, just remove the slide and spring.

Once you have your pistol broken down and laid out take a moment to put on your gloves. Value your nails and lovely skin ladies! I always start by cleaning my magazines first. Take your cleaning rag and put a few drops of your (CLP) cleaning/lubricant/ protectant on it. Then clean the outside of the magazine. After it is clean, take your extra lint-free cloth and wipe off any excess oil residue. So you don’t have to take apart the magazine, there is a tiny hole in the back, at the bottom of each magazine. Put a drop of your CLP into the hole. This will lubricate the spring.

Please note: There can be more damage done cleaning a pistol than shooting one. Not from over cleaning, but by improper cleaning.

Put a couple drops of your CLP on your toothbrush and gently scrub any firing residues, lint and other contamination from the action parts. Keep in mind that in gun cleaning, it’s always better to not have enough CLP than to over soak your parts. You need just enough CLP to loosen up any contaminants so they come off easily with your brush. Wipe the part with a lint-free rag or towel to remove excess liquid.

On revolvers I use a bronze brush with a few drops of CLP to clean the firing residues off of the front and back of the cylinder, forcing the cone area and anywhere else firing residues or debris are visible. Don’t forget to wipe off any excess CLP. Pick up a couple of your cleaning patches, then put a couple drops of CLP on them. Pick up your barrel and wipe off any residue on the muzzle. (This is the end of the barrel where the bullet exits). Next, pick up your toothbrush, add a few drops of CLP, and clean the breech face (breech face is the part of the gun that makes contact with the cartridge). Wipe off your toothbrush, add a bit of CLP, and brush clean the chamber. (The chamber is where the cartridge sits when it’s waiting its turn to be fired.)

Now screw your copper brush head to its handle. Place a few drops of your CLP on the brush. Pick up your barrel. Look and see which end of the barrel the bullet would travel down and exit. This is the direction you clean in with your copper brush. You clean from breech to muzzle. Now take the brush (ONLY push the brush in ONE continuous direction when cleaning the barrel) and push the brush through the entire length of the barrel and pull it out of the opposite end you started in. Going back and forth with the copper brush instead of straight through the barrel causes damage to the spiral grooves that the bullet uses for accuracy. Do your best to avoid rubbing the rod/handle on the crown. A crown is the last portion of the muzzle where the bullet exits the barrel. It normally takes around 9-10 pass throughs with your copper brush to sufficiently clean the barrel.

Getting dirty yet? If not, you didn’t put enough rounds through! Take your extra rag and wipe the excess oil off your copper brush. Then go add another couple drops of CLP and go down the barrel again. Repeat this process until your patches come out clean. Take your extra rag put a drop or two of CLP on the rag and clean the outside of the barrel until it’s clean.

Next, we connect our bore rod/ handle to our cleaning cloth eye holder. To me, this tool looks like a large version of a sewing needle. Take one of your cleaning pad cloths and thread your eye hole. If you do not have pre-cut cleaning pads for your caliber you will have to cut one to size. If this is your first time cutting a one, it may take you quite a few attempts before getting the size correct. You want it to go through the barrel with just a tad of pushing hesitation. Attempting to shove a patch that is too big down a .22 caliber bore is bound to get your cleaning rod good and stuck in the barrel. Cramming a cloth down your barrel is not good, it can potentially damage the barrel. If you're using CLP you’ll only have to run a couple clothes down the barrel to sufficiently clean it.

To clean the pistol slide use a bronze brush anywhere there is brass or gunk. Start with the face of the slide, then clean around the firing pin hole and under the extractor. I also brush anywhere there is firing residues. Take a couple cleaning cloths and clean off all the residue the brush knocked loose. Use as many clothes as it takes until they come out clean.

Now that the internal parts of the firearm are clean, check your firearms external parts. This helps to keep your firearm functioning normally and safely. It is most important to inspect the extractor. You want to make sure it isn’t cracked, missing pieces, jammed up with debris etc. Also, inspect the firing pin hole to make sure all the debris has been removed. Use a cleaning cloth with a tad of CLP on it to clean the underside of the slide. Then for the recoil spring and recoil rod. If present, use a toothbrush. Afterward, use my lint free cloth to wipe down what I’ve cleaned.

There are different ways to add the lube to keep our parts moving smoothly depending on the firearm. For auto-pistols, add a little grease around the barrel and in the slide rails. A drop of oil in the trigger mechanism and in the firing parts of the slide is sufficient to keep them from rusting and running smoothly. A small drop of lube on your moving parts is all that is necessary. For revolvers, a drop of oil in the middle of the cylinder under the ejector and a drop on the crane pivot is needed. Re-assemble the pistol then wipe everything down with a dry, lint-free cloth.

Anytime you clean and break down your firearm you want to check to make sure it is functioning correctly. Here’s an easy way to go through your gun function checklist. Check your safety in the off and on positions. Put your empty magazine in and go through a dry fire, then repeat. This checks the full function of your firearm.

Congratulations on cleaning your first firearm! If you need more practice, I have quite a few more you are welcome to clean.


Tarra Stoddard

Prois Hunting & Field Rep

ReelCamo Girl Team Member


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 ReelCamo Girl is a lifestyle brand focused on ladies who love the outdoors.There is a growing need for a place for women to share  their outdoor experiences, as well as an interest in clean eating and  self-sufficiency. Through our website and social media networks, we  offer a safe place where the ladies can share their pictures, stories, wild  game and fish recipes, and news articles about conservation and  hunting perspectives.

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