Useful Step by Step to Clean a Gun

A firearm is a reliable machine that can offer you an unparalleled level of protection. But just like any other machine, guns require frequent cleaning and maintenance to keep them functioning optimally. As a responsible gun holder, you need to ensure that your firearm is free of debris that usually remains inside the barrel.

More importantly, you need to lubricate your firearm to prevent malfunctions and permanent damage which results from shooting dirty or dry guns.

In this comprehensive guide, we are going to advise you on how to disassemble and clean various types of firearms, what to use and how to maintain your gun functioning effectively.

The necessary tools you require for cleaning include:

  • Cleaning solvent
  • Cotton swabs
  • Lubricant
  • Cleaning rod
  • Powder fouling
  • A flashlight
  • Cleaning brush (preferably nylon)
  • Cleaning Mat
  • Patch holder and Patches
  • A stand to hold big rifles in place
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Recommended tools for disassembly (e.g., screwdrivers)

Critical Steps to Disassemble Your Gun

It is advised that before disassembling your rifle for cleanup, first go through the manufacturer’s manual to help you understand the layout of the firearm, the tools to be used and the ideal procedure for disassembly.

Step 1

ALWAYS ensure that your firearm is unloaded to avoid accidents during clean up. If loaded, carefully remove the magazine and further remove the round that is usually in the barrel ready to fire. The only way to be sure it’s unloaded is to double check the barrel to ensure it’s empty.

Step 2

Once the gun is unloaded, disassemble the gun carefully as per the manufacturer’s manual, keeping track of all the parts. Shotguns, pistols, and revolvers need not be taken completely apart for routine cleaning and lubrication.

However, taking a semi-automatic gun apart is quite complex, and this is where you need to reference your dealer’s manual. You will be required to break down the semi-auto firearm into its major components which include the frame, slide, barrel, guide rod, and magazine.

Critical Steps to Cleaning Your Gun

Step 1: Cleaning the barrel

You should take adequate time to clean the barrel of your gun since it’s the most crucial part of the arm. Any residue in the barrel could compromise your shooting accuracy or worse corrode the inside of the gun.

Apply adequate solvent to the patch and use a bore brush with the patch to thoroughly clean the inside of the barrel. Care should be taken not to hit the muzzle as it may lead to malfunctioning. Preferably use a muzzle guard or clean from the back of the bore.

Push several patches soaked with solvent through the barrel until the patches no longer come out with build-up residue. Double check the inside of the bore to ensure no waste is left.

Step 2: Lubricating The Bore

Pick a clean cotton swab, apply gun oil and use the cleaning rod to lubricate the bore. If you are lubricating a revolver, you will be required to repeat the procedure for each chamber.

Step 3: Cleaning and Lubricating The Outer Parts of the gun

Cleaning the exterior metal parts of a gun will require the use of a nylon brush to scrub off the accumulated residues or dirt thoroughly. Pay close attention to crannies and nooks of your pistol to ensure no buildup of fouling.

If you are cleaning a semi-automatic gun, some of the areas you should concentrate on include under the ejector and the slide interior grooves. For revolvers, thoroughly wash the cylinder ratchet, under the ejectors, and around the forcing cone. Now use a cleaning mat to remove residue and excess solvents.

Which Is The Recommended Amount of Lubrication?

There is no general rule as to the amount of lubrication to use since the recommended lube will differ across a variety of firearms. However, it is unnecessary to have your firearm dripping wet with gun oil. Doing so will only attract gun fouling which will compromise the optimal functionality of the gun.A light coat of oil is adequate. Ideally, make sure that all parts of the gun that rub against each other during shooting are well lubricated as per the manufacturer’s manual.

Now that you have thoroughly cleaned the major components of your firearm and lubricated them adequately, you need to reassemble the gun for storage. Put back all the parts while still ensuring that the lubricant is evenly distributed.

Also, it’s essential to guarantee that everything is in the right place and working correctly. Wipe off any gun oil oozing out of the joint during reassembly with a cleaning mat. When you have wholly reassembled the gun, apply a light coat of metal preservative or gun oil to the exterior parts of the firearm and store it in its locking container.

Remember, although old towels and rags can be used to wipe off the solvent, they are not as effective as using the best gun cleaning mats.

Why You Should Consider Using Cleaning Mats to Rags

1. Leak-proof

When compared to old towels, the best cleaning mats are made of a leak-proof material which prevents oil leakage hence less messy when working with them. They are made of a material which is specially designed not to allow the solvent to seep into the mat.

2. Easy to clean

Unlike rags, you can easily remove lubricants or gun oil from these mats. The solvents and lubricants remain on the surface thus easy to clean it up.

3. Available in a wide variety

An essential factor to consider when getting an ideal fabric to wipe off solvents from your gun is its size. It should be big enough for the rifle you intend to clean. Luckily cleaning mats are available for all types of firearms. From cleaning mats for pistols to deer hunting rifles to semi-auto guns.


As aforementioned, frequent cleaning and maintenance is very crucial in determining the optimal functionality of your gun and preventing permanent damages. 

You are recommended only to use the outlined disassembly and clean-up procedures described by your dealer. When dealing with firearms involving hardened screws, you should be careful not to damage the screws since they are quite expensive to repair.

You should also employ adequate safety measures to guarantee your wellbeing. Because you will be dealing with highly toxic chemicals, you are advised to carry out the procedure in a well-ventilated room. Consider wearing gloves and safety goggles to ensure that you do not come into contact with toxic chemicals.

Lastly, ALWAYS remember to double check your gun to ensure it’s unloaded before working on it.

About the Author

I'm Rodney Heaton and I love hunting in the wild. In the past, I was in the military for over 5 years. After that I became a licensed hunter and a mountain guide.