5 Tips for Cleaning Your Rifle or Firearm

There are few tools in a prepper’s or survivalist’s toolbox than their weapon, and most prefer a firearm. While guns are fun and can belong to sport, the primary use of the weapon is for self-defense and hunting. In any situation, however, accuracy and dependability matter, but if your weapon is not maintained and cleaned properly, there is no telling what will happen when you pull the trigger.

The way to ensure the continued functionality of your rifle is through proper and routine maintenance, including cleaning. The following five tips can help make the process a little more manageable.

1. Safety and Preparation

Before you determine the right supplies or begin breaking down the gun, you need to perform essential safety checks, ensuring no mishaps or accidents occur during cleaning. You’ll want to remove any ammo and clear the chamber before making sure the barrel is empty.

With the firearm safe, you can select your cleaning supplies. Most manufacturers also sell cleaning kits, which include a cleaner and rod. While BoreSnakes are useful in cleaning handguns, they are not as effective in cleaning rifles.

2. Disassembly and Organization

Before disassembling your firearm, layout your cleaning supplies. A mat can make cleaning and organization easier with less risk of damage to your weapon. You want to organize your breakdown into main categories, keeping track of all pieces.

For a bolt action rifle, you will extract the bolt and remove the magazine. A semiauto AR rifle will require a bit more work, removing the magazine, rear pin, separating the upper and lower receivers, removing the bolt and carrier, charging handle, and buffer group.

3. Spray and Wipe Down

Spray down all parts with the cleaning fluid from the kit, and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The time might vary based on the kit or fluid you use. Once the cleaner has had time to loosen the debris and grime, wipe down all the parts with a rag. You can use cotton swabs or other small narrow items to help clean the nooks and crannies of the gun. For a rifle, bolt action or other, use a skewer or plastic scraper to remove gun powder residue.

4. Barrel and Crown

Since most of your focus up to this point has been on the other components of the firearm, the barrel should be adequately soaked by now. Using a barrel cleaning rod for a rifle or other tool for a handgun, you want to insert the tool and rag into the barrel, pushing it slowly through to the muzzle or crown. Switch the rag and repeat the process until your rags come out clean. You want to protect the crown during the cleaning process. If the crown gets damaged, it can result in inaccuracy when firing.

5. Grease and Wear

While gun manufacturers do their best to create handheld tools that will last, there are inevitably pieces within the weapon that receive metal-on-metal action, resulting in wear. The more you use your firearm, the more wear you can expect. To help prevent too much damage from routine use, leave a bit of grease or lubricant on those high-wear parts, reducing the level of friction while firing. 

Gun care comes down to a routine. If you want your weapon to last, you need to get in the habit of cleaning it. Unfortunately, making something a habit is not always easy, especially when labor is involved. How do you make gun cleaning a normal part of your life? Do you have any tips to make the job easier? Leave a comment below.

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