Care and cleaning weapons – knowledge and tips, step by step guide
- Andrew Davis
To keep our guns in good condition for a long time, proper maintenance is essential. It is known that sometimes we use our carbines and shotguns in difficult weather conditions, but in fact the acid reaction of the residues after burning gunpowder is the biggest threat to steel elements. In this manual we will try to briefly explain how and how to handle your guns.
- 1 How often should I clean my gun?
- 2 How to clean a gun – an overview of tools and preparations
- 3 What material do I need for cleaning weapons?
- 4 What problems can occur due to residues in the barrel?
- 5 Step-by-step instructions for cleaning weapons
- 5.1 FIRST STEP – making sure the gun is unloaded
- 5.2 SECOND STEP – disassemble the weapon completely
- 5.3 THIRD STEP – cleaning the barrel
- 5.4 FOURTH STEP – cleaning the castle and slide
- 5.5 FIFTH STEP – finish cleaning the barrel
- 5.6 FIFTH STEP – limbing or spiking
- 5.7 SIXTH STEP – lubrication
- 5.8 SEVENTH STEP – reassembly
- 6 Gun cleaning cord – a universal solution?
- 7 How to protect the barrel from corrosion?
- 8 The 5 biggest mistakes in gun care
- 9 Store cleaned weapons properly
- 10 Conclusion on gun cleaning:
How often should I clean my gun?
The question that divides many minds is how often should a gun be cleaned? Well, it depends primarily on how often the gun is used, what kind of load it has to withstand, what kind of ammunition is used and, last but not least, what environmental conditions prevail.
If you shoot lead-free, it makes sense to clean the barrel after 30 shots at the latest. The reason is the copper deposits that have a negative effect on the precision of the gun. But who shoots 20 rounds in one hunting day?
So we recommend a short cleaning and maintenance after each use. After all, it’s done quickly and you have much less work than with a heavily soiled weapon. Here you can find more tips on the different cleaning and care products.
How to clean a gun – an overview of tools and preparations
First, remember that it is best to start cleaning immediately after shooting. Of course, it’s not 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 reason to be concerned that the external parts are made of steel, whether it is the cover of the lock chamber or the unloader, we can wipe them with a cloth soaked in detergent.
The first thing that should be done before cleaning is the proper preparation of the workplace. In addition to the special tools, it is worth preparing cotton cloths, a cuvette in which we work with chemicals and adequately protect the countertop. Certain gun cleaners can tarnish or damage the paint. If you have a countertop that doesn’t necessarily look good, such as a workbench, it’s still worth using a surface protector. This will help prevent dirt and substances from getting into inappropriate places.
Remember these before you clean your gun:
- Always check that the gun is unloaded before servicing;
- Never “forget” a wet gun in the holster, with or without a scope;
- Always dry the wet gun first and allow the cold gun to warm up at room temperature before servicing;
- Clean the gun of any debris before servicing – this prevents debris from getting inside the gun;
- There are guns with corrosion protection or coating, but it is still a good idea to always dry and clean the gun after use.
Cleaning the gun: you will need at least these supplies to maintain and clean your gun
- A soft, lint-free cloth, such as a microfibre cloth, for general cleaning of the gun from dirt;
- Cleaning rod or cleaning plugs and handle for transferring gun oil to the barrel;
- Borax for cleaning the firearms from the barrel;
- Gun oil;
- Copper remover, if using copper cartridges;
- Choke oil, if your gun has a wooden choke.
What material do I need for cleaning weapons?
By cleaning the gun, I want to accomplish two things: first, I want to remove all powder residue from the barrel, and second, I want to remove all bullet jacket debris from my barrel. For this, the following utensils have proven to be particularly helpful:
- Oil to remove powder residue;
- Barrel cleaner to remove bullet jacket residue;
- Cleaning rod with patches, cleaning felts or copper brushes;
- Wrong lock for cleaning rod;
- Oil to preserve the barrel;
- Device to fix the gun;
- Pad to lay down the gun parts;
- When things have to go fast – the boresnake;
- Gloves for working with chemical cleaners.
