Finding time to clean your firearm can be a challenge, but there are two main reasons why you should make time, according to Adam Avitabile, Safariland’s Category Director for Firearm Accessories. “You want to make sure your firearm works, and to make sure the bullet goes where you intend it to.” For example, debris that gets in the barrel and affects the flight path of the bullet can certainly have unwanted consequences.
Avitabile knows what it’s like to be busy, and when it comes to cleaning his firearms, says, “I try to find the quickest, easiest way to get it done.” He’s outlined a series of step-by-step firearm cleaning tips to improve your efficiency.
Step 1: Supplies
To start, gather all your supplies. If you’ve just bought your first firearm, consider buying a cleaning kit for your gun type. A kit is cost-efficient, and your supplies will be organized in a durable container that is convenient to store and transport. If you already have a kit, it’s easy to replenish cleaning and maintenance supplies as needed.
These following steps are specific to cleaning a 9mm Glock 34 (Gen 4), and should be adapted according to your handgun.
Step 2: Safety
The second step is to be sure to do your firearm safety checks, and confirm your gun is not loaded.
Step 3: Wipe and Disassemble
“Before I get started I use a plain dry cloth to wipe the gun down to get all the loose dirt off,” says Avitabile. “When you start adding liquids to the loose dirt, you just end up with clumpy mud.”
Next, disassemble your gun. It’s a good idea to have your owner’s manual handy for reference to brush up on your firearm’s mechanics.
Step 4: Barrel
“I soak the inside the barrel and let it sit while I clean the rest of the gun, so that the solvents can break down all the fouling inside the barrel,” advises Avitabile. Use KleenBore No. 10 Gun Cleaning Solvent or Break Free CLP aerosol or liquid, and finish with a few drops of Break Free CLP on a Cotton Gun Cleaning Patch. If a more thorough cleaning is necessary, liberally coat the barrel and let it soak into the bore overnight.
Step 5: Moving Parts
Instead of covering the firearm with cleaner and scrubbing with a brush, Avitable recommends wrapping a CLP Multi-surface Wipe around a Nylon Bristle Gun Brush and using it to scrub the slide, and clean wherever there is carbon buildup. A Bronze Bristle Gun Brush can be used in cases of extensive buildup.
When all the parts have been sufficiently cleaned with the brush, use a clean cloth to thoroughly wipe them down. Repeat the process until any traces of carbon have been removed.
Step 6: Back to the barrel
When you return to cleaning the barrel, Avitabile favors using two rods, one with the patch holder on it, and one with the brush, so you don’t have to constantly switch between the patch and the brush.
Now that the barrel has had a chance to soak, attach the appropriate size Bore Brush to a Cleaning Rod and in one smooth motion, run it through the chamber side and pull it back through until the brush clears the chamber. Don’t stop the brush until it exits in the same direction as a bullet would, as stopping or changing directions mid-stroke could damage the rifling or the bore. Repeat for five passes.
If you are using one rod, swap the brush for the correct Bore Cleaning Jag, apply the properly sized Cotton Gun Cleaning Patch, and push it through the barrel from the chamber side. Replace the patch and repeat. If the patch comes out clean, the barrel is done. If not, re-apply Break Free CLP and repeat the process until the second patch is clean.
Protect the metal by putting one drop on either side of a clean patch and run it through the barrel. If storing the firearm for a long period of time, soak a patch with Break Free® Collector® and push it through the barrel. When removing a firearm from long-term storage, push a couple dry patches through before heading out to the range.
Step 7: Lube
“I like to use a Precision Shooter® to apply lube,” says Avitabile. The Break Free® LP Precision Shooter® is ideal for applying drops wherever you see wear on the barrel or the handgun. Add a little Break Free LP Lubricant/Preservative on wear marks, because that indicates where there’s a lot of friction.
Handguns with only a handful of rounds will show metal-on-metal wear, so it’s generally easy to spot. When lubing a brand new gun, however, make sure to put a drop or two on the guides, on the frame where the slide connects, as well as the inside of the slide where it rubs against the chamber. As always: don’t overdo it, or the lube will just attract more dirt.
As with the barrel, apply Break Free Collector if the firearm is about to go into long-term storage.
Step 8: Reassemble
To reassemble, build the handgun in the opposite order that it was disassembled. When complete, run a function test to ensure everything is working properly.
First, check the chamber to be sure that the firearm is unloaded. Then, cycle the slide, depress the safety (if there is one), point the barrel in a safe direction, and pull the trigger. The hammer or striker should fall, and the gun should ‘click’.
While still holding down the trigger cycle the slide again, then release the trigger and feel for the reset.
If the handgun has a safety, engage it and attempt to pull the trigger. Repeat the process for any grip or trigger safeties. Obviously, nothing should happen when the trigger is pulled.
For his final tip, Adam says, “After I’ve put it together I’ll use a silicone cloth to wipe down the outside of the slide, to take all the fingerprints off, stop the gun from getting rusty and keep it nice and shiny.”