Editor’s Note: The following is a syndicated article by author Tamara Keel that first appeared in USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine Volume 12, Issue 8, Nov./Dec. 2015 under the title, “OCD: Obsessive Cleaning Disorder.”
You probably clean your gun too much.
Well, I probably don’t clean mine enough, but most people clean theirs too much. I’ve covered this before, but I figure it warrants a closer look at this issue.
A lot of the cleaning habits in the civilian gun culture come from the military, and the military’s gun cleaning habits tend to be holdovers from the days of blued steel and corrosive primers. Lord knows how many military rifles have been essentially ruined over the years with boiling and scrubbing and endless white glove inspections. Heaven only knows what tricks have been used over the years by inventive troops with marginal adult supervision to make those bores shiny and get every bit of carbon out of the corners, but I hear Duraglit brass polish will make a barrel positively gleam and take the edges right off the rifling to boot.
Most modern service handguns are either stainless steel or rendered corrosion-resistant by exotic metal treatments or various coatings, and corrosive primers are a thing of the past unless you’re using antique military ammunition in your self-defense handgun. (And if you are, you need to cut that out.) Further, most modern service-style handgun designs will chug along happily for thousands of rounds with little to no attention to cleaning and lubing.
This isn’t to say that it’s a bad idea to at least field strip your gun and run a few patches or a bore-snake through it. Some recommend this after every range session, but it’s hardly necessary from a mechanical standpoint. The biggest reason would be to avoid getting excessive grunge from the gun on your clothes.
I’ve heard it advanced that having a spotlessly clean gun will allow you to prove that you didn’t fire a shot, but that seems far-fetched. You’d have to give it a white glove scrubbing. And if I’m taking my gun apart far enough to do that, I’m going to want to function-fire it with my carry loads afterward. Now it’s dirty again. Lather, rinse, repeat, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
I will tell you that my practice is to, after every match or formal shooting class, hit the gun with a bore snake and make sure it’s adequately lubed. Every few months, I give it a decent field-strip-and-toothbrush job, but I make that easier on myself by doing most of my self-directed practice with my spare gun so that my actual carry gun rarely gets too filthy.
Gun Scrubber or other aerosol cleaners are a boon for lazy people like me but be sure you re-lubricate all the important spots after using anything like that. Oh, and it’s generally important to make sure to use the polymer-safe formulas on your polymer-framed guns. This seems like it’s obvious, but some varieties of polymer frame seem to be less solvent-resistant than others.
Lastly, I have a confession to make: I don’t understand the passion with which people engage in lubricant wars. My favorite lubricant is generally what’s on sale, with a few caveats. First, if someone tells me that their product permeates the pores of the metal or bonds with the metal, I give them a wide berth. You know what bonds to metal? Glue. I don’t want glue on my gun.
The other thing I watch out for are “all-in-one” solutions that have a cleaner in with the lubricant and protectant. I understand that out in the field carrying only one bottle is handy, but the cleaner is a solvent and it reduces the longevity of the lubricant on the gun through evaporation. I’m not in the field. On my workbench, I have plenty of room for my cleaner over here and my lubricant over there and never the twain shall meet.
With all this out of the way, I guess I’ll go clean my gun now. But only a little.
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