What problems can occur due to residues in the barrel?
Residue in the barrel can cause the following problems with firearms:
- Due to dirty rifling, fields and polygon barrels, in the worst case the projectile receives no spin or only a slight spin, which negatively affects the trajectory or the projectile even begins to tumble;
- The torsional vibrations (barrel oscillations) at the barrel muzzle usually ensure that the muzzle departure angle is always the same. These torsional vibrations are the reaction of the barrel material to the heavy stress on the fields during firing. This stress results mainly from the twist imposed on the bullet by the rotational movement about its axis. A deviation of the resulting oscillations in turn influences the trajectory very significantly. For this reason, rifling, fields and polygons must always be free of residue;
- Residues, however, not only affect the projectile, but also the mechanics of the gun. This can result in delayed firing or even malfunctions, blocked breech and firing pin or hooked magazine;
- Another problem associated with bullet and combustion residues is that, in the event of high humidity or improper storage due to temperature fluctuations, condensation can bind and pitting corrosion can form as a result.
Step-by-step instructions for cleaning weapons
A hunting gun is usually a valuable and carefully considered purchase. It is therefore worth taking good care of it: proper and careful cleaning and regular maintenance will prolong the life of your hunting tool. A well-oiled gun is more resistant to moisture and rainwater, which both the gun and the owner are bound to encounter during the Finnish hunting season.
A clean and functioning gun is also a safety issue: a clean gun is a safe gun. For example, gunpowder always accumulates combustion residue in the barrel. Over time, the residue can start to affect the trajectory of the bullet. Uncleaned guns can have debris or dust mixed with oil in the breech or trigger mechanism, which can also impair the performance of the gun.
When using gun oil, remember to use a moderate amount. A gun that spills oil is a safety hazard, as too much oil can impair the gun’s action.
FIRST STEP – making sure the gun is unloaded
The first step is to make sure that the gun is unloaded. Remember that a great many accidents happen precisely because you have omitted this verification. Even if you are certain that you have stored your weapon completely unloaded, you will need to do this additional verification in absolute safety before handling your weapon.
SECOND STEP – disassemble the weapon completely
If this is the first time you are disassembling the weapon, refer to the manufacturer’s user manual. For normal cleaning, partial disassembly of the weapon is required, which is a very quick and easy operation.
Disassemble the weapon as recommended by the manufacturer. This way you will have access to all the parts that get dirty during use.
- Semiautomatic pistols and rifles can be, usually, broken down into their basic components: barrel, slide, magazine, barrel, and spring guide. Revolvers, smoothbore shotguns, and most firearms do not need to be completely disassembled for cleaning.
- Completely disassembling the firearm is not necessary for thorough cleaning. Just don’t go overboard and break it down into pieces that you later won’t be able to assemble without a repair kit. Be aware, however, that many models cannot be disassembled, and the only thing you have to do is open the breech to clean it.
THIRD STEP – cleaning the barrel
Take a piece of cloth moistened with oil, in our case ballistol, and wipe it once or twice going through the barrel chamber using the wand pusher. The purpose of doing this is to wet the barrel with oil and let it act while we go about cleaning the rest of the gun. The longer we leave it to act, the easier the next cleaning will be.
Clean the barrel with a pipe cleaner and swabs. Wet the inside of the barrel with the pipe cleaner or a swab and cleaning stick.Make sure these tools are the correct diameter for the gun. Work from the rear of the gun if you can; if you cannot, use a tromboncino cover.This tool prevents the cleaning stick from bumping into the tromboncino and possibly causing the gun to malfunction.
Push a wad soaked in solvent inside the barrel until it comes out the other side. Take it out without letting it go back; if you do you will bring the dirt back inside.
Alternate the swabs with the pointed brush so as to ensure deep cleaning. Remove the stick with the pad and use the brush. Slide it back and forth along the length of the stick. Repeat the action 3-4 times to dislodge any residue. Next, connect a new cotton ball to the stick and run it back into the cane. Remove it when it sticks out of the front end. Repeat the process until the swab comes out clean.
Run a clean swab through the cane again and check for any residue you may have forgotten.
Lubricate the rod. Connect a cloth to the cleaning stick. Apply a few drops of lubricant or gun oil to the cloth and slide it into the barrel to coat the inside with a layer of
FOURTH STEP – cleaning the castle and slide
Using the toothbrush, remove most of the firing residue from the castle. With the toothbrush you can easily reach all the hidden places. Same procedure for the slide, taking care to brush the rails and firing pin seat well. When you have finished the steps with the brush, which will have removed some of the dirt, go over both the castle and the slide with the rag to give it a further cleaning.
FIFTH STEP – finish cleaning the barrel
Mount the bronze pipe cleaner on the push rod. Wet the pipe cleaner with gun lubricant and, still going through the chamber, make ten to fifteen passes through the barrel (one pass means back and forth). When this is finished, remove the pipe cleaner and place a clean piece of cloth that will be passed inside the barrel.
If the rag will still have residue, replace it with a clean one and repeat the operation until the barrel is completely clean. If necessary, repeat the entire pipe cleaner and piece cycle to achieve a deeper cleaning.
Clean the outside of the barrel using the brush and rag.
FIFTH STEP – limbing or spiking
In case the barrel has lead or copper residue, use the pipe cleaner soaked in the appropriate solvents. For the use of these solvents, READ CAREFULLY THE WARNINGS INDICATED IN THE LABEL OF THE SOLVENT USED. There are prescriptions regarding certain precautions in the handling of such substances, the maximum application time to avoid damaging the barrel, and other indications that vary from product to product.
When you have finished removing lead or copper residues, repeat step four to remove traces of the solvents used.
SIXTH STEP – lubrication
Using a cotton swab soaked in oil, lightly lubricate the carriage rails, those of the yoke, and all points where signs of wear are noticeable.
Once you have cleaned and inspected your rifle, you can add a few drops of oil to the parts that need it most. For example, if you have cleaned the barrel and bolt, a small amount of oil will help protect these parts from rusting or other damage. If you have a bolt action rifle, you can also put a drop or two of oil on the rails.
There are a huge number of cleaning and maintenance products on the market. Some prefer to make their own cleaning products, while others prefer to use commercial products. We recommend using products that are non-flammable and will not damage your rifle. If you are unsure about which products to use, ask the staff at your local gun shop or retail store.
SEVENTH STEP – reassembly
At this point the firearm is clean and ready to be reassembled following the procedures specified by the manufacturer. Once assembled, slide the slide once or twice to distribute the lubricant.
Limpia el exterior del arma de fuego con un trapo limpio humedecido con disolvente para eliminar cualquier residuo de pólvora, suciedad o aceite que hayan dejado tus manos. Una vez limpio, coge otro trapo limpio humedecido con lubricante y limpia todas las superficies. Esto ayuda a proteger las superficies externas de la corrosión.
Lo mejor es saber cómo montarla de nuevo antes de desmontarla. O bien, pide ayuda a los expertos.
Recuerda que la caza consiste en reducir el estrés y volver a casa. No dejes que un arma sucia se interponga en tu día de caza.
Gun cleaning cord – a universal solution?
After cleaning with foam, remove the residue with a felt wiper. However, if it turns out that the barrel is still dirty or we just know that our gun has not been cleaned for a long time, we can use an additional (or instead of foam) penetrator. The chemical composition of the penetrator causes it to get into the microcracks and dissolve the accumulated carbon deposits.
The effects are readily apparent, but because of its low viscosity, not everyone prefers this solution for every cleaning. After using the penetrator like foam, remove it from the barrel with a squeegee. Remember to do this diligently until the barrel is completely cleaned.
How to protect the barrel from corrosion?
The barrel should also be secured – gun oil is best for this purpose. To apply it evenly, we need a suitable accessory, which is usually also attached to the cutout. It is best to use a wiper or mop brush for this purpose. Being easily absorbable, they spread the applied oil over the entire surface of the cylinder.
Running lines are also a popular solution, usually in the form of a combined brass brush with a woven cloth wiper. As the line is pulled through the barrel, the brush scrapes away debris, and the oil-soaked mop collects it, lubricating the hose and protecting it from corrosion.
Cleaning the lock, as you might guess, varies considerably depending on the type and model of gun. However, regardless of the model, it is worthwhile to first wipe the lock / zipper compartment and bolt carrier with a cotton cloth to remove the dirt that is easiest to remove.
Then brushes and scrapers are useful for us – they allow us to remove dirt from hard-to-reach places. When it comes to brushes, there are usually two types: metal (bronze or other soft metal) and nylon. The former allows you to deal with hard carbon deposits, while the latter allows easier cleaning of sediments from the cracks.
The 5 biggest mistakes in gun care
If you want to have a well-maintained, precise and reliable gun for as long as possible, you need to pay attention to a few things when it comes to gun care.
We have noticed that many mistakes are made in gun care – we would like to inform you about this and present simple solutions, because the mistakes are all avoidable.
1) Clean or lubricate?
Many guns are not properly lubricated, which leads to wear, unreliability and malfunction.
Many gun care oils available on the market are so-called universal oils, they are supposed to be able to clean as well as lubricate. So they are real all-rounders, but is that really true?
No one would think of adding half a liter of solvent to the engine oil of their beloved sports car. But why is this done with weapons?
- Universal oils are supposed to be able to clean, i.e. absorb smut and dirt, and solvents are usually added for this purpose, usually isopropanol, methylated spirits or similar.
- As a result, these oils can cope with even heavy soiling and break it down and encapsulate it. The disadvantage, however, is that the lubricating film becomes thinner and the load capacity of the lubricating film collapses to a fraction.
- You should ask yourself beforehand what you are going to do. To clean the gun you need solvent or at least oils that have been enriched with solvent.
- To lubricate the moving parts suitable lubricants such as gun lubricating oil or gun grease. Recently, lubricants have been additivated with solid lubricants, which can significantly increase the pressure load capacity and thus the lubricating effect.
2) Shaft care, but correctly
Through our shaft oil, we constantly get requests from customers who have problems with their shafts. The shafts often become stained, sticky and greasy. In most cases the problems are caused by the previously used “shaft oils” or universal oils that are lubricated and sprayed onto the shafts.
While these can quickly stain and shine shafts, they do not care for the wood itself, but rather close it up or worse, clog it with mineral oils. The staining stock oils often leave stained stocks after use, which can only be restored with great effort, because they are stressed differently – (more on the stop of the forend and the grip than, for example, the buttstock).
Mineral oils have no place on a wooden stock. Just as little as non-drying natural oils or non-drying waxes. No one would think of smearing the parquet in the living room with petroleum jelly, the danger of slipping, the lack of wood-care properties – everything would lead to an oily surface that never dries.
We therefore strongly recommend to use our Shank Oil Gold from the beginning, it is deeply absorbed into the wood, protects it against weathering, dries completely and clearly and still allows the wood to breathe.
3) Winter malfunctions
It is not uncommon to hear about gun problems during pressure and driven hunts in winter. Very often, lack of gun care leads to firing failures or even frozen firing pins, safeties and breechblocks. Therefore, pay attention to the temperature ranges of the care products you use. Many manufacturers also specify these.
Many lubricants are already so hard at 0° that they can affect the function of the weapon. Our gun lubricants are therefore temperature resistant from -50° to +250°C to ensure perfect lubrication under all conditions.
4) Oil or grease?
Very often, the wrong lubricant is used for lubrication, resulting in wear. In tribology (the science of friction), the issue of finding the right lubricant for each application has been studied and scientifically analyzed for decades. Countless tests and trials bear witness to this. The development of our gun grease and gun lubricating oil alone has consumed financial resources that could easily have been used to build a nice family home.
The requirements were and are gigantic. Basically, the following can be said about lubrication: Open systems that are exposed to a lot of pressure, such as a grinder or a forklift chain, are greased, while closed systems that are mostly exposed to less pressure, such as a car engine or a car transmission, are lubricated with oil. Due to its much thicker layer, grease has much more of a pressure buffer than thin oil and thus provides much better protection against wear.
Machine guns such as the MG42 were therefore lubricated with gun grease at an early stage. Therefore, we recommend lubricating with gun grease wherever possible. Only very close-fitting (sporting guns) should be lubricated with lubricating oil.
5) Corrosion at the muzzle
Often weapons, especially shotguns, corrode at the muzzle. This is a common but easily preventable problem. Shotgun barrels are capped at the muzzle and then usually not blued, making the barrel ends very susceptible to corrosion. The minerals and salts contained in the gunshot further increase the risk of corrosion. Rust prevention, i.e. protection against oxidation, is therefore particularly important at this or similar points.
Very often, universal oils are used here (see Error 1). The application is simple and fast. Unfortunately, these oils run down during storage of the weapons (mostly muzzle after practice in the gun cabinet) with the time of the gravity escape so that the muzzles often already after hours, at the latest, however, after days or weeks are no longer properly protected against corrosion.
By the way, not only barrel muzzles are affected by this problem, but also the inside of the barrel. Also, oil running down the barrel leads to firing failures if the firing pin is prevented from quickly striking the primer when the oil hardens later due to aging or low temperatures.
Remember, do not use oil for corrosion protection, sooner or later it runs against gravity and often causes more damage than it helps. We therefore strongly recommend our gun corrosion protection which stays where it is applied by electrostatic charge. For years.
Store cleaned weapons properly
Your cleaned and with gun oil preserved weapon should always be stored dry. These conditions are met in a gun cabinet at room temperature and normal humidity. However, even small causes such as temperature differences, e.g. due to a refrigerator in the room or similar, can cause condensation to form in the gun safe, as it is not gas-tight.
This and many other ways can then lead to corrosion damage to the gun. It is therefore advisable to always place a dehumidifier in the gun cabinet.
Ammunition in the gun cabinet can cause damage to the gun!
For corrosion damage despite good preservation in the gun cabinet, there may also be the following cause: If the ammunition is stored together with the firearm in the same cabinet, the following happens:
- Each cartridge “outgasses” more or less over time. This is also understandable, since the propellant charge is, after all, a very labile chemical compound that must “burn itself out” due to its structure. This process takes place extremely quickly during ignition, but even at room temperature there is very little conversion. This is why most cartridges have a limited shelf life.
- Depending on the quality and quantity of the stored ammunition, these conversion products may be sufficient to cause corrosion in combination with the existing room humidity. The enclosed space in the gun cabinet severely restricts air exchange, which can lead to an accumulation of corrosive gases. Therefore, also for these technical reasons, you should always store the ammunition separately from the weapon, if possible in a separate compartment. Regular airing also effectively prevents these harmful processes.
Conclusion on gun cleaning:
Cleaning and care of hunting equipment is important to maintain the performance of the weapon and other components. For every hunter – and of course also for young hunters, for whom many things are new.
That’s why we’ve also made this important topic part of our young hunter series. Today’s market offers many products and solutions to maintain one’s rifle, optics, silencer or stock. And remember: it also works without oil. Brands like FlunaTec are recommended by many gun manufacturers and have proven that with them nothing stands in the way of a long gun life.
Especially with Fluna Tec Gun Coating we have already restored one or the other hard running or bitchy gun to a “pleasant to shoot condition”. Without much effort and without a visit to the gunsmith.
Important note: Please observe all known safety rules, especially when handling and cleaning the gun. Above all, a safety check of every long and short gun ensures that there is no more ammunition in the gun you are about to clean and maintain.
Regular cleaning and maintenance of your rifle is the best way to keep it in good working order. It will last longer and remain reliable if you look after it properly. It is important to clean the barrel and action with a cleaning solvent and then check all parts for damage. Remember to use light oil on all parts that need it.
- While cleaning the gun, inspect all parts for defects or signs of use. If you find any, take the gun to a gunsmith.
- You can also clean the bore with a snake cleaner. To use the snake cleaner, apply solvent to the front of the brush, and lubricant or conditioner to the back of the brush. Drop it through the bore from back to front and then pull it out.
- Always take the time to check and make sure your gun is unloaded before cleaning it.